Christianity Knowledge Base
  • <templatestyles src="Nobold/styles.css"/><templatestyles src="Script/styles_hebrew.css" />יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎ (Hebrew)
  • <templatestyles src="Nobold/styles.css"/><templatestyles src="Script/styles_arabic.css" />القُدس‎ (Arabic)
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המצודה בלילה
הרברט סמואל ירושלים
Jerusalem Chords Bridge 5 (cropped)
Old city walls and mamilla ave. at night - as seen from "Rooftop" restauran - Jerusalem, Israel
16-03-30-Klagemauer Jerusalem RalfR-DSCF7704
Billy Rose Art Garden (14755133799)
Israel - Jerusalem - The Old City - 171 (4261730886)
Left-to-right from top:
Old City from the Mount of Olives with Al-Aqsa Mosque (left) and Dome of the Rock (right) on the Temple Mount; Tower of David; Zion Square; Chords Bridge; Mamilla Mall; Western Wall; Shrine of the Book; Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  • Ir ha-Kodesh (The Holy City)
  • Bayt al-Maqdis (House of the Holiness)
Administered byIsrael
Claimed byIsrael and Palestine[note 1]
Israeli districtJerusalem
Palestinian governorateQuds
Gihon Spring settlement3000–2800 BCE
City of Davidc. 1000 BCE
Present Old City walls built1541
East-West Jerusalem division1948
Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem1967
Jerusalem Law1980
 • TypeMayor–council
 • BodyJerusalem Municipality
 • MayorMoshe Lion (Likud)
 • City125,156 dunams (130 km2 or 48 sq mi)
 • Metro
652,000 dunams (650 km2 or 250 sq mi)
754 m (2,500 ft)
 • City971,800
 • Density7,800/km2 (20,000/sq mi)
 • Metro
  • Jerusalemite
  • (Hebrew: Yerushalmi)
  • (Arabic: Qudsi/Maqdisi)
Time zoneUTC+02:00 (IST, PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+03:00 (IDT, PDT)
Postal code
Area code+972-2
HDI (2018)0.704[5]high
Official nameOld City of Jerusalem and its Walls
Criteriaii, iii, vi
Reference no.148
RegionArab States
Holy sepulchre Anastasis

Church of the Holy Sepulchre Anastasis

Jerusalem, also known as Salem or Zion, is the Jewish holy city and the third holiest city in Islam. After King David conquered the city, it became the capital of the United Israelite Kingdom and later of Judea.

King Solomon built the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which I believe was destroyed when Judea was conquered by the Babylonian Empire. The Second Temple was built in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, and expanded in the time of King Herod. The second temple was destroyed in the Great Jewish Revolt, c. 70 AD.

Jerusalem is also used in a poetic context to refer to the nation of Israel, or to the Jewish people. The end of Revelations speaks of a New Jerusalem to come.

Introduction []

Out of all the places on earth, the Almighty God of creation, Yahweh [Greek: Jehovah] chose [ordained] Jerusalem to be the place of His earthly dwelling and the place in which to make His name known to all the inhabited earth [Moriah (Hebrew: מוריה, Mōriyyā = "ordained/considered by YHWH") [1].

To accomplish this aim, Yahweh planted there, an earthly seed from whose sprouting [offspring] would arise the one true Lord of salvation, Jesus Christ (For the family lineage of Christ, see Matthew 1:1-16).

The Temple Mount [aka Mount Moriah] in Jerusalem was the most important place in ancient Jerusalem. For that is where the Temple of God Yahweh once stood. This Temple was first built by King Solomon in the 10th century BC. It was rebuilt by Nehemiah around 438 BC following its destruction by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. This was the site where Abraham was tested by God and where Jacob saw the "stairway to Heaven" in a vision. The Temple Mount is also the place where King David placed the Ark of the Covenant and built an altar for worship.

For Christians, Jesus Christ's Last Supper, His subsequent trial and execution [33 AD], and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit [Pentecost] were the most significant events to have ever taken place in Jerusalem; and these events, for Christians, are what made ancient Jerusalem the holiest city in the world! Here is where God planted His first church under the administration of His apostles [see Church of the Apostles]. Two of the many atrocities committed against Christians in Jerusalem during the Roman Empire period were the stoning of the apostle Stephen and the murder of the apostle James the Less.

For Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest city and the center of worship. [5] For Muslims, it is the third holiest city, being the place from which the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have risen to heaven. On the summit of the Temple Mount stands the Dome of the Rock. It was constructed by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab during the Arab conquest in 638 AD, and stood directly over the Foundation Stone. [6]

Down through the ages, Jerusalem faced many incursions. The most devastating were the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC and the utter destruction of the Second Temple by Romans in 70 AD.

Other religious sites in Jerusalem are the Western Wall [7] and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. [8] [9]

Today, Jerusalem is at the center of the Jewish and Palestinian conflict. Nevertheless, it remains a multi-national city as well as a symbol of holiness and divinity for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and other faiths that have religious roots there.


Early Inhabitants of Jerusalem [aka Salem, Jebus]

  • The Canaanites

Before the ancient Israelites came to settle in the land of Canaan, it was occupied by the Canaanites - a group of people who had migrated from Mesopotamia. According to the Bible, and some historical sources, the Canaanites were descendants of Ham [one of Noah's three sons]. Many Christians and others hold the view that their migration to Canaan was caused by a great scattering of peoples following the Tower of Babel incident. [10] [See The Table of Nations]. Scholars now give 4000BC as the possible settlement period for Jerusalem.

