Jerusalem During the Period of Conquest and Settlement (part I) ֠The Status of Jerusalem and of the Temple During this Period

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Jerusalem in the Bible
Yeshivat Har Etzion

Shiur #20:

Jerusalem During the Period of Conquest and Settlement (part I) – The Status of Jerusalem and of the Temple During this Period


By Rav Yitzchak Levi



We encounter Jerusalem for the first time with its full name during the period of the conquest and settlement of the land (Yehoshua 10:1). For the purposes of this shiur, we shall define the period of conquest and settlement as lasting from the days of Yehoshua until the end of the reign of Shaul [1]. We shall address the following issues:

- the status of Jerusalem and the Temple during this period

- to which tribe did Jerusalem belong?

- The Binyamin-Yehuda border in the Jerusalem region according to the literal text and according to rabbinical sources

- Why did Bnei Yisrael not conquer Jerusalem until the time of David?


A. The city of Jerusalem


The city remained a Jebusite, Gentile city called Yevus up until the end of this period, as we see quite clearly from the descriptions of the borders in the Book of Yehoshua (chapters 15 and 18) and other sources (Ibid. 15:63; Shoftim 1:21; Ibid. 19:10-12). Only in the time of David was Jerusalem conquered from the Jebusites (II Shemuel 5:6-9). In other words, there was no Israelite settlement of Jerusalem until the time of David [2]. There are two significant events related to Jerusalem during this period:

- the war of the alliance of kings of the south, headed by Adoni-Tzedek King of Jerusalem, against the Giv'onim (Yehoshua 10)

- the conquest of the city by the Tribe of Yehuda (Shoftim 1:8).


1. The war of the alliance of kings of the South (Yehoshua 10)


In the wake of the covenant that the Giv'onim make with Yehoshua, Adoni-Tzedek, King of Jerusalem [3] forges a counter-alliance with another four Canaanite kings: the king of Hebron, the King of Yarmut, the King of Lakhish, and the King of Eglon. These five kings encamp against Giv'on and wage war against it. Yehoshua comes up during the night from Gilgal, smites them and pursues them via the ascent to Beit Choron [4], slaughters their armies up until Azeka and Makeda, and at the end of the pursuit he slaughters these five Emorite kings.


But the continuation of the story is quite unexpected. Killing the king represented, in biblical times, a most significant element in war against the city-state. Indeed, further on we find a description of the conquest of Hebron, Lakhish and Eglon (within the framework of the brief war of conquest in the region of Yehuda and the South) – but not of Jerusalem and Yarmut. Admittedly, the kings of these cities are mentioned in the list of those kings of the land that Yehoshua conquered (Yehoshua 12:10), but that is a list of kings, not of cities [5].


At the same time, some opinions maintain that Jerusalem, too, was conquered, on the basis of the verses summarizing the conquests of this war (Yehoshua 10:40-42): "Yehoshua smote all the country of the hills and of the Negev and of the plain and of the slopes, and all their kings; he left none alive, but annihilated all that breathed as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him. And Yehoshua smote them from Kadesh Barne'a to Gaza, and all the land of Goshen as far as Giv'on. And Yehoshua took all of these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel."


Similarly, we find in the verses summarizing the conquest of the land as a whole: "These are the kings of the land whom Yehoshua and Bnei Yisrael smote on this side of the Jordan on the west… And Yehoshua gave them to the tribes of Israel as an inheritance according to their divisions. In the mountain and in the plain and in the Arava and in the slopes and in the wilderness and in the Negev, the Hittites, the Emorites and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivvites and the Jebusites" (Ibid. 12:7-8).


These sources include all parts of the land, including Jerusalem, and on this basis there are certain commentators who conclude that Jerusalem, too, was conquered [6].


To summarize the problem: following the slaughter of the five kings we find a description of the conquest of the entire southern region; specifically the text mentions the cities of Makeda, Livna, Lakhish, Eglon, Hebron and Devir. The question is, what happened to Jerusalem and Yarmut? Were they, too, conquered and simply omitted from any mention in the text, being subsumed in the general description of the conquest of the South, or were they left unconquered, remaining as Gentile islands in the midst of conquered territory?


We wish to posit that Jerusalem was not conquered at this stage at all, and therefore no tribe settled there. The following proofs (aside from the fact that there is no explicit mention of the conquest of the city) support this view:

- Yehoshua 15:63: "But the Yevusi, inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Yehuda were unable to drive out, and the Yevusi dwelled with the children of Yehuda to this day." In other words – the Yevusi dwelled in Jerusalem, on the northern border of the inheritance of Yehuda [7].

- If Jerusalem had indeed been conquered and settled, why was there any need to conquer it anew following the death of Yehoshua (as described in Shoftim 1:8)?[8]

- If there were Israelites living in even just a part of the city, why does the man in the story of the concubine in Giv'a (on his way from Bethlehem in Yehuda to the foot of the mountain of Ephraim) refrain from passing through it because it is "a Gentile city not of the children of Israel" (Shoftim 19:12)? [9]

- If the city was in the hands of Bnei Yisrael, why was there any need to conquer it in the days of David? [10]


From all of the above it would appear, to our humble view, that Jerusalem/Yevus remained an entirely Gentile city from the time of the conquest of the land by Yehoshua up until the city's conquest in the days of David. [11] It is possible that the population of the city was originally Emorite (Adoni-Tzedek, King of Jerusalem, is an Emorite king) and afterwards became Jebusite (as suggested by the name, Yevus, and from the sources stating explicitly that the Jebusites dwelled there); either way, it remained a Gentile city throughout this period, sandwiched in between the Tribe of Yehuda to the south (Yehoshua 15:63) and the Tribe of Binyamin to the north (Shoftim 1:21).


The problem with this view is the obvious question: why was the conquest of the city – whose king had already been killed! – not completed as part of the commandment of conquering the land? This question has no simple answer on the literal level [12]; the only suggestion that we may propose on this level is that it was a well-fortified city and very difficult to attack. This assumption has been confirmed by archaeological excavations conducted during recent years in the City of David, proving that from the Middle Bronze Age II – the period of the forefathers – the city had massive fortifications, with an impressive wall and towers, a protected water system, etc.


2. The conquest of the city by the Tribe of Yehuda (Shoftim 1:8)


At the beginning of Sefer Shoftim we find a description of the battles waged by the Tribes of Yehuda and Shimon against the Canaanite nations, following the death of Yehoshua:


"God gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, and they smote them in Bezek…  And Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued after him and seized him… and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. And the children of Yehuda fought against Jerusalem, and they took it and smote it by the sword, and set the city on fire. Afterwards the children of Yehuda went down to wage war against the Canaanites who dwelled in the mountain and the Negev and the plain. And Yehuda went to the Canaanites living in Hebron… and from there he went to the inhabitants of Devir… and they smote the Canaanites dwelling in Safed… and Yehuda took Gaza and its border, and Ashkelon with its border, and Ekron and its border. And God was with Yehuda, and he drove out [the inhabitants of] the mountain, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, for they had chariots of iron."


The text gives rise to several questions: Firstly, what are THE CHILDREN OF YEHUDA doing in Jerusalem? We shall address this question later on, when we come to discuss the tribal identity of Jerusalem.


Secondly, in light of the fact that this is the first explicit mention of the conquest of the city, why does the text make no mention of its settlement? The answer would appear to be simple: the children of Yehuda did not settle the city at all. They conquered it after the conquest of Bezek, as part of their southward progress toward the mountain of Hebron, but they did not stay on to settle it [13]. The simple proof that the city was not settled by Bnei Yisrael – as mentioned above – is that it is described as a Jebusite city ("a Gentile city, not of the children of Israel" (Shoftim 19:12)) in the story of the concubine in Giv'a [14].


After finally succeeding in overcoming the mighty fortifications that had prevented the conquest of the city during the time of Yehoshua, after "smiting the city by the sword" and setting it on fire, why does the Tribe of Yehuda not settle Jerusalem and fulfill the commandment of taking possession of the land?


This question, too, has no satisfying answer.


3. The significance of the late attainment of Jerusalem


The issue of the conquest of the city during Yehoshua's time and after his death leaves us with some questions requiring further study, but in any event it serves only to strengthen our assumption that the city remained a pagan one during the period between the conquest of the land by Yehoshua and the conquest of this city by David.


A key to calculating the period that the city remained in Gentile hands is to be found in I Melakhim 6:1 – "And it was, in the 480th year after the Exodus of Bnei Yisrael from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv – which is the second month – of the reign of King Shelomo over Israel, that he built the House for God."


Four hundred and eighty years passed from the Exodus until the beginning of the building of the Temple by Shelomo. David reigned in Jerusalem, following its conquest, for 33 years (II Shemuel 5:5); Shelomo began to build the Temple in the fourth year of his reign. In order to calculate how many years there were between the conquest of the land and the conquest of Jerusalem, we must deduct from 480 the 40 years spent in the desert as well as the 37 years that passed from the conquest of the city by David until the beginning of the construction of the Temple by Shelomo. Thus we conclude that Jerusalem was finally settled a full 403(!) years after the entry into the land in the time of Yehoshua.


This is unquestionably a long time, including various different periods: the period of conquest and settlement under Yehoshua, hundreds of years under the judges, followed by the leadership of Eli, Shemuel and Shaul; seven and a half years of David's rule over the Tribe of Yehuda in Hebron before installing himself in Jerusalem as king over all of Israel. The nation of Israel therefore dwelled in the land for a very long time [15] before starting to take an active interest in Jerusalem, to conquer it and settle it.


What is the spiritual significance of this historical fact?


Let us start with a point that takes us back to the first hint at Jerusalem in the Torah [16]. As part of his travels upon reaching the land, Avraham passes by Jerusalem on several occasions, but does not stop there. This occurs in his first journey from the region of Beit-El and Ai to the Negev and Egypt (Bereishit 12:8-9); again upon his return from Egypt and the Negev to the region of Beit-El and Ai (Ibid. 13:1-3); and again when he parts from Lot and leaves the Beit-El/Ai region for Hebron (Ibid. 13:18).


Furthermore, as we recall from the first shiurim in the series, even when Avraham does finally reach the city itself – the "Valley of Shaveh, which is the king's valley" – this is not the result of any prior intention to settle there, as part of his coverage of the land. In this sense it is different from his stays in Shekhem, in the place between Beit-El and Ai, and in Hebron – all of which are places to which Avraham traveled intentionally, and in which he dwelled for some time. Jerusalem, in contrast, is a stop that Avraham makes on his return journey from the war against the kings of the north, for the sake of the welcome organized for him by Malki-Tzedek and the King of Sodom in honor of his victory. After this honorary reception he returns to Hebron – the city of his residence.


The journey to Mount Moriah – a planned journey, in accordance with God's command – takes place only at a much later stage in Avraham's life [17]. Like his descendants in the future, Avraham does not come to Jerusalem at the beginning of his stay in the land; he goes there only after a prolonged period of residence [18].


Avraham passes through many places before he sets off for Jerusalem. This teaches us that what is needed in order to attain and reach Eretz Yisrael is not sufficient in order for us to attain and reach Jerusalem and the Temple. The fact that Jerusalem and the Temple are situated in the heart of the country is not a mere geographical fact [19]. They are, in all senses, the climax - the point that may be reached only after national and spiritual maturation and only when certain conditions have been fulfilled.


One of these conditions – one of the elements of that national maturity – is eloquently formulated by the Radak (in his commentary on II Shemuel 5:6):


"'The king and his men went' – but in Divrei Ha-yamim we read, "David and all of Israel went…" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 11:4) – because all of Israel were now "his men." Now that he ruled over all of Israel, he went to Jerusalem to take the citadel of Zion, for it was axiomatic to them that Zion would be the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, and that it would be taken only by the one who was to be king over all of Israel. Until this point no kingship had been established over Israel, since the kingship of Shaul was not permanent.


Assuming that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of the kingdom of Israel, and connected to the place of God's Kingship, it follows that it may be attained only through a king who rules over ALL OF ISRAEL, IN UNITY. This situation came about for the first time only under David's rule. As we shall see below, until his reign there was no central kingship that unified all of Israel.


The time of Yehoshua was a period of conquest and division of inheritances, with each tribe receiving its portion and beginning to settle it. Yehoshua, from the Tribe of Ephraim, established no capital city. The Mishkan existed in Shilo, within the borders of his tribal inheritance, but there was no capital.


During the hundreds of years under the leadership of the various judges, each tribe established itself in its inheritance. This was a period of profound division, in every sense. The leadership of the judges was tribal in nature: the judge from this or that tribe would deliver Israel from their enemies (whose attacks were a punishment for their evildoing, and especially for their idolatry), lead and judge Israel for a certain period, and then the leadership would pass to another tribe, another judge, another deliverance. In this reality there was no chance of establishing a capital city for all of Israel [20].


In the last days of the period of the Mishkan in Shilo, Eli the kohen was leader of Israel - all of Israel. But no central capital had been established, and the nation kept its distance from the corrupt Mishkan in Shilo (see I Shemuel 2-3) and engaged in idolatry (Ibid. 7:3-4).


The first significant attempt at central leadership took place in the time of Shemuel – a leader born at God's word who appears to have fulfilled all of the functions of leadership: he was the leader, judge, prophet and also the kohen [21]. In this sense Shemuel served as a sort of "super-judge" who, while not a king himself, prepared the ground for real kingship.


During Shemuel's time there was no central capital. The Mishkan in Shilo lay desolate, and the Divine Presence and Divine service were divided between the Mishkan – located in Nov (the city of the kohanim) and Kiryat Ye'arim (where the Ark of God's covenant was situated following its return from the Philistines and from Beit Shemesh). In this reality there could be no central sovereignty; indeed, Shemuel's leadership was popular rather than official. This fact is reflected most accurately in the following verses:


"Shemuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He would go every year and circuit Beit-El and Gilgal and Mitzpeh, and he judged Israel in all of these places. Then he would return to Rama, for there was his home and there he judged Israel, and he built an altar there to God" (I Shemuel 7:15-17). Shemuel performed an annual circuit of the main cities and judged Israel; in between these travels he returned home.


Shaul, the first King of Israel, established his capital in the city of Giv'a, which would appear to have been Giv'at Binyamin or Giv'at Shaul [22]. His kingship was an preliminary one, an embryonic kingship; it is difficult to regard this period as one of all-inclusive Israelite sovereignty. We shall note here, very briefly, some points that serve to illustrate this contention. Shaul's capital, Giv'at Shaul, is located in the portion of Binyamin (in contrast to Jerusalem, David's capital, which sits on the border between Yehuda and Binyamin). Shaul's government consisted mainly of men from Binyamin (see I Shemuel 22:7), and we find no evidence that Shaul took steps aimed at unifying the nation. Moreover, as a result of his sins, Shaul soon loses Divine approval for his reign. When David appears, Shaul undertakes his terrible pursuit of this successor, investing most of his energy in this jealous endeavor, while neglecting the war against the external, true enemy. Shaul languishes in this state until his death.


When Shaul dies, Ish-Boshet rules over all of Israel in Machanayim, while David rules over the Tribe of Yehuda in Hebron. It is only after the death of Ish-Boshet, son of Shaul, and the coronation of David over all of Israel, that the conditions are ripe for the selection of a capital for the Kingdom of Israel, which will unify all the tribes under a single sovereign leadership. Hence, David's first act after his coronation over the entire nation is to conquer Jerusalem and erase the Emorite/Jebusite hold over the city for the first time in hundreds of years. This step becomes possible within the reality of the nation united under a single kingship. One of the main expressions of this unity is the very fact of the establishment of the capital city in Jerusalem, located on the Yehuda-Binyamin border – i.e., the border between the children of Leah and the children of Rachel.


We have attempted to show why the institution of a capital city, uniting all of the tribes, took so long to accomplish. It will be recalled that the Radak hints at the royal character of Jerusalem: "It was axiomatic to them that Zion would be the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, and that it would be taken only by the one who was to be king over all of Israel." Since we had difficulty finding answers, on the literal level, to the questions posed above (why Jerusalem was not captured during the time of Yehoshua - or at least why the text gives no explicit description of any such event, and why the Tribe of Yehuda did not settle the city following its eventual conquest), it would seem that the Radak provides a profound and genuine answer. Jerusalem can be attained only through a king over all of Israel – a definition which neither Yehoshua nor the Tribe of Yehuda could fulfill for this purpose. In other words, Jerusalem cannot be attained through a tribal, partisan conquest that does not represent all of Israel. The level of Jerusalem is a national, all-encompassing one; therefore, for reasons quite inexplicable on the literal level, the city could not be settled until a king "whose heart was the heart of all the congregation of Israel" (Rambam, Laws of Kings, 3,6) would conquer it, install himself in it and turn it into the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel - not a tribal, private city, but a general, national one.


B.        The place of the Temple – Mount Moriah


A look at the literal text from the beginning of Sefer Yehoshua up until the Ark is brought up by David to Jerusalem (II Shemuel 6; I Divrei Ha-yamim 13:6-15) (his intention being to try to build the Temple immediately thereafter) reveals that at no point throughout this 400 year period is there any leader who engages in a search and quest for "the place" and an attempt to find it.


We emphasize here the need to seek out the place, for our assumption is that the exact location of Mount Moriah – the place of the Akeda – was not known after the time of Avraham. The Akeida was a one-time experience that was shared only by Avraham, Yitzchak, and God; afterwards we find no sign of any interest in the place whatsoever – neither on the part of Avraham or Yitzchak themselves, nor on the part of Yaakov [23] or any of his sons – the twelve tribes.


Even after the return to the land in the days of Yehoshua, there is no evidence of anyone knowing the place of the Akeida or engaging in a search for the site of the future Temple. Moreover, we cannot imagine that the tribes would have known about the place of the Akeida without wanting to settle in proximity to it [24]. During the period of the Judges, likewise, we find no sign of interest in the place, and – at least according to the literal text – this remained the situation during the time of Eli, Shemuel and Shaul.


Although during certain periods the Mishkan occupied a central place, it appears that for most of this lengthy period it enjoyed no special importance [25], especially after the destruction of Shilo, at which point the division between the great altar in Giv'on and the seat of the Ark in Kiryat Ye'arim brought about a significant drop in the status of both places [26].


In this context, the resounding silence of the first part of Sefer Shemuel (I Shemuel) with regard to the Mishkan is most interesting: the destruction of the Mishkan in Shilo is not described at all [27], nor is the move from Shilo to Nov. We learn of the presence of the Mishkan in Nov only incidentally, in the course of the story of David's flight from Shaul (I Shemuel 21:9-10). There is likewise no description of the Mishkan's transition to Giv'on after the destruction of Nov, nor any mention throughout the Sefer of Giv'on as the site of the great altar. The literal text offers no hint of any significant search undertaken by Shemuel or Shaul for the site of the future Temple. At the same time, it should be noted that in Divrei Ha-yamim, mention is made of Shemuel the Seer and of David in relation to the establishment of the shifts for the Temple (I Divrei Ha-yamim 9:22); also, Shemuel the Seer, Shaul son of Kish, Avner son of Ner, and Yoav son of Tzeruya are mentioned as having contributed to the building of the Temple (I Divrei Ha-yamim 26:28).


Chazal and the Rishonim offer several insights into this matter; we shall quote two of them.


A.        Hiding of the place of the Akeda


- In his commentary on Sefer Devarim (12:5), Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:


"This place is Mount Moriah, and it was known and recognized among the nations, for it was legendary in status, and there was no need to tell Israel in the desert, for they knew this from the forefathers – that the 'Akeida' had taken place there… And therefore the text conceals this place and does not reveal it. Not only the nations, but even Israel did not know it, for even though everyone knew the special status of Mount Moriah, they did not know that that was the place that God had chosen."


In other words, the special status of Mount Moriah was associated only with the Akeida; it was not known as the place that God had chosen.


- Rambam (Laws of the Temple, chapter 2, law 2) writes:


"It was traditionally known that the place where David and Shelomo built the altar, on the threshing floor of Aravna, was the place where Avraham had built the altar and bound Yitzchak upon it, and that this was the place where Noah had built [his altar] when he emerged from the ark, which was the same altar upon which Kayin and Hevel had offered their sacrifices, and where Adam had sacrificed, and that he had been created from there. The Sages taught: 'Adam was created from the place of his atonement.'"


This would appear to contradict what the Rambam himself teaches in Moreh Nevukhim (part III, chapter 45), to the effect that the text conceals the place deliberately. The easiest way of solving the contradiction is to suggest that there was knowledge of a clear connection between the sacrificial sites of Adam, Kayin and Hevel, Noach, and Avraham in the Akeda, and the Temple, but the exact place was not known.


- Radak (commenting on Tehillim 132:2) comments:


"Even though Yaakov saw the place of the Temple in a dream [28], it is possible that he did not know it consciously. And if he did know it, he did not reveal it, for God did not want the place to be known until the time of David [29]. Therefore David mentions Yaakov in this regard, when he says, 'He vowed to the Mighty One of Yaakov' (Tehillim 132:2) – because it was to him that God first revealed it. Although He hinted at it to Avraham, by commanding him to offer up Yitzchak, his son, as an offering at that place, it is still not clear whether Avraham knew that that place would be the site chosen for the Temple for all generations." [30]


In other words, God wanted the place to be revealed only in the time of King David.


B.         Connection to the Temple


In this regard we shall look at two rabbinical sources. The first relates to the building of the Temple itself:


"The plan for the Temple, which the Holy One gave over to Moshe when he stood [atop Mount Sinai] was conveyed by Moshe, standing, to Yehoshua; Yehoshua conveyed it, standing, to the elders; the elders stood and conveyed it to the prophets; the prophets stood and passed it on to David; David stood and passed it on to Shelomo." (Yalkut Shimoni I Divrei Ha-yamim siman 1081; Midrash Shemuel parasha 15).


According to this Midrash, the plan of the Temple was handed over from generation to generation, from Moshe until David. But attention should be paid to the fact that the Midrash makes no mention of the site of the Temple; it concerns only its structure.


The Gemara (Zevachim 54b) recounts:


"Rabba taught: Concerning that which is written, 'David and Shemuel went and dwelled in Noyot, in Rama' (I Shemuel 19:18) – what has Nayot to do with Rama? The answer is that they dwelled in Rama and engaged in the beautification (noyo) of the world." [Rashi comments: "They sought the biblical source for the site of the Temple.]


In other words, according to Chazal, the prophet Shemuel also busied himself, together with David, with the search for the site of the Temple [31].




We have attempted here to show that from the time of Yehoshua up until the time of David, Jerusalem remained a pagan city. It was not conquered because Jerusalem cannot be attained within the tribal framework; it requires a king who reigns over all of Israel. We also showed that none of the leaders of Israel, from Yehoshua to Shaul, engaged in a search for the site of the Temple.


Having examined the status of Jerusalem during the period of conquest and settlement, we shall turn our attention in the next shiur to the question of which tribe Jerusalem belongs to.



[1] This era includes all the days of Yehoshua, the period of the Judges, and the days of Shemuel and Shaul. The next significant period that we shall address is the reign of David.

[2] Among the Rishonim and in the midrashim, opinions vary on this issue. Some maintain that there was partial settlement of the city during the period of Yehoshua or of the Judges. These opinions are complicated and are not easily reconciled with the literal text.

[3] The name Adoni-Tzedek is related to the names Malki-Tzedek and Tzidkiyahu, and to the concept of righteousness ("tzedek"), as discussed in shiur no. 6.

[4] Along today's route 443, via Maccabim, Re'ut and Modi'in, up to Emek Ayalon.

[5] It is difficult to posit that killing the king of the city automatically implies conquest of his land, because the conquests of Hebron, Lakhish and Eglon are described explicitly even though their kings were slaughtered.

[6] This is the position of the Radak, for example, in his commentary on Yehoshua (15:63 and elsewhere) and Shoftim – that the Tribe of Yehuda conquered its share of Jerusalem (which, according to his view, was called Jerusalem already during Yehoshua's time), and that from the time of Yehoshua up until the time of David there was a small Jewish settlement in that portion of the city.

[7] It is important to note that the northern border of the inheritance of Yehuda – the region of the Ben-Hinnom Valley – lay very close (just a few dozen meters) to the settlement of the Jebusites in Yevus.

[8] Commentators who disagree with this approach explain that the city comprises several parts; the Tribe of Yehuda conquered only one part of the city, while the Jebusites dwelled in a different part of it (see note no. 6).

[9] The Radak addresses this problem in his commentary on Shoftim 17:1 – "It appears that Jerusalem was not settled to a significant extent by Israelites, even though it had been conquered, because the Jebusites were still there. When the Levite and his attendant passed by Yevus it was evening, and it seems that they were headed for the Jebusite [area] rather than [the area of] Jerusalem settled by Israelites. If he had gone to stay over there, they would have first encountered the Jebusite cities." In other words, the Israelite settlement at the time represented a small minority in the city, and the road to it passed through Jebusite territory, and therefore the man did not want to enter.

[10] See note no. 8

[11] One of the proofs enlisted by the commentators who adopt the dissenting approach is the verse describing David after his victory over Goliat: "David took the head of the Philistine AND BRORUGHT IT TO JERUSALEM, and placed his vessels there in his tent" (I Shemuel 17:54). To this view, this verse proves that Bnei Yisrael already dwelled in Jerusalem at that time, and David brought Goliat's head to that part of the city that was inhabited by Bnei Yisrael – apparently the region of the western hill (today's Jewish and Armenian Quarters – Mount Zion). To our view, this verse provides no support at all: it is not logical to assume that the verse represents part of the chronological course of events (for what would be the point of bringing Goliat's head to Jerusalem at this point, before the city had attained its special status?!), and it seems quite clear that the text deviates here from the course of events to describe something that would happen later on – a phenomenon that occurs many times in Tanakh – so as to complete the narration of the event until the end.

To prove this fundamental literary device in the biblical narrative, I quote here an excellent example that was pointed out to me by my rabbi and teacher, Rav Yaakov Medan. At the end of the section describing the manna, after the detailed description of the miraculous daily provision, we are told: "Moshe said to Aharon: take a jar and place a full omer of manna inside it, and place it before God for a keepsake for all your generations. As God had commanded Moshe, so Aharon placed it before the Testimony, as a keepsake. And Bnei Yisrael ate the manna for forty years, until they reached inhabited land; they ate the manna until they reached the border of the land of Canaan. And an omer is a tenth of an eifa." (Shemot 16:33-36). Moshe commands Aharon to place a jar of manna "before God" – i.e., in the Ark of the Covenant. This appears in Parashat Beshalach – before Moshe was commanded to build the Mishkan (according to all opinions), and before he could have had any idea of the possibility of its existence. It is therefore not possible that this scene took place as soon as the first manna fell; there can be no doubt that it represents a complementary conclusion to the story of the manna – as becomes clear from the continuation; "And Bnei Yisrael ate the manna for forty years…." The same principle applies in our situation: the head of Goliat was brought to Jerusalem only after David had conquered it and made it his capital (II Shemuel 5), to symbolize the submission of the Philistines before Israelite rule in the capital of the Kingdom of Israel.

[12] a. Our position is that Tanakh must be studied with careful attention to what the text says and what it does not say. Even if there is some logic to the view that Jerusalem was conquered during the period of Yehoshua, there must be some significance to the fact that the text makes no mention of it, while detailing the conquest of many other cities. This is especially meaningful in light of the fact that Adoni-Tzedek's position at the head of the covenant of the southern kings testifies to the importance of the city at that time – a fact that is affirmed by external sources, too (e.g. in the letters of Al-Amarna, discovered in an archive in Egypt dating back to this period. See N. Ne'eman, "Te'udot mi-Arkhi'onei Alla ve-Al-Amarna, Jerusalem 5737, pp. 57-60.)

b. We prefer to leave the question open, rather than deciding on a wrong or weak answer.

c. At this stage we have addressed the question only on the level of the literal text. We shall relate further on to what Chazal teach in this regard.

[13] There is no exact identification for the city of Bezek. Prof. Elitzur, in his commentary – Da'at Mikra – locates it in the north-eastern part of the inheritance of Yehuda, perhaps in the region of Abu-Dis.

[14] Several commentators – early and later – maintain that the narratives at the end of Sefer Shoftim (the idol of Mikha and the concubine in Giv'a) happened earlier, at the beginning of the period of the Judges (Seder Olam Rabba, for example, claims in chapter 12 that these events took place during the time of Kushan Rish'atayim, mentioned in Shoftim 3) – i.e., close to the time of Jerusalem's conquest by the Tribe of Yehuda.

[15] Let us keep in mind that according to Chazal, the First Temple period consisted of 410 years (Yoma 9a).

[16] We hinted to this in our first three shiurim ("The Path to Jerusalem in the Torah").

[17] We shall not, in the present context, get into the details of the dates. Suffice it to note that Avraham, who reached Canaan at the age of about 75 (see Bereishit 12:4) was already 137 years old when Sara died (see Ibid. 17:17; 23:1) – which, based on the biblical text and on Chazal, was about the same time as the Akeida.

[18] Homiletically we may propose that this reality parallels, in certain respects, the topographical-geographical fact that Jerusalem is not on the main highway, on the watershed line, but rather at some distance from it. Jerusalem is not approached immediately and automatically; it must be sought out, one has to head there specifically, only at the end does one get there.

[19] The spiritual significance of this geographical reality is reflected in Mishna Kelim (1:5-9), where we find a list of ten concentric circles of sanctity: the innermost (and holiest) is the site of the Temple; around it is the wider circle of Jerusalem, and surrounding that – all of Eretz Yisrael.

