"In Jerusalem will I put my name" (2 Kgs. 21:4)

Jerusalem is located in the Judaean Mountains about 2,500 feet above sea level. It is 16 miles due west of the northern end of the Dead Sea and 38 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea. It was formerly called Salem, the city in which Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18 20). In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul identifies Melchizedek as the "king of Salem, that is, king of peace" (Heb. 7:2). Although Jerusalem is sometimes called the "City of Peace," more wars probably have been fought at its gates than at those of any other city in the world. Jerusalem has been attacked many times, by Egypt (1 Kgs.14:25), by Israel after the division of the kingdom (2 Kgs. 14:13), by Syria (2 Kgs. 16: 5), by Assyria (2 Kgs. 18- 19), and by Babylon (2 Kgs. 24:10; 25). After David captured it from the Jebusites in about 1000 B.C., Jerusalem was also called the "stronghold of Zion" and the "city of David" (2 Sam. 5:6-7).

At that time the area of Jerusalem was relatively small. It extended over the eastern hill (south of the Temple Mount), which was between the Kidron Valley on the east and the Tyropoeon Valley on the west. The Kidron divides the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount. The city's principal water source was the Gihon spring, which was in the Kidron Valley, below and outside the city walls. Solomon expanded the city to the north, constructing a large platform on which he built "his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem" (1 Kgs. 3:1). After Solomon, the limits of Jerusalem expanded further to the north and to the west (see the next section on p. 31, which talks about Jerusalem in later periods).

King Hezekiah was responsible for bringing the waters of the Gihon spring inside the walls of Jerusalem to the pool of Siloam. (From the New Testament, Siloam is mentioned in the story of the healing of a blind man by Jesus; see John 9:7) . He did this to prepare against an attack by the Assyrian army in 701 B.C. (see 2 Kgs.20:20; 2 Chron.32:4, 30). After the division of the United Monarchy in the 10th century B.C., Jerusalem remained the capital of the Kingdom of Judah until the city was conquered by the Babylonians in 598 B.C.

Throughout history, Jerusalem has been regarded by all Jews as holy. It was the site of three temples and the place from which the "word of the Lord" would go forth (see Isa.2:3). The intense feelings that go with the special status of Jerusalem are reflected in this Psalm: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! ... if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!" (Ps. 137:5-6). Also, this injunction: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!" (Ps. 122:6). Today, Jerusalem is a holy city to the people of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Selected Views of Jerusalem and Bethlehem

The pictures on this page show some key sites in and around Jerusalem representing various periods of history. First is the City of David, which was located on the hill below the Temple Mount, opposite the village of Silwan. The end of Hezekiah's tunnel (2 Chron. 32:2-4,30) and the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7-11) are located at the southern end of the City of David, where the Tyropoeon and Kidron Valleys meet to form a "V". The present day wall of Jerusalem's Old City was built in 1542 A.D., during the reign of Sultan Suleiman.

Inside, the southern gate, called Dung Gate, is the Western Wall of the Temple Mount built by Herod the Great. The Western Wall is sacred to Jews, because, as part of the original wall surrounding the Temple Mount, it is the closest place to the site of their ancient temple. East of the Temple Mount is the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives (see the next section on Jerusalem, p. 31).

The Temple Mount, called Mount Moriah in the Bible (see 2 Chron. 3:1), was the site of the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod. It is also a holy place to Moslems, who believe that Mohammed went to heaven from this spot. The Dome of the Rock was built between 687 and G91 A.D. and is decorated with beau tiful Persian tiles. To Moslems the world over, it is next to Mecca and Medina in importance. The silver-domed el-Aksa mosque was built between 709 and 715 A.D. and can hold about 5,000 worshippers.

North of the Temple Mount was Pilate's Judgment Hall where Jesus was condemned (Matt. 27:2-31). The original structure of the Citadel (or fortress) was built by Herod the Great. It had three towers, which Herod named after his brother, Phasael; his friend, Hippicus; and his wife, Mariamne (Herod had Mariamne executed after he suspected that she was involved in some treachery against him). Some of the original stones used to build the tower named after Phasael can still be seen in the Citadel today. (The walls of the present Citadel were built by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1540 A.D.) Today, there is a magnificent museum inside the Citadel that depicts Jerusalem through the ages. To the left (north) of the Citadel is Jaffa Gate, where the road from Jerusalem to the port of Jaffa on the Mediterranean Sea begins. (insert photo of Jaffa Gate and Citadel)

It has been said that the name "Bethlehem" stirs the heart of every Christian throughout the world. Micah prophesied that it would be the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth: "But you, O Beth-lehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel" (Micah 5:2). We also remember the stories of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 2-4) and of David protecting his father's flocks from the lion and the bear (1 Sam. 17: 34-35).

But it is the image of"shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock" that at Rosh HaShannah birth of Jesus, and of an angel standing above the shepherds saying: "For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:8-12).

The site of the manger is said to be in a cave below the Church of the Nativity, which dates to the 6th century A.D. The original church was constructed by Constantine (ca. 326 A.D,) after the site was identified by his mother Helena.

Bible Study - Jerusalem (Old Testament Period)

Higher ground surrounded David's City on every side. This fact was used by the Psalmist to show how God will sustain his people when they follow him: "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from this time forth and for evermore" (Ps. 125:1-2). The following biblical passages outline some of the highlights in the history of Jerusalem during the period of the Old Testament.
-- Gen. 22:1-2. Abraham was commanded by God to bring his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice.

-- 2 Sam. 24:18-25; 1 Chron. 21:15,18,28; 22:1; 2 Chron. 3:1. The location of Mount Moriah was identified with the area of the Temple Mount.

-- Josh. 10:1-17. Joshua defeated Jerusalem's king, along with the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Debir.

-- 2 Sam.5:6-16; 1 Chron.11:4-7. David captured the Jebusite city, called Jebus, and made it his capital.

-- 2 Sam.6: 1-2; 1 Chron.13-16. David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

-- 1 Kgs. 6-9. A description of Solomon's building projects in Jerusalem, including the temple and his own palace. L

-- 1 Kgs. 14:25-28. Shishak, king of Egypt, invaded the Holy City.

-- 2 Chron. 26:9-15. Uzziah, king of Judah, strengthened Jerusalem.

-- 2 Kgs. 18:13-37; Isa. 36-39; 2 Kgs. 25; 2 Chron. 12,25,36; Jer. 39,52. Although Jerusalem was saved from Assyria, it suffered through many wars.

-- 2 Kgs.24-25; 2 Chron.36:15-21;Jer.39:9-14. Nebuchadnezzar, kingofBabylon, captured Jerusalem in 598 B.C. and took many of its inhabitants to Babylon.

-- 2 Kgs 25:8-9. Nebuchadnezzar burned the Temple of Solomon.

-- Isa. 35; 40; 43: 1-21; 52. Isaiah foretold the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.

-- Neh. 2:4-20;6:15-16. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem after the Jews returned from Babylonian.

-- Ezra 3:8-13; 4:23-24; 5:15; 6:15-18; Haggai. Jews built the temple of Zerubbabel after the Babylonian captivity.

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