Jerusalem in the Days of David (I)/ The Selection of Jerusalem and the Temple (Part I)
Yeshivat Har Etzion
The selection of
By Rav Yitzchak Levi
far the shiurim comprising this series have formed two large units:
topic encompasses many issues, each one of which we will try to address
separately: the conquest of the city, bringing up the
before we discuss the particulars of each of these issues, we wish to devote
this shiur to the question of the selection of
As an introduction to the issue of the selection of Jerusalem, we refer to two points that we already dealt with in previous shiurim: 1) Avraham's calling Mount Moriah "Hashem Yera'eh" (Bereishit 22:14), a designation that we understood as "the Lord will choose"; 2) the expression "the place that the Lord will choose" that appears about twenty times in the book of Devarim.
In our shiur
(no. 12) dealing with "the place that the Lord will choose," we
emphasized that God will choose the entire city of
I. HUMAN SELECTION VERSUS DIVINE SELECTION
We will first
present the gist of our thesis, and then consider the details. We argue that there were three stages in the
- The first stage: Human-royal
selection of the city of
- The second stage: Divine
selection of the site of the
- The third stage: Divine selection
of the city of
The first stage was a human stage, initiated from below, the most important conditions for which being unity and kingdom.
first and the second stages, David did everything in his power to reach the
condition for the fulfillment of the third stage was the human readiness to
fully conjoin the earthly kingdom in its fixed manifestation to the
These are the
three main stages in the selection of
II. DAVID'S SELECTION OF THE CITY OF
We wish to
demonstrate that David chose the city of
as king in
The book of Divrei Ha-yamim emphasizes in great detail the unity of all the tribes at the time of David's coronation. Scripture notes all of the participating tribes, and then concludes:
All these men
of war, ranged in battle order, came with a perfect heart to
following his description of David's coronation in
should be noted that Tanakh does not hint at the presence or
involvement of a prophet; there is no Divine revelation; and there is also no
question posed to the Urim ve-Tumim.
In order to appreciate the significance of the absence of a question
posed to the Urim ve-Tumim, it might be helpful to compare David's
offers no explanation whatsoever as to why David went specifically to
Several proofs may be brought to support this argument. In Tehilim 132, David states as follows:
A Song of ascent. Lord, remember to David's favor all his afflictions: how he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the mighty God of Yaakov: Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes, slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty One of Ya'akov. (Tehillim 132:1-5)
And the Radak writes (ad loc.):
David recited this psalm when he built the altar on the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi, in accordance with Gad the prophet, and offered upon it whole burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called to God, who answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering, saying: "This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel." But before that day the site of the Bet ha-Mikdash had not been known.
Radak suggests that this psalm was recited upon the construction of the altar
on the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi (II Shemuel 24; I Divrei
Ha-yamim 21). He points especially to the words of David at the
completion of the sacrificing on this altar: "And David said, This is the
house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for
Israel" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 22:1).
David's words appear to express his excitement over the uncovering of
the site of the
And what seems
correct to me regarding "We heard of it at Efrat" (Tehillim
132:6) is as follows: David said: We did not know of this place before
today. We only heard in our city of
Ibn Ezra writes as well (ad loc.): "David may have written this
psalm when he was covered in sackcloth, he and the elders of
sole hint in the words of Chazal to the possibility that David had known
the site of the
Rava expounded: What is that which is written: "And he [David] and Shemuel went and dwelt in Nayot in Rama" (I Shemuel 19:18-19)? What is the matter of Nayot next to Rama? Rather, they were sitting in Rama and occupied in the beauty (noy) of the world. They said: It is written: "And you shall rise up and go to the place" (Devarim 17:8). This teaches that the Bet ha-Mikdash is higher than all of Eretz Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael is higher than all the countries. They did not know where was its place. They brought the book of Yehoshua. Regarding all of them it is written: "And the border descended," "and the border ascended," "and the border was drawn." Regarding the Tribe of Binyamin, it is written "and the border ascended," but it is not written "and the border descended." They said: This implies that here is its place. They thought to build it in Ein Eitam which is high. They said: Let us lower it a little, as it is written: "And He shall dwell between his shoulders" (Devarim 33:12).
to this exposition, already in the days of Shemuel, David searched for the site
back to our main argument: David does not know the site of the
light of this, the question may be raised: What, then, brought David to
III. What Brought David
The natural capital of David's kingdom would have been
A second point
worthy of our attention is that until that time
Obviously, Jerusalem's location in the center and heart of the mountain massif was a significant advantage.
