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Who “Owns” The Land of Israel? Part 5

by Kimberly Troup

Jerusalem– How many names are there for Jerusalem?  I would like to focus on five that are mentioned In the bible: Salem, Moriah, Jebus, Zion, and Jerusalem.  The Biblical references for the purchase of this city take a lot more digging than the ones for Hebron, and Shechem, but it is a more complex city and arguably the most hotly contested piece of real estate in the world today. The name of the city changes with each generation, but we can trace the connection between the names to one specific geographic location, the same area we refer to as Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

The first mention of Salem is found in Genesis 14:18, when the King of Salem comes out and blesses Abraham who has just returned from war.  Abraham, in turn gives a tithe of all his military spoils to the King of Salem (Genesis 14:18 – 20, Hebrews 7:1-2).  Interestingly, the geographical location of Salem isn’t mentioned.  You have to cross reference Psalm 76:2 In Salem also is His tabernacle and His dwelling place in Zion, to know that Melchizedek is the King of Jerusalem.

Genesis 22:2, Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”  I find this particular verse fascinating.  The language is similar to the original command God gives to Abram, when he tells him to leave his father and mother and go to the land that I will show you.  Here God is telling Abraham, to take his only son Isaac and sacrifice him on a specific mountain in the land of Moriah. The temple mount today is on Mount Moriah, presumably on the exact spot where Abraham gave action to his faith in God through the ultimate test of obedience.

Joshua 18:21-28  Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin, according to their families, were Jericho, Beth Hoglah, Emek Keziz,  Beth Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel,Avim, Parah, Ophrah,Chephar Haammoni, Ophni, and Gaba: twelve cities with their villages Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, Mizpah, Chephirah, Mozah, Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, Zelah, Eleph, Jebus (which is Jerusalem), Gibeath, and Kirjath: fourteen cities with their villages. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

That is all the Biblical pre-history for the city of Salem in the land of Moriah, on Mt. Moriah. It is when we get to the time of King David that the city is called Jerusalem or Zion, as King David often refers to the city in the Book of Psalms.

2 Samuel 5:5 In Hebron he (David) reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.

2 Samuel 5:6-7  And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land,… Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).

In 2 Samuel 5 we read about King David’s rule over Israel. He starts in Hebron, and then captures Jerusalem/Salem/Zion/Jebus from the Jebusites. He is following God’s original command to Joshua to enter the Promised Land and take possession of it. Many times God spoke saying that He would remove the Jebusites from the land of Caanan to give it as an inheritance to the Children of Israel. Knowing that Mt. Moriah is in Jerusalem, and Abraham had a God moment there, and paid tithes to the King of Salem, it is no wonder that David moved his capital to Jerusalem as soon as he could.

children playing in the streets of Jerusalem
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age.  And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.                                          Zech. 8:3-5

Now we get to the part where we find out that the title deed for Jerusalem is purchased by King David. In 2 Samuel 24, we read about God giving David a choice of punishments, and David chooses 3 days of God’s plague so that he will not fall into man’s hand because he is trusting God to be merciful. The culmination of that destruction is detailed in verses 15-16 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.  And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

2 Samuel 24:18-19, 24  And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded. Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

As you read this story found in 2 Samuel24:18-25 it sounds very familiar. It is the same as when Abraham went to purchase Hebron from Ephron the Hitite. Again, Araunah tries to give the threshing floor to King David as a place to sacrifice to God, to set up an altar. But David doesn’t believe the offer is genuine and he insists that he must pay for the threshing floor and oxen with 50 shekels of silver. That way it is his, he owns it and no one can question his right to follow God’s commandment to sacrifice those oxen on that location.

There is no mention of where the threshing floor of Araunah is located geographically. However, there is another account of this same transaction recorded in 1 Chronicles 21 this account is slightly different, and as you read it there are more details filled in, of particular interest are verses 16-17.  David looks up and sees the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven with a sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem, and David falls on his face to repent. Then we find out that God commands the angel to stop the destruction and tells David to build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.  From this we now know that Ornan/Araunah has his threshing floor in Jerusalem.

We get a glimpse of Ornan/Araunah’s temperament/personality in verse 20  Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat.  If you see an angel of the Lord with a sword in his hand bringing destruction across the entire city, a normal person would go and hide, but Ornan just goes back to work and keeps on threshing wheat. I think this lets us know that Ornan does not respect God. I think this makes it evident that when he offers his oxen and his threshing floor to King David for free, it is not a sincere offer. Thus we see that David insists on paying a fair price for the sacrifice he has been commanded to give to God.

Now we find out that there is a discrepancy in the Bible.  1 Chronicles 21:24-25 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”  So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place.

Why does the account in 2 Samuel say 50 shekels and the account in 1 Chronicles say 600 shekels? Which one is right? Can they both be right? The Jewish belief is that David paid 50 shekels for each tribe so that the 12 tribes of Israel would all have equal ownership in the altar, 50 x 12 = 600.

One has to wonder what is so special about this particular place, why did God tell David to go to this specific threshing floor and make a sacrifice?  We find the answer that ties everything together and shows us the master plan that God had in mind from the very beginning in 2 Chronicles 3:1 Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

So we can know with certainty that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and the title deed for the very land is recorded in the Bible. Think about that the next time you see a tag line on a newspaper article that comes from “Occupied Jerusalem”.


Kimberly Troup
Director, US Office
CFOIC Heartland

To read Who Owns the Land Part 1
To read Who Owns the Land Part 2
To read Who Owns the Land Part 3
To read Who Owns the Land Part 4
To read Who Owns the Land Part 5

3 thoughts on “Who “Owns” The Land of Israel? Part 5”

  1. Thank you so much for tying these Scriptures together to paint a more complete picture. I dearly hope to visit you and see all these wonderful places sometime soon.

  2. Thanks Kimberly I always wondered about 50 Shekels and the 600 but trusted that G-d knows what is written must be right and now you have proved it.

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