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Posted at 11:44 AM ET, 02/ 7/2011

The City of David

By Jennifer Rubin

In Jerusalem you become blasé about antiquity. Soon you fall into the habit of remarking, "Oh that is only Second Temple," meaning from the time of the return of the Jews from Babylon to the expulsion by the Romans in 70 C.E. Today I spent most of the morning learning that the "Old City of Jerusalem" is not old -- well not what really is old. Below a parking lot outside the walls of the "Old City" (contained within a wall that is a mere 450 years old) is the most magnificent excavation site in Israel. We see the homes from which the Jews were expelled to Bablyon (leaving hidden money and remains of humans reduced to eating grass as the Babylonian starved the remaining Jews.) And then we traverse back to 1000 B.C.E., to the city David captured and from which he ruled a united kingdom.

That would be all extraordinary in and of itself. But there is more. Our guide from the Ir David Foundation has Bible in hand. Here the Bible is the archaeologists' guide. Within the same site they found two seals identifying two figures described in the Book of Jeremiah. You are standing in the palace of David, verifiable with Phoenician designs. And then you descend further through the underground water system that supplied the City of David with water and through which David and his army, in a commando-style raid, seized the city from the Jebusites. And there, on the spot covering the spring, as described precisely beginning in Kings 1:1, is the spot where Solomon was anointed king. And down you go to the spring, the existence of which fixed Jerusalem's location.

With regard to the Torah and Jerusalem, it turns out that, as with so many self-described realists, the realists turn out to reality deniers. Legions of "scholars" told us for decades that the Bible, don't you see, is allegory. Oh, David? Yes, a lovely tale but you must think of him as a King Arthur-type figure. No, that's all wrong. The realists turned out to be the people of faith. Now the Torah provides the guide for modern scientists to confirm that the Torah, at least in this regard, is history, written with precision -- a sort of message in the bottle to the future to tell us that yes, the Jews, were here in this spot, at this time.

And mind you all of the City of David is in what the Palestinians would claim as their capital. And at the time of the First Intifada this was a war zone. Recall also that the track record of preservation of sites is not a good one. The Mount of Olives, the original Mount of Olives (not the "new" replacement in operations a scant 500 years) is now built over by slums, the opening to family tombs barely visible around the garbage and beneath the decrepit buildings. The original headstones were sold off during the Jordanian occupation.

Why do I relate all of this? It's more than a religious and historical site of immense meaning. It is the answer to the non-realists who would have us believe Jews lack a verifiable claim to land dating back 3000 years and beyond. At some point, the naysayers become the equivalent of flat-earthers. You see, in contrast to what Obama lectured us from Cairo at the beginning of his term (when the fantasy of "Muslim Outreach" assumed that Hosni Mubarak was an island of stability), Israel is not merely recompense for the Holocaust. It is the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And if you doubt it, spend a morning in the City of David.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 7, 2011; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Comments

I am in total agreement. Thank you for this post.

Posted by: TheStatistQuo | February 7, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Israeli government could make a video from the City of David making Jen's point both visually and poignantly.

Posted by: jay22 | February 7, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Jerusalem is truly a beautiful spiritual experience. You feel as if God is walking right beside you.

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 7, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@Beniyyar: With the utmost respect, I feel God walking with me wherever I am.

Posted by: MsJS | February 7, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"Israel is not merely recompense for the Holocaust. It is the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And if you doubt it, spend a morning in the City of David."

This can't be repeated enough, because it is true and so many try and deny or minimize it.

Posted by: *JRapp | February 7, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad you went there-the history of the Jews for all to see- if they want to see it -dating back thousands of years- home.

Posted by: Imakadr2 | February 7, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"Israel is not merely recompense for the Holocaust. It is the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And if you doubt it, spend a morning in the City of David."
This can't be repeated enough, because it is true and so many try and deny or minimize it.
Posted by: *JRapp
Rubbish,nothing can compensate the Jews for the Holocaust,The idea of the state of Israel as recompense for The Final Solution only makes sense if Germany would be totally responsible for the perpetual survival of Israel.and if Israel was destroyed,Germany would be then destroyed by Israel's ambiguous Nukes. EYE/EYE

Posted by: rcaruth | February 7, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

As a regular subscriber to Biblical Archaeology Review for many years, I would love to have the opportunity to see the things you have! To heck with the conferences, do more sightseeing!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 7, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

It should come as no surprise that someone who basis their ideology on fiction (Iraq WMD, Iranian nukes) should also surrender all reason to religious idelogy.

