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  • Writer's pictureRaz Tsafrir

Jerusalem, from Biblical times to the Big revolt. 1000 years of history...

Well, so much to say about this amazing city, lets start... Jerusalem has dozens of names. It appears 641 times in the bible. It is sacred to all big three monotheistic religions and has been for thousands of years. Let go first over the loooong history of the city.

Jerusalem is known from external sources (by external I mean outside the Bible) as a small village of local Yabusi tribes already in the 14th century BC. We know it from letters found in Egypt called "El Amarna letters" and in these hundreds of letters local tribe leaders and kings exchange letters with Pharaoh, the king of the largest empire at that time - Egypt. In these letters we learn which towns and cities existed at that time, and Jerusalem is one of them.

Second time we 'meet' Jerusalem is when David, the newly elected King of Judea conquers the city and turns it into his capital. The Bible tells us that David chose this city because it was neutral in the sense that it did not reside in any of the 12 tribes' territories. David expands the city and his son - King Solomon build the first temple on Mt. Moriah, to the north of the city of David.

You walk down the stairs, about 20 meters below and you find yourself in a city built 3000 years ago... Hezekiah's Tunnel in the City of David.

The view from the City of David, looking South East.

Jerusalem grows over the years, kings come and go and Jerusalem sustains several attacks of foreign Kings trying to destroy it. In the 8th century BC the Assyrians fail to conquer it but In 586 BC the Babylonians manage to destroy the temple and expel the Jews. 70 years later, they return and build the second temple, right where the first one stood.

Cyrus Declaration (British museum, London) allowing Jews to return to Judea and re-build their temple.

A model of the 2nd temple in Israel museum.

Drawing of the 2nd temple as seen from the west.

The Greek come and go and the Hasmonean empire is built by the Maccabeus. Jerusalem is once again the capital of the Jews for about 100 years, until the Romans arrive in 67 BC. King Herod build the most beautiful temple in the ancient world and in order to do that he lifts up the temple mount to a higher level. All that happens around 20 BC. The entire city is rebuilt at that time and Jerusalem reaches its highest times. Herod dies and his sons cannot control the land so the Romans send officers from Rome to rule Israel. This brings clashes and in 70 AD Jerusalem is destroyed, the Temple is burned to the ground and Jews are expelled.

In 132 AD Jews rebel against the Romans once more, but after 3 years the Romans crash the revolt, this time for good. Jerusalem is renamed Ilia Capitoline, at the place of the Jewish temple, a temple for Aphrodite is built. Jews have lost Jerusalem for almost 2000 years...

Temple Mount today.

We visit Jerusalem in all our trips!

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