Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Second Samuel-Part 5

In order to understand why Jerusalem (“Jebus” in 1 Chr 11.4) was so important to David, we need to pick up some additional information and concepts. Jerusalem was going to be the capital of Israel and the site of the Temple. Quoting from the book, “Aryeh Kaplan Anthology II, p. 64-66, Rabbi Kaplan says, “The Book of Joshua describes Adoni-zedek as an Amorite king, so it appears that it was under the Amorites that the two parts of Jerusalem were united. As discussed earlier, the western part of Jerusalem was called Jeru (Yeru), while the eastern part was known as Salem (Shalem). When the Amorite kings consolidated the two parts of the city, they also combined the names, calling the place Jerusalem.”

“From certain traditions, it appears that the Jebusites, who had made Jerusalem their capital, had left some fifteen years before Joshua’s conquest, and were replaced by the Philistine descendants of Abimelech. The Philistines lived in Shalem, the eastern district of Jerusalem, while the Hittite descendants of Ephron lived in the western half. By the time of Joshua’s conquest, Jerusalem had already been united by the Amorite kings, and had been fortified and surrounded by a single wall. After Joshua defeated the Amorites, it appears that Jerusalem again became divided into two districts.”

“Although Joshua defeated the king of Jerusalem, he did not make any attempt to conquer the city itself. This was because it was still protected under two covenants made by Abraham, one with the Abimelech and the Philistines, and the other to Ephron and the Hittites. These ancient tribes were to have an important effect in giving Jerusalem special status.”

“Joshua then divided the land among the twelve tribes, according to a lottery and by the Urim and Thummim. Looking at the border of Judah’s portion, we see that it runs right through Jerusalem: ‘the border went up by the valley of Ben-Hinnom, to the shoulder of the Jebusite to the south-this is Jerusalem-and the boundary went up to the top of the mountain which overlooks the valley of Hinnom to the west (Josh 15.8).’ The mountain mentioned here is the Temple Mount, as we see that the boundary cut right through the Temple area in Jerusalem. In describing the boundary of Benjamin, where the border runs from west to east, the scriptures states, ‘The boundary descended to the edge of the mountain that overlooks the valley of Ben-Hinnom, to the shoulder of the Jebusite to the south (Ibid. 18.16…Here Rabbi Kaplan gives the reference, see Malbim, HaGira, on Joshua 15.8, Radak on Joshua 18.28).”

“For the most part, the portion of the tribe of Benjamin was north of that of Judah. In Jerusalem, however, the boundary took a sharp turn southward, cutting the Temple area in half, with the western side in Benjamin’s portion, and the eastern side in that of Judah. When the Temple was later built, the Hall of the Sanhedrin was in the portion of Judah, while the Altar and the Holy of Holies were in that of Benjamin.”

“The eastern part of Jerusalem, occupied by the Philistines, thus fell into the portion of Judah. Because of Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech and the Philistines, the tribe of Judah could not drive them out, and the scripture thus states, ‘The sons of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Josh 15.63).’ It was not until after the last descendants of Abimelech died after the time of Joshua that the tribe of Judah was able to conquer its portion of the city, ‘The children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it, smiting it with the sword and setting the city on fire (Judges 1.8).'”

“The western part of Jerusalem, which belonged to Benjamin, was inhabited by the Hittite descendants of Ephron who made a covenant with Abraham when the cave of Machpelah was purchased. Just as the sale of Machpelah had been permanent, so was this covenant, so the Benjaminites could not drive out the Hittites out of their portion of Jerusalem. It is thus written, ‘The children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem (Judges 1.21).’ As mentioned earlier, whatever people lived in Jerusalem at the time were called Jebusites, whether they were Philistines or Hittites. Somewhat later, we still find that Jerusalem was not inhabited by Jews, since a Levite said of it, ‘We will not turn aside into a city of a foreigner, which is not of the children of Israel (Judges 19.12).'”

“We thus see that the original tribes who had lived in Jerusalem, the only ones who remained at the time of its conquest were the Hittite and the Amorite, the Philistines having arrived later. This is what the prophet Ezekiel meant when he said of Jerusalem, ‘Your father was an Amorite and your mother was a Hittite (Ezekiel 16.3,45).'”

“No further mention of Jerusalem is found until David’s famous battle, where he defeated the Philistine warrior Goliath. Here the scripture states, ‘David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem (1 Sam 17.54).’ No reason is given; it is certain that David did not know that Jerusalem would be the chosen city, it appears, however, that the verse stresses that Goliath was ‘the Philistine’ to teach that David brought his head to Jerusalem to indicate that Abraham’s covenant with the Philistines was no longer in force, since the Philistines had been the ones to initiate the war against the Israelites. Although the treaty had been breached in the time of Judah’s conquest of Jerusalem, and had been dishonored by the Philistines during their battles with Samson, the bringing of Goliath’s head to Jerusalem was a concrete symbol that the covenant was no longer in force.”

So, when the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king, they all came up to fight David. They camped in the valley of Rephaim (“giants”). Since Goliath was a giant, it is interesting that they came to this place. They wanted to stop David before he got any stronger (2 Sam 5.17-18). David inquired of the Lord (by Abiathar who had the Urim and Thummim), asking if he should go up against them. The Lord said, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand (2 Sam 5.19).

So David came to Baal-perazim (“Lord of the breach”) and defeated them. This is a messianic allusion to the Lord who will “break out” against his enemies in the birth-pains. The Philistines left so fast they left their idols, and David and his men burned them (Deut 7.5; 1 Chr 14.12). But the Philistines came back again with a larger army and camped in the valley of Rephaim. David again inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim and the Lord told him, “You shall not go up directly; circle around behind them and come out in front of the balsam trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the baslam trees (to hide the motion of David’s army), then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” As a result, David struck them down from Geba (“hill”) to Gezer (“portion”).

Jerusalem became the capital city of the kingdom. It had no prior tribal associations and it was good for the unification of all the tribes of Israel, but there was a process to it. Again quoting from “The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology II, p.63, Kaplan says, “Moses did not live to enter the Promised Land; his disciple Joshua led the Israelites in the occupation. Even though Joshua knew that Jerusalem would be the chosen city, he did not reveal this to any of the tribes. This would have to wait until the permanent royal line was chosen, which did not occur until the time of David.”

“The first city in the Promised Land that the Israelites conquered was Jericho. Almost as soon as they entered the land, Joshua put aside the choicest of fields near Jericho, later to be traded to the tribes in whose territory the chosen city would fall. This choice field was selected before the land was divided among the tribes; as territory common to them all, it was given over to the children of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro for safe keeping (Sifri on Numbers 10.32, Deuteronomy 12.5, 33.12, Rashi on Numbers 10.32, Tosafot, Bava Kama 82b, s.v.’VeAin’).”

“The Torah itself prescribes this as the method through which Jerusalem should be chosen. In one place it states that the chosen place will be ‘from all your tribes’ (Deut 12.5). Elsewhere, however, the Torah states that it will be ‘in one of your tribes’ (Ibid.12.13). The Torah is speaking of the place of sacrifice-the Altar and initially, when the land was first divided, it would be in the portion of just one of the tribes, Benjamin. Then, however, it would be exchanged for the fields of Jericho, so that ultimately it would belong to all tribes. Thus, when Jerusalem was eventually chosen and consecrated, it became the common property of all the tribes of Israel. As one place common to all, it had a strong effect in uniting the tribes.”

In Part 6 we will pick up here with the fact that once the city was chosen and in David’s hands, the site of the Temple and the Altar had to be found.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Festivals of the Lord, The Tanak, Tying into the New Testament

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *