Ariel Ben Avraham – JERUSALEM IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS (I)
Trying to define or describe Jerusalem is the same futile endeavor to fathom the God of the Jews. The reason is quite simple, because Jerusalem and God belong to each other.
The “place” of God’s presence in the world is as sacred as He is, and the name of the city confirms this fact. Our Jewish oral tradition offers two essential meanings.
One tells us that there were two cities opposite to each other and separated by the valley of Josephat. These were Shalem and Yieru, that many centuries later were unified by King David. Hence the Psalmist is considered the founder of the city, who established it as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.
The other version is that the city was originally named Shalom, “peace”, and after Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac, he renamed it “Yierushalem”. This one is usually translated in two complementary ways, “shall appear in peace” or “shall be seen in peace”, in reference to God. Both are in the future tense, because this was going to be the place that He chose for His Temple, the dwelling of His presence in the world.
In this sense Jerusalem and its Temple are inherent to each other, because God’s presence dwells in the same place. This definition is accurate to describe it as eternal and indivisible, which are also attributes of the God of the Jews.
In his book of Psalms, King David reflected on these premises with his profound spiritual insight and awareness of what this city means and represents as the capital of the Jewish people in particular, and for humankind in general.
The Psalmist revealed for us ways and attributes inherent in God and in Jerusalem, intended not as definitions of both, but as qualities that we find as bonds for each other. We will reflect and expand on these as we quote the verses in the psalms where King David refers to Jerusalem, Zion and the Temple as the same place.
The Jewish oral tradition does not offer specific meanings for Zion, but only as a synonym of Jerusalem and its Temple. Thus we understand and assimilate that Zionism is the fundamental and structural belief of Judaism in Jerusalem as the divinely chosen capital of Israel.
In this context Judaism is Zionism, and the Jews are inherently Zionists. This belief is the foundation to approach God’s presence in the world.
Let’s begin King David’s journey into Jerusalem, and let us by enlightened by God’s presence in the capital, the eternal head of Israel.
“And I have established My king upon Zion, the mount of My sacredness.”
The Hebrew Bible mentions quite often that God is sacred, as a reference to follow His ways, attributes and commandments.
“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be sacred, for the Lord your God is sacred’.” (Leviticus 19:1)
We understand sacredness not only as one of God’s attributes, but also as a precondition to be before His presence. Thus we realize sacredness as something we need to be and have in order to bond with our Creator. Hence Zion is the mount of His sacredness, where He establishes His king as the ruler who better understands and implements God’s will for His people.
It can’t be otherwise, for God’s sacredness requires both a sacred place to dwell in the world, and a sacred king to rule for the sake of sacredness. The point here is to understand it as a quality or qualities that exclude all that is alien to God’s ways, means and attributes.
Thus we assimilate that it is about goodness, and what is related to goodness as what makes us sacred and connected to the Creator.
The fact that the verses indicates “establishment” implies that all related to Zion and Jerusalem is meant to exist for eternity.