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Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Jerusalem in the Bible
Yeshivat Har Etzion


This shiur is dedicated in memory of Dr. William Major z"l.



Lecture #28: Summary

Rav Yitzchak Levi


            It is difficult to summarize in a single shiur a series of studies covering a variety of topics in the history of Jerusalem, from allusions to the city in the Torah, through the period of the conquest and settlement, and culminating in the background to the days of David and Shelomo. In this shiur, we will try to emphasize several lessons that have emerged from our studies. These lessons will be based primarily on the conclusions that we have reached in earlier shiurim. Some, however, will follow from an examination of the days of David and Shelomo, a period we hope to deal with over the coming year in a more detailed and comprehensive manner. We have included these here because they constitute a fitting complement to the topics under discussion.


I.                                            Jerusalem – a city that joins the capital of the kingdom of Israel with the site of the kingdom of GOd


As was already mentioned in the introduction to this series, our fundamental assumption is that the various places in Eretz Yisrael have a unique and meaningful spiritual character. The events that take place in a particular place, the location's tribal affiliation, and the like, all express the unique essence of the place and shape its identity. This applies to each and every place in Eretz Yisrael, and all the more so to Jerusalem. It was our objective to uncover the spiritual essence and identity of Jerusalem as they have appeared across the generations. We argued that Jerusalem joins together two different kingdoms: the kingdom of flesh and blood and the kingdom of God.


First of this, there is an allusion to this in the very name of the city Jerusalem – Yerushalayim – which ends with the suffix "ayim," which denotes a pair. Chazal have interpreted the name by combining together Avraham's two encounters with the city.


1)                          Avraham's encounter with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, and the King of Sodom, the essence of which was: a) choosing a connection with the righteousness of Malki-Tzedek and rejecting a connection with the ingratitude of the King of Sodom; 2) the desire of these kings to crown Avraham as their own king following his victory over the four kings. It was in this context that we discussed at length the inner connection between justice and the monarchy with respect to a king of flesh and blood and with respect to God.


2)                          The revelation on Mount Moriah in the wake of the Avraham's absolute devotion, through which: a) God's choosing of the place becomes manifest, and therefore Avraham names it, "The Lord will appear" (Bereishit 25:14) – a designation that alludes to "the place that the Lord will choose"; b) the future site of the Mikdash is established – "As it is said to this day, In the mount the Lord will appear" (ibid.). In this revelation, we find important elements of the future Mikdash (Divine selection of the place, the construction of an altar, Divine revelation, fear, the offering of a sacrifice, absolute devotion, and other things).


The Torah's concealment of the place and the 400 year wait for its revelation - from the time of the conquest of the land until the days of David - continue this principle of connecting the kingdom of man with the kingdom of God in Jerusalem. For the objective of these two phenomena was that the place of the Mikdash should become revealed through the unity of the tribes and through a monarchy extending over all of Israel – necessary conditions for reaching Jerusalem and building the Mikdash.


This principle also stands behind the selection of David in Jerusalem, which is located on the border between the tribal territories of Yehuda and Binyamin. In addition to the desire to unite the two most competitive tribes at that time, and beyond the fact that the unity between those two tribes represents the unity between the descendants of Rachel and the descendants of Leah, the identity of the tribes themselves has meaning with respect to the city: Yehuda, which represents earthly kingdom ("The staff shall not depart from Yehuda, nor the scepter from between his feet" Bereishit 49:10), joins with Binyamin, which represents the portion of the Shekhina (principally by virtue of its ability to join together the leading forces of the nation – Yosef and Yehuda). This combination is a combination of the kingdom of flesh and blood with the site of the Mikdash, which gives expression to the site of God's kingdom on earth.


Chazal gave this symbolic expression when they described the border between Binyamin and Yehuda on MountMoriah. Belonging to the Tribe of Yehuda were the offices of the Mikdash, including Lishkat ha-Gazit, the seat of the Sanhedrin, and the southeastern corner of the altar. This means that a human kingdom has no independent existence, and that it exists only in connection with and in relation to the place that gives expression to the kingdom of God.


The first thing that David did in his capital city, Jerusalem, following his victory over the Philistines was to bring up the aron, which had rested for twenty years in Kiryat Ye'arim, to the City of David (instead of bringing it to its natural place at the great bama in Giv'on). Thus, David established the principle that his kingdom was founded upon the connection between earthly kingdom and the kingdom of God. Chazal expressed this principle in the wonderful Midrash about how David went to Nayot in the Rama, and together with the prophet Shemuel sought out the site of the Mikdash, something that took place after David's anointment as king, but before he actually ruled as king and while he was being pursued by Shaul.


The order established by the Torah (according to Sanhedrin 20b) for the fulfillment of the communal commandments cast upon Israel as they entered the land – the crowning of a king, the destruction of Amalek, and the construction of the Mikdash – clarifies the relationship between earthly kingdom, its establishment and its rest, and the construction of the Mikdash.


Natan's prophecy to David (II Shemuel 7) which makes the construction of the Bet ha-Mikdash conditional upon an established monarchy (II Shemuel 7; I Divrei Ha-yamim 17) and explains by way of this condition David's being refused permission to build the Mikdash, greatly sharpens the necessary connection between a permanent monarchy and the Mikdash. The transition from transience to permanence with respect to the resting of God's Shekhina, is conditioned on the transition from transience to permanence with respect to worldly monarchy. Since the monarchy is the governmental tool through which God's kingdom becomes revealed in the world, and in order that God's kingdom should indeed be expressed in a royal manner over all of Israel, it was necessary that there be a fixed and established regime, a permanent dynasty.


On the other hand, despite his being refused permission to take part in the actual construction of the Mikdash, David was rewarded for having requested it – a royal dynasty established for all time (II Shemuel 7:13-15; I Divrei Ha-yamim 17:12-14). The oath that David took when he wanted to build a house for God entirely parallels the oath that God took promising David a fixed monarchy (Tehillim 132). In the end, the site of the Mikdash was revealed when David was ready to offer not only his life, but also the lives of all of his father's house, that is to say, in this connection David stood not as an individual, but as the founder of a royal dynasty (II Shemuel 7:17; I Divrei Ha-yamim 21:17). Seeking out the place of God's kingdom here on earth and its revelation are connected then also in these contexts to an established earthly kingdom.


Another important characteristic of the revelation of the location of the Mikdash is the actions that preceded it. The census and the plague that followed in its wake – as also the problems that arose already earlier, bringing the aron up to Jerusalem and the manner in which that was done, on the one hand, and leaving the aron in Jerusalem during the rebellion of Avshalom, contrary to the personal and utilitarian interest of David, on the other hand – all these allowed a true and penetrating clarification of the boundaries, authorities and objectives of the earthly kingdom, in relation to the kingdom of God.


The prophets saw an eternal connection between David and Jerusalem, a connection that finds expression to this very day in the Shemoneh Esrei blessing: "Return in mercy to your city Jerusalemand dwell in it as You have promised; rebuild it soon, in our days, as an everlasting structure, and speedily establish in it the throne of David." The significance of this connection is an everlasting relationship between the king of Israel across the generations and the place where God chose to set His name and reveal His kingdom.


Shelomo gave physical expression to this connection when he built his royal house with all its components above the city, at the foot of the house of God and in close proximity to it. The building of the royal house with all its details – the time of the construction, its form, design and location – are described by the prophet as the building of one set of two buildings: the house of God and the house of the king. And as we shall explain in detail next year, the dedication of the house of God at the end of the twenty years of joint construction of the house of God and the house of the king was meant to express this fundamental idea: "Then Shelomo sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:23).


In the end, however, it was precisely with respect to this point that Shelomo failed. Out of maximal desire to totally connect his kingdom to the kingdom of God, Shelomo blurred the boundaries between them, breached the fences that the Torah set up around a human regime, and did things that in the end brought to the division of the monarchy and sowed the seeds of the destruction of the Mikdash. Yeravam's rebellion in the wake of the construction of the Milo and the closing of the breach in the city of David demonstrates the cost of turning royal buildings into an end in itself; the house of the king with all of its annexes, which should have served to connect the entire nation to the house of God, became a unit unto itself, which severed this direct connection and prevented it, something that the prophet Yechezkel described hundreds of years later in his harsh prophecy: "Now let them put away their harlotry, and the carcasses of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever" (Yechezkel 43:9). As we shall see next year, this issue will continue to stand at the heart of the relationship between the monarchy of the House of David and Jerusalem until the destruction of the Mikdash.


According to Rav Kook's suggestion that the name Zion relates to the royal city, and the name Jerusalem to the Mikdash – these two names express the two essential elements of the city, the perfect combination of which allows for its building and strengthening, and the severance of which leads to its destruction. We have suggested that this is the meaning of the verse: "O Jerusalem, built as a city that is connected together" (Tehillim 122:2) – a city that perfectly joins the earthly kingdom with the kingdom of God. This may possibly explain also the homiletic exposition regarding the connection between the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem (Ta'anit 5a) – between the "king's Mikdash" and "the royal city."


Thus far we have surveyed how the essence of Jerusalem as joining the kingdom of man with the kingdom of God is reflected in the history of the city itself. In a certain sense, however, we can tie into this the road to Jerusalem as well. In the early lectures, where we discussed the cities through which Avraham passed on his way to Jerusalem, we distinguished between two courses: the one – from north to south, from Shekhem to Bet-El; and the second from south to north, from Hebron to Jerusalem.


The first course is the course of the Fathers: the natural course that leads from the northern gate of Eretz Yisrael, i.e., Shekhem, to the sanctuary of the Fathers in Bet-El. This course is connected in its essence to the land of Yosef, the area that was blessed with a special blessing of rain. This first level, on which naturalness and sanctity are closely bound together, is connected to Moshiach the son of Yosef. The connection between Yosef and bodily sanctity (kedushat ha-guf) follows from the fact that he is a firstborn, who is endowed with bodily sanctity, the opening of the womb – because of which he merited a two-fold portion of Eretz Yisrael – and because he is "separated from his brothers" (nezir echav; Bereishit 49:26; Devarim 33:16). The qualities of Yosef find expression in the two cities that characterize the course of the Fathers: Shekhem – the "firstborn" city of Eretz Yisrael, where the covenant regarding the land was made; and Bet-El, located on the border dividing Ephraim from Binyamin, the northern boundary of the portion of the Shekhina, in which was found the natural sanctuary of the Fathers, where Yaakov erected an altar.


The second course is the course of the Sons: the chosen course that leads from the city of permanence and kingdom, Hebron, to Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Israel that is connected to the Mikdash. This course is connected in its essence to the land of Yehuda, a land that did not receive a blessing of nature. This second level is connected to Moshiach the son of David. In these lectures, we have emphasized the permanence and eternity of the kingdom of the House of David; it is through them that the move from Hebron to Jerusalem is executed. Jerusalem – the permanent capital of the kingdom of Israel, on the border between Yehuda and Binyamin, the boundary of the portion of the Shekhina – is what binds them: to the level of the natural sanctity of the Fathers, Jerusalem adds the level of the chosen permanence and kingdom of Sons. Thus, it creates a perfect structure that joins sanctity and monarchy.


It is interesting that one of Rav Charlap's suggestions (Mei Marom, Ma'ayanei Ha-yeshu'a, p. 279) regarding the relationship between the names of Zion and Jerusalem is that Zion signifies the inheritance of the Fathers, whereas Jerusalem signifies the inheritance of the Sons. Jerusalem, then, perfectly embraces both aspects: the natural level of Yosef, the level of sanctity (Shekhem – Bet El), the inheritance of the Fathers, the aspect of Zion; and the chosen level of Yehuda – the level of permanence and kingdom (Hebron - Jerusalem), the inheritance of the Sons, the aspect of Jerusalem.


II.                                        THe selection of the city and the Mikdash


Two selections: the selection of the city and the selection of the place of the Mikdash


            As a direct continuation of what we said above, we argued that the process of the selection of the city and the Mikdash divided into two: human selection and Divine selection. The human selection involved the selection of the city of Jerusalem. The Divine selection is divided into two stages: at first, the selection of the place of the Mikdash; and later, following the establishment of the Mikdash, the selection of the entire city.


Human Selection


            We emphasized that David's selection of the city did not stem from his knowing the place of the Mikdash (or the place of the Akeida), nor was it accompanied by some revelation or connection of any sort to a prophet or a prophecy, or even a question posed to the Urim ve-Tumim. It was entirely a free-will-human-royal act coming from below, and in this lies its value and merit. Behind this choice stood considerations of state: the desire to solidify the tribes into a single nation. It was for this reason that immediately after having been crowned king over all of Israel, David chose Jerusalem, situated between Binyamin and Yehuda, out of a desire to put an end to the rivalry between them and through this choice represent all of the people of Israel through representatives of the descendants of Rachel and the descendants of Leah. The selection of the city stands on its own, and it is not by chance that through it the connection between David and Jerusalem became eternal; but it was not enough to allow the revelation of the location of the Mikdash.


            The next stage – the transition from the city to the Mikdash – also starts from below: "’But to the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes’ (Devarim 12:5) – seek it through a prophet. You might say that you should wait until a prophet tells you. Therefore the verse states: 'There shall you seek Him, at His dwelling, and there shall you come' (ibid.) – seek and find and afterwards the prophet will tell you" (Sifrei Devarim 62). And indeed, David sought God's place in a most diligent manner: the bringing up of the aron; the request to build God's house and the longings to locate its place despite the negative answer; the readiness to give up his life following the census and the plague; acquisition of the place with the money of all the tribes; designation of the spoils of war for the construction of the Mikdash; preparation of the plans, materials, craftsmen, and watches of kohanim and Levites. All these preparations (and according to Chazal, other things as well – digging the foundations, sanctifying the lower floor, and others) were made by David.


            The revelation of the location of the Mikdash in actual fact, in the aftermath of the census, the plague, and David's readiness to forfeit his life (his own life and that of his family's dynasty), was the first step which led to the construction itself, to the Divine selection of the city and the Mikdash. In order to start the construction itself, however, several things were necessary: a permanent monarchy, solidification of the nation, arousal to build (for this reason, David goaded Shelomo, his officers, and the entire people to speed up the preparations and construct the Mikdash, as a lesson learned from the plague, which afflicted the people, according to the Midrash and the Ramban, because they were not stirred up to build the Mikdash), rest from the enemies, and a situation of peace.


Divine Selection


            In the wake of the plague and David's readiness to surrender his life, the prophet Gad pointed out the place where an altar was to be erected. In this manner God's choice of the place is clarified and revealed to David. This is a prophetic act – based on the word of God. Here it is not David who chooses the place – he merely reveals God's choice. This is a fundamental point, which arises also in relation to the revelation of the place of the Akeida ("And offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of" [Bereishit 22:2]) and during the period of the Second Temple ("Three prophets came up with them from the Exile… and one testified to them about the place of the altar" [Zevachim 62a]). This is also repeatedly emphasized by the Torah in the expression, "The place that the Lord will choose," found throughout the book of Devarim. This has special significance in Devarim 12, where this principle distinguishes between the people of Israel and the other nations, who choose the places of their worship on their own. God's choice of the place is confirmed by the fire that descends from heaven and consumes the offering (as at the time of the dedication of the Mishkan [Vayikra 9:24] and at the time of the dedication of the FirstTemple [II Divrei Ha-yamim 7:1]). However, the Divine selection was not yet complete, for the Mikdash had not yet been constructed.


            In order that the Divine selection should be complete, it was necessary that the establishment of the monarchy and the Mikdash be complete. And indeed, only after the dedication of the house of the king and the house of God is the Divine selection of the city and the Mikdash within it complete. Only in the days of Shelomo, owing to the permanence of the royal dynasty and the construction of the city, the house of God and the house of the king surrounded by a single wall – only then is the Divine selection of the city that surrounds the Mikdash possible, with the spiritual significance of the selection of a mundane place that encompasses the place of the Mikdash. This selection of all of Jerusalem is maintained from the days of Shelomo until the days of Menasheh, when the selection of the city is removed in anticipation of the destruction of the Mikdash.


The significance of the selection process


            First of all, it would appear that the significance of God's selection of a city in which to rest His name is that in order that an entire people should be able to serve God in perfect manner, there must be a place in their heart, the entire essence of which is the relationship between their land and God. This is Jerusalem: a city chosen by God, and in its center, a Mikdash; this structure gives rise to circles of sanctity around the sanctified place.


The selection process teaches that human acts are what allow for the revelation of the Divine choice; the revelation of the place and its selection are conditioned on the strivings, longings and seeking of the people of Israel. In light of this, we well understand why the place remained hidden following the Akeida: the intentional concealment creates the obligation to seek God out and the possibility of conducting such a search. This also explains why the choice is formulated in future tense, both at the Akeida ("And Avraham called the name of that place 'The Lord will see'" Bereishit 22:14), and throughout the book of Devarim ("The place that the Lord will choose"). Even though the special qualities of the place were created already at the time of the Akeida, its selection depended upon human actions, and it was they that determined the timing of God's selection and its revelation.


