Even prior to the conquest of the city of Jebus - which became the City
of David, (1 Chronicles 11:4) - we know of the existence of Jerusalem from
the record of Abraham's visit to Melchizedek there, recorded in Genesis
Chapter 14. Although the original inhabitants were descendants of Noah's
son Caanan, Melchizedek was both a priest and a king of "God Most High,"
in Jerusalem about 4 millennia ago. Melchizedek (his name means "king
of righteousness") was a man to whom Abraham paid tithes, and he is
a "type" of Jesus Christ as the believer's Great High Priest,
(Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5-7).
Jerusalem does not lie on any important trade routes nor is there any natural reason why this city should be one of the most important places in the world for more than four thousand years. Jerusalem lies at the crest of a low range of hills which are a barrier to winter rains from the Mediterranean Sea which is only 30 miles to the West. Immediately to the East, annual rainfall drops nearly to zero in the Judean Wilderness. The elevation to the East also drops rapidly to the Dead Sea, falling to 1290 feet below sea level, in less than 15 miles as the crow flies.
Jerusalem's importance as a site chosen by God for His special purposes dates from the call of God to Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, in the city of Jebus, as recorded in Genesis 22. (This important event in the life of Abraham is known to the Jews as "the Akeda" or "the binding of Isaac.")
The topographic map shows that Mount Moriah is not a single peak, but an elongated ridge which commences to rise at its Southern end at the junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys, at the original City of David, (elevation approximately 600 meters). The ridge then climbs in elevation to a maximum of 777 meters just Northeast of the present Damascus Gate of the Old City. The Temple Mount, prominent in most photos of Jerusalem occupies an area of about 45 acres. However the elevation of the bedrock outcropping on the Temple Mount within the Dome of the Rock Moslem shrine is only 741 meters.
"After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.
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April 8, 1996.