Jews as the chosen people
In Judaism, "chosenness" is the belief that the Jews, via descent from the ancient Israelites, are the chosen people, i.e. chosen to be in a covenant with God. The idea of the Israelites being chosen by God is found most directly in the Book of Deuteronomy as the verb bahar, is alluded to elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible using other terms such as "holy people". Much is written about these topics in rabbinic literature; the three largest Jewish denominations—Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism—maintain the belief that the Jews have been chosen by God for a purpose. Sometimes this choice is seen as charging the Jewish people with a specific mission—to be a light unto the nations, to exemplify the covenant with God as described in the Torah; this view, did not preclude a belief that God has a relationship with other peoples—rather, Judaism held that God had entered into a covenant with all humankind, that Jews and non-Jews alike have a relationship with God. Biblical references as well as rabbinic literature support this view: Moses refers to the "God of the spirits of all flesh", the Tanakh identifies prophets outside the community of Israel.
Based on these statements, some rabbis theorized that, in the words of Nethanel ibn Fayyumi, a Yemenite Jewish theologian of the 12th century, "God permitted to every people something he forbade to others... God sends a prophet to every people according to their own language." The Mishnah states that "Humanity was produced from Adam, to show God's greatness. When a man mints a coin in a press, each coin is identical, but when the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, creates people in the form of Adam not one is similar to any other." The Mishnah continues, states that anyone who kills or saves a single human, not Jewish, has done the same to an entire world. The Tosefta, an important supplement to the Mishnah states: "Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come". According to the Israel Democracy Institute two thirds of Israeli Jews believe that Jews are the "chosen people". According to the Bible, Israel's character as the chosen people is unconditional as it says in Deuteronomy 14:2, "For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth."
The Torah says, "Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, keep my covenant you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me from all the peoples, for all the earth is mine". God promises that he will never exchange his people with any other: "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.". Other Torah verses about chosenness, "And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation". "The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people. The obligation imposed upon the Israelites was emphasized by the prophet Amos: "You only have I singled out of all the families of the earth: therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities." Sometimes this choice is seen as charging the Jewish people with a specific mission—to be a light unto the nations, to exemplify the covenant with God as described in the Torah.
This view, did not preclude a belief that God has a relationship with other peoples—rather, Judaism held that God had entered into a covenant with all humankind, that Jews and non-Jews alike have a relationship with God. Biblical references as well as rabbinic literature support this view: Moses refers to the "God of the spirits of all flesh", the Tanakh identifies prophets outside the community of Israel. Based on these statements, some rabbis theorized that, in the words of Nethanel ibn Fayyumi, a Yemenite Jewish theologian of the 12th century, "God permitted to every people something he forbade to others... God sends a prophet to every people according to their own language." The Mishnah states that "Humanity was produced from Adam, to show God's greatness. When a man mints a coin in a press, each coin is identical, but when the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, creates people in the form of Adam not one is similar to any other." The Mishnah continues, states that anyone who kills or saves a single human, not Jewish, has done the same to an entire world.
The Tosefta, a collection of important post-Talmudic discourses states: "Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come". Most Jewish texts do not state. Rather, this is linked with a mission or purpose, such as proclaiming God's message among all the nations though Jews cannot become "unchosen" if they shirk their mission; this implies a special duty, which evolves from the belief that Jews have been pledged by the covenant which God concluded with the biblical patriarch Abraham, their ancestor, again with the entire Jewish nation at Mount Sinai. In this view, Jews are charged with living a holy life as God's priest-people. In the Jewish prayerbook, chosenness is referred to in a number of ways; the blessing for reading the Torah reads, "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has chosen us out of all the nations and bestowed upo
A synagogue, is a Jewish or Samaritan house of worship. Synagogues have a large place for prayer and may have smaller rooms for study and sometimes a social hall and offices; some have a separate room for Torah study, called the בית מדרש beth midrash "house of study". Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of prayer, Tanakh reading and assembly. Halakha holds. Worship can be carried out alone or with fewer than ten people assembled together. However, halakha considers certain prayers as communal prayers and therefore they may be recited only by a minyan. In terms of its specific ritual and liturgical functions, the synagogue does not replace the long-since destroyed Temple in Jerusalem. Israelis use the Hebrew term beyt knesset "house of assembly". Ashkenazi Jews have traditionally used the Yiddish term shul in everyday speech. Sephardi Jews and Romaniote Jews use the term kal. Spanish Jews call the synagogue Portuguese Jews call it an esnoga. Persian Jews and some Karaite Jews use the term kenesa, derived from Aramaic, some Mizrahi Jews use kenis.
