According to the biblical account, David's first action as king of Israel was to conquer Jerusalem and declare it the capital of his kingdom. Even though the city was not the perfect choice from many points of view, a geopolitical constraint dictated this choice. Mount Moriah is an important place where Abraham bound Isaac and thus the Temple was to be built there. David is said to have conquered Jerusalem in approximately 1004 BCE and made it a center of his government. He brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city. Jerusalem became the political and spiritual nexus of the ancient Hebrews. King David was instructed not to build the Temple, leaving the task to his son Solomon. The concentration of religious ritual at the Temple made Jerusalem a place of pilgrimage and an important commercial center.
The city served as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, but became the capital of the less powerful of the two kingdoms (Judah) after the death of Solomon and the division of the country into two kingdoms. It regained its central status after the conquest and destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. It was in Jerusalem where most of the great prophets were writing, articulating spiritual and ethical principles that would transcend the city's narrow confines to become pillars of the Jewish spirit. In 586 BCE the city was invaded by the Babylonians. At the order of Nebuchadnezzar, their king, the city was torched, the Temple was razed, and the people were taken into exile. Jewish tradition holds this incident to be the first exile of the Jewish nation.