Three thousand years ago, King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. His son, Solomon, continued to build Jerusalem, his greatest achievement being The Temple Mount, Mount Moriah.
After Solomon’s death, the kingdom split into two: the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) in the North and the Kingdom of Judea in the South. The Kingdom of Samaria was the first to be destroyed, by the Assyrians. Years later, in 538 BCE, the Kingdom of Judea was destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylonia, conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and exiled the people of Judea. During the reign of Cyrus (Koresh) (538 BCE), some of the exiled returned to Judea. It was the period of the “Return to Zion”, at which time the Second Temple was built. The Greeks then conquered the land but the Hashmonaim fought them and won independence. The Romans were the next to conquer Jerusalem. Herod was appointed king. He built and glorified many cities in the Land of Israel, but especially Jerusalem, where he built the jewel in the crown, the Temple Mount. As the wise men said, “Whoever hasn’t seen the Temple has never seen a beautiful building.”
In the Great Revolt (70BCE) of the Jews against the Romans, Jerusalem and the Second Temple were destroyed. After Bar Kokhba’s Revolt, the Romans turned Jerusalem into a pagan city. During the Byzantine period (324 AD), when the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, Jerusalem also became a Christian city.
Many churches were built and the city became a mecca for Christian pilgrims from all over the world.
In 638, the Moslems conquered Jerusalem and then built a mosque on the Temple Mount. In 1099, the city was conquered by the Crusaders, and once again, Jerusalem became a Christian city.
Starting with the 13th century, Jerusalem again took on a Moslem character as the city was conquered by the Mamluk and later by the Ottomans (the Turks). The Ottomans ruled Jerusalem for 500 years. At first, they developed Jerusalem and built the wall, which exists till today, but as the years passed, they tired and began to neglect the city.
In the 19th century, Jerusalem began to undergo a change. The city had been neglected and the people lived in poverty and squalor. They lived off “distribution money”, donations that came from abroad. The harsh conditions of the people who lived within the walled city caused them to move out, beyond the walls. New neighbourhoods were built. The first were Yemin Moshe, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Nahalat Shiva and Mea Shearim. At the same time, European countries began to show an interest in various aspects of Jerusalem, including politics, religion, art and research. Train tracks were laid between Jaffa and Jerusalem, making the trip much easier.
The British conquered Jerusalem from the Ottomans during World War I (1917) and the British Mandate ruled the land. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of the land and the War of Independence broke out. At the end of the war after long battles and the fall of East Jerusalem and the Old City to the Jordanians, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. Barbed wire fences and walls of metal and cement divided the city. Occasionally, the quiet was shattered by gunshots from Jordanian sharpshooters.
The State of Israel declared Jerusalem its capital. The Knesset and government buildings moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For years, Jerusalem remained a divided city, weary and neglected. In the Six Day War, Israel conquered East Jerusalem from the Jordanians. The fences and the barriers were removed. Jerusalem was reunited. Since then, Jerusalem has seen a flurry of building and development. The eyes of the people of Israel and the world are all on Jerusalem.