KJV translation for six Hebrew and one Greek word. NAS uses “castle” only for one Hebrew term in
2 Kings 15:25 and
Proverbs 18:19. RSV uses castle in
Proverbs 18:19 and for a different Hebrew term in
Nehemiah 7:2. NIV does not use “castle.” See Fortified Cities.
‘Armon refers to the large, fortified home of the king, often translated palace or citadel (1 Kings 16:18). The term apparently referred to the massive masonry structures connected with the defense of the palace and possibly of the homes of other leading citizens (Amos 6:8; compare
Amos 1:4). Apparently they served as storehouses for royal treasures and goods taken in battle (Amos 3:10). Israel prayed for peace in her fortress, but no fortress gave security from God's anger (Isaiah 25:2;
Hosea 8:14). God promised to rebuild the fortified palaces of His people (Jeremiah 30:18). The palaces should witness to God's strength (Psalms 48:3,Psalms 48:13-14). The wisdom teacher knew a more stubborn defense system than castles—that of humans (Proverbs 18:19).
Birah is a late loan word from Accadian and refers to the fortified acropolis, usually built at the highest and most easily defensible part of a city (Nehemiah 1:1;
Esther 1:2). It referred to the fortress near the Temple in the rebuilt Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:8). A military commander ruled the fortress (Nehemiah 7:2). The Chronicler used the term for Solomon's Temple (1 Chronicles 29:1,1 Chronicles 29:19) and used the term in the plural to describe Jehoshaphat's and Jotham's building (2 Chronicles 17:12;
2 Chronicles 27:4).
Tirah refers to a stone wall used for protection around a camp of tents (Genesis 25:16;
Ezekiel 25:4). Compare
1 Chronicles 6:54;
Migdal is a defense tower which may stand alone in the countryside as a watchtower (1 Chronicles 27:25). They were also used to protect vineyards and other crops (Isaiah 5:2). A famous migdal crowned one area of Shechem or served as a military outpost for Shechem (Judges 9:46-49). See Shechem. Uzziah fortified the Jerusalem gates with such towers on top of which he placed modern weaponry (2 Chronicles 26:9-10,2 Chronicles 26:15). Battle axes were used to break down such towers (Ezekiel 26:9).
Matsad and metsudah are closely connected to the Canaanite or Jebusite city of Jerusalem that David conquered (2 Samuel 5:7,2 Samuel 5:9;
1 Chronicles 11:5,1 Chronicles 11:7). The metsudah of Zion was probably a military citadel protecting the southeastern hill of Jerusalem, that part Israel called, “city of David.” See David, City of. In general, the word described any place of hiding or refuge (Judges 6:2;
1 Samuel 23:14).
The basic biblical lesson is that Yahweh is our stronghold, refuge, and fortress (Psalms 18:2;
Parembole is the Greek term for a fortified camp and designated the Roman army barracks or headquarters in Jerusalem (Acts 21:34;
Acts 23:10). Hebrews refers to Old Testament offerings burned outside the camp, comparing this to the place of Jesus' suffering and inviting Christians to be willing to suffer outside the camp, accepting disgrace as did Jesus (Hebrews 13:11-13). Compare
Trent C. Butler