The City of David

Visited by 400,000 people every year. 


For thousands of years, Jerusalem has been the object of men's strife, wars and fanatical zeal. Every ambitious ruler in the past desired to own it.


When I arrived in Jerusalem 24 years ago, I began working at the small guest house run by the Anglican Church's CMJ Ministry situated in the Armenian Quarter of The Old City. While working there, I heard many arguments between the current British owners of this piece of Holy Ground and the prior Armenian owners. Both sides were certain the Church is situated upon Mount Zion.


However; the real Zion, until recentlyremained hidden  underground and unnoticed by numerous property owners in Jerusalem.


All this may remind you of the epic movie from Dreamworks called The Matrix. In it, the only free human city Zion also laid underground, close to the core of the earth.

City of David

"Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, now the city of David"   

(I Chronicles 11:5). 

The ancient city was rediscovered in the 19th  century. Historically, Jerusalem was conquered by King David around 1004 BC.  At that time, it was a small fortress called Zion that surrounded and protected the only source of water in the city, the Gihon Spring. Throughout history and today, the spring is still flowing into a stone hewn channel which is unchanged over thousands of years.


 In Old Testament times, the fortress of Zion was inhabited by a Canaanite tribe, the Jebusites, and the city was named Jebus. At the beginning  of King David's reign, it became a spiritual and political capital of the people of Israel and the site where the Temple was eventually built. 

Excavation arae G and the "house of Ahiel"
Excavation arae G and the "house of Ahiel"

The heart of this ancient city where great kings and prophets once lived was eventually covered by debris and forgotten by generations. By God's providence, it was discovered again. Incredible and totally unexpected archaeological discoveries were found there during numerous excavations which are now able to be viewed by the 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 archaeologists conducted excavations there, among them Professor Ronny Reich, Professor Shukron, Dr. Eilat Mazar and others. These amazing discoveries are exhibited in The City of David Archaeological Park.

Rediscovery of the City of David

The famous British explorer, Captain Charles Warren, arrived in Jerusalem in 1867 to lead the second archaeological expedition of the British Foundation for the Exploration of Palestine.


Turkish authorities were suspicious of Warren and refused to allow him to excavate on the Temple Mount. Instead, Warren decided to dig mines around the perimeter of the Temple Mount, in the hopes of finding ancient artifacts.


Unexpectedly, Warren discovered the Iron Age fortifications of Jerusalem (Ophel) outside the 16th century city wall and rightly suggested that ancient Jerusalem did not originate within the walls later built by the Turkish authorities, but on the eastern hill south of the Temple Mount. Further research confirmed his belief was correct. He later discovered the City of David itself.


Through further excavation, incredible discoveries were made in this small area of the city which confirmed many biblical events. Among these is the underground water channel, built by the decree of the legendary King of Judah, Hezekiah, who built a channel to protect the city’s water source from the Assyrian army,

"Thus many people gathered together who stopped all the springs and the brook that ran through the land, saying, 'Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?' (II Chronicles 32:4).


It is possible that the soldiers of the King David entered and conquered the city through this tunnel?

"Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land; and they said to David, ‘You shall not come in here, but even those who are blind and those who limp will turn you away, thinking, ‘David cannot enter here.’ Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. And David said on that day, ‘Whoever strikes the Jebusites is to reach those who limp and those who are blind, who are hated by David’s soul, through the water tunnel’” (2 Kings 5:6-8).


Raymond Weil (1874-1950), a Jewish-French archaeologist, came to Jerusalem twice to excavate early in the 20th century (1913-1914 and 1923-1924).  He found the chamber tombs of the kings from the house of David, dating roughly back to the Iron Age. This discovery shed light on the location of King David's tomb.


The font of Siloam was described in the New Testament as the location where a blind man received his sight and was discovered during excavations in 2005.

“Therefore, the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, ‘Is not this he who sat and begged?’ Some said, ‘This is he.’ Others said, ‘He is like him.’ He said, ‘I am he.’ Therefore they said to him, ‘How were your eyes opened?’ He answered and said, ‘A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, Go to the pool of Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and I received sight’" (John 9:9-11).


