Whether known as Jerusalem or Yerushalayim or al-Quids, this ancient city is the epicenter for three major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This 6,000 year old religious city has been fought over, destroyed and rebuilt countless times. It is difficult to provide a “brief” history, but bear with me, for its violent history (and this continues) made Jerusalem what it is today,
It began as an agricultural settlement called Rusalimum which some believe means “dwelling-place of Shalim,” the Canaanite god of dawn. Egypt at that time held dominion over Canaan. Then the Philistines invaded about 3500 years ago and Egypt lost its hold. By the first millennium BCE King David established his kingdom of Judea, with Jerusalem as its capital. As time went on the original multi-theistic religions faded out and the worship of one god took hold and as its religious importance grew more and more faithful took pilgrimages to the holy city of Jerusalem.
Subsequently, Judea was attacked and conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. As mentioned in a previous post, the Persian ruler, in an effort to make the exiled Jewish people his allies, decreed that they could not only return to Jerusalem but also could rebuild their First Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.
After the Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE, Alexander the Great invaded this now Persian empire, followed by Ptolemy I from what is now Egypt. That empire was replaced by the Seleucid empire, a Hellenistic state. Finally, the Greek way of life pervaded the culture in Jerusalem so deeply that it fostered the great Jewish Maccabean revolt and another dynasty controlled the area until internal fighting caused the Romans to install King Herod in 37 BCE as their vassal ruler over Judea. I’ll discuss Herod in more detail in a later post, but suffice it to say he was a despot but also a brilliant architect.
After Herod’s death Roman appointed governors took over and it was during this time that the preaching of a Galilain named Jesus alarmed the Romans so much that they crucified him. His followers continued to spread his message and from this Christianity arose. Christianity was deemed the official religion of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem was reinstated as the Christian holy city in the beginning of the 4th Century BCE. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was erected on the site where Jesus was crucified and buried.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE – here are some of my photos from our visit:
The Rock of Calvary is seen encased in glass. The name Calvary comes from the Latin Calvariae Locus, meaning The Place of the Skull. According to the Gospels, this is where the Crucifixion took place.