Places exists all over the world that either in one form or the other have some attachments to some religious body. To these religious organizations, these geographical areas mean a lot to their history other than just the names of these locations. Sacredness was attached to so many things including objects. The meaning of these sacred objects could only be understood by the followers of these particular religious bodies. For instance, there are those religious organizations that would attach some holiness to some precious stone as a reincarnation of God. The stone would remain a stone to anyone else who views it as a rock. But to the followers of that particular religion, the stone symbolizes a Deity that should be addressed with a lot of holiness and humility. There are also buildings that were constructed in such places to express the sacredness of such places.
In specific religious bodies, these buildings are regarded as sacred and worshippers are advised to enter such places either with bare feet or to approach such holy places while walking on their knees. The same sacredness was attached to places that were considered to have some attachment to the emergence of such religious bodies. They are considered very holy places that the names of these places were never mentioned if there was nothing significant. These holy places to them are regarded as very sacred and need to be approached with a lot of holiness and humility. This paper would, therefore, try to look at the significance of these geographical, religious places to the respective religious bodies and why they were selected for these organs to be sacred to them.
When one mention holy cities that are attached to some religion, Jerusalem city in Israel always come to mind. Apart from being the capital town of Israel, Jerusalem is regarded as the holy city of the Jews, the majority inhabitants of the country of Israel. The Jews consider Jerusalem as a place where Judaism begun as a religion. Jerusalem is not only holy to the emergence of Judaism, but Christianity, and other religions like Islam can also attach some significance to the city of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, for example, it has within its boundaries holy places that are considered central to the religion of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. These religious structures include the Western Wall that was built by King Solomon in as early as the tenth century BC. The wall was constructed to act as a retaining wall that would in future support the Temple Mount. There is also the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The building of this church was believed to have commenced as early as the fourth century CE under the then ruler of Jerusalem Emperor Constantine.
Additional significant building in Jerusalem that has religious significance is the Dome of the Rock and also the Mosque of Al Aqsa. It was believed to have been built after the capture of Jerusalem by Caliph Omar as early as the seventh century. The closeness of these structures and buildings demonstrates the close historical and religious relationship between the three religions that share monotheistic practices. According to the Jewish beliefs, there was a holy Temple in Jerusalem that was meant for Jews worship of God. They believe that God commanded the ancient Jews to build a golden arc in the holy temple in the current city of Jerusalem to keep the blocks of the stone on which God wrote the Ten Commandments. The Jews, it is believed stored the golden arc in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to historical records, although the Temple had been destroyed twice. That resulted in the loss of the arc, the site in which the holy Temple was built still remains a sacred place to the Jews and to Judaism as a religion. The only part of the holy temple that is left standing in Jerusalem today is the Western Wall. It is known that Jews who profess the Judaism faith travel to Jerusalem from all over the world to pray and worship at the place where the holy temple stood.
Mircea Eliade in his book the sacred and the profane: the nature of religion, tried looking at why religious people attach so much importance to sacred spaces. In his submission, Eliade was at crossroads in an attempt to explain what was meant by sacred space. He attempts to describe how religious bodies and people have experienced the sacred. He also expresses a captivating explanation of what he thought was primitive religions. According to him, the traditional image of the religion of what he called primitive peoples is pretty exciting. He found out that these people worship rocks, animals, and all non-living things. Their rituals are efforts made attempts to find favors from spirits that were imaginary. Eliade reckons that the myths that these people believe in are laughably worse attempts at scientific facts.
Eliade in his book submits that these beliefs in sacred spaces are misunderstandings that could otherwise have no place in the scientific world. What he calls primitive people, he says does not actually worship natural objects. But it is established that they believe that the physical objects can actually be revelations or representations of the sacred. One could worship the gods through these objects. Primitive men, Eliade adds, certainly want favors from their gods just like everyone else would need favors from elsewhere. But it is established that they are were driven by what Eliade called an ontological nostalgia, ( Eliade, Mircea. 1961). That he explains is a desire to live while one is in touch with the gods who are considered to be preeminently real and to be the source of all life. He views these myths to be so silly when one tries to understand the function that they serve and the general effect of their symbolism to the world.
Jerusalem has since time immemorial been part of the Jewish religious process. Jews were known to have studied and took as theirs the struggles by King David to capture Jerusalem. According to the bible in the books of Samuel and Psalms, that he desired to build a temple for the Jews there. Many of King David's dreams about Jerusalem are known to have been incorporated into modern prayers and songs in the Judaism worship. Jerusalem is known to appear in the Hebrew bible around 669 times and Jerusalem also called Zion appears about 154 times. The first section, the Hebrew text also known as the Torah in Judaism mentions Mt. Moriah, the mountain that is believed by the Jews to be the place where Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice. The holy temple in Jerusalem, and in other parts, the city of Jerusalem is mentioned explicitly.
The Old Testament is a text sacred to both Christianity and Judaism. In Judaism, denotes the written law which laid the basis for the oral law which has been practiced and treasured by the Jews and Judaism. According to the Hebrew Bible, the First Temple in Jerusalem was built on the present site known as the Temple Mount. When the Babylonians captured the city of Jerusalem, they destroyed the holy temple and forced the Jews into exile. In this town, all worshiping was done in the temple and only this holy temple.
Like we mentioned earlier, Jerusalem is central to the practice and belief of Judaism as a religion. Jews believe that it was in Jerusalem that the religion of Judaism was commissioned by none other than God himself. The construction of the golden arc to keep the tablet that contained the Ten Commandments from God was the greatest significance of this city to Judaism. The golden arc led to the construction of the holy temple and the Jews believe that this was a sacred place where they occasionally met with the creator.
According to Eliade's analysis, the belief in the remnants of the sacred temple, the western wall of Jerusalem is an extension of the expression of primitivism among the Judaism Jews. The correlation between the remaining wall and the original temple that was constructed in Jerusalem remains a mystery. From the Eliade's point of reasoning, the attachment that the Jews have placed more so on the western wall is kind of misplaced and does not result to receiving favors from the Lord.
The sacredness of Jerusalem from the ancient times led to its expansion from just a sacred site to a big city. Today, Jerusalem is not just a holy place for the Jews but also has some sacred attachments to Christians as well. This sacred attachment has seen numerous temples built in Jerusalem as well as churches and mosques meant for the worship of God. Together with the multiplication of places of worship, Jerusalem has also grown to a settlement city as well as a commercial center for millions of Israelis. As it is known today, Jerusalem is also an administrative capital and is home to the political leadership of the state of Israel. Despite all these developments, the sacredness of Jerusalem to Jews especially those who profess Judaism still remain unchanged.
As it is, Jews from all over the world still flock the western wall in Jerusalem to see where the golden arc that acted as storage of the Ten Commandments was formerly kept. The west wall has not only remained a sacred site but is also a historic site for many people around the world. Historians and theologians who attempt to understand Judaism have also been frequent visitors to this place that once in history hosted the holy temple. The ancient buildings of the temples also still make Jerusalem to be revered as a sacred place for the Jews more so to the Judaism religion.
Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961. Print.
Janin, Hunt. Four Paths to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Secular Pilgrimages, 1000 Bce to 2001 Ce. Jefferson, N.C. [u.a.: McFarland & Co, 2002. Print.
Kellerman, Aharon. Society and Settlement: Jewish Land of Israel in the Twentieth Century. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1993. Print.
Lundquist, John M. The Temple of Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future. Westport, Conn: Praeger Publishers, 2007. Print.