Tag Archives: David

King David at the City Gate

It is well–known that in Old Testament times that the “elders” of a city often would congregate at the gate of their city for a variety of functions.  But it must not be forgotten that kings often made themselves available to their subjects and performed some of their duties there (see below).

One of the many interesting discoveries made by Avraham Biran was a podium and column base that was located at the gate of the northern city of Dan.


View looking west at the (reconstructed) podium that Avraham Biran discovered at the city gate of Dan. Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

It is very possible that the king, or some other official, sat on this podium hearing legal cases (2 Sam 19:8). The decorated stone bases at the corners of the podium supported columns as the reconstruction illustrates.


View looking west at the podium (prior to reconstruction [compare photo above!]) that Avraham Biran discovered at the city gate of Dan.


This image has been posted courtesy of Balage Balogh. It may NOT be used on any other web sites, DVDs, or for any commercial purposes without the expressed written consent of Balage Balogh. His images can be viewed at http://www.archaeologyillustrated.com.

A realistic drawing of the Iron Age Gate area at Dan.   The view is from outside of the gate on to a plaza that is located between the outer and the inner portions of the gate.  On the far side of the plaza note the podium where the king could sit (red and white).  To the left of the podium is the archway of the inner gate.

The story of David fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom provides some insight into the king and the city gate.   As David’s troops were leaving the Transjordan city of Mahanaim:

2 Sam. 18:4     The  king [David] stood beside the gate while all the men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.

It was in the city gate that David awaited word from the battlefield:

2 Sam. 18:24     While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone.  25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.

Notice also that the “watchman went up to the roof of the gateway”


From a previous post, the 6–chamber gate at Megiddo.  Notice the towers and rooms above the inner city gate.

And after David heard the report of the death of his rebellious son Absalom

2 Sam. 18:33     The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Later during the Israelite and Judean monarchies Ahab and Jehoshaphat sat at the gate of Samaria (Ahab’s capital) where they were deciding whether or not to go up to battle the Arameans at Ramoth Gilead.

1 Kings 22:10     Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel [Ahab] and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them.

It was also while sitting at the Benjamin Gate in Jerusalem that Zedekiah, the last Judean king, received word that Jeremiah had been imprisoned in a cistern!

Jer. 38:7     But Ebed-melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,  8 Ebed-melech went out of the palace and said to him,  9 “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.”

David and Jerusalem

After being crowned King of Judah and then eventually of Israel (the northern tribes) in Hebron, David moved to conquer Jerusalem.  Evidently it was his “general” Joab who with his men who surprised the Jebusites inside of the city by gaining access via the sinnor—usually translated “water system” (2 Samuel 5:1-12 and 1 Chronicles 11:4–9).  Previously I described this system and included pictures of the recently (ca. January of 2014) opened to the public system that dated back to the 18th century B.C.


The “step–stone structure” is located on the eastern slope of the City of David. It evidently dates back to ca. 1100 B.C. and many believe on top of it was a Jebusite fort and/or palace. It is about 80ft. high! — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.



Hebron is the “natural” capital of the south (Judah) while “Shechem” is the “natural” capital of the northern tribes. Note the “neutral” position of Jerusalem.

By moving his capital from Hebron (in Judah) to Jerusalem David accomplished a number of things.

  1. Because he captured it, Jerusalem became his personal possession (not that of any particular tribe).
  2. Because Jerusalem was located between the northern and southern tribes it was in a sense a “neutral” city.  If the capital had remained in Hebron the northern tribes might of accused him of favoring the Judeans (his own tribe) and if he moved the capital to Shechem his own tribe of Judah would have been offended.
  3. By capturing Jebus, a pagan city and population that was located in the heartland of Israel was eliminated.
  4. By bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13) he began the process that led to its becoming the religious capital of Israel.
  5. And finally, its position in the Hill Country, not on the Coastal Plain to the west, meant that his capital was not on the normal military route through the Land of Canaan.

The topography of the “Old Ancient Core” of Jerusalem (ca. 15 acres in size) is that of a “bump in the bottom of a bowl.”


The “City of David” a.k.a. “the Old Ancient Core” is in the center/bottom of the photo. The Kidron Valley is on the right (east) of it. Note how the Mount of Olives is higher to the east, how Mount Scopus is higher behind it (to the north), and how the western hill rises to the left. This picture was taken from a higher hill to the south.

In light of the above, note:

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 125:2 (NIV)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? [not the princes of Judah or Israel]  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1–2 (NIV)

See also Psalms 2, 46, 48,  87, 122, 132 among many others!

Next Monday—Solomon builds the Temple.

Valley of Elah after the Rains

Jerusalem in the snow has received a lot of press recently, but it is also “fun” to see the wadis/nahals fill up after a rain storm.  On Wednesday 9 January we visited the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17), after 3 days of rain.

Elah Valley-1

Valley of Elah after Three Days of Rain — 9 January 2013


Valley of Elah under “normal” conditions – March