Jerusalem in the 1st Millennium bce
The city of Jerusalem was established at a point where three valleys meet, the Hinnom valley (or Gehenna) to the west and south, the Kidron valley to the east, and between them the Central (later Tyropoeon, or Cheese‐makers') valley. The earliest city seems to have occupied the southern part of the ridge between the Kidron and the Central valleys, below which was a perennial spring, the Gihon. A second water‐supply, the spring of En‐rogel, was just to the south of the junction of the three valleys, but this would have been less close at hand and therefore less useful to the city's inhabitants.
The site of the earliest city was well protected by the valleys to the east, south, and west, and seems to have been strongly fortified. Indeed, the biblical account of its capture by David suggests that the previous inhabitants, the Jebusites, considered it to be inviolable and defensible by ‘even the blind and the lame’ (2 Sam. 5: 6 ). The precise means whereby this ‘stronghold of Zion’ was captured and became the ‘city of David’ (2 Sam. 5: 7 ) is not clear, but may have involved gaining access via the water‐system. Steps had been taken to provide access to the water‐supply from within the city's walls by the construction of a sloping passage, a shaft, and a tunnel cut through the rock to bring the water to the base of the shaft. A Hebrew word (ṣinnôr) is used in 2 Sam. 5: 8 which is only used once elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible (Ps. 42: 7 ) and may refer to some sort of water channel. Here it is often translated ‘water‐shaft’ (for example, NRSV, REB), but a vertical shaft seems an unlikely means of access for armed soldiers. Perhaps the implication is that someone gained entry by stealth and admitted David's soldiers, but this is not stated and the parallel account in 1 Chronicles 11: 4–7 makes no mention of the ṣinnôr. The account goes on to describe how ‘David built the city all around from the Millo inward’ (2 Sam. 5: 9 ), suggesting that he added to the fortifications. The precise significance of the term Millo is unclear. It seems to mean ‘Filling’, and has been thought to refer to retaining walls supporting terraces which held the rock‐fill in place, or perhaps even to be associated with the so‐called ‘stepped stone structure’ which acted as a retaining wall for the fortifications. The acropolis area at the northern end of the city of David was probably the feature known as the Ophel (Isa. 32: 14 (NRSV ‘hill’); 2 Chr. 27: 3 ). There was a saddle between the Ophel on the southern hill and the hill to the north, and it is also possible that the Millo was located in this saddle.
Solomon too is credited with building the Millo and the walls of Jerusalem in addition to his own palace and the Temple (1 Kgs. 9: 15 ), extending the city to the north to encompass much of the area occupied today by the Temple Mount or Haram esh Sharif. The site of the Dome of the Rock is traditionally thought to be the location of Solomon's Temple. Thereafter, the city underwent further expansion, particularly to the west, and various kings of Judah are credited with adding to or strengthening the fortifications (Uzziah (2 Chr. 26: 9 ), Jotham (2 Chr. 27: 3 ), Hezekiah (2 Chr. 32: 5 ), and Manasseh (2 Chr. 33: 14 )). We are also told that Jehoash, a king of Israel, destroyed a section of the wall of Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 14: 13 ).
It is to Hezekiah that a particularly significant contribution to Jerusalem's defences is credited. There is evidence that a conduit had been made to bring water from the Gihon Spring to a pool below the southern end of the city, but much of its length was unprotected, and it would therefore be of little use in time of siege, for example. Hezekiah ordered that a tunnel be cut through the rock and a pool prepared inside the extended fortifications to the south, the Pool of Siloam, thereby achieving an internal water‐supply for the city (2 Kgs. 20: 20; 2 Chr. 32: 2–4, 30 ). This tunnel was rediscovered in 1880, with an inscription on its wall which provided a clue as to its method of construction (though the inscription itself does not mention Hezekiah or give any pointer as to the date). It appears that two groups of workers began at either end and worked towards each other and that they were in danger of missing each other until sounds from one tunnel were heard in the other and they hewed out the intervening rock to complete the project. This was a remarkable achievement given not only the length of the tunnel (583 yds or 533 m) but its meandering route. It is possible that there was already an underground stream or fissure in the rock through which water seeped and which could be followed.
After Jerusalem's destruction at the hands of the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE, it is Nehemiah that the biblical narrative credits with the rebuilding of the city walls (Neh. 2: 17–6: 19 ). The likelihood is that those who returned occupied only the eastern hill, approximately the area taken by David and expanded by Solomon, and it was this area that Nehemiah's walls encircled. Remains suggest that the wall on the eastern side of Ophel followed the crest of the hill. During the bulk of the Persian and Hellenistic periods (6th–2nd centuries BCE), Jerusalem probably continued to occupy just the area of the Temple Mount and the City of David.
In the 2nd century BCE, according to the First Book of Maccabees, the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes came to Jerusalem with a large army. ‘He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls’ (1 Macc. 1: 31 ) He also refortified the City of David and established a citadel there (verse 33 ). Under the Maccabees, the Temple Hill was refortified; their counterpart to the Greek citadel was a castle (known as Baris), at the north of the area, possibly the same as the Tower of Hananel, mentioned in Jeremiah 31: 38 . During the Maccabean period, it seems that there was expansion of the city to the west, to encompass the south‐western hill, though the location of the southern walls in particular is uncertain.