The area of David’s kingdom was the battleground of empires in antiquity, where the traditional spheres of influence of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon, met, and frequently, clashed. It was both strategically and commercially important, sitting astride the great land trade routes of the Near East: the Via Maris ran through Gaza, Joppa and Byblos, while the King’s Highway connected Rabbah-ammon, Damascus and Tadmor. However, from the 12th century BCE, the mysterious Bronze Age Collapse witnessed the decay or disintegration of all the neighbouring imperial powers. In their wake was left a slew of warring statelets, a situation ripe for the emergence of a regional strongman. David emerged as a rebel (or brigand) leader in Judah. His breakthrough was the capture of Jerusalem, the Canaanite held capital of Israel, thus inheriting Saul’s kingdom. This gave him the military weight to rapidly conquer, or impose vassalage upon his local rivals.
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