Ihsanur Rahman Ghauri


Jerusalem is one of the most ancient Canaanite cities. Its meanings have been explained by International Standard Bible Encyclopedia as:

With regard to the meaning of the original name there is no concurrence of opinion. The oldest known form, Ura-sa-lim, has been considered by many to mean either the ‘City of Peace’ or the ‘City of (the god) Salem,’ but other interpreters, considering the name as of Hebrew origin, interpret it as the ‘possession of peace’ or ‘foundation of peace.’ It is one of the ironies of history that a city which in all of its long history has seen so little peace and for whose possession such rivers of blood have been shed should have such a possible meaning for its name (stress added).[1]

 It has been recorded as ‘Salem’ in the Bible (Gen14:18) which has been identified with Jerusalem in Ps 76:3 and in early Jewish tradition. Modern scholars also endorse this tradition. ‘The priest of God Most High’, Melchizedek, was the king of Salem when Abraham visited it in nineteenth century BC. As to its antiquity the book Jerusalem explains:

Various pre-historic sites of the Lower Paleolithic[2] period have been found. In the Mesolithic[3] period, which followed, the climate was stabilized in its present form and, due to the prevailing dryness, conditions became much more difficult for prehistoric man in the Jerusalem area. Only two sites are dated to this period. The agricultural revolution of the Neolithic[4] period enabled man to make progress against the desert: 16 sites are indicated for this period. In the Chalcolithic[5] period, settlement contracted somewhat, probably because of the strong attraction of the Jordan Valley and the Negev, which led to a relative decline of the mountain area.[6]

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia traces its antiquity as follows:

Pre-Israelite period. — The beginnings of Jerusalem are long before recorded history: at various points in the neighborhood, e.g. at el Bukei`a to the Southwest, and at the northern extremity of the Mount of Olives to the Northeast, were very large settlements of Paleolithic man, long before the dawn of history, as is proved by the enormous quantities of Celts[7] scattered over the surface. It is certain that the city’s site itself was occupied many centuries before David, and it is a traditional view that the city called Salem (Genesis 14:18), over which Melchizedek was king, was identical with Jerusalem.[8]

The first certain reference to this city is about 1450 BC, when the name Ur-u-salem occurs in several letters belonging to the Tell el-Amarna Letters correspondence. In 7 of these letters occurs the name Abd Khiba, and it is clear that this man was ‘king,’ or governor of the city, as the representative of Pharaoh of Egypt. (…). Incidentally we may gather that the place was then a fortified city, guarded partly by mercenary Egyptian troops, and there are reasons for thinking that then ruler of Egypt, Amenhotep IV, had made it a sanctuary of his god Aten — the sun-disc. [9]

It is reported to be ‘inhabited as early as 3200 B.C.E.’[10] Pottery from the fourth millennium B.C. has been excavated at Jerusalem.[11] Pottery of Early Bronze (3150-2200 BC) and Middle Bronze Ages (2200-1550 BC) shows that people lived there during the third and early second millenniums. Stewart Henry Perowne, Orientalist, historian, and author, explains:

Excavation has shown that a settlement existed on the site south of the Temple platform, possibly in the Early Bronze Age and certainly by 1800 BC. A massive town wall still survives, just above the spring that determined the location of the ancient settlement.[12]

The walled city of this period was very small, occupying only between eight and nine acres. At the upper end, a little to the N of the spring, there was a sanctuary. The royal palace and cemetery lay below this, and the rest of the hill to its South tip was occupied by the city. Remains of Early Bronze Age wall have been discovered on this part of the hill. In 15th century BC the Hurrians or Horites came into Palestine. One of the writers of Amarna Letters was ‘Abd Hiba or Arti-Hepa, who reigned at Jerusalem in the 14th century BC. A strong masonry rampart which has been excavated on the East slope of Ophel comes from this period.[13] In the early twelfth century BC ‘the children of Judah [as well as the children of Simeon (see Judg. 8:3)] fought gainst Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword [slaughterted its inhabitants] and set the city on fire.’[14] Quoting this verse W. Smith observes:

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 [stress added]; twice it was razed to the ground, and on two other occasions its walls were levelled. In this respect it stands without a parallel in any city, ancient or modern.[15]

The Jebosites soon recaptured and rebuilt the city.[16]

Defeating the Jebosites, King David captured Jerusalem in about the first quarter of the tenth century BC and made it his capital which was a step of great historical importance. It was neither situated in the area of northern tribes nor in the area of southern tribes. It, therefore, played an important role in the unification of the kingdom. He made it a religious capital of the nation as well by bringing the Ark of Covenant and setting up a tent for it near his palace. After building his own palace, David wanted to build a house for God too, but was not allowed to do so (II Sam.7).[17]

King Solomon built his palace and the Temple. He also built the wall of the city as it had been considerably expanded during his and his father David’s reign.

In 922 BC the city was plundered by the Egyptian Pharaoh, Sheshak (Sheshonq I).

About the middle of the 9th century BC it was plundered by the Palestinians and Arabians.

By the reign of Jehoshaphat the city had again largely recovered its importance (cf.1 Kings 22), but in his son Jehoram’s reign (849-842 BC) Judah was invaded and the royal house was pillaged by Philistines and Arabs (2 Chron. 21:16-17).[18]

In 786 BC, during Amaziah’s reign (797-767 BC), Jehoash of Israel (798-782 BC) invaded Jerusalem[19] (2 Kings 14:8-9). Judah was defeated in the battle at Beth-shemesh.

