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Modern Jerusalem has been a city famous for its holiness and its critically essential status in Christianity, Jewish, and Islamic religions. By tracking its presence in biblical texts, readers may easily find that Jerusalem has been constructed as a sacred city from almost the very beginning of the texts, and it plays an indispensable role in interpreting both the chaos and prosperity happened over this land over thousands of years. To understand the what made the special role Jerusalem plays in history dating from over 1000 BC has attracted attention from scholars in various fields.
The three main properties of space, as argued in Thomas Tweed's article Space, is of great help in revealing the way to becoming so religiously critical of the city of Jerusalem. From the time of Abraham, in the biblical texts, Jerusalem has been chosen as a special city, and its initial status together with what happened during the reign of David and Solomon made Jerusalem a religious space.
(Jerusalem is specifically chosen by God) Jerusalem has been differentiated as a special city from the early part of biblical texts, more specifically during the time of Abraham and David.
Being differentiated does not necessarily mean that Jerusalem is constructed of much difference from other cities or it locates at a special geological location, yet it means that Jerusalem imaginatively differs from other locations, or other spaces, due to the people's feeling, understanding, and impression towards this city (Tweed 3). Jerusalem develops rapidly during the time of David, who is of great loyalty to God and inquires Him about every decision he is about to make.
The king of Jerusalem is special and differentiated at the first place, "But I will not take my steadfast love from him (David), as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you" (2 Samuel 7:47-50). From the biblical texts, it is not hard to see that there is a comparison between David and the previous king of Israel Saul, and David is undoubtedly the preferred king according to God's words for Nathan the prophet.
With a favorable leader of God, the city of Jerusalem is almost destined to gain prosperity and power under the reign of David. Additionally, Jerusalem is a religious space since it is picked by God directly, a space which is closer and more directly related to God, and a space where devotees can appeal to the suprahuman force of God. Before the time of David, Abraham has been a sincere servant of God and is also of absolute obedience. During God's test for his loyalty and compliance, Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his only son Isaac to God as a burnt offering. God directly talk with him and designate a specific place "the land of Moriah...one of the mountains that I shall show you" (Genesis 22:5-7).
Mount Moriah, later known as Temple Mount after Solomon built up the Temple for God, locates within Jerusalem, which means that God himself pick Jerusalem as the city to test Abraham. In the later part of God's test for Abraham, at the moment he is about to kill his son and sacrifice him to God, Angel appears at Mount Moriah, stops Abraham and save his son. In addition to being the city picked by God, Jerusalem also has angel appear over its land. It is deemed as a religious space since the divine actually appears at this space, affording Jerusalem strong relations to the devotees of God and making it a place where people feel closer to God.
During the time of David's son Solomon, he starts to build the Temple for God, which took him seven years to finish its construction. After Solomon finished building the house of Lord, the Lord said to him that "I have consecrated this house that you have built, and put my name there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time" (1 Kings 9:8-10). The Temple help Jerusalem satisfy both criteria of Tweed for a space to be religious, ❝sites (where) humans appeal to suprahuman forces and imagine an ultimate horizon" (Tweed 4) since Solomon builds not only a house that the Lord resides, but also a place where people pursuing God can come, prey, and appeal His suprahuman forces. On the land of Jerusalem, the Lord's attitudes towards the king of Israel changes over time, affording the dynamic process of the status of Jerusalem.
This variation of Jerusalem also contributes to its formation as a religious space, as "spaces are processes, and...are also kinetic" (Tweed 4). During the time of David, he devotes himself to serving the Lord and places Him as the first place of the entire nation. David is also guilty of living in a house of cedar while the ark of God resides in a tent. God trust David and promise him that "your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 8:50- 52). During God's talk with David through Nathan the prophet, David has not demanded anything from God.
What he mentions is how he could serve God more and his gratefulness for God's blessing to the people in Jerusalem. During the conversation with David, God offer nothing but promises. The promise of God to David is not conditional, which means that David's obedience and loyalty are not questionable at all. Interestingly, in the time of Solomon, after the construction of the Temple made of cedar and gold, God appear to Solomon and a conversation between them occurs. Similar to the conversation between God and David, promises and blessing are given to Solomon and people of Israel.
