Meaning ‘fortified mound’ or ‘tower’, Ophel is the name given to a promontory just outside the Old City of Jerusalem, south of the Temple Mount.
This is a good time to take a look at the valleys that encompass the environs of Jerusalem:
There are three valleys that are found in and around Jerusalem. On the eastern side separating the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives is the Valley of Jehoshaphat (a.k.a. the Kidron Valley). Running up the middle is the Tyropoeon Valley, which incidentally has been largely filled in over time with centuries’ worth of debris. On the western side is the Hinnom Valley.
Ophel is located with the Tyropoeon to its immediate west and the Kidron off to the east. Ophel is considered original Jerusalem and predates the present Old City.
The Ophel is perhaps better known today as the ‘City of David’. Originally, this was a Jebusite walled-village that was conquered by King David and was subsequently made the capital city of the Hebrew nation.
David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief. Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David. And he built the city around it, from the Millo to the surrounding area. Joab repaired the rest of the city. So David went on and became great, and the LORD of hosts was with him.
1 Chronicles 11: 4 – 9
The Ophel, or City of David, is mentioned a number of times in Scripture in connection with several building and defensive projects:
King Jotham extended the Ophel (II Chronicles 27: 3)
King Manasseh built the walls of Ophel and enclosed it (II Chronicles 33: 14)
After the return from Babylon, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around it (Nehemiah 3: 26, 27)