Jerusalem [N] [T] [E] [H] [S]

The Name. The name "Jerusalem" occurs 806 times in the Bible, 660 times in the Old Testament and 146 times in the New Testament; additional references to the city occur as synonyms.

Jerusalem was established as a Canaanite city by the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4000-3100b.c.), occupying the southeast hill that currently bears the name "City of David." Steep slopes on each side of the hill provided a defensible site, and a spring at the foot of the hill provided necessary water. The earliest probable occurrence of the name appears in the Execration Texts of Egypt (nineteenth to eighteenth centuries b.c.) as Rusalimum. The Amarna Letters from Late Bronze Age Egypt (fourteenth century b.c.), written in the Akkadian language, include the name Urusalim. In Assyrian and Babylonian texts relating to the kingdom of Judah, Ursalimmu or a similar form appears.

The archaeological investigation of Jerusalem is hampered by continued occupation; thus, even though no evidence exists for the sanctity of the site in Canaanite thought, human nature supports the assumption that the city had a religious center. The name consists of two elements: yrw and salem [el'v]. yrwmay signify "foundation" or "city, " while salem [el'v] is the name of a deity. The name means either "the foundation of (the god) Shalem," the patron-god of the city, or "the city of Shalem." Thus, a certain sanctity adhered to the city long before David acquired it.

Jerusalem in the Old Testament. Salem. The first occurrence of Jerusalem is in Joshua 10:1, but an allusion to Jerusalem appears in Genesis 14:18 with the reference to Melchizedek, king of Salem. Poetic parallel construction in Psalm 76:2 ( Heb 76:3 ) equates Salem with Zion. Theologically, the Canaanite city of Shalem has become the biblical city of Shalom, Peace. Prophetically, Isaiah spoke of the Prince of Peace (Shalom) who would reign on David's throne (in Jerusalem), a reference full of messianic portent ( Isa 9:6 ).

Jebus. At the time of the Israelite occupation of Canaan, Jerusalem was known as Jebus, a shortened expression for "City of the Jebusites." References in Joshua, Judges, and 1 Chronicles note that Jebus is another name for Jerusalem. The Romans also renamed the city Aelia Capitolina, but in both cases the older name revived.

City of David. Second Samuel recounts David's conquest of Jebus, exploiting the secret watershaft from the spring Gihon outside the city wall to its exit within the city. From that time on David "took up residence in the fortress, and called it the City of David" ( 5:9 ).His subsequent construction of a palace made Jerusalem a royal city. His decision to rule from Jerusalem elevated a city, poorly situated for either trade or military activity, to capital status. The politically neutral city, belonging to neither the northern nor southern tribes, also became his personal property.

David transformed Jerusalem into the religious center of his kingdom by bringing into it the ark of the covenant ( 2 Sam 6:1-19 ).Although David was not allowed to construct a temple, the arrival of the ark forever linked Jerusalem with the cult of Yahweh. Solomon, David's son, enhanced the religious dimension of the city by constructing the temple of the Lord, symbolizing the presence of Yahweh in Jerusalem and Israel. David began the process of establishing the royal and religious nature of Jerusalem, but it was Solomon who transformed the former Jebusite stronghold into a truly capital and national cultic center. The royal and covenantal functions of Jerusalem are linked in Psalm 2:6, where God announces that "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."

Jerusalem is imbued with an eternal nature in several passages in the Old Testament. As Yahweh's spokesman, Nathan promised David a dynasty that would rule in perpetuity ( 2 Sam 7:15 ). This promise was extended to Jerusalem because of its function as the royal city. In addition, Solomon described the temple as the place for God to "dwell forever" ( 1 Kings 8:13 ).While both kingship and covenant were to be centered in Jerusalem forever (cf. Psalms 132 ), the promise was conditional ( 1 Kings 9:6-9 ).

The Bible is full of references to the tension confronting the prophets and people of Jerusalem over the "eternal" nature of the city and the conditions. Isaiah, for example, understood that the Lord would shield Jerusalem ( 31:5 ), but he was also aware that certain conditions did apply ( 1:19-20 ; 7:9 b). Although painfully aware of the transgressions of the city ( 1:21-23 ), he nevertheless retained a hopeful vision for its future ( 2:3 ). Micah, Isaiah's contemporary, held similar views ( 3:12 ; 5:1-4 ). The prophets knew that the destruction of the city was imminent, for the cult had become corrupt and Jerusalem, the home of the covenant, would have to pay the price. The people's belief in the mere presence of the cult as a talisman against harm was not enough to save them from the discipline of destruction.

The idea that Jerusalem was inviolable persisted, however, no doubt strengthened in part by the deliverance of the city from the siege of Sennacherib ( 2 Kings 19:20-36 ).Nearly a century later, following the apostasy of Manasseh and the reforms of Josiah, Jehoiakim ascended the throne of David in Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah, his contemporary, early on dismissed Jehoiakim as a despot worthy of the "burial of a donkey" ( Jer22:19 ). Jeremiah had supported the reforms of Josiah, but in the end the people were too hardened to change. They were convinced that the indestructible city and temple of the Lord would protect them in spite of their depravity ( Jer 7:4 ). When Jeremiah denied this and predicted the destruction of the temple, a century-old echo of Micah, it nearly cost him his life. Jerusalem did not change and the doom of exile was the result.