Yet in addition to promises, God also mention a warning to Solomon. "If you turn aside from following me [...] Israel will become a proverb and a taunt among all people" (1 Kings 9:19-28). The remark of God is quite subtle, without presaging the future of Solomon. Yet the change of the attitude of God hints the change of the future of the king of Israel, and also the change of the future of the people of Israel. Even though the Temple is built of cedar and gold which are transported from other cities far from Jerusalem, the warning of God may be correlated with this fabulously constructed building.
The change of God's attitudes towards Jerusalem expands the horizon of the dynamic development of Jerusalem and makes it kinetically active. From prosperity to desolation, Jerusalem's change also brings people's feeling and understanding of God, which endues Jerusalem a binary representation of God. During the time of prosperity, poetries are written that “Let Mount Zion be glad/let the towns of Judah rejoice/because of your judgments" (Psalm 48:27-29). Jerusalem is like the sanctuary of people of Israel, where they are safe and relieved, protected by the powerful strength of God. Enemies will scatter and be immersed with terror once they enter the territory of Jerusalem. Yet, in the chapter of Lamentations, another scene is depicted in the biblical texts. Human have betrayed God and failed to obey His instructions.
The warning of God during His conversation with Solomon has come true, and God's promise of punishment also appear in the city of Jerusalem. "How like a widow she has become/she that was great among the nations/she that was a princess among the provinces/has become a vassal” (Lamentation 1: 3-7). People in Jerusalem start to taste the bitterness of failure during a war, and experience the loneliness of having no allies or friends. People used to live in Jerusalem become humans with no land, and have to starve and escape from their homes. In the time period depicted here, Jerusalem has become a synonym with hell. It is not the peaceful and developed space during the time of David, yet it is still Jerusalem. When modern devotees stand on the land of Jerusalem, its prosperity during the time of David and Solomon is not the only impression this city offers.
The kinetic character of Jerusalem, that is the city's experience over time, enrich the image of Jerusalem as a religious space. The political power and economical influence of Jerusalem also make it a religious space. During the time of Solomon, he is instructed by his father David to follow God's order and build a house for the Lord. The material for building the house is strictly chosen and processed before being transported to the Temple Mount. “[...] stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool or iron was head in the temple while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:24-27).
The house of God is built with cedar and gold that are worth of twenty cities in the land of Galilee (1 Kings 9:40-44). The construction of the Temple cost incredibly amounts of money, time, and energy of the entire Jerusalem, while after the construction, the city of Jerusalem is still in opulence. The building of such a Temple for God is not only a religiously important symbol for Jerusalem, but also a strong representation for the prosperity of Jerusalem. At the day that the Temple is finished, “Solomon assembled the elders and all the heads of the tribes” to the Temple (1 Kings 8:1-3).
Leaders all over the Israel are gathered in front of the fabulous Temple built in Jerusalem, to witness how wealthy the city of Jerusalem is and how powerful the strength of God is. Besides the construction of the Temple, Jerusalem's performance during wars also signifies its political power to the other cities. Other kings are astounded and in panic when invading Jerusalem (Psalm 48:9-13). In addition to the power of God, the reaction of invaders also reflects the political power of Jerusalem, which makes the enemies re-consider about their plan of invading Jerusalem. Pecuniary opulence and political strength of Jerusalem are like currents influencing the religion within the city. The prosperity and the advanced development of religions in Jerusalem are interrelated to each other, which makes Jerusalem a religious space (Tweed, 4). Jerusalem as a religious space is comprehensively supported by the biblical texts.
From the time of Abraham to the destruction of Jerusalem, the city has experienced huge prosperity and severe desolation. The dramatic change in the status of Jerusalem affords the city a kinetic property, which actives Jerusalem as a process of events instead of a static city. The selection of God, appearance of angel, and the construction of the Temple for devotees to appeal, differentiate this city both physically and imaginatively from other spaces. Impressing leaders of other tribes within Israel and deterring the invading enemies illustrate Jerusalem's opulence in wealth and strength in politics. These two factors interrelate with the rapid growth of religions in Jerusalem. The properties of Jerusalem in the biblical texts are consistent with criteria mention by Tweed, which supports that Jerusalem is a religious space.
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