David captures Jerusalem

2 Sam 5:6-10    David captures Jerusalem from the fiercely independent Canaanite tribe of Jebusites in c.1004BC. He moves his capital to Jerusalem and lives in the Fortress of Zion which he calls the City of David (see 5 on Map 56). 

 

Jebusite wall at City of David (Deror avi)

Jebusite wall at the City of David  (Deror avi)

 

The City of David

When David’s men captured Jerusalem in c.1004BC, the city was much smaller than it is today, and was confined to the low north-south ridge called Ophel (meaning ‘the hump’) to the south of what is now the Temple Mount.

David’s heavily armed men took the defenders by surprise as they climbed up through the narrow vertical shaft and sloping tunnel that enabled the Jebusites to haul water up from the Gihon Spring (the ‘gusher spring’) outside the city wall into their fortified city on top of Ophel Hill. After being occupied by David’s forces, the old Jebusite city became known as the City of David and the ridge on which it stood was renamed Mount Zion (see Map 61).

Excavated remains of the old Jebusite city wall, and the ancient underground water system, including the section now known as Warren’s Shaft, can still be visited today. The underground water tunnel can be entered via a spiral staircase descending from the top of Ophel Hill near the observation point. This leads downhill to the Gihon Spring, on the floor of the Kidron Valley, a short distance to the south of the El Aqsa Mosque. The Gihon Spring can also be visited directly from the road running through the Kidron Valley.

 

Warren's Shaft, City of David (Deror avi)

Warren's Shaft, City of David  (Deror avi)

 

Both before and after David’s conquest of Jerusalem, water from the Gihon Spring was also led south via a shallow trench covered with huge stones to a man-made pool situated near where the Tyropoean Valley meets the Kidron Valley. This pool (the Lower Pool or Birket el-Hamra, also known as the King’s Pool) and the shallow trench connecting it with the Gihon Spring (the Siloam Channel) could not be defended during a seige as they both lay outside the city wall.

Nearly three hundred years later, King Hezekiah of Judah strengthened Jerusalem's fortifications by building a gently sloping tunnel from the Gihon Spring that snaked underneath the hillside to a new Upper Pool in order to ensure Jerusalem’s water supply during any future seige. The Pool of Siloam (the Upper Pool), the Lower Pool, the Siloam Channel and Hezekiah’s Tunnel can all be seen today.

 

2 Sam 5:11-16    King Hiram of Tyre provides cedars of Lebanon, carpenters and stonemasons to build a palace for David.

2 Sam 5:17-25    The same year, the Philistines attack David at the Valley of Rephaim. David defeats them at Baal Perazim (‘Lord of the breakthrough’). Later, he pursues the Philistines from Gibeon all the way to Gezer (still unconquered by the Israelites) (see 6 on Map 56).

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