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Finding Treasures in Historical Sites of the Bible: City of David

Before David captured the City of David, the region had been known by names including Jerusalem, Jebusite (Josh 15:8), Salem (Gen 14:18), the fortress of Zion (2 Sam 5:7), and Zion (1 Kings 7:1). It was once home to the offspring of Jebusite, who was the son of Canaan (ref: Gen 10:16; Josh 15:63).

As an ancient Canaanite city, Jerusalem yields archeological evidence of human settlement from as far as 6000 years ago. The book of Genesis details an encounter between Abraham— who was to become the founding father of Israel— and Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Gen 14:18-20). Then, in 1406 B.C., Joshua led the Israelites into the Land of Canaan, which was later divided. Jerusalem fell on the territory between the tribe of Benjamin (ref: Josh 18:28) and the tribe of Judah (ref: Josh 15:8, 18:16).

In 1003 B.C., the tribes of Israel crowned David to succeed Saul as the second king of the United Monarchy (ref: 2 Sam 5:1-3). Thereafter, David conquered the city of Jerusalem and called it the City of David, the new capital of his kingdom (ref: 2 Sam 5:6-9).

The original site of the City of David is located on a hill southeast of today’s old city of Jerusalem (see Image #1), which spans 460 meters from north to south and 160 meters wide from east to west, at an altitude of approximately 750 meters in Israel’s central mountains (the hill country of Judah). To the north of the City of David is Mount Moriah (where the temple was later built), whereas its east, west, and south sides are surrounded by Kidron, Hinnom (central mountains region), and Gehenna river-valleys, respectively. The height gap of 40 to 80 meters between the valley floor and the city walls make the City of David a strategic location for military defense while also offering the infrastructure for convenient access. To the east, the Gihon spring provides the city inhabitants with a stable supply of water even during wartime (ref: 2 Chron 32:30). No wonder Jerusalem is famed to be an impregnable city, ideally positioned for both offense and defense (ref: 2 Sam 5:6).

When David captured Jerusalem, he also fortified the city (ref: 2 Sam 5:9). Geographically close to the northern border of the tribe of Judah in the south (where David belonged), the city connected Judah to the tribes in northern Israel (see Image #2). With this advantageous location for commute, the city was a highly contested land among the nations in ancient Near East.

In later years, David built a palace (ref: 1 Chron 15:1) and set the ark of God in place (1 Chron 16:1). Not only was David a courageous warrior (ref: 1 Sam 18:7) and a diligent, wise king (ref: Acts 13:36), he was also a man after God’s heart (ref: Acts 13:22). It was according to God’s heart that David chose Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom (ref: 2 Chron 6:6). Because of that, God blessed David and Solomon exceedingly, making their kingdoms powerful among the nations (ref: 2 Samuel 5:10, 1 Kings 4:20-21). From a spiritual as well as political standpoint, Israel reached its peak during the reign of these two kings (ref: 1 Chron 29:20-21; 2 Chron 5:13, 7:8).

Image 2: The Lands of the Twelve Tribes of Israel

In 970 B.C., Solomon succeeded to the throne and expanded the city northward. He built a majestic temple for God— the first in the history of Israel— on Mount Moriah, the land that his father David had bought from the Jebusites (ref: 2 Chronicles 3:1; 1 Kings 6:37-38). Since then, Jerusalem stood in Israel as the center of worship and a hub of economic, political, cultural, and military activity (ref: 2 Chronicles 6:6; Psalm 125:2). In subsequent years, the size of the city saw continual change driven by factors such as the environment, its population, and development (see Image #3).

Image 3:Change in Jerusalem’s Borders and Walls Over the Years

The city where David once dwelled became a sacred place for generations of Israelites, which also explains the symbolic and spiritual significance of the names “Jerusalem” and “Zion” among Jewish people (ref: Isaiah 2:3; Hebrews 12:22). To this day, places such as the City of David, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, Mount Zion, and David’s Tomb continue to carry a profound sense of loss and remembrance among the Jews. In these places, every brick and stone, hill and valley, field and stream, are intricately linked to the roots of their very faith and hope (ref: Psalm 137:1-6).

For in Scripture it says:

See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame. (1 Peter 2:6)

 

 

References

 

  1. Books

梁天樞。《簡明聖經史地圖解》。上海人民出版社。2006.11。

華爾頓。《舊約背景與年代表》(修訂及擴大版)。 梁潔瓊譯。

華神出版社。1998 。

蔡錦圖。《聖經及教會歷史地圖集》。漢語聖經協會。

孟蘇倫。播種國際事工查經影片系列DVD《尼希米記》《撒母耳記》。及《尼  希米記研習本》《撒母耳記研習本》。道聲出版社。

 

  1. Online Sources

《聖光聖經地理資訊網》(Holy Light Bible Geography)http://bib legeography.holylight.org.tw/