Finally, one of the most sensational discoveries was made by  archaeologist, Dr. Eilat Mazar (2008), who claimed to have discovered the foundations of the palace of King David himself, the conqueror of Jerusalem. For many years, archaeological finds in the City of David have amazed the world, the site where the most intense and frequent excavations have been carried out in Israel.

Topography of Ancient Jerusalem

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

So the Lord surrounds His people

From this time forth and forever"  (Psalm 125:2).

Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives
Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives

Indeed, ancient Jerusalem was then as it is today, surrounded by mountains on all sides.


The City of David is  on a hill within the ancient mound (Tel) which covered approximately 10 acres known as Eastern Hill of Jerusalem. 


It was perfectly protected by the terrain including deep valleys which surround it from three directions. To the east is the Mount of Olives with the Kidron Valley between it and the City of David.  The Central Valley (known as the Tyropeon Valley in the 2nd Temple period) to the west.  This unique natural defensive topography and the presence of the perennial Gihon spring explains  how human settlements have flourished here from the early times of history.


Since ancient times, the area was sparsley populated which is difficult to imagine when seeing the site today. Now, the slopes of the Mount of Olives hold the largest  Jewish cemetery in the world with more than 150,000 graves. Historically, buried remains dating back to the Iron Age have been discovered in the valley. 

Excavation of the Large Stone Structure

"Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house(2 Samuel 5:11).

Stone stepped structure and the "house of Ahiel" pillars
Stone stepped structure and the "house of Ahiel" pillars

Excavation in this area revealed a 21 ft x 98 ft structure of large hewn stones (some are 4 ft long) which form stone terraces which is the foundation of a large structure made of rubble and large stones.   


There are visible steps which rise to the  height of a multi-story building. Multiple expeditions were were carried out by a number of archaeologists from around the world including Robert McAlister, John Garrow Duncan (1923-1925) and Lady Kathleen Kenyon of England (1961-1967). Israel's own Yigal Shiloh (1978-1985) and Dr. Eilat Mazar (2007-2008) also conducted extensive excation and research. 


Today, it is generally accepted that this building served as either a fortress, a palace, or a complex of large administrative buildings.  Based on the analysis of ceramics and chemical research of organic remains, Dr. Mazar dated the building to the 10th century BC which is exactly the period of the reign of David.


Mazar published her explanation about her conclusion which identifies this location as the palace of King David,

"In the excavations I directed in this area, the remains of the substantial building were found (the Large Stone Structure), extending over the entire area just above the Stepped Stone Structure... Underneath the structure were retrieved large quantities of pottery ...  The ceramic assemblages recovered from below the Large Stone Structure... indicate a construction date... around 1000 BC."


2 Samuel 5:11 says,

"Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house." 


Can the large stone structure be this house, mentioned in the Bible?


However, Dr. Mazar's report is disputed by historian and archaeology experts of  the Tel Aviv University, David Ussishkin, and Professor Israel Finkelstein. In their opinion, there is no evidence of the existence of the kingdom of Israel during the times of David and Solomon, on the scale described in the Bible although the sensational finds at Khirbet Caiaphas partly confirm the biblical account.


The fortress and Mount Zion  associated with the stone structure are located below the adjacent Mount of Olives, the Temple Mount and the Western Hill.  Visually, the fortress is located in the lowland due to the accumulated rubbish and ruins over centuries, which created hills around the excavation site of the City of David.


Also worth noting is an interesting verse from 2 Kings 5:17:

"Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold."


Went down? Does this mean that the territories adjacent to the fortress were higher? Probably, because it corresponds to the modern topography of the large stone structure. How could such a fortress protect David and his followers from the enemies if they camped on a higher terrain, in a strategically more advantageous position?


The distance from the hills of the Mount of Olives or the Western hill is greater than the distance of the flight of an arrow; therefore, it was not a strategically advantageous location. In order to get closer to the fortress, soldiers had to go down into the valley below the fortress of David which verifies its advantageous topographic location.

Stone stepped structure and the "Burnt house"
Stone stepped structure and the "Burnt house"

In conclusion, it must be said that all these facts give reason to assume that this massive stone structure with steps is an excellent candidate for the ruins of the glorious citadel of Zion, described in the pages of Holy Scripture.


The size of the cyclopean (ancient masonry technique) building blocks and the architectural genius of the builders may explain the confidence and arrogance displayed by the Jebusites in Jerusalem when they learned of David's intention to conquer the city,

"The inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, 'You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,' thinking, 'David cannot come in here'” (2 Kings 5: 6).


David succeeded in what many had failed before him. But how? This will be discussed further in this be continued.

Remnants of the King's Archive

The Babylonian army burned and destroyed the city in 586 BC; however, burned clay products only become hardened by fire.


Archaeologist Yigal Shilo discovered 51 seals (bullae, in ancient Greek) on ancient writings on the floor of the room during excavations.


On some of them, the names of the royal scribes were written from the time of the prophet Jeremiah during which Jerusalem was burned. 


One of these scribes, Gemariah, is mentioned in the book of Jeremiah, 

"Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe..." 

(Jeremiah 36:10-11). 

House of Ahiel

The "House of Ahiel" and the Stone Stepped Structure
The "House of Ahiel" and the Stone Stepped Structure

This structure was named the house of Ahiel  because during  the excavations, many clay shards were found here with the imprint of this name.


It remains unclear whether the seal meant the name of the potter who made the clay products or the name of the owner of the house.


The remains of the house consist of an open courtyard surrounded on three sides by roofed rooms, which were used as bedrooms and storage rooms. Livestock was kept in the yard and food was prepared here as well. The roof was supported by four columns.


The architecture  is typical of the period of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah, which is why this type of structure is called the "Israelite House". A stone toilet seat was discovered near the vault of the house, which was a rarity at the time.

Burnt Room

Model of the "House of Ahiel" and the Stone Stepped Structure
Model of the "House of Ahiel" and the Stone Stepped Structure

"And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.  


He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire" (2 Kings 25: 8-9).


Babylonian and Judean arrowheads were discovered here, covered with a layer of ash along with burned household items. These finds confirm the Bible's account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the powerful Babylonian army in 586 BC.


In one of the rooms, archaeologists found half-burned household utensils and even the remains of a chair made of boxwood, considered precious wood at that time. 

Water Supply Systems of Ancient Jerusalem

In ancient Jerusalem, there were several water supply systems and, most importantly,  a natural source of water which still exists today,  the Gihon spring.


The water systems had to provide the residents of the city with water, but also needed to be reliably protected in order to provide access to water during the siege of the city. The Gihon Spring was the main source of the city's water supply. Since the Bronze Age, when people began to cut rainwater cisterns to provide an additional source of freshwater for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.


The volume of water in the Gihon spring is 600,000 -800,000 cubic meters per year. When translated, the name means pulsating  due to the varying power of the water which gushes out.


In ancient times, the channel of the Gihon Spring passed through the Kidron Valley.

The inhabitants of Jerusalem (or Shalem, as it was called then), built a water channel, the Canaanite tunnel, which has since become dry.


The residents were the Jebusites, one of the tribes of Israel (or Caanan, as it called at that time). Today, the length of the tunnel today is 400 m (1300 feet).

Openings  were cut in the walls of the channel to divert water for irrigation of fields and gardens.


The channel's incline was gradual and the water flowed slowly and quietly, exactly as the prophet said,

“Inasmuch as these people refused
The waters of Shiloah that flow softly...

Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them

The waters of the River, strong and mighty—
The king of Assyria and all his glory..." (Isaiah 8: 6-7).


