Joel Baden in The Historical David, points out a progression in royal grandeur from Saul to David to Solomon. Saul had been willing to rule from under a tree. We do not know about David’s accommodations in Hebron. (The archeological finds relating to that period are interesting. This is from an article by archeologist Jeffery Chadwick:
The beginning of David’s reign is generally dated to about 1000 B.C.E., the transition point from Iron Age I to Iron Age II. At this time Hebron was not only walled and occupied, but judging from finds both inside and outside the wall line, its thriving population seemed to be growing.)
David eventually got the Phoenicians to build him a palace. Maybe King Achish had a palace at Gath and David used that as his example.
David did not build the palace at Hebron but at Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a small fortress city at the time without room for the buildings and staff of a large, centralized government.
Baden sees Judah as a backwater. Ruling all Israel from there would not have been appropriate. However, ruling from somewhere in Saul’s old kingdom apparently did not appeal to David either. Jerusalem had been the capital of a small highland state ruled by a vassal of Egypt in the Amarna period. So it was historically a royal site. It was in a strong defensive position because of the steep terrain around it. And it was centrally located between Judah and Israel. It was home to Jebusites, a people who lived peacefully with Saul’s kingdom and with Israel during most of the period of the Judges.
David wanted it for his capital. So he took it.
I am curious as to what caused Baden to romanticize the Jebusites, whom he imagines had ruled Jerusalem for several centuries. He mourns their demise. He even uses the word “genocide” for what David did to them.
Doesn’t this go beyond the evidence? Jerusalem was known to the Egyptians by that name from the 20th through 14th centuries BCE. In the Amarna Letters it appears that the vassal king there was Hurrian. In Judges, the Bible called the city Jebus. So the Jebusites maybe took the city after the Amarna era. We do not know very much about this. (Is it possible that the Gibionites, who seem to have been Hurrians, were displaced from Jerusalem?)
Also there are theories that David incorporated the Jebusites into his government and even his priesthood. Although the theory that Zadok, the high priest, was a Jebusite is unlikely; David often seems to have brought former enemies into his kingdom. There is an analog for incorporation rather than genocide in David’s relationship with the Gibionites.
Baden uses a later prophetic statement in Zechariah 9:7 that the Philistine city of Ekron will suffer the same fate as the Jebusites. However, I am not sure that requires that David exterminated them. The Message Bible interprets this to mean that Ekron “will go the way of the Jebusites, into the dustbin of history.” Haven’t lots of peoples gone into the dustbin of history without genocide?
An important observation that Baden makes is that David did not use either troops from the formerly pro-Saul tribes or his own new Judean tribe to take Jerusalem. He used his private army and body guards that seemed to be mostly Philistines. So Jerusalem was his “private royal fiefdom–rightly called the “City of David” (p. 157).