Jerusalem History

Jerusalem history from a biblical perspective.

Jerusalem, the royal city, is the capital of God's only kingdom that God recognized amongst men. It was erected and was the only temple where sacrifices were legitimately offered. The kings of David's line knew Jerusalem as home and so did the prophets. The death, the burial, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus took place in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost, giving birth to Christianity. Jerusalem has been the paramount objective of pious men and women for over 2,000 years.

Jerusalem was not always the name of the city. Jerusalem is a Semitic word, and back in the time of Tell-el-Amarna around 1400 B.C., the city was called Urusalim, meaning a city of peace. The rabbis say over 60 names exist for Jerusalem in the Bible. In the Old Testament the name, Jerusalem appears around 600 times. In the New Testament, the word appears towards the end of Acts, Romans, and 1st Corinthians and in Galatians. The word Zion also appears in the New Testament and Old Testament referring also to Jerusalem.

Zion is seen in the New Testament in some extremely motivating passages. Two times it is on the lips of Jesus, Matthew 21:5 and John 12:15. Two times, we find it used in Romans with great spiritual reference, Romans 9:33 and 11:36. It is also used similarly in I Peter 2:6 and again in Revelation 14:1. Jerusalem has also been referred to as the "the city of David." The city of David has also been used to refer to Bethlehem, Luke 2:4 & 11.

Other names for Jerusalem are found in the Psalms where it is referred to as the "city of God." In the Old and New Testament we find it also being referred to as the "city of Jehovah, the mountain of the Lord, the mountain of Jehovah of hosts, Zion of the Holy One of Israel, and Jesus refers to it as "MY CITY." Often it is referred to as the "Holy City, Isaiah 48:2, 52:1, Matthew 4:5, 27:53 and Revelation 11:2.

Isaiah gave the name of the city once as "˜Hephzibah' which means, "˜My delight is in her, Isaiah 62:4. There is very little known of Jerusalem's history from non-biblical or Biblical writings from the time of Joshua's death till the capture of the city by David around 998 B.C. It is most probable that the fortress David captured came known as the city of Zion (Jerusalem). It is believed the population at this time was around 1200.

Jerusalem was a glorious city but after the death of Solomon, its glory began to diminish. In 917 B. C., which was, the 5th year of the reign of Rehoboam, Shishak, the king of Egypt, overtook the city of Jehovah and captured the treasures of the city. The temple of Jerusalem was pilfered 8 times during the next 300 years.

Of the Biblical writers, Luke, a Gentile, wrote the most of this city of Jerusalem. Beginning in Luke 1:5-22 we have the proclamation of Zacharias a temple priest. In Luke 2:22-38 the visit of Jesus to the city of Jerusalem at the age of 12 is recorded. The first cleansing of the temple of Jerusalem is recorded in John 2:13-25. Jesus heals a man at the pool of Bethesda, John 5:1-47 and Jesus enters Jerusalem for the feast of the Tabernacles, John 7:2 and 10:21. Luke reports of Jesus' arrival to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication, 10:38-42 and the last week of Christ's life was spent near the city of Jerusalem, Luke 19:29-23:56 and also recorded in Matthew, Mark and John. It was in Jerusalem that Christ appeared to all the disciples, Luke 24:49 and from the Mount of Olives just outside the city Christ ascended, Luke 24:50-53.

When Christ mentioned the city of Jerusalem towards the end days of His life He referred to it in this manner:

· Luke 13:33, "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem."

· Matthew 23:37, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! How oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

· Luke 19:42, "If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes."

· And in Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2 and Luke 21:24, Christ declared that all the buildings of Jerusalem and their walls would be tossed down and trodden under by the Gentiles.

