Jerusalem: Important Facts• Jerusalem, by merit of the number and variety of people who have made it holy, is perhaps regarded as the most sacred city in the world.• Jerusalem is significant to the Jews because it is Ir Ha- Kodesh (the Holy City), the Biblical Zion, the City of David, the site of Solomon’s Temple, and the eternal, though not internationally recognized, capital of the State of Israel.• Jerusalem is significant to the Christians because it is where the adolescent Jesus astonished the sages at the Jewish Temple; it is also where He spent His ministry’s final days, and where the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection took place.• Jerusalem is significant to the Muslims because the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, went to heaven there; Jerusalem is the third holiest site of Islam, after the sacred sites of Mecca and Medina.• While closely associated with strong religious commitment and an attraction to numerous pilgrims and sages, Jerusalem has been torn by thirty centuries of conflict and fighting.• Jerusalem is a sanctified city with a rich and ancient history.
Jerusalem: History• The history of Jerusalem goes back almost 5,000 years.• The Canaanites occupied the city around 2500 BC.• The Jebusites were absorbed into the Jews when David took the city (c. 1000 BC).• David made Jerusalem his kingdom’s capital; Solomon built the first Temple, which held the Ark of the Covenant.• The Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BC, and deported the Jews to Babylonia.• In 537 BC, Cyrus the Great of Persia defeated Babylonia and allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and reconstruct their Temple.• Until 333 BC, when Alexander the Great annexed Palestine to his empire, Persia controlled the city.• In 323 BC, Ptolemy I of Egypt added Palestine to his kingdom.
Jerusalem: History - cont.• Around 198 BC, the Seleucid king Antiochus III triumphed over Judaea (of which Jerusalem was a part), which made it a confluence to Syria.• The Jews subsequently rebelled under Macabees’ leadership and overcame the Syrians.• The Temple was rededicated in 165 BC; the Maacabean, or Hasmonean, empire reigned until Rome took control of the city in 63 BC.• The Romans established a local empire, the house of Herod, to govern most of Palestine; Herod the Great (reigned 40-4 BC) rebuilt most of Jerusalem, the Temple included.• However, Roman governors kept tight control; one of those governors, Pontius Pilate, administratively approved the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Jerusalem: History – cont.• While repressing a major Jewish rebellion, the Romans annihilated the Second Temple in AD 70.• In 135, following the failure of the Bar Kochba revolution, the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem.• From the early 4th century, when Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire, Jerusalem became a hub of Christian pilgrimage.• The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and numerous other Christian memorials were built.• Other than a short time of Persian reign (614-628), Jerusalem remained under Roman (Byzantine later) occupation until 638, when the Muslim Arabs captured the city.• Between 688 and 691, the Arabs constructed the Dome of the Rock on the site of the Temple.
Jerusalem at the time of Christ andthe Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Jerusalem: History – cont.• Jerusalem was taken by the Muslims, who ruled the city until the rise of the Ottoman Empire in 1517.• In 1917, the British gained control of Jerusalem and it thus became part of the British mandate inflicted on Palestine.• During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab legions encircled Jerusalem; when the war ended in March 1949, the city was split between Israel (the western city) and Jordan (the eastern city and the old city).• During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jordanians were pushed eastward past the Jordan River and the entire city was annexed to Israel.
Jerusalem Today• Modern Jerusalem is a diverse and active city.• As the capital of Israel, it is the location of the Israeli house of parliament (Knesset), along with numerous government offices.• Numerous neighborhoods in Jerusalem are inhabited by Ultra Orthodox Jews (Haridim) who preserve a unique and characteristic style of life.• The neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are predominantly Muslim Arab or Christian Arab, having a unique Middle Eastern sense.• Jerusalem also has a present-day and distinctive cinematheque, which overlooks the old city.• Countless excellent restaurants and cafés are spread out in Jerusalem’s old neighborhoods, providing to every kind of taste.