(…), and [Jehoash of Israel] brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, 400 cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.[20]

 Amaziah’s son, Azariah (Uzziah), was the king of Judah during 767-740 BC. He repaired the town-wall and fortified it with towers. His son Ahaz feeling the weakness of his little kingdom, bought with silver and gold the alliance of Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria (745-727 BC). He exhibited such a weakness about his faith that he made an altar similar to Tiglath-pileser’s for his own ritual in the temple (2 Kings 16:10-12). His reign is darkened by a record of heathen practices, so much so that he made his son pass through the fire as a human sacrifice (1 Kings16:3-4; compare 2 Chr. 28:3).

In 722 BC, in the reign of Hoshea (731-722 BC), the northern kingdom of Israel came to an end, its capital, Samaria, having been captured by the Assyrian emperor Sargon II, son of Shalmanesser. 27,290 captives were deported from Samaria to Gozan, Harran, Media, Hulah, and Nineveh. Judah was ruled by king Ahaz (732-716 BC) at that time.

King Ahaz of Judah was succeeded by his son Hezekiah (716-686 BC) who undertook some religious reforms. Hezekiah was succeeded by his son, Manasseh (686-642 BC). He reigned Judah for almost half a century and his period was the dark age for the Israelite religion. He introduced idol-worship in the very temple of Solomon. He did not tolerate the religion of Israel. He was made prisoner in 701 BCby the Assyrian king Sennacherib (705-681 BC) who carried him off to Babylon and made Judah his tributary. He returned after some uncertain interval of time to Jerusalem.

In 640 BC Josiah, son of Amon, succeeded his father. He destroyed all relics of idolatry. The Temple was restored. In the course of repairs (in ca. 620 BC) Hilkiah the chief priest found the ‘book of the law of the Lord’. He was aided by Jeremiah the prophet in spreading through his kingdom the knowledge and worship of Jehovah. He carried out his endeavours to abolish every trace of idolatry and superstition. In 609 BC he was mortally wounded in the battle against Pharaoh Necho in the valley of Esdraelon and died before he could reach Jerusalem.[21]

On the Eastern side the Babylonians captured Nineveh, the capital of Assyrian empire. In 612 BCthey also took the suzerainty of Jerusalem from the Assyrians. They brought the Assyrian empire to an end in 609 BC, despoiled Jerusalem and took its king to Babylonia.

During this time Jeremiah (ca. 620-580 BC) prophesied for forty-two years (ca. 626-584 BC), actively foretelling in streets and courts of Jerusalem the approaching ruin of the city. These messages were received with contempt and anger by the king and court (Jeremiah 36:23).

On 15 March, 597 BC Nebuchadnezzar II took Jerusalem. Jerusalem was despoiled of all its treasures. Many Jews exiled including Jehoiachin and Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar nominated Zedekiah as king of Jerusalem. After ten years Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem was besieged for more than a year until ‘famine was sore in the city.’ All the men of war ‘fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden,’ and the king ‘went by the way of the Arabah,’ but was overtaken and captured ‘in the plains of Jericho.’ A terrible punishment followed his faithlessness to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-7). The city and the temple were despoiled and burnt; the walls of Jerusalem were broken down(2 Kings 25:8f; 2 Chronicles 36:17f). It is probable that the ark was removed also at this time.

In 538 BC Cyrus the Persian captured the Babylonian empire. He allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the house of Yahweh (Ezr 1:1f). Over 40,000 (Ezr 1; 2) under Sheshbazzar, prince of Judah (Ezr 1:8,11), governor of a province, returned, bringing with them the sacred vessels of the temple. The daily sacrifices were renewed and the feasts and fasts restored (Ezr 3:3-7). The foundations of the restored temple were laid (Ezr 3:10; 5:16), but on account of the opposition of the people of the land and the Samaritans, the building was not completed until 20 years later (Ezr 6:15).

In March 516 the building of the Temple was completed and in 515 BCJerusalem was given the autonomous status and became the capital of the new state of Judea.

In 444 BC Nehemiah built the fortifications and the walls of the city. The rebuilding took 52 days. No doubt the wall was far weaker than that which Nebuchadnezzar destroyed 142 years previously, but it followed the same outline and had the same general structure. As to the history of the next 100 years, International Standard Bible Enc. explains:

For the next 100 years we have scarcely any historical knowledge of Jerusalem. A glimpse is afforded by the papyri of Elephantine where we read of a Jewish community in Upper Egypt petitioning Bagohi, the governor of Judea, for permission to rebuild their own temple to Yahweh in Egypt; incidentally they mention that they had already sent an unsuccessful petition to Johanan the high priest and his colleagues in Jerusalem. In another document we gather that this petition to the Persian governor was granted. These documents must date about 411-407 BC. Later, probably about 350, we have somewhat ambiguous references to the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of numbers of Jews in the time of Artaxerxes (III) Ochus (358-337 BC). With the battle of Issus and Alexander’s Palestinian campaign (ca. 332 BC), we are upon surer historical ground.[22]

In 333 BC the Greek king Alexander the Great of Macedonia captured the city. After the death of Alexander the Great(323 BC), Palestine suffered much from its position, between the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Antioch. Each became in turn its suzerain, and indeed at one time the tribute appears to have been divided between them. Ptolemy captured Alexanria and made it the capital of the state. In 321 Ptolemy Soter invaded Palestine, and, it is said, captured Jerusalem by a deceitful way, entering the city on the Sabbath as if anxious to offer sacrifice. He carried away many of his Jewish prisoners to Egypt and settled them there. In the struggles between the contending monarchies, although Palestine suffered, the capital itself, on account of its isolated position, remained undisturbed, under the suzerainty of Egypt. In 217 BC, Ptolemy (IV) Philopator, after his victory over Antiochus IIIat Raphia, visited the temple at Jerusalem and offered sacrifices. He is reported (3 Macc:1) to have entered the ‘Holy of Holies.’

Antiochus IIIthe Great (223-187 BC) defeated Ptolemy V in 198 BCas a result of which Palestine went under the control of the Seleucids. The Jews helped him in besieging the Egyptian garrison in the Akra. Jesus ben Sira has given an account of the prosperity of the city about this time (190-180 BC). The Jews had enjoyed considerable prosperity and religious liberty under the Egyptians. But the new Seleucid ruler increased the taxes, and fidelity to the tenets of Judaism came to be regarded as treachery to the Seleucid rule. Antiochus IIIsuffered a defeat by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 BCwho took his son Antiochus IVto Rome as hostage. He (Antiochus IV) was released in exchange to Demetrius in 175 BCand was allowed to seize the throne of Syria (175-164 BC). Antiochus IV hastened (170 BC) against Jerusalem with a great army, captured the city, massacred the people and despoiled the temple (1 Macc 1:20-24). Two years later Antiochus, being afraid of Rome in Egypt, appears to have determined that in Jerusalem, at any rate, he would have no sympathizers with Egypt. In 168 BC he sent his chief collector of tribute, who attacked the city with strong force and entered it (1 Macc 1:30). He looted the city, set it on fire and demolished the dwellings and walls. He massacred the men, and many of the women and children he sold as slaves (1 Macc 1:31-35; 2 Macc 5:24). He destroyed the Great Temple of Jerusalem and tried to convert the people of Judea to idolatry. International Standard Bible Enc. has observed:

He (Antiochus IV) sacrificed swine upon the holy altar, and caused the high priest himself — a Greek in all his sympathies — to partake of the impure sacrificial feasts; he tried by barbarous cruelties to suppress the ritual of circumcision. In everything he endeavored, (…), to organize Jerusalem as a Greek city, and to secure his position he built a strong wall, and a great tower for the Akra, and, having furnished it well with armor and victuals[23], he left a strong garrison. But the Syrians had overreached[24]themselves this time, and the reaction against persecution and attempted religious suppression produced the great uprising of the Maccabeans.[25]

In 167 BC Mattathias of Modin, a Jewish priest, defied Antiochus’ ban on Judaism and escaped into mountains outside Lydda with his sons and began a revolt. In 165 BC Mattathias died, his sons continued the revolt. Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers retook Jerusalem from the Syrians. They cleansed the Great Temple, reconstructed the altar, restored the temple-services, and destroyed the idols.

Judas defeated three Syrian armies in the open, but he could not expel the garrison in the Akra. In 163 BC a great Syrian army came to the relief of the hard-pressed garrison. Lysias, accompanied by the boy-king himself (Antiochus V), approached the city from the South via Beth-Zur. At Beth-zachariah the Jews were defeated, and Judas’ brother Eleazar was slain, and Jerusalem was soon captured. The fort on Mt. Zion which surrounded the sanctuary was surrendered by treaty, but when the king saw its strength he broke his oath and destroyed the fortifications (1 Macc 6:62). But even in this desperate state Judas and his followers were saved. A certain pretender, Philip, raised a rebellion in a distant part of the empire, and Lysias was obliged to patch up a truce with the nationalist Jews more favorable to Judas than before his defeat; the garrison in the Akra remained, however, to remind the Jews that they were not independent. In 161 BC another Syrian general, Nicanor, was sent against Judas, but he was at first won over to friendship and when, later, at the instigation of the Hellenistic party, he was compelled to attack Judas, he did so with hastily raised levies and was defeated at Adasa, a little North of Jerusalem. Judas was, however, not long suffered to celebrate his triumph. A month later Bacchides appeared before Jerusalem, and in April, 161 BC, Judas was slain in battle with him at Berea.[26]

By 152 BC, Judas’ brother, Jonathan, was virtual ruler of the land. He gained more than any of his family had ever done. He was appointed high priest and strategos, or deputy for the king, in Judea. He repaired the city and restored the temple-fortress. He made the walls higher and built up a great part of the eastern wall. He also made a great mound between the Akra and the city to isolate the Syrian garrison.

Simon succeeded Jonathan. He captured the Akra in 139 BC, destroyed it, and partially levelled the hill on which it stood. In 135 BChis son, John Hyrcanus[27] (King of Judea from135-104 BC), succeeded him.

The name ‘Maccabees’ and the ‘Maccabean’ is generally given to Mattthias and his sons, and the name ‘Hasmonean’ to their descendants (135-63 BC), when John Hyrcanus became the ruler. In 134 BC John Hyrcanus was besieged in Jerusalem by Antiochus VII Sidetes which had to surrender hostages and heavy tributes. McKenzie states in his Dic. of the Bible:

After the death of Antiochus VII in 128 Judea was practically independent. John ruled with the title of ethnarch and high priest. He extended Jewish rule over E Palestine and Edom, where he forced the Edomeans to submit to circumcision. He attacked Samaria and destroyed the temple of Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim. The Pharisees, alarmed at his ambitions and the secular character of his rule, broke with Hasmoneans during his reign.   

