Jerusalem: The Center of the World
Jerusalem is a city steeped in importance for many reasons for many people from many backgrounds. It is arguably the “center of world” with an importance so great that people have been fighting over this city for thousands of years. What is it about Jerusalem that has made it such an important city?
Location of Jerusalem
It is made of many hills and valleys, including well-known locations such as the Kidron Valley, Mt of Olives and Mt. Scopus. It has a naturally defensible location that made it very attractive for conquering.
It has very hot and dry summers and cool, wet winters. A few times a year, snowfall is even seen in the area. There is a 30 degree difference between the coldest month (January, 54 degrees Fahrenheit) and the hottest month (August, 85 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Early History of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. It dates back close to five-thousand years. It is located in the historical Levant region which is the location of several of the oldest cities in the world, including another well-known biblical location, Jericho.
Jerusalem was not always known as Jerusalem. Artifacts from the area began during the Chacolithic period, however these are widely considered to have been shepherds who would have moved often with their herds and not created permanent residences. During the Early Bronze period, permanent settlements begin to be seen, which would have been around 3,000 BC. It was established by Caananites, a very recognizable people from the Old Testament. Earliest mention of the city call it rwš3lmm, which can be transcribed to Urusalim.
Jerusalem in the Bible
The first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible is when Abraham meets with the King of Salem in Genesis 14:18.
In chapter 22, Abraham traveled to the the region of Moriyya, or Mount Moriah. This is when and when he followed God’s command to sacrifice his son, Issac and where God stopped him and offered a ram as a sacrifice instead.
The Jebusites lived in Jerusalem until they were driven out by King David. At the time, it was referred to as Jebus. It was renamed “the City of David”. The City of David, ancient Jerusalem, would have been not where the Old City is today, but has been located below the city just above the Kidron Valley. The area has been a prolific and exciting archeological area for 150 years.
Jerusalem continued to be of massive importance throughout the Bible, including in Jesus’s life, ministry, death and resurrection. It is mentioned in the Bible over 800 times!
The Old City, as it is referred to today, is the highlight for many on their trip to Israel. While it actually is a very small part of the city, the Old City and its walls and gates are what people think of when they think of Jerusalem. What many don’t realize though is that those walls and gates are mostly very young in relation to the rest of the city being built in the 1500s by the Ottomans.
The First and Second Temple
King David’s son, King Solomon built the First Temple. The First Temple Period as it is referred to is descriptive of the years 1000-586 BC. The Temple was a marvel of design and beauty and held the Ark of the Covenant and replaced Tabernacle worship. It was destroyed by King Nebecaddnezer II. It was rebuilt in 516 BC and stood until the Romans destroyed it in 70AD.
Jerusalem: The Battle Ground
Jerusalem has a very long history of battle, change of power and destruction. It has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times and changed power 44 times. Quite a history!
Jerusalem has been under the control of the Canaanites, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Macedonians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Muslims, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, the British, and of course, the Jews.
Jerusalem’s battle scars can be seen around the city. Jesus prophesied that one stone would not stand upon the other and you can still see piles of stones from the Temple that the Romans threw over. You also see scars from a conflict nearly two-thousand years later in the form of bullet holes in the walls of the Old City.
Today, Jerusalem is a city of ancient roots and modern branches. It holds deep importance for Christians, Jews, and Muslims. It holds the Temple Mount, The Western Wall and the Via Dolorosa. The city has grown far beyond the reaches of the hill that ancient Israel knew. It’s population is rapidly approaching one-million. Today it is known of its tourism as a holy pilgrimage place for Jews, Christians and Muslims. There is also a large amount of technology jobs in the city with companies such as IBM, Cisco, and Johnson and Johnson having large offices there.
There is so much more to say and learn about this city that has captured the attention of all who know of it since its beginnings. Today, it still gets the attention of the entire world as all eyes are always on Jerusalem. Have you visited this amazing city? What are you waiting for? Contact our Tour Operators for details about how you can make this city a piece of your story as well!