A view of the Temple Mount from the north on Mt. Scopus.

Salem, Jerusalem, City of David, Zion?

Getting A beginning understanding of this ancient biblical city:

 The first reference in the Bible to Jerusalem occurs when an Amorite king (Adoni-Zedek of Joshua 10:1-5) ruled there in the first half of the book of Joshua.

SPSSN deals with behind-the-scenes fiction of the relationship between the biblical king and his biblical                                                                                          neighbors, the Gibeonites.)

According to Joshua (10:25-27), Zedek was executed and buried in the cave of Makkedah on the day after the battle for Gibeon when the sun stood still.


Evidently, the Jebusites took over Jerusalem at that time (ca. 1400 BC). Joshua records (15:16) that the men of Judah were not able to dislodge the Jebusites from Jerusalem when they were allotted this city as part of their inheritance.

Here’s the gap in the historical record. We do not know how the Jebusites took over. Enter the space reserved for fiction.

Part of the Shiloh Dig team entering the tunnel ahead of us.

Evidently the Jebusites built a tower to protect their spring outside their city walls. For a feast of mysterious photos related to Gihon Spring visit what I found when I Googled “Tower at Gihon Spring”

Used by permission of Trip Advisor


Later they also built a dry tunnel so they could carry water from the spring to inside the walls without being vulnerable to attack.


David used the tunnel to get his men inside the city to attack and conquer the Jebusites. (David came about 400 years after Joshua.)


The name, City of David, became attached to Jerusalem  at the time King David conquered the Jebusite city called Jerusalem, ca. 1000 BC (II Samuel 5:6-9). Having ruled in Hebron for seven years (II Samuel 5:5), David moved his capital to a more central location and which contributed to the unification of the twelve tribes of Israel. He made Jerusalem the capital of united Israel.



At the same event in history and in the same sentence (II Samuel 5:7), the writer refers to the fortress of Zion and the City of David as the same site. This is the first mention of both terms. Some sources see the “fortress” as reference to a tower discovered by archaeologists. The debate goes on about that.

But the name Salem predates all names of Jerusalem. Abram tithed the spoils of war to the King of Salem, “priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18-20).  See also Psalm 76:2 where Salem and Zion are equated.

The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament also referred to this event, Hebrews 7:1-10.

Whew! What a lot to take in to answer the old question: “What’s in a name?”