DISCUSSION

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin

For a detailed description of the Holy City of Jerusalem, as was represented in the Madaba map, please refer to our section 11.


56. The Holy City Jerusalem - (Jerusalem, al-Quds)


Jerusalem was in existence in the middle of the second millennium BC, as is shown by the Tell el-Amarna letters. At that time it was under the suzerainty of Egypt, and was probably little more than a mountain fortress. Possible Pentateuchal references to it are as Salem (Gn. xiv. 18) and the mountain in the 'land of Moriah' of Gn. xxii. 2. According to very ancient tradition, the latter was the place where later the Temple was built, but there is no possible proof of this. As for Salem, it is perhaps to be identified with Jerusalem, but this is not certain; the Salem of Ps. lxxvi. 2 is certainly Jerusalem. If the Genesis Salem is the same place, then at this period Jerusalem was ruled by a king, Melchizedek, who was also priest of the most high God (el 'elyon).
When the Israelites entered Canaan they found Jerusalem in the hands of an indigenous Semitic tribe, the Jebusites, ruled over by a king named Adoni-zedek. This ruler formed an alliance of kings against Joshua, who soundly defeated them; but Joshua did not take the city, owing, doubtless, to its natural strength of position. It remained in Jebusite hands, bearing the name Jebus. Comparing Jdg. i. 8 with Jdg. i. 21, it appears that Judah overcame the part of the city outside the fortress walls, and that Benjamin occupied this part, living peaceably alongside the Jebusites in the fortress.
This was the situation when David became king. His first capital was Hebron, but he soon saw the value of Jerusalem, and set about its capture. This was not only a tactical move but also a diplomatic one, for his use of a city on the Benjamin-Judah border would help to diminish the jealousy between the two tribes. The Jebusites felt confident of their safety behind the fortress walls, but David's men used an unexpected mode of entry, and took the citadel by surprise (2 Sa. v. 6-8). In this passage we meet a third name, 'Zion'. This was probably the name of the hill on which the citadel stood; Vincent, however, thinks the name originally applied rather to the fortress building than to the ground it occupied.
Having taken the city, David improved the fortifications and built himself a palace; he also installed the ark in his new capital. Solomon carried the work of fortification further, but his great achievement was the construction of the Temple. After his death and the subsequent division of the kingdom, Jerusalem naturally declined somewhat, being now capital only of Judah. As early as the fifth year of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam, the Temple and royal palace were plundered by Egyptian troops (I Ki. xiv. 25 Q. Philistine and Arab marauders again plundered the palace in Jehoram's reign. In Amaziah's reign a quarrel with the king of the northern kingdom, Jehoash, resulted in part of the city walls being broken down, and fresh looting of Temple and palace. Uzziah repaired this damage to the fortifications, so that in the reign
of Ahaz the city was able to withstand the attacks of the combined armies of Syria and Israel. Soon after this the northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians, Hezekiah of Judah had good reason to fear Assyria too, but Jerusalem providentially escaped. In case of siege, he made a conduit to improve the city's water supply.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the city and Temple in 597 Dc. At the end of that century the Jews, now under Persian rule, were allowed to return to their land and city, and they rebuilt the Temple, but the city walls remained in ruins until Nehemiah restored them in the middle of the 5th century Be. Alexander the Great ended the power of Persia at the end of the 4th century, and after his death his general Ptolemy, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, entered Jerusalem and included it in his realm. In 198 BC Palestine felt to Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria. About thirty years later, Antiochus IV entered Jerusalem, destroying its walls and plundering and desecrating the Temple; and he installed a Syrian garrison in the city, on the Akra. Judas the Maccabee led a Jewish revolt, and in 165 the Temple was rededicated. He and his successors gradually won independence for Judaea, and the Hasmonaean dynasty ruled a free Jerusalem until the middle of the I 1st century BC when Rome intervened. Roman generals forced their way into the city in 63 and 54; a Parthian army plundered it in 40; and three years after that Herod the Great had to fight his way into it, to take control. He first had to repair the damage created by these various incursions; then be launched a big building program, erecting some notable towers. His most renowned work was the rebuilding of the Temple on a much grander scale, although this was not finished within his lifetime. One of his towers was Antonia, commanding the Temple area (it housed the Roman garrison which came to Paul's aid, Acts xxi. 34).
The Jewish revolt against the Romans in AD 66 could have but one conclusion; in AD 70 the Roman general Titus systematically forced his way into Jerusalem, and destroyed the fortifications and the Temple. He left three towers standing; one of them, Phasael, still stands, incorporated in the so-called 'Tower of David'. But further disaster awaited the Jews; another revolt in AD 132 led to the rebuilding of Jerusalem (on a much smaller scale) as a pagan city, dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus, from which all Jews were excluded. This was the work of the Emperor Hadrian; he called the newly constructed city Aelia Capitolina (the name even found its way into Arabic, as Iliya). It was not until the reign of Constantine (early 4th century) that the Jews were again permitted to enter the city, From his reign on, the city became Christian instead of pagan, and many churches and monasteries were built, notably the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
After three centuries of Byzantine Christian rule, Jerusalem again suffered a disaster, when the Persians stormed it in 614, destroying buildings and killing and taking prisoners, The Byzantine emperor recovered it, but in 637 the Muslims arrived, led by the Caliph Omar. In 691 the Caliph Abd al-Malik erected a magnificent building on the Temple area site, known properly as the Dome of the Rock.