The prediction of Prophet Isaiah quickly became true.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

"When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib intended to attack Jerusalem, he planned with his civil and military officers to stop up the water of the springs outside the city; and they helped him. They gathered together a large number of people and stopped up all the springs and the stream which flowed through the land. ‘Why should the king of Assyria come here and find much water?’ they asked … Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the City of David" (2 Chronicles 32:2-4).


“The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah, his exploits and how he made the [Siloam] pool and the conduit and brought water into the city are recorded in the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Judah”(2 Kings 20:20).

Hezekiah's tunnel and Gihon spring
Hezekiah's tunnel and Gihon spring

The water conduit, commonly called the tunnel of King Hezekiah, is part of the water supply system of Jerusalem, which is located under the city of David. The tunnel connects the source of Gihon Spring with the Pool of Siloam.


According to 2 Chronicles 32: 2–4 and 2 Kings 20:20, this tunnel had already been constructed during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah to prepare Jerusalem for the imminent attack of Assyria's King Sennacherib.


According to the Bible's story, Hezekiah redirected water from the old tunnels into the new tunnel. However, many researchers today wonder whether this tunnel was actually dug by Hezekiah at the end of the eighth century BC (Iron Age II).


The Siloam Inscription, found at the southern end of Hezekiah's Tunnel, tells how the people digging the tunnel worked in two directions, from the north and from the south until they met in the middle. However,  the inscription does not mention Hezekiah or King Sennacherib I:

"And this was the account of the breakthrough. While the laborers were still working with their picks, each toward the other, and while there were still three cubits to be broken through, the voice of each was heard calling to the other, because there was a zdh  (split or crack) in the rock to the south and to the north. And at the moment of the breakthrough, the laborers struck each toward the other, pick against pick. Then the water flowed from the spring to the pool for 1200 cubits. And the height of the rock above the heads of the laborers was 100 cubits."


Some consider the lack of mention proves the modesty of King Hezekiah who did not want to be immortalized in the inscription.  Although most scholars attribute the Siloam Inscription to the second Iron Age, there is also another opinion that the tunnel was cut much later, during the Maccabean period of the 2nd century to 37 BC.

Your humble tour guide in Hezekiah's tunnel
Your humble tour guide in Hezekiah's tunnel

Two respected scholars, John Rogerson and Philip Davies of the University of Sheffield in England, contended that the tunnel was dug  in the Late Second Temple period. “The bottom line can be simply stated,” they wrote. “The tunnel was not built by Hezekiah but several centuries later.”

Warren's Shaft

Stairs to the tunnels of the City of David
Stairs to the tunnels of the City of David

On October 24, 1867, British Army Captain Charles Warren, while working with the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF), along with his colleague, Sergeant Birtles, explored a stone tunnel that the Gihon spring flowed through. 


Using only simple wooden ladders, they climbed up a vertical shaft where they found an  underground rocky passage, which was clogged with debris and stones.


The next explorers of the underground tunnels were Capian Montagu, son of the Earl, and the treasure hunter M. Parker. They hoped to discover the legendary treasures of King Solomon, but only found a few more short tunnels. They invited Father Hugo Vincent, a Catholic priest and archaeologist from the Ecole Franciscan Institute for Biblical Archeology, to work alongside them. His drawings and reports are important scientific documents used by scholars to this day.                                                 

The tunnel system consists of several sections. There is a stepped tunnel, a horizontal curved tunnel (the area of the famous Warren's shaft), which connects to the tunnel leading to the Gihon Spring.


According to the hypothesis of C. Warren, the inhabitants of Jerusalem descended into the tunnel and passed through to the mine where they scooped up water in leather bags.  At the bottom of the mine, water came from a source through an auxiliary channel which is is 20 m long (65 feet).


Biblical scholars theorize that the conquest of Jerusalem, a city considered to be impregnable and protected from all sides, was launched by King David through this mine. In their opinion, David sent a small party that made their way through the mine into the city where they managed to open the gate.


