Since the 10th century BCE, Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people. Jerusalem was once thought to be the center of the world, where God resided, in classical antiquity.
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In Jewish religious law, the city of Jerusalem is assigned special status. Outside of Jerusalem, Jews pray facing it, and the maaser sheni, revai, and First Fruits must all be eaten in Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin must approve any growth of the city for these purposes. Jerusalem also maintained unique restrictions for the Four Species on Sukkot and the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah when the Temple was still standing.
What is the symbolic meaning of Jerusalem?
When you walk inside any Roman Catholic church, the images on the walls transport you to Jerusalem. The Stations of the Cross are a set of 14 paintings that commemorate Jesus Christ's journey to his death and are traditionally contemplated by individuals going around the church during Lent, pausing for prayer before each painting. It was so necessary to go to Jerusalem and walk the Via Dolorosa the Way of Sorrow in Jesus' footsteps that thousands of Stations of the Cross have been built around the world since medieval times to allow anybody to do it, even if they couldn't afford to travel to the Holy Land.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth, but for Christians, Jerusalem is the city that matters most. This is where Christ spoke, where he had the Last Supper with his disciples before his death, where he was arrested, tried, sentenced to death, crucified, and died, a man humiliated and tortured by the Roman occupiers. Christians believe it was here that his tomb was discovered empty and he rose from the dead. As a result, Jerusalem is a place of tremendous sadness, complete desolation, but also of hope and restoration. It is the Christian story's hallowed heart.
Since the Roman emperor Constantine committed to the new religion of Christianity, Jerusalem has been a prominent pilgrimage destination. However, conflicts of authority, control, and ownership have arisen as a result of the desire for pilgrimage. The battles over Jerusalem have not only pitted Christians against Muslims, but they have also generated tensions within Christianity, with ownership of the Holy Places swinging back and forth between the eastern and western branches. The Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox, as well as the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic church, Armenians, and Eastern Orthodox, have traditionally had rights in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the Via Dolorosa ends at the site thought to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and his nearby tomb. Brawls over territory occur from time to time.
For Christians, though, Jerusalem is more than just a historical site; it is also a metaphor for all they strive for in this life and the next. It's the ideal location, a golden city, a paradise they'll reach after death. It also symbolizes the birth of a new world. While the historical Jerusalem was the setting for the redemption play, another Jerusalem, as William Blake puts it, could be established in England's green and lovely country and redeemed via efforts for social transformation.
What does God say about Jerusalem?
When our daughter was born at Hadassah Hospital, my wife and I were PhD students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. We were ecstatic, and we felt our affiliation with Israel was almost complete until we went to the American Consulate in Jerusalem to receive our daughter's first U.S. passport. The allocated line for “Instead of “Israel,” the country of birth should be “Jerusalem.” When I asked a consulate official a question, I was told flat out, “The United States does not consider Jerusalem to be part of Israel.”
It has taken the United States 70 years to officially change its position and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. This act of acknowledgment may be troubling for those who are unaware of the truth and have only heard political propaganda from the mainstream media. President Trump's attempt to reward pro-Israel evangelicals, whom he credited with his election victory, has been interpreted by some in the media. Let's take a look at the facts from a historical, theological, and political standpoint.
Jerusalem was declared the capital of Israel by King David 3,000 years ago, based on his interpretation of God's choice. Since then, it has remained Israel's capital, and despite the fact that other nations have invaded and settled in Israel, none have ever recognized Jerusalem to be their capital. Even during times of occupation and persecution, a Jewish community has lived there and preserved it as their home for the past 2,000 years “Eternal capital,” they say.
When the United Nations decided to divide Israel into Arab and Jewish states in 1948, Israel immediately reaffirmed Jerusalem as its capital and declared it in its national anthem, “Hatikvah” (“Hope”): “Our hope is not yet lost as long as the Jewish soul sings within our hearts, as long as we look eastward to Zion. Being a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem, is two thousand years old.”
Jordanian forces, on the other hand, seized and occupied the eastern portion of Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence, which included the old Jewish Quarter, the Temple Mount and Western Wall, Hebrew University, and Hadassah Hospital. The Six-Day War in 1967 reunited Jerusalem and returned this sector of the city to Israel. Since then, every Israeli prime minister has named the city a UNESCO World Heritage Site “the Jewish State's eternal and undivided capital.” Recognizing the historical fact that no one else could restore Jerusalem to its former glory, Sir Winston Churchill told British ambassador Evelyn Shuckburgh, “You should give Jerusalem to the Jews; it was they who made it renowned.”
From a religious standpoint, the Bible claims that “the Lord has chosen Jerusalem and will remain there forever” (Psalm 132:13-14), and specifically calls upon God's people to never forget Jerusalem and to “exalt it above their chief joy” (Psalm 132:13-14). (Psalm 137:5-6). Israel's monarchs reigned from there, and the Temples were built. Jerusalem was, and continues to be, at the heart of the prophets' prophesies of world peace and blessing when the Messiah arrives (Isaiah 2:2-4). As a result, it was given the name “Since regaining sovereignty in 1967, Israel has ensured religious freedom and access to all religions in Jerusalem, which is referred to as “the City of the Great King” (Psalm 48:2).
Despite its international position as a disputed city, the United States has always recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. President Bill Clinton remarked in 1992, “Jerusalem is Israel's capital and must remain a single city.” The next year, he declared his support “the idea of relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem.” The United States Congress enacted the “The “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” which declared Jerusalem to be Israel's undivided capital and required the embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem by 1999, declared Jerusalem to be Israel's undivided capital. It was for this reason that, while still a candidate, George W. Bush announced “I will move the US Embassy to the city Israel has chosen as its capital as soon as I assume office.”
While this did not occur during the Bush administration, President Barack Obama stated in 2008, “I have stated that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and will stay so.” Just six months ago, the United States Senate celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification with a 90-0 resolution that the US Embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem and that it should remain Israel's undivided capital. After all, Jerusalem is home to Israel's prime minister, all government institutions, the Knesset (Israel's parliament), and the Supreme Court.
President Trump's recognition of these facts was nothing more than a continuation of the city's historical reality, religious precedence dating back to biblical times, and the political goals of the US government and previous presidents.
What will the result be? Those who have attempted to undermine these realities with their own revisionist view based on a theological agenda of supersessionism have and will continue to stage political protests. The politically biased United Nations General Assembly will continue to denounce the situation. The United States' act of recognition, on the other hand, supports the goal of reviving the Middle East peace process.
Israel has always shown a willingness to resolve political differences with Palestinians through direct talks. The Palestinian Authority has abandoned this approach in recent years, preferring to have its requests satisfied through the United Nations. Previously, the US hesitated from recognizing Jerusalem the central issue in this conflict while advocating direct negotiations, which empowered Palestinians to take independent action. The United States' decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem increases the case for resuming negotiations with Israel and dealing with historical and political realities.
For my daughter, this means she will soon receive a new passport that includes a long-awaited clarification that being born in Jerusalem equals being born in Israel!
As a distinguished research professor at the Rawlings School of Divinity, Dr. Randall Price teaches biblical and Judaic studies courses. He has also worked as an archaeologist, most recently as the director of excavations on Israel's Qumran Plateau (home of the Dead Sea Scrolls community) since 2002. Price has written or co-written 30 novels and directed five films in Israel. He also serves as the curator of the Liberty Biblical Museum, which houses many of the biblical items he has amassed over the course of his work.
What did Jesus say about Jerusalem?
- With palm branches in hand, a crowd of Jerusalem residents went out to meet Jesus: “Greetings! He who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed! The Israelite king is blessed!”
- Disciples and followers strewn their cloaks across the road, or cut braches from trees and strewn across it.
- Followers/disciples: “Hosanna to the David's Son! He who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed! In the highest heaven, Hosanna!”
- Followers and disciples spread their cloaks on the path or cut braches in the field and spread them on the road.
- Followers/disciples: “Greetings! He who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed! Our father David's impending kingdom will be blessed! In the highest heaven, Hosanna!”
- Jesus entered the Temple and looked around, but he quickly returned to Bethany because it was late.
- Disciples are those who follow a set of rules “The ruler who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed! Peace and glory to God in the highest!”
- Disciples were perplexed as to why Jesus was greeted with these words, but they remembered them after his death, concluding that it was a prophecy fulfilled.
- The Pharisees whispered to one another: “This isn't going to help us. Take a look at how far the entire world has gone following Jesus!”
Is Jerusalem a symbol of the church?
Jerusalem is sometimes seen as a metaphor or figure for the Church of Christ in Christianity. Instead of the real and historical city of Jerusalem, there is a large apocalyptic tradition that focuses on the heavenly Jerusalem. Augustine's City of God, a classic 5th-century Christian work written amid the fall of the Western Roman Empire, espouses this viewpoint.
Why did Jesus go to Jerusalem?
Although his death was predetermined, couldn't he have died in a different city? Wouldn't his death be just as significant and meaningful if he died in Jericho, Nazareth, or Capernaum, for example? As we approach another Easter season, it would be useful to our spiritual understanding and enlightenment to understand why Jesus went to Jerusalem so fiercely. It was his goal to be slain there to be sacrificed like all the other sacrificial lambs who had been sacrificed there before.
Jerusalem! It is known as God's sacred city. The city was known as Salem in the time of Abraham, and as Zion in the time of David, the psalmist. Christians all across the world, particularly at this time of year, sing: “We're marching upward to Zion, beautiful, beautifulZion, that beautiful city of God.” Yes, Jerusalem is revered as the holiest city on the planet “habitation” of the universe's God. As a house created for God's presence, Solomon's temple originally ornamented the mount there.
Why is Jerusalem important in the Old Testament?
It's a location mentioned by prophets in the Bible's Old Testament and visited by Jesus in the New Testament. Occupation of the Temple Mount has been a source of violent strife for generations, notably between Jews and Muslims living nearby, due to its religious and historical connotations.
What are the three religions in Jerusalem?
In this video from PBS LearningMedia, learn about the history of Jerusalem and why it is regarded one of the holiest locations in three major global religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Why did Jesus cried over Jerusalem?
- Because the city and temple of Jerusalem had ceased to serve the purpose for which they were built, Jesus mourned.
- People had converted the temple, which was God's residence, into a market where they had gone overboard in their trading.
- Despite being Zion or David's city, Jerusalem has failed to serve as a model of holiness.
- It was here in Jerusalem that Jesus would be rejected and crucified because His messiahship had been rejected.
- Jerusalem, the temple, and the people were all doomed to be destroyed. They'd lost their sense of purpose and meaning.
- The Jews had failed to set a positive example for the Gentiles in terms of salvation.