  • The Jebusites

The Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem [See Genesis 10] were a Canaanite tribe which scholars have placed somewhere between the biblical Hittites and the Amorites in the Table of Nations. Earlier biblical scholars asserted that the Jebusites were identical to the Hittites. However, Edward Lipinski, professor of Oriental and Slavonic studies at the Catholic University of Leuven, contends that the Jebusites were most likely an Amorite tribe, and has identified them with the group referred to as Yabusi'um. [Source:Wikipedia]

Araunah (aka Ornan), a Jebusite during the time of the United Monarchy [Kingdom], is described in the Books of Samuel as having sold his threshing floor to King David, upon which he constructed an altar for worship. This altar, we are told, became the core of the Temple of Solomon. [Araunah means the "lord" in Hittite, so most scholars, who consider the Jebusites to have been Hittites, have argued that Araunah may have been another king of Jerusalem.]

  • Melchizedek
Meeting of abraham and melchizadek

Abraham's Meeting with Melchizedek

A highly important figure in Jerusalem at the time of Abraham was Melchizedek. Very little is known about him, except what is found in the Bible [and in apocryphal texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls]; and that is, he was "was without father or mother, and without a beginning or end of days." The Bible also points out that he was the King of Righteousness [Zedek], and Priest of the Most High God [Yahweh]. The account at Genesis further brings out that Melchizedek blessed Abraham with bread and wine, and received tithes from him [Genesis 14:17-20]. Some scholars believe that Melchizedek, being priest and king, was likely to have been associated with a sanctuary, probably dedicated to Zedek; and they suspect that the Temple of Solomon was simply a natural evolution of this sanctuary.

(Also See Dead Sea Scrolls Text 11Q13)

Scroll Text 11Q13 is a fragment of a text about Melchizedek, found in Cave 11 at Qumran. In it, Melchizedek is seen as a divine being, and Hebrew titles such as Elohim are applied to him. According to this text Melchizedek will proclaim the "Day of Atonement" and he will atone for the people who are predestined to him. He also will judge the peoples. [] [1] [2]

'Israelite Settlement of Jerusalem'[]

  • Abraham, Isaac & Jacob

It's important to note that, before the Israelites came to settle in the land of Canaan, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had lived there as alien residents over four hundred years earlier. God had called for Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the Temple's site (See Genesis 22:2) [3], and Jacob had received a divine vision of a "Gateway to Heaven" on what many believe to be Mount Moriah (See Genesis 28:10-18).

  • The Initial Arrival

Before crossing the Jordan into Canaan, the Israelite tribes had been slaves in Egypt. This was since the time of Jacob. After being delivered from bondage by the hand of God, they had sojourned in the desert wilderness for 40 years. Then Joshua, their chosen leader, led them to the land that God had promised to Abraham and his seed.

The Israelites arrived in Canaan after miraculously crossing the Jordan River, near the city of Jericho. After conquering the city of Jericho, they went subduing other cities of Canaan. They carried the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and twelve stones to Shiloh.

Shiloh is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an assembly place for the people of Israel where there was a sanctuary containing the Ark of the Covenant until it was taken by the Philistines from the battlefield at Aphek (probably Antipatris). At Shiloh, the "whole congregation of Israel assembled...and set up the tabernacle of the congregation...", (Joshua 18:1). According to Talmudic sources, the Tabernacle rested at Shiloh for 369 years. It was here also that Joshua allotted land to the twelve tribes, giving Jerusalem to the tribe of Benjamin (See Joshua 4:19 and Joshua 18:21).


The United Kingdom []

King David's Reign

King David began reigning in 970BC. Israel was then a United Monarchy, a union of the twelve Israelite tribes. His reign lasted until his death in 930BC. He reigned in Jerusalem 33 years and 7 years in Hebron. [15]

King David, a Christ figure, was Israel's first divinely chosen Monarch, and ruled justly and righteously. He could rightly be also called a prophet for his prophetic Psalms that spoke of the suffering of the Messiah (See Psalms 22).


  • Jerusalem Made the Capital City

King David's first goal as king was to establish a capital city for government, and he chose Jerusalem. Since the Jebusites still had control of the city, they protested David's attempt. According to the version of the story in the Masoretic text, David did manage to conquer the city by a surprise attack, led by Joab, son of Zeruiah. This was through the water supply tunnels (Jerusalem has no natural water supply except for the Gihon spring). After this, he made Joab commander- in-chief." [16]

  • David Builds an Altar to God

After acquiring Jerusalem, King David had the priests bring the Ark of the Covenant from its resting place in Shiloh to Jerusalem's Mount Moriah. Then he purchased the area referred to in the Bible as "Araunah's threshing floor"' and built an altar there for the worship of God [Yahweh]. This account is found in 1 Chronicles 21: 18-26 and reads:

"18 Then the angel of the LORD ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

19 So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the LORD.

20 While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel; his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.

22 David said to him, "Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price."

23 Araunah said to David, "Take it! Let my lord the king, do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this."

24 But King David replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing."

25 So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels [c] of gold for the site. 26 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. [d] He called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.

The account continues at 1 Chronicles 16:1-2, and states:

"1 They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God.

2 After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD.

  • David Build's a Palace in Jerusalem

On the southern slope of Mount Moriah lies David's Palace [Fortress] dwelling. King David took up residence in the fortress and it was called "the City of David". The Bible relates how he built up the city around it, from the supporting terraces to the surrounding wall, while Joab restored the rest of the city. It tells how King David grew very powerful because God was with him. [1 Chronicles 11:7-9]. [4] [The City of David is generally considered to have been the original Jerusalem.]

[3] The Large Stone Structure is the name given to the remains of a large public building in the City of David neighborhood of central Jerusalem, south of the Old City, tentatively dated to 10th to 9th century BCE. The name was given to the structure, as a result of its proximity with another site known as the Stepped Stone Structure, by the discoverer of the site, Eilat Mazar. Mazar, an Israeli archaeologist, announced the discovery on 4 August 2005, and stated that she believed it [large stone structure] may be the remains of King David's palace as recorded in the Books of Samuel. In 1997, Eilat Mazar, seeking to find the Palace of David, used a reference in the Books of Samuel that refers to David going down to the stronghold [fortress palace] after having been anointed (2 Samuel 5:17), to estimate where the site [of his Palace] might be. Since the only area of higher elevation than Ophel [the City of David], the oldest part of Jerusalem, is just to its north, she started digging there [at Ophel] in February 2005. About 2 meters underneath the surface she discovered 4th to 6th century AD Byzantine Era artifacts including a well preserved mosaic floor. Beneath these she found artifacts from the Second Temple Period, and finally underneath these she found large foundations of a substantial structure, which she claims to have been the Palace of David. [4] [5]

Books of SamuelanointedOphelByzantine Era mosaicSecond Temple Period [6]

King Solomon's Reign [reigned from 930-890BC]

King Solomon, son of King David, began reigning over the United Kingdom after his father's death in 930BC. Like his father, King Solomon ruled from Jerusalem, the capital city. His reign lasted 40 years. [18] [19]

  • Solomon Builds Jerusalem's First Temple
Reconstruction of Temple of Solomon

Reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem

Solomon's greatest accomplishment was the building of the Temple of God on Mount Moriah, located to the North of the City of David. This site, formerly Araunah's threshing floor [20], was also where King David had built the Altar of God. [21] The Temple was a huge magnificent structure, laden with gold and precious stones, and contained the Ark of the Covenant. It was modeled after the Tabernacle in the Wilderness built by Moses (See 1 Kings 6). [23] The Temple was where the Israelites came to pay their their vows to Yahweh and where God's priests carried out the prescribed religious ceremonies in accordance with the Law given to Moses. [24] It was completed in 960BC.

Saint Stephen, in his testimony before the Sanhedrin, mentioned Solomon's construction of the Temple (Acts 7:47).

  • Solomon's Transgressions

During his reign, King Solomon disobeyed God by marrying foreign wives and worshipping idols [false gods], namely Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. The Bible informs us that Solomon even built temples to the national deities. In Deuteronomy 17, we read where the Lord commanded kings not to multiply horses, wives or gold. [25]

In spite of Solomon's transgressions, God made it known to Solomon that he would not take the Kingdom from him because of the promise He had made to King David. For the sake of Jerusalem, God would let his descendants continue to rule over Judah. (1 Chronicles 17: 11-14).

The Divided Monarchy[]

When King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam succeeded him as king. The ten northern tribes did not accept Rehoboam as their king but chose Jeroboam instead. [Jeroboam was not of the Davidic line.] Rehoboam, therefore, ruled over the kingdom of Judah, while Jeroboam ruled over Israel.

The revolt by the 10 northern tribes took place at Shechem. At first only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David, but very soon after, the tribe of Benjamin joined Judah. Jerusalem, which lay in Benjamin's territory (See Joshua 18:28), became the capital of the southern Kingdom of Judah. According to 2 Chronicles 15:9, members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon "fled" to Judah during the reign of King Asa.

The Kingdom of Israel

The Kingdom of Israel, by the way, committed acts of transgression against God; and as a consequence, was driven into exile and captivity in Khorason [region in Persia] in 722BC, by King Shalmaneser V and Sargon II of Assyria. Their capital city, Samaria, was destroyed. For information on Israel's transgressions and subsequent deportation, see 2 Kings 15:29 TNIV, 2 Kings 17:1-10, and the article entitled, "The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel: Looking for The Remnants," by Ariel Segal.]

The Kingdom of Judah

The Kingdom of Judah included territories of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, an area of about 8,900 km2 (3,436 sq mi). Its capital was Jerusalem, which, as mentioned earlier, was in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (See Joshua 18:28).

Zedekiah was Judah's last King. He was the son of Josiah, and the brother of King Ahaz. He ruled over the Kingdom of Judah from around 588-586BC, the year when King Nebuchadnezzar's made his second raid against Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:31, 24:17-18, 23:31, 24:17-18). At that time, the city was captured and the temple burned. King Zedekiah was blinded and taken into exile.

  • Judah's Sins

The book of Ezekiel describes the numerous sins that were being committed by the inhabitants of Judah. By committing these acts, the people defiled themselves. The princes of Judah were despising God's holy things and desecrating His Sabbaths. Men were committing lewd acts such as dishonoring their fathers' beds, violating women and committing adultery with their neighbors' wives. People were accepting bribes to shed blood, charging excessive interest [usury], and extorting money from their neighbors. In addition, the people were oppressing the aliens and mistreating the fatherless children and widows. What must have infuriated God more than anything else was the fact that they were eating the food sacrificed to idols on the mountain shrines. Finally, God said that they had forgotten Him, the Sovereign LORD (See Ezekiel 22:1-12).

  • God's Warnings

God used Ezekiel as a sign for what would happen to the Israelites because of their many transgressions. At Ezekiel 12:10-11, Yahweh says, "(10) Say thou unto them: 'Thus saith the Lord GOD: Concerning the prince, even this burden, in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel among whom they are, (11) say: I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them--they shall go into exile, into captivity.'"

Again at Ezekiel 12: 17-20, we read, "(17) the word of the LORD came to me: (18) 'Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. (19) Say to the people of the land: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. (20) The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD.' It is revealed by Ezekiel that God also beckoned the nation to turn back from its ways, saying, "Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices (Ezekiel 14:6)!" (Also See Ezekiel 16:1-43).

  • Judah's Captivity/Destruction of the Temple

In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Judah, seizing Jerusalem and laying the First Temple to waste. The inhabitants were taken into exile in Babylon [Mesopotamia]. Much of the population of Judah was dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire. [Also see Daniel.] This exile period lasted until 539 BC when God gave permission for a remnant to return. The First Temple period thus ended as prophesied by Ezekiel.

While in Babylon, on the banks of the Chebar River at a place called Tel-abib (mound of the deluge), Ezekiel continued to prophecy in the form of visions for 22 years. He had been exiled with Jehoiachin and the nobles of the country.

  • God's Mercy Prophecied by Isaiah and Jeremiah

In spite of Israel and Judah's' rebellion, God promised to show mercy to His people by restoring them to their land. This is found in the book of Isaiah and reads,

1 The LORD will have compassion on Jacob;

once again he will choose Israel
and will settle them in their own land.
Foreigners will join them
and unite with the house of Jacob. [Isaiah 14:1]
(Also see Isaiah 14:1-32)

Jeremiah also prophesied about how God would show mercy on His people in the future. Jeremiah 31:16-18 reads, "They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,' declares the LORD. 'Your children will return to their own land. 'I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning: 'You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. "


The Second Temple period was marked by the re-building of the Jerusalem Temple by Nehemiah, following the return of the captives from Babylonian exile. This period also saw the advent of Jesus Christ [Messiah] and the onset of Christianity. It witnessed many invasions by such world powers as the Macedonian Greeks (the Seleucids and the Ptolemies), the Romans, the Arabs, and the Ottoman Turks. This was period of unimaginable violence; coming to its end after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70AD.

A Jewish Remnant Returns [from Babylon][]

In 538BC, after overthrowing Babylon, Cyrus the Great [Cyrus the Elder], King of the Persian Empire, granted Jews permission to return to their homeland. More than 40,000 Jews are said to have returned (See Jehoiakim, Ezra, and Nehemiah). This event was in keeping with the Biblical prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel.


Building of the Second Temple by Nehemiah [c. 538–516BC][]

Building of 2nd Temple by Nehemiah1

Re-building of 2nd Temple by Nehemiah

The building of the Second Temple by Nehemiah, began during the reign of Cyrus the Great, around 538 BC, seventy years after the destruction of the first Temple. Construction of the new temple was halted for a period until 521BC, and completed by him in 516BC. It stood on the site of the original Temple in Jerusalem, and was agaiin, the center of Jewish worship. Jerusalem remained the capital of Judah. [30] It's important to note that the rebuilding of the Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and ratified by Darius the Great, both of Persia.

Return of Ezra and the Priests [459BC][]

Ezra, a priestly scribe who was a descendant of Phinehas, son of Aaron [See Ezra 7:1-5], had also been taken captive by Babylonians. In 459BC, the seventh year of the reign of Ataxerxes I Longimanus, Ezra led about 5,000 Israelite exiles to their home city of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes had readily granted him his request to leave, and gave him gifts for the house of God.

Before reaching Jerusalem, Ezra and his followers rested on the banks of the Ahava for three days and organized their four-month march across the desert. After observing a day of public fasting and prayer, they left the banks of the River and traveled onwards to the city.

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Ezra noticed that many Jews, including those of highstanding as well as priests, had disobeyed Jewish law and had married pagans, non-Hebrew women. Ezra took strenuous measures against such marriages, insisting upon the dismissal of these wives.

Macedonian [Greek] Control of Jerusalem and Judea[]

It would not be too long before another leader would seek to invade and control Jerusalem. Following Alexander the Great's death in 323BC, his conquered territories were divided up amongst his generals. Judea soon became a territory that was controlled by one of these generals.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty [305-198BC]

Judea became a province of the Ptolemaic Dynasty under Ptolemy I in 305BC and remained under its rule until 198BC. The Ptolemaic Dynasty was a Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. [31] Ptolemaic rule in Judea ended during the Battle of Panium in 198BC, a battle fought between Seleucid and Ptolemaic forces as part of the Syrian Wars.

The Seleucid Dynasty [c. 312-164BC]

The Seleucid Dynasty was also a Greek ruling family. It ruled over the Seleucid Empire that had emerged from Alexander the Great's Empire after the territories were divided among Alexander's generals [at the Partition of Babylon] in 323BC. It was centered in the near East.

