- (CLICK HERE FOR MUCH LARGER PHOTO OF IMAGE ABOVE)
- Ancient Jerusalem sits on several hills.
- East border is Kidron Valley
- The Kidron Valley separates the Jerusalem from Mount Scopus (Mount of Olives)
- West border is Hinnom Valley which turns to run along the south side also and meets the Kidron Valley.
- The spring of En Rogel is located at the meeting of the Hinnom and Kidron Valley
- The north border is not marked with valleys but is easily approachable and was the most difficult to defend against approaching armies, thus, the fortresses and towers were built on the north side of the city.
- The Central Valley (Tyropoeon Valley, which means Valley of Cheesemakers) runs through the middle of the city. This valley
was filled in to level the city between the Hinnom and Kidron valleys
The Central Valley today runs from just north of the Damascus gate along ha-Gai Street. The Central Valley would separate today’s Temple Mount from the Jewish Quarter.
- The Central Valley distinguished the Eastern Hill (City of David) from the Western Hill (which was where the city expanded to during the time of the Kings).
- Mount Zion sits on the south end of the Western Hill and the Hinnom Valley bends around Mount Zion’s west and south sides.
- The City of David sits on the eastern hill.
- The Gihon Springs are on the eastern slopes of this eastern hill and provide the water source for the city while also watering the Kidron Valley.
- Mount Moriah sit immediately to the north of the City of David and is, in a sense, part of the eastern hill.
- The area between the City of David and Mount Moriah on this eastern hill is called the Ophel.
- The city of David covers 15 acres. Three of these acres are located on the slopes leading down into the Kidron Valley
Go To Jerusalem in:
1000 BC . . . . 940 BC . . . . 701 BC . . . . 433 BC . . . . 30 AD . . . . 70 AD . . . . 130 AD . . . . 325-638 AD . . . . 333 AD Bordeaux Pilgrim . . . . 614-1229 AD . . . . 1535 AD
Jerusalem in 1000 BC
The first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible is found in
Genesis 14:18 in the account of Abram’s encounter
with Melchizedek, the king of Salem (that is,
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley) (probably where the Kidron and Hinnom Valley’s meet). Then Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem) brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
- Genesis 14:17-20
Melchizedek, or Melchi-Zedek, was from the royal line
of the Canaanite or Jebusite priest-kings who ruled
Jerusalem and served God on Mount Moriah.
Later in Genesis 22:2 Abraham would return to Mount
Moriah just north of Jerusalem to offer his son Isaac as
a sacrifice to God. God told Abraham:
Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about. - Genesis 22:2
This same place, Mount Moriah, was identified in
2 Chronicles 3:1 as the plot of ground that David
purchased with his own money from Araunah the
Jebusite. It was also identified as the place Solomon
would build the temple.
In 2000 BC Jerusalem and Mount Moriah were the center of worship of the God Most High (El-Elyon), since this was the residence of his priest-king
Melchizedek and the place to which God had led Abraham for worship.
When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan in 1405 BC, one of Melchizedek’s descendents, a man named Adoni-Zedek, was still ruling in Jerusalem:
Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and were living near them. He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters. So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon: “Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites. - Joshua 10:1-5
Later in Joshua 12:10, Adoni-Zedek the king of Jerusalem, is found on a list of 31 kings from the land of Canaan who were killed by Joshua. After Joshua’s death (Judges 1:1-2) the men of Judah attacked and destroyed Jerusalem, but it appears they did not occupy it at that time. This led to the resettling and fortification of Jerusalem by the Jebusites.
The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire. - Judges 1:8
Even though the king of Jerusalem was killed in battle against Joshua, and the men of Judah destroyed Jerusalem in the following generation, the Israelites did not conqueror and occupy the fortress city of Jerusalem for another 400 years.
By that time the city of Jerusalem had become a stronghold for the Jebusites. The natural layout of the land made Jerusalem an easy location to fortify. With the steep Kidron Valley on the east and the Central Valley and Hinnom Valley on the west joining the Kidron Valley in the south, the city was naturally and easily defended against attacks from the east, south and west. Any approach to attack the city had to come
over the top of Mount Moriah and run straight into the northern wall. Thus, the greatest fortifications, the strongest walls and the largest number of armed men would be positioned in the northern part of the city. This is why the Jebusites mocked David when he came out to attack them:
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in
here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. - 2 Samuel 5:6-7
The text goes on to tell how David took the city from the Jebusites despite the natural defenses created by the steep valleys and the heavily fortified northern wall: On that day, David said,
“Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.”
- 2 Samuel 5:8 (1 Chronicles 11:4-9)
David called Jerusalem (also called Jebus, Salem, etc.) the City of David after he took it from the Jebusites. The hill on which the city was built and the hill just north of it (Mount Moriah) together became known as Zion.
David then took up residence in the fortress, and so it was called the City of David. He built up the city around it, from the supporting terraces (literally - “Millo”) to the surrounding wall, while Joab restored the rest of the city. And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord Almighty was with him. - 1 Chronicles 11:7-9
The Millo is part of the City of David—built by the Jebusites before David conquered it. The Millo consists of the terraces and retaining walls on the eastern slope of the southeastern spur that supported the buildings above. Kathleen Kenyon has uncovered part of this “Stepped Stone Structure,” and Eilat Mazar has excavated what is now known as the “Large Stone Structure” that sat on the Millo.
