header image
 
 

Jerusalem

Jerusalem


Jerusalem [Jeru’salem] Great interest naturally attaches to this city because of its O.T. and N.T. histories, and its future glory. The signification of the name is somewhat uncertain: some give it as ‘the foundation of peace;’ others ‘the possession of peace.’

Its history has, alas, been anything but that of peace; but Haggai 2: 9 remains to be fulfilled: “in this place will I give peace,” doubtless referring to the meaning of ‘Jerusalem.’ The name is first recorded in Joshua 10: 1 when Adoni-zedec was its king, before Israel had anything to do with it, and four hundred years before David obtained full possession of the city. 2 Samuel 5: 6-9. This name may therefore have been given it by the Canaanites, though it was also called Jebus. Judges 19: 10. It is apparently symbolically called Salem, ‘peace,’ in Psalm 76: 2;* and Ariel, ‘the lion of God,’ in Isaiah 29: 1, 2, 7; in Isaiah 52: 1 ‘the holy city,’ as it is also in Matthew 4: 5; Matthew 27: 53. The Temple being built there, and Mount Zion forming a part of the city, made Jerusalem typical of the place of Blessing on earth, as it certainly will be in a future day, when Israel is restored. * On the TELL AMARNA Tablets (see THE TELL AMARNA Tablets under ‘Egypt’) Jerusalem occurs several times as u-ru-sa-lim, the probable signification of which is ‘city of peace.’

Jerusalem was taken from the Jebusites and the city burnt, Judges 1: 8; but the Jebusites were not all driven out, for some were found dwelling in a part of Jerusalem called the fort, when David began to reign over the whole of the Tribes. This stronghold was taken, and Jerusalem became the royal city; but the great interest that attaches to it arises from its being the city of Jehovah’s Election on the one hand, and the place of Jehovah’s Temple, where mercy rejoiced over Judgement. See Zion and Moriah. In Solomon’s reign it was greatly enriched, and the Temple built. At the division of the Kingdom it was the chief city of Judah. It was plundered several times, and in B.C. 588 the Temple and city were destroyed by the king of Babylon. In B.C. 536, after 70 years (from B.C. 606, when the first Captivity took place, Jeremiah 25: 11, 12; Jeremiah 29: 10), Cyrus made a declaration that God had charged him to build Him a house at Jerusalem, and the captives were allowed to return for the Purpose. In B.C. 455 the commission to build the city was given to Nehemiah. It existed, under many vicissitudes, until the time of the Lord, when it was part of the Roman empire. Owing to the rebellion of the Jews it was destroyed by the Romans, A.D. 70.

Its ruins had a long rest, but in A.D. 136 the city was rebuilt by Hadrian and called Ælia Capitolina. A Temple to the Capitoline Jupiter was erected on the site of the Temple. Jews were forbidden, on pain of death, to enter the city, but in the fourth century they were admitted once a year. Constantine after his Conversion destroyed the Heathen temples in the city. In A.D. 614 Jerusalem was taken and pillaged by the Persians. In 628 it was re-taken by Heraclius. Afterwards it fell into the hands of the Turks. In 1099 it was captured by the Crusaders, but was retaken by Saladin. In 1219 it was ceded to the Christians, but was subsequently captured by Kharezmian hordes. In 1277 it was nominally annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily. In 1517 it passed under the sway of the Ottoman Sultan, and became a part of the Turkish empire. It has already sustained about thirty sieges, and although in the hands of the Jews now its desolations are not yet over!

The Beautiful situation of Jerusalem is noticed in Scripture; it stands about 2593 feet above the sea, and the mountains round about it are spoken of as its security. Psalm 125: 2; Lamentations 2: 15. Between the mountains and the city there are valleys on three sides: on the east the Valley of the Kidron, or Jehoshaphat; on the west the Valley of Gihon; and on the south the Valley of Hinnom. The Mount of Olives is on the east, from whence the best view of Jerusalem is to be had. On the S.W. lies the Mount of Offence, so called because it is supposed that Solomon practised Idolatry there. On the south is the Hill of Evil Counsel; the origin of which name is said to be that Caiaphas had a villa there, in which a Council was held to put the Lord to death. But these and many other names commonly placed on maps, have no other Authority than that of Tradition. To the north the land is comparatively level, so that the attacks on the city were made on that side.

wpid-wp-1397363788606.jpeg

Modern Jerusalem

 

1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre 6. English Hospital
2. Protestant Church 7. Jews’ Wailing Place
3. Latin Convent 8. Birket Israel
4. Armenian Convent 9. Dome of the Rock
5. Hospice of Saint John 10. Mosque el-Aksa

The city, as it now stands surrounded by walls, contains only about one-third of a square mile. Its north wall running S.W. extends from angle to angle, without noticing irregularities, about 3930 feet; the east 2754 feet; the south 3425 feet; and the west 2086 feet; the circumference being about two and a third English miles. Any one accustomed to the area of modern Cities is struck with the small size of Jerusalem. Josephus says that its circumference in his day was 33 stadia, which is more than three and three-quarters English miles. It is clear that on the south a portion was included which is now outside the city. Also on the north an additional wall enclosed a large portion, now called BEZETHA; but this latter enclosure was made by Herod Agrippa some ten or Twelve years after the time of the Lord. Traces of these additional walls have been discovered and extensive excavations on the south have determined the true position of the wall.

