Before David took over the City of David, the region was known as Jerusalem, Jebusite (Joshua 15:8), Salem (ref: Gen 14:18), the fortress of Zion (2 Sam 5:7), and Zion (1 Kings 7:1). It was once home to the offspring of Jebusite, who was Canaan’s son (ref: Gen 10:16; Josh 15:63).
Jerusalem was an ancient Canaanite city; according to archeological findings, there was evidence of human settlements there since 6000 years ago. In Scripture, Abraham—who would be Israel’s founding father—had an encounter with Melchizedek, king of Salem (Gen 14:18-20). In 1406 B.C., Joshua led the Israelites into the Land of Canaan, which was later divided. Jerusalem then fell on the territory between the tribes of Benjamin (Josh 18:28) and the tribes of Judah (ref: Josh 15:8, 18:16).
In 1003 B.C., the tribes of Israel crowned David as the second king of the United Monarchy in succession of Saul (2 Sam 5:1-3). Thereafter, David conquered the city of Jerusalem and called it the City of David, the new capital of his kingdom (2 Sam 5:6-9).
The original site of the City of David is located on a hill southeast of the old city of Jerusalem today (ref: see Image #1). The old city is about 460 meters from north to south and 160 meters wide from east to west, sitting on the highland of an altitude of approximately 750 meters in Israel’s central mountains (the hill country of Judah). To the north of the city is Mount Moriah (the location of the temple later), whereas the east, west, and south sides of the city are surrounded by Kidron, Hinnom (central mountains region), and Gehenna river-valleys. The bottom of the valleys and the city walls have a height gap of 40 to 80 meters, making the city a militarily strategic location for defense while also having great infrastructure for people to conveniently go in and out. On the east side of the city, the Gihon spring provides sufficient supply of water even during wartime (ref: 2 Chron 32:30). No wonder Jerusalem is famed to be an impregnable city, ideal for both defense and offense purposes (ref: 2 Sam 5:6).
After David captured Jerusalem, he also fortified the city (ref: 2 Sam 5:9). Geographically, the city found itself near the northern border of the tribes of Judah in the south where David belonged, which connected it to the other tribes in the northern region of Israel (ref: see Image #2). The city has a strategic location for commute, making it a highly contested land among the nations in ancient Near East. Later, within the city, David also built a palace (1 Chron 15:1) and set the ark of God in place (1 Chron 16:1). David was not only a courageous warrior (ref: 1 Sam 18:7) and a diligent and wise king (ref: Acts 13:36), but also a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). David chose Jerusalem as his kingdom’s capital according to God’s heart (2 Chron 6:6). And because of that, God blessed David and Solomon exceedingly, making their kingdoms powerful among the nations (ref: 2 Samuel 5:10, 1 Kings 4:20-21). From the spiritual as well as national standpoint, Israel reached its peak during the reign of these
two kings (ref: 1 Chron 29:20-21; 2 Chron 5:13, 7:8)
Image 2: The Lands of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
In 970 B.C., Solomon succeeded to the throne and expanded the city northward. He built the majestic first temple in the history of Israel on the land his father David had bought from the Jebusites on Mount Moriah (ref: 2 Chronicles 3:1; 1 Kings 6:37-38). Since then, Jerusalem became Israel’s center of worship and the hub of economic, political, cultural, and military activities (ref: 2 Chronicles 6:6; Psalm 125:2). Through the years, the city’s size fluctuated due to environmental, population, and developmental changes (ref: see Image #3).
Image 3：Change in Jerusalem’s Borders and Walls Over the Years
The city David once dwelled became a sacred place for Israelites over generations, which is also why the names “Jerusalem” and “Zion” have been given symbolic spiritual meaning (ref: Isaiah 2:3; Hebrews 12:22). Besides the City of David, Temple Mount, the Western Wall, Mount Zion, David’s Tomb, etc. are still places of remembrance for the Jewish people, where every brick, stone, tree, hill, and water continue to carry on their faith and hope (ref: Psalm 137:1-6).
For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)
- Online Sources
《聖光聖經地理資訊網》（Holy Light Bible Geography）http://bib legeography.holylight.org.tw/