The City of David

The narrow finger of land that stretches nine to ten acres south of the Temple Mount is called the “City of David.” When we stand here, we can survey the oldest part of Jerusalem—the city King David made to be his capital.

David captured Jerusalem (called Jebus) for his religious and political capital in 1000 BC. It had been a Jebusite (Canaanite) city and was home to about 1,500 people. David’s most prized contribution to his new capital was to finally make a home for the ark of the covenant. He installed an ornamental tent around it, in accordance with Mosaic tradition. David made Jerusalem the religious and political capital of a land that would quickly become a major power among the nations.

At God’s leading, David planned the temple, which was his passion and highest act of worship. But God directed David (a man of war) only to plan and prepare the supplies and to pass on the responsibility of building to his son Solomon (a man of peace).

Recent excavations in the City of David have uncovered a stepped-stone structure (pictured above) which likely supported a palace built by King David. Below the excavated wall, archaeologists located the mouth of the Gihon Spring (meaning “gushing forth”). The royal city’s ingenious water system accessed this spring, its only natural source of water, through a vertical shaft dug so that water could be drawn without leaving the city walls, keeping the city safe and supplied with water during a time of siege.

Two centuries after David, Hezekiah dug a tunnel from the Gihon Spring, beneath the City of David, to the pool of Siloam on the other side (2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Kings 20:20). The tunnel became part of one of the greatest water systems ever designed, conducting water from the spring to the pool even until Jesus’s day (John 9:1–12). Amazingly, the ancient spring still flows today.