Several gates are mentioned in the O.T. which cannot be traced; it is indeed most probable they do not now exist. On the north is the Damascus gate, and one called Herod’s gate walled up; on the east an open gate called St. Stephen’s, and a closed one called the Golden gate; on the south Zion gate, and a small one called Dung gate; on the west Jaffa gate. A street runs nearly north from Zion gate to Damascus gate; and a street from the Jaffa gate runs eastward to the Mosque enclosure These two streets divide the city into four quarters of unequal size. Since the formation of the State of Israel a large modern city has built up to the North West of the Old City.

There is a fifth portion on the extreme S.E. called Moriah, agreeing, as is supposed, with the Mount Moriah of the O.T., on some portion of which the Temple was most probably built. It is now called ‘the Mosque enclosure,’ because on it are built two mosques. It is a plateau of about 35 acres, all level except where a portion of the rock projects near the centre, over which the Mosque of Omar is built. To obtain this large plain, walls had to be built up at the sides of the sloping rock, forming with arches many chambers, tier above tier. Some chambers are devoted to Cisterns, and others are called Solomon’s stables. That horses have been kept there at some time appears evident from rings being found attached to the walls, to which the horses were tethered.

Josephus speaks of Jerusalem being built upon two hills with a Valley between, called the TYROPOEON Valley. This lies on the west of the Mosque enclosure and runs nearly north and south. Over this Valley the remains of two bridges have been discovered: the one on the south is called the ‘Robinson arch,’ because that traveller discovered it. He judged that some Stones which jutted out from the west wall of the enclosure must have been part of a large arch. This was proved to have been the case by corresponding parts of the arch being discovered on the opposite side of the Valley. Another arch was found Complete, farther north, by Captain Wilson, and is called the ‘Wilson arch.’ Below these arches were others, and aqueducts.

Nearly the whole of this Valley is filled with rubbish. There may have been another Valley running across the above, as some suppose; but if so, that also is choked with debris, indeed the modern city appears to have been built upon the ruins of former ones, as is implied in the Prophecy of Jeremiah 9: 11; Jeremiah 30: 18. The above-named bridges would unite the Mosque enclosure, or Temple area, with the S.W. portion of the city, which is supposed to have included Zion.

Many of the houses, though built of stone, are dilapidated, and the streets narrow and dirty; the Jews’ portion is declared to be the worst.  But since the railway has been constructed from Jaffa to Jerusalem improvements are being made in the city, and many houses are being erected outside the walls. The Jews are not allowed in the Temple area, therefore they assemble on a spot near Robinson’s arch, called the Jews’ WAILING PLACE, where they can approach the walls of the area which are built of very large and Ancient Stones. On Fridays and feast days they assemble in Numbers; they kiss the Stones and weep, and pray for the restoration of their city and Temple, being, alas, still blind to the only true way of Blessing through the Lord Jesus whom they crucified.

The Jews are supposed to be allowed in Jerusalem on sufferance; the Christians, principally of the Latin, Greek and Armenian churches have more liberty. They have given names to the streets, and point out traditional sites of many events recorded in Scripture, but of course without the slightest Authority. Of these arbitrary identifications the one that appears the most improbable is that of the Church OF THE Holy Sepulchre, said to cover the spots where the Lord was crucified and where He was buried, which is within the city. See Calvary.

About a hundred yards east of the Damascus gate is the entrance to a quarry, which extends a long way under the city, and from which a quantity of stone must have been extracted. There are heaps of small chips showing that the Stones were dressed there; perhaps the ‘great and costly’ Stones for the Temple, built by Solomon were made ready there. 1 Kings 5: 17; 1 Kings 6: 7. There are blackened nooks where apparently lamps were placed to give the workmen light; marks of the tools are easily discernible, and some blocks are there which have been only partially separated; everything has the appearance of workmen having but recently left their work, except that there are no tools lying about.

The city is badly supplied with water, depending almost entirely upon large tanks; but it was reported in 1894 that the Sultan had ordered the ancient conduits to be repaired that once brought an abundant supply of spring water from what are called Soloman’s pools but which were allowed to fall into decay.  Its modern name is el Kuds, ‘the holy.’

As to the future of Jerusalem, Scripture teaches that a portion of the Jews will return in unbelief (and indeed many have now returned), occupy Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, and have a political existence. Isaiah 6: 13; Isaiah 17: 10, 11; Isaiah 18; Isaiah 66: 1-3. After being under the protection of the future Roman Empire, and having received Antichrist, they will be brought through great Tribulation. The city will be taken and the Temple destroyed. Isaiah 10: 5, 6; Zechariah 14: 1, 2. But this will not be the final destiny of Jerusalem. We read “it shall not be plucked up nor thrown down any more for ever.” Jeremiah 31: 38-40. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.” Zechariah 8: 4. 5. The Temple will also be rebuilt, the particulars of which are given in the Prophet Ezekiel. See Temple.

The sides of the square space allotted to the future city measure 5000 enlarged cubits (of probably 24-1/2 inches), a little less than 2 miles: the city itself to occupy a square of 4500 cubits each way, with a margin all round of 250 cubits, with large suburbs east and west. The 4500 cubits equal about 1.8 mile, and give about three and a quarter square miles, which, by the dimensions given above, will be seen to be very much larger than the present Old City. Ezekiel 48: 15-20. The formation of the hills and valleys were thought to be a difficulty, but the New City is already built outside the walls, and there will be physical changes in the country: Living waters will flow from the city, half of them running into the western sea and half of them into the eastern sea: cf. Zechariah 14: 8-10. The new city will have Twelve gates, three on each of its sides. “The name of the city from that day shall be THE Lord IS THERE.” Ezekiel 48: 30-35.


Original text taken from the New and Concise Bible Dictionary published by G. Morish, London

Sorry, no comments or trackbacks are allowed on this post.