Last week, I was privileged to visit Williamsburg, Virginia, and had a glimpse of what life was like in America in the early 1600’s, over 400 years ago. When you get to visit Jerusalem, you are encountering a place that has been lived in over 4,000 years ago. It gives one a sobering perspective, a grasp of the scale of the human history, of which we are a part. It is a cause for hope. There might be despair in this life, and in the holy land, but let us remember the long view. Let us remember hope.
The place was called Jebus and the people who lived there were called Jebusites. There is evidence of their life at that spot from around the year 2,600 BC. It must have been a well-fortified village because it seemed to be safe and secure until David was able to conquer it by finding a way up the water shaft around the year 1003 BC.
Here’s brief overview of who inhabited and controlled Jerusalem down through history –
2600 BC Jebusites / Canaanites settlements found near present day Jerusalem
1250 BC Israelites enter the Promised Land
1100 BC Saul made king and monarchy begins. David makes plans for the Temple to be built on the larger mountain just north of the City of David, and begins to extend his city.
970 BC Solomon begins building the Temple, which will remain as the very center of Jewish life and identity for 400 years.
587 BC Babylonians capture Judah, raze Jerusalem and destroy the Temple
515 BC Jews allowed to return to Jerusalem and set about to rebuild the Temple.
322 BC Alexander conquers Palestine, dies 9 years later and his empire is divided between three of his generals, who clash over the control of Judea, which eventually goes to the Syria based Seleucids.
164 BC Prompted by the outrageous actions of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Jews take control of Judea as a consequence of the Jewish Maccabean revolt. They rule for 100 years
63 BC Romans legions under Pompey conquer Jerusalem
614 Jerusalem captured by Persian army
628 Persian forces driven off by Byzantine forces
638 Arabs regain control. Six years after Muhammed’s death, his successor, caliph Omar, defeated the Byzantines at the Yarmuk River in modern day Syria. Arabs occupy Jerusalem and the rubble in the Temple area is cleared away for the construction of the Dome of the Rock (691) and El-Asqa (705)
1071 Jerusalem fell to the Seljuk Turks, who forbade Christians to enter the Holy City
1074 & 1095 “Pleas from the Byzantine Emperors, now threatened by the Seljuks. In 1074, Emperor Michael VII to Pope Gregory VII and in 1095, from Emperor Alexios I Komnenos to Pope Urban II who blessed Christian armies who fought to reclaim lands lost to Muslim invaders in previous centuries.
1095 -1291 The Crusades
1099 15 July – Crusaders enter the city of Jerusalem. Kingdom of Jerusalem created, a Crusader state
1147 – 1149 Second Crusade
1187 Saladin captures Jerusalem October 2 – Byzantines make alliance with Saladin.
1516 Mameluke control of the Holy City ended with their defeat at the hands of the Ottomans. Ottoman Empire is in control of Jerusalem until the end of WWI.
1917 British Mandate