Biblical Archaeology Review 21:1, January/February 1995

Inside BAR

Biblical Archaeology Review

In 996 B.C. or thereabouts, King David captured Jerusalem, a last stronghold of Canaanite power. Next year Jerusalem will celebrate its 3,000th anniversary as the capital of Israel—though, as we point out in “Sprucing Up for Jerusalem’s 3,000th Anniversary,” 1996 A.D. is not exactly 3,000 years after 996 B.C.

The anniversary celebrations will showcase Jerusalem’s magnificent archaeological sites. But, unfortunately, some of those sites have been badly neglected. A number of the elegant burial caves in Akeldama—the traditional “potter’s field” where Judas hanged himself—are today filled with garbage and debris, and a portion of ancient Jerusalem’s city gate, in excellent condition only 30 years ago, has since crumbled into a heap of rubble. We urge the Israel Antiquities Authority to restore these and other sites in preparation for the celebration of David’s victory, 3,000 years (or so) ago.

After reigning for 33 years in Jerusalem, King David went “the way of all earth” and was buried in the City of David, the Bible tells us (1 Kings 2:2, 10, 11). Early in this century, while excavating David’s city, French archaeologist Raymond Weill discovered what he described as nine tombs, located right where the Bible says David and the kings of Judah were buried. The most magnificent—a 52-foot, tunnel-like cavern—may even have been David’s tomb, although many scholars have since disputed this identification. Sadly, this site has also been sorely neglected. Only further excavation and scientific study will answer the question: “Is This King David’s Tomb?”

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