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The forthcoming celebration of the 3,000th anniversary of King David's conquest of Jerusalem seems to be acquiring an exaggeratedly nationalistic image, and that is a shame. In point of fact, the latest ideas among Bible scholars and archaeologists about the origin of the Israelite entity and the role of the early Hebrew monarchy can bring little comfort to the strident nationalists. I would even go so far as to suggest that, if David himself had been able to participate in planning the 3,000th anniversary, he would have come up with something quite different: a celebration of the pluralistic nature of the city.
The idea that the anniversary symbolizes Jewish preeminence in Jerusalem is an over-simplification. Though a thousand years before Jesus and more than fifteen hundred years before Muhammad, King David con¬quered Jerusalem and made it the capital of Israel, I suggest the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem - Muslims and Christians - should not see the coming anniversary in a negative light. It is my contention, supported by Biblical sources, that there is indeed a primary Jewish claim to Jerusalem; but this claim is not exclusive.
First of all, a word about the Bible, our only source on the subject. While Orthodox Jews believe that the Bible - or at least the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses - were dictated by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, the modern historical consensus is somewhat different. Today a majority of scholars have concluded that most of the material that eventually consti¬tuted the Bible was written down in the sixth and seventh centuries BCE, although the writers-editors probably had earlier material before them. The earliest written source material could date to some four hundred years earlier, to the time of David and Solomon, or shortly afterwards. There is, of course, no proof of this. The earliest actual copies of Biblical books, part of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, date to the second century BCE at the ear¬liest; there are, however, strong arguments for the aforementioned theory.

Mythical Accounts

There is also a scholarly consensus regarding the nature of the Bible. It is that the earliest books are works of theology rather than history, and that the first historical material in the Bible is to be found in the books of Samuel, which describe the reigns of Saul and David. Thus the Biblical account of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the flight to Egypt, the Exodus, Moses, Joshua and the conquest, are largely mythical.
Joshua's conquest of Canaan, in particular, has been largely disproved by the latest archaeological surveys in Menasseh, Ephraim, Benjamin and Judah, today the West Bank. Cities purportedly conquered by Joshua, such as Jericho, Ai and Arad, were ruins for hundreds of years before the previ¬ously accepted date of his campaign.
The latest archaeological evidence indicates that the Israelites began to settle in the hill country of Canaan around 1200 BCE. Their origins were extremely varied. They included semi-nomadic refugees from Canaan itself (possibly the majority) and migrants from Anatolia (Turkey), the Aegean, Babylon, Sinai and Egypt. The Israelite entity began to coalesce in the hill country under Saul, and was consolidated, with the incorporation of the coastal areas, by David, his successor.
It should be pointed out that a number of scholars have even doubted the existence of Saul and David, suggesting that, like the Patriarchs, they are mythical characters. The first kings of Israel are important Biblical fig¬ures; but they do not appear in any contemporaneous documents. There is no mention of them in Egyptian, Syrian or Mesopotamian inscriptions of the time.
However on July 21, 1993, an Aramaic inscription on basalt stone was discovered at Tel Dan in Galilee which mentions Beit David, the House (or Dynasty) of David. It has been dated to the ninth century BCE, about a hundred years after David is thought to have reigned. Possibly not con¬clusive evidence but, taken together with the Biblical account, a very strong indication of King David's historicity.

Coexistence with the Jebusites

According to the Bible, David conquered Jerusalem, brought the Ark of God there, and made it the center of the national cult. After taking the city, David did not - uniquely for those times - massacre, or even expel the Jebusite inhabitants of the city, believed to ¬be of Anatolian origin. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the Jebusites contin¬ued to live there after the Israelite con¬quest: "And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day" Judges 1:21).
Accepting the scholarly consensus g regarding the date of the composition of ::5 the Bible, "unto this day" means until the sixth century. So the Jebusites were coexisting with the Israelites in Jerusalem sev¬eral centuries after David conquered it. This then is the first Davidic principle: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but the Israelites share it with other peoples.
The Biblical account also makes it clear that Jerusalem was expanded to accommodate the Israelites who came to live there: "So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo inward" (II Samuel 5:9).

Respect for Rights of Others

The experts are divided as to the meaning of Millo. A majority believe it refers to filling up terraces for further construction; but there is no doubt about the fact of building operations. Nobody was evicted. New accommo¬dation was constructed for the members of David's court, his soldiers and officials. This is the second Davidic principle: development of the city to facil¬itate the entry of newcomers, but not at the expense of the former inhabitants.
When David required a site for a sacrificial altar, he purchased a thresh¬ing floor from its owner, Araunah the Jebusite, believed by some scholars to be the former Jebusite ruler of Jerusalem. Although the owner offered it free, David insisted on handing over payment:

And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good to him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee. And the king said unto Araunah; Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the oxen and the threshing floor for fifty shekels of silver (II Samuel: 24: 22-24).

No Exclusivity

The third Davidic principle, illustrated above, is respect for the individual property rights of the former inhabitants of the city.
It is generally believed that David incorporated Jebusite officials into his religious and civil administration. There are scholars who consider that Zadok, one of the two high priests, was a Jebusite, and one school of thought places Bathsheba, David's wife and the mother of Solomon his successor, in the Jebusite camp. There is no specific evidence for this, but an examination of David's lists of officials - possibly the oldest authentic documents from the actual period - makes it clear that Canaanites were among his civil servants, and there is no reason to doubt that a different policy was pursued in Jerusalem.
The fourth Davidic principle is cooperation among Jerusalem's different population groups in the administration of the city.
It is neither possible nor desirable to emulate a 3,000 year-old system today, but there is nothing wrong in applying principles laid down then. If we adopt the four Davidic principles: sharing, development, respect for property rights, and cooperation, it should not be beyond modem human ingenuity to create a framework in which Jerusalem is at once the eternal capital of Israel, a holy center for Jews, Muslims and Christians, and the functional capital of Palestine.
Historically, the Jewish title to Jerusalem predates the claims of the Muslims and Christians, but, on the very basis of that title - on the basis of the four Davidic principles cited above - the latter should demand their full rights in the unified city. For our part, we Jews should accept that, while we have a prior claim, we do not have exclusive rights. Let Jerusalem be the eternal, undivided, sacred, shared capital of Israel.

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