ISRAEL'S HISTORY: ANCIENT

The New Capital

The New Capital
By Charles E. McCracken
GROW January 27

And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” . . . Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). . . Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David. So David went on and became great, and the LORD of hosts was with him. 1 CHRONICLES 11:4-5, 7, 9

 

David was the new king of Israel. His anointing by the elders of Israel was actually David’s third anointing. Like the anointing of the elders of Judah seven and a half years earlier, the people of Israel as a unified nation finally confirmed Samuel’s anointing of David as God’s choice to be their king.

David’s first official act as king was significant. Although he already ruled Judah from Hebron, the isolated city was not a suitable capital for united Israel. David moved quickly to secure a more appropriate site—Jerusalem, the Jebusite stronghold also known as Jebus.

To David, it was more than a pragmatic response to the need for a new capital. The Jebusites were specifically named by God as one of the Canaanite groups to be driven from the land (Deut. 20:17). In the 400 years since Israel’s conquest, however, the Jebusites had doggedly held this fortress in a pocket of land between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah (Josh. 15:63; Jud. 1:21). David understood the implications of a Jebusite bastion in the land of Israel and took action to rectify the situation.

It was an opportune moment. The three-day coronation celebration had barely ended and the army was still assembled in Hebron. Without waiting, the army under David’s leadership made the 20-mile trek to Jebus.

When he arrived at the base of the citadel, the Jebusites taunted from the battlements. Their arrogant defiance reflected that of Goliath who also defied the army of Israel. They mocked: “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, David cannot come in here. (2 Sam. 5:6).

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View from King David’s palace. Image: CEM archives, 2010 ~ Enhancement: MKM Portfolios

Because the city sat atop a finger-shaped formation protected on three sides by precipitous slopes, the Jebusites were convinced the city was impregnable. They were telling David “the city is so secure, even the blind and lame could defend it.”

Incensed by the sarcastic taunt, David later used the expression, “the blind and lame” to refer to the arrogant Jebusites.

Just to be clear, there is no suggestion that David despised people with disabilities; his kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth proves otherwise (2 Sam. 9:11). Rather, he scorned those who defied the living God of Israel.

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Canaanite Tunnel sign. Image: CEM archives, 2010 ~ Enhancement: MKM Portfolios

David not only had a plan, he devised a strategy for taking the city. His orders were clear, Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain (v. 8).

The water shaft undoubtedly refers to a narrow 49-foot vertical shaft (known today as Warren’s Tunnel; possibly entered through the Canaanite Tunnel) that allowed the residents of Jebus access to water from the Gihon spring, even when the city was under siege.  It proved to be the “chink in the armor” of an otherwise impregnable city.

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Canaanite Tunnel Walkway. Image: CEM archives, 2010 ~ Enhancement: MKM Portfolios

The text matter-of-factly records: Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David) (v. 7).

The stronghold became the new capital of Israel and the location of David’s royal residence. (2 Sam. 24:18). Jebusites were banned from entry to the fortress.

Perched on a rock formation called the Ophel at 150 to 200 feet above the valley floor, Israel’s new capital provided a strategic view of the surrounding valleys; it was highly defensible; and, it had critical access to fresh water. Because of its location in the Judean highlands, the moderate climate was ideal. Since none of the tribes had been able to claim Jebus as their permanent possession, it also provided an element of neutrality necessary for the center of government.

At just the right time in Israel’s history, God providentially delivered the city to David who made it the capital of united Israel.

David’s courageous action shortly after he assumed the throne not only engendered unity among the tribes of Israel, Jerusalem continues to be the focal point of Jewish life into the 21st century.

Looking at David’s achievements, we begin to realize he understood that every opportunity—every action—every victory was significant.

The choices David made had a profound effect on history.

When God is at the center of your life, you can move with courage to seize every opportunity He brings across your path. Then, wait and see what God will do!

© Charles E. McCracken 2016. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author.