The Babylonian exile provided the environment for the transformation of Jerusalem, which lay desolate in ruins, into a spiritual symbol for the Jews. As important as Jerusalem had been as a royal center for the kingdom of Israel and, after Solomon's death, for the kingdom of Judah, through the ages its importance has been as "the city of the Great King, " the Lord ( Psalm 48:2 ; Matt 5:35 ). The demise of the kingdom of Judah brought the political rule of the Davidic dynasty to a close; thereafter the rule of the Davidic house was perceived in messianic and eschatological terms. Upon the return of the Jews from the exile to the ruins of Jerusalem, they rebuilt the temple but not the palace. The true sovereignty of God was spiritual rather than political.

Zion. "Zion" is likely derived from a Semitic root related to a fortified tower atop a mountain. Its earliest appearance in the Bible equates the stronghold of Zion with the City of David ( 2 Sam 5:7 ). Zion, then, was the fortified hill of Jebus conquered by David.

Zion was originally a geographic term for the City of David, but with the extension of the city northward to incorporate the Temple Mount, Zion came also to signify the dwellingplace of Yahweh ( Psalm9:11 ; [ 9:12 ]).The move of the ark of the covenant from the tent in the city to the temple proper may have prompted the shift of name.

The name "Zion" is seldom used in historical passages, but it occurs frequently in poetic and prophetic compositions as a synonym for all Jerusalem. In time Zion took on figurative as well as geographical connotations. Jerusalem is called the"Daughter of Zion ( Isa 1:8 ) and the"Virgin Daughter of Zion" ( 2 Kings 19:21 ).Jerusalem's inhabitants are called "sons of Zion" ( Lam 4:2 ), the"women of Zion" ( Isa 3:16 ), and the"elders of the Daughter of Zion" ( Lam 2:10 ). In these expressions the city has been personified. The extension of a place name to refer to its inhabitants recognizes that the character of a city is determined more by the traits of its population than by its buildings.

A visitor to modern Jerusalem will be shown the western hill rather than the City of David as Mount Zion. Through changing usage over the centuries the name has migrated to the west, but archaeology has shown that the original site was identical with the City of David. No matter where the name rests geographically, Zion's true significance is in the heavens where God's dwelling will be with his people ( Rev 21:3-4 ).

Moriah. Moriah occurs only twice in the Bible ( Gen 22:2 ; 2 Chron 3:1 ). The rare use of the name, however, belies its theological significance. Abraham was instructed by God to take his son to the land of Moriah and there to offer him as a sacrifice. The place was three days' journey from Beersheba. The Chronicler, writing in the postexilic period, has connected the place of the offering of Isaac with not only Jerusalem but specifically with the Temple Mount. This is the earliest evidence for this connection which is also attested in Josephus (Ant. 1.13.1f [222-27]; 7.13.4 [329-34]), Bk. Jub.18:13, rabbinic literature, and Islamic thought (although with Ishmael as Abraham's son). This connection enhanced the sanctity of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and contributed to the basis for the Islamic name for the city, El-Quds, "The Holy (City)."

After Abraham was prevented from slaying Isaac, and the ram was provided as a substitutionary sacrificial victim, Abraham called the name of the place Yahweh-jireh,"The Lord sees." Even so, the name never attained common usage.

The connection of Jerusalem with the sacred mountain of Yahweh is implicit in many of the references to mountain (Heb. har) in the Old Testament. The concept of a sacred mountain as the abode of deities was common in the ancient Near East. At Ugarit on the North Syrian coast, Mount Zaphon to the north was the sacred mountain. The most active of the gods of Ugarit was called Baal-Zaphon. Psalm 48:3 ( Heb 48:2 ), refers to Jerusalem as "the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King." The poet has drawn on Canaanite imagery to enhance praise of the Lord.

Isaiah saw that ultimately the mountain of the Lord would be the goal of nations. In the last days "Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord'" ( 2:3 ). The word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem; nations will convert weapons into agricultural implements and men will not learn war anymore. Then Jerusalem shall become the city of peace indeed.

Ariel. "Ariel" occurs five times as the name of David's city only in Isaiah 29. The meaning of the name is obscure. Perhaps it means "the hearth of God," compared to Ezekiel 43:15, or the "lion of God, " or, by a slight emendation, "the city of God." Another emendation would yield "the mountain of God, " congruent with similar references noted above.

Postexilic Jerusalem. The restoration of the Jewish people to Jerusalem was decreed by the Persian ruler Cyrus following his conquest of Babylon in 539 b.c. Sheshbazzar, a prince of Davidic descent, led the first group of exiles back in 538 b.c., but there is no hint of the renewal of the monarchy. Persian political policy dominated the returnees. During this time a meager attempt at rebuilding the temple was undertaken. A second group of returnees arrived with Zerubbabel around 520 b.c. and work on the temple was accelerated through the prodding of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah; the structure was completed and dedicated in 516 b.c. The city's walls were rebuilt under Nehemiah's leadership (ca. 445 b.c.). Ezra instituted religious reforms based on the "Book of the Law of Moses, " probably the Pentateuch, which he brought back with him from Babylon ( Neh 8:1 ).With this, the cult of Yahweh was fully reestablished in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem in the New Testament. New Testament Jerusalem is Herodian Jerusalem, a city four centuries beyond the time of Ezra-Nehemiah. In those four hundred years, Jerusalem witnessed the demise of the Persian Empire and the domination of the Greeks. Under the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, the attractive influence of Greek culture affected Jerusalem and its people, weakening religious devotion and practices particularly among the priestly ruling elite (cf. 1 Macc. 1:14). The Syrian Seleucid dynasty wrested control of Jerusalem from the Egyptians in 198 b.c. Finally, after Antiochus IV desecrated the temple by sacrificing a hog on the altar, devout Jews led by the Hasmonean family (Maccabees) rose in rebellion to reclaim Jerusalem in 164 b.c. The Hasmoneans attained political independence and became a dynasty of priest-kings who ruled until Herod the Great became king of Judea.