Some Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative Jews use the word "temple". The Greek word synagogue is used in English to cover the preceding possibilities. Although synagogues existed a long time before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, communal worship in the time while the Temple still stood centered around the korbanot brought by the kohanim in the Temple in Jerusalem; the all-day Yom Kippur service, in fact, was an event in which the congregation both observed the movements of the kohen gadol as he offered the day's sacrifices and prayed for his success. During the Babylonian captivity the men of the Great Assembly formalized and standardized the language of the Jewish prayers. Prior to that people prayed as they saw fit, with each individual praying in his or her own way, there were no standard prayers that were recited. Johanan ben Zakai, one of the leaders at the end of the Second Temple era, promulgated the idea of creating individual houses of worship in whatever locale Jews found themselves.
This contributed to the continuity of the Jewish people by maintaining a unique identity and a portable way of worship despite the destruction of the Temple, according to many historians. Synagogues in the sense of purpose-built spaces for worship, or rooms constructed for some other purpose but reserved for formal, communal prayer, existed long before the destruction of the Second Temple; the earliest archaeological evidence for the existence of early synagogues comes from Egypt, where stone synagogue dedication inscriptions dating from the 3rd century BCE prove that synagogues existed by that date. More than a dozen Jewish Second Temple era synagogues have been identified by archaeologists in Israel and other countries belonging to the Hellenistic world. Any Jew or group of Jews can build a synagogue. Synagogues have been constructed by ancient Jewish kings, by wealthy patrons, as part of a wide range of human institutions including secular educational institutions and hotels, by the entire community of Jews living in a particular place, or by sub-groups of Jews arrayed according to occupation, style of religious observance, or by the followers of a particular rabbi.
It has been theorized that the synagogue became a place of worship in the region upon the destruction of the Second Temple during the First Jewish–Roman War. The popularization of prayer over sacrifice during the years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE had prepared the Jews for life in the diaspora, where prayer would serve as the focus of Jewish worship. Despite the possibility of synagogue-like spaces prior to the First Jewish–Roman War, the synagogue emerged as a stronghold for Jewish worship upon the destruction of the Temple. For Jews living in the wake of the Revolt, the synagogue functioned as a "portable system of worship". Within the synagogue, Jews worshipped by way of prayer rather than sacrifices, which had served as the main form of worship within the Second Temple; the Samaritan house of worship is called a synagogue. During the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, during the Hellenistic period, the Greek word used in the Diaspora by Samaritans and Jews was the same: proseucheµ.
The oldest Samaritan synagogue discovered so far is from Delos in the Aegean Islands, with an inscription dated between 250 and 175 BCE, while most Samaritan synagogues excavated in the wider Land of Israel and ancient Samaria in particular, were built during the 4th-7th centuries, at the end of the Roman and throughout the Byzantine period. The elements which distinguish Samaritan synagogues from contemporary Jewish ones are: Alphabet: the use of the Samaritan script Orthography; when the Samaritan script is used, there are some Hebrew words which would
God in Judaism
In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, gave them the Law of Moses at biblical Mount Sinai as described in the Torah. According to the rationalist stream of Judaism articulated by Maimonides, which came to dominate much of official traditional Jewish thought, God is understood as the absolute one and incomparable being, the ultimate cause of all existence. Traditional interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is personal yet transcendent, while some modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is a force or ideal; the names of God used most in the Hebrew Bible are the Tetragrammaton and Elohim. Other names of God in traditional Judaism include El Shekhinah; the name of God used most in the Hebrew Bible is the Tetragrammaton. Jews traditionally do not pronounce it, instead refer to God as HaShem "the Name". In prayer the Tetragrammaton is substituted with the pronunciation Adonai, meaning "My Master".
The national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel and Judah was Yahweh. The precise origins of this god are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and the Late Bronze; the name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon, but earlier mentions are in Egyptian texts that place God among the nomads of the southern Transjordan. After evolving from its monolatristic roots, Judaism became monotheistic. No consensus has been reached by academics on the origins of monotheism in ancient Israel, but Yahweh "clearly came out of the world of the gods of the Ancient Near East."The worship of multiple gods and the concept of God having multiple persons are unimaginable in Judaism. The idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical in Judaism – it is considered akin to polytheism. God, the Cause of all, is one; this does not mean one as in one of series, nor one like a species, nor one as in an object, made up of many elements, nor as a single simple object, infinitely divisible.
