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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2000

Under the Walls of Zion

King David paced back and forth over the rocky ground. Across the valley to the west stood the mountain fortress of Jerusalem, home of the Jebusites.

David wanted Jerusalem. He wanted a new capital for his kingdom. And he wanted a better, safer place to house the ark of the covenant.

Jerusalem was perfect. It was close to the road that ran all the way up the Judean mountains. It was in a central location, and it would be easy to defend. There were steep slopes on three sides. The main entrance to the town was from the north, along a narrow ridge. And, like any decent fortress, a good-sized wall protected the thousand or so people inside.

Well, almost perfect. It was on the edge of a desert. No wonder they called it Zion, meaning "parched place." But outside the wall, at the base of the hill, flowed the Gihon Spring. Not a great location, but the Jebusites had been busy. On top of the spring they had a built a massive tower. From the spring they had cut channels to fill a pool protected by other towers. And now for the really clever part. They had cut tunnels from inside the city. These went under the walls and down to the pool. Yes, you could live in Jerusalem and not die getting a drink of water!

David had one small problem. The Jebusites weren’t about to move out. He couldn’t really blame them. After all, they’d been there for a long time. How was David going to succeed where the mighty armies of Joshua had failed?

David made a decision. He called his men together. "Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft," the king announced as he pointed at the massive towers, "and defeats the Jebusites, shall be chief and captain of my army." He knew a frontal assault was crazy. A sneak attack was the only way.

Joab stepped forward to volunteer. He was an ambitious and experienced soldier in David’s army.

That night, Joab and his men crept into the tunnels and took the city from within. Joab got his reward, and David got his city. From this dusty, rocky town, David would build a mighty kingdom, and prepare a place for God’s holy temple.



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