Jerusalem means City of Peace.







Jerusalem is situated on the southern spur of a plateau in the Judean Mountains, which include the Mount of Olives (East) and Mount Scopus (North East). The elevation of the Old City is approximately 760 m (2,500 ft). The whole of Jerusalem is surrounded by valleys and dry riverbeds (wadis). The Kidron, Hinnom, and Tyropoeon Valleys intersect in an area just south of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Kidron Valley runs to the east of the Old City and separates the Mount of Olives from the city proper. Along the southern side of old Jerusalem is the Valley of Hinnom, a steep ravine associated in biblical eschatology with the concept of Gehenna or Hell.

The Tyropoeon valley commenced in the northwest near the Damascus Gate, ran south-southeasterly through the center of the Old City down to the Pool of Siloam, and divided the lower part into two hills, the Temple Mount to the east, and the rest of the city to the west (the lower and the upper cities described by Josephus). Today, this valley is hidden by debris that has accumulated over the centuries.

In biblical times, Jerusalem was surrounded by forests of almond, olive and pine trees. Over centuries of warfare and neglect, these forests were destroyed. Farmers in the Jerusalem region thus built stone terraces along the slopes to hold back the soil, a feature still very much in evidence in the Jerusalem landscape.

Water supply has always been a major problem in Jerusalem, as attested to by the intricate network of ancient aqueducts, tunnels, pools and cisterns found in the city.

Jerusalem is 60 kilometers (37 mi) east of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea. On the opposite side of the city, approximately 35 kilometers (22 mi) away, is the Dead Sea, the lowest body of water on Earth. Neighboring cities and towns include Bethlehem and Beit Jala to the south, Abu Dis and Ma'ale Adumim to the east, Mevaseret Zion to the west, and Ramallah and Giv'at Ze'ev to the north.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and its largest city in both population and area, with a population of 747,600 residents over an area of 125.1 square kilometres (48.3 sq mi) if disputed East Jerusalem is included.

Located in the Judean Mountains, between the Mediterranean Sea and the northern tip of the Dead Sea, modern Jerusalem has grown beyond the boundaries of the Old City.

The city has a history that goes back to the 4th millennium BCE, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual center of the Jewish people, contains a number of significant ancient Christian sites, and is considered the third-holiest city in Islam.

Despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometer (0.35 square mile), the Old City is home to sites of key religious importance, among them the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

The old walled city, a World Heritage site, has been traditionally divided into four quarters, although the names used today - the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters - were introduced in the early 19th century.

The Old City was nominated for inclusion on the List of World Heritage Sites in danger by Jordan in 1982. In the course of its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem has been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations and related bodies, and Palestinians foresee East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

In the wake of United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 (passed in 1980), most foreign embassies moved out of Jerusalem, although some countries, such as the United States, still own land in the city and pledge to return their embassies once political agreements warrant the move.




Chronology of Jerusalem

Antiquity (prehistory - 1000 BCE)

The city now known as Jerusalem has known many wars and had various periods of occupation in its long history. Genesis 14:18, mentions a city called Salem, ruled by King Melchizedek, a "priest of God", whom most Jewish commentators believe refers to Jerusalem. According to one Jewish tradition reported by the midrash, it was founded by Abraham's forefathers Shem and Eber, and in the midrash Melchizedek is equated with Shem.

The Amarna letters contain correspondence from Abdi-Heba, king of Urusalim (the name of Jerusalem in the Late Bronze Age). At this time his entire kingdom may have had a population of fifteen hundred people, and Urusalim would have been a 'small highlands stronghold' in the fourteenth century BCE with no fortifications or large buildings.

King Saul (reigned 1047 - 1007 BC?) was the first king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew bible.

King Ish-bosheth also Ashbaal or Ishbaal - chosen as the second king over the Kingdom of Israel, which then consisted of all the twelve tribes of the Israelites, after the death of his father and three brothers at the Battle of Mount Gilboa.




First Temple Period - 1006-586 BCE

The Semitic root of the name "Jerusalem" is sometimes thought to be meaning peace, harmony or completeness. A city called Rusalimum or Urusalimum appears in ancient Egyptian records as one of the first references to Jerusalem. These Egyptian forms are thought to derive from the local name attested in the Amarna letters, e.g: in EA 287 (where it takes several forms) Urusalim.

