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Golden Jerusalem

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Golden Jerusalem

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Golden Jerusalem
By Menashe Har-El
Gefen Publishing House, (2004)
ISBN: 9-6522-9254-0

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - September 13, 2004

Biblical archaeology is a field that interests peoples of many faiths, and of all the areas in Israel, it is Jerusalem that attracts the most attention. In Golden Jerusalem, Menashe Har-El provides an in-depth look at the archaeology and history of Jerusalem. This book can be used both as a study guide for those interested in the history of Jerusalem, and as a travel guide that you can take with you as you tour the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition to exploring the historical significance of this golden city, Har-El also looks that the geographical, ecological, and spiritual interconnections that have made Jerusalem the focus of Jewish thought, literature, prayers, and culture. Jerusalem is the Holy City, and this book, Golden Jerusalem, illustrates why this is so.

Touring the Old City, preferably in person, or from the comfort of an arm chair, is an edifying and inspirational endeavor. Golden Jerusalem is one of the best guidebooks on Jerusalem that I've come across. This book not only details the structures and archaeological sites that you can see during your tour, but Har-El also explores the history of each. In addition, he explains, for those structures still standing, how they appeared at different points throughout time. This enables the visitor to understand the historical context of each site and the role, through time, that it has played in Jewish life and history.

Har-El is a renowned archaeologist and historian. A Professor at the Hebrew University and the Tel Aviv University, where he has taught courses on the geography and history of Israel, Har-El is a respected researcher and teacher in the field of Israeli history. Golden Jerusalem is an updated and expanded edition of his magnificent and world famous, but now out-of-print book, This is Jerusalem. In Golden Jerusalem, Har-El has incorporated all of the latest archaeological evidence, as well as the history of the land, to illustrate the unbreakable bond between the land of Israel, and Jerusalem, with the Jewish people. He also shows how the geography of Jerusalem impacted the people who lived there, and how the residents of the city have altered the landscape of the region.

Amply illustrated, this book examines the geography of the Judean Mountains and it presents a general overview of the history, both social and political, of Jerusalem. The first and second Temple periods are covered in detail, as are the layouts of the temples. To help the reader understand the layout and topography of Jerusalem, Har-El has included a variety of maps, drawings, photographs, and illustrations, including photographs of the scale model of the Second Temple located at the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem. The inclusion of these illustrations greatly enhances the text, and they will prove invaluable to readers who have not yet had the opportunity to tour the city in person. In addition to describing the sites contained within the original walled city (the Old City) of Jerusalem, important sites outside the walls of the Old City are also covered in detail. As important, Har-El describes the structures found in the modern 'Old City' and he points out what features are historically significant, and how these points of interest have changed over time.

Chapters on the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, sites holy to Christianity located in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount during the Moslem era, and Moslem structures currently located on the Temple Mount are also included. Throughout, Har-El has made every effort to explain the historical significance of each archaeological site or historical structures mentioned in this book.

Golden Jerusalem is an unparalleled book. Har-El's narrative is flowing and interspersed with biblical passages that mention or which are associated with the sites under discussion. This is an excellent book for students, teachers, and any interested in studying the geography and history of Jerusalem, as well as those seeking information about the on going archaeological research being conducted on the city. In short, Golden Jerusalem is a must for anyone planning to tour the Old City or who is interested in the history of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

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