Biblical Archaeology Review 16:1, January/February 1990

First Person: New Life for an Old Theory

David’s general may have infiltrated Jerusalem via the water tunnels, after all

By Hershel Shanks

The article by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron (“Light at the End of the Tunnel—Warren’s Shaft Theory of David’s Conquest Shattered”) on ancient Jerusalem’s water system promises to be one of the most carefully read and widely cited articles we have ever published—because of its implications for King David’s conquest of Jerusalem. Yet the authors do not pursue those implications. As they say in the last paragraph of their article, “Whether any part of this water system may be associated with the tsinnor referred to in the Bible, we leave to others.”

Never one to decline an invitation like this, let me at least begin the discussion.

There are two relevant Biblical passages:

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the City of David. And David said on that day, “Whoever would smite the Jebusites, let him get up the tsinnor [water shaft?] to attack the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul.” … And David dwelt in the stronghold and called it the City of David.

2 Samuel 5:6–9

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