The city of Jerusalem’s history traces back to 5,000 years back, which its relevant across the religions; Christianity, Judaism and Muslim. For the Christians, Jerusalem is where death and resurrection of Jesus took place, for the Jews it symbolizes the temple whereas the Muslims is a symbol, for the Prophet’s journey to heaven. Evidently, Jerusalem serves as a holy symbol to almost three quarter of the world today (Masumder & Sanjoy 386). For Christians, apart from the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection, there are more meanings and symbols to Jerusalem. Therefore, this paper will seek to understand the Biblical significance of Jerusalem, the temple’s relation to today Church and the biblical physical features that relate to the sacred or mythical aspects of the temple; axis mundi and hierophany.
Jerusalem itself has a lot of features that make it outstanding and identified as sacred today, which is as well reflected in the Bible. Today, any person who has visited the City and understands Bible clearly, it is evident that Jerusalem was well prophesied, built according to God’s guidance as well as used for the Biblical purposes (Davies 33). To begin with, Christians identify with the Garden of Tomb whereas the Jews identify with the Western Wall. But what is more to making this city holly? What makes it relevant in today’s Bible study, relevant enough to be considered as sacred? What homogenous space, divine-like occurrence give reasons for hierophany? Mircea Eliade reasons for hierophany reasons explains the relationship between heavenly figure the real in the physical world for the reason behind Jerusalem being sanctified and consecrated.
The hill of Jerusalem plays a key role as an axis mundi. This traces back to Genesis, where many hierophanies took place in the hill, ironically, many activities occurring in the same spot. Contrary to the structure of valleys that are low and associated with the world, the mountains and hills are quite different, high up and are often associated with heaven. Abraham, while he wanted to offer his son as a holy sacrifice to God, it was to take place up in the hill right before he was interrupted by an angel. The sacrifice never took place, since it was a sign of good leadership skills and faith that Abraham, people of God, ought to have. This is a hierophany that reflects Jerusalem as an axis mundi. The same spot, arguably, marks the place where Kind David used to purchase floor from Araunah, and the place was to be later used to store the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was considered sacred, since it was believed to be and contain God. This is on f the most direct relation to God, since he is said to be in it and depicts axis mundi in both phrases. Notably, it was the same spot that served as a central point for the Israelites to pray and honor God due to the powerful God’s symbol that represented God’s presence and a pathway to heaven. The spot being on a mountain shows its powerful relation to heaven and how easy one can get to heaven, thus, God’s home built on a hill represents the heavenly nature and God’s presence above all.
In 2 Samuel 24, this same spot, the mountain is once mentioned. However, this time it is mentioned involving a punishment of the second king of Israel, King David. In the Verse, King David attempts to collect a census for the people of Israel, which ended up infuriating God. Through a conversation, we learn that David is given options to choose as a mode of punishment by an angel. This same spot is where intervention with God took place and the punishment of plagues and troubles was ceased. Araunah, the same spot where David purchased floor and the Ark of Covenant was placed, is the same place where God stopped the angel from all the crippling actions. These actions marks as the hierophany within the city of Jerusalem that happens within the same site. The both hierophanies of termite killings were stopped by angels, which was a symbol of God’s presence while terminating the killings as well as and importantly took place in the mountain. Arguably, mountains are the most high places on earth that an individual could possibly get closest to heaven. Mount Moriah, as initially stated in the Bible, is a sign of positive relationship with God, with more positive intervention shown through the Ark of the Covenant and the placement of Tabernacle the same spot.
Apart from the mountains, there is the mention of water and its corresponding source (Weightman 60-65). In Ezekiel 47, there is mention of only one water source, which is said to be the only source of water for Jerusalem; Gihon. The account in this chapter depicts the instance where salty water is turned into fresh water, which symbolizes the prosperity and growth of life. Further, the only source is said to have fish as a symbol of life. Where the water will flow serves as a symbol of life and shows the Godlike powers. In as much as there is no direct relation to God, still, there is the hierophany of transforming salty water into fresh water, which symbolizes God’s presence as well. In today’s living, water source is essential for survival and prosperity. Jerusalem had only one spring, Gihon, which is also mentioned in the story of Adam and Eve. Therefore, it is with no doubt that the account of God’s creation took place in the Garden of Eden, which is present in Jerusalem. The link between the axis mundi and hirophany of the Garden of Eden and its position in Jerusalem, since it was the center of creation and it was by God’s ability that creation took place.
Turning to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, basically the creation in Genesis 1, apart from its axis mundi through the center of creation, also it is an axis mundi based on the fact that it was able to link the tree worlds. In Genesis 3, the Garden of Eden is described to have two kinds of trees; tree of life and knowledge. The two trees were a symbol of heavenly power and a Godly deal representing the higher world. In addition, it had a link to the evil word where the serpent was a symbol of it and it ended up deceiving Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. In link from the two trees, it portrays the Godly power that was able to differentiate the right from the wrong, which is a symbol of God’s powerful ability. Serpent’s presence showed the sinful and underworld relationship, which gives a clear axis mundi of the heaven, earth as well as the underworld. Notably, the three represents Jerusalem’s role as a center of the three world, which one can easily link with the three levels.
