Biblical History of Jerusalem City


In the account of Joshua leading the children of Israel into the Promised
Land, no direct mention is made of Joshua fighting against the city of

However, Joshua did go to war against Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem and
four other Amorite kings near the city of Gibeon. This resulted in a great
slaughter of these Amorite armies and the death of the five Amorite kings.
Josh 10:1-27.

After the death of Joshua, the tribes of Judah and Simeon attacked the
Canaanites and the Perizzites and as a result took captive Adoni-Bezek
(the lord of Bezek). They then proceeded to cut off his thumbs and big
toes and brought him to Jerusalem where he died. 

    Judg   1:1    Now after the death of Joshua ....

            :5    And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against
                  him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
            :6    Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him, and
                  caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
            :7    And Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs
                  and big toes cut off used to gather their food under my
                  table; as I have done, so God has repaid me." Then they
                  brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

The text records Adoni-Bezek being taken to Jerusalem where he subsequently
dies, but it does not seem to indicate Adoni-Bezek was put to death. The
indication being he was forced to scavenge for his food until his death, as
he himself had treated the leaders of his own enemies.

The next verse records the burning of Jerusalem.

    Judg   1:8    Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and
                  took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and
                  set the city on fire.

This same verse has also been translated in the past tense. (Although, this
is not a common rendering.) 

    Judg   1:8    Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem,
    (Old KJV)     and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the
                  sword, and set the city on fire.

The situation in regard to the city of Jerusalem is a little complex.

It lay on the border between the inheritance of the tribes of Judah and
Benjamin. Josh 15:1,8,9,63 & 18:11,15,16,28.

Jerusalem was settled by both tribes, but neither could completely drive out
the native Jebusites. 

    Josh  15:63   As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
                  the children of Judah could not drive them out; but
                  the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at
                  Jerusalem to this day.

    Judg   1:21   But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the
                  Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell
                  with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

Assuming the verse Judges 1:8 is to be understood in the current tense,
it is apparent that not all the city was set on fire. Evidently, Mt Zion
escaped damage since this appears to have been the stronghold of the

We should also keep in mind Adoni-Bezek had been left in Jerusalem,
presumably in order that he may be humiliated (having to grovel under
the table of one of Israel's leaders) until he died. This implies at
least some portion of Jerusalem was at that time already under the
control of the children of Israel. In this story flow we also have to
take into account the verse that indicates the city was set on fire. 

(Although the past tense rendering of Judges 1:8 is not popular, it does
make more sense to take a captured enemy leader to a city that has already
been set on fire and since rebuilt and occupied. This therefore suggests
Jerusalem had been set on fire in the time of Joshua during the initial
conquest of the land of Canaan. This would also imply Jerusalem would
have been rebuilt at the same time as other such cities located west of
the Jordan, i.e. following the assembly at Shiloh (Josh 21:1-2, 22:9)).


The children of Israel became rather complacent about driving out the

    Judg   3:5    So the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites,
                  the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites,
                  and the Jebusites.
            :6    And they took their daughters to be their wives, and
                  gave their daughters to their sons; and they served
                  their gods.

Despite the initial presence of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin the city
was known as a Jebusite city.   

    Judg  19:1    And it came to pass in those days, when there was
                  no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite    
                  sojourning in the remote mountains of Ephraim.
            :10   But the man was not willing to spend that night;
                  so he rose and departed, and came to a place opposite
                  Jebus (that is Jerusalem). ....
            :11   They were near Jebus, and the day was far spent;
                  and the servant said to his master, "Come, please,
                  and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites
                  and lodge in it".
            :12   But his master said to him, "We will not turn aside
                  here into a city of foreigners, who are not of the
                  children of Israel; we will go on to Gibeah".   
    1 Chr 11:4    And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is
                  Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of
                  the land.


After David became king he overthrew the Jebusite stronghold of Zion.

    2 Sam  5:6    And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against
                  the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke
                  to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but
                  the blind and the lame will repel you", thinking,
                  "David cannot come in here".
            :7    Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that
                  is, the City of David). 

Following the overthrow of Mt Zion, Jerusalem became the capital of the
nation of Israel.

When the nation was subsequently split into Judah and Israel, Judah retained
Jerusalem as its capital, while Israel initially chose Shechem (then after a
number of years chose Samaria).


Some four to five centuries after the death of King David, Jerusalem
was destroyed by Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.

    2 Kin 25:8    Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month
                  (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar
                  king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard,
                  a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.
            :9    He burned the house of the LORD and the king's house;
                  all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of
                  the great men, he burned with fire.
            :10   And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the
                  captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem
                  all around.  


After the expiry of seventy years of captivity to the Chaldeans, the people
of Daniel started to rebuild the temple and the city. 

    Ezra   1:1    Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that
                  the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah
                  might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of
                  Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation
                  throughout all his kingdom, ....
            :5    Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and
                  Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all
                  those whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and
                  build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.

           2:64   The whole congregation together was forty-two thousand
                  three hundred and sixty,


Following this rebuilding and prior to the first coming of Christ, another
destruction is implied to have occurred. Although Scripture does not
specifically talk about such an event it is apparent from the following New
Testament verse. 

    John   2:20   Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years
                  to build this temple, ...."

Christ prior to His death implied yet another impending destruction was
coming. This is generally understood to refer to the destruction brought
by the Romans. Since the Roman desolation is not specifically recorded in
Scripture, this has lead some to believe such verses (discussing the
impending destruction of Jerusalem) have a secondary future application.

    Luke  23:27   And a great multitude of the people followed Him,
                  and women who also mourned and lamented Him.
            :28   But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of
                  Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for
                  yourselves and for your children.
            :29   For indeed the days are coming in which they will
                  say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never
                  bore, and the breasts which never nursed!'

From the history books we can gather other details. However, this is a
brief outline of the historical information provided by Scripture on the
city of Jerusalem.


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