In Numbers 34, God delineated for Moses the boundaries of Caanan: “Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. Your southern boundary will start in the east from the southern end of the Dead Sea, cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea. Your western boundary will be the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This will be your boundary on the west. For your northern boundary, run a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north. For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee. Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea.”
In listing these cities, it indicates that before Israel entered Canaan, there were already cities established in the land.
The archaeological evidence points to Jerusalem having been established by the Middle Bronze Age, well before the period described in the exodus story. Jerusalem’s fortifications and water system appear to have been built. Jerusalem was a known entity outside of Canaan.
Another city in Canaan can demonstrate that cities in Canaan were well established in the Middle Bronze Age, and provide support to the idea that Jerusalem could have been similarly built up at that time.
Gezer, today the archaeological site of Tel Gezer or Tell el-Jezari, is located at the edge of the Shephelah, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Because of its position along the trade routes along the coast and to the central hill country, Gezer was an important Canaanite city, significant enough to earn mention in the story of King Solomon.
In the Middle Bronze Age, Gezer appears to have developed into a significant center. The Middle Bronze city was fortified by a rampart, and its defenses reinforced with stone walls, possibly with stone towers to aid in defense. The city also developed a major water system. This three part water system included an entrance, a tunnel leading to the pooled water, and a cavern where the water was stored. This allowed for city residents to access water from within its defenses, and not to have to retrieve water from springs outside the city’s defenses.
Arguments in support of Jerusalem as a Middle Bronze Age fortified city would be consistent with similar cities within Canaan.
The image above is of the walls which enclosed Gezer. Some closing music from Rome, Open City: