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The Tomb of David – drawing by Harry Fenn published in Picturesque Palestine, 1870, Wood engraved print with recent hand colour.


The Tomb of David and the Nazarene Synagogue (Cenacle)


Study into the Archeology and History of the “The Tomb of David” 

Residing under the Site called “The Hebrew Nazarene Synagogue”

Commentary by Robert D. Mock M.D.

September, 2004

Part One



The Anointed Ones and the Tomb of David

“Zion” and the City of David

The Gihon Spring, the Temple and the Citadel of David

Where were King David and the kings of Judah buried?

Governor Nehemiah inspects the Tomb of David


The Anointed Ones and the Tomb of David


The heart of our search for the roots of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem lay in the home of Mary and her son, John Mark who owned what is now known as the House with the Upper Room.  We hear of this home when Yahshua went to host the ‘Last Supper’ with his disciples.  As has been well documented, this site is one of the most well marked sites in Jerusalem that survived the Roman destruction in 70 CE.  Even the site of the temple of Herod is not fully known with many divergent sites on and off the present Temple Mount.  The most strange thing was the location of this home. 


In the southwestern corner of the city of Jerusalem was the heart of the Essene Quarter.  This sect of Judaism who heart and soul lay in the protection, preservation of the coming of the expectant messiah had their own special quarters in the city with their own private gate called the Essene Gate.  When you entered the city through the Essene Gate and headed straight north and up the hill to the crest of Mount Zion at the northern section of the Essene Quarter was the Tomb of David.  Here the citizens of first century Judea believed lay the remains of the first ‘anointed one’ of the Lord who was a descendant of the ‘stump of Jesse.  Whereas little is known about the Essenes, the most prominent feature was the strict hierarchical government in which they lived to preserve every remnant of the House of David and the chosen priesthood anointed in the days of David, the priests of Zadok.  To them the Zadokites were the only legitimate priests to serve in the temple of the Lord.  Here in the center of Davidian and Zadokian  country, Jesus gave the command to his disciples saying:


Matthew 26:18 – “Go into the city to a certain one and say to him, ‘The Master says, my time is near, to you I will prepare the Passover with my disciples.’” 


Understand full well that Yahshua was a hunted man and everything was done with extreme secrecy.  (Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-2)  The ‘sign’ that the disciples were to know was to watch for a man carrying a water jug.  This was unusual for the women usually carried the water jugs.  Who then was this man?  This is one of the mysteries of the gospels.  Yet here in the heart of the Essene controlled sector of Jerusalem Jesus sent his disciples and Jerusalem Wallswere given further instructions.


Luke 22:12-13 – “He will show you a large upper room which he has spread.  Prepare there. And going they found as He had told them and they prepared the Passover.” 


Essene Quarter in first century Jerusalem


Here was the literal son of David with a double genetic lineage to King David from his father and mother, Joseph and Mary. Here Yahshua had pre-arranged in what many scholars now think was an Essene lodging house whose owner and hostess was Mary the mother of the author of the Gospel of Mark, Johannes Marcus. Here when Yahshua knew that His hour had come, prearranged a Passover Seder probably served it on the date of the Passover according to the Essene lunar calendar instead of the Sadducean solar calendar. Here in the guarded quarters of the Essenes, Yahshua was safe and secure outside the reaches of the Sadducean priestly family of Ananus and his son-in-law, Caiphas the reigning high priest of Israel. 


Beneath this lodging house was the tomb of David.  This site was no doubt a holy place to the Essenes of Judea.  The guardians of the Tomb of David were probably the upper hierarchy of the Essene Order.  Here we might have met Nicodemus, a wealthy grain merchant and a chief elder of the Great Sanhedrin.  Here we would have also met Joseph of Arimathea, the later who also was a ‘son of David’, a Roman decurion and a tin merchant from Cornwall England, who also was one of the chief elders of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and a member of the Roman Provincial Council of Judea. It was Joseph of Arimathea, who was the brother of Eliakim, also known as Heli or Joachim, the father of Mary, the mother of Yahshua ben Yosef.  It was Joseph of Arimathea, who is reputed to have also set on the honorary hereditary ‘seat of David’ in the Sanhedrin, the seat in which Yahshua himself no doubt was destined to sit upon the death of Joseph. 


With a proper understanding of the location of the House with an Upper Room, the status of Yahshua as the ‘anointed one’ of Israel and the significant of this ‘anointed one’ as the Moshiach (Messiah) of Israel, the story of the ‘Last Supper’ becomes even clearer.  That Yahshua had made secret arrangements unknown to His disciples with the Elders of the Essenes carries a deeper mystery. That the Essenes had long awaited the coming of the Messiah from the House of David and expected Him to return to the site of His throne deepens the plot.  Then ‘when the hour had come’ to host his disciples in His ‘Last Supper’, we now find Yahshua coming to the site destined to be His hereditary throne that was directly over the tomb of His noble ancestor, King David.  Did the signal go out to all the Essenes in the land that the Messiah has come? 


“Zion” and the City of David  


The city of Jerusalem is a city of five hills.  The City of David was built on two hills, the upper city was located on the Citadel and the lower city was on a lower hill called Acra both separated by a valley in between. Yet the most famous of these hills was the ‘third hill’ called Mount Moriah where Abraham took his son Isaac to make a sacrifice to the Lord and at that site he was commanded to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac.  (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, V, iv, 1)


Over the centuries, three temples were built to the Lord of hosts on Mount Moriah:  the temple of Solomon, the temple of Zerubabbel and the temple of Herod.  Considering that Herod the Great enlarged the platform of the temple and then completely rebuilt and remodeled the temple of Zerubabbel, it has been suggested by some that the entire temple was rebuilt.    


Looking over the ancient topography of the region, the mount called Zion was initially an elongated triangular shaped ridge that perched between the deep Kidron valley to the east and the equally deep Tyropean valley to the west.  The significance of that name, Zion, is physically and emotionally attached to the power of the legends of King David.  The archetype of the future Messiah who will restore the splendors of the Solomonic empire, the glories of the Temple of the Lord designed by David and built by his son, Solomon are embedded in all the hopes and aspirations of the Jewish people but also form the spiritual bedrock of the Christian and the Islamic faiths.


Yet the significant of “Zion” have less to do with King David than the fact that the Eternal One has stakes His claim on this planet at this one site.  In a passage that has strong overtones to today and the time of the end, the Psalmist explains the attachment of the Almighty to this small piece of land.


Psalms 2:1-6 – “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?  The king of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” 


He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure:  “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” 


The legacy of David, though a mighty warrior he was, lay not with his own prowess and military acumen, but from the fact that his destiny was in the hands of the God of his forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  King David had an incessant desire to find a home and a resting place for his Lord and the Ark of the Covenant that was the object of His presence and could not rest until all the preparations for the House of the Lord were ready to be built by his son, Solomon. 


Psalms 132:1-5, 13-14, 17-18 – “Lord, remember David and all his afflictions; how he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the Mighty One and Jacob:  “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or  slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob…


For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: this is My resting place forever; here I will swell, for I have desired it…There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.  His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon Himself His crown shall flourish.” 


The Gihon Spring, the Temple and the Citadel of David


On the northeastern base of that ancient city in the Kidron Valley was a constant running spring, the only living water supply in the region.  The name of this spring, the Gihon Spring, amazingly carries the legacy of that one of the ancient rivers of the home of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden. This river, the Gihon River, has been lost in history and remains the most mysterious river of the four that flowed from the residence of the Lord in that ancient world and most ancient land.  Yet it has become also again the archetype or literal shadow picture of a future mighty river that the prophet Zechariah predicted would flow again, this time from the southeastern base of the temple mount. 


Preface by that phrase, “in that Day” which to the prophets of old meant the culmination of their prophetic yearnings when the Moshiach (Messiah) of Israel would return and there a “fountain” would erupt that would became a literal symbol of salvation and restoration.  The prophet Zechariah wrote;


Zechariah 13:1 – “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”


This source of water, coming from the foundation of the Temple of the Lord, is spoken of not only by Zechariah, but also by other prophets of old. 


Joel 3:18 -  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with water, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord and shall water the valley of Shittim


Here was the famed land of Shittim wood in which the ark of the Covenant (Exodus 37:1) was made. Here was the land of Moab, where the children of Israel traversed through in route to the Promised Land (Numbers 25:1).  Near here was the Valley of Siddim, also called the Vail of Siddim that was a land of beauty and abundance like the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 13:10)  Here resided the family of Lot and the evil inhabitances of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah


The prophet Ezekiel in reference to the future dwelling place of the Almighty One who rides through the heavens on a chebob, stated,

Ezekiel 47:1-2 (parts)-  “Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar"  And he brought me out by the way of the gate northward, and led me around the way outside to the outer gate by the way that faces to the east; and, behold, there ran out water on the right side”


And he said to me, ‘These waters flow out towards the eastern region, and go down to the Arabah, to the sea; and when they enter the sea, the waters shall be healed…… And by the stream, upon its bank, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for food, whose leaf shall not wither, nor shall its fruit fail; it shall bring forth fresh fruit every month, because the waters for them flow from the sanctuary; and their fruit shall be for food, and their leaves for healing."


The journey for the BibleSearcher is not over yet. A manuscript was found in the 8th century Genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, of a lost Jewish Tosefta from the Talmud. Here was written twelve Mishnahs by Shimon haLevi in the Jewish year of 3331 (421 BCE) called the Emeq HaMelekh that described the hiding of the temple treasures of Solomon’s temple.  In the twelfth Mishnah we read in part;


Here is what the twelfth Mishnah of the Emeq HaMelekh written by Shimon HaLevi stated: 


Hiluk, son of Shimur HaLevi, was given twelve more precious stones in order to hide them so that they could (eventually) be restored to the Tribes (of Israel).  The names of the Tribes were engraved on them and they shone on the Tribe’s heads, excellent and precious, one more than the other.  No king, prophet, or anyone else knew where they were hidden, excepting Hiluk, son of Shimur Ha Levi….All Israel concealed the Vessels until a righteous king arises over Israel. 


