Jerusalem, once the capital city of the kingdom of Judah, is located in central Palestine. Until the time of David it was a Canaanite village known as Jebus. David selected the city to be his capital because the northern and southern tribes had engaged in civil war after the death of Saul. Jerusalem was centrally located and had previously belonged to neither side. David's soldiers captured the city by climbing a water shaft and mounting a surprise attack (2 Samuel 5:6-10). Jerusalem became the kingdom's religious center when David brought the ark of the covenant to the city and Solomon built the first temple there. When the kingdom divided in 922 B.C.E., Jerusalem remained the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. The Assyrians besieged Jerusalem in the late eighth century B.C.E., but the city did not fall. In 587 B.C.E., the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, destroyed its temple, and exiled many of its citizens. The exiles who returned after 538 B.C.E. began the work of rebuilding the temple, the city, and its walls.
In New Testament times, Jesus is said to have visited Jerusalem as a child (Luke 2:22-51). According to John's Gospel, Jesus came to Jerusalem a number of times, teaching and working miracles. The other Gospels suggest that he made only one trip to Jerusalem during his ministry. Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem and appeared to his disciples there after his resurrection (Luke 24; John 20). Acts reports that the disciples received the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem after Jesus' ascension. The disciples taught, worked miracles, and engaged in controversy in Jerusalem (Acts 2-5). At a conference in Jerusalem it was agreed that male Gentile converts to Christianity did not need to be circumcised (Galatians 2:1-10; Acts 15:1-29). At the end of his ministry, Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, imprisoned in Caesarea, and finally sent to Rome (Acts 21-28). The Jerusalem temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. as the Roman military crushed a Jewish
AUTHOR: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus