14 June 2018

It Was King David Who Established Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

It was King David who established Jerusalem as Israel's capital over 3,000 years ago.

President Trump is just following in the footsteps of Dovid HaMelech.

King David is one of the most important figures in Jewish history. Born in 907 BCE, he reigns as king of Israel for 40 years, dying at age 70 in 837 BCE.

There is so much that can be said about him. Some people like to focus on the warrior aspect ― the chivalrous warrior fighting for God ― but when his persona and accomplishments are considered as a whole, it is his spiritual greatness that shines most of all.

David's first and foremost drive is to have a relationship with God. We get the glimpse of the beauty of his soul when we read the Psalms, most of which he wrote. Who doesn't know:
  • The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want ... (Psalm 23)
  • The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear ... (Psalm 27)
  • I lift my eyes to the mountains ― from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth ... (Psalm 121)
Even when we consider his military conquest, we see that the driving force behind them was his attachment to God. The hereditary bloodline of King David will become the only legitimate royal bloodline in Jewish history. From David will come all the future kings of Judah and ultimately, at the end of history, the Messiah. This idea of a God-ordained monarchy will be copied by many other nations throughout history and will serve as the basis for the concept of "the divine right of kings" in Medieval and Renaissance Europe.(1)

The Conquest Of Jerusalem

We know historically that the story of Israel during this entire period of time ― from the Exodus onward ― is the story of a tiny nation sandwiched between the two great ancient civilizations, Egypt and Mesopotamia (which was ruled at various times by the Assyrians, Babylonians or Persians).

When David takes the throne, Egypt and Assyria are both on a significant decline. They're not in any position to expand, which leaves a vacuum in the middle where Israel is located, and Israel is allowed to expand unmolested by these other great empires.

Thus David is able to subdue, at long last, the Philistine threat and to conquer the remaining Canaanite city-state ― Jerusalem ― that the Israelites have thus far not been able to conquer.

(For the 440 years since the Jewish people first entered the Land of Israel until the time of King David, Jerusalem has remained an unconquered non-Jewish city in the heart of a Jewish country. It is a city-state inhabited by Canaanite tribe called Jebusites (the Arab village of Silwan, just south of the walls of the Old City, is located there now). It is heavily fortified, yet despite its seemingly impregnable appearance, Jerusalem has one weakness ― its only source of water is a spring outside the city walls. The spring is accessed from inside the city by a long shaft carved into rock.

The Book of Samuel and the Book of Chronicles describe how David's general, Yoab, climbs up a tzinor (literally "pipe") enters the city and conquers it. Some archaeologists speculate that this might refer to the city's ancient water system ― whose source was the Gihon Spring ― which is a tourist attraction in "David's City," outside the walls of today's Jerusalem.

Why Jerusalem?

The first thing that David does after he occupies the city is make it his capital. And here we have to pause and ask: Why Jerusalem?

Certainly there were more suitable sites for the capital of Israel. Jerusalem does not adjoin any important body of water nor is it located on any trade route. All the capital cities in the world are built near oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, or at least near a major trade route.

(There are major trade routes crisscrossing Israel at this time. There is the Kings Highway, which is one of the major trade routes in the ancient Middle East, running from the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea to Damascus. And there is also the Via Maris, "Way of the Sea," which runs from Egypt along the Mediterranean coast then through Israel and on to Syria.)

Logically, the capital of Israel should have been on the Mediterranean Sea. Ideally a place like Jaffa (next to today's Tel Aviv) would have made the most sense.

So why Jerusalem?

The reason why Jerusalem has to do with a very unique aspect of the Jewish people, and why the children of Israel became a nation in the first place.

Normally, nations become nations by living in a piece of real estate for a long period of time, developing a common language and a common culture. Take the French for example. They didn't all wake up one day and decide they liked wine, cheese and croissants. A group of people over a period of time moved into a common piece of real estate (which later became known as France), and shared a common language. After a shared period of national experience, they coalesced into an identity known as the French. More or less, this scenario works for every nation.

The Jews became a nation shortly after escaping slavery in Egypt. They were not yet in the land of Israel, they were camping out in no man's land, in the desert, at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Jews became a nation there, when they made a covenant with God, promising "we will do and we will hear." The nationhood of Israel is defined, first and foremost, by its communal relationship with God and by the Jewish people's historic mission.

And it turns out that there is no better place to relate to God than Jerusalem.

God's Place

After David makes Jerusalem his capital, he buys the upper part of the hill above the northern boundary of the city from its owner Aravnah, the Jebusite. The purchase is recorded in the Bible in two places (2 Samuel 24:24 and 1 Chronicles 21:25).