The Romans ended independent Jewish rule in 63 b.c. They place Herod on the throne in37 b.c., and he began the greatest building program Jerusalem had known. He constructed anew city wall, a theater and amphitheater, athletic fields, and a new palace. His reconstruction of the temple and the expansion of its platform made it the crown jewel of Jerusalem. At the same time, the Dead Sea Scroll community who deemed the Jerusalem temple despised by God, contemplated a New Jerusalem, completely rebuilt as a Holy City and with a new temple as its centerpiece (Temple Scroll). Herodian Jerusalem survived until the war with Rome in 66-70 a.d.; the city then suffered siege and destruction. It is in the context of Jerusalem before the destruction occurred that New Testament references are set.

Jesus and Jerusalem. In the Synoptic Gospels Jerusalem is first mentioned in connection with the birth stories of Jesus: Zechariah's vision in the temple ( Luke 1:5-23 ), the visit of the Magi ( Matt2:1-12 ), and the presentation of the infant Jesus ( Luke 2:22-38 ).Luke records the visit of Jesus to the temple at age twelve ( 2:41-50 ), and in fact New Testament references to Jerusalem are predominantly in Luke-Acts. Jesus is tempted by Satan at the highest point of the temple just prior to the start of his ministry in Galilee ( 4:9-13 ). Further, Luke records the "travel account" (9:51-19:27) in which Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem and the inevitable events that were to take place there for, as Jesus observed, "surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!" ( 13:33 ). Jerusalem and the temple symbolized the covenant between God and his people, but the covenant relationship was askew. Luke records Jesus' tears and sorrow over Jerusalem and his prophecy of its destruction ( 19:41-44 ).

Jewish messianism had long anticipated the return of a Davidic king to the city. The arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, described in Luke 19, was perceived as a royal procession by followers and adversaries alike. Jesus saw that the temple had become a commercial establishment rather than a center of spirituality. By "cleansing"the temple he reaffirmed its place of honor.

Jesus' role was to put humanity back in line with the will of God. Although the fulfillment of this role through his death upon the cross was to take place outside the city, Jerusalem provided the backdrop for his Passion. Luke records many of the activities of that last week: the Last Supper, the arraignment before the high priest, Peter's denial, the trial before Pilate all took place within Jerusalem. And some postresurrection appearances of Jesus took place in Jerusalem ( 24:33-49 ) where his disciples were to await the coming of the Holy Spirit ( 24:49 ). Luke's Gospel closes with the call of Jesus to preach in his name to all nations "beginning at Jerusalem" ( 24:49 ).

Matthew recalls the sanctity of Jerusalem as the "holy city" ( 4:5 ), and Jesus refers to it as "the city of the Great King" ( 5:35 ). The name"Zion" in Matthew refers to fulfilled prophecy ( 21:5 ; cf. Rom 11:26 ). New Testament references to Zion mainly recall Old Testament passages; however, the heavenly Jerusalem is identified as Zion in Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 14:1.

Mark's references to Jerusalem are set mainly in the Passion narrative; however, he notes the "massive stones" of the temple ( 13:1 ). All three Synoptic Gospels record the splitting of the curtain in the Jerusalem temple during the crucifixion. The Holy of Holies, the former center of covenant, was opened by this event to the new covenant with Christ.

The Synoptics are largely silent concerning any visits by Jesus to Jerusalem between childhood and his last week, but the Gospel of John supplements the record in this respect. According to John, Jesus cleansed the temple early in his ministry, following the"first sign" at Cana ( John 2:13-16 ).Jesus also attended the Feast of Tabernacles and taught in the temple ( 7:14 ). And he healed the blind man at the pool of Siloam (chap. 9). The healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethsaida is also recorded in John (chap. 5).

Paul and Jerusalem. Acts 1:4 notes that the apostles were to wait for the promised gift of the Father in Jerusalem, and the gospel began to be preached there (chap.2). In Jerusalem Stephen delineated the differences between Christianity and mainstream Judaism. The city was central to the early Christian community, and its leaders frequented the temple as a place of prayer. In Jerusalem Paul received his commission to preach to the Gentiles ( 22:17-21 ).Paul remained in contact with the temple, praying ( 22:17 ) and seeking purification there ( 24:18 ).Paul expected Gentile Christians to identify with Jerusalem and to develop a sense of kinship with the Jerusalem church. He actively encouraged outlying churches to send support to the "poor among the saints at Jerusalem" ( Rom 15:26 ).

The Heavenly Jerusalem. New Testament Christians held the view that there was a city with foundations whose architect and builder was God ( Heb 11:10 ).Further, this was a heavenly Jerusalem "Mount Zion, … the city of the living God" ( 12:22 ).The population would consist of those whose names are written in heaven. The eschatological view of Jerusalem that developed among Christians, aside from that of Judaism (cf. Isa60:14 ), looked forward to the fulfillment of the promise of the kingdom in the establishment of a New Jerusalem that would come "down out of heaven from God" ( Rev 21:2 ). This city is described in contrast to the city allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, that is, the earthly Jerusalem, "where also their Lord was crucified" ( Rev 11:8 ).

The Bible begins with a bucolic setting in the Garden of Eden; it closes on an urban scene, and that city is the New Jerusalem. For Christians, the identification of earthly Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God, which figures so frequently in the Old Testament, has been transformed into a heavenly Jerusalem, the true sanctuary of the Lord (cf. Gal 4:26 ; Heb 12:22-29 ).Nevertheless, Christians have always been drawn to the earthly Jerusalem, as have Jews and Muslims, for it has retained through the centuries its role as the center of the three monotheistic religions.