The form Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) first appears in the book of Joshua. This form has the appearance of a portmanteau of yerusha (heritage) and the original name Shalem and is not a simple phonetic evolution of the form in the Amarna letters. Some believe there is a connection to Shalim, the beneficent deity known from Ugaritic myths as the personification of dusk.

Typically the ending -im indicates the plural in Hebrew grammar and -ayim the dual thus leading to the suggestion that the name refers to the fact that the city sits on two hills. However the pronunciation of the last syllable as -ayim appears to be a late development, which had not yet appeared at the time of the Septuagint. In Greek and Latin it is transliterated Hierosolyma. To the Arabs, Jerusalem is al-Quds ("The Holy"). "Zion" initially referred to part of the city, but later came to signify the city as a whole. Under King David, it was known as Ir David (the City of David).

Ceramic evidence indicates the occupation of Ophel, within present-day Jerusalem, as far back as the Copper Age, c. 4th millennium BCE, with evidence of a permanent settlement during the early Bronze Age, c. 3000-2800 BCE.

The Execration Texts (c. 19th century BCE), which refer to a city called Roshlamem or Rosh-ramen and the Amarna letters (c. 14th century BCE) may be the earliest mention of the city.

Some archaeologists, including Kathleen Kenyon, believe Jerusalem as a city was founded by West Semitic people with organized settlements from around 2600 BCE. According to Jewish tradition the city was founded by Shem and Eber, ancestors of Abraham.

In the biblical account, when first mentioned, Jerusalem (known as "Salem") is ruled by Melchizedek, an ally of Abraham (identified with Shem in legend). Later, in the time of Joshua, Jerusalem was in territory allocated to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28) but it continued to be under the independent control of the Jebusites until it was conquered by David and made into the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel (c. 1000s BCE).

Recent excavations of a large stone structure are interpreted by some archaeologists as lending credence to the biblical narrative.




Temple Periods

According to Hebrew scripture, King David reigned until 970 BCE. He was succeeded by his son Solomon, who built the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah. Solomon's Temple (later known as the First Temple), went on to play a pivotal role in Jewish history as the repository of the Ark of the Covenant.

For over 450 years, until the Babylonian conquest in 587 BCE, Jerusalem was the political capital of firstly the united Kingdom of Israel and then the Kingdom of Judah and the Temple was the religious center of the Israelites.

This period is known in history as the First Temple Period. Upon Solomon's death (c. 930 BCE), the ten northern tribes split off to form the Kingdom of Israel. Under the leadership of the House of David and Solomon, Jerusalem remained the capital of the Kingdom of Judah.

When the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE, Jerusalem was strengthened by a great influx of refugees from the northern kingdom. The First Temple period ended around 586 BCE, as the Babylonians conquered Judah and Jerusalem, and laid waste to Solomon's Temple.

In 538 BCE, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity, Persian King Cyrus the Great invited the Jews to return to Judah to rebuild the Temple.

Construction of the Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple.

Later, in 445 BCE, King Artaxerxes I of Persia issued a decree allowing the city and the walls to be rebuilt.

Jerusalem resumed its role as capital of Judah and center of Jewish worship. When Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, Jerusalem and Judea fell under Macedonian control, eventually falling to the Ptolemaic dynasty under Ptolemy I.

In 198 BCE, Ptolemy V lost Jerusalem and Judea to the Seleucids under Antiochus III. The Seleucid attempt to recast Jerusalem as a Hellenized polis came to a head in 168 BCE with the successful Maccabean revolt of Mattathias the High Priest and his five sons against Antiochus Epiphanes, and their establishment of the Hasmonean Kingdom in 152 BCE with Jerusalem again as its capital.




Jewish-Roman Wars

As Rome became stronger it installed Herod as a Jewish client king. Herod the Great, as he was known, devoted himself to developing and beautifying the city. He built walls, towers and palaces, and expanded the Temple Mount, buttressing the courtyard with blocks of stone weighing up to 100 tons. Under Herod, the area of the Temple Mount doubled in size.

In 6 CE, the city, as well as much of the surrounding area, came under direct Roman rule as the Iudaea Provinceand Herod's descendants through Agrippa II remained client kings of Judea until 96 CE. Roman rule over Jerusalem and the region began to be challenged with the First Jewish-Roman War, which resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Jerusalem once again served as the capital of Judea during the three-year rebellion known as the Bar Kochba revolt, beginning in 132 CE.