The Bible describes David’s construction work in his newly occupied city:
And he built the city all around from the Millo in a complete circuit. - 1 Chronicles 11:8; 2 Samuel 5:9
David built his House of Cedar, or royal palace, on the Millo (2 Samuel 5:11).
The Tower of David was also built there (Song of Solomon 4:4), as was “the house of the mighty men” (Nehemiah 3:16). David then extended the city’s walls and fortress to the north of the eastern hill of the City of David up onto the Ophel toward Mount Moriah, or the Temple Mount.
To do this David had to break down a portion of the northern wall. This breach was repaired by Solomon once construction was complete:
Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of David his father. - 1 Kings 11:27
The walls that Solomon built to close up the breach created by David’s building projects have been uncovered and are detailed in this book. Solomon also began construction on Mount Moriah in preparation for building the Temple.
Jerusalem in 940 BC:
The Temple Mount is identified as Mount Moriah in 2 Chronicles:
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the
Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the
Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. - 2 Chronicles 3:1
David purchased Mount Moriah, from Araunah the Jebusite:
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. - 2 Samuel 24:24-25
So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site. - 1 Chronicles 21:25
The difference in price recorded in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles is because the verses in 2 Samuel record the price of the threshing floor and the oxen (fifty shekels of silver) while the verse in 1 Chronicles records the price for the entire site where the threshing floor was located (600 shekels of gold). David purchased what we would today call the Temple Mount for 600 shekels of gold. David’s descendents have never sold what David purchased that day.
The hill just north of the City of David was used as a threshing floor by the Jebusites, but it had also been associated with local worship for many years:
- Melchizedek, the King of Salem and Priest of God most High, would have worshipped on Mount Moriah in 2000 BC (Genesis 14)
- Abraham offered Isaac on Mount Moriah around 1950 BC (Genesis 22)
- Even in Abraham’s day this site (the future site of the Jewish Temple Mount) was called “the Lord provides” (Genesis 22:14)
Then around 980 BC, David rebuilt the altar of Abraham on the same spot (2 Samuel 24:18-20) and designed the plans for the Temple and the
Temple Mount that Solomon would later construct in approximately 960 BC (2 Samuel 7).
Solomon spent seven years building the Temple. Solomon’s palace was built just south of the Temple Mount on the Ophel. The palace project took 13 years and included the entire palace precinct— the House of Pharaoh’s Daughter, the throne room, the Hall of Columns and the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Solomon also built up the City of David and its fortifications. Part of the city wall that Solomon built has been discovered and was excavated in 2010.
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Jerusalem in 701 BC
Jerusalem in 701 BC
The kings that followed David and Solomon continued new construction in the City of David, the Ophel and the Temple Mount. They also expanded the city westward. The biblical chronicles of the kings record that on several occasions they undertook major restoration projects.
Joash (835-796 BC) –
Joash decided to restore the house of the Lord. . . they hired masons, and carpenters to restore the house of the Lord, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the house of the Lord. So those who were engaged in the work labored, and the
repairing went forward in their hands, and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it.
- 2 Chronicles 24:4, 12-13
Uzziah (792-740 BC) –
Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the Angle, and fortified them. . . In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones.
- 2 Chronicles 26:9, 15
Jotham (750-735 BC) –
He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord and did much building on the wall of Ophel. - 2 Chronicles 27:3
Hezekiah (715-686 BC) –
In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.
- 2 Chronicles 29:3
Hezekiah also built a wall around the western part of the city. This was the first time the Western Hill had ever been fortified. Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of
the city of David. - 2 Chronicles 32:30
Isaiah records Hezekiah’s efforts to prepare the city for the Assyrian invasion:
In that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, and you saw that the breaches of the city of David were many. You
collected the waters of the lower pool, and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. - Isaiah 22:8-11
This wall is also mentioned in Nehemiah 3:8 and 12:38. It was built of stones from houses that were torn down to get the rock and other material. It is called “the Broad Wall” because it is 21 feet wide. A 210-foot section of this wall has been discovered. Manasseh (697-642 BC) – When Manasseh returned from his Assyrian imprisonment in Babylon: He built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, and for the entrance into the Fish Gate, and carried it around Ophel, and raised it to a very great height. - 2 Chronicles 33:4 Manasseh added a wall east of the City of David to protect the homes outside the city walls that had been built on the slopes of the Kidron Valley.
