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July 20, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.

My Sunday School class has been studying Ezra.  Last week we read the Sixth chapter where the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem is constructed for the second time and dedicated for worship.  It took a while.  The first group of Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity in about the year 537 BC.  The Temple was not finished until 516 BC, seventy years after it was destroyed by the Babylonians.  So it took over twenty years to get the job done.  My point is that this is around 516 years before the birth of Jesus and 1086 years before the birth of Mohammed.

There is a rumor spreading around the world that Jerusalem is a Moslem city.  I would not take this seriously but for the fact that there are too many people who seem to believe it and it has serious religious and political ramifications.   Jerusalem has been a Jewish city since David conquered it in about 1000 BC and gave it its present name.  It has never been the capital of any people except the Jews, although it has been conquered by many different empires.  It has always remained the center of Jewish life.  When the Jews were permitted to return to their land by Cyrus of Persia they returned to Jerusalem.  Both Cyrus and later Darius wanted the Temple rebuilt so that the Jews could pray for the king and his family.

Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in Koran.  Under the Ottomans it was allowed to become a neglected backwater of the empire.  In 1611 George Sandys, son of the Archbishop of York, wrote of the Jews living in the Old City of Jerusalem, “And in this land they (the Jews) live as strangers…open to all oppression and deprivation, which they bear with patience beyond all belief, despised and beaten.  In spite of this, I never saw a Jew with an angry face.”  During the period of the Ottomans no one else wanted to live in Jerusalem but the Jews, who believed God would meet them in Zion.

Only in 1948 were the Jews expelled by the Jordanians from the Old City of Jerusalem.  Forty-eight synagogues were destroyed and desecrated.  The Horvah Synagogue which was built in the early eighteenth century, before the United States was born, was turned into rubble, and has only been rebuilt within the last few years.  The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated and many of the tombstones used to pave latrines.  Since Jerusalem was recaptured in 1967 the Jewish quarter of the Old City has been restored.  My first visit to Jerusalem was in 1969 after the city had been reunited.

Since the year 1840 the Jewish population of Jerusalem has been in the majority.  It was in 1860 that the first Jewish quarter was built outside the Old City.  On July 15, 1889 The Pittsburgh Dispatch reported that “Thirty thousand out of the 40,000 people in Jerusalem are Jews…at present the Jews are coming here by the hundreds. “

As a Christian I visit Israel to “walk where Jesus walked.”  It is trite, but it is also an enormous privilege.  Only Israel has a superb record of protecting the holy places of all faiths, and in Jerusalem all religions are accorded proper respect, at least by Israel.  In the Middle East the only place where the Christian population is growing is in Israel.

Jerusalem is a Jewish city and has been for millennia.  The History revisers cannot change the facts.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs