Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel. Jerusalem is considered a holy city to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.
The city is important to Christians and Jews because many important biblical events are said to have taken place in Jerusalem.
The first known mention of Jerusalem is to be found in Egyptian texts.
The name of the city appears in a group of inscriptions on pottery bowls and figurines from the nineteenth century BCE, known as the “Execration Texts” that placed a curse upon potential rebellious city states.
Five centuries later the name Jerusalem was found in archives in eI-Amarna, in Middle Egypt, which for a short time was the capital of all Egypt.
Among the documents were letters by Abdi Hepa, king of Jerusalem, who sought the aid of the Egyptian monarch in his struggles against his neighbors.
The source of the name Jerusalem is not clear. The city is not mentioned specifically in the Pentateuch. Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who was “priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18), may very well have been the monarch of Jerusalem.
The name Jerusalem first appears in the Book of Joshua, in a passage about the king of Jerusalem who allied himself with four other kings from the south against the Israelites, who had recently conquered part of the hill country.
Joshua also refers to the city as Jebus, inhabited by the Jebusites.
The Book of Judges (1:21) relates that “The Benjaminites did not dispossess the Jebusite inhabitants of Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwelt with the Benjaminites.” At that time Jerusalem, like other cities in the land, was a royal city ruled by the Jebusite king.
At the beginning of Saul’s reign it was a non-Israelite enclave in the hill country. It was included in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:21-28).
After David’s conquest of the city round about 1004 BCE, Jerusalem became the official royal residence and the capital of the new monarchy.
David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city with the intention of building a Temple to the Lord and making Jerusalem the religious and political capital of the people of Israel.
The Bible relates that David was prevented from building the Temple because his hands were stained with blood. It was his son Solomon who erected the Temple, north of the royal quarter, on the site of the threshing floor purchased by David from Ornan the Jebusite, which is identified as Mount Moriah (II Chronicles 3:1).
Once the Temple was dedicated, the city became the spiritual center that united the entire nation and to which the masses came on pilgrimages. This was “the place that He would choose,” where people came to pay homage to the Lord of Hosts.
After the monarchy was divided following Solomon’s death (ca. 930 BCE), Jerusalem remained the capital of the kingdom of Judah, whereas the capital of the kingdom of Israel changed a number of times, as one dynasty supplanted another.
The kings of Israel sought a surrogate Temple for their subjects. At times peace reigned between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, while during other periods they were hostile to each other.