The Empire was founded in 312BC, the year that Seleucus established himself in Babylon. Seleucus ruled Babylonia and the entire eastern part of Alexander's empire. Antiochus III became the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire in 198BC during the Battle of Panium whereby he defeated Polemy V of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. All of the holdings of the Ptlomaic dynasty were then transferred to the Seleucids under Antiochus, granting him control over Jerusalem and Judea. Seleucid rule collapsed after the death of his son, Antiochus VII, in 164BC. [1]

Antiochus IV [His Anti-Jewish Campaign]

  • Harsh Legal Measures

Antiochus took legal actions that forbade Jews to worship their own God Yahweh. First, he set up a very aggressive inquisition to investigate all matters concerning the Jewish religion. He then set up laws that prohibited the observance of the Sabbaths and the sacred festivals. He punished with death, anyone possessing a Jewish sacred text or holy article that tied them to their religion. He prohibited Jews from performing the rite of circumcision. He also ordered Jews to offer sacrifices the numerous idols that had been erected, and killed thousands upon thousands of resistors [of his actions], including priests, women and children.

  • Defilement of the Jerusalem Temple

Antiochus committed the ultimate atrocity by profaning God's Temple. He did this by dedicating the Temple to Zeus. On Kislev (Nov.-Dec.) 25, 168, the "abomination of desolation" (Dan. xi. 31, xii. 11) was set up on the altar of burnt offering in the Temple, and Antiochus forced the Jews to make obeisance to it (See Abomination of Desolation [1]). He also brought into the Temple, things that were forbidden by Jewish Law, causing the Holy altar to be covered with abominable offerings. History further informs us that, at one point, Antiochus, in a state of rage, entered the Temple precincts, plundered the treasury, and carried away valuable utensils, such as the golden candlestick upon the altar, and the showbread table that overlaid throughout with pure gold. This defilement of the Sanctuary, by the way, ended all attempts by Jason and the other Tobiads to Hellenize the people because of the outrage they all felt at the desecration of their Temple.

  • Destruction of the City of Jerusalem

Needless to say, this action was anathema to the Jews, and they put up a strong resistance to him. As a result, the city and its inhabitants were plundered and massacred. Antiochus' officer, Apollonius, was sent throughout the country with an armed troop. He was commissioned to slay and destroy. He murdered, plundered, and burnt through the city's entire length and breadth. The men were butchered, women and children sold into slavery. Two women who were arrested for having circumcised their children were publicly paraded about the city with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown down from the top of the city wall. Others, who had assembled in nearby caves to observe the Sabbath in secret, were betrayed, and all burned to death (2 Maccabees 6:1-11). In order to give permanence to the work of desolation, the walls and numerous houses were torn down.

Revolt of the Maccabees

The Maccabees were a Jewish national liberation movement. They fought for and won independence from Antiochus in 164BC. The Maccabees established Jewish independence in the Hasmonean Kingdom for about one hundred years, from 164 BC to 63 BC. [34]

The Inciting Incident

After Antiochus issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practices, a rural Jewish priest from Modin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, refused to worship the Greek gods, thus sparking the revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Mattathias killed a Hellenistic Jew who stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to an idol in his place. He and his five sons then fled to the wilderness of Judea.

Maccabean Victory Over the Seleucids

After Mattathias' death ,about one year later in 166BC, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid Dynasty using guerrilla warfare. The Maccabees destroyed pagan altars in the villages, circumcised children and forced Jews to rebel against the Seleucid rulers. After their victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, re-establishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee as high priest. A large Syrian army had been sent to squash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. Its commander, Lysias, preoccupied with Syria's internal affairs, agreed to a political compromise that restored religious freedom.[35] The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates Judah Maccabee's victory over the Seleucids and associated events that Jews regard as miraculous. When Antiochus, realizing that something had to be done toput down the uprising, had Lysian send a large army against the Jews and exterminate them. But the generals that he sent [with large armies against Judah], were defeated one after the other (166-165). [2] [37]

The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabean victory over the Seleucids.

Antiochus' Death

Antiochus died suddenly of a disease in 164BC in Persia while trying to gather new forces to defeat the victorious Maccabees. In Jewish tradition, Antiochus IV is remembered as a major villain and persecutor in the Jewish traditions associated with Hanukkah, including the books of Maccabees and the "Scroll of Antiochus." Rabbinical sources refer to him as הרשע harasha ("the wicked"). [38]

The Hasmonean Dynasty [c. 165-37BC] []

The Hasmonean Dynasty, like the Davidic Dynasty, was a theocratic monarchy whose headquarters were in Jerusalem, the Temple being the center of religious worship.

This Dynasty was set up by Simon Maccabaeus about twenty years following the defeat of the Seleucids [165BC]. It lasted 103 years and was then taken over by the Herodian Dynasty around 37BC.

Roman Rule of Judea [63BC-394AD][]

Invasion of Jerusalem by Pompey [63AD][]

While the Hasmonean Dynasty was still in power, the Romans invaded Jerusalem. In 63BC, the Roman general Pompey, marched proudly into the city and desecrated the Temple by entering the Holy of Holies. He then imposed a tax on the inhabitants of Judea, and established a fortress [Antonia Fortress] in Jerusalem in order to keep watch on the Jews. Hasmonean ruler Aristobulus was taken to Rome as a prisoner, and Hyrcanus was re-appointed High Priest, but without political authority.

Herod Made King of Israel [37BC]

The installation of Herod the Great as King of Israel marked the end of the Hasmonean Dynasty. The Roman Senate installed Herod as puppet King [of the Jews] in 37BC when it made Judea a client [puppet] state under Roman jurisdiction. [39] [40]

Herod Expands the Jerusalem Temple

Around 19BC, Herod expanded the Temple Mount and the existing Temple. Its size was doubled to about 36 acres (150,000 m2). Herod leveled the area by cutting away rock on the northwest side and raising the sloping ground to the south.