Josiah (640-609 BC) –
They gave it (money) to the workmen who were working in the house of the Lord. And the workmen who were working in the house of the Lord gave it for repairing and restoring the house. They gave it to the carpenters and the builders to buy quarried stone, and timber for binders and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had let go to ruin. - 2 Chronicles 34:10-11
After the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BC, the people who were left in the area of Samaria and Judah continued to bring offerings to the destroyed Temple Mount:
Eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord. - Jeremiah 41:5
In 538 Cyrus, the Persian King, gave orders to rebuild the temple:
"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:
This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you – may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.” - Ezra 1:1-3
The rebuilding of the temple came to a standstill in 520 BC due to opposition from Israel’s neighbors and political enemies. The city was resettled in these times of poverty and oppression, but the city walls and the temple remained in ruins. The rebuilding of the temple was finally completed in 516 BC:
Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates carried it out with diligence. So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. -Ezra 6:13-15
In 445 BC Nehemiah, a royal official serving the Persian emperor, came to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls. The details of Nehemiah’s nighttime inspection hapter of Nehemiah:
"I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but
there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” – Nehemiah 2:13-17
Jerusalem in 433 BC
The wall of Jerusalem was completed by Nehemiah and the citizens of the city in 445 BC. The dedication ceremony is recorded in Nehemiah:
I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed (out of the Valley Gate on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate ...Ezra the scribe led the procession. At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east. The second choir proceeded in
the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people – past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard (Prison Gate, Inspectors Gate) they stopped. The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, as well as the priests. - Nehemiah 12:31-40
Rule by the Persian Empire that Nehemiah had served under was replaced by Grecian rule in 332 BC when Alexander the Great entered Jerusalem. The Jewish high priest, Jaddua, met Alexander outside the city walls and showed him the scroll of the prophecy of Daniel which foretold the coming of the four-winged leopard and the goat from the west. Both of these identified Alexander as the next conqueror of the Middle East. Alexander and the Greeks then worshipped in Jerusalem. Alexander promised theJews their city and told them their Temple would never be defiled by the Greeks.
The promise was good for 160 years until 172 BC when the Grecian king of Syria, the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanies, executed the righteous Jewish high priest Onias III and replaced him with wicked men such as Jason and Menelaus who plundered the temple. In 168 BC Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, burning and looting homes then selling the women and children into slavery. There were 22,000 Syrian soldiers stationed in the Akra, a fortress built on the Ophel south of the Temple Mount looking north over the Temple courts and activities. The temple was plundered and desecrated, and on December 25, 168 BC, Antiochus set up an altar to Zeus to replace the Jewish altar of burnt offering.
It was at this time that the Maccabees revolted against the Syrian invaders, and during the next four years war filled the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. By 164 BC Judas Maccabeus had regained control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, but Syrian soldiers maintained control of the stronghold next to the Temple Mount called the Akra. They would remain in control of this stronghold until Judas’s brother Simon drove out all Syrian troops 22 years later in 142 BC. By this time the Maccabees had established their rule, and Israel was recognized as an independent Jewish state by the rising power of Rome. Simon Maccabeus was given the title of high priest, general, and king for the Jewish state. This act established the Hasmonean Dynasty. (The title Hasmonean comes from the name Hasmon, one of the ancestors of the priestly family of Judas and Simon Maccabeus.)
The Hasmoneans ruled until the Roman general Pompey entered Jerusalem in 63 BC amid civil war between two Hasmonean brothers and their political Hasmonean government continued to deteriorate until 47 BC when Julius Caesar appointed Antipater, Herod the Great’s father, to be the manager of Caesar’s affairs in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Galilee. Antipater immediately began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem that had been damaged during the previous 123 years of fighting. After Antipater was poisoned in43 BC (a year after Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome), his son Herod was appointed by Marc Antony as the ruler of Judea.
Although it took Herod until 37 BC to fight his way into Jerusalem and take possession of the throne, he loved the city and its architecture. The days of Herod’s rule (the Herodian Age) began the greatest period of construction Jerusalem had ever seen. His projects in Jerusalem included paved streets with underground sewers, the palace complex in the citadel with luxury apartments in the towers called Phasael and Mariamne, fountains, baths, Fort Antonia, a Greek theater and the Hippodrome. He also continued work on the city walls. Herod greatly expanded the size of the Temple Mount and also remodeled the Temple itself. Jerusalem
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Jerusalem in 30 AD
Herod and the priests rebuilt the temple in a year and a half beginning in 19 BC. It was more than 15 stories tall and was built with white stones that were 37 feet long and 12 feet high. They spent another eight years on the rooms, arches and colonnades around the Temple on the Temple Mount. Additional work on the TempleMount complex continued into the days of Jesus, so that the Jews could accurately say to Jesus in 27 AD:
It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days? - John 2:20
In fact, work on the Temple Mount did not stop until the reign of Herod the Great’s grandson, Herod Agrippa II, in 64 AD, two years before the Jewish revolt against Rome began. (Many of the pavement stones seen in the photos in this book were laid between 64 and 66 AD when Agrippa II used the then recently unemployed Temple laborers to repave the city streets of Jerusalem.) This was the revolt that would drive the nRomans to level the Temple in 70 AD in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy made in 30 AD:
Do you see all these things? ...I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down. - Matthew 24:2
Jerusalem in 70 AD
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Jerusalem in 70 AD
In 41 AD Herod Agrippa II extended the city walls to the
north to include the residential quarter of the growing
city. It was during the years 41-44 AD that the site of
Jesus’ crucifixion and burial were surrounded with
walls and brought within city limits. Yet, even though
residential construction was happening throughout this
area no construction took place on the site of Jesus’
crucifixion and burial until the days of Emperor Hadrian
in 135 AD.
The Jews began a revolt against the Roman Empire
in 66 AD by retaking Jerusalem, but this resulted in
the Roman siege of Jerusalem beginning in April of
70 AD. It ended with the burning of the Temple on
August 10, 70 AD. The Tenth Roman Legion (Legio X
Fretensis, in Latin) was stationed in Jerusalem for the
next 200 years, occupying the western side of the city
and the citadel. Titus returned to Rome with the Golden
Candle Stand from the Temple and other Temple
treasures, including trumpets. This is attested to by
the still-standing Arch of Titus in Rome that depicts
Titus’s triumphant return to Rome after the destruction
and plundering of Jerusalem. It is clear the Temple
treasures followed Titus and his legions back to Rome
in 70 AD.
The Christians who had fled Jerusalem in 66 AD
when they saw the approaching Roman armies (as
advised by Jesus in Luke 21:20-22) began returning to
Jerusalem in 73 AD and honored the location of Jesus’
death, burial and resurrection.
Between 70 and 130 AD the Jewish presence in the city of Jerusalem also grew and began to thrive again until they organized a second revolt against the Romans in 132 AD. In that year the Jews drove the Romans out of Jerusalem and began a temporarily successful attempt to rebuild the temple. Coins were minted by the Jews and struck with the image of the rebuilt temple. These coins are also inscribed with the dates of the first, second or third year of this second Jewish revolt (called the Bar-Kokhba Revolt). The Jewish rebels controlled Judea and even re-struck
Roman coins, inscribing on them:
“For the Freedom of Jerusalem.”
After a three-year war Emperor Hadrian defeated the Jews again in 135 AD. According to the Roman historian Cassius Dio, who wrote around 200 AD, the Jews lost 985 of their villages when they were burned out of existence. The loss and cost for the Romans was also severe. When Hadrian reported his victory over Jerusalem to the Roman Senate he did not greet them with the customary opening phrase, “I and the
army are well,” because the army was not well. Rome had lost the entire Twenty-second Legion (Legio XXII Deiotariana). Here is Cassius Dio’s account of the Bar- Kokhba Revolt from the Roman point of view:
At first the Romans took no account of them. Soon, however, all Judea had been stirred up, and the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance, were gathering together, and giving evidence of great hostility to the Romans, partly by secret and partly by overt acts; many outside nations, too, were joining them through eagerness for gain, and the whole earth, one might almost say, was being stirred up over the matter. Then, indeed, Hadrian sent against them his best generals. First of these was Julius Severus, who
was dispatched from Britain, where he was governor, against the Jews. Severus did not venture to attack his opponents in the open at any one point, in view of their numbers and their desperation, but by intercepting small groups, thanks to the number of his soldiers and his under-officers, and by depriving them of food and shutting them up, he was able, rather slowly, to be sure, but with comparatively little danger, to crush, exhaust and exterminate them. Very few of them in fact survived. Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. Thus nearly the whole of Judea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, "If you and our children are in health, it is well; I and the legions are in health." (Cassiius Dio, Roman History 69.13-69.14)
Hadrian renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina" after the Jew's second revolt against Rome in 130-135, and rebuilt it as a Roman city. Jews were forbidden entrance into the city except once a year to mourn their fallen Temple.
Jerusalem in 130 AD
Emperor Hadrian decided to turn Jerusalem into a Roman city and called it Aelia Capitolina. Hadrian’s decision may have been the final factor in causing the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. Or the Bar-Kokhba Revolt may have been the final factor in causing Hadrian’sdecision. The history of this event is not clear, but either way, Hadrian won the war, and Jerusalem was converted into a Roman city with the status of Roman colony. Aelia refers to the clan name of Hadrian’s family: Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus. Capitolina refers to the Capitoline Triad of supreme deities in Roman religion who were worshipped on Rome’s Capitoline Hill: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Hadrian also renamed the land of Judea after the ancient enemies of Israel in the Old Testament, the Philistines. Judea became known as Palestine, or the land of the Philistines, and Jews were forbidden by Roman decree from entering Jerusalem except once a year on the date of the Temple’s destruction. Interestingly, the date of the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 AD was exactly the same as the Babylonian destruction of the Temple in 586 BC.
Hadrian’s projects in the city of Aelia Capitolina included building a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount right on top of the destroyed Jewish Temple. He hoped that the presence of a temple to a Roman god on the site would stamp out any Jewish hope of recovering and rebuilding their city. A statue of Hadrian was also placed on the Temple Mount. Hadrian’s successor, Antoninus Pius, placed a statue of himself there as well. A broken piece of this statue’s inscription can still be seen today in the southern Temple Mount wall above the Double Gate.
The location of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was also covered up by Hadrian when he built a retaining wall over the site. He used fallen Herodian ashlar stones from the Jewish Temple Mount to build the wall, and filled in the area with soil to form a platform upon which he erected a statue to Jupiter and a temple to Venus.
