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Jerusalem (Before A.D. 71)

Jerusalem (Before A.D. 71)

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Published by Gilbert Hanz
Jerusalem is situated in latitude 31° 46' 45" N. and longitude 35° 13' 25" E. of Greenwich, about 32 English miles in a straight line from the Mediterranean on the west, and 13 from the Dead Sea on the east.
Jerusalem is situated in latitude 31° 46' 45" N. and longitude 35° 13' 25" E. of Greenwich, about 32 English miles in a straight line from the Mediterranean on the west, and 13 from the Dead Sea on the east.

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Published by: Gilbert Hanz on Apr 12, 2014
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Jerusalem (Before A.D. 71)
This article treats of the "City of God", the political and religious centre of the People of Israel, with its destruction  by the Romans after it had become the scene of the Redemption. This part of the subject will be divided as follows:
According to Jewish tradition (Josephus, "Antiq. Jud.", I, 10:1; Targum Onkelos, Genesis 14:18), Jerusalem was originally called Salem (Peace), and was the capital of King Melchisedech (Genesis 14:18). This tradition is confirmed by the cuneiform tablets discovered in 1888 at Tell Amarna, in Egypt (see below, under III.
). Five of these letters, written at Jerusalem about the year 1400 B.C., inform us that the city was then called U-ru-sa-lim. It figures in Assyrian inscriptions under the name of Ur-sa-li-im-mu. According to the Assyrian syllabaries,
 signify "city" (Hebrew
). In several of the Tell Armana Tablets the word
 is used in the sense of "peace". Ursalim, therefore, means "City of Peace". The Psalmist, too, connects
: "He hath his tabernacle in Salem, and his abode upon the mountain of Sion" [Psalm 75:3]. When the Israelites came into the Land of Promise, Jerusalem was in the power of the Jebusites, and bore the name of Jebus. The Hebrews, however, were not ignorant of its ancient name; they often called it Jerusalem (Joshua 10:1; Judges 19:10; 2 Samuel 5:6, etc.). In other passages of the Bible it is called Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 3:5; Jeremiah 26:18; Esther 2:6, etc.). The Septuagint. writes its name
. Under the hellenizing influences which invaded Palestine, Salem  became
 (Antiq. Jud., I, x, 2), and Jerusalem 
ta Ierosolyma
 (The Holy Solyma) (1 Maccabees 1:14, 20; 2 Maccabees 1:10; Bell. Jud., VI, 10:etc.). The  New Testament employs sometimes the Septuagint form and sometimes that of Machabees, which the Vulgate renders  by
. The Syriac Version gives
Uris lem
, a form more nearly approaching the Assyrian. When the Emperor Hadrian rebuilt the city, A.D. 136, he gave it the name of Ælia Capitolina. From the Mohammedan conquest of Palestine, in the seventh century, until our own times, the Arabs have called it El Quds, "The Holy" --the
ir haq qodes
, or "Holy City", of II Esd., xi, 18 (cf. Matthew 4:5, etc). Among all other people the name Jerusalem has continued in use until now.
Geographical position
Jerusalem is situated in latitude 31° 46' 45" N. and longitude 35° 13' 25" E. of Greenwich, about 32 English miles in a straight line from the Mediterranean on the west, and 13 from the Dead Sea on the east. It stands on the crest of a chain of mountains which traverses Palestine from north to south, and the highest point of which, at the northwest corner of the city, is
2577 feet above the level of the Mediterranean, and 3865 above that of the Dead Sea. Owing to this difference of level the western slope of these mountains, towards the Plain of Sephela, which extends to the Mediterranean, is gentle, while that to the east is very steep. A girdle of high hills surrounds the city, forming a sort of natural rampart. On the north is Mt. Scopus (2705 feet), next to it, on the east, the Mount of Olives (2665 feet), beyond which again is the Mount of Offence (2410 feet) (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13
). To the south is the Mount of Evil Counsel (2549 feet), which forms the eastern boundary of the Plain of Raphaim, and next, on the southwest, comes a hill (2557 feet) to which no name has been given. Towards the northwest the city is more exposed; at some distance in that direction it is dominated by the Nebi Samwil, the ancient Maspha, which has an altitude of 2935 feet. Notwithstanding the difficulty of access in its natural situation, Jerusalem is the centre of a network of ancient roads which connect it, on the east, with Jericho and the Jordan; on the south, with Hebron and Gaza; on the west, with Jaffa and Caesarea; on the north, with Samaria and Galilee. It was, however, situated beyond the great military and commercial highways between Egypt  and Assyria.
Site; hills and valleys
The ancient city occupied the same position as the present, except that its southern extremity has remained outside of the walls since the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 136). Thanks, however, to systematic operations undertaken by English, American, and German engineers, much of the old southern wall has been brought to light. While, in many places, masses of ruins have changed the appearance of the ground, excavations and vertical borings, made within the last fifty years, have, nevertheless, enabled the explorers to construct sufficiently-exact maps of the primitive configuration. The ground on which Jerusalem stands, within this ring of surrounding mountains, is by no means uniform in character: on three sides-the east, south, and west-it stands upon terraced heights bordered by deep valleys which give it the appearance of a promontory jutting out to the south. The city itself is furrowed with ravines which cut it up into a number of little hills. The longest of these valleys measures scarcely two miles and a half; they have all been formed by erosion, due to torrential rainfall, in the quaternary period. To the north of the city they take the shape of mere depressions in the soil, then, as they descend, sinking rapidly in the calcareous rock of which the mountains are formed, they soon become deep gorges, all coming together at the southeast angle of the city, at a depth of about 600 feet below their starting-point. The two principal hills rise on the southwest and the east respectively. The former of these hills is called Mount Sion because, according to Josephus (Antiq. Jud., XVI, vii, 1), Eusebius, and all the authors, Jewish and Christian, who have followed them, the city of Jebus, or Sion-the City of David-stood there. This view, however, is contested by certain modern Palestinologists, who would locate Sion upon the northern declivity of the second of these hills, Mount Moria (2 Chronicles 3:1
