Jerusalem

Jerusalem

City
From upper left: Jerusalem skyline looking north from St. Elijah Monastery, a souq in the Old City, Mamilla Mall, the Knesset, the Dome of the Rock, the citadel (known as the Tower of David) and the Old City walls, and the Western Wall.
From upper left: Jerusalem skyline looking north from St. Elijah Monastery, a souq in the Old City, Mamilla Mall, the Knesset, the Dome of the Rock, the citadel (known as the Tower of David) and the Old City walls, and the Western Wall.
Nickname(s): 
Ir ha-Kodesh (The Holy City),
Bayt al-Maqdis (House of the Holiness)
Location of Jerusalem
Location of Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Location of Jerusalem
Location of Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Location of Jerusalem
Location of Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Coordinates: 31°47′N 35°13′E / 31°47′N 35°13′E / 31.783; 35.217
Official name148
RegionJerusalem District
Endangered1982–present

Jerusalem (m/; Hebrew: יְרוּשָׁלַיִם About this soundYerushaláyim; Arabic: القُدسAbout this soundal-Quds or Bayt al-Maqdis, also spelled Baitul Muqaddas[9][10][11])[note 2] is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religionsJudaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.[note 3][12]

During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times.[13] The part of Jerusalem called the City of David shows first signs of settlement in the 4th millennium BCE, in the shape of encampments of nomadic shepherds.[14][15] Jerusalem was named as "Urusalim" on ancient Egyptian tablets, probably meaning "City of Shalem" after a Canaanite deity, during the Canaanite period (14th century BCE). During the Israelite period, significant construction activity in Jerusalem began in the 9th century BCE (Iron Age II), and in the 8th century the city developed into the religious and administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah.[16] In 1538, the city walls were rebuilt for a last time around Jerusalem under Suleiman the Magnificent. Today those walls define the Old City, which has been traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters.[17] The Old City became a World Heritage Site in 1981, and is on the List of World Heritage in Danger.[18] Since 1860 Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City's boundaries. In 2015, Jerusalem had a population of some 850,000 residents, comprising approximately 200,000 secular Jewish Israelis, 350,000 Haredi Jews and 300,000 Palestinians.[19][note 4] In 2016, the population was 882,700, of which Jews comprised 536,600 (60.8%), Muslims 319,800 (36.2%), Christians 15,800 (1.8%), and 10,300 unclassified (1.2%).[21]

According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple.[note 5] Modern scholars argue that Jews branched out of the Canaanite peoples and culture through the development of a distinct monolatrous — and later monotheistic — religion centered on El/Yahweh,[23][24][25] one of the Ancient Canaanite deities. These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium BCE, assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people.[26][27] The sobriquet of holy city (עיר הקודש, transliterated 'ir haqodesh) was probably attached to Jerusalem in post-exilic times.[28][29][30] The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint[31] which Christians adopted as their own authority,[32] was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus's crucifixion there. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina.[33][34] In Islamic tradition, in 610 CE it became the first qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer (salat),[35] and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran.[36][37] As a result, despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometres (0.35 sq mi),[38] the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount with its Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Outside the Old City stands the Garden Tomb.

Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, West Jerusalem was among the areas captured and later annexed by Israel while East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was captured and later annexed by Jordan. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequently annexed it into Jerusalem, together with additional surrounding territory.[note 6] One of Israel's Basic Laws, the 1980 Jerusalem Law, refers to Jerusalem as the country's undivided capital. All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset (Israel's parliament), the residences of the Prime Minister (Beit Aghion) and President (Beit HaNassi), and the Supreme Court. While the international community rejected the annexation as illegal and treats East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel,[42][43][44][45] Israel has a stronger claim to sovereignty over West Jerusalem.[46][47]

Names: history and etymology

Ancient Egyptian sources

A city called Rušalim in the execration texts of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 19th century BCE) is widely, but not universally, identified as Jerusalem.[48][49] Jerusalem is called Urušalim in the Amarna letters of Abdi-Heba (1330s BCE).[50]

Etymology

The name "Jerusalem" is variously etymologized to mean "foundation (Sumerian yeru, 'settlement'/Semitic yry' 'to found, to lay a cornerstone') of the god Shalem";[51][52] the god Shalem was thus the original tutelary deity of the Bronze Age city.[53]

Shalim or Shalem was the name of the god of dusk in the Canaanite religion, whose name is based on the same root S-L-M from which the Hebrew word for "peace" is derived (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew).[54][55] The name thus offered itself to etymologizations such as "The City of Peace",[52][56] "Abode of Peace",[57][58] "dwelling of peace" ("founded in safety"),[59] alternately "Vision of Peace" in some Christian authors.[60]

The ending -ayim indicates the dual, thus leading to the suggestion that the name Yerushalayim refers to the fact that the city initially sat on two hills.[61][62]

Hebrew Bible and Jewish sources

The form Yerushalem or Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) first appears in the Bible, in the Book of Joshua. According to a Midrash, the name is a combination of "Yireh" ("The abiding place", the name given by Abraham to the place where he began to sacrifice his son) and "Shalem" ("Place of Peace", given by high priest Shem), then the two names were united by God.[63]

Oldest written mention of "Jerusalem"

The earliest extra-biblical Hebrew writing of the word Jerusalem is dated to the sixth or seventh century BCE[64][65] and was discovered in Khirbet Beit Lei near Beit Guvrin in 1961. The inscription states: "I am Yahweh thy God, I will accept the cities of Judah and I will redeem Jerusalem",[66][67][68] or as other scholars suggest: "Yahweh is the God of the whole earth. The mountains of Judah belong to him, to the God of Jerusalem".[69][70]

Jebus, Zion, City of David

An ancient settlement of Jerusalem, founded as early as the Bronze Age on the hill above the Gihon Spring, was according to the Bible named Jebus (e.g., Judges 19:10:יְב֔וּס הִ֖יא יְרוּשָׁלִָ֑ם: "Jebus, it [is] Jerusalem"[71]).[72] Called the "Fortress of Zion" (metsudat Zion), it was renamed by David as the City of David,[73] and was known by this name in antiquity.[74][75] Another name, "Zion", initially referred to a distinct part of the city, but later came to signify the city as a whole and to represent the biblical Land of Israel.

Greek, Roman and Byzantine names

In Greek and Latin the city's name was transliterated Hierosolyma (Greek: Ἱεροσόλυμα; in Greek hieròs, ἱερός, means holy), although the city was renamed Aelia Capitolina for part of the Roman period of its history.

Salem

The Aramaic Apocryphon of Genesis of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1QapGen 22:13) equates Jerusalem with the earlier "Salem" (שלם), said to be the kingdom of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18. Other early Hebrew sources,[76] early Christian renderings of the verse[77] and targumim,[78] however, put Salem in Northern Israel near Shechem (or Sichem), now Nablus, a city of some importance in early sacred Hebrew writing.[79] Possibly the redactor of the Apocryphon of Genesis wanted to dissociate Melchizedek from the area of Shechem, which at the time was in possession of the Samaritans.[80] However that may be, later Rabbinic sources also equate Salem with Jerusalem, mainly to link Melchizedek to later Temple traditions.[81]

Arabic names

In Arabic, Jerusalem is most commonly known as القُدس, transliterated as al-Quds and meaning "The Holy" or "The Holy Sanctuary".[57][58] Official Israeli government policy mandates that أُورُشَلِيمَ, transliterated as Ūršalīm, which is the cognate of the Hebrew and English names, be used as the Arabic language name for the city in conjunction with القُدس. أُورُشَلِيمَ-القُدس.[82] Palestinian Arab families who hail from this city are often called "Qudsi" or "Maqdisi", while Palestinian Muslim Jerusalemites may use these terms as a demonym.[83]