What’s more, they all swore a solemn vow never to reveal the whereabouts of these vessels until David, son of David, arises.  All silver, gold, and Margaliot (precious stones) which was ever hidden away will be handed over to him when the exiles of Israel will be gathered from the four ends of the earth and they ascend with greatness and exaltation to the land of Israel. 


At that time, a great river will issue forth from the Holy of Holies of the Temple. It’s name is Gihon, and it will flow to the great and dreadful desert, and become mixed with the Euphrates River.  Immediately, all the Vessels will float up and be revealed.


Once again we have the southeastern border of the Temple, a great river will flow forth from near the site of the Gihon Springs and it will be called the Gihon River at the site where the legends of the Jews record that this was the site of the creation of this planet earth by the Eternal One of Israel.  The restoration of the Gihon River is verified by the prophets Amos, Ezekiel and Zechariah and re-confirmed by name by Shimon haLevi, possibly the high priest of Israel.  It was Shimon that sacrificed the third and fourth red heifer after Ezra sacrificed the second in the years of the restoration God’s people and the of the Temple after exile in Babylonian and Persian exile.


The Gihon Spring has remained flowing to this day possibly since the days of Eden but historically known since the days of David and Solomon and has remained the life source of that ancient city. There are only five references to Gihon in the entire Tanakh (Old Testament).  These include the Gihon river that split off the River of Eden.


Genesis 2:13 – “The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the land of Cush


From the temple mount, this river traversed east towards the Great Sea (Mediterranean Sea) and then traversed south probably down the ancient river bed of the mighty Nile River to the region of Ethiopia or the land of Cush. 


The next two passages about Gihon are in reference to the Gihon Spring that flowed beneath citadel of David and the Temple of the Lord when in the midst of a palace revolt by his fourth son, Adonijah son of Haggith, who proclaimed himself King over Israel, that King David on his death bed advised Zadok the (high) priest, Nathan the prophet, and Nenaiah the son of Jehoiada,


I Kings 1: 33, 38 – “‘Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon.  There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the shofar (horn) , and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’….so Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon.  Then Zakok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn and all the people said, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.”

Almost eight centuries later, the Nation of Judah was facing extermination at the hands of Sennacherib, the ruler of Assyria when a massive project was undertaken to route the waters of the Gihon Spring which was outside the walls of Jerusalem and tunnel through the bedrock of Mount Zion to the present site of the Shaloam Springs inside the city. This was done in the days of King Hezekiah. 


Hezekiah’s Tunnel for the waters of Gihon Springs


2 Chronicles 32:30 – “This same Hezekiah also stopped the water outlet of Upper Gihon, and brought the water by tunnel to the west side of the City of David.


Earlier Hezekiah’s father, the wicked King Manasseh, who was captured and taken into exile by the king of Assyria, but repented to his Lord.  Restored to the throne of Judah the chroniclers of Judah state: 


2 Chronicles 33:13-16 – “After this he (King Manasseh) built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of the Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and it enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height…He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city.  He also repaired the altar of the Lord, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.   


The Ancient City of David – 1000 BCE


On February 12, 2001, a major archeological discovery was reported by the Temple Mount Faithful that in Hezekiah’s Gihon Tunnel under the steps leading into the tunnel mikvah baths were discovered by underwater divers for the ritual purification baths of the high priests of the second temple era. 


Temple Mount Faithful  – “Up until today it had been thought that the water had streamed directly from the spring to the tunnel and then to the pool from where the water was drawn. These new photographs reveal that the water actually followed a long path from the spring to the tunnel. Inside these underground spaces were used, as we stated, as a Mikvah for the High Priest whose purification needed to be perfect and in a separate place.  David Be’eri, leader of the Jewish citizens of the City of David, shared that a diver went into the spaces with an underwater camera and that research will continue to find the total route that the water took from the Gihon Spring to the tunnel.”


One of the features of the Gihon Springs and the tunnel system built by King Hezekiah, was that the region around the Gihon springs was pocketed with ‘caves’ or ‘forts’ and the geological features used to describe the Ophel were the caves (dens in KJV) either on the side of the mountain platform or underground and beneath.  It is these caves that form a karst watering system that feeds the Gihon Springs.  


One of the most radical but well documented and supported thesis of the site of Solomon’s temple is proposed by Archeologist Ernest Martin.  According to him, the Temple of Herod was truly razed to the bedrock ground as predicted by Yahshua (Matthew 24:2) and that the Temple Mount (Harem al’Sharif) was not the site for the temple.  The temple was actually built south of the Temple Mount on a temple platform that no longer exists today. Consider this information from what we have learned about the location of the Gihon Springs, the newly found mikvah baths for the high priest of the Temple of Herod and the above topographical map that somewhere east of the Dung Gate and the present Islamic walls on the south side of the Temple Mount in Old Jerusalem a platform once upon a time existed that held the temple of Solomon, Zerubabbel and Herod. 


The Temple and the Temple Mount – Ernest Martin


This is also confirmed that the Citadel of David which later became the Palace of Solomon was located south of the temple of the Lord and a special guarded rampart was built for Solomon to ascend to the House of the Lord to worship his God.  The description of the Palace of Solomon and the conduct of his palace is interesting. Built near the site of the citadel of David, we find one of the things that impressed the Queen of Sheba was the grand entryway by which Solomon went up to the house of the Lord.” 


I Kings 10:4-5 - “And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the goods on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.”


When we look at the construction of the Palace of Solomon, the BibleSearchers came to an important conclusion in ancient stonemasonry, the Temple of the Lord was not built with iron instruments such as iron hammers and chisels but the temple of the Lord was built with the use of diamond and corundum bit saws.  The ancient art of diamond drilling and engraving was known in the mists of antiquity.  The Hebrews knew the art of stone engraving when the stones on the breastplate of the high priest were engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel. It can only be assumed that the use of saws, even diamond bit saws were used in the stone masonry construction of the temple.


I Kings 7:9-12 - “All these were of costly stones cut to size, trimmed with saws, inside and out, from the foundation to the eaves, and also on the outside to the great court.  The foundation was of costly stones, large stones, some ten cubits and some eight cubits. And above were costly stone, hewn to size, and cedar wood.  The great court was enclosed with three rows of hewn stones and a row of cedar beams.  So were the inner court of the house of the Lord and the vestibule of the temple.” 


Where were King David and the kings of Judah buried?


Outside the ancient and more recent walls of Jerusalem several hundred meters to the south was a hill of a higher elevation called by Josephus as the ‘western hill’ (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, V, 4)   According to some scholars, it was this hill that was called Mount Zion, and according to tradition it was the site of the sepulcher of King David.  Here in this tomb was reputed to be the vast wealth of Israel’s most famous king.


The biblical account states that King David was buried ‘in’ the City of David, called “Ir David”.  The first mention of this city was in the days of Abraham when after he conquered the five kings that invaded and overran Sodom and Gomorrah and kidnapped his nephew, Lot.  Abraham then went to meet the mystical king of Salem, Melchezadik and gave a tithe of the booty to this noble king, whom many scholars believe was Shem, the most ancient man living on this planet. 


During the time of the invasion of the land of Canaan by the children of Israel and their judge and general, Joshua, the city of Jerusalem was controlled by the Jebusites who raised an impenetrable fortress and kept them autonomous and free until the time of King David.


This city was divided into two parts, the eastern part called Mount Zion or “Metsudat Zion” and the larger western hill, the home of the Jebusites, called Har haMoriah.


Jerusalem was the stronghold of the ancient Jebusites who lived over the more ancient fortress site of Salem (Jebu-Salem).  Here David reigned for thirty-three out of his forty years of rulership over Israel until his death. 


I Kings 2:10 – “So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David. The period that David reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years. 


Acts 2:29 – “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.”


Acts 13:26 – “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.”

On the northern sector of the City of David, ‘Ir David’, David built his palace, the Citadel of Zion near the Gihon Springs, the only local source of fresh and potable water in the city.  It was then north of the City of David that Solomon built the temple of the Lord on an elevation called Mount Moriah. 

The biblical text is strangely quiet about the death and burial of Israel’s greatest king.  Josephus with his interest also towards the historical preservation of Jewish history went into greater depth on the burial and the tomb of David


Josephus – “He (David) was buried by his son Solomon, in Jerusalem, with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomp which kings use to be buried with; moreover, he had great and immense wealth buried with him the vastness of which may be easily conjectured at by what I shall now say; for a thousand and three hundred years afterwards, Hyracanus the high priest when he was besieged by Antiochus, that was called the Pious, the son of Demetrius, and was desirous of giving him money to get him to raise the siege, and draw off his army; and having no other method of compassing the money, opened one room of David’s sepulcher, and took out three thousand talents (of silver) (Antiquities XIII, viii, 4, XVI, vii, 4), and gave part of that sum to Antiochus, and by this means caused the siege to be raised, as we have informed the reader elsewhere. Nay, after him, and that many years Herod the king opened another room, and took them away a great deal of money and yet neither of them came at the coffins of the kings themselves for their bodies were buried under the earth so artfully, that they did not appear even to those that entered into their monuments; but so much suffice us to have said concerning these matters.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, VII, v,3)


The vast unaccounted for wealth of King David has always been the legends of history.  As this wealth was sought a partially utilized by Hyracanus the high priest to buy off Antiochus Epiphanes IV prior to the desecration of the temple, so also later Herod the Great made the last ill-fated recorded attempt to enter the sepulcher of David and recover additional treasures.


