Along the Middle Bronze Watchtower

Credit:, Jerusalem, City of David

The story of Phinehas son of Eleazar killing an Israelite man and Midianite woman in Numbers 25 highlights the rivalries between nations. On the heels of Phinehas’ actions, God told Moses to “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them. They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incident involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident.”

In the Middle Bronze II period, war was a consistent threat in the area of Canaan, as city-states emerged. In the Middle Bronze Age, new weapons of were developed, including the shield and axe used in combination, chariots, the composite bow and metal armor.

To counter the threat of invasion, cities built defensive walls, and in the Middle Bronze II period there is evidence of an increasing number of walled cities. These walls would be manned by guards. In the event of a war, people from the immediate surrounding area would collect their livestock and find shelter with in the city walls.

In the event of a war, the attackers would undertake a variety of measures to break through the city walls, including using battering rams, building siege towers higher than the city walls, attempting to undermine the walls or using ladders to climb over the walls.

The City of David lies just to south of Jerusalem’s Old City walls. It is the likely site of the original city of Jerusalem, where the waters of the Gihon Spring emerged. In the Middle Bronze II, Jerusalem is believed to have had a defensive wall more than halfway up the hill to protect the city. This defensive set up would have left the city without its water source in the event of a siege.

To resolve this problem, a tower, referred to as the Spring Tower was built over the spring. Two large walls constructed with massive stones, one on the northern side and the other on the southern side, were built to create a corridor through which the residents of Jerusalem could reach the water safely even under siege.

Archaeological finds are subject to interpretation, and therefore fertile ground for debate. There is no unanimity about the dating of Jerusalem’s walls, the corridor and Spring Tower. Some place these nearly 1,000 years later in the Iron II period. But there is a school of thought that believes that all these fortifications were in place in the Middle Bronze II period, and that Jerusalem at that time was a fortified city.

The image above is of the massive stones which were part of the construction of the Spring Tower.

And a song about a watchtower: