city in the Middle East, holy to the three Abrahamic religions

Jerusalem, located on a plateau in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religionsJudaism, Christianity and Islam. Israelis and Palestinians both 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.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. ~ Psalms 122:6

According to Biblical tradition, King David established the city as the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple; there is no archaeological evidence that Solomon's Temple existed or any record of it, other than the Bible. These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium BC, assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people. The sobriquet of holy city (עיר הקודש, transliterated ‘ir haqodesh) was probably attached to Jerusalem in post-exilic times. The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus's crucifixion there. In Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. In Islamic tradition in 610 AD it became the first Qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer (salat), and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran. As a result, despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi), the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount and its Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

The status of the city is contested due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United Nations originally intended Jerusalem to be an international zone under its partition plan, but the subsequent 1948 Arab-Israeli War ended with Israel occupying West Jerusalem and Transjordan occupying East Jerusalem as part of the West Bank. Israel subsequently annexed the remainder of the city in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel considers the entirety of the city to be its national capital, while Palestine and the international community consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. The city's municipal government is current controlled by Likud, and its mayor is Moshe Lion.

Quotes edit

  • Since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three great religions of mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and the pilgrimages of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore I do make known to you . . . that all sacred buildings will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those who faiths are sacred
  • His majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing and non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
    • British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour, letter to Baron Edward de Rothschild.
  • When the clock of the Mosk needs repairing, they are compelled, however reluctantly to employ a Frank. But in order to have a clean conscience in the commission of such an abominable piece of sacrilege as the admission upon the sacred premises, they adopt the following expedient. The mechanic selected being thoroughly purged from his uncleanness ablution . . . a certain formula of prayer and incantation is sung over him at the gate. This being satisfactorily concluded, he is considered as exorcised, not only of Christianity (or Judaism, as the case may be), but of humanity also; and is declared to be no longer a man but a donkey. He is then mounted upon the shoulders of the faithful, lest . . . the ground should be polluted by his footsteps; and being carried to the spot where his labours are required, he is set down upon matting within certain prescribed limits; and the operation being performed, he is carried back to the gate, and there, by certain other ceremonies, he is duly undonkeyfied and transmuted back into a man again.
    • J.T. Barclay as cited in Jerusalem Curiosities by Abraham Ezra Millgram
  • Cá nesta Babilónia, donde mana
    matéria a quanto mal o mundo cria;
    cá onde o puro Amor não tem valia,
    que a Mãe, que manda mais, tudo profana;
    cá, onde o mal se afina e o bem se dana,
    e pode mais que a honra a tirania;
    cá, onde a errada e cega Monarquia
    cuida que um nome vão a desengana;
    cá, neste labirinto, onde a nobreza
    com esforço e saber pedindo vão
    às portas da cobiça e da vileza;
    cá neste escuro caos de confusão,
    cumprindo o curso estou da natureza.
    Vê se me esquecerei de ti, Sião!
    • Here in this Babylon, that’s festering
      forth as much evil as the rest of the earth;
      Here where true Love deprecates his worth,
      as his powerful mother pollutes everything.
      Here where evil is refined and good is cursed,
      and tyranny, not honor, has its way;
      Here where the Monarchy, in disarray,
      blindly attempts to mislead God, and worse.
      Here in this labyrinth, where Royalty,
      willingly, chooses to succumb
      before the Gates of Greed and Infamy;
      Here in this murky chaos and delirium,
      I carry out my tragic destiny,
      but never will I forget you, Jerusalem!
    • Luís de Camões, Cá nesta Babilónia, donde mana, translated by William Baer.
  • One must weep ceaselessly over the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the restoration of the glory of King David, for that is the object of human perfection. If we do not have Jerusalem and the kingdom of the House of David, why should we have life? . . . Since our many transgressions have led to the Destruction and to the desolation of our glorious Temple and the loss of the kingdom of the House of David, the degree which we suffer the absence and the lack of good is known to all. Surely have we descended from life until death. And the converse is also true: "When the Lord restores the captivity of Zion," we shall ascend from death unto life. Certainly the heart of anyone who possesses the soul of a Jew is broken when he recalls the destruction of Jerusalem.
    • Jonathan Eibschutz cited by Arthur Herzberg, editor, Judaism, George Braziller, Inc. New York, 1961, pp. 163-164
  • We do not mourn properly over Jerusalem. Were we guilty of this transgression alone, it would be sufficient reason for the extension of the period of our Exile. In my opinion this is the most likely, most apparent and the strongest reason for all of the dreadful terrifying persecutions which have been fallen us in Exile, in all the places of our dispersion. We have been hotly pursued. We have not been granted rest among the nations with our humiliation, affliction and homelessness, because this sense of mourning has left our hearts. While becoming complacent in a land not ours, we have forgotten Jerusalem; we have not taken it to heart. Therefore, "Like one who is dead we have been forgotten," from generation to generation sorrow is added to our sorrow and our pain.
    • Jacob Emden cited by Arthur Herzberg, editor, Judaism, George Braziller, Inc. New York, 1961, pp. 163-164
  • JERUSALEM, the chief city of Palestine. Letters found at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt, written by an early ruler of Jerusalem, show that the name existed under the form Urusalim, i.e. “City of Salim” or “City of Peace,” many years before the Israelites under Joshua entered Canaan.
    • Encyclopedia Brittanica 1911, Vol. 13-14 HAR to ITA
The Dome of the Rock
The Tower of David
  • “I suppose you must be looking forward to them sorting all this out,” he said. “Er. The Palestinian situation. The politics.”
    She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter to Jerusalem,” she said. “The people come. The people believe. Then they kill each other, to prove that God loves them.”
    “Well,” he said. “How would you fix it?”
    She smiled her whitest smile. “Sometimes,” she said, “I think it would be best if it was bombed. If it was bombed back to a radioactive desert. Then who would want it? But then I think, they would come here and collect the radioactive dust that might contain atoms of the Dome of the Rock, or of the Temple, or a wall that Christ leaned against on his way to the Cross. People would fight over who owns a poisonous desert, if that desert was Jerusalem.
  • [Prophet said:] This city hath been to me a provocation of Mine anger and of My fury from the day that they built it even unto this day.
    • Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews volume IV, chapter V
  • Jerusalem-which sometimes feels like the frontline of an ongoing war
  • The key to understanding Zionism lies in its name. In the Bible, the easternmost of the two hills of ancient Jerusalem was called Zion. The period was the tenth century BC. In fact, the name ‘Zion’ appears 152 times in the Old Testament, referring to Jerusalem. The name is overwhelmingly a poetic and prophetic designation. The religious and emotional qualities of the name arise from the importance of Jerusalem as the Royal City and the City of the Temple. ‘Mount Zion’ is the place where God dwells according to the Bible. Jerusalem or Zion is a place where the Lord is King according to Isaiah and where he has installed his King, David, as quoted in the Psalms. King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel almost 3,000 years ago, and Jerusalem has remained the capital ever since.
    • Chaim Herzog, 10 November 1975, as quoted in The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches (2015)
  • During the centuries the term ‘Zion’ grew and expanded to mean the whole of Israel. The Israelites in exile could not forget Zion. The Hebrew psalmist sat by the waters of Babylon and swore ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.’ This oath has been repeated for thousands of years by Jews throughout the world. It is an oath which was made over 700 years before the advent of Christianity and over 1,200 years before the advent of Islam. In view of all these connotations, Zion came to mean the Jewish homeland, symbolic of Judaism, of Jewish national aspirations. Every Jew, while praying to his God, wherever he is in the world, faces towards Jerusalem. These prayers have expressed for over 2,000 years of exile the yearning of the Jewish people to return to its ancient homeland, Israel. In fact, a continuous Jewish presence, in larger or smaller numbers, has been maintained in the country over the centuries.
    • Chaim Herzog, 10 November 1975, as quoted in The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches (2015)
  • For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
  • Common ground! Think of Jerusalem, the intersection where many trails met. A small village that became the birthplace for three religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Why was this village so blessed? Because it provided a crossroads there different people met, different cultures, different civilizations could meet and find common ground. When people come together, flowers always flourish - the air is rich with the aroma of a new spring.
  • God knows I'm gonna/ Walk in Jerusalem/ Talk in Jerusalem/ Sing in Jerusalem/ Be in Jerusalem/ High above in Jerusalem when I die.
    • Mahalia Jackson, Walk in Jerusalem
  • [At the sight of these two Jerusalems, the earthly and the heavenly, Jacob said]: 'The Jerusalem on earth is nothing, this is not the house that will be preserved for my children in all generations, but in truth that other house of God, that He builds with His own hands.'
  • O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
  • Jerusalem. History weighs on everyone's back here, you schlep it around with the fabled tangerines and ripe persimmons.
  • The great mosque of Jerusalem, Al Masjid al Aksa, the " Further Mosque," derives its name from the traditional Night Journey of Muhammad, to which allusion is made in the words of the Kuran (xvii. 1): "I declare the glory of Him who transported His servant by night from the Masjid al Haram (the Mosque at Makkah) to the Masjid al Aksa (the Further Mosque) at Jerusalem" - the term "Mosque " being here taken to denote the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary, and not the Main building of the Aksa only, which, in the Prophet's days, did not exist.
According to the received account, Muhammad was on this occasion mounted on the winged steed called Al Burak "the Lightning" and, with the angel Gabriel for escort, was carried from Makkah (Mecca), first to Sinai, and then to Bethlehem, after which they came to Jerusalem. "And when we reached Bait al Makdis, the Holy City," so runs the tradition, "we came to the gate of the mosque (which is the Haram Area), and here Jibrail (Gabriel) caused me to dismount. And he tied up Al Burak to a ring, to which the prophets of old had also tied their steeds." (Ibn al Athir's Chronicle, ii. 37.) Entering the Haram Area by the gateway, afterwards known as the Gate of the Prophet, Muhammad and Gabriel went up to the Sacred Rock, which of old times had stood in the centre of Solomon's Temple; and in its neighbourhood meeting the company of the prophets, Muhammad proceeded to perform his prayer-prostrations in the assembly of his predecessors in the prophetic office Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others of God's ancient apostles.
From the Sacred Rock Muhammad, accompanied by Gabriel, next ascended, by a ladder of light, up into heaven; and, in anticipation, was vouchsafed the sight of the delights of Paradise. Passing through the seven heavens, Muhammad ultimately stood in the presence of Allah, from whom he received injunctions as to the prayers his followers were to perform. Thence, after a while, he descended again to earth; and, alighting at the foot of the ladder of light, stood again on the Sacred Rock at Jerusalem. The return journey homeward was made after the same fashion - on the back of the steed Al Burak and the Prophet reached Makkah again before the night had waned. Such, in outline, is the tradition of the Prophet's Night Journey, which especially sanctifies the Rock and the Haram Area in the sight of all true believers.
After the capitulation of Jerusalem to 'Omar in 635 (A.H 14), that Khalif caused a mosque to be built on what was considered to be the ancient site of the Temple (or Masjid) of David. The traditional position of this site, 'Omar (as it is stated) verified, by the re-discovery of the Rock concealed under a dunghill from the description that had been given to him, 'Omar, by the Prophet, of the place where he had made his prayer prostrations in Jerusalem on the occasion of his Night-Journey.
  • Guy Le Strange, History of Jerusalem Under the Muslims (From A.D. 650 to 1500), 1890.
  • Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.
  • No man shall behave frivolously when standing near the eastern gate, which looks to the Holy of Holies: he shall not enter the temple mount with his cane, his shoes, his purse, or the dust on his feet, nor shall he use it as a short cut, still less shall he spit there.
    • Mishna (Berachot 9:5) cited by Arthur Herzberg, editor, Judaism, George Braziller, Inc. New York, 1961, pp. 163-164
  • At the dawn, when the light of the sun first strikes on the cupola and the drum catches the rays, then is this edifice a marvelous site to behold and one such that in all Islam I have never seen its equal; neither have I heard tell of aught built in pagan times that could rival in grace this Dome of the Rock.
    • Mukadassi, cited by Solomon Steckoll, The Temple Mount, London, Tom Stacey, Ltd., 1972, p. 31. (ACE 985)
  • What shall I say of this land . . . The more holy the place the greater the desolation. Jerusalem is the most desolate of all . . . There are about 2,000 inhabitants . . . but there are no Jews, for after the arrival of the Tartars, the Jews fled, and some were killed by the sword. There are now only two brothers, dyers, who buy their dyes from the government. At their place a quorum of worshippers meets on the Sabbath, and we encourage them, and found a ruined house, built on pillars, with a beautiful dome, and made it into a synagogue . . . People regularly come to Jerusalem, men and women from Damascus and from Aleppo and from all parts of the country, to see the Temple and weep over it. And may He who deemed us worthy to see Jerusalem in her ruins, grant us to see her rebuilt and restored, and the honor of the Divine Presence returned.
  • In the rugged hills outside Jerusalem,
    I was reeling with sadness, as usual, my people pressed like cattle
    by sharp butts of Israeli guns, herded through
    battered lines, endlessly insulted,
    when a guide climbed on our bus wearing
    a FREE TIBET T-shirt.
  • Jerusalem is so permeated with layers and textures, minglings of all kinds that, once you've lived there you don't get over it.
    • Naomi Shihab Nye, interview in Conversations with the World by Phebe Davidson (1998)
  • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
    • Psalms 122:6
  • By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
    for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
    How can we sing the songs of the LORD
    while in a foreign land?
    If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill.
    May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
    if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy.
  • The builder of Jerusalem is God, the outcast of Israel he will gather in... Praise God O Jerusalem, laud your God O Zion.
    • Psalms 147:2-12
  • On a February day in the year A.D. 638 the Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem, riding upon a white camel. He was dressed in worn, filthy robes, and the army that followed him was rough and unkempt; but its discipline was perfect. At his side was the Patriarch Sophronius, as chief magistrate of the surrendered city. Omar rode straight to the site of the Temple of Solomon, whence his friend Mahomet had ascended into heaven. Watching him stand there, the Patriarch remembered the words of Christ and murmured through his tears: 'Behold the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.
    • Steve Runciman, A History of The Crusades. Volume One: The First Crusade, Cambridge University Press, 1951, p. 3
  • I am for lasting peace... United, I believe, we can win the battle for peace. But it must be a different peace, one with full recognition of the rights of the Jews in their one and only land: peace with security for generations and peace with a united Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people in the state of Israel forever.
    • Ariel Sharon, "I an for lasting peace." at New York Post Forum, November 13, 2000, cited at, November 14, 2000.
  • Living in Jerusalem and writing in Jerusalem is always a struggle, because the tension is huge, sometimes is even tragic. On one hand, is really disturbing, but, on the other hand, is a huge inspiration.
  • Jerusalem was as Arab as Cairo or Baghdad, and the Zionist Jews (that is, the modern Jews) were as foreign to it as I was myself.
    • Vincent Sheean, Personal History. New York, 1935, p. 381
  • Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem.
  • Whoever did not see Jerusalem in its days of glory, never saw a beautiful city in their life.
    • Talmud, Succah 51b
  • "Eternity" — this refers to Jerusalem.
    • Talmud, Berachot 58a
  • Even during the time of Jerusalem's stumbling, men of faith did not cease from [living] there.
    • Talmud, Shabbat 119b
  • There are three gates to Gehinam (purgatory) — one of them is in Jerusalem.
    • Talmud, Eruvin 19a
  • Jerusalem does not become impure through touching; Jerusalem will not be split by the tribes.
    • Talmud, Yoma 12a
  • Jerusalem was only destroyed because its inhabitants desecrated the Shabbat, they refrained from reciting the Morning and Evening Shema, the children in the Torah day schools wasted their learning time, because they were not shame faced (to sin), because they made the minors equal to the adults, because one did not rebuke another, because they embarrassed Torah Scholars.
    • Talmud, Shabbat 119b
  • Each and every acacia tree that the non-Jews removed from Jerusalem, will be restored to it by the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the future.
    • Talmud, Rosh Hashana 23a
  • Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will be meritorious and will see its rejoicing and all who do not mourn for Jerusalem will not see it's rejoicing.
    • Talmud, Taanit 30b
The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world
  • Gerusalem sovra due colli è posta
    D'impari altezza, e volti fronte a fronte:
    Va per lo mezzo suo valle interposta
    Che lei distingue, e l'un dall'altro monte.
    da tre lati ha malagevol costa:
    Per l'altro vassi, e non par che si monte.
    Ma d'altissime mura è più difesa
    La parte piana, e incontra Borea stesa.

    La Città dentro ha lochi, in cui si serba
    L'acqua che piove, e laghi e fonti vivi:
    Ma fuor la terra intorno è nuda d'erba,
    E di fontane sterile, e di rivi.
    Nè si vede fiorir lieta e superba
    D'alberi, e fare schermo ai raggj estivi;
    Se non se in quanto oltra sei miglia un bosco
    d'ombre nocenti orrido e fosco.

Ha da quel lato donde il giorno appare,
Del felice Giordan le nobil'onde.
E dalla parte occidental del mare
Mediterraneo le arenose sponde.
Verso Borea è Betel, ch'alzò l'altare
Al bue dell'oro, e la Samaria; e donde
Austro portar le suol piovoso nembo,
Betelem che 'l gran parto ascose in grembo.

    • Jerusalem is seated on two hills
      Of height unlike, and turned side to side,
      The space between, a gentle valley fills,
      From mount to mount expansed fair and wide.
      Three sides are sure imbarred with crags and hills,
      The rest is easy, scant to rise espied:
      But mighty bulwarks fence that plainer part,
      So art helps nature, nature strengtheneth art.

      The town is stored of troughs and cisterns, made
      To keep fresh water, but the country seems
      Devoid of grass, unfit for ploughmen's trade,
      Not fertile, moist with rivers, wells and streams;
      There grow few trees to make the summer's shade,
      To shield the parched land from scorching beams,
      Save that a wood stands six miles from the town,
      With aged cedars dark, and shadows brown.

      By east, among the dusty valleys, glide
      The silver streams of Jordan's crystal flood;
      By west, the Midland Sea, with bounders tied
      Of sandy shores, where Joppa whilom stood;
      By north, Samaria stands, and on that side
      The golden calf was reared in Bethel wood;
      Bethlem by south, where Christ incarnate was,
      A pearl in steel, a diamond set in brass.

    • Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered (1581), III, 55–57, tr. Edward Fairfax.
  • We know, it must be done,
    For God hath spoke the word,
    All Israel shall their Saviour own,
    To their first state restor’d:
    Re-built by his command,
    Jerusalem shall rise,
    Her temple on Moriah stand
    Again, and touch the skies.
    • Charles Wesley "A Wesley 'Zionist' Hymn? Charles Wesley's hymn, published in 1762 and included by John Wesley in his 1780 hymn-book, A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists". The Wesley Fellowship. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2014-07-05. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  • This is the cause of your survival. I count it as my privilege to help you fight your battle. To that purpose I want to devote my life. I believe that the very existence of mankind is justified when it is based on the moral foundation of the Bible. Whoever dares lift a hand against you and your enterprise here should be fought against. Whether it is jealously, ignorance or perverted doctrine, such as have made your neighbors rise against you, or "politics" which make some of my countrymen support them, I shall fight with you against any of these influences. But remember that it is your battle. My part, which I say I feel to be a privilege, is only to help you.
    • Orde Wingate, cited by Michael Pragai, Faith and Fulfillment, p. 112 10. Time Magazine, August 16, 1948
  • Paul refers to the church, and indeed to individual Christians, as the ‘temple of the living God’ (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19). To Western Christians, thinking anachronistically of the temple as simply the Jewish equivalent of a cathedral, the image is simply one metaphor among many and without much apparent significance. For a first-century Jew, however, the Temple had an enormous significance; as a result, when Paul uses such an image within twenty-five years of the Crucifixion (with the actual temple still standing), it is a striking index of the immense change that has taken place in his [Paul’s] thought. The Temple had been superseded by the Church. If this is so for the Temple, and in Romans 4 for the Land, then it must a fortiori be the case for Jerusalem, which formed the concentric circle in between those two in the normal Jewish worldview.
  • God’s house in Jerusalem was meant to be a ‘place of prayer for all the nations’ (Isaiah 56:7; Mark 11:17); but God would now achieve this through the new temple, which was Jesus himself and his people
    • N. T. Wright, "Jerusalem in the New Testament" (1994)

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