In an open meeting between the Palestinian community and the Egyptian political, societal and civil forces in solidarity with the Palestinian cause, in the campaign of the candidate for the presidential elections, His Excellency President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and in the presence of Counselor Mahmoud Fawzi and Brigadier General Wessam Sabry, at the headquarters of the 2024 electoral campaign, I had the honor to talk about the city of Jerusalem.
Firstly, I would like to offer thanks to those responsible for that symposium, I appreciate their interest in the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. I also salute our Palestinian brothers for enduring what they have been subjected to till this moment for the sake of their country, and for the abundant blood they have shed for its sake.
Jerusalem is the city of peace, the land of blessings, one of the cities that has achieved great fame in history, and has a great place in the heart of every Christian: it is where Lord Christ and His mother, Saint Virgin Mary, lived. On its land, He founded the first Christian church in the world in the upper room of Saint Mark the Apostle. From there, His disciples began preaching Christianity, then witnessed the most severe persecutions of Christians at the hands of the Jews, and the blood of countless martyrs was shed, the first of whom was Saint Stephen the archdeacon.
The city of Jerusalem has several naming including: The Holy City, The City of the Great King, and The City of David in reference to Prophet and King David, while the Hebrew name of the city is Jerusalem. The name “Jerusalem” is mentioned in the Holy Bible’s Old and New Testaments 767 times, whereas the naming “the Holy City” is mentioned 7 times. Jerusalem city was first mentioned in the Holy Bible when our father Abraham, the father of fathers, and Melchizedek, the king of Salem, met, and that was after the former’s victory over four kings who had taken captive his nephew Lot, the women, and many people: “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew… Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth…” The word “Salem” means peace, that city was named Jerusalem later.
The Historical Background of Jerusalem
The city of Jerusalem was founded by the Jebusites, about whom it is said: “The Jebusites are among the early Arabs. They grew up in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, then fled from it along with those Canaanite tribes to which they belonged. They were the first to inhabit Jerusalem, and the first to He built it brick by brick.” That land was called the land of Canaan when God commanded Abraham to sojourn there, saying: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.”
As for the city of Jerusalem” it was then called Jebus in reference to the Jebusites, while the name Land of Canaan was given to the city of Jebus in addition to the cities surrounding it. The city was established on a hill surrounded by two valleys to the east and west and a low area to the south. The name Jerusalem was given in reference to the god Shalem, who was the Canaanites’ god of peace. The Bible asserts in several contexts that the city of Jebus is the city of Jerusalem itself: “Zelah, Eleph, Jebus (which is Jerusalem)” And also: “However, the man was not willing to spend that night; so he rose and departed, and came opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem).” We still have a lot to say about Jerusalem… and stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center