Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, THE HOLY CITY

Jerusalem has been a holy city for most of its existence as
related to the three major monotheistic religions worshipping the
same God-Jahwah, God, Allah.

When  Abraham first entered Canaan,  about 2000 BC,  he sent
gifts to Jerusalem,  to Melchizedek,  a “priest of the most  high
God.”

Jerusalem  gained its importance in ancient times because of
its location at the crossroads of the main practicable  east-west
passage in Canaan between the coast and the hinterland,  and
the north-south  road  running along the ridge in the center  of
the country.

The  earliest archealogical remains are dated about 2600  BC
from  the Early Bronze Age.   By 1400 BC a well-defined city  had
formed, the Jerusalem of the Jebusites which successfully resist-
ed the Israelites under Joshua.   That the Egyptians were masters
of  Jerusalem in 1370 BC is recorded by the Amarra  letters  from
Abdu  Kheba  asking   his Egyptian overlord for help against  the
incursions of the Habiru (Hebrews).

Jerusalem fell to David c.  1000 BC.   His son Solomon built
his Temple sometime around 950 BC on the threshing floor of
Ornan the  Jebusite   on Mt.  Zion (Mt.  Moriah),  but only location
of subsequent Temples provides evidence as to its locus.

In II Chronicles 3:1 it states “Then Solomon began to  build
the  house  of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah,  where  the
Lord appeared unto David his father,  in the place that David had
prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”

The  Ark  of the Covenant containing the tablets of  the  10
Commandments from Moses was placed in its Holy of Holies.

Nebuchadrezzar  II of Babylon captured and destroyed all  of
Jerusalem in 587 BC,  at which time the Ark   of the Covenant and
its tablets disappeared.  Sixty  years later some exiles returned
to build the postexilic Temple, or the Second Temple.

Herod  the  Great built the great stone-walled platform  and
rebuilt the Second Temple in 20 BC.

This  is  the Temple which Jesus visited,   and in which  He
taught.   It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, although there
is a belief that a remnant of the western wall of its platform by
Herod remains, which has become an object of piety to Jews
beginning in the 19th century, and is known as the Wailing Wall.

Apparently with the complete destruction of the city by  the
Romans  in  70 AD the Temple platform survived,  but was
ignored during the first Christian period of Jerusalem from 350
AD to the Arab  conquest  in 614 AD;  and was in reality used as
the  city dump.

In  fact the Romans under Hadrian established an entire  new
city, Aelia Capitolina in 135 AD over the ruins of Jerusalem, and
built a Temple to Jupiter on the Temple platform.

Omar  I captured Jerusalem in 638 AD,  and appropriated  the
ruined  site of the Jewish Temple to built a mosque, calling  the
whole  walled  area over “The Noble Sanctury,” or al  Haram  ash-
Sharif.   In  the Koran this area is called “the Remote Place  of
Adoration”  (al Mesjid al-Aqsa).   By 700 AD the Aqsa Mosque  and
the shrine, the Dome of the Rock, had been built, the latter over
an outcropping of black basalt-like stone about 30 feet in diame-
ter, quite distinctive as compared to the yellow limestone
common around Jerusalem.

During  the  Christian era,  Jews  reportedly built a  great
altar on this rock, and used to visit it annually.

The second Christian period began with the crusaders victor-
ious  attack of 1099 AD.   Saladin reconquered the city 88  years
later,  but  lost  it  after 42 years to the crusaders  who  then
massacred the Muslim and Jewish defenders.   They turned the
Dome of the Rock into their “Templeum Domini” and the al-Aqsa
Mosque became  the headquarters of the Templar Knights,
using its basement as stables,  which they called “the Stables of
Solomon,”  as that  cavernous  area is still called today.  The
crusaders  lost Jerusalem to the Moslem for good in 1244 AD.

By  1552 AD the population had declined to a point where  it
did not fill the dwellings within the “old city” walls.

The siting of the Wailing Wall is because it is thought that
this  portion of Herod’s Temple wall is most closely adjacent  to
the site where the Holy of Holies once stood.   If so, this would
remove  a  possible Moslem-Jewish    conflict over  the  existing
Dome of the Rock shrine.

This  shrine  was conceived by the caliph  Abd-al-Malik   in
response  to  the  caliph at Mecca who was seizing  pilgrims  and
forcing  their allegiance.   Malik  thus substituted the rock  of
Jerusalem for the rock at Mecca, saying “This rock of which it is
reported that upon it the apostle  of Allah set his foot when  he
ascended  into  heaven  shall  be unto you in the  place  of  the
Ka’ba.”

The  rock  under  the Dome of the  Rock  is  considered  the
“navel” of the world by Moslems.

A late motion connects the Haram area with the story in  the
Koran  of Mohammed’s celestial journey on the horse named
Buraq, and Moslems call the Wailing Wall the Buraq ash-Sharif.

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