Keith N. Schoville

See also

New Jerusalem

Bibliography. M. Barker, The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem; G. A. Barrois, IDB, 4:959-60; M. Burrows, IDB, 2:843-66;R. E. Clements, Isaiah and the Deliverance of Jerusalem; P. J. King, ABD, 4:747-66;W. H. Mare, ABD, 6:1096-97; idem, The Archaeology of the Jerusalem Area; B. C. Ollenburger, Zion the City of the Great King; J. Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament; P. W. L. Walker, Jerusalem: Past and Present in the Purposes of God.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[J] indicates this entry was also found in Jack Van Impe's Prophecy Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Jerusalem'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.
Jerusalem [N] [T] [B] [H] [S]

called also Salem, Ariel, Jebus, the "city of God," the "holy city;" by the modern Arabs el-Khuds, meaning "the holy;" once "the city of Judah" ( 2 Chronicles 25:28 ). This name is in the original in the dual form, and means "possession of peace," or "foundation of peace." The dual form probably refers to the two mountains on which it was built, viz., Zion and Moriah; or, as some suppose, to the two parts of the city, the "upper" and the "lower city." Jerusalem is a "mountain city enthroned on a mountain fastness" (Compare Psalms 68:15 Psalms 68:16 ; 87:1 ; 125:2 ; Psalms 76:1 Psalms 76:2 ; 122:3 ). It stands on the edge of one of the highest table-lands in Palestine, and is surrounded on the south-eastern, the southern, and the western sides by deep and precipitous ravines.

It is first mentioned in Scripture under the name Salem ( Genesis 14:18 ; Compare Psalms 76:2 ). When first mentioned under the name Jerusalem, Adonizedek was its king ( Joshua 10:1 ). It is afterwards named among the cities of Benjamin ( Judges 19:10 ; 1 Chronicles 11:4 ); but in the time of David it was divided between Benjamin and Judah. After the death of Joshua the city was taken and set on fire by the men of Judah ( Judges 1:1-8 ); but the Jebusites were not wholly driven out of it. The city is not again mentioned till we are told that David brought the head of Goliath thither ( 1 Samuel 17:54 ). David afterwards led his forces against the Jebusites still residing within its walls, and drove them out, fixing his own dwelling on Zion, which he called "the city of David" ( 2 Samuel 5:5-9 ; 1 Chronicles 11:4-8 ). Here he built an altar to the Lord on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite ( 2 Samuel 24:15-25 ), and thither he brought up the ark of the covenant and placed it in the new tabernacle which he had prepared for it. Jerusalem now became the capital of the kingdom.

After the death of David, Solomon built the temple, a house for the name of the Lord, on Mount Moriah (B.C. 1010). He also greatly strengthened and adorned the city, and it became the great centre of all the civil and religious affairs of the nation ( Deuteronomy 12:5 ; comp 12:14 ; 14:23 ; 16:11-16 ; Psalms 122 ).

After the disruption of the kingdom on the accession to the throne of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom of the two tribes. It was subsequently often taken and retaken by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and by the kings of Israel ( 2 Kings 14:13 2 Kings 14:14 ; 2 Kings 18:15 2 Kings 18:16 ; 23:33-35 ; 24:14 ; 2 Chr 12:9 ; 26:9 ; 2 Kings 27:3 2 Kings 27:4 ; 29:3 ; 32:30 ; 33:11 ), till finally, for the abounding iniquities of the nation, after a siege of three years, it was taken and utterly destroyed, its walls razed to the ground, and its temple and palaces consumed by fire, by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon ( 2 Kings 25 ; 2 Chr. 36 ; Jeremiah 39 ), B.C. 588. The desolation of the city and the land was completed by the retreat of the principal Jews into Egypt ( Jeremiah 4044 -44), and by the final carrying captive into Babylon of all that still remained in the land ( 52:3 ), so that it was left without an inhabitant (B.C. 582). Compare the predictions, Deuteronomy 28 ; Leviticus 26:14-39 .

But the streets and walls of Jerusalem were again to be built, in troublous times ( Daniel 9:16 Daniel 9:19 Daniel 9:25 ), after a captivity of seventy years. This restoration was begun B.C. 536, "in the first year of Cyrus" ( Ezra 1:2 Ezra 1:3 Ezra 1:5-11 ). The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah contain the history of the re-building of the city and temple, and the restoration of the kingdom of the Jews, consisting of a portion of all the tribes. The kingdom thus constituted was for two centuries under the dominion of Persia, till B.C. 331; and thereafter, for about a century and a half, under the rulers of the Greek empire in Asia, till B.C. 167. For a century the Jews maintained their independence under native rulers, the Asmonean princes. At the close of this period they fell under the rule of Herod and of members of his family, but practically under Rome, till the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The city was then laid in ruins.

The modern Jerusalem by-and-by began to be built over the immense beds of rubbish resulting from the overthrow of the ancient city; and whilst it occupies certainly the same site, there are no evidences that even the lines of its streets are now what they were in the ancient city. Till A.D. 131 the Jews who still lingered about Jerusalem quietly submitted to the Roman sway. But in that year the emperor (Hadrian), in order to hold them in subjection, rebuilt and fortified the city. The Jews, however, took possession of it, having risen under the leadership of one Bar-Chohaba (i.e., "the son of the star") in revolt against the Romans. Some four years afterwards (A.D. 135), however, they were driven out of it with great slaughter, and the city was again destroyed; and over its ruins was built a Roman city called Aelia Capitolina, a name which it retained till it fell under the dominion of the Mohammedans, when it was called el-Khuds, i.e., "the holy."

