Ancient Jerusalem: the Historical and Cultural Renovation of an Important Religious City

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Ancient Jerusalem:
The Historical and Cultural Renovation of An Important Religious City

The city of Jerusalem, located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Northern edge of the Dead Sea, is one of the oldest and most important historical cities in the world. Being both a holy city and a royal capital, as it is described in the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem represents a complex symbol of ancient Israel and early Judaism. The city’s iconic status and centralized prominence is the result of a series of complicated historical processes that occurred during the early years of the country’s development. Throughout the course of this paper, my focus and research will be geared towards examining both the unique historical development of the ancient city of Jerusalem, as well as how it came to be one of the most prominent religious cities in the world. In doing so, I will discuss several of the important institutions that leant great significance to the city, and talk about how specific events may have influenced the biblical perceptions of the so-called “holy city.” Lastly, I will discuss how Jerusalem’s cultural development fits within the historical context of ancient Israel, and how the portrayal of the city may have changed from the pre-exilic through post-exilic periods.

For my first examination, I would like to introduce what I believe is one of the most important contributing aspects of Jerusalem’s development, something I will refer to as their cultural guidance. According to William Schniedewind, author of, How the Bible Became a Book, “When a text is central to a people or a nation, like the Declaration of Independence, the history of its interpretation can serve as a window into the history of that people” (Schniedewind, 5). In this case, the subjects whose history we will be interpreting are the people, and the nation of Ancient Israel, particularly the city of Jerusalem within it. Using Schniedewind’s methodology, I will exam how certain texts may have contributed to the shaping and overall development of this ancient city. However, in order to understand how Jerusalem was identified and came to be the most central and prominent cities of ancient Israel most clearly, I will also be examining the prominent institutions that were at the forefront of ancient Israelite culture, and the impact they may have had on the nation’s progression.

The reason for Jerusalem’s rise as an important religious symbol is something that is continually being researched and debated by biblical scholars all around the world. Similar to how the different interpretations of the Constitution in 1896 and 1954 “reflected the changing social context of the interpreters” (Schniedewind, 5), so is true in the case of ancient Israel. The only exception is that, instead of using different interpretations of the Constitution to understand Jerusalem’s changing social context, we will be using texts from several of the books of the Bible, specifically those from the New Oxford Annotated Bible, with Apocrypha, to help interpret and gauge the changing portrayal of, and attitude toward, the city from the pre-exilic through post-exilic periods.

Wandering the desert for forty years with Moses, the Israelites were eager to settle, permanently in a new land. After Moses’ death, Joshua, one of Moses’ spies, took on the role as Commander and led the Israelite tribes in their conquest for the new land. Joshua then divided land amongst the twelve tribes, and for years, they remained separate(jewishhistory.com). With no official government to oversee the twelve tribes, they remained separate, and had no formalized military. Little changed for quite some time until the Assyrian military forces began their outward expansion, conquering as they please. The leaders of the twelve tribes decided that uniting and operating under one commander, would be necessary for their survival. They called unto the prophet Samuel, who, speaking for God, anoints...
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