TOWN. The tr. of several Heb. and Gr. words. The Eng. usage of “towns” is applied to different Biblical words expressive of different categories. See City. 1. בַּת, H1426, daughter, usually indicates the dependent villages of a walled city.

2. עִיר, H6551, city, is rendered town in KJV (ASV generally) in cases when unwalled and when noted by modifying words, but sometimes (1 Sam 23:7) in contrary cases.

3. חַוָּה, H2557, hamlet, is by KJV, ASV tr. regularly town (Num 32:41; Josh 13:30).

4. חָצֵר, H2958, village, from the root meaning court, prob. houses grouped together so as to form a semi-enclosed area, perhaps not more than five or six.

5. פְּרָזוֹת, H7252, akin to פָּרַשׁ, H7300, (divide, separate), connoting loosely grouped houses in the country—hardly villages in the best sense.

6. קִ֣יר, is obscured in Joshua 2:15 by being rendered “town wall” in KJV, ASV, RSV, and should be town. “Town wall” is here used as a metonym.

7. κώμη, G3267, is the small village or country town, unwalled, in Gr. times.

8. κωμόπολις, G3268, a combination of κώμη, G3267, and πόλις, G4484, (city), designates something between city and village. Town, in the Eng. sense (the usual tr.) is proper. KJV trs. κώμη, G3267, indifferently as town or village.

Two basic categories are seen in the Bible. In Leviticus 25:31, the village is characterized by lack of walls and coming under a different law of redemption, its houses to be returned to the seller in the year of Jubilee, whereas city houses could not be redeemed if more than a year passed from the time of sale. As indicated in section 2 above, the use of qualifiers with קִ֣יר to indicate the presence or lack of walls indicates that the word was not specially limited to the meaning of walled city. In the OT period, the city was distinguished by having a defensive wall as well as being the center of commerce and industry, and in some cases the place where the local governor lived. In the NT period, the difference between city and town (or village) consisted in the possession of a constitution and law differing from country law, and following the law of the crown. In later times, a city was so designated if it was the bishop’s seat. The Mishna distinguishes a כְּרָכְ, a large city, עִיר, city, and כָּפָר, H4107, village. See Village. Towns were principally country agricultural centers, dependent on walled cities for protection and sale and exchange of farm produce. Buildings were of lower quality, often crude. Evidence of many hundreds of towns and villages from the era of Jeremiah and before is to be seen, but most of them were never thereafter reinhabited. Ruth and David in their activities illustrate country life.


K. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (1960); W. F. Albright, Archaeology of Palestine (1963); Y. Yadin, The Art of Warfare in Bible Lands (1963).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

toun: This word is used to represent a number of different Hob terms in the Old Testament.

(1) When any explanatory word or attendant circumstances show that a "city" was unwalled, and sometimes in the contrary case (1Sa 23:7), the Hebrew `ir is translated "town" by the King James Version, and the Revised Version (British and American) generally agrees with it (De 3:5; 1Sa 27:5; Es 9:19).

(2) Both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) translate chawwoth by "towns" (Nu 32:41; Jos 13:30; 1Ki 4:13; 1Ch 2:23), while chatserim and perazoth both appear in the King James Version as "towns," but in the Revised Version (British and American) as "villages" (Ge 25:16; Zec 2:4). See Havvoth-jair.

(3) Bath, literally, "daughter," is sometimes found in the plural between the name of a city and chatserim, "villages," as in Jos 15:45 margin, "Ekron, with its daughters and its villages." "Towns" is evidently the appropriate translation, and, even without chatserim, bath is rendered "town" (the Revised Version (British and American) Nu 21:25, etc.). The same use of "daughter" occurs also in the Greek of 1 Macc 5:65 (thugater), the King James Version "town," the Revised Version (British and American) "village," margin "daughter."

(4) the King James Version and the English Revised Version gloss qir, "wall" in Jos 2:15 by rendering it "town wall"; the American Standard Revised Version omits.

(5) The Greek term komopoleis (Mr 1:38), being a combination of the words for "village" and "city," is a clear attempt to describe something between the two, and is well translated "town." (6) the King James Version uses "town" (Mt 10:11 etc.) and "village" (Mt 9:35, etc.) quite indifferently for kome; the Revised Version (British and American) has "village" throughout. For similar changes of the King James Version "town" compare 2 Macc 8:6 (chora); 11:5; 12:21 (chorion, the Revised Version (British and American) "place").

See City; Village.