I’m afraid that I don’t have very good pictures of what I saw and learned about the City of David. It was hard to get a good picture. The pictures with this post are mostly of the view from the dig, ie. the view from what would have been David’s city.
The boundaries of Jerusalem have changed many times since David first conquered what was then a city of the Jebusites. And what an interesting story it is. Jebus, as it was known, was originally a Canaanite city, a city with a long history. When Israel conquered the land after their Exodus from slavery in Egypt they did not conquer Jebus. David was able to conquer it, so let me tell you how, and then let me tell you why he wanted that city.
David conquered the city of Jebus by sneaking up their water shaft! The city had boasted that the lame and the blind could keep him out of their fortified dwelling, but David was ingenious and committed and he took the city.
Why was it so important to take the city? Well David was from the important tribe of Judah, from the city of Hebron where he had been anointed king. Now the tribes of Israel didn’t always get along with each other, with lots of bickering and fighting and posturing, and David knew that he had to bring them together under his leadership. The other powerful tribe was the tribe to the north of Judah, the tribe of Ephraim. This was the tribe of Saul, the previous king. Now Jebus is pretty much on the border of Ephraim and Judah, and David wanted to establish a central location that would be a rallying point for ALL of the people of Israel. And he brought into his city the most important object in all of the nation, the Ark of the Covenant. With strategic moves like this, David established his leadership and unified the nation so that it could be strong. You can read all about this in 2 Samuel 5 and 6.
Now the original City of David is on a small hill just to the south of present day Jerusalem, which sits on a much bigger hill. David desired to provide a building to be a worthy house of worship for God Almighty. And so he chose the larger hill just to the north. Interestingly, this is the very spot where Abraham demonstrated his faith by being willing to sacrifice his only promised son, Isaac. God did not allow David to build this house of worship, but David made provisions so that his son Solomon could build it. And build it he did. It was marvelous. Unfortunately the Babylonians razed it to the ground in 586 BC, and the Romans razed the second Temple in 70 AD. So there is almost nothing left of either Temple, except for some blocks at what is called the Western Wall, some of the blocks that Herod used to expand the Temple mount (one of the blocks is 40 feet by 15 feet by 11 feet and weighs over 500 tons! How in the world did they get it there?!)
One thing you will notice from the pictures is how steep the hills are and how the dwellings are built one below the other. This is the scene for the story of David and Bathsheba, a story of lust that ends in disaster for almost everyone involved. A great man of God who gave into his temptation and brought dishonor and shame on his reign.
From the site of the City of David, as one looks east across the Kidron Valley, one associates King David with another anointed One. It was via the Kidron Valley that David fled from his rebellious son, Absalom, who was intent on usurping his father as king. The priests loyal to David were taking the Ark of the Covenant with them, but David instructed them to return it to the city. “But if God says ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.” (2 Samuel 15) This is a chilling foreshadowing of the situation of Jesus many years later, across the same Kidron Valley, in the garden on the Mount of Olives, as he submits himself to God’s will, knowing that as he willingly takes the sin of the world upon himself, that God’s pleasure must be withdrawn from him.
I’m sorry that this has been a longer post. There is so much more I would like to say. But let’s leave it there for now. Tomorrow I want to tell you about the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Signing off – Father Wismer