Where Was King David Buried? What is the City of David?

by Steve Ray on December 14, 2011

Aged King David in the City of David

Scripture tells us that King David was buried in the City of David. Since Scripture refers to both Jerusalem and Bethlehem as “the City of David” some say David was buried in Jerusalem, other suggest he was buried in Bethlehem.

In Scripture there are two cities called “The City of David.” The Old Testament (OT) uses the phrase 49 times – each time referring to Jerusalem, never to Bethlehem. The New Testament (NT) uses the phrase twice in Luke’s Gospel and each time it refers to Bethlehem.1

So, what is “The City of David” – and where were King David and his successors buried?

In my documentary David and Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom (produced by Ignatius Press) I assert that David was buried in Jerusalem, actually in the area called Silwan today. However, some have suggested by some that David was buried in Bethlehem where he was born and raised. This is not because of any evidence; rather, it is because of a confusion caused by the phrase “city of David” being used of Bethlehem by Luke. And also for other reasons that arose subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (details to follow).

So, loving a good biblical mystery, I decided to dig a bit (no pun intended) and see what I could find.

To read the whole article, click here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Howard December 15, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Was Bethlehem ever properly a city at all? My understanding had been that the defining characteristic of a city in ancient times was its wall, and that Bethlehem had always been a village with no walls, to say nothing of its small population.

Steve Ray December 16, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Howard: I am not aware of walls surrounding Bethlehem at the time of Christ. Like you say, echoing Micah 5:2, it was a small city, town or village. The Greek word used is “polis” and here is a Greek NT Dictionary’s definition: C. The NT.
I. pólis.
1. Distribution and Secular Use. The term pólis, which has lost the aura that surrounds it in the Greek world, occurs some 160 times, mostly in the Lucan writings, and especially with a historical eschatological (Revelation) reference. The term never means “state,” for which the NT has king, authorities, etc. When cities are denoted, they are not political organisms. árchontes occurs for city officials only loosely in Acts 16:19. The pólis in the NT is an enclosed place of human habitation as distinct from villages, isolated dwellings, or uninhabited places. At times it can also mean “population” (Mt. 8:34). It is not sharply distinguished from k?m? (Mk. 1:38; cf. Lk. 4:43). The pólis is the walled city and larger center, while the k?mai are subordinate towns. Individual cities may be mentioned, as in Mt. 8:33; 21:17; Acts 8:5. Or additions may be made relating the city to a locality (Lk. 4:31), a nation (Mt. 10:5), inhabitants (Acts 19:35), or an individual (Lk. 2:4, 11).

Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (908–909). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

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