History of Jerusalem

CITY OF DAVID JERUSALEM EL-QUDS THE HOLY CITY SALEM JEBUS RUSHALEMUM AELIA CAPITOLINA ZION MOUNT ZION URUSALIM CITY OF GOD CITY OF JEHOVAH MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD ZION OF THE HOLY ONE MY CITY HEPHZIBAH ADONAY YIREH ARIEL BETULAH DRUSHAH GAI HAZAYON GILAH KIRIYAH ALIZA KIRIYAT HANNAH DAVID HEVEH ZEDEK YERUSHALAYIM...

According the Midrash*, a Rabbinical investigation into and interpretation of the Old Testament writings," there are seventy names for Jerusalem.” Seventy names, each reflecting a different aspect of the city and its residents, today and throughout history.


"If I forget you, O 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." (Psalm 137:5-6)


Above, looking west from the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley toward Jerusalem's walled Old City, dominated by the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim holy site.

Jerusalem stands on the crest of the Judean hills at an elevation of 2,577 feet above sea-level, 13 miles west of the Dead Sea, 32 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea, and roughly 80 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. The city is nearly surrounded by high hills, forming a sort of natural rampart. To the east is a long ridge made up of three hills (going north to south): Mount Scopus (2705 feet), the Mount of Olives (2665 feet) and the Mount of Offense (2410 feet). To the south is the Mount of Evil Counsel (2549 feet) while on the southwest is a hill (2557 feet) with no name. Towards the northwest the city is dominated by Nebi Samwil (2935 feet).

Jerusalem is perhaps better known to more people than any other place on earth. Yet, its renown comes not from its strategic or economic importance. If only its physical location were taken into account, it would never have become more than a small, anonymous mountain village, a minor tell (mound) for archaeologists to some day comb through looking to fill in gaps in the historical record.

Its height gave it some military advantage, a natural spring gave it a modest source of water and it was blessed with a temperate climate. Though sufficient for early settlement, these resources were not enough to give it importance. The main trade routes, the Via Maris and the Kings Highway from Egypt to Mesopotamia or Syria bypassed it to the west and east. Other land routes from Caesarea and Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast or from Samaria and Nablus to the north, Hebron and Gaza to the south and Jericho and the Jordan River to the east simply lead there and back again. Thus it was not a great economic center and its conquest by warring empires did not hold the key for control over large areas. Yet, no other city has experienced so many struggles as Jerusalem. No city has been conquered so often; no other city's inhabitants have been so often carried off into captivity or massacred. No city, holy or unholy, has experienced so much brutality and conflict. No, its great importance lies in the biblical kings and prophets who made the city their center, and from it, gave their wisdom and beliefs to the world.

Since the middle of the 19th century AD, archeological digs have been undertaken in and around the Old City, ever increasing in scope and improving in scientific methods. Layer upon layer, past eras has been uncovered, bearing out history, and also revealing secrets hitherto unknown. In recent years many of these sites have been restored and opened to the public. The purpose of this website is to take you on a tour of many of these sites, and show you the fascinating history of this Holy City to the world's three monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

Click "Earliest Jerusalem" to begin. Click the link at the bottom of each page to follow the tour from one stop to the next. Click the links below for a self-guided tour.

Above, Satellite view of the "Holy Land," called "the Fifth Gospel" by St. Jerome (5th century AD).

Note these geographical features:

Sea of Galilee (dark blue, shaped like a human heart) at the top. Lies 700' below sea level.

Dead Sea (dark blue near the bottom). Lack of water flow from the Jordan River is causing it to slowly evaporate. Lies 1290' below sea level, the lowest point on the earth's surface.

Jordan River - Sources are springs originating at the base of Mt. Hermon north of the Sea of Galilee. It flows into the Sea Galilee than exits at the south end, then continues over a winding, twisting course to the Dead Sea, where it ends. Most of its course is below sea level.

Note the borders: State of Israel, Jordan (east of the Jordan River), Palestine/West Bank (west side of the Jordan River; notch on the left is location of Jerusalem), Gaza Strip (small area on the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Egypt).