Jerusalem, considered one of the holiest city in the entire world has long been divided over three of the world’s major religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Dome of the Rock contains the Foundation Stone which is important to all three religions as the traditional site of the Sacrifice of Isaac. Although these religions have a piece of Jerusalem to call their own, much conflict still arises.
Jerusalem is certainly the most sacred city to Judaism and has much value to its people as a symbol of unification and hope. In 588 BCE, the Babylonians raided the city and exiled the Jews, now known as the Babylonian Diaspora. Within this period, the Jews continued to build synagogues facing Jerusalem and kept some walls in them unfinished to show that their religious faith was not complete until they were accepted back into Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the center of the universe and everything great has or will occur in Jerusalem starting with the creation of the world and eventually the coming of the Messiah. Lots of Jews go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem and intend on being buried there.
One specific site in Jerusalem that is very important to Jews is the Wailing Wall or the Western Wall. The Wailing Wall is the only remaining wall of the Second Temple, which as destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Many people put papers with prayers on them in the cracks of the wall or just pray to G-d at this location.
For Christians, Jerusalem was equal to G-d’s presence on earth through his son Jesus Christ. In the year 30 CE the Romans tried and convicted Jesus for breaking Roman law, so he was crucified. To Christians, his death is a symbol for the salvation everyone’s sins against G-d. Jesus was buried in what would soon be called the Holy Sepulcher (the most sacred site for Christians in Jerusalem), and rose from the dead three days later. Jerusalem is the location of G-d’s salvation and mercy on earth; this is why Jerusalem is seen as so holy by Christians.
In addition, Jerusalem is home to perhaps the most sacred relic of this religion, the Holy Lance. This relic is said to be the spear that was used by a Roman soldier to see if Jesus was in fact dead. When Jesus was poked, out came separated blood and water showing Christ’s; the blood as of man and the water was of G-d.
Although not THE most sacred site in Islam, it still holds much value for many Muslims. During the early years of Islam, Jerusalem was the direction in which Muslims faced for prayer, this changed with Muhammad’s pilgrimage to Mecca from Medina.
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (an image in the AP Art History 250) was also the site of Muhammad’s ascension into heaven where he directly encountered G-d. This meeting with G-d happened when Muhammad was praying at the Kaaba and Archangel Gabriel came and the two went on a journey to Jerusalem, this journey ended at the al-Aqsa Mosque. Along his journey to Jerusalem, Muhammad is said to have met other prophets such as Jesus, Abraham, and Moses. As Islam gained popularity after Muhammad’s death so did Jerusalem’s importance.
- Nemeroff, Adam. “Jerusalem in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” The Crusades and Crusade Memory. Published April 24, 2016. https://sites.dartmouth.edu/crusadememory/2016/04/24/jerusalem-in-judaism-christianity-and-islam/.
- Kershner, Isabel. “The Western Wall: History and Overview.” Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed May 5, 2017. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/history-and-overivew-of-the-western-wall.
- Michael, Susan. “The Significance of Jerusalem to Christians.” International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Published June 2, 2011. https://int.icej.org/news/commentary/significance-jerusalem-christians.
- Strayer, Robert W. Ways of the World: A Global History with Sources. Boston: Bedford/St. Martains. 2011.