Hebrew Highlights 007 – Jerusalem Day
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
Happy Holiday! What holiday? You may ask. Today is Jerusalem Day, celebrated annually for the last 35 years.
In the wake of the Six-Day War in June 1967, Jerusalem was reunited. Jews around the world were overwhelmed by the nature of Israel's victory against all odds. Many saw the return to the Old City and the Wailing Wall as an event of miraculous proportions.
Shortly after the war, all the barriers that had blocked off one part of the city from the other were removed. Jews and Christians alike were now free to visit their sacred sites in the Old City. Split neighborhoods were reunited, the old signs of division were obliterated, and the city's urban infrastructure was refurbished.
Jerusalem is like no other city on earth. It is holy to both Jews and Christians alike. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and of the Jewish people, but, in a special sense, Jerusalem belongs to God and his children.
Though archeologists tell us that Jerusalem was inhabited from 3800 BC, our first historical look at the city by that name is mentioned in 2SA 5:6,7, &9 “Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, "You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away"; thinking, "David cannot enter here." Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David. So David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David.”
So, Jerusalem became the capital of the Jewish people is approximately 1000 BC. King David obviously love the city, as is evident in His description of her in PSA 48:1-2 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King.
Today, Jerusalem has a population of 648,000, making it Israel’s largest city. It passed Tel-Aviv in this statistic in the 1996 census. It is 70% Jewish, 28% Moslem, and 2% Christian. The Jewish population has been larger than the Moslem population at least since 1844 when figures became available.
Jerusalem is one of the most interesting places on the face of the earth, housing people from almost every other nation in the world, with cuisine to fit everyone’s taste (Yes, we even have McDonald’s, Burger King, and Kentucky fried Chicken). On any bus ride you will hear several languages being spoken at the same time, (By the way, the average Israeli speaks 4). Architecture spans at least 1000 BC up until yesterday.
The people of Jerusalem are warm, friendly, and always ready to help tourists. So come visit. Yes, even now.
During the Camp David talks in the late 1970s, then Prime Minister Menachem Begin told the following story in the United states Congress:
A freelance journalist was once visiting the Kremlin during the days of the Soviet Union. He noticed 3 telephones in the office of the premier. He asked about their significance. He premier explained that the white phone was a regular local line, the red one a hot-line to Washington, and the blue one a hot-line to Heaven.
What? Exclaimed the journalist. I thought you guys didn’t even believe in God. Officially, we don’t, said the premier. However, just in case of an emergency, we had the line installed. Of course, we never use it. It’s too expensive; 10,000 rubles per minute. Our economy is not so hot these days.
A week later, the same journalist noticed the same blue phone in the oval office in Washington. The president said, why yes, we call heaven once a month or so for advice. Of course, it’s very expensive at $10,000 per minute, but a very valuable resource.
2 weeks later, the free-lancer, on assignment to Jerusalem noticed the blue phone on the desk of the Prime Minister of Israel. In fact walking through a hall with open doors, he saw the blue phones on many desks.
Tell me, he said to the Prime Minister, do you ever use these blue telephones? Oh yes, he replied, 2 or 3 times a day. But isn’t that very expensive, considering Israel’s shaky economy?, remarked thejournalist. Expensive? Said the Prime minister? You call 10 cents a minute expensive?
But I don’t understand, said the journalist. In Russia the call to heaven costs 10,000 rubles per minute, and in Washington, $10,000.
You’re forgetting that you are standing in Jerusalem, said the Prime Minister. The call to heaven from here is a local one.
Happy Jerusalem Day! Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem!