THE FIRST SESSION focuses on Jerusalem in the Old Testament period. The early narratives of the Hebrew Bible cover countless generations, from the Book of Genesis through the Exodus from Egypt, to the history of Israel – by then a nation – as described in the books of Joshua, Judges and First Samuel.
King David captured Jerusalem circa 1004 BC – and that’s where we begin. We’ll discuss briefly the location of Canaan – later Israel – in the broad sweep of the ancient Middle East, and the problematic location of Jerusalem in the central mountain range of the Land of Israel. Why did David choose this obscure town as his national and royal dynastic capital? There are answers, of course – or at least credible opinions.
The Old Testament is a source of endless fascination, but we will dwell on four pivotal historical moments in Jerusalem’s history: David’s conquest, as mentioned above; the anointing of his son Solomon, who built what we refer to as the “First Temple” (mid10th century BC); the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC, in the time of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah; and the total Babylonian destruction of the city, including the Temple, in 586 BC. (“How lonely sits the city… How like a widow she has become…” is the beginning of the scroll of Lamentations, apparently written by the prophet Jeremiah, who lived through the catastrophe.)
The Scriptural narrative is the backbone of each session, but we’ll weave in topics that are intriguing in themselves and provide context. This first session will include questions of monotheism in a pagan world, of a different kind of kingship, and of the important role of the written word. Before each session, I will send you (with Pastor Russell’s help) relevant Biblical references and other sources, firstly so that you can read up ahead of time, and secondly so as to save time during the sessions themselves.
© Mike Rogoff 2020