And finally, the fact that the first thing that David did after having been crowned as king of all of Israel was to go to Jerusalem (as we saw in both Shemuel and Divrei Ha-yamim) suggests that his objective was first and foremost to rally all of Israel around one place, and especially the tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin: first, because of the great hostility between the two tribes "Now there was a long warfare between the house of Shaul and the house of David" (II Shemuel 3:1); and second, because they represented the descendants of Rachel and the descendants of Leah, "Which two did build the house of Israel" (Rut 4:11).
This set of spiritual considerations brought David to choose Jerusalem and turn it into the capital of all of Israel, thus allowing him to lead the people in a unified manner.
IV. LEAVING THETHRESHING FLOOR TO ARAVNA THE YEVUSI
From the account of the census, it becomes clear that when David conquered the city he left the threshing floor the area of Mount Moriah in the hands of Aravna, King of the Yevusis (II Shemuel 24:23). Chazal reproached David for this step:
"Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours" (Devarim 11:24) David acted improperly. The Torah states that after you conquer the land, you will be permitted to conquer outside of the land. [But] he did not act in this manner, but rather he conquered Aram Naharayim and Aram Tzova, whereas the Yevusis who were close to Jerusalem he did not drive out. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: "Near your own palace, you did not drive out. How then do you conquer Aram Naharayim and Aram Tzova?" (Sifrei, Devarim 21)
In other words, effectively, the conquest did not extend to the entire city, for David did not drive out the Yevusis from the region of the threshing floor near his own palace.
We have begun to examine the overall importance of David's connection to Jerusalem. We emphasized the significance of the fact that he chose the city without any direct command from God not by way of a prophet, nor by way of inquiry through the Urim ve-Tumim, nor by way of revelation. In light of this, we tried to examine why David chose Jerusalem. We also saw Chazal's attitude toward the fact that David left Aravna in Jerusalem and failed to conquer the region near his palace, even though he had conquered far more distant areas.
In our next shiur, we hope to complete this process. We shall begin with the bringing of the Ark to Jerusalem and David's desire to build a house for God; we shall analyze David's efforts on behalf of the Temple; we shall examine the Divine selection of Jerusalem; and we shall conclude by comparing this process to what has happened in our own times.
 This year we will suffice with an introduction to the period of David. It is our hope that, with God's help and beli neder, we will continue this series next year and deal then at length with the period of David and Shelomo.
 We have already emphasized in the past that in the study of Tanakh, a person must be precise in his reading of the text, taking note of what is stated as well as what is not stated.
 The question of the relative chronology the temporal relationship between David's request to build the Temple (II Shemuel 7) and the revelation of the site of the Temple in the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi (ibid. 24) is a weighty question. It is very difficult to come to a definite conclusion regarding this matter, and we shall not deal with this issue here.
 Other commentators suggest that the psalm was recited when the Ark was brought to the City of David and set in the midst of the tent (II Shemuel 6); others say that it was recited when Shelomo brought the Ark to the Temple. We follow here the Radak.
 Some raise the question of how could David establish his capital on territory belonging to the Tribe of Binyamin. It may be suggested that a king is permitted to expropriate land in this case land belonging to a different tribe by virtue of the King's Law (I Shemuel 8:11-14), when this is done for sake of a royal building (Malbim, I Melakhim 21:1), or else he is permitted to take only the fruit of the land (and not the land itself), for the sake of his servants and soldiers (Radak, ibid., v. 10). (The aforementioned commentators discuss the king's right of expropriation in the context of the story of Navot's vineyard. This is not the forum for a more detailed discussion).