Roman towns were laid out with two main roads crossing in the center. One road, called the decumanus, ran east to west and a second road,
called the cardo, ran north to south. The place where they intersected would include the market. In Aelia
Capitolina the decumanus ran from the Three Towers (Phasael, by today’s Jaffa Gate) straight to the Temple Mount where it turned north before it continued east out the Lions, or Stephen’s, Gate. The cardo, or the north-south road, ran from the main north gate (Damascus Gate today) to Mount Zion in the south. This cardo with its pavement, street, curb, sidewalk, pillars and storefronts can still be seen today. The Roman Tenth Legion had been stationed in Jerusalem since 70 AD. They spent 65 years camped on the western hill near the Jaffa gate and the
Citadel. A Roman pillar still stands in that area with an inscription left by the Tenth Legion. Archaeological evidence indicates that after the Bar Kokhba Revolt they may have moved to or extended their camp to include the Temple Mount.
In 313 Constantine declared Christianity a legal religion with the Edict of Milan. Then in 324, he united the eastern half of the Roman Empire with his western half, and Christianity became the dominant religion in Jerusalem until the Muslims conquered it in 638.
Constantine created a new capital for the Roman Empire, moving it from Rome to the city of Byzantium on the coast of northwest Asia Minor at the crossroads of Europe and the East. This newly united and Christianized Roman Empire, which ruled Jerusalem until the Muslim conquest in 638, is known today as the Byzantine Empire. Constantine called his new Roman capitol city Constantinople. Many of the treasures of Rome were moved to Constantinople, or modern day Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey.
Many churches were built in the city of Jerusalem at this time, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which commemorates the location of Jesus death on Calvary and his resurrection from the tomb in the nearby garden. Although the empire officially converted from paganism to Christianity, the Byzantine Empire maintained an anti-Jewish position and did not allow Jews to enter Jerusalem except on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av (Tisha B’Av), the date for both the Babylonian (586 BC) and the Roman (70 AD) destructions of the Jewish Temple. The Temple Mount continued to be neglected and was left in ruins to fulfill Jesus words:
Your house is left to you desolate. - Matthew 23:38
There was a brief interruption of the Christian dominance in Jerusalem in 361 when the last sole survivor of Constantine, his nephew Julian, began to rule. Julian was known as “the Apostate,” and because he despised Christianity he annulled the anti-Jewish decrees and gave the Jews permission to rebuild their Temple.
The Jews began work with financial support from the Byzantine Empire as well as from Jews scattered in other lands who believed that Julian had been sent by God. The Jews dug up the foundations of the previous temple and began to rebuild in 362. However, natural events such as earthquakes and a fire on the Temple Mount, as well as the death of Julian in 363 in a battle against the Persians, brought an end to the attempt to rebuild the Temple and resume sacrifices after only a few months. Salaman Hermias Sozomen, the church historian from Gaza wrote about these events in 440:
On their (Jews) replying (to Julian’s order to build the Temple) that because the temple in Jerusalem was overturned, it was neither lawful nor ancestral to do this in another place than the metropolis out of which they had been cast, he gave them public money, commanded them to rebuild the temple, and to practice the cult similar to that of their ancestors, by sacrificing after the ancient way. The Jews entered upon the undertaking, without reflecting that, according to the prediction of the holy prophets, it could not be accomplished. They sought for the most skillful artisans, collected materials, cleared the ground, and entered so earnestly upon the task, that even the women carried heaps of earth, and brought their necklaces and other female ornaments towards defraying the expense. The emperor, the other pagans, and all the Jews, regarded every other undertaking as secondary in importance to this. Although the pagans were not well-disposed towards the Jews, yet they assisted them in this enterprise, because they reckoned upon its ultimate success, and hoped by this means to falsify the prophecies of Christ. Besides this motive, the Jews themselvesm were impelled by the consideration that the time had arrived for rebuilding their temple. When they had removed the ruins of the former building, they dug up the ground and cleared away its foundation; it is said that on the following day when they were about to lay the first foundation, a great earthquake, occurred, and by the violent agitation of the earth, stones were thrown up from the depths, by which those of the Jews who were engaged in the work were wounded, as likewise those who were merely looking on. The houses and public porticos, near the site of the temple, in which they had diverted themselves, were suddenly thrown down; many were caught thereby, some perished immediately, others were found half dead and mutilated of hands or legs, others were injured in other parts of the body. When God caused the earthquake to cease, workmen who survived again returned to their task, partly because such was the edict themselves interested in the undertaking. Men often, in endeavoring to gratify their own passions, seek what is injurious to them, reject what would be truly advantageous, and are deluded by the idea that nothing is really useful except what is agreeable to them. When once led astray by this error, they are no longer able to act in a manner conducive to their own interests, or to take warning by the calamities which are visited upon them. The Jews, I believe, were just in this state; for, instead of regarding this unexpected earthquake as a manifest indication that God was opposed to the re-erection of their temple, they proceeded recommence the work. But all parties relate, that they had scarcely returned to the undertaking, when fire burst suddenly from the foundations of the temple, and consumed several of the workmen. This fact is fearlessly stated, and believed by all; the only discrepancy in the narrative is that some maintain that flame burst from the interior force an entrance, while others say that the fire way the phenomenon might have occurred, it is equally wonderful. A more tangible and still more extraordinary prodigy ensued; suddenly the sign of the cross appeared spontaneously on the garments of the persons engaged in the undertaking. These crosses were disposed like stars, and appeared the work of art. Many were hence led to confess that Christ is God, and that the rebuilding of the temple was not pleasing to Him; others presented themselves in the church, were initiated, and besought Christ, with hymns and supplications, to pardon their transgression. If any one does not feel disposed to believe my narrative, let him go and be convinced by those who heard the facts I have related from the eyewitnesses of them, for they are still alive. Let him inquire, also, of the Jews and pagans who left the work in an incomplete state, or who, to speak more accurately, were unable to commence it .