), where stood the Temple of  Jehovah.  (a) Mount Sion is bounded on the west by a valley which begins near the old pool called Birket Mamilla (see below, under D), about 1000 feet to the northwest of the hill itself. This valley, following a southeasterly direction as far as the Jaffa Gate, the ancient gate of the gardens (Gennath) (Bell. Jud., V, iv, 2), then turns to the south and forms a great reservoir of water called the Birket es Sultan, by means of a massive dam, which was rebuilt in the twelfth and the sixteenth centuries. This is the Fountain of the Dragon (
) which  Nehemias came to when he went out of the city by the western gate (D.V., "dragon fountain",  Nehemiah 2:13). Josephus calls it the Pool of the Serpent (Bell. Jud., V, iii, 2); the Hebrew 
 simplifies both "dragon" and "serpent". This valley is called by the natives Wadi
Rababi; in the Bible it goes by the name of Ge Hinnom, or Ge Ben Hinnom, "Valley of Ennom" (in A.V., Hinnom) or "of the son of Ennom"-an unknown personage (Joshua 15:8;  18:16;  Nehemiah 11:30; Jeremiah 19:2). Below the Birket es Sultan, it turns to the east,  passes below Halcedama, and connects with the Valley of Cedron. At the junction of the two valleys are the rich plantation forming "the king's garden" (or, in D.V., "the king's guard") mentioned in 2 Kings 25:4; Jeremiah 39:4;  Nehemiah 3:15. Also at the mouth of the Valley of Hinnom is situated Topheth, the high place where Achaz and Manasses set up the worship of Baal-Moloch (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6). The good King Josias defiled this execrable place, scattering human bones over it (2 Chronicles 34:3-5
), in spite of which Joakim restored there the infamous worship of  Moloch. From the unholy fires which were kept burning there for nearly a century and a half-those fires through which the apostate Jews caused their children to pass, in order to consecrate, or immolate, them to Moloch-Ge Hinnom (in Aramaic, Gehenanm) received the name of
Geenna tou pyros
, "Gehenna of the Fire", and became the emblem of  hell (in Greek text, Matthew 5:22-30; Mark 9:43-45
). The Valley of Cedron, from Hinnom as far as the Dead Sea, is still called Wadi en Nar, "Valley of Fire". On the north, Mount Sion is bounded by a valley, now largely filled in, which goes down in a straight line from the Jaffa Gate eastward to the foot of Mount Moria. On the slope of this valley is a large reservoir called in Arabic Birket Hammam el Batrak, "Pool of the Baths of the Patriarch", and in the itineraries of the  pilgrims "Pool of Ezechias". Josephus calls it Amygdalon, a name which, according, to Conder, may with good reason be derived from
ham migdalon
, "facing the great tower", since the pool faces the Tower of Phasael. This valley, like all those which pass through the city, has no proper name in the Bible; neither has it in Arabic; it is conventionally known as the Transverse Valley. A third valley begins outside the Damascus Gate (Bab el Amoud) and descends southward, with a slight deflection to the east, dividing the city in two; until it joins the Valley of Hinnom. After passing the opening of the Transverse Valley, it forms a gorge of some depth separating Mount Sion from Mount Moria. Its rocky bed has found by the English engineers 69 feet below the actual surface of the ground near the Wailing Place, and 85 feet from the southwest angle of the Temple. It encloses, towards its extremity, the Pool of Siloe, which receives through a subterranean channel the waters of the Virgin's Fountain that flow through the hollow of Cedron. A little farther on, the valley has been dammed with a wall 233 feet in length, which, retaining the whole rainfall of the valley, formed the reservoir called by Nehemias "the king's  pool" (in D.V., "the king's aqueduct",  Nehemiah 2:14). In Scripture this valley figures under the name of
, "ravine", or "torrent of winter" ( Nehemiah 2:15). Josephus in one place designates it "the wide valley" (Bell. Jud., V, iv, 1), and the Arabs call it simply El Wad, "the valley". In works on the Holy Land it also bears the designation of "the central valley ". Surrounded on all sides by these deep ravines, Mount Sion presents a quadrilateral surface measuring about 2600 feet from north to south and 2000 feet from east to west. It is the largest of the hills of Jerusalem, the highest, and the only one completely isolated. Its highest  point reaches an altitude of 2558 feet, and rises 531 feet above its base at the southeastern angle. Its surface is considerably varied, being, indeed, divided by a small depression which  branches off from the middle of the Transverse Valley and descends obliquely to the Pool of Siloe. Mount Sion thus consists of two lofty connected plateaux, one (the lower) stretching westward, the other (the shorter) to the northwest. The former is fairly uniform and measures 2300 feet in length from north to south, and 920 feet in breadth. After sinking about 100 feet towards the northwest, the ground rises about 20 feet and forms a rounded eminence opposite to the Temple, terminating in a precipice 195 feet above the former bed of EI Wad.

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