2 Samuel 5

David Makes Jerusalem His Capital

Taking Jebus

The king and his men went up to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land (2 Samuel 5:6).

Jebus was an alternative name for Jerusalem (Josh 18:28). Although the city had been defeated in the initial conquest of the land under Joshua (Josh 12:10), it apparently was not occupied by Israelites, but remained in the hands of native Canaanites (cf. Judg 1:21; 19:10-12). Jerusalem in David’s day was not large; it is estimated to have been about 10 acres (4 ha) in extent. In later years the city would expand to the north (in the time of Solomon) and to the west (in the time of Hezekiah).

Warren's Shaft System

Now David said, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft” (2 Samuel 5:8).

Charles Warren, an English explorer, discovered this tunnel and shaft system in the 1860s. At least parts of this system were once used to access the waters of the Gihon Spring from within the safety of the city walls. However, given the fluctuating nature of the theories of the date and function of this tunnel system, it may be best to take a cautious approach to understanding precisely how David’s men entered the city.

The Millo

And David built all around, from the Millo inward (2 Samuel 5:9).

The “Millo” of the City of David is mentioned six times in the biblical text (2 Sam 5:9; 1 Kgs 9:15, 24; 11:27; 1 Chr 11:8; 2 Chr 32:5). Most biblical scholars understand it to be reference to a rebuilding or refilling of the revetment wall along the steep eastern side of the City of David. The large section of stone wall shown here, made of larger stones, is from the Iron Age (circa 1200–586 BC). The revetment walls behind and above it are modern constructions intended to stabilize the steep hillside. This is likely the kind of thing David is credited here with building.

The Palace of David

He sent cedar trees, carpenters, and stone masons, and they built David a house (2 Samuel 5:11).

Eilat Mazar excavated the area above Area G in the City of David from 2005 to 2008. Scholars had previously speculated that the Stepped Stone Structure (the top of which is shown here) supported an important governmental structure, possibly the palace of David. Mazar uncovered a massive building that she has identified as the palace of David. This interpretation seems possible, although it is not certain.

The Valley of Rephaim

Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:18).

The Valley of Rephaim is located south and west of Jerusalem. Along with the Rephaim Ridge and the Sorek Valley, it provided the most direct route from the coastal plain to the area of Jerusalem, though historically it does not seem to have often been used, perhaps because of its rugged nature in places. Twice the Philistines attacked David soon after he conquered Jerusalem, no doubt threatened by the prospect of a united Israel under David’s leadership.

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