The Romans succeeded in suppressing the revolt in 135 CE. Emperor Hadrian romanized the city, renaming it Aelia Capitolina, and banned the Jews from entering it. Hadrian renamed the entire Iudaea Province Syria Palaestina after the biblical Philistines in an attempt to de-Judaize the country. Enforcement of the ban on Jews entering Aelia Capitolina continued until the 4th century CE.

In the five centuries following the Bar Kokhba revolt, the city remained under Roman then Byzantine rule. During the 4th century, the Roman Emperor Constantine I constructed Christian sites in Jerusalem such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerusalem reached a peak in size and population at the end of the Second Temple Period: The city covered two square kilometers (0.8 sq mi.) and had a population of 200,000. From the days of Constantine until the 7th century, Jews were banned from Jerusalem.




Roman-Persian Wars

Within the span of a few decades, Jerusalem shifted from Roman to Persian rule and returned to Roman dominion once more. Following Sassanid Khosrau II's early seventh century push into Byzantine, advancing through Syria, Sassanid Generals Shahrbaraz and Shahin attacked the Byzantine-controlled city of Jerusalem (Persian: Dej Houdkh). They were aided by the Jews of Palestine, who had risen up against the Byzantines.

In the Siege of Jerusalem (614), after 21 days of relentless siege warfare, Jerusalem was captured. The Byzantine chronicles relate that the Sassanid army and the Jews slaughtered tens of thousands of Christians in the city, an episode which has been the subject of much debate between historians.[52] The conquered city would remain in Sassanid hands for some fifteen years until the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius reconquered it in 629.




Arab Rule

Jerusalem is considered Islam's third holiest city after Mecca and Medina. Among Muslims of an earlier era, it was referred to as al-Bayt al-Muqaddas; later, it became known as al-Quds al-Sharif. In 638, the Islamic Caliphate extended its dominion to Jerusalem.

With the Arab conquest, Jews were allowed back into the city.

The Rashidun caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab signed a treaty with Monophysite Christian Patriarch Sophronius, assuring him that Jerusalem's Christian holy places and population would be protected under Muslim rule.

Umar was led to the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount, which he cleared of refuse in preparation for building a mosque. According to the Gaullic bishop Arculf, who lived in Jerusalem from 679 to 688, the Mosque of Umar was a rectangular wooden structure built over ruins which could accommodate 3,000 worshipers.

The Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik commissioned the construction of the Dome of the Rock in the late 7th century.

The 10th century historian al-Muqaddasi writes that Abd al-Malik built the shrine in order to compete in grandeur of Jerusalem's monumental churches. Over the next four hundred years, Jerusalem's prominence diminished as Arab powers in the region jockeyed for control.




Crusader, Ayyubid, and Mamluk Period

In 1099, Jerusalem was conquered by the Crusaders, who massacred most of its Muslim inhabitants and the remnants of the Jewish inhabitants; the Crusaders later expelled the native Christian population and created the Kingdom of Jerusalem. By early June 1099 JerusalemÕs population had declined from 70,000 to less than 30,000.

In 1187, the city was wrested from the Crusaders by Saladin who permitted Jews and Muslims to return and settle in the city.

Under the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin, a period of huge investment began in the construction of houses, markets, public bathes, and pilgrim hostels as well as the establishment of religious endowments. However, for most of the 13th century, Jerusalem declined to the status of a village due to city's fall of strategic value and Ayyubid internecine struggles.

In 1244, Jerusalem was sacked by the Kharezmian Tartars, who decimated the city's Christian population and drove out the Jews. The Khwarezmian Tatars were driven out by the Ayyubids in 1247.

From 1250 to 1517, Jerusalem was ruled by the Mamluks. During this period of time many clashes occurred between the Mamluks on one side and the crusaders and the Mongols on the other side. The area also suffered from many earthquakes and black plague.




Ottoman Era

In 1517, Jerusalem and environs fell to the Ottoman Turks, who generally remained in control until 1917.

Jerusalem enjoyed a period of renewal and peace under Suleiman the Magnificent - including the rebuilding of magnificent walls around the Old City. Throughout much of Ottoman rule, Jerusalem remained a provincial, if religiously important center, and did not straddle the main trade route between Damascus and Cairo.

