The city of Jerusalem today has a population of more than 750,000. The current population in the Old City is about 35,000, 77% of which are Muslim. There are 2,387 residences in the Jewish Quarter; 2,461 in the Armenian Quarter; 5,276 in the Christian Quarter; and 25,248 in the Muslim Quarter (Peace Now Report, 8/22/2005).
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, this holy mountain. It (Jerusalem) is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. - Psalm 48:1-2
The most desirable feature of the site was the natural defense provided by hills and valleys to the south and east combined with a difficult approach from the west due to climbing elevations and the deep rugged valleys of the Judean hill country. Jerusalem sat on a rugged hill at the height of the hill country of Judea on local roads going nowhere and surrounded by the natural defense of valleys. This meant foreign invaders traveling through the land would often bypass Jerusalem entirely.
The original city of the Jebusites, which became the City of David, is located on a ridge south of Mount Moriah known as the Old Ancient Core. This ridge of rock (also called the Eastern Ridge) which became the city of Melchizedek, the Jebusites and David was lower than Mount Moriah to the north, lower than the larger Western Hill to the west, and lower and smaller than the Mount of Olives to the east. Yet, it was here on the western edge of the Kidron Valley, on the Old Ancient Core, that Jerusalem was settled. This particular location was chosen because it has the largest water source in the area. Water was continually supplied to this area through the gushing of the Gihon Springs located along the eastern ridge of the Kidron Valley.
Topography and elevation of Jerusalem as viewed from the south. Today’s “Mount Zion” sits on the Western Ridge (Western Hill) and the City of David sits on the Old Ancient Core called the Eastern Ridge (Eastern Hill).
Jerusalem has three valleys: Hinnom, Central and Kidron. There are three ridges or hills: Western Hill (with Mt. Zion), Eastern Hill (with Mt. Moriah) and the Mount of Olives.
Looking from the south, this is a view of the Old Ancient Core (the Eastern Hill) in the center of the photo, outside today’s city walls. The steep Kidron Valley can be seen to the right of the Old Ancient Core. The Dome of the Rock (located on the Most Holy Place on Mount Moriah) can be seen higher up the Eastern Hill inside the city walls. The Central Valley has been filled in for 2,500 years, but the rise of the Western Hill can be seen on the left edge of the photo. The southern wall of today’s Old City can be seen climbing up the Western Hill.
A view of Jerusalem from the south.