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Jerusalem: armies and faiths.

Almost since its first mention in history, in an Egyptian text from around 1900 B.C., Jerusalem has been repeatedly desired, fought over, and besieged. While home to many of the world's great civilizations, the city is most closely identified with the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Read the chronological information below, then answer the questions.

Words to Know

* caliph: Islamic leader considered a successor of Muhammad * Jebusite: a pre-Israelite tribe living in and around the city of Jebus, which may have become the site of Jerusalem


C. 1000 B.C.: Israelite King David captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and establishes his capital there.

587 B.C.: King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon destroys the First Temple (built by David's son Solomon). He takes the Israelites to Babylon as captives. After Persia overthrows Babylon in 538 B.C., Israelites begin to return to Jerusalem.

30 A.D.: Widely accepted date of the execution, in Jerusalem, of Jesus, whose teachings form the basis of Christianity.

70: The Romans, who have controlled Jerusalem since 63 B.C., put down a Jewish rebellion, almost completely destroying the city. Jews (descendants of original Israelites) are expelled from Jerusalem in 135 A.D.

326: Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who has converted to Christianity, begins to build churches and shrines devoted to Jesus in Jerusalem.

638: Caliph Umarl and his Muslim Arab armies take Jerusalem, then part of the Christian Byzantine Empire. Jews are allowed to return to the city.

1099: Angered by Muslim control of holy places, European Christians besiege and capture the city during the First Crusade. The Crusaders set up the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

1187: The Muslim commander Saladin seizes the city from the Christians. Except for brief periods in the 13th century, Jerusalem remains in Muslim hands until the British occupy it in 1917.

19th century: Jews begin to migrate to Jerusalem in increasingly large numbers. By late in the century, they outnumber Arabs in the city.


1. Which event took the Israelites away from Jerusalem and for how long?

2. Which Muslim commander first conquered Jerusalem and when?

3. When did the Israelites first arrive in Jerusalem? When were their descendents, the Jews, expelled?

4. Which rough dates would you use to bookend the period of rule by European Crusaders?

5. Historically speaking, to whom do you think Jerusalem belongs, and why? Do other people have a legitimate claim to the city? Explain.


1. King Nebuchadnezzar Il's attack in 587 B.C., after which the Israelites were held in captivity in Babylon; about 49 years (587 B.C. to 538 B.C.)

2. Caliph Umar I, in 638 A.D.

3. about 1000 B.c., when King David took the city; 135 A.D., by the Romans

4. 1099 A.D. (when European Crusaders captured the city) and 1187 A.D. (when Muslim leader Saladin seized Jerusalem)

5. Answers will vary; should be supported with examples.
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Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Feb 11, 2008
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