This hill is Mount Moriah and what it may lack in physical size, it more than compensates for spiritual greatness.(2)

From the earliest period of Jewish history, the Patriarchs of the Jewish people recognized the tremendous spiritual power of Mount Moriah. This is where Abraham, sensing God's presence, went up to offer Isaac as a sacrifice and later remarked as the Bible records:

  • "The Lord will see," as it is said to this day, "On the Lord's mountain, He will be seen." (Genesis 22:14)

This is where Jacob dreamt of a ladder going to heaven, and said:

  • "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." (Genesis 28:17)

No wonder this is a spot that every major conqueror in all of human history has wanted to own. (Jerusalem has been conquered or destroyed 36 times in 3,000 years.)

Today on this spot stands an Islamic structure known as the Dome of the Rock. Under this golden dome is an exposed piece of the bedrock of Mount Moriah-metaphysically known as the even shatiya, literally, "drinking stone." Water and spirituality are synonymous, and the Torah is known as mayim chayim, "water of life." According to Judaism, the world is spiritually nourished from this spot, this stone-which is the metaphysical center of the universe.

This is the place where God's presence can be felt more intensively than in any other place on the planet earth. Therefore, this is the logical place to build a permanent resting spot for the most holy object that the Jewish people have ― the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.

The Site of the Temple

King David wastes no time bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. And it is an occasion of great communal happiness. In ecstasy David dances wildly at this celebration. For this he is condemned by his wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, who had stuck with him through thick and thin and who even saved his life when King Saul wanted to kill him. But now Michal attacks David, ridiculing his behavior (2 Samuel 6:16-23):

  • "How glorious was the king of Israel today, who was exposed today in the eyes of the maidservants of his servants, as one of the boors would be exposed!"

David ― who had thought nothing of his own honor in his gladness that he had made a special connection with God, ― responds in astonishment:

  • "Before the Lord I will make merry. And I shall behave even more humbly than this, and I shall be lowly in my eyes; and of the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them shall I will be held in honor.”

The story concludes with the punishment visited on Michal for her harsh condemnation of the man chosen by God to be Israel's king:

And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Although David brings up the Ark of the Covenant to Mount Moriah, he is not allowed by God to build the Temple. A number of reasons are given. One is that the Temple is a house of God and a house of peace and David has a lot of blood on his hands from subduing the enemies of Israel. However, he is promised that his son will build it.

Source:  Aish com

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footnotes:

1) Many peoples around the world have taken this idea one step further and actually claim that their royal family and even they, themselves, are actual descendants of the ancient Hebrews. One fascinating example are the Makuya sect in Japan who claim that there is an ancient connection between the Japanese and the Jews and that the Royal family of Japan is actually descended from King David.


Another example is the British. For seven hundred years, every king and queen of England was crowned king while sitting on a throne mounted on a large block of limestone. The stone is called the "Stone of Scone King Edward I (1239-1307) stole the stone from the Scots (It was returned to Scotland in 1997). Scottish tradition held that the stone was the "pillow" that Jacob rested his head on when he had his dream. It was used as a coronation stone by the early Hebrew kings and was kept in Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem After the destruction of the First Temple in 422 BCE, the stone eventually found its way first to Ireland and later to Scotland. As outrageous as this idea may sound it shows us the centrality and importance of the Davidic line in history.


2) It is often mentioned that the Western Wall is the holiest spot in the world for the Jews. This is simply not true. The Western Wall is merely a retaining wall built around Mt Moriah by Herod the Great more than 2,000 years ago. The holiest spot is Mt Moriah itself. Today this holiest of places is hidden behind the Western Wall and under the Moslem shrine called the Dome of the Rock.

3 comments:

dvorah rut Weidner said...

Sad to see that Aish writes that the Jews escaped from slavery in mitzrayim. We didn't escape. HKBH took us out. Where is He in all of this?? kval.

Anonymous said...

Why was my comment which was there the other day not appearing here today?

Neshama said...

This comment was “not published” by google, not me.

Just finished reading (from this post) about Dovid HaMelech written by Rabbi Spiro, I think, from Aish. Was disappointed because why was it necessary for the author, an Orthodox Jew writing for an orthodox group (Aish HaTorah) to bring forth that there are nations proclaiming they descend from Dovid. Means nothing to us and we know nothing of this being true. Why do orthodox Jews nowadays desire to have this connection, rather than clinging to the Torah where it warns us 'we are a nation that dwells alone'. This is what brought assimilation, to such a degree, where we have reached bottom, just as our prophets forewarned will be at the end of days. on WOULD THEY SAY THE SAME ABOUT KING DAVID?