A Bronze Age Stone Wall

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Jerusalem, City of David

In Numbers 13 God tells Moses to send men to scout the land to which Israel was destined to enter. The selected men “went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.” Upon their return they reported that “the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

In 2 Samuel 5, King David captured a Jebusite city. “The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, which is the City of David.

Human history is divided into periods defined by the level of technology that humans had reached. The Stone Age is followed by the Copper Age, which is followed by the Bronze Age. The Middle Bronze Age in the southern Levant is roughly between the years of 2100-1600 BCE. Subdivided further, the Middle Bronze Age II period falls in the 18th century BCE.

The Middle Bronze II period coincided with the demise of centralized authority in Egypt. Egypt’s Middle Kingdom declined, initiating the more localized rule of the Second Intermediate Period. It also marks the early period of the establishment of the Hittites in Anatolia, before it later developed into the Hittite Empire. With the relative weakness of the kingdoms in Anatolia and Egypt, cities in the region of Canaan, were able to develop.

One city in Canaan that may have developed and become fortified at this time is Jerusalem. 

Today’s Old City of Jerusalem encompasses the Temple Mount on Mount Moriah, the Tyropoeon Valley, in the area of the Western Wall Plaza, and the Western Hill, in the area of Jaffa Gate. But this entire area may not have been part of the original city of Jerusalem. Instead, some believe that the original city is in the area of what is today called the City of David, the area beyond the Old City’s southern wall.

In the City of David, archaeologists unearthed an ancient wall on the eastern side of the hill. The dating of the wall is a matter of debate, but many place the date of the ancient fortification to the Middle Bronze II period. The wall bears a similarity to other Middle Bronze defensive walls in Hebron, Shechem and other sites, potentially anchoring it to this period. If correctly dated, it is early evidence for Jerusalem having been in existence during the Middle Bronze Age. 

In the image above, the stones in the foreground are of the wall some identify as the Middle Bronze Age wall.

If the wall in Jerusalem was about keeping people out, a Johnny Cash song about a wall to keep people in: