The Bible will be in full color in Jerusalem, as the Tower of David Museum’s new “Night Spectacular” sound and light show is set to open to the public on April 1, 2018.
The show features the Biblical story of David, from shepherd-to-king, projected on the walls and archaeological excavations of the ancient citadel. The site of the Tower of David, although a misnomer, represents a historical connect that is relevant to the modern discussion of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A Historical Disconnect
Calling the ancient citadel near the Old City of Jerusalem the “Tower of David,” is a misnomer dating back to the Crusaders, as the tower is not located in what we know today was the City of David. Renee Sivan, an archaeologist and the concept creator and curator of the Night Spectacular, told Breaking Israel News, “there is no connection between the Tower [of David] and David, but there was a myth that it was connected.”
Nevertheless, she said the “multi-fascinated and fascinating character of King David who has inspired artists for hundreds of years was certainly a most fitting subject to explore at the Tower of David.”
Byzantine Christians believed the site to be the palace of King David and derived the name “Tower of David” from a Bible passage in Song of Songs, attributed to King Solomon, King David’s son:
“Your neck is like the Tower of David, Built to hold weapons, Hung with a thousand shields— All the quivers of warriors.” (Song of Songs 4:4)
The Tower of David, home to the Tower of David Museum, is the citadel at Jaffa Gate next to the entrance to the Old City. It is a structure from the time of King Herod with Ottoman additions. However, the true City of David is an archaeological site located just outside the Old City Walls, south of the Dung Gate.
Eilat Lieber, director of the Tower of David Museum, commented on the archaeological disconnect, calling the connection “symbolic.”
“For 2000 years there has been a symbolic connection between the site where the citadel stands today and King David,” Lieber told Breaking Israel News. “It began with the writings of Joseph Ben Matityahu – Josephus Flavius – who described Herod’s palace and the impressive three-tower fortress built next to the palace as the Citadel of David because of its strength and magnificence.”
A Historical Connect: Past, Present and Future
Although the site of the Tower of David is not truly David’s tower, the modern relevance of story of David, illustrated upon the walls of the Tower of David, is undeniable.
“There is no historical person more connected to Jerusalem than the Biblical figure of King David,” Lieber said. She that today, a time when so many voices deny the Jewish peoples’ connection to Jerusalem, the story of King David illuminates the Jewish past, present, and future in Jerusalem.
King David’s story is the story of Jerusalem, and the story of its establishment as the capital of the Jewish homeland 3,000 years ago, when King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established the capital of his kingdom there. It remained the capital of the Jewish kingdom for 400 years, until the destruction of the first Temple at the hands of the Babylonians, which is well documented in the Biblical books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, and in the books of various prophets.
The shared heritage between Jews and Christians began in Jerusalem during the time of King David.
“He was a universal king, and unifies the tribes,” Sivan said, explaining that in Judaism, David is the father of the Davidic dynasty, from which according to tradition, the Messiah will come. Christianity also bases its faith on the Davidic dynasty.
In addition, Sivan said, David has been the inspiration for artists for centuries and is one of the most well-known Biblical figures in the history of art. Part of the show features the great works of art by Chagall, Matisse, Michelangelo and others in an artistic tribute to the artists, painters and sculptors who immortalized the image of the celebrated King David.
In addition to the citadel telling relevant stories of Jerusalem’s past, the Tower of David is ensuring Jerusalem’s future.
According to Amir Halevy, Director-General for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Tower of David Museum’s Night Spectacular show is “a very important product” for Jerusalem. Over 2 million people have already seen the first Night Spectacular, which highlighted the various powers and tumultuous history in Jerusalem’s 4,000 year history, and he maintained that it has greatly contributed to 2017’s record year for Israeli tourism.
“In February, we had 300,000 tourists, 28 percent more than last year,” Halevy told Breaking Israel News. We are always asking ourselves how we can create the new product that will give tourists a reason to stay another night in Jerusalem, and this is the product we need, and why the Night Spectacular is so important.”
Likewise, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat lauded the new night experience at the Tower of David as showcasing the cultural renaissance happening in Jerusalem.
“The Tower of David is an essential Jerusalem landmark that makes our city’s rich history accessible to visitors from Israel and around the globe,” the mayor said. “The new night experience at the Tower of David combines past, present, and future with advanced technology for an engaging display of Jerusalem’s unique role in the world.”