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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

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The chief city of the Holy Land, and to the Christian the most illustrious in the world. It is situated in 31 degrees 46'43" N. lat., and 35 degrees 13' E. long. on elevated ground south of the center of the country, about thirty-seven miles from the Mediterranean, and about twenty-four from the Jordan. Its site was early hallowed by God's trial of Abraham's faith, Genesis 22:1-24 2 Chronicles 3:1 . It was on the border of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, mostly within the limits of the former, but reckoned as belonging to the latter, because conquered by it, Joshua 15:8 18:16,28 Judges 1:18 . The most ancient name of the city was Salem, Genesis 14:18 Psalm 76:2; and it afterwards was called Jebus, as belonging to the Jebusites, Judges 19:10,11 . Being a very strong position, it resisted the attempts of the Israelites to become the sole masters of it, until at length its fortress was stormed by David, 2 Samuel 5:6,9; after which it received its present name, and was also called "the city of David." It now became the religious and political center of the kingdom, and was greatly enlarged, adorned, and fortified. But its chief glory was, that in its magnificent temple the ONE LIVING AND TRUE GOD dwelt, and revealed himself.

After the division of the tribes, it continued the capital of the kingdom of Judah, was several times taken and plundered, and at length was destroyed at the Babylonian captivity, 2 Kings 14:13 2 Chronicles 12:9 21:16 24:23 25:23 36:3,10 17:1-20:37 . After seventy years, it was rebuilt by the Jews on their return from captivity about 536 B. C., who did much to restore it to its former splendor. About 332 B. C., the city yielded to Alexander of Macedon; and not long after his death, Ptolemy of Egypt took it by an assault on the Sabbath, when it is said the Jews scrupled to fight. In 170 B. C., Jerusalem fell under the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes, who razed its walls, set up an image of Jupiter in the temple, and used every means to force the people into idolatry. Under the Maccabees, however, the Jews, in 163 B. C., recovered their independence. Just a century later, it was conquered by the Romans. Herod the Great expended vast sums in its embellishment. To the city and temple thus renovated the ever-blessed Messiah came, in the fullness of time, and made the place of his feet glorious. By his rejection and crucifixion Jerusalem filled up the cup of her guilt; the Jewish nation perished from off the land of their fathers, and the city and temple were taken by Titus and totally destroyed, A. D. 70-71. Of all the structures of Jerusalem, only three towers and a part of the western wall were left standing. Still, as the Jews began to return thither, and manifested a rebellious spirit, the emperor Adrian planted a Roman colony there in A. D. 135, and banished the Jews, prohibiting their return on pain of death. He changed the name of the city to Aelia Capitolina, consecrated it to heathen deities, in order to defile it as much as possible, and did what he could to obliterate all traces both of Judaism and Christianity. From this period the name Aelia became so common, that the name Jerusalem was preserved only among the Jews and better-informed Christians. In the time of Constantine, however, it resumed its ancient name, which it has retained to the present day. Helena, the mother of Constantine, built two churches in Bethlehem and on mount Olivet, about A. D. 326; and Julian, who, after his father, succeeded to the empire of his uncle Constantine, endeavored to rebuild the temple; but his design, and that of the Jews, whom he patronized, was frustrated, as contemporary historians relate, by an earthquake, and by balls of fire bursting forth among the workmen, A. D. 363.

The subsequent history of Jerusalem may be told in a few words. In 613, it was taken by Chosroes king of Persia, who slew, it is said, 90,000 men, and demolished, to the utmost of his power, whatever the Christians had venerated: in 627, Heraclius defeated Chosroes, and Jerusalem was recovered by the Greeks. Soon after command the long and wretched era of Mohammedanism. About 637, the city was taken from the Christians by the caliph Omar, after a siege of four months, and continued under the caliphs of Bagdad till 868, when it was taken by Ahmed, a Turkish sovereign of Egypt. During the space of 220 years, it was subject to several masters, Turkish and Saracenic, and in 1099 it was taken by the crusaders under Godfrey Bouillon, who was elected king. He was succeeded by his brother Baldwin, who died in 1118. In 1187, Saladin, sultan of the East, captured the city, assisted by the treachery of Raymond, count of Tripoli, who was found dead in his bed on the morning of the day in which he was to have delivered up the city. It was restored, in 1242, to the Latin princes, by Saleh Ismael, emir of Damascus; they lost it in 1291 to the sultans of Egypt, who held it till 1382. Selim, the Turkish sultan, reduced Egypt and Syria, including Jerusalem, in 1517, and his son Solyman built or reconstructed the present walls in 1534. Since then it has remained under the dominion of Turkey, except when held for a short time, 1832-4, by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. At present, this city is included in the pashalic of Damascus, though it has a resident Turkish governor.

