Formally recognising that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel, President Donald Trump pledged to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv and just a few weeks ago, his daughter, Ivanka, was at the official opening. What does the Torah say about this?
The centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism is undeniable and entrenched in Jewish history.
Jerusalem is mentioned over 660 times in the Hebrew Bible and its synonym, Zion, a further 158 times. For the last two millennia, Jews have prayed three times a day to return to Zion.
Jerusalem’s forerunner, the Jebusite city of Shalem, was the fiefdom of Melchizedek, who greeted Abraham when he returned victoriously from his battle with the invaders of Canaan whom he had put to flight.
King David made Jerusalem his capital after reigning seven years in Hebron and sent ambassadors to present their credentials to the neighbouring kingdom of Moab.
His personal guard comprised warriors from Crete and the Greek isles.
The first foreign ambassador to Jerusalem on record is Ebed Melech the Kushite, Nubian ambassador to Judea, who saved the prophet Jeremiah’s life by extending diplomatic immunity to him.
Jerusalem is the ultimate place of peace for the Jewish people. The Psalmist sees the hills surrounding Jerusalem as an imagery of God’s protection of His people. “Just as hills surround Jerusalem, so does God surround his people”.
Isaiah states: “All who are in Jerusalem are written in for life”. Biblical commentators view these words as a promise that ultimately, Jerusalem is the safest place for Jews to inhabit.
Despite the misery and bloodbaths inflicted throughout the ages by Romans, Crusaders and other invaders, Jerusalem is home for the Jewish people.
Therefore, the surprise is not why President Trump chose to move his embassy to Jerusalem, but why the USA refused to do so any earlier – and why so few other countries have done so.
Rabbi Ariel Abel is Padre to HM Armed Forces and Rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation
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