Significance of the Name "Jerusalem"

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Jerusalem in the Bible
Yeshivat Har Etzion


Shiur #11: Significance of the Name "Jerusalem"

 

By Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            So far we have examined the biblical description of the significance of the road to Jerusalem and the spiritual essence of the city as arising from the hints appearing in the Torah. Now we will turn our attention to the significance of the name "Jersalem (Yerushalayim)."

 

1. Rabbinical Sources

 

A. In the Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 26, 10), we read:

 

"Avraham called it [the place] 'Yir'eh,' as it is written, 'Avraham called the name of that place Hashem Yir'eh.' Shem called it 'Shalem,' as it is written, 'Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem.' The Holy One said: If I call the place 'Yir'eh,' as Avraham called it, then Shem – a righteous man – will be offended. If I call it 'Shalem,' then Avraham – a righteous man – will be offended. So I shall call it "Yerushalayim," as both of them called it: [Yir'eh] Shalem – Yerushalayim."

 

            The Midrash explains that the name of the city is actually made up of two names, based on Avrham's two distinct encounters with the city: his meeting with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem (Bereishit 14), and the story of the Akeida (Bereishit 22).

 

            From the Midrash, it arises that the name of the city is formed as a result of two different events. In other words, the character of the city is a combination of two different qualities. Aside from this, from the language of the Midrash we learn that the Holy One tried, as it were, to join these two qualities together and to integrate them into the same place. In order for Jerusalem to exist, these two meanings must be unified.

 

            Different interpretations may be attached to this name combination, pointing to different ways of understanding the character of the city and the combination of its two elements. We shall attempt, in this shiur, to present the various understandings of the two elements of the city and the nature of the unity that they create.

 

B. The above Midrash appears in rabbinical sources in several versions:

 

"Avraham called the name of that place 'Hashem Yir'eh': Two righteous people gave it [the city] two [different] names: Shem called it 'Shalem,' Avraham called it 'Yir'eh.' The Holy One said: to cancel either of them is impossible, so I shall join them together and call it 'Yerushalem' – 'Yir'eh shalem' ("He shall see its perfection"), with a 'vav' instead of the 'alef' and 'heh.' What is the meaning of "yir'eh"? THIS IS A PLACE OF AWE (yir'a) AND SERVICE OF GOD." (Midrash Ha-gadol, Bereishit 22:14).

 

The Midrash Ha-gadol adds two new pieces of information:

 

1. The word "yir'eh" is understood as "yeru" – the first letters of the name "Yerushalayim." In other words, the letter vav ("u" sound) in "YerUshalayim" replaces the letters heh and alef in "yir'EH" – which is confirmed by the numerical value of these letters: vav (6) = alef (1) + heh (5) [1].

2. The word "yir'eh" is understood in the sense of a place of awe ("yir'a") and service of God.

 

C. "We find that the Temple is called 'Shalem,' as it is written:

 

"Malkit-Tzedek, King of Shalem," and this was Shem, son of Noach… Avraham called the [place of the] Temple 'Yir'eh,' as it is written, 'Avraham called the name of that place 'Hashem Yir'eh.' The Holy One said: If I call it 'Shalem,' as Shem did, I will be nullifying the words of my beloved Avraham, who called it 'Yir'eh.' If I call it 'Yir'eh,' I shall be nullifying the words of the righteous Shem, who called it 'Shalem.'" What did the Holy One do? He joined together the names that each had given: Avraham called it 'Yir'eh,' Shem called it 'Shalem,' and the Holy One called it 'Yerushalayim.' Thus: 'His Tabernacle is in Shalem.' And what is Yerushalayim? 'Yir'eh' and 'Shalem.'" (Midrash Tehillim, 76).

 

This Midrash is formulated in almost exactly the same way as that in Bereishit Rabba, but deals with the Temple rather than the city.

 

D. Midrash Eikha Rabba (2,198) comments on the verse, "What shall I compare to you, O daughter, Jerusalem?" (Eikha 2:13) as follows:

 

"O daughter, Jerusalem – daughter who is awe and perfect in My eyes. Rabbi Yitzchak taught: The Holy One said, 'When you are 'awe,' you are perfect in My eyes.'"

