King Rehoboam fortifies cities in Judah (2 Chr 11:5-11:12)

“King Rehoboam resided in Jerusalem. He built cities for defense in Judah. He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. There were fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. He made the fortresses strong. He put commanders in them. They had stores of food, oil, and wine. He also put large shields and spears in all the cities. He made them very strong. So he held Judah and Benjamin.”

There is no other source for this material here. Certainly some of these 15 cities already existed. This was a defensive gesture. He seems to have fortified them with shields, spears, food, commanders, and troops. These cities became strong fortresses against any enemy. Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, just 6 miles south of Jerusalem. Etam was about 2 miles southwest of Bethlehem. Tekoa was about 6 miles south of Bethlehem. Beth-zur was on the main road between Jerusalem and Hebron, about 4 miles north of Hebron, which was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Adullam was about 16 miles southwest of Jerusalem and about 10 miles west of Bethlehem. Gath was 1 of the 5 major cities of the Philistines that has been lost, but was on the west side of Judah. Mareshah was also in western Judah, while Ziph was in southern Judah. Adoraim only appears here but probably is a lost southwest town near the sea. Lachish was about 15 miles west of Hebron, probably close to Azekah. Zorah and Aijalon were western cities that were originally in the territory of Dan. About a half of these cities were within 20 miles of Jerusalem. Most of the fortified cities were in the south and west since the Dead Sea was on the east and Benjamin and northern Israel was to the north.

The cities of refuge (1 Chr 6:67-6:70)

“The Levites were given the cities of refuge. Shechem with its pasture lands in the hill country was from Ephraim. Gezer with its pasture lands, Jokmeam with its pasture lands, Beth-horon with its pasture lands, Aijalon with its pasture lands, Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands. Out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Aner with its pasture lands, and Bileam with its pasture lands, for the rest of the families of the Kohathites.”

The cities of refuge were outlined in Joshua, chapter 20, which refers back to Numbers, chapter 35, and Deuteronomy, chapter 19, when Moses put forward this proposal of refuge cities. The inadvertent killer had a place of refuge to be judged. He had to explain his case to the elders of the town. The avenger of blood could not kill the killer there. The killer would be let free at the death of the high priest. Then he was able to return home. There were to be 6 cities, 3 on the west and 3 on the east Jordan side as outlined in Deuteronomy, chapter 4. Each tribe on the east side of the Jordan had their own refuge city. However, only Judah, Ephraim, and Naphtali had their own refuge city, while the other 6 tribes did not have their refuge town. Interesting Hebron, Kedesh, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan are not mentioned. Only Shechem from the 6 in Joshua is mentioned here. However, 8 other cities are mentioned. The new refuge cities are (1) Gezer, (2) Jokmeam, (3) Beth-horon, (4) Aijalon, (5) Gath-rimmon, (6) Aner, and (7) Bileam.