It is in Jerusalem that the Christian church is born on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2. The early persecutions occurred in Jerusalem against the early believers of the Christian church. It was here that the Sanhedrin condemned Christ and was then confronted with the incident of a growing group of faithful followers of the Jesus Christ. The Christian church faced its first major crisis in Jerusalem, Acts 15, where the question was asked if "˜salvation was by grace or works. Years later in Jerusalem Paul the Apostle was arrested and falsely accused and then years later, the city of Jerusalem is destroyed and over 600,000 Jews slain or led away into captivity.



Over the next several hundred years Jerusalem sees many changes and falls under Turkish rule. Finally, in 1917, General Allenby of the British army enters the city and a year later, an agreement is signed ending 400 years of Turkish rule. It took over 7 centuries for a Christian conqueror to enter the city of Jerusalem again and on April 24, 1920 the mandate for Palestine and Transjordan was transferred to Great Britain and for 30 years they attempted to rule the country. On May 14th 1948, the national Council at Tel-Aviv stated that the British rule be ended and a new state of Israel created.

Following the new State of Israel a horrible war of Palestine caused close to a million Arabs to be driven from their homes. Jerusalem now claimed over 100,000 Jewish citizens. The city had been divided into four sections until the war for independence:

1. The NE section which was the largest was the Moslem area

2. The NW section was the Christian area

3. The SE section was the Jewish area

4. The SW was the Armenian area

Jerusalem is a city surrounded by controversy, war, intrigue and mystery. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem when it was called Zion generally held a Spiritual reference rather than a geographical one. In the New Testament, similar references could be found referring to Zion in a Spiritual manner. Galatians 5:26 says, "Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother." In Hebrews 12:22 the Christians are told that they have already come to the Mount of Zion. "22 But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." In Revelation, we also read of the exalted Spiritual image of the City of Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem yet to come. As referenced in Revelation 3:12 and 21:2 it is depicted as coming down out of the heaven from God and in Galatians is described as the "mother of believers." (Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.)

The city of Jerusalem boasts a population of 560,000. Of this number nearly 75% are Jewish. Jerusalem is a growing city with a very high birth rate and having over 30,000 immigrants from U.S.S.R. since 1990. Jerusalem as mentioned is an intricate montage of unease and conflicts within its ancient mediaeval walls, walls that draw tourists daily. The gates of Jerusalem hold significance Biblically and politically: dispatch

· The Mercy Gate or Golden Gate (Bab-el-Ramah) according to Christian tradition is the gate Jesus made his last visit to Jerusalem through.

· Herod's Gate or the Flower Gate is thought to be the gate that led to Herod's palace.

· The Damascus Gate is the most impressive of all Jerusalem gates.

· The Jaffa Gate is the main entrance to the Old Jerusalem. Bab-el-Khalil is the Arabic name for the gate. This is also, where the road to Hebron began and the road to Jaffa.

· The Lion's Gate is believed to have been named by the Ottoman Sultan because he had a fear that lions would kill the populace unless he built a wall around the city and placed statutes of lions on both sides of the gate.

· The Dung Gate is written about in Nehemiah as a removal passage for the city's garbage.

· The Zion Gate is named after Mount Zion and is known as "the Prophet David's Gate," in Arabic because of King David's tomb on Mount Zion.

Jerusalem is sacred to 3 religions and at one time thought the center of the world. The city though is small, conservative and unfashionable, though filled with religious sites, relics and museums. The city is home to:

· The Wailing Wall is a remnant of the 2nd temple, which is the holiest Jewish relic in the world.

· The Church of the Holy Sepulcher believed to be where the crucifixion took place and considered the most sacred Christian site.

· The Dome of the Rock considered the site where the Prophet Mohammed made his ascent to heaven. A holy Islamic site.

Jerusalem's location alone is a drawing force for the visitor, forgetting all religious connotations the enchanting setting in the Judean Hills is breathtaking. From white high-rises sparkling in the suns light to the olive groves and villages of the Judean Hills the area, surrounding Jerusalem is a site to behold. Cradled within its beauty and splendor though lies turmoil, one city""the Holy City of God alive and beautiful sharing its memories, fears, and prophecies with the world.

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