In psalms, the recurrent image depicted about Jerusalem, is the holy mountains and the city of God. This image reflects cultural heritage Psalms 27, shows that God is ever present in times of trouble, thus our strength and fortress, thus showing an axis mundi. The axis Mundi is the connection between earth and God, where he is depicted as ever present, despite the humans being on earth and God in heaven, in times of trouble we can always depend on him as our fortress and strength.
In this chapter, the earth is characterized by Mountains falling into the heart of the sea, and mountains which quake. But such mountains are differentiated from the ones in the city of God, the holy dwelling of God; such shall not fall and God will help her at the break of the day. When he lifts his voice the earth melts, perhaps, the earth that melts is the place of the living seen in section 27. This depicts a destructible earth and depicts another perfect dwelling for God.
In the place describes in Psalms 27, it shows a place which is invincible, no structures fall, no mishaps happens to this city and it is depicted as a perfect place due to God’s presence. The concept in this chapter shows that the people worship a God who is not very far away from them and is not synonymous. The people are connected to God because of their faith in Him. Therefore, God holy place (Zion and God’s city or his places of worship) is synonymous with its people’ thus the faith in this chapter is the axis Mundi to heaven.
The same concept is seen in Psalms 27, where God is sought and because of the faith in God it makes a person courageous. The believers adhere to God’s standards hoping that when they cry to him, he will listen. God is a helper to the earth people, as they pray to him for help through sacred places. Therefore, axis mundi to heave can be seen as salvation, prayers and Gods holy places. There is a reference made to the land of the living in section 27, this means earth which is distinguished from the Holy city or Zion, God’s dwelling.
Psalms 48, there is a Depiction of both a holy city and holy mountains, where God should be praised at the mountain of his holiness. Psalms 48 ;2 says that there is a beautiful situation where the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on sides of the North, the city of the great thing. From this sense, one can construe that Zion is Synonymous with Jerusalem (which is the city of the great king).this is seen in the concept of Jerusalem and Zion, where the word are used interchangeably and sometimes together. One can see that Zion is not completely and only Jerusalem. Zion, even from other scriptures is seen to speak for God himself.
Jerusalem is depicted as a normal city with people, streets and animals, just like any other earthly physical normal city, thus giving Jerusalem and earthy touch but with connection to God. Zion on the other hand reflects Gods dwelling and unlike Jerusalem, a dwelling that has no earthly characterization. It talks about marking all the palaces and telling people that God is God forever. This also shows another Axis mundi between heaven and earth, as the life on earth is linked to Zion, and living life forever and ever.
The mountain in this case, just like in other scriptures depict an axis mundi, where it a junction between earth and heaven where there is a preempt locus of communication between terrestrial and heavenly realms. The fundamental of Psalms 48 is the King, it opens by praising the King and ends by professing the perpetuity of God. It shows the image of a king enthroned and the throne endures all generations. The king’s heavenly enthronements and how he is exalted leaves a lot of deity and a distance which cannot be fathomed in the earthly sense. Sometimes, one may see that because of this one can see that the king is so exalted that he cannot see the human misery (Batto 24). The temple is also seen as an axis mundi in this chapter, because it says that we have thought of thy kindness and mercy amidst the temple, as also seen in Psalms 46. The temple acts as an axis mundi to God, where people go and pray to God or meditate about his love, kindness and mercy.
In psalms 11, the Lord is also enthroned, he is used as a symbolism of the holy temple and the heavenly throne. From his temple he is able to observe the earth and examine everyone on earth. He destroys the wicked and serves justice to everyone. This shows an axis mundi regarding how people are expected to live, and what happens on earth when the lord in heaven is not pleased. The throne of the Lord in this verse is the connecting link between heaven and earth, and whatever happens in earth is judged by him, because of his authority on the throne to judge and give justice.
Accordingly in psalms 27, the righteous seek to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of their lives. The house maybe be implied to mean the heavenly Zion, which is more associated to Gods dwelling as opposed to Jerusalem the city of God. This dwelling seems to connect the righteous people to God, as they live according to God’s will, hoping they will be considered by God as deserving to live in his house forever. According this Chapter, the Lord will keep me safe in his dwelling and hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent, setting me high upon the rock. This depicts people who accept to believe and adhere to his standards are permitted to become God’s people “those who fear the Lord”. It also shows that being a part of God’s people has a good elements and comes with benefits, which comes from God favoring his people.
Christianity and Judaism identify Jerusalem as the centre of the axis mundi. Islamic and Jewish sources claim that creation began with a stone, which was a foundation stone and was located in the city. Given this place and pride in order, it’s not a surprise that the myths wrap Jerusalem with a perfect vision. There were no accidents, no fire or even collapsing structures in Jerusalem.
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