 

The author of the Torah Temima explains:

 

"O daughter, Jerusalem – who was awe and perfect in My eyes. This may be derived from the Aramaic, meaning 'giving over,' in the same way that we translate "God has surrendered them" (Devarim 32:30) – 'God delivered them.' And in Chagiga 5a, "mashlim leh la-domeh" – in other words, giving him up. The meaning is that it [the city] feared (was in awe of) Me and was perfect in My eyes, for it was always devoted to Me – "you devoted yourself to Me.""

 

In this Midrash the name "Jerusalem" is explained differently: "yir'a" (awe) and "shleimut" (perfection) ('shalem' from the word "mushlemet" – perfect). When the city has awe and fear of God, it is perfect. In other words, "yir'a" (awe) is the path towards "shleimut" (perfection).

 

E. The Yalkut Shimoni, on Tehillim 76, offers a similar explanation for the Midrash in Bereishit Rabba, but concludes with the words: "…So I shall call it the same as what both of them called it: yerushalayimyir'eh SHALOM" (He shall see peace).

 

In other words, this Midrash derives the suffix "shalem" from the word "shalom" – peace.

 

* * *

 

            From all of the above versions, it arises that the two aspects of the city combine to create a single wholeness. This also explains the suffix of the name, yerushalAYIM" – a suffix indicating a pair.

 

            Jerusalem is two that are actually one. Rabbeinu Bechaye, commenting on Bamidbar 19:3, explains the verse in Tehillim (122:2), "Jerusalem built up like a city that has been joined together" as follows: "This is the secret of the etymology of the name "yerushalayim," indicating two – like "einayim" (two eyes), "oznayim" (two ears), and so on."

 

2. Written one way, read a different way

 

            Yerushalayim appears 667 times in Tanakh, 641 times in Hebrew and 26 times in Aramaic. Out of the 641 appearances in Hebrew, the name is written only five times in full, with the yud – "yerushalAYim"; everywhere else it appears as "yerushalem" – without the yud.

 

            Ba'alei ha-Tosafot (Ta'anit 15a) comment: "The whole name is 'Yerushalem,' named after 'Shalem.' Therefore we do not place a yud between the lamed and the mem, in accordance with the name 'Shalem.' And the mountain is called 'moriah,' named for the 'Torah.'"

 

            In other words, the omission of the yud is meant to preserve the integrity of the name 'Shalem' [2].

 

            Rabbeinu Behaye, commenting on Bamidbar 19:13, adds the following: "The letter "yud" that is missing represents the Temple on High, which is the final "heh" of God's Name [the Tetragrammaton]. Therefore the name "Yerushalayim," written in full [with the "yud"] appears five ("heh) times in Tanakh – hinting that the "heh" is added to it at the time of its completion and perfection."

 

            Many other sources allude to these two aspects of Yerushalayim – the supernal, heavenly "Jerusalem on High," and the physical, terrestrial "lower Jerusalem." Midrash Tanchuma, on Parashat Pekudei, teaches: "We find that [the name] "Jerusalem" refers to the higher [city] just as it does to the terrestrial Jerusalem. Out of God's great love for Jerusalem on earth, He created another one above, in the heavens… Thus David says, 'Jerusalem that is built up (ha-benuya) is like a city that has been joined together': i.e., 'like a city that is built by God" (ke-ir she-banah kah)…' [3].

 

            If, indeed, the combination of both names is meant to indicate a merging of the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly city, we may propose that Avraham, in the Akeida, represents the heavenly Jerusalem, while his encounter with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, represents the earthly Jerusalem.

 

            In any event, in most places the name "Yerushalayim" is written without a yud, such that it is written "Yerushalem" but pronounced "Yerushalayim." Perhaps this may be meant to teach us that Jerusalem is comprised of two that are one, AND IT IS SPECIFICALLY THESE TWO ASPECTS JOINED TOGETHER THAT CREATE THE COMPLETE REALTIY OF THE CITY.

Let us look at some ways of explaining the combination of these two aspects [4].

 

3. Yerushalayim – 'yir'a' and 'shalom'

 

            Rav Yehuda Shaviv proposes, in one of his articles [5], that the significance of the name Jerusalem is the combination of "yir'a" (awe) and "shalom" (peace). It should be pointed out that the verses speak of the names "Yir'eh" and "Shalem," but – as we have seen – the Midrash Ha-gadol treats the word "yir'eh" as "yir'a," and the Yalkut Shimoni on Tehillim 76 explains "Shalem" as "shalom."

 

            Rav Shaviv notes that the relationship between Kohelet and Shir Ha-shirim is like the relationship between 'yir'a' and 'shalom.' He explains that awe and peace are two values whose role is to preserve and give meaning to the substance of our lives.

 

            "Yir'a," by its very definition, implies distance; "shalom," in contrast, implies by its very definition connectedness and closeness. In this sense, the combination of both concepts is the unification of two opposite traits.

 

            In addition, Rav Shaviv writes, Shem sees the city from the perspective of its ultimate purpose – the peace that is concealed in it – and therefore he calls it "Shalem." Avraham also perceives the future purpose of the city as a city of peace, but he knows that the road to the fulfillment of this ultimate end will be a long one, and therefore he views himself as someone walking on the road towards Jerusalem, and he gives the place a name that projects into the future: "Hashem Yir'eh" – God will see. In this sense, there is a joining of present and future - actual perfection and potential destiny.

 

            We may add to what Rav Shaviv writes as follows. "Yir'a" is one of the loftiest traits in the relationship between man and God, and its manifestation at the place of the Temple is obvious. "Shalom," on the other hand, is one of the most supreme traits in the relationship between man and his fellow man; its manifestation in Jerusalem and the Temple is likewise easily understood [6]. It is interesting that a Midrash in Vayikra Rabba (9,9) teaches: "Rabbi Yudan, son of Rabbi Yossi, taught: Great is peace (shalom), for God's Name is called 'Shalom,' as it is written (Shoftim 6:24), 'He called Him Hashem Shalom.' According to this understanding, the name "Yerushalayim" hints at God's Name – "shalem," in the sense of "shalom." What arises from this is that the city that represents God's Presence and His Providence in the world includes, in its name, a hint at God's Name.

 

4. Yerushalayim – seeing, existence, and perfection

 

            Rav Eliyahu Yedid, in his article [7], makes a connection between the two different elements of the name of the city, on one hand, and the different qualities of Shem, son of Noach, and Avraham, on the other. Avraham, epitomizing the quality of "chessed" – kindness – called the place "Yir'eh." This alludes to "seeing the Divine Presence" – which is the basis of the very existence of the world. Therefore it is from Jerusalem – the place where man sees the Divine Presence – that abundant blessing descends to all the world.

 

            Shem did not pray for the people of his generation to cause them to repent, and from this we learn that his essential trait is that of "din" – strict judgment. When Shem calls the place "Shalem," he expresses the idea that not everyone will enjoy God's abundant blessing, but only those people who are "shelemim" – spiritually perfect. In this sense Jerusalem is the combination of "chessed" and "din."

 

            Concerning the prophecy of Yishayahu (54:12) regarding Jerusalem at the end of days, "I shall make battlements of rubies," the Gemara comments (Bava Batra 75a):

 

"Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani said: Two angels disputed in the heavens – Gavriel and Mikhael; they said: There are two Sages in the West (Eretz Yisrael), and who are they? Yehuda and Chizkiyahu, sons of Rabbi Chiya. One says "Shoham," the other says "Yishpa." The Holy One said: Correct, and correct."

 

The Maharal, in his Chiddushei Agadot, comments that in the future, the Holy One will rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in accordance with the views of both of them: "Michael, who is appointed over goodness, kindness and merit, says that the form of the holy city should indicate a city of goodness, cleaving to kindness and goodness, and therefore the wall of shoham (a type of stone), for shoham is white, a color indicating kindness and goodness… and Gavriel, who represents strict judgment, says that the nature of the place is yishpa, which is a color representing strict justice… And since the Holy One includes everything, both strict justice and kindness… the Holy One gives it [the city] an all-embracing quality, such that it includes everything."

