Seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Jerusalem is probably the most Jewish city on the face of the earth. At least it is the most important city to the Jewish State of Israel and to Judaism itself. But it is one of the most dynamite questions on the world scene today. The answer to this question, or rather the asking of it, leads to clashes among nations, religions and cultures.
In the image above, note the prominent presence of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Archaeology can find the answer.
From the Bible, we know a great deal about ancient Jerusalem. But where’s the proof? Without that proof, the legitimacy of the State of Israel is in question. Ownership of the Temple Mount is in question. The very foundations of Judaism and Christianity rest in the balance.
OK, not for Jews and Christians… mostly. But in the world at large this is a pivotal question.
There are still claims by many, Islamic nations and Muslims especially, that Jerusalem is not all together that Jewish. At least not so far as ancient history is concerned. Non-believers also claim that the Bible is a book of fiction and use the lack of physical proof of ancient Israel to back their claims.
There are many cities of the world where generation has built atop of generation atop of generation. Rome, Italy and Alexandria, Egypt are two prime examples. Jerusalem is another. In all three, older structures were destroyed by age, natural disaster, war and modernization. The old, such as the stone walls of the old city, have been used again and again for reconstruction or just for land fill. So, one of the difficulties is that most ancient Jerusalem simply no longer exists.
In growing cities such as Jerusalem land is at a premium. So new construction sits atop ancient ruins. We now can’t get to the old without destroying the new.
Another blow is that ancient evidence has been covered up in order to “save” it. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an example of this.
One of the most disputed areas of all is the Temple Mount. The “king of the hill” on the Temple Mount today is the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim holy place. An Islamic organization now has day-to-day control of the Temple Mount and there is strong movement to increase that control by turning it over to the Organization of Islamic States.
Many academics also claim that the Jewish presence in Jerusalem never amounted to much, that Israel was just a back-water little nation and even that the Temples never existed. (One of those making this last claim is on the archaeology faculty of Tel Aviv University) People on all sides work to protect their interests, digging up the proof they need and either destroying or burying what may not support their claims.
Even with these difficulties, much work in the ground is now being done in the ancient city of Jerusalem. One of the most recent finds may prove to be a wall and foundation of King David’s Palace. Many other discoveries in recent years have demonstrated a very long and extensive Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Still the battles go on. The “Holy Grail” has not been found.
Will it? That will be The Tale of the Tel…
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