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City of David

CITY OF DAVID. 1. The Jebusite fortress of Zion that David captured and named the city of David (2Sam.5.7, 2Sam.5.9; 1Kgs.8.1; 1Chr.11.5, 1Chr.11.7; 2Chr.5.2). It stood on a ridge near the later site of the temple. David made it his royal residence.

2. Bethlehem, the home of David (Luke.2.4).

DAVID, CITY OF (See City of David; Jerusalem)

DAVID, CITY OF (עִ֥יר דָּוִֽד, town [-quarter] of David [q.v.], i.e., beloved or uncle, K. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and OT, p. 85). The oldest, or SE, portion of Jerusalem, on the original Mt. Zion.

The City of David is equated with the מְצוּדָה, H5181, “place difficult of approach” (KB), “fortress,” of Zion (q.v.) (2 Sam 5:7). Such a mountain fortress at Jerusalem dated back to patriarchal and Canaanite days (Gen 14:18, Salem; cf. Ps 76:2). It occupied the approximately one-quarter m. of sharply sloped ridge between the Kidron Valley on the E and the Tyropoeon Valley on the W, to the N of their junction with the Hinnom Valley. The location was determined by the presence at its NE end, in the Kidron Valley, of the Gihon spring, which was the area’s only perennial source for water. Earlier excavators had limited the City of David to the crest, barely 100 yards wide from a gate on the W (Crowfoot, 1927) to a wall and towers on the E (Macalister, (1923-1926); but, while a Canaanite shaft had been cut out through the rock to the water of the spring, this would have left the top of the shaft outside the wall, some eighty ft. to its E, and undefendable. More recent archeologists have demonstrated that the main walls, from c. 1800 b.c. to the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c., were fifty yards more nearly toward the bottom of the slope, with houses crowding the ascents (K. Kenyon [1961]).

Nehemiah’s refortification in 444 embraced only the crest of the City of David, the walls of Crowfoot and Macalister (Neh 3:15; 12:37). Later expansion was to the hill W of the Tyropoeon Valley, on which Josephus located (falsely) the “Tomb of David” (War, V, 4, 1) and to which, with the abandonment of the original City of David after a.d. 70, the name Zion was attached.

The NT speaks of Bethlehem as the πόλις Δαυίδ, “city of David” (Luke 2:11).


J. Simons, Jerusalem in the OT (1952), 60-64; M. Avi-Yonah, Jerusalem (1960); K. Kenyon, “Excavation in Jerusalem,” BA, 27 (1964), 34-52.

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