Jerusalem in 325-638 AD
After his death, Julian was replaced by Emperor Jovian who reestablished Christianity as the religion of the Roman, or Byzantine, Empire.
The temple to Jupiter that had been built by Hadrian and the statues of Hadrian and Antoninus may have been removed by the Christians of the Byzantine Empire between 324 and 361, or they may have been removed by the Jews during Julian’s reign from 361-363.
This is Jerusalem from the time of the Bordeaux Pilgrim's visit from Gaul in 333 until the Muslim invasion of 638. The Bordeaux Pilgrim's written account of his visit is traced with the dotted line beginning on the east side, just outside the Temple Mount.
The Bordeaux Pilgrim
A Christian pilgrim who traveled to Jerusalem in the year 333 from Bordeaux in southwest France gives us a few interesting details about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount during the reign of Emperor Constantine. Below is what the Bordeaux Pilgrim wrote in 333 concerning what he saw in Jerusalem. Keep in mind that this is what he understood based on what he saw and what these locations were called at that time.
His descriptions include his understanding of theology, history and scripture which were obviously influenced by what the local residents (the Byzantine “tour guides” and religious leaders in Jerusalem) told him. Still, it is what it is and it is what he saw—a very rare recording of a firsthand eyewitness description of Jerusalem during the reign of Constantine at the beginning of the Byzantine Empire. As such, it is priceless. (Note that my comments are in parenthesis and are not italicized while the Bordeaux Pilgrim's writing is in bold italic text.. The map to the left attempts to follow his description through the city.)
There are in Jerusalem two large pools at the side of the Temple, that is, one upon the right hand, and one upon the left, which were made by Solomon; (Outside the NE corner of Temple Mount would be the Pool of Israel. Outside the NW corner of Temple Mount would be the cisterns or pools found in today’s Western Wall tunnels.) and further in the city are twin pools with five porticoes, which are called Bethsaida. (Bethsesda, John 5:2-18) There persons who have been sick for many years are cured; the pools contain water which is red when it is disturbed. There is also here a crypt (This refers to a cave, or underground chamber; this cave is under the Dome of the Rock today and is undoubtedly connected to the network of 45 other cisterns, chambers, tunnels and caves that exist under the Temple Mount. It may also provide access to the legendary Well of Souls.) in which Solomon used to torture devils. (At this time King Solomon, due to his wisdom and the legends of the Jews, was known as a great magician and fighter of demons. Jars believed to have been used by Solomon to hold demons were displayed in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.) Here is also the corner of an exceeding high tower, (SE corner of the Temple Mount) where our Lord ascended and the tempter said to Him, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.” And the Lord answered, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God, but him only shall thou serve.” (Matthew 4:1-11) There is a great cornerstone, of which it was said, “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.” (Matthew 21:42; Ps 118:22) Under the pinnacle of the tower are many rooms, and here was Solomon's palace. (Herod had built Solomon's Colonnade on the south side of the Temple Mount.)
