What Does Jerusalem Mean?


What Does Jerusalem Mean?

The last leg of our trip to Israel, which ended on November 6th last year, was to visit Jerusalem, the country’s capital.  Our first trip there was on January 13, 1972, which also happened to be my 25th birthday.  We moved to Israel on January 9th, and four days later we took an excursion to Jerusalem.  Since then, (until we moved to San Francisco in August, 1980) we have visited Jerusalem countless times, and I even started my MBA studies at the University of Jerusalem.  Prior to this trip, our previous visit there was ten years ago.  It was an organized trip called “In The Dust of the Ancestors”, during which we discovered hidden treasures by visiting ancient places, including the Hezekiah Tunnel, which was carved under the City of David in the late 9th century BC, as well as Zedekiahs Cave, and also called Solomon’s Quarries.  Herod the Great used the quarry for building blocks for the renovation of what became known as the Western or Wailing Wall. We also visited the tunnel under the Western Wall reaching the bedrock of the Second Temple, which was destroyed by Romans almost 2000 years ago.

You do not have to be a history buff to appreciate what Jerusalem has to offer.  It was first settled in the 4th millennium BCE.  Jerusalem was named “Urusalim” on ancient Egyptian tablets.  On History.com I learned that “In 1000 BC, King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Jewish Kingdom. His son, Solomon, built the first holy Temple there, 40 years later.  In the Bible, Jerusalem is mentioned 810 times.  The Babylonians occupied Jerusalem in 586 BC, destroyed the Temple, and sent the Jews into Exile.  About 50 years later after that, the Persian King Cyrus allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.”  Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 AD, and in 135 AD after defeating Bar Kochba’s rebellion and killing 580,000 Jews, renamed the city Aelia Capitolina.  Muslim armies conquered Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire in 638. When Christians conquered the city in 1099, they massacred much of the population.  Then Khwarizmi Turks took it over in 1244.  During the last two thousand years, different names for the city were used, as new conquerors came and left.  Arabs call it Bayt al-Muqads or Al-Quds.  Combining those two names literally means “the place of the Holy Temple.”  The Israelis call their capital Yerushalayim.

The name Jerusalem is most commonly used in the Bible, and the name used by Western World.  The name Shalem is derived from the same root as the word “shalom”, meaning peace, so the common interpretation of the name now is “The City of Peace” or “Adobe of Peace”.  Let there be peace in the city, which is holy for three Abrahamic religions – Jewish, Christianity and Islam.  At the end of the celebration of Passover, which this year is on April 19-27, Jews traditionally sing a song, “Next Year in Jerusalem”.  If you want to experience a journey of a lifetime, you do not have to wait until next year, plan to visit Jerusalem as soon as you can.

P.S. These four images show Jerusalem’s diversity in the dress of its inhabitants.

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