In addition to expansion of the Temple, Herod completed the building of the Antonia Fortress. The Fortress was a military barracks built on the site of earlier Ptolemaic and Hasmonean strongholds, and named after Herod's patron Mark Antony. It stood at the eastern end of the great wall of the city (the second wall), on the northeast, near the Temple and Pool of Bethesda.

Establishment of the Early Church in Jerusalem

The Early Church was established by the Lord Jesus Christ as a place for Christian worship and discipleship; and was administered by Christ's Apostles--all of whom were led by the Holy Spirit (See Pentecost). The Lord named Saint Peter the "rock" and said that upon this rock [Peter} I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The first appointed leader [administrator] of the Church was James the Just, brother of the Lord Jesus [See Acts of the Apostles].

Last Supper Room Panoramic

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christ's disciples were able to baptize, heal, and deliver to those who believed in Jesus' teachings [See Gospel]. Christ's blessings are bestowed on believers in the same way today.

The Early Church remained the focal point of the Christian community in Jerusalem until the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 135AD when Christians, along with Jews, were barred from the city. As a result, the Church was neglected. [Unfortunately, there is no historical information on which to draw a definite conclusion as to the effect of this regulation on the Church.] [41] [43] (Also See "Early Church History") [46] (Also See "Early Church History")

Epiphanius says that when the Emperor Hadrian came to Jerusalem in 130AD, he found the Temple and the whole city destroyed save for a few houses, among them the one where the Apostles had received the Holy Ghost. This house, says Epiphanius, is "in that part of Sion which was spared when the city was destroyed" -- in the "upper part" ("De mens. et pond.", cap. xiv). From the time of Cyril of Jerusalem, who speaks of "the upper Church of the Apostles, where the Holy Ghost came down upon them" (Catech., ii, 6; P. G., XXXIII), further notes that "It is the famous Coenaculum or Cenacle -- now a Moslem shrine -- near the Gate of David, and supposed to be David's tomb (Nebi Daud).

The Fall of Jerusalem [70AD]

The Destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem

The Destruction of the 2nd Temple at Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem in 70AD was the end of the Temple periods in Jerusalem. This meant an end to the Temple priesthood, offerings and sacrifices. After a long siege of the city by the Romans, under Titus' leadership, the city fell [This was called the First Jewish-Roman War. Both the city and the Temple were completely destroyed. Ancient historian Josephus reports that "Jerusalem ... was so thoroughly razed to the ground by those that demolished it to its foundations, that nothing was left that could ever persuade visitors that it had once been a place of habitation."

Jews had long resented the harsh and oppressive rule of the Roman leaders and were in a state of constant rebellion. Riots broke out reverywhere. Rome decided to send in an army to counter Jewish resistance and quell the riots. The result was an all-out war, followed by the fall of Masada in 73 AD.

History reveals, that after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the early Christians who had fled to Pella, came back and congregated in the house of John Mark and his mother Mary, the place where they had met before (Acts 12:12 sq.). This was apparently the house where the Last Supper and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost took place. [The traditional location of the house is an area that, according to archaeology, had a large Essene community, adding to the belief that there was a link between Jesus and this group.

The destruction of the Temple is still mourned annually as the Jewish fast Tisha B'Av, and the Arch of Titus, depicting and celebrating the sack of Jerusalem and the Temple, still stands in Rome. [16]

In Christian theology, this particular event istory is viewed as either a complete fulfillment of many prophecies spoken by Christ in the gospel record, or as fulfillment of one specific prophecy of Christ regarding the destruction of the Temple. (See Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.) [17]

Jerusalem Renamed

Following the First Jewish War [aka Great Jewish Revolt] of 70AD, the Emperor Hadrian renamed the city of Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina," making it a Roman city and occupying it with a Roman colony. It was a city without walls and protected by a light garrison of the Tenth Legion.

Finally, Hadrian renamed the entire Judean [Iudaean] 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 AD. [20]

Bar Kokhba's Revolt [132-135AD]

The continued desire for independence on the part of Jews led to more revolts against the Romans after the First Jewish war in 70AD. The third and last major rebellion by Jews was the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132-136AD. [For the second Jewish-Roman revolt see the Kitos War (115-117AD).]

Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the revolt, was acclaimed as a Messiah, a heroic figure who could restore Israel. The revolt established a Jewish state over parts of Judea for over two years, but a Roman army of two legions with auxiliaries finally crushed it. The Romans then barred Jews from Jerusalem, except to attend Tisha B'Av [is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day (Tisha) of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, which occurred about 656 years apart, but on the same date. [18]

Jewish Christians hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, but they were barred from Jerusalem along with the rest of the Jews. The war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism. [19]

Hadrian's Attempt to Rebuild the Jerusalem Temple

Roman Emperor Julian [aka "Julian the Apostate (331/332 – 26 June 363)], was the last Emperor of the Constantine Dynasty and the last pagan Roman Emperor.

It was Julian's wish to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values in order to save it from "dissolution". He attempted to revive traditional Roman religious practices at the cost of Christianity. His rejection of Christianity in favor of Neo-Platonic paganism caused him to be called Julian the Apostate by the church, and caused Edward Gibbon to write the following:

"The triumph of the party which he deserted and opposed has fixed a stain of infamy on the name of Julian; and the unsuccessful apostate has been overwhelmed with a torrent of pious invectives, of which the signal was given by the sonorous trumpet of Gregory Nazianzen. In 363, after a reign of only 19 months as absolute ruler of the Roman Empire, Julian died in Persia during a campaign against the Sassanid Empire."

