Jerusalem's Strategic Location

From Issue: Discovery 12/1/2014
Hezekiah’s tunnel: note the thick limestone through which workers had to dig.
Credit: Todd Bolen (

Have you ever wondered why King David wanted to capture Jerusalem and make it his capital city? Why not just remain in Hebron—his capital for the first seven years and six months of his reign? What made Jerusalem stand out as a desirable place to build a city that would play such an important role in history? In order to answer these questions, we must take a look at the location of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is elevated considerably higher than the areas that surround it. Several valleys that lie far below the city can be found on the southern, western, and eastern sides. Due to the city’s strategic position, an army would be able to defend Jerusalem from attack on those sides. (There is not as much of a valley on the northern side, which would make that area a more likely target for an attacking army. Even so, the city remained a very good location because it was on higher ground than the surrounding landscape.)

One problem that the city faced throughout ancient times was its lack of a water supply. In dry times, water had to be retrieved mostly from outside the city, which caused many difficulties for Jerusalem’s defenders in times of war. Water is essential to human life, and if an enemy army besieged Jerusalem and cut off the people’s access to water, then they could easily conquer the city. To correct this problem, King Hezekiah built a tunnel to bring water into the city much more easily and safely (2 Kings 20:20).

We may never know all the reasons why King David chose Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. One thing we can know for sure: God used the city of Jerusalem as a center for many of the events in the Bible, and that, alone, should motivate us to study and learn more about the city.


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