[20] The failed attempt at sovereign rule by Avimelekh in Shekhem (Shoftim 9) demonstrates eloquently that conditions were not yet ripe for the establishment of a central, royal capital that would unify all of Israel.

[21] The Zohar (part II 148b) teaches that Shemuel served as a kohen.

[22] In the "Encyclopedia Mikra'it" vol II p. 411, under "Giv'a – Giv'at Binyamin, Giv'at Shaul," Prof. Mazar identifies all of these sites as the same place, known as Tel Al-Pul, alongside the pool to the west of Pisgat Ze'ev today, where Hussein began building his villa prior to the Six-Day War.

[23] Chazal maintained a different view in this regard, and some midrashim identify the place of Yaakov's revelation in Beit-El as Mount Moriah. In shiur no. 2 we touched on this discussion.

[24] a. In this context we are reminded of the Rambam's assertion, in Moreh Nevukhim (part III, chapter 45) that one of the main reasons for the concealment of the place in the Torah was to prevent strife and conflict among the tribes over inheritance of the place (like the rebellion of Korach and his company concerning the priesthood).

b. The Gemara (Bava Batra 122a) raises the possibility that the value of the inheritances rose proportionately to their proximity to Jerusalem, and the tribes that settled nearer paid a monetary compensation to the others who were located further away. The Rashbam explains (ad loc.): "But anyone whose lot was close to Jerusalem paid a fee to someone else whose lot was far from Jerusalem, since the distance was a disadvantage for two reasons: firstly, because it was far from the Temple, and secondly, because it was closer to foreign countries, and therefore carried a greater security risk." The Chatam Sofer (Responsa Orakh Chaim siman 29) questions the Rashbam, recalling that at the time of the division of the land, "Neither the site of the Temple nor the location of Mount Moriah was known; hence the degree of proximity or distance should have been measured from the Mishkan in Shilo, not from Mount Moriah, which was not known." As noted in the body of the shiur, the text gives no indication whatsoever of any knowledge of the future significance of Jerusalem.

[25] An instructive example as to the neglect of the Mishkan is the fact that the principal appearance of the Mishkan of Shilo in all of Sefer Shoftim (other than the story of the dances in chapter 21) is in 18:31 – "They installed the idol of Mikha, which he had made, for all the time that God's house was in Shilo" – a description that is elaborated upon in Sanhedrin 103b: "The  smoke from the [altar] sacrifices, and smoke from the [sacrifices to the] idol, were intermingled. Thus, the House of God in Shilo is mentioned, as it were, only as a contrast to the idol of Mikha, rather than as a place with its own independent importance…

[26] When David brings the Ark up to the city of David, after it had dwelled for twenty years in Kiryat Ye'arim, he declares: "Let us bring back the Ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it out during the days of Shaul" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 13:3).

[27] This is expressed explicitly in Yirmiyahu 7:12 and in 26:6, as well as in Tehillim 78:59-67.

[28] Let us recall that to our humble view Yaakov's dream took place in Beit-El, and not at Mount Moriah (as opposed to the Radak's view quoted above).

[29] It is very interesting that the Radak notes a certain connection between the concealment of the place of the Temple up until the time of David, and the conquest of the city of Jerusalem by virtue of sovereignty over all of Israel – i.e., the reign of David.

[30] This question may depend on our understanding of the verse, "Avraham called the name of that place Hashem Yir'eh, CONCERNING WHICH IT IS SAID THIS DAY on the mountain God will see" (Bereishit 22:14). What is "this day"? The Vilna Gaon, for example, writes in Aderet Eliyahu: "Moshe Rabbeinu, who wrote the Torah, added 'concerning which it is said this day' – in other words, in the days of Moshe, when the Torah had already been given down below." According to this understanding, Avraham did not know that the site of the Akeida was destined to become the site of the Temple. There are also several other commentators who adopt this view. The Seforno, on the other hand, writes (ad loc.): "For it was told to him in a prophecy why God had chosen this mountain because his descendants were destined to offer their sacrifices there."

[31] For a more general view of the subject see Rav Eitan Shendorfi's thorough and comprehensive study – "Hadar ha-Olam," which addresses various issues related to our discussion. In this specific matter we have adopted a different approach from the one he presents.


Translated by Kaeren Fish