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JERUSALEM
YERUSHALAYIM

means "possession of peace" or "foundation of peace".

The capital of David's kingdom in Israel, Palestine. Jerusalem was also called variously by Salem (Genesis 14:18), Ariel ("hearth of God"), Jebus (capitol of the Jebusites), the "city of God", the "holy city" and "the city of Judah" (2 Chronicles 24:28). Jerusalem was the "qibla" of the Jews. For example, Daniel faced Jerusalem when he prayed. The name Jerusalem first appeared in the Book of Joshua. The tablets of Tell-el-Amarna has six letters from the Amorite king to Egypt recording the attack of the Abiri about 1480 B.C., and Jerusalem was spelt Uru-Salim ("city of peace").

Muslims call this city "al-Khuds" or "al-Quds", meaning "the holy". Jerusalem is the third holiest shrine in Islam, after Mecca and Medinah. Jerusalem was also formerly the qibla of the Muslims, the direction where all Muslims face when praying. After the Jews continued to reject Muhammad's message to embrace Islam, the qibla was changed to Mecca. Interestingly, despite its importance in Islam, and being the most central city of the Bible, Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur'an. In Jerusalem stands the beautiful Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This mosque is supposedly mentioned, not by name, in Surah 17:1.

The dual form (ayim) of this name suggests that it might refer to the twin mountains of Jerusalem, namely Mt. Zion and Mt. Moriah, or according to others, the "upper" and "lower" part of the city. It is situated on the edge of one of the highest table-lands in Palestine, and is surrounded on the south and west by deep ravines.

When the Israelites entered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Adoni-zedek was the king of Jerusalem. He amassed a huge army with four other kings of the region to fight the Israelites at Gibeon, but God help the Israelites where the sun stood still (Joshua 10). However, it was only after the death of Joshua that Jerusalem was finally taken and burnt (Judges 1:1-8), but the Jebusites continued to live in it. David later attacked the city and drove out the Jebusites. He moved his capital from Hebron to Zion, "the city of David" (2 Samuel 5:5-9; 1 Chronicles 11:4-8). The ark of the covenant was brought up Jerusalem.

After David's death, his son Solomon built the Temple on Mount Moriah (1010 B.C.). He continued to build on the city and strengthened it, and it became the center of all civil and religious affairs. At his death, when the kingdom split between Rehoboam and Jeruboam, Jerusalem remained under the former. However, it changed hands several times between the Judah, Egypt, Assyria. Finally, it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 25) in 588 B.C..

After seventy years, Jerusalem began to be rebuilt by the Jews under Persian rule (Ezra 1:2-11 and Nehemiah). In 331 B.C., it came under the rule of the Greeks till 167 B.C. The infamous Antiochus Epiphanes IV one day slaughtered a pig in the temple leading to the Maccabean revolt. The Jews enjoyed a period of independence under the Hasmonean rulers. Just before the time of Christ, it came under the rule of Herod and his family, which is practically under Roman rule. In A.D. 70, Titus laid waste to the city.

In 131 A.D., the Roman Hadrian rebuild and fortified the city. A revolt led by Bar-Chohaba ("son of the star") wrested Jerusalem from the Romans, but many Jews were slaughtered four years later when the Romans retook it, and the city destroyed. A new Roman city by the name of Aelia Capitolina was built over it. In 326 A.D. Constantine's mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. A number of places mentioned in the Bible were supposedly identified, and churches built later, among them the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Constantine relaxed the rules against the Jews and and permitted them to visit the city and mourn over the destruction of "the holy and beautiful house" once a year.

In 637 A.D., it was taken by the Muslims under Caliph Umar. In 960 A.D., it came under Egyptian rule, and in 1073 A.D., under the Turcomans. In 1099 A.D., the crusader Godfrey of Bouillon took the city with great slaughter, and was elected king of Jerusalem. He converted the Mosque of Umar into a Christian cathedral. During the next eighty eight years, many churches and convents were built. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt during this period, and it alone remains to this day. In 1187 A.D. the famous sultan Saladin wrested the city from the Christians and the common folk were sold as slaves. Jerusalem remained under the Muslims, and later passed to the Ottoman Turks.

Later on, the British was given rule of the Jerusalem under the British Mandate, but in 1947, a study commission by the then League of the Nations (former body to the United Nations today) concluded that the Jews and Arabs cannot live together in the same nation, and the Assembly voted to have the Nation of Israel built on Palestine, with Jerusalem divided between Israel and Palestinians. Arab nations protested vigorously, and a series of war followed, culminating in the Six Day war in 1967 where the Israelis took East Jerusalem and it has remained till this day.


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