In A.D. 326 Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with the view of discovering the places mentioned in the life of our Lord. She caused a church to be built on what was then supposed to be the place of the nativity at Bethlehem. Constantine, animated by her example, searched for the holy sepulchre, and built over the supposed site a magnificent church, which was completed and dedicated A.D. 335. He relaxed the laws against the Jews till this time in force, and permitted them once a year to visit the city and wail over the desolation of "the holy and beautiful house."

In A.D. 614 the Persians, after defeating the Roman forces of the emperor Heraclius, took Jerusalem by storm, and retained it till A.D. 637, when it was taken by the Arabians under the Khalif Omar. It remained in their possession till it passed, in A.D. 960, under the dominion of the Fatimite khalifs of Egypt, and in A.D. 1073 under the Turcomans. In A.D. 1099 the crusader Godfrey of Bouillon took the city from the Moslems with great slaughter, and was elected king of Jerusalem. He converted the Mosque of Omar into a Christian cathedral. During the eighty-eight years which followed, many churches and convents were erected in the holy city. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt during this period, and it alone remains to this day. In A.D. 1187 the sultan Saladin wrested the city from the Christians. From that time to the present day, with few intervals, Jerusalem has remained in the hands of the Moslems. It has, however, during that period been again and again taken and retaken, demolished in great part and rebuilt, no city in the world having passed through so many vicissitudes.

In the year 1850 the Greek and Latin monks residing in Jerusalem had a fierce dispute about the guardianship of what are called the "holy places." In this dispute the emperor Nicholas of Russia sided with the Greeks, and Louis Napoleon, the emperor of the French, with the Latins. This led the Turkish authorities to settle the question in a way unsatisfactory to Russia. Out of this there sprang the Crimean War, which was protracted and sanguinary, but which had important consequences in the way of breaking down the barriers of Turkish exclusiveness.

Modern Jerusalem "lies near the summit of a broad mountain-ridge, which extends without interruption from the plain of Esdraelon to a line drawn between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean." This high, uneven table-land is everywhere from 20 to 25 geographical miles in breadth. It was anciently known as the mountains of Ephraim and Judah.

"Jerusalem is a city of contrasts, and differs widely from Damascus, not merely because it is a stone town in mountains, whilst the latter is a mud city in a plain, but because while in Damascus Moslem religion and Oriental custom are unmixed with any foreign element, in Jerusalem every form of religion, every nationality of East and West, is represented at one time."

Jerusalem is first mentioned under that name in the Book of Joshua, and the Tell-el-Amarna collection of tablets includes six letters from its Amorite king to Egypt, recording the attack of the Abiri about B.C. 1480. The name is there spelt Uru-Salim ("city of peace"). Another monumental record in which the Holy City is named is that of Sennacherib's attack in B.C. 702. The "camp of the Assyrians" was still shown about A.D. 70, on the flat ground to the north-west, included in the new quarter of the city.

The city of David included both the upper city and Millo, and was surrounded by a wall built by David and Solomon, who appear to have restored the original Jebusite fortifications. The name Zion (or Sion) appears to have been, like Ariel ("the hearth of God"), a poetical term for Jerusalem, but in the Greek age was more specially used of the Temple hill. The priests' quarter grew up on Ophel, south of the Temple, where also was Solomon's Palace outside the original city of David. The walls of the city were extended by Jotham and Manasseh to include this suburb and the Temple ( 2 Chronicles 27:3 ; 33:14 ).

Jerusalem is now a town of some 50,000 inhabitants, with ancient mediaeval walls, partly on the old lines, but extending less far to the south. The traditional sites, as a rule, were first shown in the 4th and later centuries A.D., and have no authority. The results of excavation have, however, settled most of the disputed questions, the limits of the Temple area, and the course of the old walls having been traced.

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[J] indicates this entry was also found in Jack Van Impe's Prophecy Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Jerusalem". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .
Jerusalem [N] [T] [B] [E] [S]

vision of peace
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[J] indicates this entry was also found in Jack Van Impe's Prophecy Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Jerusalem'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.
Jerusalem [N] [T] [B] [E] [H]

(the habitation of peace ), Jerusalem stands in latitude 31 degrees 46 35" north and longitude 35 degrees 18 30" east of Greenwich. It is 32 miles distant from the sea and 18 from the Jordan, 20 from Hebron and 36 from Samaria. "In several respects," says Dean Stanley, "its situation is singular among the cities of Palestine. Its elevation is remarkable; occasioned not from its being on the summit of one of the numerous hills of Judea, like most of the towns and villages, but because it is on the edge of one of the highest table-lands of the country. Hebron indeed is higher still by some hundred feet, and from the south, accordingly (even from Bethlehem), the approach to Jerusalem is by a slight descent. But from any other side the ascent is perpetual; and to the traveller approaching the city from the east or west it must always have presented the appearance beyond any other capital of the then known world --we may say beyond any important city that has ever existed on the earth --of a mountain city; breathing, as compared with the sultry plains of Jordan, a mountain air; enthroned, as compared with jericho or Damascus, Gaza or Tyre, on a mountain fastness." --S. & P. 170,

