Last article talked about Jerusalem (Al-Quds) during the reign of Prophet David, who set it as the capital of Israel. Solomon the Prophet built the temple and the king’s house in Jerusalem and built a wall around it. Afterwards, the kingdom was split in the days of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, after he had listened to the advice of the youth and abandoned the advice of the wise elders. The kingdom was split into two parts: Judea for the tribe of Judah and half of the tribe of Benjamin, and Israel for the remaining nine tribes and the other half of the tribe of Benjamin. Jerusalem then became the capital of Judea.
Rehoboam did not abide in God’s worship, but relied on himself, his strength, and his fortifications, and abandoned the law of God. So God allowed them to be disciplined by sending Shishak, king of Egypt, to fight them: “And it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 12:2). When Shishak attacked Jerusalem, he seized its fortified cities, the treasures of the temple and the treasures of the king’s house, and the gold shields that King Solomon had made, and he made brass shields instead. Shishak, that king of Egypt mentioned here is Pharaoh Necho who invaded Israel to seize the ivory throne of his son-in-law, Solomon, which he successfully obtained, along with what he plundered from the temple and the king’s house. As for the remnant of the dissident Israel, led by Jeroboam, they completely deviated from the law of God and His worship, reverting to idol worship. Fearing that the people would rebel against him if they went up to the temple to offer worship to God, Jeroboam made gods for them to worship.
Successive kings ruled Judea, with its capital being Jerusalem. Some of them kept the law of God and returned the people to His worship, while others apostatized from worshiping God. The city of Jerusalem became the scene of many events. We read about King Jehoshaphat, who carried out many reforms and brought the people back to God and His law, while King Jehoram went astray, and the city was attacked: Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.” (2 Chronicles 21:16-17). Likewise, the evil Queen Athaliah, mother of King Ahaziah, destroyed the royal offspring and usurped the rule of the country: “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed.” (2 Kings 11:1-2). Then, Athaliah was killed and Joash ruled. The king of Aram and the king of Israel also fought Judah and Jerusalem, and were able to seize Jerusalem, plunder it, and demolish its wall.
The city of Jerusalem remained a scene of contradictory events, including reforms, returning to God’s worship, following the heavenly law, wars, plunder, alliance with evil, and abandonment of God’s worship! Meanwhile, God was sending His servants the prophets to restore men’s hearts to Him and His worship, but the people did not listen to them, until Prophet Jeremiah prophesied the fate that the city would fall into, of ruin and captivity because of their abandonment of God and the worship of the Gentile gods. He walked through the streets of the city foretelling God’s judgment against the city and its desolation: Then the Lord said to me: “Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” says the Lord; “They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands…” (Jeremiah 1:14-16); However, the king and the royal court responded to his warnings with anger and contempt. The city was indeed captured by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, over three stages; all its treasures were plundered, its rich inhabitants and those in high posts were taken captive, then it was burned and had its wall demolished. Only the poor who worked in agriculture remained there… Stories about Jerusalem are to be continued… and stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center