There also is the chamber in which he sat and wrote the (Book of) Wisdom; (This chamber was called Solomon’s Stables by the Crusaders and still is today.) this chamber is covered with a single stone. There are also large subterranean reservoirs for water and pools constructed with great labor. And in the building itself, where stood the temple which Solomon built, they say that the blood of Zacharias (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51) which was shed upon the stone pavement before the altar remains to this day. There are also to be seen the marks of the nails in the shoes of the soldiers who slew him, throughout the whole enclosure, so plain that you would think they were impressed upon wax. There are two statues of Hadrian, (One of Hadrian and the other of Antoninus Pius. The inscription stone of Antoninus’ statue can still be seen today in the Southern Temple Mount Wall above the Double Gate) and not far from the statues there is a perforated stone (This is the bedrock of Mt. Moriah where the Ark of the Covenant sat in the Most Holy Place in the Temple of Solomon. This perforation, or carved out and leveled depression, can be seen inside the Dome of the Rock and is the same size as the Ark of the Covenant.) to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart. There also is the house out of Jerusalem to go up Mount Sion, (i.e., after leaving the Temple Mount and heading south out of the city on the main road, the Cardo Maximus) on the left hand, below in the valley, beside the wall, is a pool which is called Siloe (Pool of Siloam, John 9:1-11) and has four porticoes; (The four porches refer to Hadrian’s reconstruction in 135 AD. The Church of Siloam, was built in 450 AD, and its pillar bases can still be seen today in the water when exiting Hezekiah’s Tunnel.) and there is another large pool outside it. This spring runs for six days and nights, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, it does not run at all, either by day or by night. (This pool called Siloe, or Siloam, was still being fed water from the Gihon Springs on the east side through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The flow of water from the Gihon Springs has always been known for gushing water intermittently. In fact, “gihon” means “to gush forth.” The people of this time did not know of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. In fact, Josephus himself always calls Siloam a spring of water indicating that th eJews of 70 AD had forgotten about Hezekiah’s Tunnel even though it continued to supply water to the Pool of Siloam.) On this side one goes up Sion, (walking outside the city walls around the Westside along the Hinnom Valley and up Mount Zion) and sees where the house of Caiaphas the priest was, (just outside today’s walls and part of the extended Armenian Quarter, Matthew 26:57- 68) and there still stands a column against which Christ was beaten with rods. (Matthew 26:67-68 records spitting, striking and slapping at the High Priest’s Palace, but no rods.) Within, however, inside the wall of Sion, is seen the place where was David's palace. (This is the Citadel which was the fortress of the Macabees, the palace of Herod, and the camp of the Tenth Roman Legion. Today this Citadel and its remains are just inside the city walls by the Jaffa Gate.) Of seven synagogues which once were there, one alone remains; the rest are ploughed over and sown upon, as said Isaiah the prophet. (Isa 1:2.4-8; Micah 3:9-12) From thence as you go out of the wall of Sion, as you walk towards the gate of Neapolis, (This would be in the location of today’s Damascus Gate and was the grand new, or “nea” entrance to the Cardo.) towards the right, below in the valley, (Kidron Valley) are walls, where was the house or praetorium of Pontius Pilate. (Fort Antonia, Matthew 27:11-31) Here our Lord was tried before His passion. (by Pontius Pilate.) On the left hand is the little hill of Golgotha where the Lord was crucified. (As the Pilgrim walked up the Cardo towards the Neapolis Gate, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was on his left, and the remains of Fort Antonia further on his right, Matthew 27:33-37) About a stone's throw from thence is a vault wherein His body was laid, and rose again on the third day. (The tomb and Calvary were in the same garden in the gospels and are located in the same Church of the Holy Sepulcher both today and in 333 AD, Matthew 27:57-60; 28:1- 10) There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine, has been built a basilica, that is to say, a church of wondrous beauty, having at the side reservoirs (Cisterns were cut into the abandoned quarry. The remains of cisterns are found in the lower parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.) from which water is raised, (Holes in the arched ceiling were used to lower buckets on ropes from the homes above and can still be seen in the ceilings of these cisterns today.) and a bath behind in which infants are washed. (i.e., baptized). Also as one goes from Jerusalem to the gate which is to the eastward (the Golden Gate) in order to ascend the Mount of Olives, is the valley called that of Josaphat. (Kidron Valley) Towards the left, where are vineyards, is a stone at the place where Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ; (Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Matthew 26,36-50) on the right carried off and strewed in the way when Christ came. (Matthew 31:8) Not far from thence, about a stone's-throw, are two notable tombs of wondrous beauty; (There are tombs in the Kidron known today as the tombs of Absolom and Zechariah, but they cannot be theirs since they were built in a Greek style with Egyptian and Syrian influence probably around 100 BC-30 AD.) in the one, which is a true monolith, lies Isaiah the prophet, and in the other Hezekiah, King of the Jews. (These tombs can still be seen today, but, although the identification was believed to be true at the time of the Pilgrim, it was not accurate.) From thence you ascend to the Mount of Olives, where before the Passion, the Lord taught His disciples. (Matthew 24-25) There by the orders of Constantine a basilica of wondrous beauty has been built. Not far from thence is the little hill which the Lord ascended to pray, when he took Peter and John with Him, and Moses and Elias were beheld. (This event occurred in Caesarea Philippi, in Matthew 17:1-8, not here on the Mount of Olives as the Bordeaux Pilgrim believed).
This ends the 333 AD account of the Bordeaux Pilgrim.
Christianity dominated in Jerusalem under the control of the Byzantine Empire until 614 when the Persians attacked Jerusalem. The Jews, who had been kept out of the city by Roman and Byzantine decrees for 479 years, joined with the attacking Persians against the
Christians. For the next three years, 614-617, the Jews again had access to the city of Jerusalem now under Persian control. The Jews joined with the Persians in destroying churches including the Nea Church. The Jews would have had access to the Temple Mount and may have begun some form of building program. We do know from recorded history that they began sacrificing again on the Temple Mount. This three-year period came to an end when the Persians returned the rule of Jerusalem to the Christians and the Byzantine Empire, most likely for political reasons. With this Persian betrayal in 617, the Jews were once again forbidden from living in or entering the city. In 622 Muhammad, the founder of a new religion, fled
Mecca for Medina where the dispersed Jews rejected his new teaching. Muhammad began to kill Jews and raid Mecca’s caravans. When Muhammad died in 632 he ruled most of the Arabian Peninsula. Muhammad’s followers, the Muslims, continued to spread their religion through war to North Africa and the Old Babylonian Empire. In 634 Muslims began to invade the Byzantine Empire, and after a nine-month siege of the Christians in Jerusalem, they took the city in 638 under the leadership of Caliph Omar. Once again the Jews assisted the Muslims in conquering Jerusalem
and were given permission to return. The years 660-750 AD are known as the Umayyad period. The Dome of the Rock was completed by Caliph Abd Al-Malik in 691, and the al-Aqsa Mosque was completed by Caliph al-Walid in 701. Jews were in charge of sanitation on the Temple Mount until 717. During this time, a Muslim historian, al-Muqaddasi (946-1000), wrote that Jerusalem was mostly filled with Jews and Christians and was lacking educated Muslims. In those days non-Muslims and even Jews were active on the Temple Mount. Over the next 1300 years at least ten different empires or dynasties would rule in Jerusalem until the British defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I in December of 1917.