Mount Zion and the Tomb of David


Josephus  – “He (King Herod) opened that sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his faithful friends with him.  As for any money, he found none, as Hyracanus had done, but that furniture of gold and those precious goods that were laid up there; all which he took away.  However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go further in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flame that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was.  So he was terribly affrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher, and that at a great expense also.  And even Nicolaus his historiographer makes mention of this monument built by Herod…”  (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVI, vii, 1)


Weil Excavation (Tombs?)So now we have a tomb of David that was entered by both the high priest of the temple of Zerubabbel and later by King Herod the Great.  Yet the question still alludes us, where was the tomb of David?


Burial Shaft Tomb T1 on the left


In 1913 to 1914, Raymond Weill conducted the first Jewish  archeological excavation in Jerusalem.  The land bought and funded by Baron Edmund Rothschild, Weill became to work on the site of the old Jebusite city.  He  excavated what were eventually recognized to be burial shafts known as tombs T1-T8.  A decade later Raymond Weill returned (1924) and opened up tomb T9.  Of these burial shafts, Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review initially believed that T1 may be the tomb of David.  It is a tunnel reported to be 52 ½ feet long, 8 feet wide and 13 feel high with a recess that would house a sarcophagus or ossuary up to 4 feet by 6 feet in dimensions.  It also included a diagonal shaft for another burial site.  Surrounding this noble shaft were the lesser tombs of T2 to T9. 


It was Nahman Avigad who wrote: “All excavators of the remains of the First Temple period in Jerusalem were eager to find the tombs of the kings of Judah which, according to the Bible, were located in the City of David. In his excavations on the Ophel, R. Weill discovered three rock-cut tombs, which are of special interest because of their size and form....Weill ascribed these tombs to the kings of Judah, and at the time his opinion was shared by other scholars. Today, however, it is no longer accepted, especially since no other evidence has been found to confirm that they belong to the Israelite period(quoted in Gary Arvidson, King David’s Lost Tomb and Treasure, Part 2 – The Tomb)


What is known is that Jerusalem, the City of David located on the east-ridge south of the present Temple Mount was only 10-11 acres in size.  This may appear to be unusually small but was quite large for a fortress city in the land of Canaan.  In comparison, the mighty fortress city of Jericho was 5 acres in size.


Yet were the kings of Judah actually buried within the walls of the city?  When we look at the scriptural evidence, we have to conclude the affirmative, yet what does ‘in the City of David” actually mean? 


1 Kings 11:43 – “Then Solomon rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David his father.

2 Chronicles 9:31 – “Then Solomon rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David his father.


I Kings 14:31 – “So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David.

2 Chronicles 12:16 – “So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David


I Kings 15:8 – “So Abijah rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David.

2 Chronicles 14:1 – “So Abijah rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David.


I Kings 15:24 – “So Asa rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father.

2 Chronicles 16:13-14 – “So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.  They buried him in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David; and they laid him in the bed which was filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments.  They made a very great burning for him.”


I Kings 22:50 – “So Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers the City of David his father.

2 Chronicles 21:1 – “And Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David.”


2 Kings 8:24 – “So Joram rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David.

2 Chronicles 21:18-21 – “After all this the Lord struck him (Joram) in his intestines with an incurable disease.  Then it happened in the course of time, and after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain.  And his people made no burning for him like the burning for his fathers. ..and, to no one’s sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.


2 Kings 9:28 – “And his (Ahaziah) servants carried him in the chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the City of David.

2 Chronicles 22:9 – “When they killed him (Ahaziah) they buried him “because,” they said, “he is the son of Jehsophat, who sought the Lord with all his heart.


2 Kings 12:21 – “So he (Joash) died, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David.

2 Chronicles 24:25 – “And they (Joash) buried  him in the City of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings.”


2 Kings14:20 – Then they brought him (Amaziah) on horses, and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the City of David

2 Chronicles 28 – “Then they brought him (Amaziah) on horses and buried him with his father in the city of Judah.”


2 Kings 15:7 – “So Azariah rested with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David.

2 Chronicles 26:23 – “So Uzziah rested with his father’s in the field of burial which belonged to the kings, for they said, ‘He is a leper.’” 


2 Kings 15:38 – “So Jotham rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father.

2 Chronicles 27:9 – “So Jotham rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David.


2 Kings 16:20 – “So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David

2 Chronicles 28:27 – “So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem; but they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel.


2 Kings 20:21 – “So Hezekiah rested with his father.

2 Chronicles 32:33 – “So Hezekiah rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the upper tombs of the sons of David.


