תקצירי מאמרים באנגלית לקתדרה גליון 151
Jerusalem in the First Temple Period: Between Historical-Biblical and Archaeological Research
The article discusses the possibilities and limitations of the biblical texts and the archaeological data for reconstructing the history of Jerusalem in the First Temple period. The historian faces a tendentious text with a clear theological character, composed long after the occurrence of the related events; the archaeologist confronts the problem of the uninterrupted sequence of the Iron Age strata and the fragile nature of the remains dated to periods of decline in the urban culture. The article first examines several central episodes involving David and Solomon in order to evaluate their potential contribution to the reconstruction of the history of the city in the tenth century BCE. It then examines the conclusions drawn from the textual analysis as against the results of archaeological research. It concludes that in order to obtain a balanced evaluation of the ancient reality, we must examine in depth both the textual and the archaeological evidence, avoid relying exclusively on one or the other, and remain aware of the limitations of each as sources for reconstructing the city’s history.
Jerusalem in the Restoration Period: Under the Wings of the Persian Empire
The article deals with the history of Jerusalem during one segment of the Persian Period, from its beginning (539 BCE) until the ministry of Nehemiah (445 BCE–after 432 BCE). The article focuses on the contribution of the biblical evidence to our understanding of the historical reality.
While the Temple of Jerusalem was restored already at the beginning of Persian rule (Ezra 1:1; 6:15), the documents regarding its restoration demonstrate that the permits extended to the people of Judah by the Persian kings were limited to this project, ignoring altogether the city of Jerusalem. The basic situation of the city – the heavy destruction inflicted by the Babylonian conquerors in 586 BCE – remained unchanged.
From Zechariah’s prophecies at the beginning of the Restoration Period (Zechariah 1), and the later correspondence with Artaxerxes (Ezra 4) it may be learned that throughout this period the people of Judah aspired to restore the city and its walls, and took practical measures to realize these aspirations, but to no avail. The Persian rulers opposed any attempt to restore the city, and their consistent policy is the background against which one may understand the clever and energetic actions taken by Nehemiah towards the building of Jerusalem’s walls and the development of the city.
Rome in Jerusalem
When Pliny the Elder described Jerusalem just after the destruction of 70 CE as having been ‘by far the most famous city of the East’, how Roman did he conceive that urbs to have been? How did Romans before 70 imagine Jerusalem, and to what extent would a visiting Roman in the last decades of the Second Temple period actually have found Jerusalem to be alien and exotic? In what respects would he have felt at home, as in many provincial cities in the early empire, in an environment which looked and felt and sounded and smelt like Rome? The article investigates the ways in which Jews in Jerusalem had integrated into Roman society and adopted specifically Roman cultural norms in the last century of the Second Temple, and the extent to which the idiosyncrasies of local culture would strike the eye, ear, and nose of the Roman visitor.
The Muslim Interest in Jerusalem during the Abbasid Period
The Muslims in Jerusalem in the Abbasid period inherited the religious interest in Jerusalem that had developed under the Umayyad rulers, who had invested greatly in building efforts, especially on the Masjid al-Aqsa compound. The building efforts of the Abbasid-period rulers on that compound are attested in a number of surviving dedicatory inscriptions in the compound, but they were reduced in scale from what had been the case in the Umayyad period and consisted of repairs and renovations, rather than extensive new construction. The religious significance of Jerusalem also attracted Muslims to come to the city both as short-term visitors and as longer-term residents. Dozens of prominent Muslims who came, especially Sufi mystics, are attested in historical sources, as are a few Muslim rulers, whose bodies were brought to Jerusalem after their deaths for burial. Christians remained the majority of Jerusalem’s population, although the Muslims in the Abbasid period became increasingly aggressive and belligerent, culminating in anti-Christian riots.
What Business Has a Jew in the Guilds of Ottoman Jerusalem?
The records of the Muslim religious court (sijill) of Ottoman Jerusalem contain a mine of information about life in that city. Jerusalem’s Jewish residents are often mentioned in its records, both as plaintiffs and as defendants. In addition, they are often party to cases having bearing on Jerusalem society in general, and particularly the Jewish community.
To date, one little-known aspect of Jewish life in Jerusalem has been the involvement in economic activity and the role of Jews in the guilds. Jerusalem’s seventy guilds may be divided into four groups by profession: supply of food and beverages, provision of municipal services, production, and commerce. All guilds had a uniform structure. Each was headed by the guild ‘elder’ who was appointed by the qadi and was responsible vis-à-vis the authorities for the guild’s ongoing operation. Among his responsibilities were joint acquisition of raw materials and their division among the guild members, acceptance of new members, ensuring the quality of products and services, setting and supervision of prices, and solving conflicts between members. Jews who achieved an appropriate professional level could join a guild, and at times even head it. Various professions in which Jerusalem’s Jews engaged are described in the article, to which are appended a few examples of original documents from the sijill.
‘A Canary in the Bedroom’: The Schneller Protestant Mission and the Beginning of Education for the Blind in the Holy Land during the Late Ottoman Period
The modern discussion about treating the blind began in the Renaissance and was fully evolved by the nineteenth century. It was then that concepts concerning the capabilities and social status of the blind, as well as sophisticated tools and fresh pedagogic insights, were developed. Nevertheless, in the hundreds of missionary stations that emerged around the world at that time, only a handful of Westerners took an initiative towards this challenging work.
The German-born Swiss missionary Johann Ludwig Schneller (1820–1896) was the first in the Holy Land to open a school for the blind on the premises of his famous Syrian Orphanage in Jerusalem in 1882. The article presents the circumstances of its establishment, development, and the difficulties it encountered. It sheds light on the modern Western educational methods that were brought to the Orient, and reveals the reaction the school received from the Ottoman authorities and the local Arab population. It shows its influence on similar institutions that emerged later in the country, and finally assesses its long-range impact in the area. As a necessary term of reference, the article begins by describing the general development of modern education for the blind in the West, and compares it to the pitiful situation the missionaries found in the East.
The Thirst of Jerusalem: A Water-History of the Holy City, 1840–1948
In order to place the urban and material aspects of Jerusalem’s history front and center, to get beyond sectarian divisions while still taking into account the religious significance of the city and the conflicts at play, the author studied the ‘water-history’ of Jerusalem from 1840 to 1948. This methodological approach did not involve amassing a historical monograph of the hydraulic network of a given territory as much as attempting to create a historical overview of an urban society through the analysis of territorial, social, political, and religious issues affecting the supply and distribution of its potable water. It is a history through water, not a history of water. In addition to the thematic shift inferred by this approach, the study allowed the author to tap into a wide variety of documentary resources, water being – by definition – an object of exchange between communities and across borders in every era.