Rather, God is a unity unlike any other possible unity. Since, according to the mystical conception, all of existence emanates from God, whose ultimate existence is not dependent on anything else, some Jewish sages perceived God as interpenetrating the universe, which itself has been thought to be a manifestation of God's existence. According to this line of theological speculation, Judaism can be regarded as being compatible with panentheism, while always affirming genuine monotheism. Kabbalistic tradition holds; this has been described as a strand of Judaism which may seem at odds with Jewish commitments to strict monotheism, but Kabbalists have emphasized that their traditions are monotheistic. Any belief that an intermediary between humanity and God could be used, whether necessary or optional, has traditionally been considered heretical. Maimonides writes that God is the only one we may serve and praise.... We may not act in this way toward anything beneath God, whether it be an angel, a star, or one of the elements.....
There are no intermediaries between God. All our prayers should be directed towards God; some rabbinic authorities disagreed with this view. Notably, Nachmanides was of the opinion that it is permitted to ask the angels to beseech God on our behalf; this argument manifests notably in the Selichot prayer called "Machnisay Rachamim", a request to the angels to intercede with God. Godhead refers to the substratum of God that lies behind God's actions or properties. In the philosophy of Maimonides and other Jewish-rationalistic philosophers, there is little which can be known about the Godhead, other than its existence, this can only be asserted equivocally. How can a relation be represented between God and what is other than God when there is no notion comprising in any respect both of the two, inasmuch as existence is, in our opinion, affirmed of God, may God be exalted, of what is other than God by way of absolute equivocation. There is, in truth, no relation in any of God's creatures. In Kabbalistic thought, the term "Godhead" refers to the concept of Ein Sof, the aspect of God that lies beyond the emanations.
The "knowability" of the Godhead in Kabbalistic thought is no better that what is conceived by rationalist thinkers. As Jacobs puts it, "Of God as God is in Godself—Ein Sof—nothing can be said at all, no thought can reach there". Ein Sof is a place to and oblivion pertain. Why? Because concerning all the sefirot, one can search out their reality from the depth of supernal wisdom. From there it is possible to understand one thing from another. However, concerning Ein Sof, there is no aspect anywhere to probe. In modern articulations of traditional Judaism, God has been speculated to be the eternal and omniscient creator of the universe, the source of morality. God has the power to intervene in the world. Maimonides describes God in this fashion: "The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all existence. All the beings of the heavens, the earth, what is betwe
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish religious movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme authority in Halakha and theology. It is distinct from mainstream Rabbinic Judaism, which considers the Oral Torah, as codified in the Talmud and subsequent works, to be authoritative interpretations of the Torah. Karaites maintain that all of the divine commandments handed down to Moses by God were recorded in the written Torah without additional Oral Law or explanation; as a result, Karaite Jews do not accept as binding the written collections of the oral tradition in the Midrash or Talmud. When interpreting the Tanakh, Karaites strive to adhere to the plain or most obvious meaning of the text. By contrast, Rabbinic Judaism relies on the legal rulings of the Sanhedrin as they are codified in the Midrash and other sources to indicate the authentic meaning of the Torah. Karaite Judaism holds every interpretation of the Tanakh to the same scrutiny regardless of its source, teaches that it is the personal responsibility of every individual Jew to study the Torah, decide its correct meaning.
Karaites may consider arguments made in the Talmud and other works without exalting them above other viewpoints. According to Rabbi Abraham ibn Daud, in his Sefer HaQabbalah, the Karaite movement crystallized in Baghdad in the Gaonic period under the Abbasid Caliphate in what is present-day Iraq; this is the view universally accepted among Rabbinic Jews. However, some Arab scholars claim that Karaites were living in Egypt in the first half of the 7th century, based on a legal document that the Karaite community in Egypt had in its possession until the end of the 19th century, in which the first Islamic governor ordered the leaders of the Rabbinite community against interfering with Karaite practices or the way they celebrate their holidays, it was said to have been stamped by the palm of'Amr ibn al-'As, the first Islamic governor of Egypt, was dated 20 AH. Historians have argued over whether Karaism has a direct connection to anti-Rabbinic sects and views, such as those of the Sadducees, dating back to the end of the Second Temple period, or whether Karaism represents a novel emergence of similar views.