This explanation is, in principle, consistent with the examples of ancient military conquests and the description of the Bible. Although the pages of the Scriptures do not fully report the tactics used by David to conquer Jerusalem, there is still a small hint found in the book of 2 Samuel,

"...David said on that day, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft (Tsinor - in Hebrew) and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain.” Therefore they say, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house” (2 Samuel 5:8).


And the book of Chronicles confirms the narrative:

"But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief. Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David" (1 Chronicles 11: 5-7).


In 1838, American explorer Edward Robinson discovered the tunnel which is believed to have been built by Hezekiah, one of his many important archeological finds in the Land of Israel. 

Robinson and his companion tried to crawl into the tunnel.but were unsuccessful. 


Later, another researcher, Charles Warren, from Great Britain, attempted a study of the tunnel in 1867 but the effort failed because the water level suddenly arose.


The pulsating stream flowing through the tunnel once endangered the lives of a group of Israeli school children in 1974 when the water level rose suddenly as they passed through it. The children were trapped in it for some time until they were rescued.


Today, the tunnel has been cleared and the water level lowered to a constant level of 2 feet.

Although the tunnel's construction has historically been attributed to Hezekiah, 

many researchers of today are wondering whether this tunnel was actually dug in his era during the Iron Age (late 8th century BC).

New research of Reich and Shukron

In 1995, Israeli archaeologists Roni Reich and Eli Shukron based their conclusions upon the results of their excavations and research (Reich and Shukron, 1999):

“We ... encountered the remains of monumental stones and buildings and decided to dig deeper. The first time we encountered the corner of a huge masonry built ... next to the spring. We ... discovered the remains of a tower erected around the spring to protect it. "


The walls of the tower measure 3.5m (11 feet) thick and 14m x 17m (45 x 55 feet). The building blocks were colossal in size, about 2m (6ft) long and up to 1m (3ft) wide. Near the pool, archaeologists discovered the remains of another tower. Reich and  Shukron surmised that the pool, tower, wall  and the protected passage were built in the 18th century BC so that the inhabitants could safe access to water.


To construct the tunnel, the stonecutters moved from opposite sides, punching through stone. They pierced the soft rock layer (melekech) which the hard rock (mitsi amor) remained under their feet. Guided by the rock bed, the builders dug towards each other and completed the tunneling. They were unaware of the existence of a vertical shaft (Warren's shaft), which arose naturally, as a result of karst process (the dissolution of soluable rock).


Hundreds or even a thousand years later, (around the 8th century BC), during the reign of the kings of Judea, the builders stumbled upon a vertical shaft (Warren's shaft). According to Reich and Shukron, it was never used to draw water. Since it was discovered much later than the conquest of Jerusalem by David, it could not be the same trench (or tsinor) which Joab and a group of soldiers used to enter the city.

The Tower over the Pool

Outside the city walls was a pool (pond) carved into the rock and protected by a stone tower. At first, it was probably filled with rainwater then later the waters of the Gihon spring were brought into it via a channel.


These structures were built in the Canaanite period, by the Jebusites who inhabited the city at that time, long before the conquest of Jerusalem by the Israelites. Perhaps it was here that famous  Solomon was anointed as king.


"So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said,'Long live King Solomon!'” (1 Kings 1:38-39).


Historian Josephus Flavius writes that during the construction of the Jerusalem Temple, King Solomon used building blocks of colossal, unusual dimensions and that he, "instructed the workers to cut huge stones for the foundation of the Temple." ("Antiquities of the Jews" book 8: 2,3).


New data obtained from C-14 radiocarbon analysis of organic materials found under the masonry of the tower which moves the period of the tower construction much closer to the period of King Solomon (9-8 centuries BC). It seems quite possible that these huge blocks laid over the springs were built by the famous builder of antiquity, the wise King Solomon!

The Kings' Tombs

Through archaeological excations at the City of David and studying the Bible, further light was shed on the location of this great king's tomb. The book of Nehemiah  describes the repair of the walls of Jerusalem following the  return of the Jewish exiles, 

"The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun, son of Kol-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David. Beyond him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of a half-district of Beth Zur, made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of the Heroes" (Nehemiah 3: 15-16).


