Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Curse of Jerusalem?

Israeli police and Palestinians clashed over the visit of Jews to the al Aqsa Mosque compound, which is just adjacent to the Wailing Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site.

The Wailing Wall is what little has been left of Solomon’s Temple. The Temple was first destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and then rebuilt comprehensively by Herod the Great. But it was razed again by the Romans in 70 CE, with only the Wailing Wall remaining.

The modern day Jews were touring the site on Jerusalem Day, when during the 1967 War, Israel seized the city from its Jordanian caretakers.

Palestinian President Abbas lamented that the Israelis shouldn’t have permitted Jews into the compound of the mosque for obvious reasons. It was highly provocative considering there have been rumours the Israelis and World Jewish organizations aspire to build a new Solomon’s Temple in the same site again, for the third time.

The Temple is part of what makes Jerusalem sacred to the Jews. According to The Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, the name Jerusalem, made up of western Semitic (Canaanite) words, yeru and shalem, was first mentioned in the Egyptian Execration (curse) Texts in 19th BCE, four thousand years ago.

Yeru means ‘to establish, raise up’ while Shalem was the name of a Canaanite god. So the holiest city of the Israelis ironically carries the meaning of ‘the raising up of a Canaanite god, Shalem'.

Jerusalem first came under Hebraic hands when King David conquered the city, that belonged to the Jebusites, an ethnic group related to the Hittites.

The city of Jerusalem has changed hands many times over the last 4,000 years, and continues till today to be a bone of contention between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Will it change hands again? Has its original mention in the Egyptian Execration Text cursed it forevermore?

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