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The History of Jerusalem (part 5A)

Introduction

After the Jews were banished from Judea they dispersed all over the world. Jerusalem was ruled by Gentile nations for centuries. The Bible abounds with prophecies concerning the gathering of the Jews back to the Promised Land. The first gathering produced the modern State of Israel, which was necessary for the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the Tribulation and the many wars against Jerusalem. The second gathering will occur after the national repentance of Israel, and will result in the Messianic Kingdom with Christ ruling on the throne of David. After the final rebellion and the great white throne judgment follows the eternal state, governed from the New Jerusalem.

Part 5A of the history of Jerusalem deals only with the world-wide dispersion of the Jews, and the Gentile-controlled period in Jerusalem’s history. Part 5B is concerned with the first gathering of the people back to Jerusalem and Israel, and part 5C with the second gathering.

1. The dispersion of the Jews

Jesus said, “This people….will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.”[1] Jesus was confirming what the prophet Jeremiah had declared many years before: “Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know.”[2] “I will make them abhorrent….to all the kingdoms of the earth….wherever I banish them. I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their fathers.”[3]

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Both Assyria and Babylon deported the Israelites and left behind only the poor people to till the land. Under the Persians, a relatively small number of them returned to rebuild Jerusalem. Alexander the Great encouraged them to settle in Alexandria and further away. When the Romans destroyed the city, they drove the inhabitants off to Egypt, Babylonia, Arabia, Spain and other European countries.

After the second Jewish revolt of A.D.132-135 the emperor Hadrian sent the survivors into exile or sold them into slavery. He rebuilt Jerusalem as the pagan Roman city Aelia Capitolina, changed the name of Judea to ‘the land of the Philistines’ or Palestine, and banned all Jews from entering the city. Strabo, the geographer, noted that every city in the habitable world contained a Jewish community. [4]

Rabbi Akiba (c.50 -135) realized that Judaism had to be rescued, seeing that the temple and the sacrificial system associated with it, were lost to the Jews. He wrote the Mishna, or oral law, an interpretation of the Torah, the five books of Mosaic law. Later Rabbis felt that the Mishna did not cover every law sufficiently, so they formulated the Gemara. The two together formed the Talmud, as the explicit laws by which the Jews of the dispersion were bound together.

2. The “times of the Gentiles.’

Jesus continued, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”[5] The “times of the Gentiles refers to that period of history when Jerusalem was, is and will be subject to the dominion of non-Jewish nations. It started with the Babylonian Empire (612-539 B.C.) through the Medo-Persian Empire (539-331 B.C.) and the Greek Empire (330-63 B.C.) to the Roman Empire (63 B.C.-A.D. 476). Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the only religion of the Roman world in 313, and churches were built in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Holy Land.

The Roman Empire divided into two political entities: the Western Roman Empire with Rome as its capital, and the Eastern Roman Empire with Constantinople as its capital. The latter, also known as the Byzantine Empire, continued until the Arabs captured Jerusalem in 639. They allowed Jews to live in the city, but built the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque on the temple mount.

The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, slaughtering both Jews and Muslims. The Kurdish general Saladin defeated the Crusaders in 1187 and permitted Jews and Muslims to settle in Jerusalem. From 1260 the Mamluks of Egypt ruled the city from Cairo. When Spain expelled all its Jews in 1492, some of them arrived to settle in the city. Palestine and Jerusalem became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and Sultan Suleiman rebuilt the city walls. Three hundred years later the first Jewish settlement outside the walls of the city was established.

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In 1917 the British defeated the Turks and received a mandate to govern Palestine. After a long period of Muslim-Jewish disturbances, the United Nations resolved to create separate Jewish and Muslim states in Palestine. In 1948 the British withdrew and the State of Israel was declared on May 14. All the Muslim countries surrounding Israel (Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan and Egypt) declared war attempting to “wipe Israel from the face of the earth.” In 1949 the Israel-Transjordan armistice agreement was signed, and Jerusalem was divided between the two countries with the latter retaining the Old City.

Twice more the Muslims attacked Israel: In 1967 the Six-Day War and in 1973 the Yom Kippur War. Both times Israel captured territories immediately surrounding it: the southern Lebanese hills, the Golan Heights of Syria, the Old City of Jerusalem and the Sinai Peninsula. In 1979 Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel and the Sinai was returned to them. In 1987 the P.L.O. declared an Intifada against Israel, but in 1995 the Jordanians withdrew and signed a peace treaty. [6]

Today Israel is still being menaced by the Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Hamas of Palestine, and Syria supported by Iran. The conflict in the Middle East has by no means been resolved and cannot be in the near future. Jeremiah’s prophecy of safety and security for Jerusalem under the Lord’s protection [7] awaits future fulfillment.

References:

  1. Luke 21:24a
  2. Jeremiah 17:4
  3. Jeremiah 24:9-10
  4. New Bible Dictionary p.286
  5. Luke 21:24b
  6. Hagee p.205-208
  7. Jeremiah 32:37; 33:16

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1.Allegro, J.M. The Chosen People, London, England : Hodder and Stoughton, 1971.

2.Douglas, J.D. (ed.) New Bible Dictionary, Leicester, England : Inter-Varsity Press, 1962

3.Encyclopedia Brittanica, Macropedia Volume 22, 1988

4.Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, U.S.A.

5.Hagee, J. Jerusalem Countdown, Florida, U.S.A. : Frontline, 2006

6.Lahaye, T. and Hindson, E. (eds) The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, Oregan, U.S.A. : Harvest House Publishers, 2004

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Posted in: Bible by on June 8, 2010 @ 1:36 am

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