"[Emperor] Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense, the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Roman Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorching, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt."

The failure to rebuild the Temple was ascribed to an earthquake or to the Jews' ambivalence about the project. Sabotage was another reason, as was an accidental fire. Christians, however, know this to be the result of divine intervention, for the fall of Jerusalem had had been prophesied by our Lord Jesus Christ and the prophets of our God Yahweh.


The Byzantine period was a time when Christianity sought to re-established itself in Jerusalem under the rule of the Byzantine Emperors. New churches were being built and holy shrines were established as places of worship. This period ended with the Persian invasion of 614AD.

Roman Empire Splits[]

Around 395AD, the Roman Empire split into a Western and an Eastern part. The Eastern or Byzantine part was a continuation of the Roman Empire and was ruled by Emperors in direct succession to the Roman Emperors. The Empire preserved Greco-Roman traditions, but due to its increasing Hellenistic nature, it became known to some of its contemporaries as the Empire of the Greeks. From the days of Constantine until the 7th century, Jews were banned from Jerusalem.

Following the ascension of Heraclius, the Sassanid advance pushed deep into Asia Minor, also occupying Damascus and Jerusalem and removing the True Cross to Ctesiphon. The counter-offensive of Heraclius took on the character of a holy war, and an acheiropoietos image of Christ was carried as a military standard. [Similarly, when Constantinople was saved from an Avar siege in 626, the victory was attributed to the icons of the Virgin which were led in procession by Patriarch Sergius about the walls of the city.] The main Sassanid force was destroyed at Nineveh in 627, and in 629, Heraclius restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in a majestic ceremony.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre[]

During this time, the Roman Emperor Constantine I constructed Christian sites in Jerusalem. [21] One such building was the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Also, during the time of the Byzantine Empire, it is believed that Constantine's mother, St. Helena, built a small church on the Mount in the 4th century, calling it the Church of St. Cyrus and St. John. The church was later enlarged and called the Church of the Holy Wisdom. This Church was later destroyed, and on top of its ruins, the Dome of the Rock was built.

Archaeological evidence in the form of an elaborate mosaic floor similar to the one in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and multiple fragments of an elaborate marble Templom (chancel screen) prove that an elaborate Byzantine church or monastery stood on the TempleMount in Byzantine times. [1] Church of the Holy SepulchreByzantine EmpireConstantineSt. HelenaChurch Church of the NativityBethlehemTemplom [22]

End of Byzantine Rule in Jerusalem [614AD][]

The Siege of Jerusalem in 614AD was part of the final phase of the Roman-Persian Wars which took place just prior to the Persian's conquering of the Byzantine Middle East. Persian interest in Jerusalem lay in the fact that the city provided direct access to the Mediterranean Sea, and a strategic location for the Persian Empire to begin constructing a naval fleet, thereby threatening Byzantine sovereignty in the Mediterranean.

The Arab Period [638AD until the -1300's][]

Jerusalem's prestige slowly declined as invasion after invasion by foreign powers sapped it of its spiritual vitality. Both Jews and Christians lost control of Jerusalem to Arab rulers [except for a brief period of rule by the Crusaders in 1099AD], the last being the Ottoman Turks.

Capture by Islamic Caliphates [638–1099]

Dome of the Rock1

Dome of the Rock (Skalní dóm)

The object of great interest to them was the Foundation stone on the Temple Mount. After being led to this stone, Umar cleared it of refuse and made preparations for the building of a mosque.[1]. [2] According to the Gaullic Bishop Arculf, who lived in Jerusalem from 679-688, 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.

Christian Crusaders Re-take Jerusalem

In 1099AD, Jerusalem was conquered by the Crusaders [Christian Warriors from Europe], 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. [1]. [2] By early June, 1099, Jerusalem’s population had declined from 70,000 to less than 30,000. According to Benjamin of Tudela, two hundred Jews were in the city in 1173. In 1187, the city was wrested from the Crusaders by Saladin who permitted Jews and Muslims to return and settle in the city.]

Later Arab Groups Gain Control of Jerusalem

  • From 1187–1260, Jerusalem was dominated by the Ayyubids of Egypt and Damascus. Saladin had wrested the city from the Crusaders in 1187 and had allowed the Jews and Muslims to return and settle.
  • In 1244, Jerusalem was sacked by the Kharezmian Tartars [a Turkic ethnic group mainly inhabiting Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan] who decimated the city's Christian population and drove out the Jews.
  • From 1260–1516, Jerusalem was dominated by the Mamluks of Egypt [They were mainly Kipchak Turks, an ancient Turkic people who originally formed part of the group of Kimäks in Siberia].

The Ottoman Turks [1517-1917]

"The last conquerers of Jerusalem were the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans had previously conquered the Byzantine empire in 1453, and Jerusalem in 1517 AD. Under Ottoman rule, Jerusalem enjoyed a period of renewal and peace under the leader Suleiman the Magnificent [16], including the rebuilding of magnificent walls around the Old City. In addition, Jerusalem remained a provincial and religiously important center. The Ottoman Turks remained in control of the city until 1917."

OttomanTurksOld City

Jerusalem in Modern times[]

  • British Mandate Rule [1920 -1948]

According to sources, the Palestine Mandate, or Mandate for Palestine, was a League of Nations Mandate drafted by the principal Allied and associated powers after the First World War and formally approved by the League of Nations in 1922. By the power granted under the mandate, Britain ruled Palestine between 1920 and 1948, a period referred to as the "British Mandate."The Mandate called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. [The British had been victorious over the Ottomon Turks during World War I and with victory in Palestine, General Sir Edmund Allenby, entered Jerusalem on December 11, 1917.]

