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Jerusalem: Solomon's Temple (undated drawing)

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Jerusalem: Solomon's Temple (undated drawing)


Jerusalem is a key religious city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. By the end of Solomon's reign the northern ten tribes of Israel split off and formed their own Kingdom. Jerusalem remained the capital of the Kingdom of Judah in the south, even after Israel itself was conquered by the Assyrians. Only in 598 BCE was the city overrun by the Babylonians. This drawing shows what Solomon's Temple might have looked like.

Commonly referred to as Zion or the City of David (the Jewish leader recorded as having claimed it for the Jews), there is no consensus on the origin of the name. Many believe that it derives from the name of the city Jebus (named after the founder of the Jebusites) and Salem (named after a Canaanite god). One can translate Jerusalem as "Foundation of Salem" or "Foundation of Peace".

Human habitation in the area can be traced back quite far and the archaeological records support the Biblical account of David having defeated the previous owners, the Jebusites, in a war and capturing the city intact. David made the city his capital and his son, Solomon, built the First Temple there. This centralized religious authority and religious practice throughout the Kingdom of the Jews in Jerusalem, making the city even more important than before.

Today the status of Jerusalem is disputed by Palestinians and Israelis. A 1949 cease fire line (known as the Green Line) runs right through the city. After the Six Day War in 1967, Israel had gained control of the entire city and claimed it for their capital, although this claim has not been recognized internationally - most countries only recognize Tel Aviv as the Israeli capital. Palestinians claim Jerusalem as the capital of their own state (or future state).

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