Karaites have always maintained that, while there are some similarities to the Sadducees, due to the rejection of Rabbinical authority and the Oral Law, there are major differences. The ancestors of the Karaites were a group called Benei Ṣedeq during the Second Temple period. Karaites at one time made up a significant proportion of the Jewish population. Estimates of the Karaite population are difficult to make because they believe on the basis of Genesis 32 that counting Jews is forbidden. In the 21st century, some 30,000–50,000 are thought to reside in Israel, with smaller communities in Turkey and the United States. Another estimate holds that, of the 50,000 worldwide, more than 40,000 descend from those who made aliyah from Egypt and Iraq to Israel; the largest Karaite community today resides in the Israeli city of Ashdod. Arguments amongst Jewish sects regarding the validity of the Oral Law date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE. Accordingly, some scholars trace the origin of Karaism to those who rejected the Talmudic tradition as an innovation.
Judah Halevi, an 11th-century Jewish philosopher and rabbi, wrote a defense for Judaism entitled Kuzari, placing the origins of Karaism in the first and second centuries BCE, during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus, king of Judaea from 103 to 76 BCE: After him came Judah b. Tabbāi and Simon b. Shētaḥ, with the friends of both. At this period arose the doctrine of the Karaites in consequence of an incident between the Sages and King Jannai, a priest, his mother was under suspicion of being a'profane' woman. One of the Sages alluded to this, saying to him:'Be satisfied, O king Jannai, with the royal crown, but leave the priestly crown to the seed of Aaron.' His friends prejudiced him against the Sages, advising him to browbeat and scatter or kill them. He replied:'If I destroy the Sages what will become of our Law?"There is the written law,' they replied, whoever wishes to study it may come and do so. He followed their advice and expelled the Sages and among them Simon b. Shētaḥ, his son-in-law. Rabbinism was laid low for some time.
The other party tried to establish a law built on their own conception, but failed, till Simon b. Shētaḥ returned with his disciples from Alexandria, restored tradition to its former condition. Karaism had, taken root among people who rejected the oral law, called all kinds of proofs to their aid, as we see to-day; as regards the Sādōcaeans and Boēthosians, they are the sectarians who are anathemised in our prayer. Abraham Geiger, a 19th-century German scholar who founded Reform Judaism, posited a connection between the Karaites and a remnant of the Sadducees, the 1st-century Jewish sect that followed the Hebrew Bible and rejected the Pharisees' notion of an Oral Torah before it was written. Geiger's view is based on comparison between Karaite and Sadducee halakha: for example, a minority in Karaite Judaism do not believe in a final resurrection or after-life, a position held by the Sadducees; the British theologian John Gill noted, In the times of John Hyrcanus, Alexander Janneus his son, sprung up the sect of the Karaites, in oppositio
According to the Hebrew Bible the tabernacle known as the Tent of the Congregation, was the portable earthly dwelling place of Yahweh used by the children of Israel from the Exodus until the conquest of Canaan. It was constructed of 4 woven layers of curtains and 48 15 foot tall standing wood boards overlayed in gold and held in place by its bars and silver sockets and was richly furnished with valuable materials taken from Egypt at Gods orders. Moses was instructed at Mount Sinai to construct and transport the tabernacle with the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness and their subsequent conquest of the Promised Land. After 440 years, Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem superseded it as the dwelling-place of God; the main source describing the tabernacle is the biblical Book of Exodus Exodus 25–31 and 35–40. Those passages describe an inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, created by the veil suspended by four pillars; this sanctuary contained the Ark of the Covenant, with its cherubim-covered mercy seat.
An outer sanctuary contained a gold candlestick. On the south side stood a table, on which lay the showbread. On the north side was the Menorah. On the west side, just before the veil, was the golden altar of incense; this description is identified as part of the Priestly source, written in the sixth or fifth century BCE. However while the first Priestly source takes the form of instructions, the second is a repetition of the first in the past tense, i.e. it describes the execution of the instructions. Many scholars contend that it is of a far date than the time of Moses, that the description reflects the structure of Solomon's Temple, while some hold that the description derives from memories of a real pre-monarchic shrine the sanctuary at Shiloh. Traditional scholars contend that it describes an actual tabernacle used in the time of Moses and thereafter. According to historical criticism, an earlier, pre-exilic source, the Elohist, describes the tabernacle as a simple tent-sanctuary; the English word "tabernacle" is derived from the Latin tabernāculum meaning "tent" or "hut", which in ancient Roman religion was a ritual structure.
In Greek, including the Septuagint, it is translated σκηνή, itself a Semitic loanword meaning "tent." The word sanctuary is used for the biblical tabernacle, as is the phrase "tent of meeting". The Hebrew word mishkan implies "dwell", "rest", or "to live in", that dwelt within this divinely ordained structure. Historical criticism has identified two accounts of the tabernacle in Exodus, a briefer Elohist account and a longer Priestly one. Traditional scholars believe the briefer account describes a different structure Moses' personal tent; the Hebrew nouns in the two accounts differ, one is most translated as "tent of meeting," while the other is translated as "tabernacle." Exodus 33:7-10 refers to "the tabernacle of the congregation", set up outside of camp with the "cloudy pillar" visible at its door. The people directed their worship toward this center. Historical criticism attributes this description to the Elohist source, believed to have been written about 850 BCE or later; the more detailed description of a tabernacle, located in Exodus chapters 25–27 and Exodus chapters 35–40, refers to an inner shrine housing the ark and an outer chamber, with a six-branch seven-lamp menorah, table for showbread, altar of incense.
An enclosure containing the sacrificial altar and bronze laver for the priests to wash surrounded these chambers. This description is identified by historical criticism as part of the Priestly source, written in the 6th or 5th century BCE; some scholars believe the description is of a far date than Moses' time, that it reflects the structure of the Temple of Solomon. This view is based on Exodus 36, 37, 38 and 39 that describe in full detail how the actual construction of the tabernacle took place during the time of Moses; the detailed outlines for the tabernacle and its priests are enumerated in the Book of Exodus: Exodus 25: Materials needed: the Ark, the table for 12 showbread, the menorah. Exodus 26: The tabernacle, the bars, partitions. Exodus 27: The copper altar, the enclosure, oil. Exodus 28: Vestments for the priests, ephod garment, ring settings, the breastplate, head-plate, turban, pants. Exodus 29: Consecration of priests and altar. Exodus 30: Incense altar, anointing oil, incense. In Exodus 31, the main builder and maker of the priestly vestments is specified as Bezalel, son of Uri son of Hur of the tribe of Judah, assisted by Aholiab and a number of skilled artisans.
There is a strict set of rules to be followed for the carriage of the tabernacle laid out in the Hebrew Bible. For example: "You must put the Levites in charge of the tabernacle of the Covenant, along with its furnishings and equipment, they must carry the tabernacle and its equipment as you travel, they must care for it and camp around it. Whenever the Tabernacle is moved, the Levites will set it up again. Anyone else who goes too near the tabernacle will be executed.'". As well, individuals with the Tzaraat skin affliction were not permitted entry to the tabernacle; the tabernacle during the Exodus, the wandering in the desert and the conquest of Canaan was in part a portable tent, in part a wooden enclo
Arba'ah Turim called the Tur, is an important Halakhic code composed by Jacob ben Asher. The four-part structure of the Tur and its division into chapters were adopted by the code Shulchan Aruch; this was the first book to be printed in the Near East. The title of the work in Hebrew means "four rows", in allusion to the jewels on the High Priest's breastplate; each of the four divisions of the work is a "Tur", so a particular passage may be cited as "Tur Orach Chayim, siman 22", meaning "Orach Chayim division, chapter 22". This was misunderstood as meaning "Tur, Orach Chayim, chapter 22", so that "Tur" came to be used as the title of the whole work; the Arba'ah Turim, as the name implies, consists of four divisions. The four Turim are as follows: Orach Chayim - laws of prayer and synagogue, holidays Yoreh De'ah - miscellaneous ritualistic laws, such as shechita and kashrut Even Ha'ezer - laws of marriage, divorce Choshen Mishpat - laws of finance, financial responsibility and legal procedureIn the Arba'ah Turim, Rabbi Jacob traces the practical Jewish law from the Torah text and the dicta of the Talmud through the Rishonim.
He used the code of Rabbi Isaac Alfasi as his starting point. Unlike Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, the Tur is not limited to normative positions, but compares the various opinions on any disputed point; the Arba'ah Turim differs from the Mishneh Torah, in that, unlike Maimonides' work, it deals only with areas of Jewish law that are applicable in the Jewish exile. The best-known commentary on the Arba'ah Turim is the Beit Yosef by rabbi Joseph ben Ephraim Karo: this goes beyond the normal functions of a commentary, in that it attempts to review all the relevant authorities and come to a final decision on every point, so as to constitute a comprehensive resource on Jewish law. Other commentaries are Bayit Chadash by rabbi Joel Sirkis, Darkhei Moshe by Moses Isserles, Beit Yisrael by rabbi Joshua Falk, as well as works by a number of other Acharonim; these defend the views of the Tur against the Beit Yosef. The Tur continues to play an important role in Halakha. Joseph Caro's Shulchan Aruch, the fundamental work of Halakha, is a condensation of his Beit Yosef and follows the basic structure of the Arba'ah Turim, including its division into four sections and chapters - Tur's structure down to the siman is retained in the Shulchan Aruch.
The views in the other commentaries are relevant in ascertaining or explaining the Ashkenazi version of Jewish law, as codified by Moses Isserles in his Mappah. Students of the Shulchan Aruch in Orthodox Semikhah programs study the Tur and the Beit Yosef concurrently with the Shulchan Aruch itself: in some editions the two works are printed together, to allow comparison of corresponding simanim. Mishneh Torah Shulchan Aruch Mishnah Berurah Shulchan Aruch HaRav Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Aruch HaShulchan Arba'ah Turim, Prof. Eliezer Segal "Question 3.38: What is the Arba'ah Turim?". Faqs.org
Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine foresees it as its seat of power. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times and recaptured 44 times, attacked 52 times; the part of Jerusalem called the City of David shows first signs of settlement in the 4th millennium BCE, in the shape of encampments of nomadic shepherds. Jerusalem was named as "Urusalim" on ancient Egyptian tablets meaning "City of Shalem" after a Canaanite deity, during the Canaanite period. During the Israelite period, significant construction activity in Jerusalem began in the 9th century BCE, in the 8th century the city developed into the religious and administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah.
In 1538, the city walls were rebuilt for a last time around Jerusalem under Suleiman the Magnificent. Today those walls define the Old City, traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian and Muslim Quarters; the Old City became a World Heritage Site in 1981, is on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Since 1860 Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City's boundaries. In 2015, Jerusalem had a population of some 850,000 residents, comprising 200,000 secular Jewish Israelis, 350,000 Haredi Jews and 300,000 Palestinians. In 2011, the population numbered 801,000, of which Jews comprised 497,000, Muslims 281,000, Christians 14,000 and 9,000 were not classified by religion. According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple. Modern scholars argue that Jews branched out of the Canaanite peoples and culture through the development of a distinct monolatrous — and monotheistic — religion centered on El/Yahweh, one of the Ancient Canaanite deities.
These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium BCE, assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people. The sobriquet of holy city was attached to Jerusalem in post-exilic times; the holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus's crucifixion there. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Medina. In Islamic tradition, in 610 CE it became the first qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer, Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran; as a result, despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometres, the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount with its Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Outside the Old City stands the Garden Tomb. Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, West Jerusalem was among the areas captured and annexed by Israel while East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was captured and annexed by Jordan. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequently annexed it into Jerusalem, together with additional surrounding territory. One of Israel's Basic Laws, the 1980 Jerusalem Law, refers to Jerusalem as the country's undivided capital. All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset, the residences of the Prime Minister and President, the Supreme Court. While the international community rejected the annexation as illegal and treats East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, Israel has a stronger claim to sovereignty over West Jerusalem. A city called Rušalim in the execration texts of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt is but not universally, identified as Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called Urušalim in the Amarna letters of Abdi-Heba.
The name "Jerusalem" is variously etymologized to mean "foundation of the god Shalem". Shalim or Shalem was the name of the god of dusk in the Canaanite religion, whose name is based on the same root S-L-M from which the Hebrew word for "peace" is derived; the name thus offered itself to etymologizations such as "The City of Peace", "Abode of Peace", "dwelling of peace", alternately "Vision of Peace" in some Christian authors. The ending -ayim indicates the dual, thus leading to the suggestion that the name Yerushalayim refers to the fact that the city sat on two hills; the form Yerushalem or Yerushalayim first appears in the Book of Joshua. According to a Midrash, the name is a combination of "Yireh" and "Shalem" the two names were un