In 750 AD the Abbasid Period began. The Jews were allowed into the city, and they even helped guard the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
In 969 the Fatimids of Egypt took control of Jerusalem and the Jews were again oppressed. The sixth ruling caliph of the Fatimid dynasty, Al-Hakim, began ruling at the age of eleven in 996. Al-Hakim started destroying churches and ordered the random persecution and execution of Christians in 1001. Easter was outlawed in 1004. Al-Hakim ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on October 18, 1009. The church
was demolished down to the bedrock. In 1042 Al- Hakim’s successor granted permission to the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX to begin reconstruction of the Holy Sepulcher. In 1073 the Seljuks took control, and the persecution of Christians and Jews continued. The Crusaders, with orders from Pope Urban II and under the military leadership of Godfrey de Bouillon, took Jerusalem in 1099 by slaughtering 70,000 Jews and Muslims on July 15, 1099. The Crusaders then prohibited the Jews from living in Jerusalem. Baldwin I was named King of Jerusalem. The Dome of the
Rock was re-consecrated by the Christian Crusaders as the “Temple Domini” (“Temple of the Lord”) and the Al-Aksa Mosque was renamed the “Temple Salomonis” (“Temple of Solomon”). The period of the Crusaders lasted from 1099 to 1187. In 1187 Saladin retook the city from the Crusaders and the Ayyubid period began (1187-1229). The Jewish community in Jerusalem once again grew. The Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosque were restored to Islam, and the walls were overlaid with marble bearing Arabic inscriptions. Five years later in 1192 Richard the Lionheart failed to take Jerusalem for the Crusaders but Saladin did grant Christians permission to worship in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem in 1535 until present
The walls built by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Great in 1537 still stand today. Notice that Mount Zion and the City of David to the south are outside the walls. This can be confusing to people today because the original city of Jerusalem that David conquered is not inside the walls of today’s Old City of Jerusalem.
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|Sultan Malik-al-Muattam destroyed Jerusalem’s city
walls in 1219. They were to remain in ruins until Sultan
Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt them in 1537.
Frederick II gained control of Jerusalem for the
Crusaders in 1229 during the Sixth Crusade without a
fight due to internal strife in the Ayyubid dynasty. He
simply marched to the Holy Sepulcher, took a crown
from the altar there and placed it on his head. However,
any hope of a long Crusader rule ended in 1244 when
the Ayyubids from Cairo recaptured Jerusalem.
In 1250 the Mamluks, sultans from Egypt, took
power and maintained it until 1516. By that time over
300 rabbis from Europe had immigrated back to
Jerusalem along with notable rabbis Maimonides and
Nachmandides, and poet/philosopher Judah Halevi.
Yet, Jerusalem was without walls during the entire
Mamluk reign until they were built in 1537-1541.
The 1400s brought new Jewish immigration from Spain
and Italy. As a result of the growing Jewish population
in Jerusalem, there was a dispute between the Jews
and Christians over the Tomb of David on Mt. Zion. The
Catholic Church responded by issuing a papal decree
in 1428 prohibiting sea captains form transporting any
more Jews back to Israel.
In 1517 the Ottomans peacefully took over Jerusalem
and began making improvements in the city. In order
to prevent invasions from marauding Bedouin tribes
and to deter King Charles V from considering another
Crusade against Jerusalem, Suleiman the Magnificent
began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that same year.
Finally in 1541 the walls of Jerusalem were complete,
and the city, which had been unprotected since 1219,
was again enclosed. These are the walls we see today.
By 1700 there were only about 7,000 Jews left in
Jerusalem, but Rabbi Yehuda He’Hassid arrived and
began building the “Hurva” Synagogue.
The Jews built the first modern Jewish settlement
outside the walls of Jerusalem in 1860, and by 1866
Jews were the majority in Jerusalem. In 1898 the
founder of the World Zionist Organization, Dr. Theodor
Herzl, visited Jerusalem.
By 1917, World War I and the British army brought an
end to Ottoman rule, and Jerusalem was peacefully
handed over to British general Allenby. This peaceful
transfer allowed the walls of Suleiman the Magnificent
to remain standing. The British Mandate gave Britain
jurisdiction in Jerusalem until May 14, 1948 when the
State of Israel was proclaimed and Israel was declared
to be an independent state under the rule of the Jews.