D. F. Payne, The New Bible Dictionary, ad v. "Jerusalem" (extract)

Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 50)
The HOLY CITY OF JERUSALEM is a walled city of oval shape. In accordance with the method adopted in the Madaba map for city vignettes, Jerusalem is represented from above (as if from the air) the spectator being high-up in the west. In consequence the western part of the city wall is seen from the outside and the eastern part from the inside; and as the latter appears against a light horizon, the battlements are visible in the east. In the street running along the eastern part of the city only the eastern colonnade (the one facing west) is to be seen. The artist was, however, interested in making the interior of the city as clearly visible as possible and therefore he made several exceptions to his perspectivic rule. Thus the main street crossing the centre of the city from north to south has been 'opened up' and both the east and west colonnades have been represented. In consequence the latter had to appear upside down, with the column bases on top and the roofs at the bottom. The edifices in the western part of the city are shown with their west façades facing the spectator except the Church of the Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre) and two other buildings. In order to show every detail of the Church of the Anastasis, the artist has reversed its image in the same way as he reversed the west colonnade of the main street. The dome of the Anastasis is at the bottom and the staircase leading to the church is on the top. The buildings facing north and south also had to be treated differently. According to the perspective adopted they should have been seen from the side. In order to avoid this, the buildings on the north side of the city, such as the north gate are shown with their southern façades i.e. those facing the city, and those in the south vice versa. The column standing in the centre of the oval square in front of the north gate is represented from the south, and so is the arch leading to Street II. Apart from these exceptions the perspectival lay-out has been fairly consistently observed.
Twenty-one towers are visible in the town wall; two of them, both of them eastably served as entrance to the small praying place in front of the wall.
Apart from Gethsemane and Aceldama and possibly the Kathisma, no sanctuaries are represented outside and in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Although in accordance with the general tendency of the map, we would not expect representations of the monasteries in the vicinity of Jerusalem, (such as the Monastery of Passarion, of Photion, the hospice of St. George etc. ), we should at least expect to see the famous basilica of St. Stephen outside the north gate which was built by the empress Eudocia in 461, and in which she herself was laid to rest. (Cyrillus, ed. Schwartz, v. Index; Antoninus, 25-ed. Geyer, p. 176). The sanctuaries of the Eleona and the Ascension on the Mount of Olives may have been shown on the map for all we know; the part in which they should have been located has been destroyed.

See the article: "The Holy City of Jerusalem", by Yoram Tsafrir

See also the article: "The Churches of Jerusalem", by Asher Ovadiah

See also the article: "The Golden Gate and the Date of the Madaba Map" by D.Bahat

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Hierosolyma", 145.

Map Section 5 Place Sources

logo logo