Chapter 18: Beneath the Surface

18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe

18:11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.

      The strong tower (:10), compared to a fortified city (:11), should be understood to be much more than a simple watchtower. However it was used most days, it would have been a well-built and fortified structure able to withstand a military attack.
      Such a structure is mentioned inside the ancient city of Shechem in the Abimelech story (Judges 9). Abimelech, the son of Gideon, destroyed the city of Shechem, including burning the "the stronghold of the temple of El-berith" (:46). Apparently known by a number of names in this chapter – the "house of Baal-berith" (:4), "Beth-millo" (:6, 20), "house of their god" (:27), "tower of Shechem" (:46, 47, 49), and "temple of El-berith" (:46). Clearly an important structure at Shechem, it was connected to Baal and a covenant (berith is Hebrew for "covenant"), thus the temple for "Baal of the covenant." SEE MY ARTICLE IN BIBLE STUDY MAGAZINE
      This must be the same structure discovered in excavations at Shechem (modern Tell Balata). Here were revealed the stone foundations of a massive structure constructed in the 17th century BC and destroyed in the 12th century BC. The largest temple yet found in Canaan (21.2 x 26.3 m) with foundations 5.1 m thick, it would have had multiple stories of mudbrick and timber.
      This is particularly interesting for me, because this season at our Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project, I spent some time digging what appears to be another of these massive temple towers. What we have already excavated is the 3.5m wide south wall of the structure, about 25m long. Such a structure was used by Solomon in this verse as an analogy for safety in the LORD.

18:18 Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.

      Here, as is 16:33, only a single "lot" is used for an apparently simple yes or no answer. Where "lots" (plural) are mentioned, the system would seem to be a bit more complicated, but the ancients apparently had it worked out to their satisfaction.
      Another word for "lot" in the Old Testament is pur of the book of Esther (see 3:7). Coming from a Babylonian word for "lot" (plural purim; "lots"), it references the same type of decision-making process.
      As an aside, while we don't know what ancient "lots" looked like, we do have examples of ancient dice going back over 4,000 years. They look just like ours.