Palestine continued under British rule and the authorities made plans that the buildings in the "New City" [Jerusalem] would be faced with sandstone, thereby preserving some of the overall look of the city, even as it grew. This was a period of growing unrest because of Arab resentment over British rule and the influx of Jewish immigrants (by 1948 one in six Jews in Palestine lived in Jerusalem). As a result, anti-Jewish riots occurred in Jerusalem in 1920, 1929, and the 1930s causing significant damage to the city along with many deaths.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan which partitioned Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. Each state would be composed of three major sections, linked by extra-territorial crossroads, plus an Arab enclave at Jaffa. Jerusalem was to be surrounded completely surrounded by the "Arab State", with only a highway connecting international Jerusalem to the "Jewish State". The Greater Jerusalem area would fall under international control.

The partitioning of Jerusalem only caused the fight for the city to escalate. By the end of March, 1948, just before the British withdrew, the roads to Jerusalem were cut off by Arab irregulars, placing the Jewish population of the city under siege. The siege was eventually broken but many civilians on both sides had been massacred. [See 1948 Arab-Israeli War].

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jerusalem was divided again. The Western half of the New City now became part of the newly formed state of Israel, while the eastern half, along with the Old City, was annexed by Jordan. On January 23, 1950 the Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

  • Israeli Rule (since 1967)

East Jerusalem was captured by the Israel Defense Force following the Six Day War in 1967. The Moroccan Quarter containing several hundred homes was demolished and their inhabitants were expelled. Afterwards, a public plaza was built in its place adjoining the Western Wall. However, the Waqf (Islamic trust) was granted administration of the Temple Mount and thereafter Jewish prayer on the site was prohibited by both Israeli and Waqf authorities.

Most Jews celebrated the event as a liberation of the city and a new Israeli holiday was created, Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), and the most popular secular Hebrew song, "Jerusalem of Gold" (Yerushalayim shel zahav), became popular in celebration.

  • Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Over Jerusalem


Temple mount

The Temple Mount, Jerusalem


When the Apostle John, son of Zebedee and Beloved Disciple of Jesus, was on the Island of Patmos, he received, from Christ, many apocalyptic visions and revelations. One of the revelations received by John was that of a New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is a city [the City of God] which John saw as already existing in Heaven and being ruled by God and Christ. Christ is identified by Christians as the Lamb of God spoken of in John's revelation, and John is also referred to as the bridegroom [husbandly owner] of this Heavenly city that will be or has been given to Him as a beautifully-adorned bride for the sacrifice that He made. Therefore, the New Jerusalem cannot and does not exist without Jesus Christ.

Note John's words at Revelation 21:9-11?: "I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." [ Revelation 21 ] The angel continues. (9) "…Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]." (10) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (11) It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."

This Heavenly Jerusalem is not be confused with the Kingdom of God which is eternal and universal. Theopedia writer, Anthony Hoekema, describes God's Kingdom as "the reign of God dynamically active in human history through Jesus Christ, the purpose of which is the redemption of his people from sin and from demonic powers, and the final establishment of the new heavens and the new earth." [6]

Ezekiel 40-48GodsaintsGodlamb

As revealed in John's vision, the New Jerusalem is laid out "like a square", and made of gold and precious stones. "18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[d]21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass" (Revelation 21:18-21).

It is important to understand that the twelve gates of the Holy city bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israel [named after the 12 sons of Jacob] (See Revelation 21:12). This would explain the Old Testament prophecies concerning God's restoration of Israel and the eternal status of the throne of "David" [God revealed to King David that his throne would be an everlasting throne and one from his loins would reign forever.] Yet this would be the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His reign will be from heaven.

The twelve foundations of the wall of the city bear the names of the "twelve apostles of the Lamb"[Jesus Christ]. (See Revelation 21:14) The teachings of Christ's twelve apostles laid the foundation for Christianity.

John's vision further reveals that the need for the sun's light or any other form of light is obviated by the presence of God's glory and by the lamp that is Christ ["There is no need of the sun. The glory of God gave it its light, and the Lamb is its lamp."]. Thus, Jesus Christ will be stationed at all times in the city that belongs to Him, and God's glory will always be there, precluding any need for sunlight. [See Tabernacle in the Wilderness, Tent of Meeting, Holy Place, Most Holy Place, High Priest] [Compare Isaiah 60:18-19]

In the way that the earthly city of Jerusalem was the center of religious faith for the Jews, the heavenly city of Jerusalem is the center of God's Kingdom for all people. Christ is the Eternal High Priest and King who rules from this central realm over His faithful followers.

John's full account of the New Jerusalem can be found at Revelation 21:1-27.

  1. 2003 Amended Basic Law. Basic Law of Palestine. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  2. Jerusalem Non-Paper. PLO-NAD (June 2010).
  3. Statements and Speeches. “"This paper is for discussion purposes only. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Palestinian vision for Jerusalem...Pursuant to our vision, East Jerusalem, as defined by its pre-1967 occupation municipal borders, shall be the capital of Palestine, and West Jerusalem shall be the capital of Israel, with each state enjoying full sovereignty over its respective part of the city."”
  4. East Jerusalem today – Palestine's Capital: The 1967 border in Jerusalem and Israel's illegal policies on the ground. PLO-Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) (August 2013).
  5. Area Database (en). Global Data Lab.

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