Jerusalem is situated on the central tableland of Judea, about 2,400 feet above the Mediterranean. It lies on ground which slopes gently down towards the east, the slope being terminated by an abrupt declivity, in some parts precipitous, and overhanging the valley of Jehoshaphat or of the Kidron. This sloping ground is also terminated on the south by the deep and narrow valley of Hinnom, which constituted the ancient southern boundary of the city, and which also ascends on its west side, and comes out upon the high ground on the northwest. See GIHON . But in the city itself, there were also two ravines or smaller valleys, dividing the land covered by buildings into three principal parts or hills. ZION, the highest of these, was in the southwest quarter of the city, skirted on the south and west by the deep valley of Hinnom. On its north and east sides lay the smaller valley "of the cheesemongers," or Tyropoeon also united, near the northeast foot of Zion, with a valley coming down from the north. Zion was also called, The city of David; and by Josephus, "the upper city." Surrounded anciently by walls as well as deep valleys, it was the strongest part of the city, and contained the citadel and the king's palace. The Tyropoeon separated it from Acra on the north and Moriah on the northeast. ACRA was less elevated than Zion, or than the ground to the northwest beyond the walls. It is called by Josephus "the lower city." MORIAH , the sacred hill, lay northeast of Zion, with which it was anciently connected at its nearest corner, by a bridge over the Tyropoeon, some remnants of which have been identified by Dr. Robinson. Moriah was at first a small eminence, but its area was greatly enlarged to make room for the temple. It was but a part of the continuous ridge on the east side of the city, overlooking the deep valley of the Kidron; rising on the north, after a slight depression, into the hill Bezetha, the "new city" of Joephus, and sinking away on the south into the hill Ophel. On the east of Jerusalem, and stretching from north to south, lies the Mount of Olives, divided from the city by the valley of the Kidron, and commanding a noble prospect of the city and surrounding county. Over against Moriah, or a little further north, lies the garden of Gethsemane, with its olive trees, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Just below the city, on the east side of the valley of the Kidron, lies the miserable village of Siloa; farther down, this valley unites with that of Hinnon, at a beautiful spot anciently "the king's gardens;" still below, is the well of Nehemiah, anciently En-rogel; and from this spot the united valley winds among mountains southward and eastward to the Dead sea. In the mouth of the Tyropoeon, between Ophel and Zion, is the pool of Siloam. In the valley west and northwest of Zion are the two pools of Gihon, the lower being now broken and dry. In the rocks around Jerusalem, and chiefly in the sides of the valleys of the Kidron and Hinnom opposite the city, are many excavated tombs and caves.

Of the WALLS of ancient Jerusalem, the most ancient that of David and Solomon, encircled the whole of Mount Zion, and was also continued around Moriah and Ophel. The depth of the valleys south and east of Jerusalem, rendered it comparatively easy to fortify and defend it on these sides. This southern wall, in the period of kings and of Christ, traversed the outmost verge of those hills, inclosing the pool of Siloam, Ophel, and portions apparently of the valleys of Hinnom and the Kidron, 2 Chronicles 33:14 Nehemiah 2:14 3:15 .

A second wall, built by Jotham, Hezekiah, and Manasseh, made some changes on the southern line, and inclosed a large additional space on the north. It commenced somewhat east of the tower of Hippicus, on the northwest border of Zion, included Acra and part of Bezetha, and united with the old wall on the east. This wall was destroyed, as well as the first, at the captivity, but both were afterwards reerected, it is believed, on nearly the same lines, and were substantially the same at the time of Christ. The precise course of the second wall may perhaps be ascertained by future excavations, but is now more disputed than any other point of the topography of Jerusalem. To ascertain the exact location of "the tower Gennath," where this wall began, and trace its course "in a circuit" to Antonia, would show whether the traditional site of Calvary, now far within the city limits, lay within or without the ancient wall. The arguments from topography are strongly against the tradition; and it would seem that this whole region, if not actually within the wall, must have been at least occupied by the city suburbs at that time.

The third wall, commenced by Herod Agrippa only ten years after the crucifixion of Christ, ran from the tower Hippicus nearly half a mile northwest to the tower of Psephinos, and sweeping round by the "tombs of the kings," passed down east of Bezetha, and joined the old eastern wall. The whole circumference of the city at that time was a little over four miles. Now it is only two and three quarters at the most; and the large space on the north, which the wall of Agrippa inclosed, is proved to have been built upon by the numerous cisterns which yet remain, and the marble fragments which the plough often turns up.

The preceding plan of Ancient Jerusalem exhibits the walls, gates, towers, and other prominent objects in and around the city, with as much accuracy as can be secured, now that it has borne the ravages of so many centuries, been nearly a score of times captured, and often razed to the ground. Fuller descriptions of many of the localities referred to may be found under their respective heads.

MODERN JERUSALEM, called by the Arabs El-Kuds, the holy, occupies unquestionably the site of the Jerusalem of the Bible. It is still "beautiful for situation," and stands forth on its well-defined hills "as a city that is compact together," Psalm 48:2,12 122:3,4 125:1,2 . The distant view of its stately walls and numerous domes and minarets is highly imposing. But its old glory has departed; its thronging myriads are no more; desolation covers the barren mountains around it, and the tribes go up to the house of the Lord no longer. She that once sat as a queen among them, now sitteth solitary, "trodden down of the Gentiles," "reft of her sons, and mid her foes forlorn." "Zion is ploughed as a field," and the soil is mixed with the rubbish of ages, to the depth in some places of forty feet.

