Jerusalem Is a Holy City for the Worshipers of the One God
Jerusalem is a holy city for all the believers in the One God: Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
Jerusalem was a Jebusite city, with no Jewish history, when King David captured it and dedicated it to the One God. David united the Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel, so it was important to choose a central city that was not associated with either kingdom.
Until then, the Jews had always worshiped and sacrificed at the Ark of the Covenant, which they carried with them as they traveled.
Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, built the Temple in Jerusalem after David's death.
During the time of Hezekiah, the Temple became the only place where Jews believed they could make proper sacrifices to God.
Today, hundreds of years after the Temple was destroyed by the Romans for the last time, Jews believe there is no place for them to make the sort of sacrifices that will please God.
But they do believe that holding and governing all of the city is still pleasing to God today. Right now, they control most of the city.
Through the centuries the Jews, Muslims, and Christians have fought many wars against each other over who should rule Jerusalem; control of the city was the focus of the Crusades in the Middle Ages.
Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad departed on his mystical, spiritual Night Journey from Jerusalem. The Muslims honor Jerusalem as their third holiest city after Mecca and Medina.
Christians believe that the Baby Jesus was dedicated to God in the Temple in Jerusalem, (the Temple had been rebuilt by King Herod the Great and was a thriving place of worship in Jesus' lifetime), that he studied with the priests and elders there when he was twelve years old, that he celebrated many Feasts of the Passover there, and that he rode into Jerusalem in triumph before he was accused before the Sanhedrin, tried, found guilty, and crucified.
Jesus loved Jerusalem, but he knew that the people of Jerusalem would kill him, and he wept for them and for the city. When Jesus tells his disciples that the Temple will be destroyed, he may be talking about his own death.
Under Roman rule, Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish government of Palestine.
In Jesus' lifetime, the Feast of the Passover was a huge event, drawing Jews to Jerusalem from all over the world, but most especially from Palestine. There were few hotels; people would stay with friends or members of their extended families in Jerusalem.
They would bring gifts to their hosts, often special serving dishes for the Passover meals.
Thousands of sheep would be slaughtered at the Temple the day of the Seder supper. In John's gospel, Jesus is crucified at the same time as the sheep are sacrificed in the Temple.
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