Monday, May 02, 2011

history of Jerusalem

The earliest traces of human settlement in Jerusalem (Hebrew: Yĕruwshalaim יְרוּשָׁלַם yer·ü·shä·lah'·im) date back to the late Chalcolithic Period and Early Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC). The Egyptian Execration Texts (c. 1900-1800 BC) and the Amarna letters (14th century BCE) show that the city was under the power of ancient Egypt. In one of the Amarna letters the city's governor, Abdi-Heba, asks for help from Egypt to fight the Habiru (possibly identical to the Hebrews).

This city has known many wars, and various periods of sovereignty. According to Genesis 14:18-20, the city (named as Salem) was ruled by king Melchizedek, a priest of God. According to one Jewish tradition reported by the midrash, it was founded by Abraham's forefathers Shem and Eber.

Later, according to the Biblical narrative of the Books of Samuel, it was controlled by the Jebusites, a group that scholars generally believe to have been Hittite.

It is probable that Melchizedek was himself a Jebusite; the -zedek part of the name occurring in other rulers such as Adonizedek, and in some biblical references to Jerusalem itself, such as neweh zedek (Jeremiah 31:23, where it is often translated as home of righteousness).

According to the Books of Samuel, the Jebusites managed to resist attempts by the Israelites to capture the city, and by the time of King David were mocking such attempts, claiming that even the blind and lame could defeat the Israelite army. Nevertheless, the masoretic text for the Books of Samuel states that David managed to capture the city by stealth, sending his forces through a water shaft and attacking the city from the inside; archaeologists now view this as implausible as the Gihon spring - the only known location from which water shafts lead into the city - is now known to have been heavily defended (and hence an attack via this route would have been obvious rather than secretive). The Septuagint text, however, suggests that rather than by a water shaft, David's forces defeated the Jebusites by using daggers.


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