DAVID, CITY OF
The name given to “the stronghold of Zion” after its capture from the Jebusites. (2Sa 5:6-9) This section is understood to be the spur or ridge that runs S from Mount Moriah. It thus lay S of the site of the temple later built by Solomon. Today it is a narrow southern plateau considerably lower than Mount Moriah. Extensive quarrying was carried out in this area, especially during the reign of Emperor Hadrian and the construction of the Roman city Aelia Capitolina around 135 C.E. So, evidently in ancient times its height was more comparable to Mount Moriah, though still beneath the elevation of the temple site.—PICTURES, Vol. 1, p. 747, and Vol. 2, p. 947.
This site was very suitable for a “stronghold,” since it was protected by deep valleys on three sides, on the W the Tyropoeon Valley, and on the E the Kidron Valley, which joins the Valley of Hinnom at the southern end of the spur. (1Ch 11:7) The city required major protection only from the N, and here the ridge became even narrower, making an attack extremely difficult. The northern boundary of this “City of David” has not yet been definitely established, though some scholars recommend as likely the above-mentioned narrow place. Over the centuries, debris has filled in the valleys to a great extent, making the strategic location and strength of this site less notable. The total area of the ancient City of David is estimated to have been 4 to 6 ha (10 to 15 acres).
In the Kidron Valley near the foot of the eastern flank of the spur on which the stronghold sat, there is a spring called Gihon. (1Ki 1:33) Archaeological excavations indicate that in ancient times a tunnel connecting to a shaft was cut through the rock, making access to the spring possible without leaving the city walls. It has been suggested that it was by climbing up this shaft that Joab and his men were able to penetrate the stronghold and take it.—2Sa 5:8; 1Ch 11:5, 6.
The name “City of David” resulted from David’s making his royal residence there, after ruling for seven and a half years in Hebron. Here, with contributions from Hiram of Tyre, David’s “house of cedars” was built. (2Sa 5:5, 9, 11; 7:2) David had the ark of the covenant brought from the house of Obed-edom up to the City of David, his wife, Michal, being able to see the procession approach from a window of David’s house. (2Sa 6:10-16; 1Ch 15:1, 29) Upon his death, the king was buried in the city, a custom followed with many other monarchs of the Davidic line.—1Ki 2:10.
From Solomon’s Reign Onward. Solomon transferred the Ark to the newly constructed temple on the more spacious plateau to the N of the City of David. The expression that they ‘brought up the ark out of the City of David’ shows that the temple area lay on higher ground, Mount Moriah being higher than the southern spur. (1Ki 8:1) After his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter, Solomon had placed her in the City of David. (1Ki 3:1) But, upon the completion of a new residence closer to the temple area, he removed her from the City of David because it was viewed as holy, the Ark having been stationed there. (1Ki 9:24; 2Ch 8:11) Solomon did further building work in the City of David, and Hezekiah did repair work there in preparation for Assyrian Sennacherib’s attack. (1Ki 11:27; 2Ch 32:5) Hezekiah also diverted the waters of the Gihon spring, bringing them over to the W side of the City of David, evidently by means of the rock-cut tunnel that has been discovered connecting that spring with the Pool of Siloam on the SW slope of the spur. (2Ch 32:30) His son and successor, Manasseh, built an outer wall along the eastern slope facing the Kidron Valley.—2Ch 33:14.
From the above texts it is evident that, although Jerusalem’s area expanded in course of time, the City of David remained a distinct sector. This held true even after the return from Babylonian exile, certain features of the city being mentioned in connection with the work crews repairing the city walls. (Ne 3:15, 16) “The Stairway of the City of David” apparently led down from the southern extremity of the city. (Ne 12:37) Excavations here have revealed portions of such a stairway, and a flight of steps roughly cut in the rock still leads down from the hill at this point.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures the term “David’s city” is applied to Bethlehem, the birthplace of David and of Jesus.—Lu 2:4, 11; Joh 7:42; see JERUSALEM.