Special Report: Whose Jerusalem?
Vol: 77 Issue: 19 Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Despite all the promises made by both sides regarding the sanctity of Jerusalem, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the city will be redivided between Arabs and Jews.
The truth about Jerusalem has been so muddled by decades of dissembling and propaganda that evidently even many Israelis are no longer sure if Jerusalem is historically a Jewish city or an Arab city.
The first recorded mention of Jerusalem dates to the 19th century before Christ, where it was listed in the Egyptian Execration Texts as “Rusalimum.”
It is next mentioned five hundred years later in the 14th century BC in the Amara Letters as ‘Urusalim’. It is about this time that Joshua conquered the Land of Canaan.
The Israelites lived in the Land of Canaan under the Judges until King David of Israel established Jerusalem as the capital city of the United Kingdom of Israel around 970 BC — sixteen hundred years before the birth of Mohammed.
King David bought the threshing-floor on Mount Moriah at fair market value from its legal owner, with the transaction being carefully recorded in the Book of Samuel.
The owner, Araunah offered to give it to the King, but David insisted, saying, “neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which cost me nothing.” (2nd Samuel 24:24)
David inaugurated the Temple Mount and set up a tent over the Holy of Holies, leaving the construction of the permanent Temple to his son Solomon.
David’s United Kingdom of Israel split a hundred years later into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, (which included Jerusalem and the Temple Mount).
The Northern Kingdom was conquered by Sargon II and dispersed in 702 BC; the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians a generation later.
Jerusalem remained a conquered city under a succession of empires from Babylon to Rome, but it remained a Jewish city until the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70.
The Byzantine Christians took over Jerusalem in 324 AD. Jerusalem remained in Christian hands until the 6th century when it was briefly captured by the Persians and recaptured by the Byzantines in 629.
Are you still with me? Historically, Israel was in Jewish hands for a thousand years before Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem remained a Jewish city for another six hundred years after that.
After the Romans, it was ruled by the Christians for another three hundred years.
By the time of Mohammed, the Jewish history of Jerusalem already spanned more than sixteen hundred years.
The Muslims held Jerusalem less than three hundred years before it was captured by the Crusaders. The Christian Crusaders held Jerusalem for almost 150 years before the city fell to the Mameluke Turks.
Under the Mamelukes, Jerusalem was again the seat of Judaism. The Jewish sage Nahmanides established a synagogue and seat of Jewish learning in the city in 1267.
Jerusalem was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, but remained the seat of Judaism. In 1700, Rabbi Yehuda He’Hassid built Jerusalem’s “Hurva” Synagogue.
Four hundred years later, Jerusalem fell to the British in 1917, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the Allies in World War I.
Quickly doing the math, Jerusalem was a Jewish city for 1500 years or so, then Christian for another 400, Islamic 300 more, then Christian for 150, then Islamic for another 800 years, then Jewish again.
During all that time, from when David bought the Araunah’s threshing-floor until Lord Allenby marched into Jerusalem in 1817, to Christians and Jews, Jerusalem was always the capital city of Judaism.
Sixteen hundred years before Mohammed, the Jewish Psalmist wrote:
“If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Psalms 137:6)
From Abraham to Allenby, despite successive conquests, Jerusalem has been the heart of Judaism through the centuries.
From Mohammed to Saladin through the Ottoman Empire, Jerusalem has never been an Islamic capital, and ‘Palestine’ has never been an Islamic state.
Until 1917, it languished as a forgotten city on the edge of the Ottoman Turk’s Islamic caliphate.
In 1917, Syria did not exist. Neither did Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia or the rest of the modern Middle East.
The entire modern map of the Middle East was drawn up in the 1920’s. Syria’s borders were drawn by the British in 1923 and administered by France until granted independence in 1946.
Iran, Iran, Jordan, etc., were created by the same British authority in the 1920’s following WWI.
But the FIRST national creation by the British was a homeland for the Jews in 1917, centered around the city of Jerusalem.
It is necessary from time to time to recap the history of Jerusalem as a bulwark against the propaganda.
Ninety years ago, the only defined ‘state’ in the Middle East was the Jewish Mandate.
And it was created by the same authority that created the rest of the modern Arab Middle East.
Ninety years later, even the Jews themselves aren’t sure who really owns Jerusalem. Behold, the power of propaganda!
The Olmert goverment is prepared to redivide the city, and is allowing the PA to set up intelligence and security apparatus in East Jerusalem in preparation for an eventual handover.
There is no history among the children of men more carefully documented than that of the Jewish people. Until the destruction of the 2nd Temple, Jews could trace their geneology back to Adam.
Their every conquest, every king, every ruler, every occupier was carefully recorded, their entire history, spanning three thousand years, is set down, in detail, in the pages of the Bible.
Until this generation, “The City of David” was instantly recognizable as another name for Jerusalem. For centuries, Christians sang of the “City of David” in our hymnals.
Suddenly, in a single generation, Jerusalem’s Jewish pedigree is in doubt. The entire world has taken a stake in solving a ‘mystery’ that is mysterious only in that anybody finds mysterious in the first place.
Is Jerusalem a Jewish city? Or an Arab city? I find myself astonished, even at this point in history, that anybody could entertain that as a question.
It’s like asking, “Is the Pope Catholic?” but to the world, the ownership of Jerusalem is as baffling as the identity of the true architect of the Sphinx.
The problem with Israel’s history is Israel’s history. Israel’s history is recorded in the Bible, and for the world to accept Israel’s history means accepting the Bible as well.
That is unacceptable. The world prefers the delusional view that Jerusalem is really an Arab city stolen by the Jews in 1967.
The alternative, historical view comes too close to legitimizing the Bible for comfort. They prefer the lie, because the truth makes them uncomfortable.
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12)