The city of David - the core of ancient Jerusalem


 For thousands of years Jerusalem was a subject of men's strife, wars and fanatical zeal. Every ambitious ruler in the past desired to own it. The rulers thought, once they owned the Holy City, they and everything thet do would be considered legitimate and holy.

When I have just arrived in Jerusalem 20 years ago, I have been working at the small guest house run by the Anglican Church's CMJ Ministry. The guest house is situated in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. While working there I have found out about endless arguments and courts between the current British owners of this piece of "Holy Ground" and the previous ones, Armenians. Both sides thought the area where the Anglican church and the Guest house were situated to be the Mount Zion. But the real Zion remained hidden, unnoticed by numerous "owners" of the Holy Land. Most of it was hidden underground. All this may remind you of the epic "Dream Works" movie "The Matrix". In it the only free human city Zion also laid underground, close to the core of the earth...

Only in the 19-th century the ancient city founded by king David was discovered. It is known that Jerusalem was conquered by king David approximately in 1004 BCE.  Back then it was a small fortress called Zion. It surrounded and protected the only source of water in the city - Gihon spring. And the spring is still there hewn into a channel during different periods of history.

The area was called the fortress of Zion in the Old Testament  and was inhabited by a Cananite tribe of Jebusites hence it's name the city of Jebus. And since the period of king David's reign it became a spiritual and political capital of the people of Israel, a city where later the Temple was built...

city of david

Jerusalem is a unique city for the Jewish people and for the whole world. But so it happened that the heart of the ancient city where the great kings and prophets of the past had lived was covered by debris and forgotten by the generations. Until it was again discovered as though by God's providence. Incredible and totally unexpected archaelogical discoveries were found there during numerous excavations and presented before general public.

A special fund called "The City of David foundation" was established for the purposes of scientific survey and exploration of the site. Many famous archaelogists conducted excavations there, among them Professor Ronny Reich, D-r Eilat Mazar and others. The results of their explorations are exhibited in the Archaeological park "The City Of David".

ancient jerusalem

Iron Age

Ancient Jerusalem was located between Kidron Valley and Terapeon Valley. The Temple Mount, then called only Mount Moriah was higher then the rest of the area. Mount Moriah is beleived to be the same place of which tell the story of binding of Isaac in the book of Genesis 22:

"God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham! And he said, "Here I am."

Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

And Jerusalem also might have been the city of the high priest and king Melchizedek, as it is described in  chapter 14 of the book Genesis:

"Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
 And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all."
This is the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible. Outside the Bible Jerusalem is mentioned in Egyptian sources. 19-18 century execration shards mention the city Ur Shalimum and El Amarna correspondence of the 14-th century speaks of Jerusalem as well. El Amarna texts tell about Habiru tribe that was about to conquer Cananite cities of the future land of Israel.
The Bible tells that king David was the first  to conquer the city for the Isralites and to turn it into a capital of the kingdom.He chose Jerusalem perhaps because of the few reasons. Firstly, it did belong to none of the Israeli tribes and thus thier unnecessary competition was prevented.Secondly, Jerusalem was chosen because of the special geographical and topographical location providing it with more security. It stood on the ancient trade roots and had well protected water source. And most importantly, Jerusalem already acquired the glory of the religiuos center of the whole area. King David had brought  from Hebron and set on top of the sacred mountain the most sacred object of the people of Israel - The Arch of the Covenant. His son Solomon, approximately in 957 BC, had built the first in the history Temple for one God, Creator of the Universe.


After Solomon's death, his kingdom was divided into two as a result of the fight for the throne.

Jerusalem remained the capital of Judea but the tribes of Israel had formed another political center - Samaria. Theses kingdoms grew weak and became an easy prey of stronger empires such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia.


The kingdom of Israel had fallen in 8-th century BC to Assyria. The Holy Scripture tells us:

"Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 
And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. (2 Kings 18:9-11)

Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria."

Before that many refuges flew to Jerusalem and as a result the city grew to the west. King Hezekiah fortified the city and secured the main water source, Gohon spring. Hezekiah chanelled it in the undeground tunel and thus hid it from the enemies who threatened to capture Jerusalem.

"Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller's Field." (2 Kings 18:17)

 Unfortunately later Judea fell and was captured by the Babylonians in the 6-th century BC and Jerusalem was pillaged and burned in 586 BC.

(to be continued...)

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