The location described in this verse points to the section of the City of David near the recently discovered Pool of Siloam. Verse 16 of the same chapter states that the workers were rebuilding the walls "to the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool..."


Therefore, the burial place of King David was likely located near the Kidron Valley, in the southern part of the city.


Talmudic literature describes a discussion between Rabbi Akiva and other sages about the tombs of kings and prophets. Rabbi Akiva demanded that all graves be removed from the city. Regarding the tombs of David and the prophetess Hulda, Rabbi Akiva claimed that all unclean things had already been removed, 

"There was a tunnel and all the unclean things were carried out along the underground passages to the Kidron Valley" (Tosefta, Bava Batra 1:11).


This tunnel is next to the Kidron Valley, the location of the tunnels within the City of David. The archaeological park is at the foot of the Western Hill of Jerusalem where the traditional tomb of David is located. 

 The French explorer, Charles Clermont-Ganneau, suggested in 1887 that one of the reasons why the so-called Hezekiah's tunnel makes a loop was the desire of the builders to avoid ritual desecration when passing near the royal tombs. It is common knowledge that Jews do not bury the dead within the city limits, literally following the commandment "None shall defile himself for the dead among his people" (Leviticus 21: 1).

Excavations of Raymond Weill

Baron Edmond de Rothschild commissioned the French archaeologist, Raymond Weill, to conduct a systematic excavation of the City of David in 1913, with high hopes that the true burial site of King David would be discovered. 


Through Weill's excavations and research, 9 graves were discovered which where carved into the rock within the territory of the City of David. 8 of these were located together, with one apart from the others.The caves were designated T-1 to T-9.


Cave T-9 aroused particular interest of researchers. It was a kind of tunnel or corridor 4 m high (13 feet), 16.5 m long (54 feet) and 2.5 m wide (8 feet). Weill also found a niche inside this room, a size suitable for laying out a body wrapped in a shroud (1.8 m by 2.5 m / 6ft x 8ft).


Weil was convinced that he had discovered the tomb of King David, although he did not find any inscription that could confirm his hypothesis; however, it is known that graves were very often plundered, looted and desecrated.


For example, the 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus argues that king Herod of Judea wanted to loot the tomb of David and found out that it had already been done before him ("Antiquities of the Jews" 16: 7: 1).


It is worth mentioning that Flavius reports the tomb of David in his time was believed to be somewhere near the palace of Herod and the high priest Caiaphas, that is, where the traditional Tomb of King David is still located today. 


At the beginning of our era, the Jews had no doubt about the location of the burial of this great king which is evidenced by the words of Jesus' disciple, Peter, in his address to the people on the day of Pentecost:

 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day" (Acts 6:29).


In other words, Peter's listeners understood  what he meant and they knew where King David's tomb was located. Whether this identification was authentic or formed under the influence of local legends and traditions remains a question.  In all likelihood, the exact location of the burial place of King David in the City of David was long forgotten by the beginning of the first century AD. 

Pro's and Con's of Weill's Arguments

However, many scientists do not share Weil's confidence that he discovered the royal tomb. In many caves, there are signs of different work that were carried out  just before the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, evidenced by traces of cement mortar found in the tombs and triangular niches carved out for the installation of oil lamps.


Among the archaeologists who disagreed with Weill's conclusions was Lady Kathleen Kenyon. She argued  the caves carved into the rock were cisterns or storage rooms instead of tombs. Naturally, it is important to take into account the human subjective factor in the work of researchers. Raymond Weill was Jewish and who worked on behalf of Rothschild, who was impatient to find the tomb of the famed King David of Israel. At the same time, Lady Kenyon was known for her anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli views and statements. These views greatly influenced her interpretation of the history of the land of Israel and the peoples who inhabited this land.


