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Jerusalem

The Biography

By Simon Sebag Montefiore
27-minute read
Audio available
Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Jerusalem (2011) tells the story of a city considered holy by three of the world’s major religions, and which is central to some of the greatest conflicts in human history. These blinks detail the history of Jerusalem, the near-constant battles it has inspired and the fundamental role it has played in shaping humankind over the course of millennia.

  • Anyone interested in theology, history and war
  • Jews, Christians and Muslims
  • Anyone interested in the crucial precursors to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East

Simon Sebag-Montefiore is an award-winning British author of historical nonfiction. His titles, including Young Stalin, Catherine the Great and Potemkin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar have received multiple awards and have attracted worldwide critical acclaim.

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Jerusalem

The Biography

By Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • Read in 27 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 17 key ideas
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Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Synopsis

Jerusalem (2011) tells the story of a city considered holy by three of the world’s major religions, and which is central to some of the greatest conflicts in human history. These blinks detail the history of Jerusalem, the near-constant battles it has inspired and the fundamental role it has played in shaping humankind over the course of millennia.

Key idea 1 of 17

Jerusalem was inhabited as early as 5000 BC, and the Israelites arrived 4000 years later.

The Bible, in addition to being a holy text, also offers an early history of Jerusalem. However, since the Bible contains a great deal of contradictory information, it’s not a reliable factual account in and of itself.

That’s why we have to use archaeology and other ancient texts to verify certain biblical events.

For instance, the origins of the name “Jerusalem” date back to ancient Egyptian texts that refer to “URSALIM,” a variation on the word “Salem,” meaning “god of the evening star.” And while widespread archaeological research in the area is restricted by the land’s holiness, excavations conducted in surrounding areas have found that people inhabited the region as early as 5000 BC.

From there, we know that the first texts attributed to a Jerusalemite date back to 1458 BC, when the Egyptian empire included the entirety of modern-day Palestine. Those early texts show that King Abdi-Heba requested that Egyptian archers defend the city.

Then, about a century later, the first Hebrews, or Israelites, arrived. These newcomers proved considerably different from the Egyptians as they worshiped a single God.

Moses would later help the Israelites escape from Egypt, but it was his successor, Joshua, who brought the Israelites to Jerusalem. They struggled for more than a century after their arrival there, from 1200 to 1050 BC. That’s when the Philistines defeated them in the Battle of Ebenezer and stole the Ark of the Covenant, their holiest object, which contained the remains of the Ten Commandments.

David was born after this battle, though, and he would go on to fight and defeat Goliath, the Philistines’ best warrior. David became a great leader, uniting the tribes of Israel to beat the Philistines and retake the Ark.

In the wake of this victory, Jerusalem grew – but not by too much.

The settlement called City of David was built just outside the old town, along with a palace, but Jerusalem remained quite small, especially when compared to the neighboring city of Babylon. It was also during this time that David planned to build the city’s first temple, although it wouldn’t be completed until after his death, by his son, Solomon.

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