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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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Jerusalem has existed for thousands of years and during that time the shape of the city has changed repeatedly – valleys filled in, hills taken away, other hills added by the accumulation of rubbish, and city boundaries altered from era to era. But the overall picture of an elevated city built on an uneven plateau remains as in Bible times.

Valleys and streams

The only convenient access to the city in ancient times was from the north, access on the other sides being hindered by cliffs that fell away into deep valleys. On the south-west side was the Valley of Hinnom, where at times idolaters set up altars on which they offered their children as burnt sacrifices to the god Molech (Joshua 15:8; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6). Jeremiah foretold God’s judgment on these people by announcing that in the place where they killed their children, they themselves would be killed and their corpses left to rot in the sun (Jeremiah 7:31-34; Jeremiah 32:35).

People also used the Valley of Hinnom as a place to dump broken pottery (Jeremiah 19:1-13). Other rubbish accumulated, with the result that in later years the place became a public garbage dump where fires burnt continually. The Hebrew name ‘Valley of Hinnom’ transliterated via the Greek is gehenna, which was the word Jesus used to indicate the place of final judgment on the wicked (Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:9; Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43-48; cf. Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:15; see HELL).

Immediately to the east of the city another valley ran south, separating the city from the Mount of Olives. This was known as the Valley of Kidron or the Valley of Jehoshaphat. In the rainy season a swiftly flowing stream ran from the hills north of Jerusalem through this valley, ending in the Dead Sea (2 Samuel 15:23; 1 Kings 2:37; 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 30:14; Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12; John 18:1).

Map of Location

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Jerusalem'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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