After the death of Saul, David officially became king of Israel. He had been anointed years earlier by the prophet Samuel, but never actually took the throne until much later.
David’s first order as king was to take the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites who occupied the city.
However, the Jebusites were confident of their ability to withstand a frontal assault from David. Obviously, there was some negotiation before the battle as David tried to convince the Jebusites to surrender.
But they didn’t bite, the Jebusites said:
“‘You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame will turn you away’; thinking David cannot enter here.” (2 Samuel 5:6 NASV)
It is a pretty bold statement on the part of the Jebusites. Certainly there is a lot of bravado on the battlefield — talk, fluff and pounding of chest — but in this case the writer notes this was not just talk, as the Jebusites actually believed their rhetoric. They were certain David and his army couldn’t take the city.
But David did conquer Jerusalem. But he didn’t take it with a frontal assault, but according to the Biblical record actually sent men through the water tunnel or conduit (tsinnor in the Hebrew) that connected the city with its water source.
“Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David. 8 David said on that day, ‘Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul, through the water tunnel.’” (2 Samuel 5:7-8 NASV)
Recently archaeologists have discovered there was good reason for the Jebusite’s confidence. They have uncovered the remains of an old Canaanite citadel or tower that guarded the Gihon Spring — the water source for the City of Jerusalem.
On April 4, 2014, archaeologist Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa along with Eli Shukrun of Israel Antiquity Authority officially announced finding the walls of the 3,800 year old Jebusite structure. The dig had taken 15 years to complete.
According to a report in the Biblical Archaeology, the citadel had “23-foot-thick walls comprised of stone blocks up to ten feet wide.” It was a formidable fortress and was the reason for the boasting.
Known as the “Spring Citadel,” it’s the largest Canaanite fortress found in Israel to date.
They also discovered the remains of a water tunnel that David’s men may have used to enter the city.
According to Oriya Dasberg — Director of Development in the City of David — the “Spring Citadel” was built to protect Jerusalem’s valued water source from attack. Obviously, if an enemy army could cut off the water supply, the city of Jerusalem would fall quickly. The Citadel also protected the people of Jerusalem who regularly accessed the waters of the Siloam Pool.
The citadel is mentioned one more time in the Biblical record, as we are told it was here King David had his son Solomon anointed the next king of Israel.
Then King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” And they came into the king’s presence. 33 The king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon [the citadel]. 34 Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon! ’(1 Kings 1:32-34 NASV)
As the place where Solomon was crowned king, the citadel not only marked David’s first act as King, it also marked his last. The citadel was the beginning and end of David’s kingship — his alpha and omega.
- Excavators discover 3,800-year-old Biblical fortress discovered in City of David: Jerusalem Post
- Canaanite Fortress discovered in the City of David: Biblical Archaeology Society