However, the Muslim Turks brought many innovations: modern postal systems run by the various consulates; the use of the wheel for modes of transportation; stagecoach and carriage, the wheelbarrow and the cart; and the oil-lantern, among the first signs of modernization in the city.[64] In the mid 19th century, the Ottomans constructed the first paved road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and by 1892 the railroad had reached the city.

With the annexation of Jerusalem by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1831, foreign missions and consulates began to establish a foothold in the city.

In 1836, Ibrahim Pasha allowed Jerusalem's Jewish residents to restore four major synagogues, among them the Hurva.

In the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine, Qasim al-Ahmad led his forces from Nablus and attacked Jerusalem, aided by the Abu Ghosh clan, entered the city on May 31, 1834. The Christians and Jews of Jerusalem were subjected to attacks. Ibrahim's Egyptian army routed Qasim's forces in Jerusalem the following month.

Ottoman rule was reinstated in 1840, but many Egyptian Muslims remained in Jerusalem and Jews from Algiers and North Africa began to settle in the city in growing numbers.

In the 1840s and 1850s, the international powers began a tug-of-war in Palestine as they sought to extend their protection over the country's religious minorities, a struggle carried out mainly through consular representatives in Jerusalem.

According to the Prussian consul, the population in 1845 was 16,410, with 7,120 Jews, 5,000 Muslims, 3,390 Christians, 800 Turkish soldiers and 100 Europeans. The volume of Christian pilgrims increased under the Ottomans, doubling the city's population around Easter time.

In the 1860s, new neighborhoods began to develop outside the Old City walls to house pilgrims and relieve the intense overcrowding and poor sanitation inside the city. The Russian Compound and Mishkenot Sha'ananim were founded in 1860.

In 1867 an American Missionary reports an estimated population of Jerusalem of 'above' 15,000. With 4,000 to 5,000 Jews and 6,000 Muslims. Every year there were 5,000 to 6,000 Russian Christian Pilgrims.

Jerusalem Wikipedia




Gates of Jerusalem


Golden Gate

Gate of Mercy, the Gate of Gold, the Gate of Eternal Life, Sha'ar Harahamim - appears in the legends of all three religions. An early Jewish tradition holds that it is through that gate that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition, Jesus made made his last entry to Jerusalem through the Mercy Gate. The Muslims refer to it as the Gate of Mercy and believe it to be the gate referred to in the Koran, through which the just will pass on the Day of Judgment.


Herod's Gate - Flower Gate

The first name was given to the gate by pilgrims, who erroneously believed
that it led to Herod's palace. It is known in Arabic as the Flower Gate.


Lion's Gate

Known in Hebrew as the Lion's Gate. Legend has it that the lions engraved on both sides of the gate were placed there by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, because he had dreamed that he would be devoured by lions unless he built a wall around the Holy City for the defense of the citizens.


Zion Gate

The western gate of the Old City, named after Mount Zion. In Arabic it is known as "the Prophet David's Gate", because one passes through King David's tomb on Mount Zion.


Damascus Gate

The most massive and ornate of all of Jerusalem's gates. The road
running off it leads to Shechem (Nablus) and then to Damascus.


Jaffa Gate

This gate is the principal entrance to the Old City. Its name in Arabic is Bab-el-Khalil, the gate of Hebron, as the main road to Hebron started here. It was also called Jaffa Gate because the road to the port city of Jaffa (Joppa) - the coast also started from it. This gate is the only one on the western side of the Old City. A low part of the city wall was torn down and the Crusader moat of the Citadel filled in 1898 for the visit of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. This gate was also the famous scene of the English General Allenby's entrance in 1917.


Dung Gate

The Dung Gate is mentioned in the book of Nehemiah as a dispatch point for the city's refuse. It would appear that it was through this gate that the refuse was removed from the city.


Sha'ar Gate

Nehemiah mentions that he began his trip to the city from Sha'ar HaGai. The name refers to a site on the way to Jerusalem. The Hebrew name Sha'ar HaGai is a translation of the Arabic Bab el Wad, the Valley Gate, which leads to Jerusalem.


Old City (Jerusalem) Wikipedia




In the News





Jerusalem locked down by 'historic' snowstorm   AFP - December 12, 2013

The hilltop city of Jerusalem was paralyzed on Friday by a snowstorm of "historic" proportions, with its mayor calling out the army to help stranded motorists. "We are battling a storm of rare ferocity," Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement as snow in the Holy City piled up to around 37 centimetres (15 inches), while outlying areas had much deeper drifts.


