Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies
Bar-Ilan University Ramat-Gan, Israel

Jerusalem: Life Throughout the Ages in a Holy City

Internet Educational Activities <sglick@iea.org.il>
17 Feb. 1997

Agriculture


Most of the population was involved in agriculture. The Jews were the first to build terraces on the rocky Judean Hills. The rain on the western slopes was sufficient to cultivate the staples: wheat, barley, olives, grapes, figs and dates. The Gihon provided water to irrigate fields of vegetables. The edge of the desert to the east was ideal for raising sheep. Early Jerusalemites could provide for their own needs and produce a surplus for trade. These natural conditions made the city's existence possible. It was relatively near the trade routes, comparatively safe, with sufficient water and food. However, this was not enough to make a great city, the religious and political capital of the Jews. Jerusalem's development was a consequence of actions of King David, almost despite its location and lack of resources.

Perhaps there is a connection between topography and religious feeling. King David, the traditional author of Psalms, looking at the hills around him, was inspired to write, "As the hills are around Jerusalem, so is God around His nation" (Psalms 125:2). Pilgrims would ascend the Temple Mount singing songs of ascent. The lofty Temple, towering above the city, was indeed a proper place to worship God. The desire to discover the secrets of the long vanished First and Second Temples leads us to the next topic, the history of archaeology in Jerusalem.


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