Volume. XXXiii, No. 45
Sunday, 05 May 2019

From the Pastor’s Heart: Jerusalem

I assume that the Hopefuls’ interest in the Holy Land must have increased after hearing Rev. Kevin Currell’s presentation during the Church camp.  I thought it might be helpful if we could know of key cities of the Holy Land by searching for Biblical data and testimonies of various written materials by various authors including Jewish rabbis.  In particular, I am thinking of the city of Jerusalem.  The most ancient Biblical form is ‏יְרוּשָׁלֵם‎, shortened in Psalm 76:2 (compare Genesis 14:18) to Salem.  Though we pronounce it as Jerusalem, “Yerusalem” is closer to the original name.  In the Septuagint and the New Testament, we get Ἰερουσαλήμ (with other variations) constantly reflecting the earliest and the common Hebrew pronunciation.  The Authorized Version of 1611 has Ierosalem in the OT and Hierusalem in the NT.  The form Jerusalem first occurs in French writings of the 12th century.

Its name

Surprisingly, with regard to the meaning of the original name there is no concurrence of opinion.  Some have considered it as either the “City of Peace” or the “City of (the god) Salem,” but other interpreters, considering the name to be of Hebrew origin, interpret it as the “possession (or inheritance) of peace” or “foundation (or abode) of peace.”  The latter interpreters make the name a compound of Jireh and Shalem.  I am sure that we remember the famous phrase known by Abraham, “Jehovah-Jireh,” and these two words are combined and become “Jireh-Shalem,” “Jerushalaim,” or “Jerusalem.” 

In the Bible, other names for the city also occur.  Probably, Jebus is the first one coming into our minds.  In Isaiah 29:1, we find Ariel, probably meaning “the hearth of God,” and in 1:26 the “city of righteousness.”  “The city” is another name for Jerusalem in Psalm 72:16; Jeremiah 32:24ff; Ezekiel 7:23, in contrast to “the earth (land).”  A whole group of names is connected with the idea of the sanctity of the site.  The “holy city” occurs in Isaiah 48:2; 52:1; Nehemiah 11:1 and also in Matthew 4:5 and 27:53.  “Jerusalem the holy” is inscribed on Simon’s coins.  “The holy city,” and in Philo, Ἱερόπολις, with the same meaning [ISBE].

Its location

There must be something peculiar about the location for God to choose this city to be the capital of the country of His chosen people.  Geologically speaking, there are lots of rocks, mainly limestone with strata containing flints.  As a whole, the climate of Jerusalem may be considered good.  Winter cold weather coincides with the wet season (see great rain in Ezra 10:9).  During the hot season, dry south-east winds blow hot air from over the deserts.  Sometimes, it carries a huge quantity of fine dust to produce a haze in the air.  Jeremiah 4:11 could be a description of such conditions: “At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse. At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse.”  During the late summer, there are heavy dews at night.  The “former rain” comes at the end of September or beginning of October.  It is a tropical downpour in any sense.  Wintry rainy season covers December, January, and February.  During the rainy season, people fill their cisterns.  An abundant rainfall is important for crops as well as for storage for the inhabitants of the city. 

There is only one actual spring in the Jerusalem area, and even this one has a shallow source of its origin and has been called by different names.  This spring is known as Gihon in the Old Testament.  Some argue that “Pool of Bethesda” is probably related to this spring.  The waters from this spring flow into the Pool of Siloam and then continue to the Kidron valley to supply the water to vegetable patches.  There is another water source called, “Job’s well.”  There are a couple of other places known to be possible water sources. 

“Jerusalem lies in the midst of a bare and rocky plateau, the environs being one of the most stony and least fruitful districts in the habitable parts of Palestine, with shallow, gray or reddish soil and many outcrops of bare limestone” (See ISBE).  The only fruit tree which reaches perfection around Jerusalem is the olive.

The size of Jerusalem is not huge even with the ancient measurement.  Alfred Edersheim says of Jerusalem as follows: “Altogether the city was only thirty-three stadia, or about four English miles, in circumference.  Within this compass dwelt a population of 600,000 (according to Tacitus), but, according to the Jewish historian, amounting at the time of the Passover to between two and three millions . . .” (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services as They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ, 13).  Its political importance cannot be underestimated.  It lies midway between the east and the west.  It is also between the great military states, Egypt and Assyria first, and then Rome and the East.  Thus, it became the battle-field of the nations.  Jerusalem is pitched on a height of about 2,610 feet above the sea.  There are plenty of beauties mentioned of Jerusalem.  Psalm 48:2, 12-13, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. . . . 12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. 13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.”  Jerusalem is situated in the place naturally cut off and isolated by deep valley on all sides but one, which makes it a natural fortress.  A Psalmist adores Jerusalem in Psa. 122:2-3, “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together”

Its descriptions

A historian, Josephus, gave the names to five areas of Jerusalem as follows: “The city was built upon two hills which are opposite to one another and have a valley to divide them asunder .... Now the Valley of the Cheesemongers, as it was called, and was that which distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower, extended as far as Siloam” (ibid., V, iv, 1).  The following is from the ISBE.  Josephus distinguishes 5 distinct regions: (1) The Upper City or Upper Market Place (The hill) “which sustains the upper city is much higher and in length more direct. Accordingly, it was called the citadel . . . of King David .... but it is by us called the Upper Market Place.” This is without dispute the southwestern hill.  (2) Akra and Lower City - “The other hill, which was called Akra, and sustains the lower city, was double-curved” . . . . The description can apply only to the semicircular shape of the southeastern hill, as viewed from the “upper city.” These names, “Akra” and “Lower City,” are, with reservations, therefore, to be applied to the southeastern hill.  (3) The Temple Hill - “Over against this is a third hill, but naturally lower than the Akra and parted formerly from the other by a fiat valley. However, in those times when the Hasmoneans reigned, they did away with this valley, wishing to connect the city with the temple; and cutting down the summit of the Akra, they made it lower, so that the temple might be visible over it.” Comparison with other passages shows that this “third hill” is the central-eastern — the “Temple Hill.”

I’ll continue with Josephus’ descriptions of Jerusalem next week.


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Special thanks to Elder Michael D Lee for his many years of service in the Church Session & to the church. Pursuant to Articles 15.5 & 15.6 of Hope B-P Church Constitution, Elder Michael D Lee has now retired from the Session & Board of Elders.
  • Welcomers & ushers: Please meet for a short meeting after Worship Service today in Sanctuary.
  • Mothers’ Day Picnic on Sat, 11 May, 10am at Thorndon Park. All are welcome. Please see Sisters Natalie Ki or Sherilyn Wong for details.
  • Mothers’ Day Fellowship Lunch next week will be catered.
  • Seniors Fellowship Lunch on Thurs, 16 May, 11:45am. Venue: TBA. Please see Dn Boong or Sis Mariam Atijatuporn for details.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Volunteers. Neighbourhood Groups. Next week: AFG.  


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Visitors & church activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies  Those who have travelled.



  • Healing: Pastor Ki; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren;  & others in affliction.
  • Missions: Rev & Mrs Bjur; Rev & Mrs Jara (Andes); Miss Bai (Kenya).   
  • Australian Federal Election, 18 May – God’s guidance & wisdom to elect the right party to govern this nation.
  • Those injured & those who lost loved ones in Sri Lanka church & hotel attacks.
  • 33rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service, 2 Jun.
  • Journey mercies: Those who are travelling.






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