King David’s Early Years


David’s move to unite the tribes of Israel at Jerusalem drew a response from Israel’s neighbors. Now that David was a bona fide player in the southern Levant, Hiram king of Tyre initiated commercial contacts which would eventually result in materials and manpower to build the Jerusalem temple (2 Sam 5:11–12).

Image source: © Carta, Jerusalem

The Philistines responded to David’s conquest of Jerusalem too, but with a show of military force. Twice the Philistines penetrated the rugged hills west of Jerusalem and besieged the new Israelite capital from the Valley of Rephaim (2 Sam 5:17–25; cf. Josh 15:8); twice David flushed them out. With these victories and a follow-up campaign at Gath (2 Sam 8:1; 1 Chron 18:1) David had momentarily removed the Philistine threat. It can be assumed that Philistine control of the northern coastal plain and Jezreel Valley also fell to David, and that Israel was able to subdue old Canaanite urban centers of the region such as Beth-shean, Taanach, Ibleam, Megiddo and Dor in the process (cf. Judg 1:27–28).