Jerusalem - Whose's  City?

Preface


Jerusalem, the great city, the holy city and the city of peace. Yet, in it's 3000 plus years of history it has known very little peace since after the days of Solomon. It is a city that is "known" world-wide but really "unknown" by most of the world - unknown for it's unique importance in the plan of God and in the history of Judaism and Christianity. It is indeed a paradox that this ancient city, having no main highways or thoroughfares passing through it, should become, according to Biblical prophecy, "A burdensome stone for ALL nations".

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah [and] against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.

(Zechariah 12:2-4)

In the past 50 plus years, Jerusalem has become the center of a controversy which is felt around the world - with two peoples laying claim to the city - the Israelis (commonly referred to as the Jews), and the Arabs (referred to as Palestinians). The great controversary surrounding Jerusalem is destined to lead to the battle to end all battles - the Battle of Armageddon.

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed [is] he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
(Revelation 16:14-17)

Only the Children of Israel (and True Christians) recognize the significance of this city. None of the peoples who "occupied" the land ever laid any empahsis on Jerusalem. It is true that two of the greatest conquerors in the history of the world, Alexander and Napoleon, when they came to the Middle East, didn't trouble to take, or even approach, Jerusalem. In fact, no conquering nation ever had regarded and respect for Jerusalem as was possessed by the Israelites, who regard it as the "Holiest" of sites. In fact, the Arabs who lived in the area, even within the city itself, up until recent years did not regard Jerusalem as a "holy" site. God, working through the Jews made Israel and Jerusalem what it is today.

Let's take a few minutes to consider the history and destiny of this ancient city whose very name speaks of Peace - Jerusalem.

Jerusalem

JERUSALEM is the capital of the State of Israel. It is located about 35 mile's East of the Mediterranean Sea, about 15 miles West of the northern extremity of the Dead Sea, and some 35 miles South East of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. By today's standards it is not an extra large City. Yet it is a City whose name has been spoken in every country under heaven. It's fame is not because of it's location or size, but rather the result of it's prominence in Jewish and Christian history and writings.

For over three Millennia Jerusalem has been sacred to the Jews and for two Millennia it has been sacred to Christians. For the Christian, Jerusalem brings to remembrance the people of Israel and their promised Messiah. It was here in this City that the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ came to it's glorious climax in His death, burial and Resurrection. Jerusalem's prominence in Old Testament writings without a doubt show it's signifiance to the Jewish faith. It is VERY sacred to Jews (Hebrews, Israelites, the whole House of Israel). It has played a part in their history for over 3000 years.

Jerusalem is the great historic symbol of the Jewish homeland and the capital of the first Jewish kingdom. Only in recent years have the Muslims attempted to assert that Jerusalem is also sacred to them. But before Islam was ever heard of, Jerusalem and the Jews were synonymous - one and the same. That relationship between the City and the Jews has prevailed for over 3000 years. Even to this day, when one thinks of Jerusalem we also think of the Jews (or the Children of Israel), NEVER the Muslims. When we think of Muslims we think of Mecca, not Jerusalem.

Jerusalem - Before King David's Time!

The site ot Jerusalem was occupied during the Stone Age; the inhabitants were driven out much later, in the period 5000 - 4000 B.C., by a people called in the Old Testament the Canaanites, who had advanced into the Bronze Age. The invaders, a mixed people among whom the Jebusites were dominant, came under Egyptian rule in the 15th century B.C., during the conquests of King Thutmose III. Then, in about 1250 B.C., the Hebrews began their conquest of Canaan, initially under their leader Joshua. So powerfully fortified was Jerusalem, however, that it did not fall until more than 200 years later, when David finally captured it some Years after being anointed king of Israel (2 Sam. 5:6-9; 1 Chron. 11:4-7).

Jerusalem - King David's Time And After!

King David made Jerusalem what it is over 3000 years ago, and when in different periods since then it served as the country's capital, it did so because of the Davidic tradition. It was the Capital of David's heirs in Biblical times. It served as the Capital of the Second Jewish Commonwealth, for the Crusaders, for the British Mandatory Government, and now, in the 20th and 21st centuries for the State of Israel. But during the many centuries when the Romans, Byzantines, ARABS, and Turks ruled the country, NONE OF THEM chose Jerusalem as the Captial. During the six centuries of Roman and Byzantine rule, Caesarea was the Capital. The ARABS chose Ramle, the ONLY CITY they [the Arabs] ever established in this country.

Tracing the history of Jerusalem we have to begin with King David, who conquered Jerusalem around the year 1000 B.C. He made it his Capital because of what was its most important factor at the time - it was neutral vis-à-vis the Israelite tribes. It was not in the territory of any of them, and had been occupied by a non-Israelite population. It lay between the two main blocks of tribes of those days - the House of Joseph to the North and that of Judah and Simon to the South. No one tribe had a real claim on Jerusalem.

All tribes came to look to Jerusalem as their center of government, and after the building of Solomon's Temple it became the central focus of their worship to Jehovah. In addition, it's topography favored the security needs of the time, and it was surrounded by deep valleys. The City did not expand into a really large city until several centuries after King David.

David build Jerusalem and it belonged to his family as though it were a private possession. It was called at that time, "Jerusalem, the City of David". Even today among Evangelical Christians, it is still recognized as "The City of David". Therefore, how can many leaders of so-called Christian countries fail to recognize the right of the Jews to the City of Jerusalem? To deny Israel absolute right to that City is to deny Christian Biblical TRUTH.

It was King David's son, Solomon, who enlarged the City somewhat by adding to it the "Temple Mount", building on it both the Temple and the Royal Palace. The Temple came to symbolize the Jewish faith, with roots in the Temple which Jehovah had instructed> Moses to build in the Wilderness. The Muslims (Palestinian or other Arabs) have no claim whatsoever to the Temple Mount. Their very shaky claim is based on the Muslim belief that their prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, from the site of Solomon's Temple. Which is more important - the Temple dedicated totally to the worship of Jehovah or a site assumed to be 'holy' because a prophet was suposed to have had a religious experience there? Who comes first - Jehovah or a prophet?

Jerusalem, though still a small city in the times of Solomon, held it's position as the country's Capital for only a short time. The country was soon divided into two kingdoms - Judah and Israel. Jerusalem now found itself at the northernmost extremity of the Kingdom of Judah, but remained the Capital of what was only a small area. About 700 B.C. Jerusalem was enlarged - possibly by Hezekial - to include the western wall or the Upper City. Excavations conducted in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 have solved the question of how ancient Jerusalem was.

Jerusalem continued to expand after Solomon's reign until the ten tribes of Israel seceded from the rule of the house of David, after which the importance of the City, now the capital of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, diminished greatly. Jerusalem was wracked for the next two centuries by a succession of sieges, incursions, and unsuccessful military undertakings that were physically and financially costly. Not until the reigns of King Uzziah of Judah (r. 783-742 B.C.) and his son Jotham (r. 742-735 B.C.) did the city begin to regain it's previous status (2 Chron. 26, 27). Between this period and the rise of the powerful Maccabee family, about six centuries later, the history of Jerusalem is that of the Jews. Under the Maccabees, Jerusalem entered upon an era of unprecedented prosperity. It was the holy city of Judaism and the great pilgrim shrine of the Jewish world.

Jerusalem - Roman "Occupation"!

Conquest by the Romans under the general and statesman Pompey the Great in 63 B.C. resulted in no serious material disaster to the City. Its greatest prosperity was attained under Herod the Great. Besides a complete reconstruction of the Temple on a scale truly magnificent, involving the expenditure of vast sums of money, he undertook the building of the Xystus, an open place surrounded by a gallery; his own great palace, on the western side of the city; and a hippodrome, theater, and large reservoir. Less than a century later, however, during a rebellion of Jews against Roman authority, Titus, son of the Roman emperor Vespasian, captured and razed the city in 70 A.D.; only a few remnants of the western fortifications were left standing. With this calamity, the history of ancient Jerusalem came to a close - temporarily.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the City, which was largely in ruins, about 130 A.D. and began its reconstruction. The desperate rebellion of the Jews led by Bar Cocheba against the Romans between the years 132 and -135 caused the emperor to make the new city a pagan one and to prohibit all Jews from entering it. The new city was called Aelia Capitolina.

Jerusalem - A Christian City!

