It was more than a bit ironic when soldiers with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) discovered an ancient watchtower associated with the days of King Hezekiah during the 8th century BCE.
The IDF paratroopers had set up a base on a hilltop in Southern Israel when they accidentally discovered the tower. After making the discovery, the soldiers actually participated in the dig.
The remains of the tower were about 6 feet (1.83 m) in height and archaeologists estimate that it was originally 15 feet (4.57 m) high with a diameter of 10.5 feet (3.2 m). This was a significant structure as the foundation stones weighed about 8 tons.
According to the archaeologists this tower, built on top of a hill, would have provided ancient Israeli military commanders an excellent view on activities taking place in the Philistine nation, particularly one of its major cities Ashkelon.
Israel built a series of towers and fortresses along the border that were within view of each other, so it would allow a tower to send up a warning using either different colored smoke during the day or fire at night that could be viewed by adjacent towers who would then pass along the message until it reached the main fortress.
In this instance, the tower served as a notification point for three large Israeli cities in the area. It would have provided warning and intelligence of any enemy troop movements in the area it was monitoring.
Archaeologists believe this tower was probably destroyed in 701 BC when King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked King Hezekiah of Judah. It seems that the soldiers manning the tower fled before the Assyrian army reached their position, because they sabotaged it by blocking the entrance preventing the Assyrians from easily using the tower.
Though Sennacherib destroyed a number of towns, he was not able to defeat Jerusalem. Though this particular tower was intended for national defense, watchtowers had other uses as well.
One of them is referenced by Jesus in the Gospels:
33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. (Matthew 21:33 NASV)
In this parable, Jesus speaks of a tower being built in the middle of a vine yard. Those with large vineyards built smaller watch towers in their vineyards, as both a lookout and place of protection because vineyards were susceptible to attack during harvest time. Thieves and invading armies would often stage attacks during harvest to capture produce.
These towers manned during harvest not only provided advanced warning of attack but could also be used as a refuge, if needed.
And we see the author of Proverbs using this analogy saying that the “name of the Lord” is a strong tower:
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is [a]safe. (Proverbs 18:10 NASV see also Psalm 61:3)
God’s name is our protection, and we see the various names assigned to God (El Roi — the God who sees, Genesis 16:13; Jehovah Yireh — God our provider, Genesis 22:14; Jehovah Rapha — God is our healer, Exodus 15:26,; Yawheh Nissi — God is our banner speaking of His protection, Exodus 17:15). I wonder if we should pray using the names of God and in this sense it would be used as spiritual warfare.
Of course, watchtowers were useless without watchmen who played a critical role keeping a sharp eye out for advancing enemies.
The prophet Isaiah takes that analogy a step further when he adds a spiritual component to the role of the watchman.
Notice in this verse that though Kings had undoubtedly assigned watchmen to the walls, God also appointed His watchmen who call upon God day and night. I believe these are the intercessors God has appointed to pray for the Kingdom of God:
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves;
7 And give Him no rest until He establishes
And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6-7 NASV)
But there is another important element to this, because the watchmen are stationed in high towers, they would see the enemy approaching before anyone else could.
In this sense, I believe it speaks of the prophetic calling of today’s watchman who see into the future providing warning of impending demonic attack.
And in fact, the prophet Habakkuk looked upon himself as a watchman, not in the physical sense of a man taking a position on a watchtower, but rather Habakkuk filled this position as prophet, seeing into the spiritual realm and even the future. He would provide intelligence of impending attack as Jesus provided Peter (Luke 22:31)
I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1 ESV)
Maybe the discovery of the ancient watchtower by modern soldiers is just a coincidence or maybe God is sending a message.
- IDF paratroopers accidentally uncover ancient guard tower from time of King Hezekiah: Breaking Israel News
Very insightful article.