  1. Jerusalem, if not actually in the centre of Palestine, was yet virtually so. "It was on the ridge, the broadest and most strongly-marked ridge of the backbone of the complicated hills which extend through the whole country from the plain of Esdraelon to the desert." Roads. --There appear to have been but two main approaches to the city:--
  2. From the Jordan valley by Jericho and the Mount of Olives. This was the route commonly taken from the north and east of the country.
  3. From the great maritime plain of Philistia and Sharon. This road led by the two Beth-horons up to the high ground at Gibeon, whence it turned south, and came to Jerusalem by Ramah and Gibeah, and over the ridge north of the city. Topography. --To convey an idea of the position of Jerusalem, we may say, roughly, that the city occupies the southern termination of the table-land which is cut off from the country round it on its west, south and east sides by ravines more than usually deep and precipitous. These ravines leave the level of the table-land, the one on the west and the other on the northeast of the city, and fall rapidly until they form a junction below its southeast corner. The eastern one --the valley of the Kedron, commonly called the valley of Jehoshaphat --runs nearly straight from north by south. But the western one --the valley of Hinnom-- runs south for a time, and then takes a sudden bend to the east until it meets the valley of Jehoshaphat, after which the two rush off as one to the Dead Sea. How sudden is their descent may be gathered from the fact that the level at the point of junction -about a mile and a quarter from the starting-point of each-- is more than 600 feet below that of the upper plateau from which they began their descent. So steep is the fall of the ravines, so trench-like their character, and so close do they keep to the promontory at whose feet they run, as to leave on the beholder almost the impression of the ditch at the foot of a fortress rather than of valleys formed by nature. The promontory thus encircled is itself divided by a longitudinal ravine running up it from south to north, called the valley of the Tyropoeon, rising gradually from the south, like the external ones, till at last it arrives at the level of the upper plateau, dividing the central mass into two unequal portions. Of these two, that on the west is the higher and more massive, on which the city of Jerusalem now stands, and in fact always stood. The hill on the east is considerably lower and smaller, so that to a spectator from the south the city appears to slope sharply toward the east. Here was the temple, and here stands now the great Mohammedan sanctuary with its mosques and domes. The name of MOUNT MOUNT ZION has been applied to the western hill from the time of Constantine to the present day. The eastern hill, called MOUNT MOUNT MORIAH in ( 2 Chronicles 3:1 ) was as already remarked, the site of the temple. It was situated in the southwest angle of the area, now known as the Haram area, and was, as we learn from Josephus, an exact square of a stadium, or 600 Greek feet, on each side. (Conder ("Bible Handbook," 1879) states that by the latest surveys the Haram area is a quadrangle with unequal sides. The west wall measures 1601 feet, the south 922, the east 1530, the north 1042. It is thus nearly a mile in circumference, and contains 35 acres. --ED.) Attached to the northwest angle of the temple was the Antonia, a tower or fortress. North of the side of the temple is the building now known to Christians as the Mosque of Omar, but by Moslems called the Dome of the Rock. The southern continuation of the eastern hill was named OPHEL, which gradually came to a point at the junction of the valleys Tyropoeon and Jehoshaphat; and the norther BEZETHA, "the new city," first noticed by Josephus, which was separated from Moriah by an artificial ditch, and overlooked the valley of Kedron on the east; this hill was enclosed within the walls of Herod Agrippa. Lastly, ACRA lay westward of Moriah and northward of Zion, and formed the "lower city" in the time of Josephus. Walls. --These are described by Josephus. The first or old wall was built by David and Solomon, and enclosed Zion and part of Mount Moriah. (The second wall enclosed a portion of the city called Acra or Millo, on the north of the city, from the tower of Mariamne to the tower of Antonia. It was built as the city enlarged in size; begun by Uzziah 140 years after the first wall was finished, continued by Jotham 50 years later, and by Manasseh 100 years later still. It was restored by Nehemiah. Even the latest explorations have failed to decide exactly what was its course. (See Conders Handbook of the Bible, art. Jerusalem. ) The third wall was built by King Herod Agrippa, and was intended to enclose the suburbs which had grown out on the northern sides of the city, which before this had been left exposed. After describing these walls, Josephus adds that the whole circumference of the city was 33 stadia, or nearly four English miles, which is as near as may be the extent indicated by the localities. He then adds that the number of towers in the old wall was 60, the middle wall 40, and the new wall 99. Water Supply --(Jerusalem had no natural water supply, unless we so consider the "Fountain of the Virgin," which wells up with an intermittent action from under Ophel. The private citizens had cisterns, which were supplied by the rain from the roofs; and the city had a water supply "perhaps the most complete and extensive ever undertaken by a city," and which would enable it to endure a long siege. There were three aqueducts, a number of pools and fountains, and the temple area was honeycombed with great reservoirs, whose total capacity is estimated at 10,000,000 gallons. Thirty of these reservoirs are described, varying from 25 to 50 feet in depth; and one, call the great Sea , would hold 2,000,000 gallons. These reservoirs and the pools were supplied with water by the rainfall and by the aqueducts. One of these, constructed by Pilate, has been traced for 40 miles, though in a straight line the distance is but 13 miles. It brought water from the spring Elam, on the south, beyond Bethlehem, into the reservoirs under the temple enclosure. --ED.) Pools and fountains. --A part of the system of water supply. Outside the walls on the west side were the Upper and Lower Pools of GIHON, the latter close under Zion, the former more to the northwest on the Jaffa road. At the junction of the valleys of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat was ENROGEL, the "Well of Job," in the midst of the kings gardens. Within the walls, immediately north of Zion, was the "Pool of Hezekiah." A large pool existing beneath the temple (referred to in Ecclus. 