Watchtowers

Part of the Landscape

Throughout the millennia, watchtowers have been a common sight in the hills and fields of Israel. They perform an essential function in guarding vulnerable towns and properties, and their importance can be seen in how Scripture mentions them alongside towns and villages.

2 Kings 17:9 (LEB) “They built high places for themselves in all their towns, from the watchtower up to the fortified city.”

1 Chronicles 27:25 (LEB) “And over the treasuries in the country, in the cities, in the unwalled villages, and in the towers was Jonathan the son of Uzziah.”

Watchtowers and the Prophets

Lamentations 4:17 (NET) “Our eyes continually failed us as we looked in vain for help. From our watchtowers we watched for a nation that could not rescue us.”

Isaiah 21:8 (NASB) “Then the lookout called, ‘O Lord, I stand continually by day on the watchtower, and I am stationed every night at my guard post.’”

Habakkuk 2:1 (HCSB) “I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.”

Deserted Towers

Since watchtowers are associated with protection, Isaiah uses the image of an abandoned tower in order to paint a vivid picture of abandonment.

Isaiah 32:14 (LEB) “For the palace will be forsaken, the crowded city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become a cave forever, the joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks.”

Vineyard Parable

The prophet Isaiah also makes mention of watchtowers elsewhere in his book, during his first vineyard parable. Here, God is described as building a watchtower to protect Israel, his vineyard.

Isaiah 5:2 (LEB) “And he dug it and he cleared it of stones, and he planted it with choice vines, and he built a watchtower in the middle of it, and he even hewed out a wine vat in it, and he waited for it to yield grapes—but it yielded wild grapes.”

Parable of the Tenants

This same image of Israel being God’s vineyard appears again in the New Testament, where Jesus expands on it in his parable of the tenants.

Matthew 21:33 (LEB) ““Listen to another parable: There was a man—a master of a house—who planted a vineyard, and put a fence around it, and dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower, and leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey.”

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