Oh please, this was all debunked on the 60 Minutes Report on the City of David.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvOVvu1S0s0

“You are standing in the palace of David, verifiable with Phoenician designs.”

Phoenician designs that prove the existence that Phoenicians were there, nothing more.

There is no evince that David was there or that he even existed. In fact, when interviewed on 60 minutes, the head of the project admitted that not only have they found no evidence that David was ever there, they don't even know what his real name was.

“And there, on the spot covering the spring, as described precisely beginning in Kings 1:1, is the spot where Solomon was anointed king.”

Another example of reverse logic. The fact that London is mentioned in the last instalment of Harry Potter doesn't mean Harry Potter is real Jennifer.

“With regard to the Torah and Jerusalem, it turns out that, as with so many self-described realists, the realists turn out to reality deniers.”

Since when did reality and evidence become mutually exclusive Jennifer?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

At the very least, you might want to alert your readers to the fact that the archeological findings claimed at the City of David site are highly controversial -- even among Israeli archeologists -- and the dig is largely funded by Jewish settlement supporters who have a clear political agenda. Who knows? It may turn out to indeed be the Palace of King David, but at the moment, the archeological evidence is exceedingly thin. The history of Israeli archeology is rife with claims, which happen to support a prevailing political agenda, that later turn out to be dubious (see, for example, the reevaluation of Yadin's excavation of Masada). Omitting any information about how controversial the aracheological claims are may make your argument more persuasive, but it does a disservice to your readers.

Posted by: sfc11 | February 7, 2011 8:24 PM | Report abuse

A beautiful post. for the sake of accuracy, the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE led to only a partial expulsion. After the defeat of Bar Kokhba's rebellion in 135 CE the jews were expelled from Jerusalem, which was renamed as a roman city Aelia Capitolina, a pagan city which Jews were forbidden to enter (except to mourn on Tisha B'av). And the stories of David's city and his conquest, which resonate in the stones and archeology, are not strictly in the Torah itself but in later books of the Hebrew Bible

Posted by: mikem23 | February 7, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Mikem,

There's nothign about Kind David that desonatyes in any stones, let alone archeology. Archeologists have been searching the area with a fine toothed comb for nerly a century and found nada.

The fact that the same myths appear in the Torah and bebrew Bible just means that the story has been repeated, not that it has any basis in reality.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 10:46 PM | Report abuse

“Rubbish,nothing can compensate the Jews for the Holocaust,The idea of the state of Israel as recompense for The Final Solution only makes sense if Germany would be totally responsible for the perpetual survival of Israel.”

@racaruth: Your reading comprehension is a bit off on this one. Jen’s point, which I found agreement with, is precisely that Israel is not compensation for the Shoah, but Israelis the Jewish State where it is because of the historic connection of the Jewish people with the land.

Posted by: *JRapp | February 8, 2011 7:19 AM | Report abuse

“Rubbish,nothing can compensate the Jews for the Holocaust,The idea of the state of Israel as recompense for The Final Solution only makes sense if Germany would be totally responsible for the perpetual survival of Israel.”
@racaruth: Your reading comprehension is a bit off on this one. Jen’s point, which I found agreement with, is precisely that Israel is not compensation for the Shoah, but Israelis the Jewish State where it is because of the historic connection of the Jewish people with the land.

Thanks for pointing that out J. I'm not very inclined to feel mystical connections between land and people. Too many very bad people have those kind of feelings,

Posted by: rcaruth | February 8, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The archaeology is complicated, of course, but it tends to support the author's perspective. "The City of David," is probably real, at least to the extent that archaeology can see so far into the past. (Check out www.biblicalarchaeology.org for information on that.) Certainly, the Jewish people have had a continuous presence in the region for thousands of years.
Whether that means Israel is entitled to control the land today is a much more complicated political question, beyond archaeology's capacity to answer.

Posted by: bookladen | February 9, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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