The City In The Bible: From place of alienation to gift of God

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Vincenzo Anselmo, SJ

 Vincenzo Anselmo, SJ / Issue 1912 / 3 December 2019

The birth of the first urban settlements in the ancient world, especially in the Near East, was epochal, a junction of technology, economics and society that embodied decisive progress. The construction of the first cities was a fundamental stage in the history of civilization. Jericho, which is considered the oldest urban center in the world (its first defensive wall dates back to 8000 B.C.), Ur, Uruk and Çatalhöyük testify to the presence of humans inhabiting those places through the millennia. Even today in the Near East it is possible to see on the horizon the tell, one of the artificial hills that, century after century, one layer on another, have grown, indicating the overlap of human settlements.

In contrast to the uncertainties of nomadic wandering, the inhabitants of the city derived many advantages from the associated life. The urban settlements, in fact, ensured protection and security within their walls and were at the same time a guarantee of help and mutual support. Urban life, associated and highly organized, increased the well-being and prosperity of the population, even if it did not indicate that the wealth would be distributed equally among the citizens.

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