 

            The significance of Jerusalem as unifying "chessed" and "din" is a very broad subject. Here we have seen one expression of it, as a continuation of the nature of the two people who gave Yerushalayim its name – Avraham, the man of chessed, and Malki-Tzedek, representing the trait of strict justice (din).

 

            Avraham drew the Divine Presence down earthward, while Malki-Tzedek is "priest to the Supreme God" – Who transcends any human understanding. The Holy One joins together these two opposite aspects of the city, and the beauty of Jerusalem reflects the unification of external and internal opposites.

 

5. Jerusalem – city of Divine choice and city of peace

 

            Rav Mordekhai Breuer [8], in an article about Jerusalem, addresses two episodes that we have addressed at length in previous shiurim, involving Avraham: his encounter with Malki-Tzedek and the story of the Akeida.

 

            The story of the Akeida gives expression to the Divine selection of Jerusalem as the place representing the ideal of Divine service. The Divine service of the Akeida is the antithesis of pagan worship, which finds its most extreme expression in human sacrifice to Molekh. From this perspective, Jerusalem expresses the perfect manifestation of the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND GOD.

 

            In the encounter with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, Jerusalem is depicted as the city of justice and the dwelling place of peace; the place where righteousness and justice are maintained. In this sense Jerusalem stands as the antithesis to the evil and outcry of Sodom. In other words, Jerusalem expresses the perfect manifestation of the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND HIS FELLOW MAN.

 

            Rav Breuer explains that both aspects of the city are also expressed through the two kings that built it: David and Shelomo. David represents the aspect of "re'iya" and "yir'a," while Shelomo embodies the manifestation of "shalom."

 

These different manifestations of the city are also expressed in the verses that describe it:

 

"Yir'a" – "Shelomo began to build the House of God in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, where God had appeared to his father, David…" (II Divrei Ha-yamim 3:1);

And "Shalom" – "Behold, so the man shall be blessed who fears God: May God bless you from Zion, and may you see the goodness of Jerusalem all the days of your life, and may you see your children's children – peace upon Israel."

 

6. Jerusalem – Refinement of intellectual concepts and perfection of character traits

 

            The Meshekh Chokhma, in his commentary on the Akeida (Bereishit 22:14), explains the Midrash Chazal and the name "Jerusalem" in an entirely different way:

 

Shem lived in the generation of the Flood; he was in the ark, and he fed and sustained all the creatures that were there in the ark – the main purpose being to correct the traits and actions that were corrupt, for "all flesh had corrupted its way" (6:12), "the land was filled with violence" (6:13), and his whole challenge was to repair the traits and characteristics of all the creatures. And this is the meaning of "Shalem" – which indicates that all of humankind is one person, and every individual is one organ in the collective man, and each needs the other, each influences and is influenced by the other, and all of them together maintain the existence of humankind and its eternity. But Avraham inquired deeply into wisdom, and studied all the ways of those who are mistaken, and argued with them, and concluded through his intelligence that there is One God Who watches over everything, and Who never conveyed His supervision to the heavenly bodies, as the idolators believe… and this is the meaning of the words, "Of which it is said this day, 'on the mountain that God will choose'" – i.e., that God's Divinity will be revealed when all flesh sees the glory of God through private miracles. AND BEHOLD, JERUSALEM IS BUILT ON BOTH OF THESE THINGS; I.E., TO REFINE THE CONCEPTS, WHICH EXIST ESSENTIALLY IN THE MIND, AND TO REPAIR AND BEAUTIFY THE CHARACTER TRAITS, WHICH EXIST ESSENTIALLY IN THE HEART. And this is reflected in the teaching of the Sages (Berakhot 8,1): "A person should always enter [the distance of] two entrances, and [only] then pray" – this refers to the mind and the heart. Therefore Jerusalem is "the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth" (Eikha 2:15); "there the tribes (the tribes of God) went up, to praise God's Name" (Tehillim 122:4), for both the traits and the intellectual concepts are refined and purified in Jerusalem. AND THEREFORE IT IS CALLED "YERUSHALAYIM" – FOR BOTH OF THESE ACTIONS."