Little is known of the city from the time of Hadrian to that of Roman Emperor Constantine, called the Great, when Christianity became the religion of the Empire. The population of Jerusalem was gradually supplemented by Christians, and Christian pilgrims flocked to the city. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built at the order of Emperor Constantine. Other buildings of like character were subsequently built, and Jerusalem became a Christian city. Numerous churches were built in and around sites considered "sacred" to Christianity, but all with roots in Judaism. The Byzantine Empress Eudocia also rebuilt the ancient southern wall.

Jerusalem - Under Persian, Muslim,
Crusaders, Turkish, And British "Occupation"!

After the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, it was captured and "Occupied" by other different nations and peoples - the Persians under Kinjq Khosrau 11 in 614, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628, taken by the Muslims in 637 (with the "Dome Of The Rock" built over the rock that was believed to be the altar place of Soloman's Temple); the Seljuk Turks conquered the city in 1071; the Crusaders took the area in 1099; it was captured by the Muslim leader Saladin in 1187; in 1516 it was taken by the Ottoman Turks, and the British captured it from the Turks in 1917.

The Recent History of Jerusalem.

After the First World War the British were given a mandate by the League of Nations to establish in Palestine a homeland for the Jews. The duration of the British mandate over Palestine lasted from 1918 to 1948 - coming to an end when the State of Israel experienced a re-birth - no great thanks to Britain. The British did more to favor the Arabs and prevent the establishment of a homeland for the Jews. While under British control, the land called Palestine, witnessed bitter conflict between Jews and Arabs over the idea of partitioning the land. It was the determination of the Arab League Of Nations to make all of Palestine another Arab state. The British helped the Arabs realize a part of this goal, Arab-Palestinian State called Transjordan.

In 1946 the British relinquished it's mandate over Transjordon - it was recognized as a sovereign state and became known as Jordan. Still, there was no homeland for the Children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were forbidden (by British and Arab governments) to enter or settle in the area of Jordan; and to curb the influx of Jews back into Palestine, the Palestinian Arabs began to organize political opposition to Jewish immigration. Again, the British government moved in favor of the Arabs and issued a white paper limiting the number of Jews entering Palestine, assuring the Arabs of a continuing majority in the land. Make no wonder England is in a state of economic and moral chaos - in favoring the Arabs and despising the Jews, it sowed to the wind and now it reaps a whirlwind of God's judgement. Of course, the Palestinian Arabs still continue to oppose the presence of Jews in the Land.

In its original partition plan of November 9, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations, proposed to establish Jerusalem and its environs as an international enclave, some 280 sq.mi. in area. The objective was to assure free access for all religious groups to the holy places of the city. In the spring of 1948, however, during the war over partition between the Jews and the Arab League, the opposing armies of Israel and of Jordan seized Jerusalem, with Israel possessing the western portion of the city, containing the modern residential and business sections, and Jordan "occupying" the eastern portion, including the Old City. In addition, the Israeli forces held a corridor to Jerusalem extending from Tel Aviv-Jaffa on the coast.

In the armistice signed on April 3, 1949, between Israel and Jordan, both sides recognized the other's holdings in Jerusalem. The Israeli government proposed the internationalization of the Old City, but Jordan conditioned consent to this proposal upon the rest of the city's being placed under international administration. Rather than agree to international administration of the City, in 1950 the Israeli Kenesset declared the New City to be the capital of Israel. During the Arab-Israeli war of June, 1967, Israeli forces captured the Old City, and, subsequently, the Israeli Knesset unilaterally decreed the reunification of the entire city of Jerusalem. After about 2500 years, the "City of David" was once again "one city", governed by the children of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.

Jerusalem - The Only Case In History

Never in it's history has the earth ever witnessed (except in the case of the Jews), the rise, the fall; the rise, the fall, and then after almost 3000 years, the rising again of that same civilization. Israel is unique in that after thousands of years it still maintains it's ancient religion, it's customs, it's language and it's Capitol City - Jerusalem. What a testimony to the "faithfulness of Jehovah"! Still, most of the world is "willfully blind" to it. They turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the claims of the Bible concerning Jerusalem and the Jewish people.

In Luke 21:24 our Lord Jesus prophesied thus concerning Jerusalem, the city over which He wept.....

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

The Israelites considered Jerusalem as a sacred city, because of the Temple and it's connection with the Davidic dynasty. This is why, after it's destruction by the Chaldeans in 587-86 B.C., it was rebuilt. This is the only case in history where a people returned from captivity to rebuild a state and re-establish a lost independence.

