Jerusalem has its share of names. There are over 70 different poetic and descriptive names for Jerusalem found in the Bible, plus a large handful of names associated with it from different eras in history too. Hadrian called it Aelia Capitolina (combining his family name with the cult “Capitoline” which involved the veneration of Jupiter and two other gods), and the Muslims call it Al Quds (Holy Town) but it has never been at the heart of any other people group like it has been to the Jews. Originally a Canaanite city called Salem (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7:12) and Jebus (Jud. 19:11; 1 Chron. 11:4-5, 7-8), Jerusalem was conquered by David (after initially purchasing the threshing floor of Araunah as an altar for the Lord- 2 Sam. 24) and then made capital of Israel, earning it the name, “The City of David” (2 Sam. 5:7-9; 6:10; 1 Ki. 2:10; 11:27), but it is first and foremost title is Jerusalem, “God’s Peace” being called as such 667 times in the Old Testament Scriptures and 144 times in the New.
The most used alternative name in the Bible is Zion occurring 152 times (1 Ki. 8:1; Zech. 9:13, etc.) but other names are just as significant. “Dwelling Place of the Lord” reflects Jerusalem as God’s choice for His abode (Ps. 132:13-18), “The Holy City” (Neh. 11:1, 18; Is. 48: 2: 52:1; Mt. 4: 5; 27:53; Rev. 11:2) carries in its context the sacred nature of the city, The “Walled City” describes its construction (Ps. 107:16; Is. 45:2), whereas “The Mountain of the Lord” describes its geography (Dan. 9:20; Zech. 8:3). Some of the more poetic names attached to Jerusalem also highlight its unique position among the cities of the world: Ariel (meaning Lion of God; Is. 29:11), City of the Great King (Ps. 48:2; Mt. 5:35), The Gate of My People (Ob. 1:13; Mic. 1:9), City of Joy (Jer. 49:25), The Faithful City (Is. 1:26), and the Perfection of Beauty (Lam. 2:15). Jerusalem (Yeru-sha-lie-eem in Hebrew) has its own unique attribute too. While it is singular in name, it is plural in construction, signifying this beautiful city has received a double portion of God’s blessing (Is. 40:1-11) by His presence there.
While Jerusalem’s ownership is often contended, the Bible offers no room for argument. Clarence H. Wagner, Jr. in his book Fascinating Facts About the Holy Land wrote, “Because God chose Jerusalem as His own and decided that it would be the capital of Israel and the religious focal point of the Jewish people, nations have both revered and reviled this most unique city throughout history. It has been fought over by more people from more nations than any other city on earth. Because it is God’s city (Ps. 46:4; 87:3), Jerusalem has played a role in history out of proportion to its economic importance and size. No matter what the Muslims say, no matter what the United Nations says, what the Palestinian Authority or any other enemy of Israel says, or any other person purporting themselves to be an expert on Middle East issues says, the Jewish people still own this city. David bought it, the purchase was recorded for all time, and that deed is still valid.” Since God chose Jerusalem with an eternal claim for the outworking of His redemptive plan, He called it “My City” (Is. 45:13) and “My Holy Mountain” (Is. 11:9; 56:7; 57:13; Ezek. 20:40; Joel 2:1; 3:17).
It is almost ironic that the “City of Peace” has been the center of conflict throughout its lengthy history. According to historical records Jerusalem has changed hands 86 times! From Melchizedek and Abraham’s day (Gen. 14:17-24) to its present day, Jerusalem has been ruled by the Amorites, Joshua, the Jebusites, David, the Philistines, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Macedonians, Ptolemis, Selucids, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders, Mongols, Mamelukes, the Turks, the British, the Jordanians, and lastly the Israelites. But its turbulent history will only come to an end when its rightful King returns to take up His throne (Ps. 102:21-22; Is. 2:2-4; 62:2; Zech. 14:3-4, 9-10, 16; Rev. 21:1-3, 5, 22-27). As believers we are to look forward to that day, pray for the peace of Jerusalem in the meantime (Ps. 122:6-9) and wait expectantly for Christ’s return (Rom. 8:18-25; Phil. 3:20-21).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 4/2/2017
Prague, Czech Republic; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Rome, Italy; Toronto, Canada; Oslo, Norway; Seattle Washington, USA; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Chicago Illinois, USA; Tel Aviv, Israel; Dallas Texas, USA. See http://list25.com/25-cities-with-awesome-nicknames for more!