1:3) was probably supplied by some subterranean aqueduct. The "Kings Pool" was probably identical with the "Fountain of the Virgin," at the southern angle of Moriah. It possesses the peculiarity that it rises and falls at irregular periods; it is supposed to be fed form the cistern below the temple. From this a subterranean channel cut through solid rock leads the water to the pool of SILOAH or SILOAM, which has also acquired the character of being an intermittent fountain. The pool of which tradition has assigned the name of BETHESDA is situated on the north side of Moriah; it is now named Birket Israil . Burial-grounds. --The main cemetery of the city seems from an early date to have been where it is still --on the steep slopes of the valley of the Kedron. The tombs of the kings were in the city of David, that is, Mount Zion. The royal sepulchres were probably chambers containing separate recesses for the successive kings. Gardens. --The kings gardens of David and Solomon seem to have been in the bottom formed by the confluence of the Kedron and Himmon. ( Nehemiah 3:15 ) The Mount of Olives, as its name, and the names of various places upon it seem to imply, was a fruitful spot. At its foot was situated the garden of Gethsemane. At the time of the final siege the space north of the wall of Agrippa was covered with gardens, groves and plantations of fruit trees, enclosed by hedges and walls; and to level these was one of Titus first operations. We know that the Gennath (i.e. "of gardens") opened on this side of the city. Gates. --The following is a complete list of the gates named in the Bible and by Josephus, with the reference to their occurrence:--
  4. Gate of Ephraim. ( 2 Chronicles 25:23 ; Nehemiah 8:16 ; 12:39 ) This is probably the same as the--
  5. Gate of Benjamin. ( Jeremiah 20:2 ; 37:13 ; Zechariah 14:10 ) If so, it was 400 cubits distant from the--
  6. Corner gate. ( 2 Chronicles 25:23 ; 26:9 ; Jeremiah 31:38 ; Zechariah 14:10 )
  7. Gate of Joshua, governor of the city. ( 2 Kings 23:8 )
  8. Gate between the two walls. ( 2 Kings 25:4 ; Jeremiah 39:4 )
  9. Horse gate. ( Nehemiah 3:28 ; 2 Chronicles 23:15 ; Jeremiah 31:40 )
  10. Ravine gate (i.e. opening on ravine of Hinnom). ( 2 Chronicles 26:9 ; Nehemiah 2:13 Nehemiah 2:15 ; 3:13 )
  11. Fish gate. ( 2 Chronicles 33:14 ; Nehemiah 3:13 ; Zephaniah 1:10 )
  12. Dung gate. ( Nehemiah 2:13 ; 3:13 )
  13. Sheep gate. ( Nehemiah 3:1 Nehemiah 3:32 ; 12:39 )
  14. East gate. ( Nehemiah 3:29 )
  15. Miphkad. ( Nehemiah 3:31 )
  16. Fountain gate (Siloam?). ( Nehemiah 12:37 )
  17. Water gate. ( Nehemiah 12:37 )
  18. Old Gate. ( Nehemiah 12:39 )
  19. Prison gate. ( Nehemiah 12:39 )
  20. Gate Harsith (perhaps the Sun; Authorized Version East gate). ( Jeremiah 19:2 )
  21. First gate. ( Zechariah 14:10 )
  22. Gate Gennath (gardens). Jos B.J. v. 4, - 4.
  23. Essenes gate. Jos. B.J. 4, - 2. To these should be added the following gates to the temple: --Gate Sur, ( 2 Kings 11:6 ) called also gate of foundation. ( 2 Chronicles 23:5 ) Gate of the guard, or behind the guard, ( 2 Kings 11:6 2 Kings 11:19 ); called the high gate. ( 2 Kings 15:35 ; 2 Chronicles 23:20 ; 27:3 ) Gate Shallecheth. ( 1 Chronicles 26:16 ) At present the chief gates are --
  24. The Zions gate and the dung gate, in the south wall;
  25. St. Stephens gate and the golden gate (now walled up), in the east wall;
  26. The Damascus gate and
  27. Herods gate, in the north wall; and
  28. The Jaffa gate, in the west wall. Population. --Taking the area of the city enclosed by the two old walls at 750,000 yards, and that enclosed by the wall of Agrippa at 1,500,000 yards, we have 2,250,000 yards for the whole. Taking the population of the old city at the probable number of the one person to 50 yards, we have 15,000 and at the extreme limit of 30 yards we should have 25,000 inhabitants for the old city, and at 100 yards to each individual in the new city about 15,000 more; so that the population of Jerusalem, in its days of greatest prosperity, may have amounted to from 30,000 to 45,000 souls, but could hardly ever have reached 50,000; and assuming that in times of festival one-half was added to this amount, which is an extreme estimate, there may have been 60,000 or 70,000 in the city when Titus came up against it. (Josephus says that at the siege of Jerusalem the population was 3,000,000; but Tacitus statement that it was 600,000 is nearer the truth. This last is certainly within the limits of possibility. Streets, houses, etc. --Of the nature of these in the ancient city we have only the most scattered notices. The "east street," ( 2 Chronicles 29:4 ) the "street of the city," i.e. the city of David, ( 2 Chronicles 32:6 ) the "street facing the water gate," ( Nehemiah 8:1 Nehemiah 8:3 ) or, according to the parallel account in 1 Esdr. 9:38, the "broad place of the temple towards the east;" the "street of the house of God," ( Ezra 10:9 ) the "street of the gate of Ephraim," ( Nehemiah 8:16 ) and the "open place of the first gate toward the east," must have been not "streets," in our sense of the word, so much as the open spaces found in easter towns round the inside of the gates. Streets, properly so called, there were, ( Jeremiah 5:1 ; 11:13 ) etc.; but the name of only one, "the bakers street," ( Jeremiah 37:21 ) is preserved to us. The Via Dolorosa, or street of sorrows, is a part of the street thorough which Christ is supposed to have been led on his way to his crucifixion. To the houses we have even less clue; but there is