The Name Jerusalem

​Jerusalem, according to Jewish tradition, is mentioned in the Torah (Genesis 14:18), as the city of Salem. Abraham, who met Melchizedek, King of Salem, received a blessing from him there.

Rabbi David Kimche, a medieval Jewish commentator, explains that Salem refers to Jerusalem, which was a place of Zedek - righteousness - and Salem - peace.

The Midrash, based on Genesis 22:14, teaches that Abraham brought his son Isaac to be sacrificed there. ''And Abraham called the place, G-d will be seen'' - Yireh. Melchizedek, on the other hand called the place Salem. The Almighty decided to affect a compromise , reflecting both the opinion of Abraham and Melchizedek. Therefore, say the sages of Israel, we call the city – Yireh Salem or Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem is the place where the presence of G-d will be seen when the Holy Temple is rebuilt and is also the place which will bring peace to all mankind.
The name Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible.

Courtesy of: Rabbi Aaron Borow, Co-President
Rabbinical Council of America in Israel

The first known mention of Jerusalem is to be found in Egyptian texts. The name of the city appears in a group of inscriptions on pottery bowls and figurines from the 19th century BCE, known as the ''Execration Texts'', which placed a curse upon potential rebellious city states.

Five centuries later, the name Jerusalem was found in archives in el-Amarna, in Middle Egypt, which for a short time was the capital of all Egypt. Among the documents were letters by Abdi Hepa, King of Jerusalem, who sought the aid of the Egyptian monarch in his struggles against his neighbors.

The source of the name Jerusalem is not clear. The city is not mentioned specifically in the Pentateuch. Melchizedek, the King of Salem, who was ''Priest of God Most High'' (Genesis 14:18), may very well have been the monarch of Jerusalem.

The name Jerusalem first appears in the Book of Joshua, in a passage about the king of Jerusalem who allied himself with four other kings from the south against the Israelites, who had recently conquered part of the hill country. Joshua also refers to the city as Jebus, inhabited by the Jebusites.

The Book of Judges (1:21) relates that ''The Benjaminites did not dispossess the Jebusite inhabitants of Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwelt with the Benjaminites''. At that time Jerusalem, like other cities in the land, was a royal city ruled by the Jebusite king. At the beginning of Saul's reign it was a non-Israelite enclave in the hill country. It was included in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:21-28).



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