“I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.” (1 Kings 11:36)
A modern-day Malkhut Beit David (מלכות בית דוד), Kingdom of the House of David, which is comprised of the male descendants of King David is hoping to file a lawsuit claiming ownership of this ancient Biblical site.
The idea for the lawsuit began in 2004 when a recent olim (immigrant) to Israel from America, Dr. Boruch Fishman, visited the tomb of Samuel, the prophet who anointed David king of Israel about 3,000 years ago.
There, he met a local farmer, Israel Auerbach. The two discussed how the purchase of the legal title of the Temple Mount by King David is recorded in 2 Samuel 24:24–25:
“So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.”
The two men reasoned that according to Jewish inheritance rights, David’s all-male descendants are still the legal owner of the Temple Mount.
To advance their claim of ownership, Dr. Fishman established an amutah or nonprofit organization named Canfei Nesharim L’maan Hakahal (Wings of Eagles for the Assembly).
The amutah contains within it a legal entity for those who can prove a male lineage from son to son (ben achar ben) beginning at David’s house. (Breaking Israel News)
Anyone who qualifies would be included in the legal claim to inherit the Temple Mount.
This legal entity also aims to “facilitate the administration of property acknowledged to be rightfully owned by the house of David and to serve as a vehicle for positive intervention of the all-male descendants of King David into Israel life.”
David’s Dynasty: Where Are They Now?
“The LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.” (2 Chronicles 21:7)
David had at least one daughter and 22 sons—one of whom, Solomon, succeeded him as king and built the First Temple in Jerusalem.
After Solomon’s reign ended, ten tribes of Israel rejected the Davidic line of kings and formed their own northern Kingdom of Judea.
However, the male descendants of King David continued to rule the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in Israel, which became the southern kingdom; that is, until the Babylonians conquered it in 597 BC.
At that time, some Jews stayed in Judah, others fled to Egypt, and most of the nesi’im—the princes of the Davidic line, were taken to Babylon along with many of the Jewish people.
There, David’s kingdom continued, its members being appointed by religious leaders to govern the Jewish community. Such leaders were called rosh ha’gola, which means head of the exile or exilarch.
This line of rulers survived the Islamic invasions of the region, but came to an end with the Arab conquest of Baghdad in AD 1040.
The descendants of the exilarchs spread out across Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, and the Mediterranean basin looking for new lands where they could live as Jews.
While some remained in Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy, others later moved into other parts of Europe. During these times, they separated into Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and other groups.
Some of the Davidic lines, especially those of rabbinic descent, kept careful track of their lineage from one generation to the next as they migrated from one land to another.
Therefore, among the Ashkenazim, those who claim Davidic descent usually do so by tracing their lineage back to a famous Jewish rabbi or scholar, such as the 18th century Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer, known as the Ba’al Shem Tov; or Shneur Zalman, the first Lubavitcher rebbe; or Saadya, the Gaon of Vilna—all of whom claim Davidic descent.
Some trace their lineage back to an even more famous line, such as the great 11th century French commentator on the Tanakh and Talmud, Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki), or the family line of the Maharshal in Lithuania (Shlomo Luria), or the Maharal of Prague (Judah Loew ben Bezalel).
The first century Jewish law scholar and member of the Sanhedrin, Rabban Gamliel, who taught the Apostle Paul in the ways of Phariseeism (Acts 22:3), is said to be of Davidic Descent as well.
Others trace their roots through the Sephardic line back to Hezekiah of Baghdad, who died the year Rashi was born, and was the last exilarch. He fled to Grenada, Spain where he had two sons, Yitzhak and David.
Shealtiel is one of the more famous Sephardic family surnames descending through Hezekiah.
Though suffering through continual migration and persecution, King David’s descendants are estimated to be in the millions and the majority have no idea that they are part of his dynasty.
On the surface, this effort to locate David’s descendants appears to be an attempt to reestablish the Davidic dynasty as a monarchy in Israel (whether symbolic or actual), and some have that goal.
Susan Roth, a notable Israeli actress traces her Davidic ancestry through Rashi and the Baal Shem Tov, among others. The foundation she started in 1998, Eshet Chayil (Women of Valor), sponsors many Israeli causes, such as the Davidic Dynasty website.
Regarding reestablishing the Kingdom of David today, she says that “a king would be taken seriously and signify that Jews have been in Israel for over 3,000 years. The Knesset could run the country but there would be a royal house that would bring legitimacy.
“The royal House of David could be a light unto the nation. It would bring about peace, harmony, and everything the world is waiting for because the world is in a terrible shape right now.” (momentmag)
Others are less enthusiastic about the prospects of a king. Orthodox speaker and author Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis believes her Davidic ancestry is not so special: “We are all am Yisrael [people of Israel],” she says.
