Place name meaning “swelling,” “fat,” “bulge,” or “mound,” It became the proper name of a portion of the hill on which the city of David was built (2 Chron 27:3). The Ophel was just south of Mount Moriah, on which the temple was constructed, joining the old city with the area of Solomon’s palace and temple. The hill has been inhabited since pre-Israelite times by peoples such as the Jebusites from whom David took the site.
David and later kings further fortified Ophel. It served as the living quarters for those who rebuilt the ramparts following the exile (Neh 3:26-27). This may reflect a gradual extension of the name to an ever-larger area. Micah used the Hebrew term to name “the strong hold of the daughter of Zion” (4:8 KJV). Isaiah warned that the “forts” or “hill” (NASB) would be destroyed (32:14). The Hebrew term is used with an uncertain meaning in 2 Kings 5:24 for “tower,” “hill” (NASB), “citadel” (NRSV). The term also occurs on the Moabite Stone.