2 Kings 21:18 – “So Manasseh rested with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza.

2 Chronicles 33:20 – “So Manasseh rested with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house.


2 Kings 21”26 – “And he (Amon) was buried in his time in the garden of Uzza.”

2 Chronicles 33:24 – “Then his servants conspired against him (Amon) and killed him in his own house.  But the people of the land executed all those who had conspired against King Amon.


2 Kings 23:29-30 – “And Pharaoh Necho killed him (Josiah) at Megiddo when he confronted him. Then his servants moved his body in chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb.”

2 Chronicles 35:24 - “His servants therefore took him (Josiah) out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers.


2 Kings 23:34 – “And Pharaoh took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt and he died there.”

2 Chronicles 36:4- “And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him off to Egypt.”


2 Kings 24:6 – “So Jehoiakim rested with his fathers.”

2 Chronicles 36:6 – “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him (Jehoiakim), and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.”


2 Kings 24:15 – “And he (Nebuchadnezzar) carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon.”

2 Chronicles 36:10 – “At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar summoned him (Jehoichin) and took him to Babylon


2 Kings 25:7 – “Then they (Chaldeans) killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.”


Let us analyze this evidence a little.  The simple epithet “buried in the City of David his father” or “with his fathers in the city of David” was used to describe the burials of the kings: Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Joram with the exception that Asa was ‘buried in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David.”  It was also emphasized that he as “laid in a bed filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments.”  Then they made a “great burning for him.”   Was this to emphasize that the prior kings were not buried in their own tombs or rather they were buried in a common stone shaft tomb?  It is interesting that Jesus, also a son of David, when he died was given a royal burial with spices and incense as described in the burial of king Asa.  In as much as there is no evidence that the Hebrews ever used cremation as a form of burial, the “great burning” much have been the spices as it was done “for him.” 


The son of Asa, called Joram, was the first buried in the City of David but “not in the tombs of the kings.”  The following kings, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah were buried in the traditional king’s tomb area.  Then we come to King Uzziah or Azariah.  King Uzziah tried to offer incense before the Lord in the temple and he suddenly became a leper or had some form of an incurable dermatological disorder like psoriasis or lupus. According to the commands of the Torah, he was exiled to his own home away from any other human and lived out his life in isolation while his son, Jothan, ruled the kingdom as co-regent.  Uzziah was, according to the record, “buried ..with his fathers in the city of David, but because he was a ‘leper’ and contaminated the record appears to indicate that he was not buried in the king’s tomb but rather in the ‘field of burial which belonged to the kings.”  Afterwards Jothan appeared to have a traditional burial and Ahaz though was buried in the City but not in the king’s tomb.  It was good king Hezekiah who states that he was “buried…in the upper tombs of the sons of David.”


King Manasseh was “buried in the garden of Uzzah” or the ‘field of burial” near the tombs of the kings and later Manasseh’s son, Amon, was also buried in this field.  Manasseh it states also that he was buried in “his own house” which may suggest some sort of a mausoleum. 


Good king Josiah when he was killed in battle with Pharaoh Necho of Egypt was the last of the Judaite kings to be buried in the ‘one of the tombs of his father” with emphasis that he had “his own tomb”. 


After Josiah, kings Jehoahaz was taken into exile to Egypt and died there.  King Johoiakim was taken into exile to Babylon, but on his death, the scribes of Kings state that “he rested with his fathers”.  Jehoiachim was also taken as captive by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon but tradition states that Evil Merodock, ruled during the years of his father, Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years of insanity.  When his father return to power, Evil Merodock was put into the same prison with king Jehoahaz and they became friends.  When Nebuchadnezzar died and Evil Merodock return to the throne, he released Jehoahaz who lived in Babylon till his died.  The last king of Judah, Zedekiah, was blinded and taken to Babylon where he died in exile.


Across the Levant in the ancient times, it was a belief of the people that a dead corpse would contaminate large populations.  Where even in Israeli cities the population was buried outside the city walls, were the kings buried inside the city walls or outside and adjacent to the city walls?  The scriptural evidence suggests that they were buried inside the walls, but within which walls were they buried?


The archeological evidence is still very scanty as to whether or where the walls of the city of Jerusalem extended around the city outside of the old Jebusite city during the era of the kings of the House of David.  A ten acre city is quite small and most of the population would have had to live in the surrounding valleys and hills only to flee into the city walls in times of danger.


The arguments continue back and forth concerning the shaft tombs.  While Hershal Shanks has stated a position on T1 shaft tomb, David Ussishkin claims that it is too crudely built, yet admits that the king’s tombs at Byblos and Tunis were also quite crude yet the ornaments discovered were ‘impressive’.  Katherine Kenyon thought that the shaft were cisterns but could not understand how they could have been used.  Gabriel Barkley gave his opinion for T1 that it was used to store wine, but earlier he did not know.  Even so the scholarly opinion is still widely divergent (BAR, January/February 1995, 62-67)  Most scholars with the lack of concrete evidence have not come to the conclusion that these shaft tombs were not the tombs of the kings of Israel.  At least the evidence does not give a conclusion to that yet.


Governor Nehemiah inspects the Tomb of David


It was December, the month of Kislev, and the citadel palace at Sushan (Susa) was inhabited by the royal household of Persia in their winter residence near the Persian Gulf in southern Iran.  Here the royal cupbearer of king Artaxerses, Nehemiah ben Hachaliah, was serving the king. As the king’s personal advisor, his presence and countenance was well known.  Nehemiah must have been a bright and cheerful person for the king noted that his countenance was sad, not with a physical illness but the “sorrow of the heart”.  He had just been in private conference with Hanani, a Jewish emissary back from the city of Jerusalem who informed him that conditions were not good in Judea. The wall in Jerusalem was broken down and the gates were burnt with fire.  Nehemiah response was:


Nehemiah 2:3 – “May the king live forever!  Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?” 


Who was this King Artaxerses and when did Nehemiah approach the king to go back to Jerusalem?  The history of the Medes and the Persian to students and scholars of antiquity has been an enigma.  The complexity is that our modern chronology of the Persian was formulated with the monks of the Byzantine Roman Empire.  The author of the first authoritative text of the rabbinic calendar, the Sedar Olam Rabbah, the rabbinic view of Biblical chronology, was Rabbi Yose ben Halafta, the most prominent student of Rabbi Akiba about 130 CE.  Here he chronicles the life of the Jews during this empire and the dates of how they affected the history and the prophetic utterances of the prophets for the Jewish people. 


What is seen is that there is a wide divergence of 167 years between the chronology of the Rababbim and the Byzantine monks.  The latter chronology is the most accepted dating system in Christian Old Testament history and prophecy while the Rabbinic Jewish chronologies are used in the in orthodox Jewish history and prophecies of their prophets. 


In the Book of Daniel we read:


Daniel 11:1-4 (parts) – “Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him. And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realms of Greece.  Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven…”


In discussing this text we read:


Sedar Olam - “‘Another three kings will arise for Persia,’ that refers to Cyrus, Ahasuerus, and Darius who built the Temple, and the fourth will be the richest of them all.” What does Scripture mean by ‘fourth,’ fourth for Media, as it is said : ‘Daniel lasted until the first year of king Cyrus.’”


The author of the Sedar Olam, Rabbi Yose begins with his proof that the rule of Darius the Medes did come before Cyrus the Great of Persia.  It was this Darius who initiated the organizational system of government with one hundred twenty satraps over regions of Persia and three governors, of which Daniel was one of the three. (Daniel 6:1-2)  The story of Daniel in the lion’s den in set in the political intrigue of the first year of Media-Persian rule when King Darius the Mede was in the process of considering Daniel to ‘setting him over the whole realm” and the rest of the governors were conspiring against his promotion to the viceroy of the empire under the emperor himself. 


Daniel had now in his eighties, had been in exile in the land of Babylon for seventy years. Here the aged statesman of Judah, who had served in three Babylonian administrations who in defense of his life whose to open his windows to the east and publicly pray facing Jerusalem three times a day in defiance of the royal decree conspired by the governors and satraps.


This Darius the Mede ruled only one year and the power of the empire went to Cyrus the Persian.  The governorship of Daniel continued into the transfer of power from Darius the Mede to Cyrus the Great and he was chief governor over Persia until the second year of Cyrus reign.  As stated by the Sedar Olam, Cyrus the Great was also Xerses and Ahasuerus, the Persian king featured in the story of Purim and Queen Esther. 


Here we find the story according to the rabbis of Nehemiah the cupbearer of king Ahasuerus in the Book or the Megillah of Esther, who was non other than King Cyrus the Great also called Xerses. 



When Nehemiah the governor was sent to Jerusalem to inspect and to rebuild the walls, the first thing he did was to conduct a secret inspection at night of the old city of David and surrounding this inspection were the landmarks of the Gihon Springs and the tombs of the kings. 


Nehemiah 2:14 – “So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night.  I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.  And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.  Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.”


There were also interesting landmarks that were described when the rebuilding began.


Nehemiah 3:16 – “Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah (Shiloah) by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.  After him Nehemiah the son of Azabuk, leader of the half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the Tombs of David, to the man-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty.


So where were these landmarks in the City of D avid?  Bill Lavers in a three parts series on Locating Jerusalem’s Fountain Gate (Part One – The Secret Visit; Part Two – The Inspection; Part Three – The Steps to the Gihon )


Gary Arvidson in his book, In Search of King David’s Tomb and the Lost Golden Treasure, makes these observations. There was a certain hypothesis that the southeast corner of the City of David would be the most promising site to find the tombs of King David, yet there was a strong historical tradition that the tomb of David had been moved to another location. 


At this moment we have two locations that are potential for the site of the tomb of David.  The first is the site of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia which was reconstruction over the older Essene boarding house and meeting place which was constructed over the site of the recognized tomb of David in the days of Yahshua. 


