While we take it for granted that David captured Jerusalem and made it Israel’s capital, we need to remember that at the time this was a surprising move. No judge or king had established any capital, let alone one in a place that was difficult to conquer.
Why did David choose Jerusalem? Jewish scholars and historians suggest four reasons.
The first is the water source that Jerusalem possessed. In a desert country where water was a precious commodity, Jerusalem was extremely desirable due to her unusual supply of water from natural springs.
The second reason suggested is that Jerusalem was strategically desirable. The deep valleys surrounding the city made it a natural fortress. It was strong and fortified, making it an especially safe residence from which a king could govern.
Third, Jerusalem was at a crossroads between north and south, east and west. It was centrally located, making it accessible to all tribes and all foreigners who would come to worship the one true God. In addition, it was not part of any tribal territory, so it was equally important and accessible to all the tribes.
Finally, the fourth reason suggests that the tradition of Jerusalem being an especially holy place had been passed down to David. Even if it hadn’t been written down in the Bible, this knowledge was most likely passed down through Judaism’s Oral Tradition. That Jerusalem is the place referred to in the Bible as “the place God would choose” is reinforced when the prophet Gad tells David to buy a particular threshing floor in the city that was later revealed to be the site on which the Holy Temple would be built. Solomon, David’s son, built the First Temple on that site, solidifying its holy status (1 Kings 6). Centuries later, the Second Temple was built in the same space (Ezra 6).
King David established Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. He legally purchased the site of the Temple. The Jewish people never forfeited their right to Jerusalem or the Temple. They never left willingly but only in chains, while thousands upon thousands gave their lives for Jerusalem. Over the centuries of exile, Jerusalem was never forgotten. Small enclaves settled and resettled Jerusalem over the years. In 1967, Jerusalem came under Israeli rule for the first time since the Romans conquered it in 70 CE. Today, the Jews remain the rightful owners and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Get our new, free downloadable Bible study on Jerusalem! And learn more about the history and significance of the city as we approach Jerusalem Day on May 24. Visit our special Jerusalem Day resource page.