A view of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City following a
snowstorm is seen from the Mount of Olives on December 13, 2013.






Images by Uriel Sinai




Behold! Jerusalem dig turns up priestly bathtub from Jesus' time   NBC - September 17, 2013

Archaeologists say they have uncovered a first-century mansion on Jerusalem's Mount Zion, complete with an ancient bathtub that just might have belonged to one of the priests who condemned Jesus to death. The mansion's location and its fancy features are the main lines of evidence for surmising that a member of the priestly class lived there




Ancient Inscription From King Solomon's Time Unearthed   Live Science - July 10, 2013

A shard of pottery unearthed near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem bears an inscription that dates to the 10th century B.C. The inscription is the oldest alphabetic text found in Jerusalem and predates the earliest found Hebrew inscription in the region by 250 years. The enigmatic letters, which wrap around the top of a neck-less ceramic jar, were written around the time of King David or King Solomon's reign in an early form of Canaanite, not Hebrew. As a result, archaeologists believe a Jebusite or some other non-Israelite tribe member wrote the inscription. At that time, the Israelites hadn't yet conquered the region, and Hebrew was not the dominant language of the day. The area around Jerusalem is teeming with archaeological relics. An 11th century B.C. temple found near Jerusalem reveals evidence of fighting between Canaanites, Israelites and Philistines.




Inscription dates back to King David - but what does it say?   MSNBC - July 10, 2013
Israeli archaeologists say a 3,000-year-old fragment of a ceramic jar found near Jerusalem's Temple Mount, dating back to the days of King David and King Solomon, bears a mysterious inscription that ranks as the earliest alphabetical written text ever found in the city. The inscription is incised into the clay of a neckless ceramic jar found at Jerusalem's Ophel excavation site. The text is in the Canaanite language, which predates Israelite rule and the prevalence of Hebrew script. From left to right, the letters translate to M, Q, P, H, N, possibly L, and N.




First Temple-Era Reservoir Found in Jerusalem   Live Science - September 9, 2012
Archaeologists have found an ancient water reservoir in Jerusalem that may have been used by pilgrims coming to the Temple Mount, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced. The IAA said the cistern could have held 66,000 gallons (250 cubic meters) of water; it likely dates back to the era of the First Temple, which, according to the Hebrew Bible, was constructed by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. and then destroyed 400 years later. Israeli archaeologists believe the reservoir served the general public in the ancient city, but say its location hints at a role in the religious life of Jerusalem.




Bible-Era Mystery Vessel Found -- Code Stumps Experts   Live Science - September 10, 2009

It didn't look like much at first, just a broken, mud-caked stone mug. But when archaeologists in Jerusalem cleaned the 2,000-year-old vessel, they discovered ten lines of mysterious script. These were common stone mugs that appear in all Jewish households. Deciphering the writing could provide a window into daily life or religious ritual in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus Christ. Working on historic Mount Zion - site of King David's tomb and the Last Supper - the archaeologists found the cup near a ritual pool this summer. The dig site is in what had been an elite residential area near the palace of King Herod the Great, who ruled Israel shortly before the birth of Jesus.




Jerusalem Strife Echoes Ancient History National Geographic - October 29, 2004
It may be called the City of Peace, but no other city has been more bitterly fought over than Jerusalem. In the past 4,000 years it has seen at least 118 conflicts. It has been razed at least twice, has been besieged 23 times, and has had at least five separate periods of violent terrorist attacks in the past century. Eric Cline is a historian and archaeologist at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and the author of the new book Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. National Geographic News spoke with Cline about the holy city's turbulent history.




Jerusalem Tunnel Linked to Bible National Geographic - September 11, 2003

Researchers using sophisticated radio-dating techniques have concluded that a tunnel running under ancient Jerusalem was indeed constructed around 700 B.C., during the reign of King Hezekiah, just as it is described in the Bible. The tunnel, which is about 500 meters (550 yards) long, brings water from the Gihon Springs, located some 300 meters (330 yards) outside the walls of old Jerusalem, to the Siloan Pool inside the ancient city. It was built to protect the city's water supply during an Assyrian siege. Structures described in the Bible are notoriously difficult to date. While some are poorly preserved or hard to identify, others are off limits to scientists because of political reasons. The age of the Jerusalem tunnel had been in dispute, with dissident scientists arguing it is not as old as the Bible suggests.




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