He took the carved image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever.” (2 Chronicles 33:7)
Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel. This walled city is located very near the center of Israel and is the most holy city in the world! Jerusalem is located atop the Judean Mountains 800 meters above sea level. This central location was chosen by King David in the Old Testament and has made this city vitally important to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. To the Jews, Jerusalem is the site of the temple. For Christians, Christ’s death in Jerusalem will forever make it a sacred site. Prophet Muhammad took a night journey to heaven which originated in Jerusalem, thus making it a holy destination for Muslims, as well. As if all this tension and traffic wasn’t enough, Jerusalem is a popular destination for the non-religious desiring to see the art museums, extensive archaeological finds and concerts.
Among the Christian sites, there is the Church of the Ascension and chapels dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John the Baptist, among many others. For the Jewish visitor, there are the Temple Mount, West Wall and many other Judaic destinations. Muslims visiting Jerusalem often do so to visit the Dome of the Rock where Muhammad is said to have taken his night journey to heaven. In addition, Al Aqsa Mosque is a popular Islamic destination. For the merely cultural visitor, the Israel Museum, opened in 1965, has impressive artwork, an archaeological wing, Judaeca wing and many samples of the excavated Dead Sea Scrolls.
Jerusalem has typical Mediterranean temperatures, with hot and dry summers and cool and rainy winters. Jerusalem gets a little snow each year on the highest peaks within the Judean Mountain range. Located far from the ports (Jaffa or Gaza), Jerusalem depends almost completely on religious pilgrimages for its economic success.
Archaeological evidence shows that Jerusalem was a city as early as the Copper Age. It was settled by West Semitic people, founded by Shem and Eber (ancestors of Abraham). It was then controlled by the Jebusites until David made Jerusalem the capital of the united kingdom of Israel. In 587 BC, Babylon took control of Jerusalem. Until then, Jerusalem was the site of the Jewish Temple of worship. For that reason, it is called the “First Temple Period” of Jewish history.
In 538 BC, the Jews were allowed back into Jerusalem, and they built a second temple, thus beginning the Second Temple Period. Jerusalem then was the capital of Judah and the worship center for the Jewish faith. Jerusalem fell when Alexander the Great conquered Israel. A succession of wars, take-overs and property exchanged followed for many, many years.
Herod the Great, a Roman serving as a Jew client-king fortified Jerusalem with walls, palaces, and towers and reinforced the Temple Mount. However, following a Jewish uprising against Rome , the temple was destroyed, thus ending the Second Temple Period.
From 1517 to 1917 the Ottoman Empire (with the exceptions of a few years) ruled Jerusalem. It at least ended the constant back and forth with the custody of Jerusalem. These 400 years brought much peace and restoration to many of the city’s features, including the wall. In 1917, the British gained control of the capital city of Israel. In 1922, the British were put in charge of the mandate for Palestine. The next 26 years brought MUCH growth, however the tension started to rise with the rising numbers of Jews and Muslims within the walls of the same city.
In 1948 Israel declared its independence. Jerusalem was tensely divided between the Muslims and the Jews until Israel gained control of the entire city in 1967, after the Six Day War. However, as is the history of this beloved city, the turmoil continues.