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Jerusalem is a site of major significance for the three largest monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and both Israel and Palestine have claimed Jerusalem as a capital city. Because of these strong, age-old associations, bloody conflicts to control the city and sites within it have been waged for thousands of years.

Greece’s Next Chief Rabbi Is Native Athenian Gabriel Negrin, 25 – Tablet Magazine

Scholars believe the first human settlements in Jerusalem took place during the Early Bronze Age—somewhere around B. In B.

His son, Solomon, built the first holy Temple about 40 years later. The Babylonians occupied Jerusalem in B. Alexander the Great took control of Jerusalem in B. Over the next several hundred years, the city was conquered and ruled by different groups, including the Romans , Persians , Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders , Egyptians , Mamelukes and Islamists.

Some key events with religious implications that took place in Jerusalem during this period include:.

Hanukkah Versus Christmas: Why the Jews & the Greeks Clashed

The British controlled the city and surrounding region until Israel became an independent state in Israel controlled the Western portions of it, while Jordan controlled East Jerusalem. This ancient landmark is the holiest place in Judaism. The site is also the location of the first and second Temples and the spot where many Jewish prophets taught. Christians also believe the site is significant to their faith.

Because it has religious and historical implications, occupation of the Temple Mount has been the cause of bitter conflict for centuries, especially between Jews and Muslims living nearby. But today, the Islamic Waqf governs what happens inside the compound, while Israeli forces control external security. In A.


During the Crusades , the Christians turned the landmark into a church. In , Muslims recaptured the Dome of the Rock and re-designated it as a shrine. Both structures are considered holy to Muslims. The Western Wall is a section of ancient remnant wall from the second Jewish Temple. Each year, millions of Jews from around the world visit the wall. Because Muslims control the Temple Mount the true site of the ancient Temples , the Western Wall is considered the holiest place where Jews can pray.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built in A. Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world travel to this church each year. Many regard it as the holiest Christian site in the world. Jewish law forbids Jews from praying in the Temple Mount. Yet, Israeli forces allow hundreds of Jewish settlers to enter the area routinely, which some Palestinians fear could lead to an Israeli takeover.

In recent years, some Israeli groups have even announced a plan to construct a third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. This proposal has outraged Palestinians living in the region. In May , the Palestinian group Hamas presented a document that proposed the formation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. However, the group refused to recognize Israel as a state, and the Israeli government immediately rejected the idea.

Today, tensions are still high in and around the city of Jerusalem. Confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians are commonplace. Many international groups and countries support efforts to divide Jerusalem into Israeli and Palestinian sections. But, securing a plan that everyone agrees on is difficult. For security reasons, the compound was cleared of visitors and closed for Muslim Friday prayers for the first time in 17 years. Protests and violent acts have shadowed this precarious situation.

Ancient Jewish History: The Greeks & the Jews

Why is Jerusalem important? The Guardian. History of Jerusalem: Timeline for the History of Jerusalem. Jewish Virtual Library. Brief history of Jerusalem. Jerusalem Municipality. History of Jerusalem from Its Beginning to David. Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies. So fascinated were the Greeks with the Jews that they became the first people to translate the Bible into another language when King Ptolemy II c. The Land of Israel was the border between these two warring Empires. While much of the upper crust of Jewish society, along with the rest of the population of the Mediterranean world, readily embraced Hellenistic culture some to the point of denouncing their Jewish identity , the vast majority of the Jews remained loyal to Judaism.

This "rejection" of the Hellenistic lifestyle was viewed with great hostility by many Greeks and seen as a form of rebellion. The exotic differences that had once served as the source of attraction between the two cultures now created the flashpoint for a cultural war. To make matters worse, Israel was the border state between these two rival Greek Empires, and the Jews, who refused to assimilate, were viewed as a disloyal population in strategically vital part of the Seleucid Empire.

History Crash Course #27: The Greek Empire

It would be wrong to view the conflict as purely Greece versus the Jews. Internal tension within the Jewish community contributed significantly to the conflict. Many of the Hellenized Jews took it upon themselves to "help" their more traditional brethren by "dragging" them away from what they perceived was their primitive beliefs into the "modern" world of Greek culture.

This pattern has repeated itself many times in Jewish history — in Russia in the 19th century and in Germany, to name just a few examples. To aid them in their endeavor, these Hellenized Jews enlisted the help of their Greek allies, ultimately bringing the king himself, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, into the conflict. In the mid-2nd century BCE, Antiochus issued a decree which until that time was unheard of in the multicultural and religiously tolerant ancient world: He outlawed another people's religion.

He banned the teaching and practice of Judaism. The book of the Maccabees probably written by a Jewish chronicler in the early first century BCE describes it as follows: "Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the Temple in Jerusalem and call it the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The revolt was led by the priestly family of Matithias and his five sons, the most famous of whom was Judah.

Against all odds, the outnumbered guerilla army of the Maccabees beat the much larger, better equipped, professional Greek armies. After three years of fighting, Jerusalem was liberated. The Temple which had been desecrated was cleaned and rededicated to God. It was during this period of cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple that the miracle of Chanukah happened. One small flask of oil used by the High Priest to light the menorah in the Temple, that should have been sufficient for only one day, miraculously burned for eight.

The conflict dragged on for many more years and cost the lives of many Jews, including Judah Maccabee and several of his brothers. Ultimately, the Greeks were defeated and Judaism survived. Arguably, a far greater miracle than the oil lasting for eight days was the military victory of the Jews over the Greek Empire. But the light of Chanukah is symbolic of the real victory — the survival of the spiritual light of Judaism. So, this is very insightful--on his grand conquest for glory and building a "global empire" he along the way introduces Europeans into the so-called "Middle East. Have to give credit -to the priest who took a step of faith to meet Alexander although a fearful priest at that time.

Alisara , March 19, AM. I enjoyed your article about Alexander and Chanukah, however I think that it's time to put an end to the myth that Alexander wept that he had no more worlds to conquer some even say he did so at Any one with even a cursory knowledge of his career would find it curious that the man who was forced to return to Babylon by a mini-revolt would believe that he thought he had conquered all worlds.

In a comment to a philosopher Anaxarchus? Thank you Rabbi Spiro and aish. The bravery of the Macabees to stand up despite all odds against the mighty Greek army and the heroism of Chana and her sons are all lessons we can all take to heart.