 

The Meshekh Chokhma, who views the reality of Jerusalem as one of complete perfection, explains the Midrash as clarifying the perfection and wholeness of Jerusalem as the perfection of both the heart and the mind – both character traits and intellectual principles and concepts.

 

            Shem, son of Noach, is identified by Chazal as Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem. Shem's mission in the ark was to repair the corruption of character that brought about the Flood, and hence we learn that his primary trait is the aspiration towards the perfection of character.

 

Avraham investigated and clarified – intellectually – the truth of faith and Divine Providence by disproving the words of the pagans.

 

Shem is essentially involved in repair of the heart; Avraham is essentially involved in repair of the mind, the intellect.

 

            The tikkun that is achieved in Jerusalem is the unification of "refinement of intellectually concepts, which exist essentially in the mind, and perfection of character traits, which exist essentially in the heart." It is in allusion to these two aspects of perfection that Jerusalem is given its name.

 

7. Jerusalem and the Temple

 

            Let us explore the significance of the concepts comprising the name "Jerusalem" on the basis of a literal reading of the relevant verses.

Avram comes to meet Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, and the King of Sodom, on his own initiative. The meeting takes place in one of the valleys in the Jerusalem environs, and its subject is kingship and justice. The kings want to coronate Avram as king over them, but he refuses. In this meeting Avram chooses to align himself with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, and to reject any connection with or obligation to the King of Sodom.

 

            Avraham comes to the Akeida by Divine command. Not only is the initiative not his own, but even the exact place is indicated to him by God. The Akeida takes place on Mount Moriah – not inside the city itself. The subject of the Akeida is a Divine revelation to Avraham, the selection of the site of the Temple, and a manifestation of God's Kingship.

 

            We propose that a study of these two episodes suggests that there is a distinction between the city and the Temple. The city is revealed – through the encounter with its king – as the city of justice (as opposed to Sodom), and as a place where the kings unite to coronate Avraham over them. Jerusalem is manifest here as a place of earthly kingship.

 

            The place of the Temple, on Mount Moriah, is revealed through the absolute selflessness of Avraham. Avraham fears God, and by virtue of this awe there is a Divine revelation, a sacrifice is offered, and the place of God's Kingship is revealed.

 

            We propose to establish that "Yir'eh" is actually the name of the place of the Temple, while "Shalem" is the name of the city Jerusalem. The essence of Jerusalem is the place that joins the capital city, the place of earthly kingship with justice as a necessary condition for its existence, and the site of the Temple, which is the place of God's Kingship and His revelation, which appears by virtue of selflessness and fear of God.

 

            This view also serves to explain the location of the city on the border between Yehuda and Binyamin. Yehuda represents earthly kingship, Binyamin – the portion of the Divine Presence. The significance of Jerusalem is thereby established for all future generations: the city represents the kingship of David over all of Israel, while the Temple represents the place of God's Kingship in the world, His Providence and His revelation.

 

            Through its name, Jerusalem hints at the fundamental connection between the two parts of the city: if justice is absent from the city, the Holy One will not want His Presence to rest there. An expression of this idea is to be found in the prophecy of Yishayahu, Chapter 1. The prophet declares that God is not interested in offerings and sacrifices that are "trampling My courts." Later on in the chapter, he describes the corruption of its leaders as obscuring the image of the city as a place of justice.

 

            The perfect reality that will allow the full revelation of the qualities of Jerusalem is composed of both elements. On one hand, justice and righteousness, unity and peace – which will facilitate the establishment of earthly kingship in the capital city; on the other hand – awe and a proper relationship between man and God, which will facilitate the full revelation of God's Presence resting in His Temple; only by virtue of this will the kingship over the city be successful [9].

 

8. "Yir'eh" precedes "Shalem"

 

            The explanation that we have proposed for the name "Jerusalem" gives rise to another question: according to the order of the biblical narratives, the aspect of "shalem" precedes the aspect of "yir'eh"/"yir'a." Why, then, is the order reversed in the actual name of the city?