Nevertheless, the main obstacle in the way of recognition of the found tombs as truly royal was the fact that in terms of their internal structure and design, they did not display true grandeur which distinguished the tombs of that glorious period.

The tombs from the time of the Israelite kings still exist in the Kidron Valley and the Valley of Hinnom (the so-called Gehena) and are distinguished by greater grandeur and pomp than the supposed tomb of King David himself. (!)


On the other hand, most of these tombs were built almost 200 years after David's reign. During this period, the Kingdom of Judah was flourishing but in the times of David, neither his political power, nor his dynasty were fully established.


Researcher D. Zorn argues that the architectural heritage of the Middle East at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age (12-10 centuries BC) was rather modest and devoid of complex elements and luxury. He also put forward a hypothesis explaining the reason for the burial of David in the city limits, which contradicted both the Jewish tradition and commandments (Numbers 19).

Zorn believes that the real reason for the king's burial inside the city walls was the fear of his grave being desecrated and plundered.  

The Pool of Siloam

The prophet Isaiah, a contemporary of Hezekiah and, to some extent, the king's counselor (see the article King Hezekiah) wrote about the pool of Siloam:

"And you built a storehouse between the two walls for the waters of an ancient reservoir. And you did not look to the One who determined it long ago"

 (Isaiah 22:11).


Also, the book of Nehemiah (3:15) tells about the restoration of Jerusalem, the walls and the gate,

 "The Spring Gate was repaired by Shaluum, the son of the Kolkhoz, the head of the Mitsfa district: he built them, and covered them, and inserted their doors, their locks and their bolts, - he also repaired the wall near the Selakh reservoir (Shelakh or Shiloakh in Hebrew) opposite the royal garden and up to the steps descending from the city of David. "


The next verse specifically mentions both the King's tomb and the pond (or pool)

 "to the tombs of David and to the dug pond ..." (v. 16)


When the excavation site is examined, everything fits together! The tombs of David are followed by a dug pond - the pool of Siloam! That's where the Biblical story really comes in!


The story is also recorded in the New Testament. It is interesting to note that the healings performed by Jesus in Jerusalem are mentioned only in the Gospel of John where he tells of two healings, one at the pool of Bethesda and the other at Siloam.

"And as he passed, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him: Rabbi, who has sinned, he, or his parents, that he was born blind?


Jesus answered: neither he nor his parents sinned, but this so that the works of God might appear on him. I must do the works of him who sent Me while it is day; the night comes when no one can do.


As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Having said this, He spat on the ground, made clay from spitting, and anointed the blind man's eyes with clay.


And he said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which means, Sent. He went and washed and came seeing " (John 9: 1-7).

Neither the reservoir mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, nor the one mentioned during the restoration of Jerusalem by Nehemiah have been discovered by archaeologists.


It is known from 2 Kings 20:20 that King Hezekiah built a pool and chanelled water into the city:

 "Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city—are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?"


Perhaps this is the reservoir whose remains were discovered accidently by archaeologists R. Reich and E. Shukron in 2004. 


There is no doubt that this reservoir was present during the period of King Herod (1st century AD) because coins were found from the reign of  Hasmonean King A. Yannai (103-76 BC), and the Great Jewish Revolt (66-70 AD). This is the very pool which was mentioned in the Gospel and its Hebrew name Shiloah can mean sent.


The pool may have been used for ritual purification by the Jews of that period.

During the period of the Byzantine Empire, a church was built on this site by order of Empress Eudokia (400-460 AD) which is shown on the map of Madaba. The ruins of the pool and church were discovered by archaeologists in the 20th century.

Amazing discoveries have been made in the territory of the City of David from the 19th century to the present day and it has been turned into an open-air museum.


It was and still is one of the most impressive archaeological exhibits in Jerusalem, and possibly the entire State of Israel. Nowhere in the country have there been so many excavation expeditions carried out on such a small plot of land.


Truly, the City of David is the cradle and heart of ancient Jerusalem!

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