Determining Davidic Descent
Since 1997, DNA testing has been identifying descendants of Aaron, the first High Priest. But no DNA marker has yet been discovered to locate a descendant of David.
Nevertheless, charts, family trees, and common surnames on the Davidic Dynasty website are helping people trace their family lineage.
Mitchell Dayan, whose family is from Aleppo, Syria, is now a core leader of the website, as well. He first discovered his Davidic heritage in 1983 when he read a commentary on King Solomon’s Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) titled Yashir Moshe, written in 1864 by Rabbi Moshe Dayan.
In it, the author traces the Dayan family straight back to King David. This motivated Mitchell to research his own family line, and in 2003 he completed the “Dayan of Aleppo Family Tree,” which is available on the DavidicDyansty website.
Mitchell, a member of the Dayan rabbinic family now proudly claims to be the 87th generation in a line of descendants from King David, from son to son (ben achar ben).
As such, he is ready to claim ownership of the Temple Mount.
“Then Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. It was on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David, his father.” (2 Chronicles 3:1)
The Temple Mount is not only Judaism’s holiest site, it is uniquely the property of King David.
Around 4,000 years ago, Mount Moriah was the Biblical location where God asked Abraham to offer the promised son Isaac as a sacrifice.
About 900 years later, David captured the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and he could have confiscated the Mount as wartime plunder. Instead, he allowed the Jebusite king to keep ownership of some of his land, including Mount Moriah.
Acquiring the threshing floor of Mount Moriah for the Lord was not David’s idea; when a plague over Jerusalem ended, the Lord spoke to him through the Prophet Gad:
“Gad came that day to David and said to him, ‘Go up, raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’” (2 Samuel 24:18)
So, David went to Araunah, who tried to give the land to David for free, along with oxen for the sacrifices.
But David insisted on buying it instead:
“I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.” (2 Samuel 24 24–25)
David did as the Lord instructed and built a temporary altar on the site. but God chose his son Solomon to build the first permanent sanctuary, which he completed in 957 BC.
According to the Bible, the entire site served as both a religious and political center, until the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and destroyed the building in 586 BC.
Under the protection of King Cyrus of Babylon in 538 BC, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and built the Second Temple, which King Herod later expanded into an impressive structure around 20 BC.
But this Temple didn’t last either. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple in AD 70 on Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting and weeping for the Jews that was observed yesterday by Jews here and around the world.
The Romans took advantage of their conquest by erecting their own temples to their gods on the Mount, but the site largely lay in ruin until the Islamic invasion in the 7th century.
Muslims Build on the Mount
Though the site is not specifically mentioned in the Koran, the Temple Mount is the third holiest site in Islam, falsely known as the place from where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven to receive instructions from God.
Following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in AD 637, construction began on the Dome of the Rock, which is thought to sit where the First and Second Temples once stood.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque followed in the 8th century, which is still today situated at the southern end of the Mount. It was built to represent the “furthest mosque” (al-aqsa in Arabic), which is mentioned in the Koran as the site from where Mohammed ascended.
Though the Muslim structures have existed on the Temple Mount since the 7th–8th centuries, the site largely sat in disrepair and the city sparsely inhabited—that is, until the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
When Israel’s War of Independence ended in 1949, Jordan took control of the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Western (Wailing) Wall and the Temple Mount, preventing any Jew from entering the site.
Fighting in self-defense against an Egyptian-Jordanian-Syrian invasion in June 1967, Israel recaptured the area after only six days of war.
After almost 1,900 years, the Temple Mount finally came under complete control of the Jewish People, but only for a few hours.
In a tragic irony, Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Defense Minister—perhaps also a member of David’s dynasty—handed the keys of the Temple Mount over to the Jordanian Waqf, the Islamic authority that had been administering the Temple Mount since the 1950s.
In doing so, Dayan set in motion a “status quo” that exists today: Jews can visit the Temple Mount only during specific hours, but they are not allowed to pray there.
Why would a Jewish leader give up such a valuable treasure after nearly 1,900 years of exile, especially considering that Jews pray every day “that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days…. And there we will serve You in reverence, as in the days of old and as in former years”?
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) explains that in an effort to encourage peace with the Arabs, Dayan only intended to turn over religious use of the site to the Waqf, not ownership of the site itself. “In giving religious sovereignty over the mount to the Muslims, he believed he was defusing the site as a center of Palestinian nationalism,” the Center states.
Of course, his intentions didn’t work out as expected.
Arabs Claim Sovereignty Over the Temple Mount
Today the Temple Mount has been made a focal point of Palestinian nationalism, with the Arabs and Palestinian Authority claiming sovereignty of the land as well as religious use of the Temple Mount, while actively denying Jewish history connected to the site.
But this has not always been the case.
A 1924 publication of a tourist guidebook for the Temple Mount by the Supreme Muslim Council (Waqf) states:
“The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.” (A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, 1925, p. 4)
A later edition to the guidebook published by the Waqf in 1950, two years after Israel’s independence, reproduces this fact.
After the 1967 War, no longer was the Temple Mount only referred to as Al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), but also as Al-Masjid al-Aksa (the Farthest Mosque), fostering within the Muslim people a deep spiritual entitlement to the site. (JCPA)
David’s Dynasty Prepare Their Claim
“May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.” (1 Kings 8:29)
Shortly after the 1967 war, the State of Israel annexed east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, bringing it under the municipality of Jerusalem. Then on July 30 of the same year, the Israel Knesset (Parliament) passed a bill declaring Jerusalem to be the Capital of Israel, though no boundaries were specified.
In 2007, the Israel Land Fund, a nonprofit organization was formed to acquire land for the Jewish People and “to enable all Jews (Israeli and non-Israeli citizens) to own a part of Israel.” But it has not acquired the Temple Mount.
Dr. Fishman’s attorney Baruch Ben Yosef gave his opinion to Breaking Israel News about the current legal status of the Mount:
“The fact that it is under the authority of the Waqf or Jordan is not a legal claim to ownership. It is a temporary condition based on power and not a valid legal claim,” Ben Yosef said.
“Since [the Temple Mount] can be privately owned, the people who claim lineage to King David have a legal claim,” Ben Yosef added. “If we make a claim in court, the court would have to disprove the claim. The burden of proof would be on them. But in the meantime, the Land Authority won’t do anything without a court order from the High Court.”
Ben Yosef is not convinced, however, that the High Court of Israel will even hear the case, but Dr. Fishman has been actively raising funds to pursue all legal avenues.
In the meantime, on Yom Kippur, 2015, a third intifada (uprising) of murder and terror began and continues today as a result of Arab leaders proclaiming that “Al-Aqsa is in danger” and that Israel plans to replace the Muslim structures with the Third Temple.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to deny such a libel, Israel intends to keep the Temple Mount physically under Israel sovereignty and historically within the Jewish heritage, even as Arabs continue to reclassify it as their own.
In this struggle, no person, group, or entity has been able to produce a clean legal title to the Mount today.
Who, then, actually owns this plot of land that King David bought, and to whom can the Davidic Dynasty group make its claim?
Who Will Judge?
Arab perseverance is winning international sympathy for their claims.
In October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will assume some judicial authority over the Temple Mount as it votes on a resolution to make the Temple Mount a strictly Islamic holy site.
Whatever UNESCO decides, the reality is that God’s Word declares the Jewish heritage and divine sovereignty of the site from the time King David bought it until the present. Moreover, it also declares that God has set the Mount apart for Himself and for David’s ultimate male descendant, the Messiah Himself.
David’s Messianic Descendant Will Decide
The supreme descendant of the line of David is the Messiah Himself, who will sit on the throne of David during His Messianic reign:
“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will set up of David a righteous shoot, and He shall reign as king and prosper, and He shall perform judgment and righteousness in the land. In His days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is His name that He shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:5–6)
Although David had 22 sons, the eternal monarchy led by the Messiah is established through the line of Solomon. We see this when King David promises Bathsheba that Solomon will reign after him. She then announces, “Let my lord King David live forever.” (1 Kings 1:31)
In fact, of the thirteen fundamental principles in Judaism compiled by Maimonides, the twelfth confirms Messiah’s lineage:
“There is no king of Israel except from the house of David and from the seed of Solomon alone. And anyone who disputes this regarding this family is a denier of the name of God and in all the words of the prophets.” (Talmud Sanhedrin, Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishna, as translated by Marc Mermelstein at mesora)
Who is this Messiah?
“Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is the name of His son? Surely you know!” (Proverbs 30:4)
As the Son of God, Yeshua (Jesus) lived the totally righteous life that no observant Jew has ever been able to live, earning the right to reign the world from His throne in the Messianic Temple to come.
Some Orthodox Jews say the Temple will come down from heaven, prepared by the Messiah Himself. Others are actively preparing to build a Third Temple that they believe will usher in the reign of the Messiah.
Whether the Temple comes down from heaven or is built up from the earth, legal title to the threshing floor at the Temple Mount will continue to be challenged in international forums like UNESCO and other venues by Arabs, Israelis, and David’s Dynasty.
Yet only one ruling on the matter will be eternally valid—when the Messiah comes down from heaven and reclaims Mount Moriah as His own in the Messianic reign to come.
The Lord says at that time,
“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:22–24)