III.                                      THe actions of the fathers are a sign for the Sons


The Torah makes allusions to (but does not explicitly discuss!) the future of Jerusalem and the Mikdash.


During his journey through the country, Avraham Avinu passed through Shekhem, between Bet-El and Ai, through Hebron, Jerusalem and MountMoriah. In this way, Avraham paved the way for his descendants, outlined it and prepared it for them. In the city of Jerusalem, Avraham met with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, and revealed the idea of justice, which is so essential to the city. At the Akeida, he reached MountMoriah, and there God revealed Himself to Him, by selecting the place. We have argued that the meeting with Malki-Tzedek paved the way for David's conquest of Jerusalem, whereas the Akeida paved the way for the establishment of the Mikdash on MountMoriah. In these stories, the Torah alludes to the future of Jerusalem; Bereishit 14 alludes to the connection between arrival in the city and the establishment of the monarchy, and to the connection between the city and the issue of justice; and Bereishit 22 alludes to the place of the future Mikdash and to the conditions for reaching it.


Besides the parallels between the places and the events occurring therein, there are also interesting parallels between the people and their actions. There are many parallels between Avraham in his two encounters with Jerusalem and David. The parallel between the revelation at the Akeida and the revelation at the threshing floor of Arvana were already spelled out in detail in one of our earlier lessons. Here we will bring several examples connected to Avram's meeting with Malki-Tzedek and the King of Sodom and its results:


1)                              Malki-Tzedek's desire to recognize Avram as king may perhaps parallel the surrender of the Yevusis (the nation that is usually mentioned last in the lists of the seven Canaanite nations) to David in Jerusalem (the last of the heathen cities in the central mountain massif to be conquered).

2)                              Malki-Tzedek's combination of priesthood and kingship is interesting. Tehillim 110:4 cites God's oath to David: "You shall be a minister (kohen) forever, after the manner of Malki-Tzedek." In this context, the meaning of the term kohen is "authority, as in 'And the sons of David were ministers of state' (II Shemuel 8:18)" (Rashi, ad loc.) The verse means to say as follows:


"You shall be a minister forever" – you (the king) will always minister before Me. The psalmist refers here to the king as "minister" (kohen) in order to allude, that like the priest so too the righteous king ministers to God, and his function is like the function of the kohen to raise the horn of Torah and guide the people in the fear of God and the performance of justice.[1] As the Rambam says in Hilkhot Melakhim 4:10: "And in everything his actions must be for the sake of heaven, and his objective and thought must be to raise up the true religion and fill the world with righteousness." (Da'at Mikra, ad loc.)


            There also exists a parallel between Avram's pursuit of the four kings and the return of the captives and the spoils of the war, on the one hand, and David's pursuit of the Amalekis while he was living in Tziklag. In addition to the substantive and linguistic parallels between the two accounts, there is also a similarity between the laws established by Avraham and David regarding the division of the spoils:


Although my servants took part in the battle, as it is stated: "He and his servant smote them" (Bereishit 14:15) – while Aner and his friends remained with the baggage to guard it, yet they may take their share. From him [= Avraham] David took a lesson, when he said (I Shemuel 30:24): "But as his part is that goes down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarries by the stuff; they shall share alike"; therefore, it goes on to say (ibid. 25): "And this had been so from that day and had been so from former times; therefore he made it a statute and an ordinance. It does not state "and henceforth," for the statute had already been ordained in the days of Avram. (Rashi, Bereishit 14:24, s.v. ha-ne'arim, based on Bereishit Rabba 43, 9)


            We have cited these examples in order to illustrate the words of the Ramban mentioned in the introductory lecture, that the actions of the Fathers are prophetic actions, and the places where they went and the actions that they performed have significance.


            Similarly, there are interesting parallels between the census conducted by David, the plague and the revelation of the location of the Mikdash, on the one hand, and the revelation to Yaakov at Bet-El, on the other. This similarity does not express itself merely in the essence of the events and their respective details. Yaakov's action left an impression upon the future Mikdash in the many times that it is mentioned in connection with the construction of the Temple. This corresponds to the essence of Yaakov: Yaakov who called it "house" (Pesachim 88a); Yaakov "whose bed was perfect" (Vayikra Rabba, 36) – the first patriarch whose descendants did not include any chaff, his entire family turning into the people of Israel for all generations.


In summary, we have demonstrated how Avraham's two encounters with Jerusalem – his meeting with Malki-Tzedek and the King of Sodom, and the revelation at the Akeida - parallel David's conquest of the city and the revelation of the location of the Mikdash in the wake of the census and the plague. The significance of these parallels for our purposes is that the road to Jerusalem – the course that passes through the cities of Shekhem, Bet-El and Ai, and Hebron, the conquest of the city, and the revelation of the location of the Mikdash on Mount Moriah – all these are already alluded to in the Torah. Avraham paved the way for his descendants after him and alluded to the future and nature of Jerusalem. This allusion does not dictate the path for future generations; the choice remains totally in their hands. But through their actions undertaken of their own free will they themselves reach the places that their forefathers had already visited. Thus, they do not "invent" these places, but rather they reveal them and provide them with renewed meaning. On the other hand, the goals established by our forefathers set before us the mission to continue in their path, in the sense of: "When shall my actions reach those of my forefathers."


IV.                                      the connection between topography and spiritual essence


When we say that a spiritual place has a nature and an essence of its own, we are arguing that essentially, the physical world and the spiritual situation are not cut off from each other, but rather they are connected and give expression one to the other.[2] We have tried to illustrate this principle in several areas of our discussion.


An examination of the topographical conditions of ancient Jerusalem teaches us that besides the advantages of proximity to a spring and relatively good defense (except to the north), the city is plagued by several disadvantages. It is far from the main road, and it lacks an agricultural hinterland that can supply its needs. These facts teach us that the reasons that brought David to choose the city were not topographical-geographical, but rather spiritual.


We have taken note of the unique location of the portion of Binyamin – "between the shoulders": between the centers of power in Israel, Yosef (Ephraim and Menasheh) and Yehuda. Binyamin merited being the portion of the Shekhina because of its ability to join all of the tribes into a single nation. We explained that the lower altitude in relation to the mountains of Ephraim to the north in the portion of Ephraim, and the mountains of Hebron to the south in the portion of Yehuda, hints that joining together strong and contradictory powers requires humility and lowliness.


God's choice of Jerusalem as the seat of His name raises the question why did God choose to reveal Himself in a low place. We demonstrated that this gives expression not only to God's humility, but also to His unlimited power – in contrast to idol worshippers, who choose the highest point as their place of worship, owing to their material understanding of their deities. We also suggested that in the future, there will no longer be a gap between the physical and spiritual realities, and that the highest physical place will also be the highest and most important spiritual place.


As for the climate, we explained that the city's proximity to the desert was meant to demonstrate its dependency upon rain, and thus its close connection to the word of God; Jerusalem must be the city of justice, and when that does not happen, it itself is liable to turn into a desert (Yishayahu 64:9). On the other hand, in the future, the city will be able, owing to the Mikdash therein, to revive the desert and the Dead Sea by way of the living waters that will flow forth from the Mikdash. Thus the unity of the world will become revealed, for it will become clear that even the most distant point receives its vitality from the Mikdash.


The city's distance from the main road alludes that this city may be reached only at the end. This was the case with the course of Avraham – through Shekhem, Bet-El and Ai, and Hebron – even though he passed by Jerusalem many times, he never set up his camp there. And, so too regarding his descendents who only captured the city 400 years after their entry into the land. The significance of this is that in order to reach Jerusalem and the Mikdash, much preparation is required: Unity among the tribes and their solidification under the leadership of a king, yearning, seeking out the place, etc. The more elevated something is, the greater the preparations needed for its attainment; and Jerusalem and the Mikdash are the most sublime places.


During the days of Shelomo two additional points arise in the realm of topography:


1)                             The bamot devoted to idolatry are located "on the right hand of the Mount of Corruption" (II Melakhim 23:13). Shelomo selects the place both because of its height (as is characteristic of idolatry), and because it faces the direction of the sun – the primal and central idolatry in ancient times. These two things constitute an essential contradiction to the Mikdash, which as has been mentioned is situated in a relatively low place and faces west ("the Shekhina is in the west") – in opposition to sun worship and as a symbol of the prostration of the entire creation (represented by the shining of the luminaries) westward, in the direction of the Mikdash.


2)                             Location of the house of the king and the Milo: above the city and at the foot of the house of God. The proximity of the house of the king to the house of God provides great hope - if the king interprets this proximity out of humility, and sees himself as a reflection of the King, the King of kings, and as His agent in all matters, as it is stated regarding the mitzva falling upon a king to write a Torah scroll: "And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes to do them." (Devarim 17:19). This location, however, involves a very great risk. On the one hand, inappropriate proximity to the house of God, scorn for it, and control over it; on the other hand – a feeling of superiority towards the people, in opposition to the Torah's command, "that his heart not be lifted up above his brethren" (ibid. v. 20). This symbolic location – above the city, that is, above the people, and below the house of God, that is, below God – demonstrates the significance of the issues of the authorities of the king and his power, his strength and his limitations.


In conclusion, let us briefly note the topographical elements that we made reference to in the course of our discussion of the cities through which Avraham passed in his journeys across the land. Shekhem, the northernmost of these cities and the capital of the descendents of Yosef, is located between MountGerizim and MountEval, a location befitting its essence as a gate city – as a transit point between outside and inside. Hebron, the southernmost of these cities, is situated in the heart of the Hebronmountains, at a high altitude and in the center of the tribal portion, as befits a royal city. Between the two, near the borders of the portion of Binyamin, are found Jerusalem and Bet-El.


V.                                         THen and Now


We have argued that the course taken by the Fathers and the Sons in Eretz Yisrael until they finally reached Jerusalem is similar to the course taken in our day.


The very late interest in Jerusalem shown by the Zionist movement, many years after the settling of other parts of Eretz Yisrael, parallels the late arrival of Avraham to Jerusalem and the Jewish people's late arrival there in the days of David, some 400 years after the initial conquest of the land.


Reaching the Old City of Jerusalem in national unity parallels the united efforts of King Malki-Tzedek and the King of Sodom to crown Avram as king, and David's arrival in Jerusalem immediately following his ascent to the throne as king over all of Israel in Hebron, with the intention of unifying the tribes, especially Yehuda and Binyamin.


And finally, handing over the TempleMount to the Muslim wakf immediately after the Six Day War[3] parallels the fact that Avraham did not return to the place after the Akeida and that the threshing floor was left in the hands of Arvana the Yevusi after the conquest of the city in the days of David.


If we are correct, we find ourselves now, after having returned to the city of Jerusalem, at the foot of the mountain; in order to merit returning to the mountain and revealing the place anew, we must once again seek it with total devotion, as was the case in the days of Avraham and David. As we find in the words of Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi at the end of the Kuzari, in the passage with which we opened this lecture series:


As it is written: "You shall arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favor her, yea, the set time is come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones and embrace the dust thereof" (Tehillim 102:14-15). This means that Jerusalem can only be rebuilt when Israel yearns for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and dust.


            However, in addition to the devotion, what is necessary is the unity of the Jewish people and a situation of rest, peace and tranquility that will allow for the construction. For this we must act and pray.




            It is our intention, with God's help, and beli neder, to continue this lecture series next year. We shall begin with the days of David and Shelomo, and with a detailed discussion of the various issues connected to their rule in Jerusalem; we shall continue with the period of Chizkiyahu; we shall examine the reasons for the destruction of the first and second Mikdash; and we shall conclude with the return to Eretz Yisrael and the construction of the second Mikdash, trying to understand the reasons that the Shekhina did not rest upon it.


"The Lord shall bless you out of Zion, and you shall see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life" (Tehillim 128:5).




[1] As it is stated: "And David executed judgment and justice to all his people" (II Shemuel 8:15).


[2] There are those who dismiss this type of occupation in the connection between topography and spiritual essence, whether because of a fundamental attitude that separates the two realms, or because they see this as homiletic interpretation that does not follow from the plain sense of the verses. In our humble opinion, in Eretz Yisrael in general and in Jerusalem in particular, all of reality is one – the material, physical side reveals and gives expression to the spiritual reality – and therefore the study of the geographical and topographical elements allow for the revelation of the fullness of reality in all its aspects. This issue is very wide and comprehensive, and we cannot discuss it at great length in this context.


[3] It is not our intention to deal here with the political aspects of the situation, but rather with the spiritual meaning of the events.


(Translated by David Strauss)


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