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JERUSALEM

Ancient city in Palestine, the religious and political center of the Jewish people, situated on the crest of a chain of mountains that cross Palestine from north to south. Originally called Salem, it was the capital of King Melchizedek about 2100 B.C. (Genesis 14). First mentioned in the Book of Joshua (10, 15), the inhabitants were known as Jebusites. When the Promised Land was parceled out, Jerusalem was assigned to the tribe of Benjamin. Its most famous rulers were King David, who brought the Ark of the Covenant into the city, and his son Solomon, who built the first Temple. A second Temple was built in the sixth century B.C., and the third (and last) was the work of Herod the Great, who ruled as a vassal of Rome from 37 to 4 B.C. The Christian history of Jerusalem begins with the short ministry of the Savior, culminating in his death, resurrection, and ascension. The Apostles lived and taught there for some time after Pentecost, and met in Jerusalem for their first council about A.D. 49. The Apostle St. James the Less was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, where he was condemned by the Sanhedrin and martyred in A.D. 62.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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