People may have different views about a belief or religion, but often both sides see a place of
importance to them in the same way. Jerusalem has a religious importance for three religions. For
Christians, the city is the site of many of the events in the life of Jesus Christ. For Jews, Jerusalem is the
focus of their religious longing, the site of their ancient Temple, and their historical capital. For Muslims
the city is their third holiest as the site from which Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven, and the site
of important mosques. As a pilgrimage for three world religions Jerusalem is considered to be the holy
The importance of Jerusalem to Jews stretches back about five thousand years. About 2500
B.C.E., the Canaanites inhabited the city, later Jerusalem became a Jebusite citadel. When David captured
the city in 1000 B.C.E., the Jebusites were absorbed into the Jewish people. David made Jerusalem the
capital of his kingdom, and Solomon built the first Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. ( Elon, 1989,
p.89) Because of David making Jerusalem the capital of their kingdom and Solomon building the first
Temple located in Jerusalem, which is important to Jews because it housed the Ark of the Covenant which
Jews see as important to them because it is a symbol of their freedom from slavery and the Covenant God
made with Moses, and allowed Jews to establish their promised land. Jerusalem is considered by Jews as
their holiest city. In 586 B.C.E., the Babylonian, Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple
and exiled the Jews to Babylonia. Fifty years later in 537 B.C.E!
., Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylonia and permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild
their Temple. ( Safdie, 1990, p.107)
Jerusalem is the holiest city for Jews because their Temple, their place of worship was placed here until it
was destroyed. Again when they were allowed to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem they obviously had a
religious attachment to this city and that is why today it remains a holy pilgrimage for Jews. Persia held
Jerusalem until 333 B.C.E., when Alexander the Great added Palestine to his empire. About 198 B.C.E,
king Antiochus III conquered Judea of which Jerusalem was a part, making it a tributary to Syria. The
Jews later revolted under the leadership of Maccabees and defeated the Syrians. The Temple was
reconverted in 165 B.C.E., and the Maccabean dynasty ruled until Rome took the city in 63 B.C.E. The
Romans set up a local dynasty, the house of Herod, to rule most of Palestine. Herod the Great rebuilt much
of Jerusalem, including the Temple. While suppressing a major Jewish revolt, the Romans destroyed the
second Temple in 70 C.E. In 135 C.E., after the failure of!
the Bar Kochba revolt, Jews were banished from Jerusalem.
( Thubron, 1987, p.45) Bar Kochba, also known as Simeon ben Koseva was the leader of the Jewish
rebellion against Rome to regain their holy city, Jerusalem. After a lengthy and heroic defence, the
rebellion failed, fifty fortresses and a thousand villages were destroyed. The Jews fought hard to get back
control of this city which must be of great importance to them or they would not put up such a fight. It was
during the period of David’s kingship that the city of Jerusalem became the centre of Israelite government
and religion. Until David’s reign, Jerusalem was held by the Jebusites, a people from Canaan. Over time,
especially as the monarchy declined, Jerusalem became the symbol of God’s promise to Israel and the
centre for Israel’s hope for the future. ( Peters, 1987, p. 135) This shows how important the city of
Jerusalem is to the Jewish religion and to their existence. The importance of Jerusalem to the religion of
Judaism is quite evident, in addition to Judaism!
, Christianity also sees Jerusalem as a holy pilgrimage for their religion.
Jerusalem for Christians is the site of many of the events in the life of Jesus Christ, who is the
Messiah for the Christian religion. From the early fourth century, when Christianity became legal in the
Roman empire, Jerusalem developed as a centre of Christian pilgrimage. ( Bahat, 1989, p.230) When
Christianity was recognized as