According to the Bible, before King David's conquest of Jerusalem in the 11th century BCE the city was home to the Jebusites. The Bible describes the city as heavily fortified with a strong city wall. The city ruled by King David, known as the City of David, also known as Mount Zion is now believed to be southwest of the Old City walls, outside the Dung Gate. His son King Solomon extended the city walls and then, in about 440 BCE, in the Persian period, Nehemiah returned from Babylon and rebuilt them.
The origins of the city are lost in antiquity; but evidence of civilization on the site stretches back to 3000 B.C., and the city is referred to by name in Egyptian texts as early as the beginning of the second millennium B.C. According to Ezek. 16:3, the site was once populated by Amorites and Hittites; and, if it is to be identified with Salem (Gen. 14:18; Ps. 76:2), it was ruled in Abraham's day by the King Melchizedek, who was called by scripture the "priest of God Most High."
It is first mentioned in Scripture under the name Salem (Gen. 14:18; comp. Ps. 76:2). When first mentioned under the name Jerusalem, Adonizedek was its king (Josh. 10:1). the Tell-el-Amarna collection of tablets letters from Amorite king to Egypt, recording the attack of the Abiri about B.C. 1480. The name is spelt Uru-Salim ("city of peace").
It is named among the cities of Benjamin (Judg. 19:10; 1 Chr. 11:4); but in the time of David it was divided between Benjamin and Judah. After the death of Joshua, it was taken and set on fire by Judah (Judg. 1:1-8); but the Jebusites were not wholly driven out of it.
David led his forces against the Jebusites still residing within its walls, and drove them out, which he called "the City of David" (2 Sam. After the disruption of the kingdom on the accession to the throne of Rehoboam, Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom of the two tribes. It was subsequently often taken and retaken by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and by the kings of Israel (2 Kings 14:13, 14; 18:15, 16; 23:33-35; 24:14; 2 Chr. 12:9; 26:9; 27:3, 4; 29:3; 32:30; 33:11) after a siege of three years, it was taken and utterly destroyed, by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon (2 Kings 25; 2 Chr. 36; Jer. 39), B.C. 588.
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