The first Israelite conquest of the city of Jerusalem was by the tribe of Judah after the death of Joshua: "The Judites attacked Jerusalem and captured it; they put it to the sword and set the city on fire.[1]

For whatever reason, the tribe of Judah does not seem to have retained it, for in the same chapter, it is described as being within the borders of Benjamin, who also does not dislodge its Canaanite inhabitants. "The Benjaminites did not disposes the Jebusites inhabitants of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have dwelt with the Benjaminites in Jerusalem to this day."[2]

It remained for David to capture this city which had been so inconsequential and peripheral to Israel and make it the capital of the kingdom.

David had reigned in Hebron seven years and six months. His reasons for moving from Hebron to Jerusalem are not explained. It is generally assumed that a city which had not previously occupied by one of the tribes, one which was on the border between two tribes, could more easily be accepted by all of the tribes as their capital. Eventually it was the amalgam of David, the chosen king, with Jerusalem, "the place I shall choose," which created the overwhelming importance, and indeed centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish consciousness and history. Because it is the city of David, if for no other reason, it came to occupy the position it has today and has had for the last three thousand years.

David's building program to transform the city began at once: "King Hiram of Tyre sent envoys to David with cedar logs, carpenters, and stonemasons; and they built a palace for David.[3]

From that time on, the history of Israel and the history of Jerusalem become synonymous. All the major events of the rest of the book of Samuel — as well as of the two books of Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah —take place in Jerusalem. David was to create in Jerusalem not only the political capital of the kingdom but the religious capital, as well. After a disastrous first attempt,[4] the Ark was brought to Jerusalem:

By placing the Ark, the central feature of the Tabernacle upon the mountain in Jerusalem, David laid the foundation for the sanctity of that mountain and the holiness of Jerusalem. The later erection of a permanent building by Solomon[5] was a revolutionary step in the faith of Israel in that it signaled the Presence of God on a particular mountain.[6]

With wood supplied by Hiram of Lebanon, with "huge blocks of choice stone," with the forced labor of 30,000 men as well as "70,000 porters and 80,000 quarriers" the house was built: [7]


But one tribe shall remain his — for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem,
the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.[8]

Thus do the House of David, the City of David, and the House of the Lord combine, giving Jerusalem its unique status as heart and soul of the people of Israel.

[1] Judges 18:28 [back]
[2] Judges 1:21 [back]
[3] II Samuel 5:11 [back]
[4] II Samuel 6:3-10 [back]
[5] II Samuel 7:4-7 [back]
[6] I Kings 3:1, 8:13 [back]
[7] I Kings 5:29-31 [back]
[8]I Kings 11:32: [back]
From: Reuven Hammer, The Jerusalem Anthology: A Literary Guide (Jewish Publication Society, 1995)

HAIR Table of Contents

KING DAVID Table of Contents




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