 The connection between the peace of Jerusalem and national unity expresses itself in Tehilim 122:6-8: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they who love you being at peace. Peace be within your walls, and serenity within your palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within you." The Malbim (ad loc.) discusses the matter at length: "'Pray' after having explained that Jerusalem is what establishes the connection and unity of the collective body, he says that just as when one inquires about the wellbeing of the individual body, we answer him that its wellbeing depends upon the limbs and powers of the body being connected and peace reigning among them, for when there is division between them, then death comes, so too if one asks about the wellbeing of Jerusalem, we will answer that its wellbeing depends upon 'those who love you being at peace.' If there is inner serenity among the lovers of Jerusalem Jerusalem will enjoy peace, for the essence of Jerusalem is the unity of the people. Therefore, if quarrel, dispute and division of hearts arise between its people, there will be no peace in Jerusalem, for its primary peace is when 'it is like a city that is connected together,' not when it is separated."
 It is interesting to examine the relationship between Yehuda and Binyamin across the generations: from the guarantee that Yehuda gave regarding Binyamin when the brothers went down to Yosef in Egypt, a guarantee that established a special connection between the two tribes (see Shiur #19: "Jerusalem in the Torah (VIII)/ the Territory of Binyamin the Territory of the Shekhina (part 4)"); continuing with David's guarantee to Sha'ul during the battle with Golyat in the Ela Valley (a guarantee that Chazal connect to Yehuda's guarantee regarding Binyamin in Egypt, see Yalkut Shimoni 341, no. 126); and concluding with Binyamin's decision, at the time of the separation of the kingdom, not to band with the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe, the descendants of Yosef son of Rachel, but rather with Yehuda.
It may be argued that Jerusalem's special status as the capital of the Kingdom of Yehuda was preserved in great measure by virtue of Binyamin, on whose southern border, between Binyamin and Yehuda, Jerusalem is located, and whose northern border also constitutes the northern border of the Kingdom of Yehuda, in the area of Bet El. My revered teacher, R. Yaaqov Medan, adduces interesting proof from what is stated in the prophecy of Achiya ha-Shiloni to Yeravam regarding the split of the kingdom: "But he shall have one tribe for My servant David's sake, and for Yershalayim's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel" (I Melakhim 11:32). The commentators (ad loc.) disagree about the identity of the tribe under discussion: Yehuda or Binyamin. R. Medan proposes to read the verse as follows: "But he shall have one tribe for My servant David's sake" this is the Tribe of Yehuda "and [he shall have one tribe] for Yershalayim's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel" this is the Tribe of Binyamin. According to this interpretation, the verse is well understood: the Tribe of Yehuda, the tribe of Shelomo, is for the sake of My servant David for the sake of establishing the kingdom in Yehuda; and the tribe of Binyamin is for the sake of the choice of Jerusalem, for it protects it from the north and extends the kingdom's border northward.
All this is in addition to the
special connection between Binyamin and
It is possible that the selection
And finally, it is possible that
we are dealing with a desire on the part of Yehuda to remain in closer
connection with Binyamin, in continuation of the guarantee between them when
the brothers went down to Egypt, and in continuation of David's guarantee to
Sha'ul during the battle in the Ela valley.
Now David is king over all of
 This tendency also finds
expression in the settlement of Jerusalem by members of all the tribes:
"And in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Yehuda, and some of the
children of Binyamin, and some of the children of Ephraim and Menashe" (I Divrei
Ha-yamim 9:3; and see the proofs offered by Yehuda Kil, Da'at Mikra
on Divrei Ha-yamim, p. 244, that this list may be dated to the period of
David). This is in addition to the
families of Levites and kohanim, who served next to the tent pitched by
David for the
(Translated by David Strauss)