The modern wall, built in 1542, varies from twenty to sixty feet in height, and is about two and a half miles in circuit. On the eastern and shortest side, its course is nearly straight; and it coincides, in the southern half on this side, with the wall of the sacred area now called El-Haram, the holy. This area, 510 yards long from north to south, and 310 to 350 yards in breadth, is inclosed by high walls, the lower stones of which are in many parts very large, and much more ancient than the superstructure. It is occupied by the great octagonal mosque called Kubbet es-Sukhrah, or Dome of the Rock, and the mosque El-Aksa, with their grounds. It covers the site of the ancient temple and of the great tower Antonia. See TEMPLE . At its southeast corner, where the wall is seventy-seven feet high, the ground at its base is one hundred and fifty feet above the dry bed of the Kidron. From this corner, the wall runs irregularly west by south, crosses mount Zion, leaving the greater part of it uninclosed on the south, and at its western verge turns north to the Jaffa gate, where the lower part of a very old and strong tower still remains. The upper part of this tower is less ancient and massive. It is known as "the tower of David," and is generally thought to have been the Hippicus of Josephus. Thence the wall sweeps irregularly round to the northeast corner. It is flanked at unequal distances by square towers, and has battlements running all around on its summit, with loopholes in them for arrows or muskets. There are now in use only four gates: the Jaffa or Bethlehem gate on the west, the Damascus gate on the north, St. Stephen's gate on the east, and Zion gate on the south. In the eastern wall of El-Haram is the Golden gate, long since blocked up, and in the city wall two smaller gates, more recently closed, namely, Herod's gate on the north-east, and Dung gate in the Tyropoeon on the south.

Within the city walls are seen narrow and often covered streets, ungraded, ill-paved, and in some parts filthy, though less so than in most oriental cities. The houses are of hewn stone, with few windows towards the streets. Their flat roofs are strengthened and ornamented by many small domes. The most beautiful part of the city is the area of the great mosque-from which until recently all Christians have been rigorously excluded for six centuries-with its lawns and cypress trees, and the noble dome rising high above the wall. On mount Zion, much of the space within the wall is occupied by the huge Armenian convent, with the Syrian convent, and the church of St. James. Beyond the wall and far to the south is a Mohammedan mosque, professedly over the tomb of David. This is more jealously guarded against Christians than even the mosque of Omar. Near it is the small cemetery of the American missionaries. At the northwest corner of Zion rises the high square citadel above referred to, ancient and grand. Still farther north is the Latin convent, in the most westerly part of Jerusalem; and between it and the center of the city stands the church of the Holy Sepulchre, over the traditional scenes of the death and the resurrection of our Lord. See CALVARY . In various parts of the city the minarets of eight or ten mosques arise, amid an assemblage of about two thousand dwellings, not a few of which are much dilapidated.

The present population of Jerusalem may be about 12,000 souls, of whom about two-fifths are Mohammedans, and the remainder Jews and Christians in nearly equal numbers. There is also a considerable garrison, 800 to 1,000, stationed there; and in April of each year many thousands of pilgrims from foreign lands make a flying visit to the sacred places. The Moslemim reside in the center of the city, and towards the north and east. The Jews' quarter is on the northeast side of Zion. The Greek, Latin, Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic Christians are located chiefly around their respective convents, and their burial-places are on mount Zion, as well as that of the American Protestant mission. The Jews bury on Mount Olivet and the Mohammedans in several places, though preferring the eastern brow of Moriah. Jerusalem is but the melancholy shadow of its former self. The nominal Christians residing there are in a state of degraded and ignorant subjection to the Mohammedans, and their petty discords and superstitions are a reproach to the Christian name. The Jews, 3,000 to 5,000 in number, are still more oppressed and abject. Most of them were born in other lands, and have come here to die, in a city no longer their own. Discouraged by endless exactions, they subsist on the charities of their brethren abroad. It is only as a purchased privilege that they are allowed to approach the foundations of the sacred hill where their fathers worshipped the only true God. Here, in a small area near some huge and ancient stones in the base of the western wall of Moriah, they gather, especially on sacred days, to sit weeping and wailing on the ground, taking up the heart-breaking lamentations of Jeremiah-living witnesses of the truth of God's word fulfilled in them. See WALL.

THE NEW JERUSALEM, is a name given to the church of Christ, and signifying is firm foundations in the love, choice, an covenant of God; its strong bulwarks, living fountains, and beautiful palaces; its thronging thousands, its indwelling God, and its consummated glory in heaven, Galatians 4:26 Hebrews 12:22 Revelation 3:12 21:1-27 .

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Jerusalem'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​ats/​j/jerusalem.html. 1859.
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