Consider the following articles on Jerusalem by Daniel Pipes and Joseph Farah (An HONEST Arab).

WHOSE JERUSALEM?
By Daniel Pipes
The Jerusalem Post - Wednesday July 19, 2000

With final-status talks between Israel and the Palestinians underway, Jerusalem is finally in play. At base, the argument here consists of an argument between Jews and Moslems over who has the older, better documented, and deeper ties to the Holy City.

A cursory review of the facts shows that there is not much of a contest.

Jerusalem has a unique importance to Jews. It has a unique place in Jewish law and a pervasive presence in the Jewish religion. Jews pray toward Jerusalem, mourn the destruction of their Temple there, and wishfully repeat the phrase "Next year in Jerusalem." It is the only capital of the Jewish state, ancient or modern.

In contrast, Jerusalem has a distinctly secondary place for Moslems. It is not once mentioned in the Koran or in the liturgy. The Prophet Mohammed never went to the city, nor did he have ties to it. Jerusalem never has served as the capital of any polity, and has never been an Islamic cultural center.

Rather, Mecca is the "Jerusalem" of Islam. That is where Moslems believe that Abraham nearly sacrificed Ishmael; where Mohammed lived most of his life; and where the key events of Islam took place. Moslems pray in its direction five times each day and it is where non-Moslems are forbidden to set foot.

Jerusalem being of minor importance to Islam, why do Moslems nowadays insist that the city is more important to them than to Jews? The answer has to do with politics. Moslems take religious interest in Jerusalem when it serves practical interests. When those concerns lapse, so does the standing of Jerusalem. This pattern has recurred at least five times over 14 centuries.

The Prophet

When Mohammed sought to convert the Jews in the 620s C.E., he adopted several Jewish-style practices - a Yom Kippur-like fast, a synagogue-like place of worship, kosher-style food restrictions - and also tachanun-like prayers while facing Jerusalem. But when most Jews rejected Mohammed's overtures, the Koran changed the prayer direction to Mecca and Jerusalem lost importance for Moslems.

The Umayyad Dynasty. Jerusalem regained stature a few decades later when rulers of the Umayyad dynasty sought ways to enhance the importance of their territories. One way was by building two monumental religious structures in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock in 691 and Al-Aqsa Mosque in 715.

Then the Umayyads did something tricky: The Koran states that God took Mohammed "by night from the sacred mosque in Mecca to the furthest (al-aqsa) place of worship." When this passage was revealed (about 621), "furthest place of worship" was a turn of phrase, not a specific place. Decades later the Umayyads built a mosque in Jerusalem and called it Al-Aqsa. Moslems since then understand the passage about the "furthest place of worship" as referring to Jerusalem.

But when the Umayyads fell in 750, Jerusalem lapsed into near obscurity.

The Crusades.

The Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 evinced little Moslem reaction at first. Then, as a Moslem counter-crusade developed, so did a whole literature extolling the virtues of Jerusalem. As a result, at about this time Jerusalem came to be seen as Islam's third most holy city. Then, safely back in Moslem hands in 1187, the city lapsed into its usual obscurity. The population declined, even the defensive walls fell.

The British conquest

 

Only when British troops reached Jerusalem in 1917, did Moslems reawaken to the city's importance. Palestinian leaders made Jerusalem a centerpiece of their campaign against Zionism. When the Jordanians won the old city in 1948, Moslems predictably lost interest again in Jerusalem. It reverted to a provincial backwater, deliberately degraded by the Jordanians in favor of Amman, their capital.

Taking out a bank loan, subscribing to telephone service, or registering a postal package required a trip to Amman. Jordanian radio transmitted the Friday sermon not from Al-Aqsa but from a minor mosque in Amman. Jerusalem also fell off the Arab diplomatic map: the PLO covenant of 1964 did not mention it. No Arab leader (other than King Hussein, and he rarely) visited there.

The Israeli Conquest

When Israel captured the city in June 1967, Moslem interest in Jerusalem again surged. The 1968 PLO covenant mentioned Jerusalem by name. Revolutionary Iran created a Jerusalem Day and placed the city on bank notes. Money flooded into the city to build it up. Thus have politics, more than religious sentiments, driven Moslem interest in Jerusalem through history.

Palestinian Flag courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.


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