City Of David

Jun 30, 2020 | Bible Archeology | 0 comments

The Ophel, perhaps meaning “fortified hill,” or City of David is the name of the narrow promontory beyond the southern edge of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Old City, with the Tyropoeon Valley (valley of the cheesemakers) on its west, the Hinnom valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. The previously deep valley (the Tyropoeon) separating the Ophel from what is now referred to as the Old City of Jerusalem currently lies hidden beneath the debris of centuries. Despite the name, the Old City of Jerusalem dates from a much later time than the settlement in the Ophel, which is generally considered to have been the original Jerusalem. 7

The oldest part of Israelite Jerusalem, known as the city of David, is located on a narrow ridge just south of the walls of the current old city of Jerusalem. After conquering Jerusalem from the Jebusites, David established the city as his capital and began to develop it. 18

The account of the construction of Hezekiah’s water tunnel under Jerusalem by King Hezekiah shortly before the city was besieged by Sennacherib in about 701 BC is described in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 30. Archaeologists discovered the tunnel in the 19th century. It is a third of a mile long, mostly less than three feet wide, and, in a few places, less than five feet in height. It winds under the City of David from the Gihon Spring, an important site in Old Testament Jerusalem, to the Pool of Siloam, an important New Testament period site. 4

The City of David excavations are funded by the Elad Association, which buys houses in the City of David area and populates them with Jews. The dig also enjoys government backing, and funding from the Tourism Ministry; the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality are involved as well. About 20 laborers, mostly Arab residents of Silwan (the Arab neighborhood where the City of David is located) are employed by the IAA in the dig. 6

Other archaeological work convincingly documents the history of the Bible. In particular, the grande dame of British biblical archaeology, Kathleen Kenyon, revealed an important archaeological feature from the time of David. In 1961 her excavation exposed a part of the Jebusite wall that surrounded Jerusalem when David took the city near the end of the 11th century B.C. (see 2 Samuel 5:6, 7). 3

The area includes several sites of archaeological interest, notably Hezekiah’s tunnel (a water supply system, where the Siloam inscription was found), Warren’s shaft (an earlier water supply system), and the Pools of Siloam (the presently extant Byzantine-era pool, and the recently discovered Second Temple-period pool). All these water supply systems drew their water from the Gihon Spring which lies on the Ophel’s eastern slope, and is generally considered the original reason that the City was built at this location. In the 1999 book The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot Dr. Ernest L. Martin claims that the Ophel was the location of the original Jewish temple, though this opinion is disputed by most archaeologists and conflicts with the long-standing tradition that the Temple was located on the site of the Dome of the Rock, which symbolically loomed over the ancient city on the Ophel. 7

By mistake, the City of David is commonly placed in the immediate vicinity of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, only a few hundred yards southeast. This is absurd because, while under construction by a work-force of 183 300 (1. 9

Today, the battles over Biblical archaeology have enormous political implications, none more so than the disagreement over the palace of David. The palace of David is located in an archaeological park called the “City of David,” which occupies a hill just below the Old City. The City of David is where the original town of Jerusalem was situated 4,000 years ago. But today, the City of David archaeological park sits right in the middle of Silwan, an Arab settlement captured by Israel from Jordan in 1967. Israel considers Silwan part of Israel; the international community generally says it isn’t. 14

Again, the evidence is subject to interpretation, but the tunnel may well be part of a comprehensive defensive response to a late-8th-century Assyrian invasion, first of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and later the kingdom of Judah. The latter military campaign is described in 2 Kings 18:9-19:37 and Isaiah 36, 37. The discovery of the Nahaman Avigad excavation of 1970 is generally considered evidence of the story in 2 Chronicles 32:5, describing significant work on the 8th-century city wall. Hezekiah’s concern about an impending military threat is evidenced by the remnants of a wall that expanded to the south and west, considerably beyond the boundaries of the City of David (Isaiah 22:9-11). 3

After David’s death the city of David lost its prominence. As the number of inhabitants waxed, the city was extended to the west. King Solomon chose to build on the site for the Temple since a promise David had already made ( see II Samuel 7) on the Temple Mount, and he erected his palace adjacent to it. 1

The city of David continued being a part of Jerusalem and an Iron Age wall was built round it. During the Babylonian conquest of the City of David was fiercely defended (586/7 BCE), which is illustrated by the archaeological finds. According to II Kings 25:9, the Babylonians “burnt the Temple, the Royal Temple and all the houses of Jerusalem.” 1

In later centuries, after the Return from Babylon, the Jewish population had dwindled enough to fit into the City of David again. Their governor Nehemiah got authority from the Persians to rebuild a wall around it (Nehemiah 3:1-32). The population grew during the Hasmonean kings in the second century BCE; they extended Jerusalem again to the west and encompassed the City of David into it. After the Byzantine period apparently the City of David stopped being a part of Jerusalem. Later the Arab village Silwan nibbled at its slope. 1

The best view on the City of David is from the Mount of Olives, from the ‘Maison d’Abraham.’ The City of David is inaccessible by car. Two footpaths lead to down, one from the parking lot on the north-west, outside Dung Gate to the Old City. The second path leaves from the Temple Mount’s south-east corner. 1

The excavation area on the north shows the acropolis from the time of King David. From the north the site is approached by a stepped ramp, or glacis, built by David shortly after he conquered the city. Its purpose was to defend it and also to create a base for his palace. The two holes in the middle of the ramp may have been drains. 1

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