The second site is a series of diagonal shaft tombs built into the mountain at the base of the southeastern corner of the City of David.  This site was below the site of the Citadel of David with breathtaking views in a panorama looking over the Valley of Hinnon to the southwest, the Tyropean Valley along the western wall and the mighty Valley of the Kidron to the east. 


It is the Fountain Gate that is most intriguing in this passage.  According to a three part article of Bill Lavers, Locating Jerusalem’s Fountain Gate, the gate appears to be associated with access in and out of the city to the only living spring in Jerusalem, the Gihon Springs.  Within the ancient writings, the Gihon Springs is called by many names:  the Fountain of YHVH, the Fountain of the High Priest, the Fountain of Israel, the Fountain of Life, the Fountain of the Steps, the Virgin’s Fountain and the Fountain of Siloah. 


This gate, the Fountain Gate, was part of a defensive wall built outside the city, constructed by King Hezekiah to divert from a besieging army the spring of Gihon, which could not be brought within the City-wall.  At the same time it effectively brought the waters of the Gihon within the City.  So hence the name called Siloam which means ‘sent’ as a conduit. This Siloam was later called by Josephus, Siloah.


From the vantage point of the elevation of the walls of the city of Jerusalem, King David could have looked down upon the Kidron Valley to the Gardens of David below.  To the north was the Gihon Springs at the base of Mount Moriah where the Solomon would soon build a temple to the Lord of hosts. The overflow water from the Gihon Springs would cascade downwards to the south of the city and resided a lower pool called the Pool of Siloam.  It appears that somewhere in this region were the tombs of the kings of Judah and the Tomb of David.  


As W. Harold Mare, writing in the Anchor Bible Dictionary made the observation, the King’s Garden was: 


W. Harold Mare – “A garden area in the Kidron Valley near the City of David, just below the terraced structures of the city, near the wall of the Pool of Siloam...It no doubt, extended just E and S of the City of David to take advantage of the intermittent flow of water coming down from the Kidron brook.” (H. Harold Mare, the King’s Garden, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol 2, p. 48, edited by David Noel Freedman, New York: Doubleday Books.)


Near the crest of the upper walls of the city of Jerusalem was the Fountain Gate in the days of Nehemiah.  The priests and the pilgrims would exit this eastern gate and take the steep stairways down to the Kidron in the valley below to the Water Gate.  Here they would walk through the Water Gate in the Tower of Siloam that was constructed into the old city walls of David, which supported the Millo near to the springs themselves.  Here they would enter the enclosure of the Fountain of Siloah (Siloam).


W. Harold Mare – “The Water Gate is presumably the one in the eastern wall leading to the Spring Gihon. Nehemiah 3:26 describes it as being "toward the east." Mazar notes that in Nehemiah's time Gihon no longer served as an important source of water, but still "the site retained its hallowed associations with the past," evidenced by the people's gathering before the Water Gate to hear Ezra read the law of the Lord (Nehemiah 8:1-16). Nehemiah 12:37 mentions the house of David as being in the vicinity of the Fountain Gate and the Water Gate. This may well have been the site of David's former palace. Mazar comments that this verse suggests the possibility "that the Water gate had already been abandoned in Nehemiah's time, when the new city wall was built higher up on the crest of the ridge." The pottery finds there dated to the Persia period confirm that the wall belongs to this period.  (W. Harold Mare, The Archaeology of the Jerusalem Area, Grand Rapids, Michian: Baker Book House, p. 195, 1987)


It was this Tower of Siloam and the Pool of Siloam that Jesus made an observation when it fell during an insurgent raid on Jerusalem by the Zealots just prior to the Passion Week. (Luke 13:4).  It was in this same area that earlier Yahshua met the man that was blind since birth with a mixture of soil mixed with His own sputum, He packed the man’s eyes and asked him to wash it out in the Pool of Siloam.  There beside the pool south of the Gihon Springs, this man became a living witness to the healing power of the witness of Jesus, who there called himself the ‘Light of the World”.  This healed blind man testified to the chief priests of the temple during the Festival of Hanukkah of his belief in this ‘prophet’ of God. 


Go to Part Two - The Tomb of David and the Nazarene Synagogue (Cenacle) – Part 2

Study into the Archeology and History of the “The Tomb of David” 

Residing under the Site called “The Hebrew Nazarene Synagogue”



The Oracle to Ahaz by the Conduit of the Upper Pool and the Highway of the Fuller’s Field

The Gate Between the Two Walls

The Tomb of David and the National Archives

The Wandering Tomb of King David

The Itinerary of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela

Tomb of David and the Hebrew Nazarene Synagogue


Return to Part Three - The Synagogue of the Nazarenes – Part 1


Return to Part Two - The Synagogue of the Nazarenes – Part 2


Return to Part One – The Star of David and the Seal of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia


Return to Beginning