Large Stone Structure, Head of a Kingdom?

Credit:, Jerusalem, City of David

Deuternomy 28 offers a series of blessings for Israel: The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail.

In the opinion of at least one archaeologist, in the 10th century BCE, King David achieved some of this blessing.

The City of David sits just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. The ancient city was built on a hill. On the eastern side, archaeologists found what they termed the Stepped Stone Structure, which may have been built to stabilize the hill and prevent erosion, in order to build above it.

Above the Stepped Stone Structure, on the summit of the hill, archaeologists discovered what they have called the Large-Stone Structure, shown in the image above. The Large-Stone Structure was built on an open, leveled platform area. It had walls between six and eight feet wide. Within the rubble was a 5-foot-long proto-Aeolic capital, which would have been supported by a column, pointing to the building’s importance. The building contained ashlar masonry, again pointing to the wealth of the builders of the structure.

There is disagreement about the dating of the pottery above the bedrock and below the wall of the Large-Stone Structure, whether it is 11th, 10th or 9th century BCE, which would have implications for interpretation.

In 2 Samuel 5, after King David captured the Jebusite city, “Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David.Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

Eilat Mazar interpreted the Large Stone Structure to have been the remains of King David’s palace. She argued that the location on the top of the hill, adjacent to the northern wall of the City of David was deliberate, and designed to provide refuge for residents in the event of an attack. Her interpretation has been challenged, but the possibility exists that the Large Stone Structure was King David’s royal palace and an early example of God making Israel the head, not the tail.