 

            This question becomes even more pressing against the background of our assumption that the chronological order also expresses a fundamental hierarchy. Despite the fact that the human choice of the city precedes the Divine choice, in the name of the city the order is reversed…

 

            We may explain that the name of the city refers to its perfected, ultimate purpose. From the perspective of its ultimate purpose, the aspect of Avraham the Hebrew is higher – takes precedence over – the aspect of Malki-Tzedek, who represents the nations of the world [10].

 

            Another possibility is that the order of the names demonstrates that the city itself – an earthly location – acquires its unique status by virtue of the Temple that is located within it. A perfect, whole city – including within it the Temple and the city of kingship – is fundamentally influenced by the Temple that is built at its heart [11].

 

            If this is so, we have presented different understandings of the significance of the name "Jerusalem," based on the Midrash that teaches that the name is a composite of the essence of two encounters experienced by Avraham. We have quoted a number of opinions as to what these two aspects are.

 

9. External and scholarly sources

 

            Aside from the teachings of Chazal that explain the essence of the city and its internal character throughout the generations, various academic scholars have attempted to define the source and roots of the name.

 

A. Appearance of the name in external sources

            Jerusalem appears for the first time in external sources in the Egyptian "execration texts," written on shards of pottery and dating to the mid-nineteenth century B.C.E. (twelfth dynasty), with a list of cities, provinces and tribes in Eretz Yisrael and Syria. The name also appears in a later collection of execration texts (end of 19th – beginning of 18th century B.C.E.), written on papyri and includes long lists of the cities of rule, provinces, regions, and tribes in Eretz Yisrael and the neighboring lands. The name of the city, or province, of Jerusalem is "Rushalimum."

 

            The first appearance of the name in hieroglyphics occurs in the Amarna letters, dating to the first half of the 14th century B.C.E. Here the city is called "Urusalim," and the reference once again is to the province and the city.

 

            In the Old Testament the city is called Jerusalem, and likewise in Assyrian texts, in the writings of Sanheriv – Urusilimmu [12]. In the Septuagint the city is called "Yerussalymu."

 

B. Meaning of the name in academic scholarship

            Some scholars have theorized that the root of the name is to be found in the Sumarean name for "settlement" or "city," but Mazar [13] rejects this possibility. He suggests that the name is a Semitic-western one, originated in the root "y-r-h" (Iyov 38:6 – "Who laid (yarah) its foundation stone?"). A similar name appears in II Divrei Ha-yamim 20:16 – "the wilderness of Yeruel."

 

            As to the second part of the name, scholars maintain that this was the name of the western semitic god, Shalem, who also featured in the national pantheon in the form Shalim, and among the Assyrians – Shulimanu. This god was known as both the god of the dawn and of the realm of the dead, and as the god of health [15]. According to this understanding, the combination of "yeru" – meaning foundation, and "shalem" – the Canaanite city, represents the source of the name Yerushalayim.

 

Summary

 

            In this shiur we have examined the significance of the name Jerusalem.

            The common view prevalent among Chazal is that the city embodies two aspects, based upon Avram's encounter with Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem, and the Akeida.

 

            Based on Chazal's teaching, we presented various understandings of the essence of the city and its character, as expressed both in Avraham himself and in the history of the city throughout the generations.

 

            It should be noted that Jerusalem has several other names (the Midrash teaches that it has seventy names), and our discussion here concerns only its principle name – Jerusalem. Obviously, every other name of the city has its own significance.

 

We have now concluded our exploration of the hints to the essence of the city in Sefer Bereishit.

 

            To complement our discussion thus far, we next shiur will be devoted to the expression, "the place that God will choose."

 

Notes:

[1] Several of the Rishonim comment on the numerical value of the name. A comment attributed to Rashi on the Midrash  states, "'yeru,' in gematria, is [the same as] 'yir'eh,' and the Rosh, in his book Hadar Zekeinim, teaches: "yir'ehalef + heh is numerically equivalent to vav; thus 'yeru-shalem.' For 'Yerushalem' is a complete word."

[2] Some sources have tried to suggest that in its destruction, Jerusalem is referred to without the yud, while in its future rebuilding it will be called "Yerushalayim" with a yud. This is an interesting view, but the verses in which the name of the city appears in full do not provide support for it.

[3] See also the Gemara in Ta'anit 12a, Ta'anit 5a, Yerushalmi Berakhot 4,5 and Mekhilta Beshalach 10, etc.

[4] The Gemara in Arakhin 32b teaches: "There were two Jerusalems." Midrash Tadshe, Kovetz Beit ha-Midrash, Yaelinek Publishers edition III, Sifrei Vahrman, Jerusalem 5727 (quoted in Da'at Mikra on Yehoshua 15:63, note 158), describes Jerusalem as follows: "Jerusalem was two cities – one heavenly one and one earthly one. The heavenly one fell to the lot of Binyamin, while the earthly one fell to the lot of Yehuda." In other words, according to this Midrash, there are – geographically speaking – two parts of the city, belonging to two separate tribes. We shall not elaborate here on the Midrash, for we shall address it further in a shiur on Jerusalem during the period of the conquest and settlement of the land, but this nevertheless represents yet another way of understanding the two aspects of the city – in terms of a physical and tribal division.

[5] Rav Yehuda Shaviv, "Yerushalayim U-Mashma'uyoteiha," Shema'atin 113, p. 94 onwards.

[6] For example, Tehillim 122:6 – "Seek the welfare (lit. "peace") of Jerusalem; let those who love you prosper. May there be peace in your walls, tranquility in your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and friends I say, 'Peace be within you.'" Likewise we find an interpretation of the name "Shelomo" in I Divrei Ha-yamim 22:9 – "Behold, a son will be born to you; he will be a man of tranquility, and I will give him rest from all his enemies around, for his name will be 'Shelomo' ('peace unto him'), and I shall give peace and quiet to Israel in his days…."

[7] Rav Eliyahu Yadid, "Yerushalayim," Shema'atin, 111-112, 5757.

[8] Rav Mordekhai Breuer, in his book "Pirkei Mo'adot," Chorev Publications, Jerusalem 5746, vol. II, pp. 327-346.

[9] In the future shiurim we will try to demonstrate the interesting parallel in both aspects of Jerusalem between the period of Avraham and the period of David.

[10] Some commentators see this as the uniqueness of Jerusalem: it is the place that joins the unique faith of Am Yisrael with the general faith of the nations of the world – a hint at the prophetic vision of all the nations of the world coming to recognize, in the future, the Kingship of God (for example, Yishayahu 2; Mikha 4, etc.).

[11] In the Mishna (Kelim 1,6 onwards), Chazal refer to Jerusalem as "inside the wall, because consecrated foods of lesser sanctity, and ma'aser sheni, may be eaten there." The definition of the city is based on its connection with the Temple. Likewise, the parallel that Chazal draw between the camp of Israel in the desert and Jerusalem, between the camp of the Leviim and the Temple Mount, and between the camp of the Divine Presence (the innermost area of the camp, where the Mishkan rests) and the Temple courtyard, defines three levels of increasing sanctity, by means of which the status of Jerusalem is determined around the Temple Mount and the Temple courtyard. We shall dwell on this point at greater length in a shiur about "the place that God will choose."

[12] Shraga Setrage introduces an interesting idea in this context (Megadim 20): In the writings of Sancheriv, Jerusalem appears as "Ur sa lim mu," with the assumption that the prefix "Ur" means, in Acadian, "city." In Yishayahu 31:9, we find a verse that reads: "…says God, Whose hearth is in Zion ("ur lo be-Tzion") and His furnace in Jerusalem." Setrage posits that Yishayahu chooses to make use of the Assyrian name of Yerushalayim. In this way the prophet means to tell the King of Assyria: You think that Jerusalem is a city like any other, but know that this "ur" (meant here in the Assyrian sense – "city") will be revealed to you as an "ur" – a hearth – as God's fire which will protect Jerusalem.

[14] "Jerusalem From Its Beginnings Until the Destruction of the First Temple," Sefer Yerushalayim, 5716, p. 100.

[15] Cassuto, "Jerusalem in the Books of the Torah," Eretz Yisrael (5714), pp. 15-17.

 

Translated by Kaeren Fish