Aristobulus I (105-104), son of John Hyrcanus: He imprisoned his mother, to whom the sovereignty had been bequeathed by the will of John, and imprisoned his brothers except Antigonus, whom he associated with himself in government but later assassinated. Aristobulus assumed the title of king.

Alexander Jannaeus (Jonathan), brother of Aristobulus I (104-76): Salome Alexandra, widow of Aristobulus, released her brothers-in-law from prison and set Jonathan, who preferred to go by his Greek name, upon the throne. Alexander extended the Jewish kingdom, in spite of a number of setbacks, almost to the limits of the ancient kingdom of David. (…). Alexander extended his rule over Philistia (capturing it from Ptolemy Lathyrus of Egypt’s Control) and (…) some of the Hellenistic cities. In his expansion northward in Palestine he confronted the Nabatean king Obodath, who held Damascus and halted his advance in that direction. This defeat aroused his adversaries among his own people, who summoned help from the Seleucid king Demetrius III Eukairos. Demetrius invaded Judea and defeated Alexander. The defeat, however, turned the patriotism of the Jews to sympathy with Alexander; Demetrius, thus deprived of support, was forced to withdraw. Alexander revenged himself by having 800 of his Jewish captives and their wives and children executed before their eyes; he himself dined with his concubines, watching the spectacle. Antiochus XII Dionysus, the successor of Demetrius III, invaded Palestine, and Alexander was unable to resist him; but after Antiochus was defeated and killed by the Nabateans, Alexander continued his conquest in E Palestine. (…).

Salome (75-67), widow of Alexander Jannaeus: She appointed Hyrcanus II, the elder son of Alexander, high priest and, recognizing the unchecked ambition of Aristobulus II, the younger son, kept him in private life. After her death the civil war between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus led each brother to seek the assistance of Pompey, then engaged in his eastern conquests. Aristobulus, however, finally refused Roman arbitration; and Pompey attacked and took Jerusalem in 63 BC. He ended the Hasmonean monarchy, detached the territories conquered by earlier Hasmonean rulers, and made Judea part of the province of Syria.[28]

Pompey allowed Hyrcanus to remain high priest, but without the title of ‘king.’ He reverently left the treasures in the temple untouched; he merely laid a tribute upon the city, and demolishedthe walls. Aristobulus II was taken to Rome as prisoner, and the city became tributary to the Roman Empire.The greedy Crassus plundered what Pompey had spared in 54 BC.

In 47 BC Antipater was appointed procurator in return for very material services rendered by him to Julius Caesar in Egypt. At the same time Caesar allowed Hyrcanus to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Antipater made his eldest son, Phaselus, governor of Jerusalem, and gave Galilee to the care of his younger son, Herod.

Julius Caesar confirmed Hyrcanus in the high priesthood, and gave him civil power as ethnarch, and made Herod’s father, Antipater the Idumean, his chief minister, procurator of Judaea. Upon Antipater’s assassination, his sons Herod and Phasaelus, with Hyrcanus, resisted Antigonus (Aristobulus’ son and Hyrcanus’ nephew), who with a Parthian army attacked Jerusalem. Herod escaped.

In 40 BC Herod succeeded his father as procurator of Judea by order of the Roman Senate, but the same year the Parthians under Pacorus and Barzapharnes captured and plundered Jerusalem and re-established Antigonus. Herod, was appointed king of Judea by Antony in 37 BC. He took Jerusalem after a 5 months siege. Antigonus was killed by Antony’s command. Herod slew the chiefs of the Asmonaeans, and the whole sanhedrim, and finally, the last of the Asmonaeans, Hyrcanus.

His most magnificent work was to rebuild the temple from its foundations beginning 20 or 19 BC. The construction of the sanctuary was accomplished in 11-10 BC by 1,000 specially trained priests. The court was finished in 9 BC. However, the temple was not considered completed until AD 63 or 64, under Herod Agrippa II and the procurator Albinus. Herod also built four great towers on the old wall. In 4 BC disturbances occurred, and shortly afterward Herod died. He died some months after Christ’s birth. Jesus Christ was born somewhere in AD 1-5. Fausset’s Bible Dic. writes:

At the Passover A.D. 30 our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection took place.[29]

Roman emperor, Caligula[30] ordered his statue to be erected in the temple. The Jews protested against it, and by Agrippa’s intercession Caligula agreed to withdraw his order. A famine commenced in A.D. 45which lasted two years.

Gessius Florus (A.D. 65) tested the Jews’ endurance to the last point, desolating whole cities and openly allowing robbers to buy impunity in crime. He tried to get the treasure from the temple, but after plundering the upper city failed. Young Eleazar, son of Ananias, led a party which withheld the regular offerings from the Roman emperor, virtually renouncing allegiance. So the last Roman war began. The insurgents from the temple and lower city set on fire the Asmonaean palace, the high priest’s house, and the archives repository, ‘the nerves of the city’. They slew the Roman garrison, and burnt Antonia. The high priest and his brother were found slain in the aqueduct.

Cestius Gallus marched on the city, but was obliged to retire from the N. wall of the temple back to Scopus, where he was utterly defeated in November, A.D. 66. C. Gallus’ first advance and retreat gave the Christians the opportunity of fleeing as Christ counselled them, ‘when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16). Vespasian, until the fall of Gistala, in October or November, A.D. 67, was subduing the northern country. John son of Levi escaped to Jerusalem, and in two years and a half (A.D. 70) Titus began the siege, the Zealots then having overcome the moderate party. The Zealots were in two parties: one under John of Giscala and Eleazar, holding the temple and Antonia, 8,400 men; the other under Simon Burgioras in a tower, holding the upper city, from the Coenaculum to the Latin convent, the lower city in the valley, and the Acre N. of the temple, 10,000 men and 5,000 Idumeans. Strangers and pilgrims swelled the number to 600,000. Josephus says a million perished in the siege, and 40,000 were allowed to depart into the country, besides an immense number sold to the army, part of the ‘97,000 carried captive during the whole war’. This number is thought an exaggeration.[31]

On 7 September, 70 Jerusalem fell to the Roman general, Titus, son of Vespasian. The Roman troops put the city to fire and destroyed most of the Third Temple. Only the ‘Wailing Wall’ was left standing. The Romans abolished the Jewish high priesthood and the Sanhedrin.

At that time the city was distracted by internal feuds. Simon held the upper and lower cities; John of Gischala, the temple and Ophel; the Idumeans, introduced by the Zealots, fought only Walls for themselves. Yet another party, too weak to make its counsels felt, was for peace with Rome, a policy, which, if taken in time, would have found in Titus a spirit of reason and mercy. The miseries of the siege and the destruction of life and property were at least as much the work of the Jews themselves as of their conquerors. On the 15th day of the siege the third wall (Agrippa’s) was captured; the second wall was finally taken on the 24th day; on the 72nd day the Antonia fell, and 12 days later the daily  sacrifice ceased. On the 105th day the temple and the lower city were burnt, and the last day found the whole city in flames.

The city and temple were wholly burnt and destroyed, excepting the W. wall of the upper city and Herod’s three great towers, which were left as memorials of the strength of the defenses. The old and weak were killed, the children under 17 sold as slaves, the rest were sent to the Egyptian mines, the amphitheatres, and Rome. The 10th legion of the Roman army so thoroughly levelled and dug up, that no one visiting Jerusalem would believe it had ever been inhabited. Hadrian completed the fulfillment of Christ’s words[32] by razing the ruins still left and drawing a plow over the temple foundations.

For 60 years after its capture silence reigns over Jerusalem. The site continued to be garrisoned, but it was not rebuilt to any extent. In 130 AD it was visited by Hadrian, who found only few buildings standing. Two years later (132-35 AD) occurred the last great rebellion of the Jews in the uprising of Bar-Cochba (son of a star), who was encouraged by the rabbi Akiba. With the suppression of this last effort for freedom by Julius Severus, the remaining traces of Judaism were stamped out, and it is even said  that the very site of the temple was plowed up by T. Annius Rufus and an altar of Jupiter was placed upon the temple-site. The Jews were excluded from Jerusalem.

In 138 Hadrian rebuilt the city, giving it the name AElia Capitolina. A statue of horse-ridden Hadrian was placed on the site of the ‘Holy of Holies’. Either Hadrian himself, or one of the Antonine emperors, erected a temple of Venus on the north-western hill, where subsequently was built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The habit of pilgrimage to the holy sites, which appears to have had its roots far back in the 2nd century, seems to have increasingly flourished in the next two centuries.

International Standard B. Encyclopedia. has recorded:

In 362 Julian is said to have attempted to rebuild the temple, but the work was interrupted by an explosion. The story is doubtful.[33]

Fausset’s BDrelates the event as follows:

In the apostate Julian’s reign the Jews at his instigation attempted with great enthusiasm to rebuild the temple; but a whirlwind and earthquake shattered the stones of the former foundation, and a fire from the temple mount consumed their tools. Ammianus Marcellinus (23:1), the emperor’s friend, attests the fact. Providence baffled Julian’s attempt to falsify Christ’s words.[34]

International Standard Bible Encycl.states:

The site of the temple itself appears to have remained in ruins down to the seventh century.[35]

In AD 614/615 Palestine was conquered bythe Persians Chosroes IIwho destroyed Jerusalem including the church of the Holy Sepulchre and took the ‘True Cross’ as booty, on which Jesus was believed to have been crucified. He slew thousands of monks and clergy.

About the recapture of Jerusalem by the Romans International Standard Bible Enc. states:

In 629 Heracleus, (…), reached Jerusalem in triumph, bearing back the captured fragment of the cross. (…). The triumph of Christendom was but short. Seven years earlier had occurred the historic flight of Mohammed from Mecca (the Hegira), and in 637 the victorious followers of the Prophet appeared in the Holy City. After a short siege, it capitulated, but the khalif [or ‘khalifah’?] Omar treated the Christians with generous mercy. The Christian sites were spared, but upon the temple-site, which up to this [time] had apparently been occupied by no important Christian building but was of peculiar sanctity to the Moslems through Mohammed’s alleged visions there, a wooden mosque was erected, capable of accommodating 3,000 worshippers.[36]

Fausset’s BD:

Caliph Omar (637 A.D.) took the city from the patriarch Sophronius, who said, ‘Verily, this is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place. Christians were allowed liberty of worship.[37]

Dr. Tariq al-Sawidan has recorded the event as follows:

When the patriarch [Sophronius] saw this scene, he was impressed and the grace of Islam seemed to be great. He said to his fellow citizens that no man on earth could withstand this nation. Surrender to them to salvage yourselves. Agreement was written among them. ‘Umar granted them peace and security in the city. He guaranteed that their places of worship, their churches, and their holy places shall neither be demolished, nor touched. In this way the holy city witnessed the most merciciful conqueror of its history. It is recorded in the history of the holy land that whenever any conqueror took hold of the land, he completely destroyed it and murdered its inhabitants.[38]  

The author further noted:

After this agreement the gates of the holy city were opened for ‘Umar bin Khattab and he entered it. He began to go around the city. When he reached the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there was the call for Prayer. The Patriarch asked him to offer his prayer there in the Church. ‘Umar said to him, ‘No; if I offered prayer at this place, the Muslims might take it from you at some later time, saying ‘Umar offered his prayer here.’ (….).‘Umar kept going around in search of al-Aqsa Mosque but could not find it. He enquired the Patriarch about it. He said, ‘Is it that one which is sacred to Jews?’ ‘Umar replied in positive. He led him to it. He found it in the condition that the Christians had turned it into the place for rubbish and impurities. ‘Umar pulled up his sleeves and started sweeping and cleansing the mosque. When the Muslims, the leaders, and the troops saw it, they gathered and started cleansing the Holy Mosque. (…). Then ‘Umar took his coat, offered his prayer on it, and left it there. It was the first prayer of the Muslims in the al-Aqsa Mosque after the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). (…). Then ‘Umarordered at the spot to start the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque after removing the dunghill and garbage. (….).[39]

In ca. 640 AD (about two years after the fall of Jerusalem), Mu‘awiya was appointed commander of the army operating in Syria and Palestine. He governed these countries for forty years, first as governor, and later as caliph. Some of the events are being recorded below from the Encyclopaedia of Islam:

During the long rule of Mu‘awiya, the Muslim place of worship on the Temple area, approximately described by Bishop Arculfus in ca. 680 must have taken shape. (…) Mu‘awiya built the Muslim sanctuary there “after ‘Umar”. It stands also to reason that the plan for erection of the Dome of the Rock, which needed immense preparations, was made during the protracted and orderly rule of Mu‘awiya. The inscription in the dome bears the year 72/691-2, but the beginning of ‘Abd al-Malik reign (65-86/685-705) was extremely turbulent. ‘Abd al-Malik had good reasons to make efforts towards the completion of the building, which would show him as the great champion of Islam, but the early years of his caliphate were hardly suited for both conceiving such an enormous undertaking and carrying it out to its very end during a comparatively short period. Contrari-wise Mu‘awiya is known also by his extensive buying and building activities in Mecca, in which he was not followed by later Umayyads. (….).

The reral urge for the erection of the Dome of the Rock on the site where it stands and in the form which it has, was religious, in addition, of course, to the natural acculturation of the Arabs to an environment, where magnificent edifices were the eloquent witnesses of a triumphant Church and of great rulers. (….).

The end of Umayyad rule was for Jerusalem (ca. 750 AD), (…), a period of great tribulations. In the wake of a rbellion against the last Umayyad Marwan II, the walls of Jerusalem were pulled down and its inhabitants punished. Earthquakes aggravated the situation.[40]

Dr. Tariq al-Suwaidan writes:

‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan started the complete construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and made this ‘Dome of the Rock’ a grand edifice. (…). But ‘Abd al-Malik died before the cpompletion of the building. After him his son, al-Walid completed it.[41]

The Mosque of ‘Umar still exists in the S.E. corner of the al-Aqsa mosque. Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik, while he was still a crown prince, started construction of Ramla[42] as capital city of the province of Filastin.

After the end of the Umayyad period, Jerusalem underwent the reign of ‘Abbasid dynasty for 750-969 AD. In 870ADpatriach Theodosius praised the Muslims for permitting the Christians to build churches and to live in accordnace with their religion without oppressing them[stress added]. Jerusalem remained under the control of Fatimids, Turkomans and Saljuks for 969-1099 AD.

The crusaders [laid siege on June 6, and] took Jerusalem in A.D. 1099, July 15th, and it remained in Christian possession 88 years, [until] Saladin retook it in 1187.[43]

Encyclopaedia of Islam has recorded:

The massacre of the Muslims and the Jews in the town was perpetrated out of military and religious considerations alike. (….). There was a gruesome bloodbath, no doubt. (…). Jerusalem became a Christian city, where no Muslim or Jewish cult was permitted and no non-Christian could take residence permanently. The mosques were turned into churches or used as secular buildings. The newly-founded kingdom was appropriately called the kingdom of Jerusalem, since the conversion of the Holy City into a Christian sanctuary had been the purpose of its erection. (…). Jerusalem remained closed to Muslims and Jews, but, in the course of time, they were permitted to come there for business and prayer. (…).

After the decisive victory of Hattin (July 1187), Saladin advanced towards Jerusalem and laid siege on the city. After prolonged negotiations, in which the defenders threatened to kill the Muslim prisoners and all non-combatants, to burn all the valuables and to destroy the buildings on the Haram al-Sharif, an agreement was reached in November 1187, which permitted the inhabitants to ransom themselves after surrender. Only the Eastern Christians remained, and Jerusalem soon assumed the character of a predominantly Muslim city. (….). The influx of Learned Jews from France attested for the period ca. 1210-15 in both literary texts and Geniza letters proves that Ayyubid rule at that time must have had a reputation of an orderly government able to guarantee the safety of foreigners. (…). The Khwarazmians over-ran Syria and Palestine, took Jerusalem in August 1244 and plundered and murdered in the town, desecrating the Holy Sepulchre and other churches.[44]

At the beginning of the period of Mamluks (1250-1516), Jerusalem was mostly in ruins and deserted. The Mamluks undedrtook the rebuiling of the city. In those days the city was the seat of pious Sufis. Jerusalem remained under Ottoman Turks for 1516-1831. Fausset’s Bible Dic. has summarised it as follows:

 In a dismantled state it was ceded to the Christians [or Muslims?] by the treaty with the emperor Frederick II, in 1219, and has ever since remained in the Mahometans’ hands. From the first siege by the children of Judah (Judges 1:8), 1400 B.C., to A D. 1244 Jerusalem underwent 27sieges, the last being by the Kharesmian hordes who slaughtered the priests and monks. There was the city before David, the second that of Solomon 1000 to 597 B.C., the third city that of Nehemiah which lasted for 300 years. A Grecised city under Herod (the fourth city) succeeded. This city, destroyed by Titus A.D. 70, was followed by a Roman city, the fifth, which lasted until the Mahometan time, the sixth city. Then followed the Christian city of Godfrey and the Baldwins, the seventh; lastly the eighth, the modern city of 600 years of Moslem rule. The Ottoman Suleiman in 1542 built the present walls. After a brief possession by the [Ibrahim] Pasha of Egypt from 1832 to 1840, Jerusalem was restored to the Sultan of Turkey, in whose hands it continues.[45]

By 1865 Jerusalem was connected with the outer world by telegraph. In 1868 the first road between Jerusalem and Jaffa usable by wheeled vehicles was completed. The railway followed in 1892.

On 11 december 1917 the British general Allenby entered Jerusalm. The military government of the British army was replaced by civil administration on 1 July 1920. according to the census of 1931, the population comprised 90,503 persons: Jews were 51,222; Muslims 19,894; Christians 19,335. It became about 150,000 at the beginnig of the World War II. The mayor of the municipal Corporation was always appointed from among the Muslims.[46]

In April 1920 there occurred first bloody clashes among Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem, in which many of them were killed and injured. Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni was appointed as Mufti of Jerusalem by the new British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel. In 1921 he was elected head of the Muslim Supreme Council created by the government. He convened a conference of the Muslims in Jerusalem in 1931. Mawlana Muhammad ‘A%li Jawhar was buried in the western portico[47] of the Haram in the same year. The mass immigration of Jewish refugees in 1933 and after caused fighting among Jews and the Arabs.

Nowadays Jerusalem is the capital of the modern state of Israel which was established on May 14, 1948, as a Jewish state on the land that had been given under the control of the British Government by the League of Nations after World War I.

Encyclopaedia Americana has recorded the history of this stage of the history of Jerusalem in a precise manner:

In the 19th century, Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, became the focus of international concern. For several centuries European countries had had political and commercial interests in Palestine because of its position at the crossroads to India and the Far East. Several of these countries had attempted to expand their influence there from the 16th century on by extending their protection and patronage over the Christian Holy Places and the Christian subjects of the Ottomans. They also sought certain privileges within the empire. It was such privileges that the Ottomans had granted to the French and the Russians that the British, Austrians, Prussians, and Italians attempted to have set aside in their favor in the 19th century.

The Ottoman Turks were defeated in World War I and evicted from Palestine by the British, to whom the League of Nations awarded the Palestine mandate. The mandate period witnessed an immense struggle between Arab and Jewish nationslist movements for control of Palestine, with Jerusalem as the chief prize and heart of the conflict. (…).

By the end of World War II the British had despaired of unreveling the tangled issue, and it was turned over to United Nations. A UN resolution of November 29, 1947, recommended the partition of the country between Arabs and Jews and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states rejected the plan. The day after its adoption a general attack was launched against the Jews throughout the area. As a result of the ensuing war, Jerusalem was divided by an armistice agreement in 1949 between Jordan and Israel, with the Old (Walled) City and East Jerusalem under Jordanian control and West Jerusalem (the New City) under Israeli rule.

Jordan ruled East Jerusalem for 19 years, until 1967. On June 5, 1967, after war broke out between Israel and Egypt, Jordan’s King Hussein opened hostilities in the Jerusalem sector. The Israeli Army conquered and occupied East Jerusalem on June 7, and on June 27 the city was annexed to the state of Israel.[48]

Encyclopaedia of Islam narrates: 

The Peel Royal Commission, sent out in 1936 to investigate the situation, for the first time recommended the creation of an Arab and a Jewish state and the conversion of Jerusalem, together with Bethlehem, into a separate unit remaining under British mandate. But neither this nor any other of the subsequent attempts of the mandatory government to find a solution led to results. On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 189 (II) calling for the division of Palestine into two states, but united by economic union. Jerusalem was to be “internationalized”.

Immediately after this decision the country was in flames. Jerusalem in particular suffered great losses in life and property even before 15 May 1948, the official end of the British mandate. (….). The ceasefire divided Jerusalem by a line slightly west of the western wall of the old city. (….).On 13 Dec. 1948 the Transjordonian parliament resolved the annexation of the areas of Palestine occupied by the Arab Legion. Israel followed suit by transferring its parliament from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Feb. 1949 and proclaiming Jerusalem its capital on 13 Dec. 1949. Both actions were in contradiction of the UN resolution of Nov. 1947, which had foreseen Jerusalem as a corpus separatum. The matter came up repeatedly in the UN until 1952, when it was left dormant, until the war of 1967 created an entirely new situation.[49]

Abba Eban had been Israeli minister of foreign affairs. He wrote a richly illustrated article on ‘Jerusalem’ in the Year Book 1973 of Merit Students Encyclopedia. Some excerpts are afforded below from this scholarly work:

Yet none of this would have brought Jerusalem into the war had King Hussein heeded a message from Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol on June 5, 1967. Fighting had broken out with Egypt as a result of President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s blockade of the Straits of Tiran on May 22 and his intimidatory troop concentrations accompanied by threats to destroy Israel. Eshkol’s message, conveyed through the United Nations chief of staff, General Odd Bull, said plainly that if Jordan kept out of the war, Israel would leave every-thing as it was. The reply was an all-out Jordonian assault on western Jerusalem. Indeed, the fighting in Jerusalem was the fiercest of that in any sector–and it took a heavy toll of Israeli lives. On June 5, Israel hastily improvised troop convoys for the Jerusalem front. By June 7 the laconic[50]message of the brigade commander (‘The Temple Mount is ours’) conveyed the momentous news that Jerusalem was united. It had known many masters. Now, after 19 centuries, its original builders were back again. Soon the barriers were down–the barbed-wire fences, the tank traps, the Mandelbaum Gate, all the symptoms of ghetto-like separation–and Jews, Muslims, and Christians, with multitudes of pilgrims from all over the world, swarmed together, mingling, jostling, sometimes colliding, but always together in a single human destiny. Requests from United Nations organs that they get themselves divided again–back to their respective cages and compartments–evoked their good-humoured derision.[51]

Abba Eban concludes his scholarly article with the following passage:

Jerusalem’s population distribution (218,300 Jews, 62,300 Muslims, and 11,100 Christians) cannot fail to be determinant in its political status. But on a deeper and higher level of history, Jerusalem represents the confluence of many streams of memory and culture. Its sun has risen and set on a multitude of human longings, passions, agonies, and hopes. It is the capital of one nation and yet also the touchstone of the entire human condition.[52]

The ‘Chronology of Jerusalem’ is being recoded hereunder:

The following chronological table gives a list of the more important incidents that had a direct or indirect bearing on the history of the Jews ofJerusalem:



1500. Earliest historical mention ofJerusalem, found in the El-Amarna tablets.

1048. David takes possession ofJerusalem from the Jebusites.

1007. Solomon's Temple completed after seven years' labor.

972. Shishak of Egypt takes the city from Rehoboam.

713. Sennacherib advances towardJerusalem.

700. Hezekiah perfects the water-supply.

586. (Ab 9.) Captured by Nebuzar-adan [Nebuchadnezzer].   

516. Rebuilt during reign of Darius.

350. Seized by the Persians [in 529/530 and not in 350].                                                                       

332. Visited by Alexander the Great?

320 or 305. Seized by Ptolemy Soter.                     

170. Plundered by Antiochus Epiphanes.

       165. Judas Maccabeus recapturesJerusalem and reconsecrates the Temple.

       166. Pompey entersJerusalem [It maybe 66 and not 166].                                    

37. Besieged and taken by Herod the Great.

20. Restoration of the Temple begun by Herod the Great.

Note: The first four entries are obviously doubtful.


29. (April.) Jesus of Nazareth executed atJerusalem.

70. (Nisan 14.) Siege commenced by Vespasian, lasting 134 days.

70. (Ab 9.)Jerusalem destroyed by Titus.                             

135. Hadrian rebuilds the city.                                

136.Jerusalem called Ælia Capitolina.

362. Restoration of the Temple undertaken by Julian the Apostate.

614. Jews aid the Persian Chosroes II. in attack onJerusalem.

628. Retaken by Heraclius; Jews forbidden to enter the city.

637. Omar putsJerusalem under Moslem power.

688. 'Abd al-Malik builds the Dome of the Rock.

1046. Solomon ben Judah head of the yeshibah atJerusalem.

1077. Seljuk Turks captureJerusalem.

1099. (July 15.) Crusaders put 70,000 infidels to the sword, and found a new Christian kingdom.                        

1100. "Assize ofJerusalem" established by Godfrey of Bouillon.

1140. Judah ha-Levi visitsJerusalem.   

1173. Benjamin of Tudela visitsJerusalem.

1187. (Oct. 2.) Saladin defeats the Franks and takesJerusalem.

1211. Several hundred English and French rabbis settle inJerusalem.

1218. Al-Harizi visitsJerusalem.           

1267. (Aug. 12.) Nahmanides visitsJerusalem.

1437. Elijah of Ferrara made chief rabbi.

1492. Jews expelled from Spain settle inJerusalem.

1517. Capture by Ottoman Turks.

1580. Nahmanides synagogue closed by the Moslems, claiming that it had previously been a mosque.

1621. Isaiah Horowitz and a number of his friends settle inJerusalem.

1627. Ibn Farukh, governor ofJerusalem and persecutor of the Jews, deposed.

1705. Jews subjected to certain vexatious restrictions in matters of attire.

1798. Napoleon visits Palestine; Jewish community ofJerusalem accused of assisting him and its members threatened with death.

1827. First visit of Moses Montefiore.

1838. Edward Robinson commences archeological research inJerusalem.

1840. Crémieux, Montefiore, and Albert Cohn visitJerusalem.

1841. (Nov. 7.) S. M. S. Alexander, convert to Christianity, consecrated first Anglican Bishop ofJerusalem.

1854. Albert Cohn establishes many charitable institutions.

1862. (Sept. 5.) Treaty to preserve the Holy Sepulcher signed by Russia, France, and Turkey.                                                                                                      

1880. Siloam Inscription discovered.

1892. (Sept. 13) Railway fromJerusalem to Jaffa, built by a French company, opened.

1898. (Nov. 1.) William II. of Germany visitsJerusalem in state and receives a Jewish deputation.

1900. Abarbanel Library founded.[53]