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Are Jerusalem and Bethlehem Both “the City of David”?

By December 1, 2005November 9th, 2022No Comments


It appears that both Jerusalem and Bethlehem are called “the city of David” in the Bible. Please comment.

Yes, in 2 Samuel 5:6 and 7 we read, “The king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, ‘You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,’ thinking; ‘David cannot come in here.’, Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).” This scene is also recorded in 1 Chronicles 11:4–9.

Then in Luke 2:4 and 11, part of the account of the birth of Christ, we read, “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. . . . ‘For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ ”

Both places are called “the city of David,” yet they are called this designation for two distinct reasons. In the Old Testament we find Jerusalem as the city of David because David conquered it, defeating the heathen Canaanite Jebusites who had inhabited that area (though they were not completely expelled, for David’s son Solomon later subjected the remnant of Jebusites to bondservant status, as we read in 1 Kings 9:20 and 21). As a result, “David . . . became great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him” (2 Samuel 5:10).

As far as Bethlehem’s also being the city of David, it is because David was from there. First Samuel 17:12 states, “Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Behlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul.”

We have no contradiction here. Both places correctly have this title—one because of David’s conquest, the other because of David’s origin.

This article appeared in the “Q & A” column of the Baptist Bulletin (December 2005) by Norman A. Olson. 

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