BRIEF HISTORY OF JERUSALEM
Jerusalem, seat of the government and the largest city of ISRAEL, the holy city for the Muslims and Jews, sacred also to the Christians, located in the Judean hills about 32 km from the Jordan River and about 30 km from the Dead Sea. Let us go back into its history for a while.
During its long history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and re-captured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BC, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world.
In ancient religious literature, the name Shalem [Salem] refers to Jerusalem [city’s old name] is evidenced by Psalm 76:2 holy Zabur; the same is held by Josephus, the known interpreter of the Bible. Shalem was the Canaanite god of sunset and the ending day.
The Jewish traditions hold that the city was founded by the ancestors of Nabi Abraham AS. As per the Hebrew Bible, Jebusites [Modern Yevusi, Tiberian] were inhabited in Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David AS. Then this place was called the City of David after Jebusites were defeated. Nabi started here building the First Temple on the Mount Moriah where, as per Hebrew Bible, Prophet Isaac's sacrifice was offered.
As per Hebrew biblical literature: In c.1005 BC - Nabi David AS is appointed King; in c.970 BC - Nabi Solomon AS is appointed King; in 931 BC - his son Rehoboam takes throne; could not keep the Kingdom united – even though the reign continued for 254 years. In 722 BC - the Assyrians captured the whole Israel; in 597 BC - Jerusalem is captured by the Babylonians and the Temple-I was destroyed. About 70 years after, Temple-II was again built at the same place. In 444 BC - walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah, another Israelite ruler.
In 398 BC - the 39 books of the ‘Old Testament’ completed. Then there is "400 years of silence" between Malachi’s Old Testament and Matthew’s New Testament.
In 64 AD - Rome got burnt and its ruler Nero blamed the Jews and new Christians both. In 70 AD - The Temple [II] and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed as prophesied by Jesus [Matt 24] – and severe persecution of Jews and Christians started which continued till year 81 AD.
Holy Jesus preached and healed the people in Jerusalem, held the Last Supper in an ‘upper room’ [called the Cenacle] there the night before he was arrested from Gethsemane nearby. The six parts to Jesus' trial — three stages in a religious court and three stages before a Roman court —were all held in Jerusalem. His crucifixion at Golgotha, his burial nearby [the Church of the Holy Sepulchre]; his resurrection and ascension and prophecy to return all are said to have occurred here in this city.
Thus, Jerusalem was an early centre of Christianity, too with a continuous Christian presence there since. From the mid-4th century AD to the Islamic conquest in year 638 AD, the Roman province of Palestine [then a part of Syria] was a Christian nation with Jerusalem its principal city.
Jerusalem ideologically became holy to Muslims, though unseen till then when Al-Aqsa’s mention appeared in Chapter Al-Isra of the holy Qur’an [17:1] and its surroundings were addressed in the Qur’an as ‘the holy land’. In this sacred event, the Archangel Gabriel AS, took the prophet Muhammad pbuh from the ROCK [now] under the [Golden] Dome of the Rock.
Initially the Muslims used to pray towards Jerusalem - the city remained the qibla for 17 months after Ascension; the same was switched to Ka’aba later on; Al-Qur’an 2:144–150 is referred.
Jerusalem was taken over by Muslims under command of the 2nd Caliph Umar RA in 638 AD; but Christians were allowed to continue living in the city and practicing their faith. Then the Byzantine Empire of Jerusalem surrendered the city along with Syria. The city remained under Islamic control for the next 461 years. During that time it was part of the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid Caliphates.
Jerusalem: A City of Great Spiritual Diversity; A City of Great Conflict — but still considered the most holy place in the world. In fact, all 3 monotheistic religions of the world have ties to it: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It's hard to separate the sacred and the mundane here.
‘Jerusalem is an onion’ the Western travellers keep the opinion - there is no better way to describe this Holy City. True; it is a product of layers – layers of history, culture, people and religion, each of them contributing to make it immaculately complex city that it is today. Jerusalem is not ONE city but many; has been so for thousands of years. There is a Jerusalem for everyone. From Christian pilgrims to Muslims and to Orthodox Jews from all over the world – you’ll find your Jerusalem, you just need to peel the layers, and find your own choice - continuously inhabited like this millenniums. It is the place where spirituality comes alive – and fascinating too.
Jerusalem is as sacred for the Jews as Makkah for the Muslims. The Amidah [Jews’ prayers] is always read facing Jerusalem, as the patriarch Prophet Jacob AS proclaimed, "And this [place] is the gateway to Heaven, where prayers ascend”. The Talmud records the Baraita on this topic:
“A blind [Jew] or one who cannot orient himself, directs his heart towards Heaven, as it is said: They shall pray to the Lord. One who stands in the Diaspora should face the Land of Israel; one who stands in the Land of Israel should face Jerusalem; one who stands in Jerusalem should face the Temple. ... One who stands in the Temple should face the Holy of Holies. ... One who stands in the Holy of Holies should face the Ark. ... It is therefore found that the entire nation of Israel directs their prayers toward a single location.”
In nutshell, to the Jewish people it is the City of David and the Western Wall. So do the Muslims all over the world; in mosques, in their homes, in Makkah, in Madina – and so they do while in journeys, unknown places; direct all their prayers towards Haram e Ka’aba in Makkah [Saudi Arabia]. Even if the Muslims are in Jerusalem, they pray facing the Makkah – their eternal holy city.
In 1099 AD, the city was captured by the Western Christian army of the First Crusade claiming they wanted to keep Jerusalem in God’s name. Many men fought and died for this spiritual cause; many were not as honest; kings and nobles actually hoped to acquire new fortunes through this aspiration & betrayal.
This Christian Kingdom of Crusaders lasted for 90 years only, during which time Dome of the Rock was converted to a Christian shrine, named Temple of the Lord and during the same era the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt. In 1187 AD, the land and the government were recaptured by the Arab Muslims, led by Saladin; he summoned the Jews back and permitted them to resettle in the city. In 1229 AD, by treaty with Egypt, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany.
The current walls of the Old City were built in 1535–42 AD by the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman-I the Magnificent – the details are given in next pages. In 1947, the UN created a partition plan which designated the city of Jerusalem as a partitioned and UN controlled settlement and it was put in practice in May 1948. Jordan retained the eastern half of the city including most of the important religious sites but the same was re-claimed by Israel in 1967 during the Six Day War; the Haram plaza was allowed to remain with Muslim Waqf though all political, security and financial controls vested in the hands of Israeli government.
Till mid 2009, on the event of Pope Benedict's visit to Israel, the number of Christians living in Jerusalem shrunk to nearly 14,600, down from 31,000 at the end of the British Mandate of 1923, also known as the Palestine Mandate – only 2% of the city's population, and far fewer than the 20% it constituted in 1946.
Remains of c.2000 years old
@ inamsehri.com 
BETHSEDA: Dating back to era 2000 BC  @ inamsehri.com
JERUSALEM: Dating back to 1900s & 1940s COURTESY: David Tower Museum
Two Synagogues JERUSALEM: Dating back to 1869
AL-AQSA in poster graphics  @ inamsehri.com
Muslim Girls School at Temple Mount  @ inamsehri.com
Inside an old Russian Church  @ inamsehri.com
Sajdah place of Caliph Omar RA in AL-AQSA  @ inamsehri.com
Chapter 2/19 of book SEE JERUSALEM by INAM R SEHRI
Omar Square inside Jaffa Gate  @ inamsehri.com