no reason to suppose that in either houses or streets the ancient Jerusalem differed very materially from the modern. No doubt the ancient city did not exhibit that air of mouldering dilapidation which is now so prominent there. The whole of the slopes south of the Haram area (the ancient Ophel), and the modern Zion, and the west side of the valley of Jehoshaphat, presents the appearance of gigantic mounds of rubbish. In this point at least the ancient city stood in favorable contrast with the modern, but in many others the resemblance must have been strong. Annals of the city. --If, as is possible, Salem is the same with Jerusalem, the first mention of Jerusalem is in ( Genesis 14:18 ) about B.C. 2080. It is next mentioned in ( Joshua 10:1 ) B.C. 1451. The first siege appears to have taken place almost immediately after the death of Joshua --cir. 1400 B.C. Judah and Simeon "fought against it and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire." ( Judges 1:8 ) In the fifteen centuries which elapsed between this siege and the siege and destruction of the city by Titus, A.D. 70, the city was besieged no fewer than seventeen times; twice it was razed to the ground, on two other occasions its walls were levelled. In this respect it stands without a parallel in any city, ancient or modern. David captured the city B.C. 1046, and made it his capital, fortified and enlarged it. Solomon adorned the city with beautiful buildings, including the temple, but made no additions to its walls. The city was taken by the Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Jehoram, B.C. 886, and by the Israelites in the reign of Amaziah, B.C. 826. It was thrice taken by Nebuchadnezzar, in the years B.C. 607, 597 and 586, in the last of which it was utterly destroyed. Its restoration commenced under Cyrus, B.C. 538, and was completed under Artaxerxes I., who issued commissions for this purpose to Ezra, B.C. 457, and Nehemiah, B.C. 445. In B.C. 332 it was captured by Alexander the Great. Under the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae the town was prosperous, until Antiochus Epiphanes sacked it, B.C. 170. In consequence of his tyranny, the Jews rose under the Maccabees, and Jerusalem became again independent, and retained its position until its capture by the Romans under Pompey, B.C. 63. The temple was subsequently plundered by Crassus, B.C. 545, and the city by the Parthians, B.C. 40. Herod took up his residence there as soon as he was appointed sovereign, and restored the temple with great magnificence. On the death of Herod it became the residence of the Roman procurators, who occupied the fortress of Antonia. The greatest siege that it sustained, however, was at the hands of the Romans under Titus, when it held out nearly five months, and when the town was completely destroyed, A.D. 70. Hadrian restored it as a Roman colony, A.D. 135, and among other buildings erected a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the site of the temple. He gave to it the name of AElia Capitolina, thus combining his own family name with that of the Capitoline Jupiter. The emperor Constantine established the Christian character by the erection of a church on the supposed site of the holy sepulchre, A.D. 336. Justinian added several churches and hospitals about A.D. 532. It was taken by the Persians under Chosroes II in A.D. 614. The dominion of the Christians in the holy city was now rapidly drawing to a close. In A.D. 637 the patriarch Sophronius surrendered to the khalif Omar in person. With the fall of the Abassides the holy city passed into the hands of the Fatimite dynasty, under whom the sufferings of the Christians in Jerusalem reached their height. About the year 1084 it was bestowed upon Ortok, chief of a Turkman horde. It was taken by the Crusaders in 1099, and for eighty-eight years Jerusalem remained in the hand of the Christians. in 1187 it was retaken by Saladin after a siege of several weeks. In 1277 Jerusalem was nominally annexed to the kingdom of Sicily. In 1517 it passed under the sway of the Ottoman sultan Selim I., whose successor Suliman built the present walls of the city in 1542. Mohammed Aly, the pasha of Egypt, took possession of it in 1832; and in 1840, after the bombardment of Acre, it was again restored to the sultan. (Modern Jerusalem , called by the Arabs el-Khuds , is built upon the ruins of ancient Jerusalem. The accumulated rubbish of centuries is very great, being 100 feet deep on the hill of Zion. The modern wall, built in 1542, forms an irregular quadrangle about 2 1/2 miles in circuit, with seven gates and 34 towers. It varies in height from 20 to 60 feet. The streets within are narrow, ungraded, crooked, and often filthy. The houses are of hewn stone, with flat roofs and frequent domes. There are few windows toward the street. The most beautiful part of modern Jerusalem is the former temple area (Mount Moriah), "with its lawns and cypress tress, and its noble dome rising high above the wall." This enclosure, now called Haram esh-Sherif , is 35 acres in extent, and is nearly a mile in circuit. On the site of the ancient temple stands the Mosque of Omar, "perhaps the very noblest specimen of building-art in Asia." "It is the most prominent as well as the most beautiful building in the whole city." The mosque is an octagonal building, each side measuring 66 feet. It is surmounted by a dome, whose top is 170 feet from the ground. The church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is claimed, but without sufficient reason, to be upon the site of Calvary, is "a collection of chapels and altars of different ages and a unique museum of religious curiosities from Adam to Christ." The present number of inhabitants in Jerusalem is variously estimated. Probably Pierottis estimate is very near the truth, --20,330; of whom 5068 are Christians, 7556 Mohammedans (Arabs and Turks), and 7706 Jews. --ED.)

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[J] indicates this entry was also found in Jack Van Impe's Prophecy Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Jerusalem'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.