My topic this evening will be the topography of the city of Jerusalem, it might better be titled, the ever-changing topography of the city of Jerusalem; for this city, called the city of peace, is one of the oldest cities in the world and has been through some trying times. The bare catalogue of disasters which have overtaken Jerusalem is enough to paralyze her topographer. Besides earthquakes, the city has endured nearly 20 sieges and assaults, some involving considerable damage, others a total destruction of her walls and buildings. After the Roman siege in A.D. 70 the city was completely destroyed, the rubble on the Temple Mount was 70 feet deep. This city was built, it was wrecked, it was rebuilt many times. Some of the hill tops have been leveled off and some of the valleys have been filled. It is however a wonderful study and I want to share it with you. My hope is that I will be able to get all the points across that I have found so interesting.
The City of Jerusalem is a mountain city. It is located on the central mountain range in the Jewish State of Israel and is surrounded by mountains on every side. Sometimes these are referred to as the hills of Judea. The altitude of the city is about 2600 feet above sea level, while the elevations around it are 150 to 400 feet higher, so in the Old Testament times as well as today, you have to climb a mountain before you can even see Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is called the City of Peace and stands first and supreme among all the cities of the world in its influence upon the hopes and destinies of mankind. The situation and the surroundings of Jerusalem help us to understand much of the history as it is given in the Bible. What is it that makes Jerusalem great? She is the chosen city of the one true God! The center of His worship and laws and revelations, with a mission to reveal Him to the world. Here His prophets taught. Here was built the Temple that expressed His character, and here was the training and the prophecies that led up to the great central fact of human history, the coming of Jesus Christ, the scenes of His life, His Passion, His Cross, and His grave. Jerusalem remains the religious center of the earth, the home of faith, the goal of pilgrimages, the original of the heavenly city which one day will descent from God upon men.
Between the mountains that surround the city and the city itself are deep ravines with steep sides which made it a natural fortress. This is why David when he became King of Israel chose Jerusalem to be his capital.
Within the city itself are mountains and hills that you are all familiar with Mount of Moriah, Mount Zion, the hills Acra and Bazetha and the Hill Ophel. Zion and Acra to the west were the higher. On the eastern side were Moriah which is the Temple Mount, and tight up against it, like a shoulder, was the hill Ophel. The N.E. Hill was called Bezetha which means “The New City” this was the last hill built upon.
The valley that separated the city was called the Tyropoeon or Cheesemungers Valley and was not nearly as deep as the ravines that protected it to the east, south, and S.W. These were deep with steep sides and were nearly impassable.
Bro. Russel visited the Holy Land in 1891 and he wrote about the four mountain tops or hills in the city. His thought was that at one time they represented four small cities each surrounded by its own wall. The difficulty in determining the past arises from the fact the city has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times. Excavations in various directions continually reveal old fragments of walls, cisterns or other ruins, sometimes 50 or even 70 feet below the present surface. The Tyropian or central valley is now almost level, full of debris which houses have been built and inhabited these many years.
Standing upon the Mount of Olives he enjoyed a panoramic view of the surrounding country Olivet is only 150 feet higher than the hills upon which Jerusalem is built, but it is 400 feet above the floor of the valley of Kedron that separates them. The Garden of Gethsemani lies near the bottom of this deep ravine. From the city down to the garden and then up to the top of the Mount of Olives was indeed quite a walk, yet no other place was more frequented by our Lords’ sacred feet.
Bro. Russel wrote that standing upon the Mount of Olives, he did not wonder that our master so often came there for meditation and prayer and to give instruction to his disciples. It was there our Lord sat when he uttered the great prophecy of Matt. 24 and the parables of Matt. 25 just two days before His crucifixion.
The view that Bro. Russel enjoyed 2000 years after the time of Jesus ministry has surely changed, however, we must turn back the pages of time an additional 2000 years to the time of Abraham for our first picture of this place which is due time will become the capital of Gods Kingdom on Earth. “For out of Zion shall go forth the Law of the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” Isaiah 3:2
God spoke to Abraham, as is recorded in the 22nd chapter of the book of Genesis. “Take now thy son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
The mountain was Moriah where God provided a lamb to be sacrificed instead of Isaac. The wisdom of God is manifested in the sending of Abraham to the very spot He had fore ordained should be the temple site and pictured for all time that Almighty God so loved the world that He gave His “only begotten Son” that the fallen human race might have an opportunity for everlasting life. It was there on Mount Moriah that the Lord declared to Abraham that because he had passed the test of faith his seed would eventually “Bless all the families of the earth.”
At that time the area where Jerusalem now stands had not been altered. There was a mountain, named by God, Moriah. Also there was a S.W. Hill, a N.W. hill, a N.E. hill and a S.E. hill. At that time all the hills were there but none of them had yet been named, however, if we were to stand on the top of the Mount of Olives as Bro. Russel did we would be unable to find most of these prominent landmarks. What happened to these mountains and hills? Can a mountain be moved? The answer to these questions is our study this evening.
1000 years after Abraham, about 1078 BC. David was made King of Israel and was directed by God to establish Jerusalem the capital city of Israel. 1 Kings 15:4 [Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:] The problem was that Jebusites had built a city at the foot of the S.E. hill which was the hill Ophel. The city was called Jebus and was located just above where the Kedron, the Cheesemongers and the Valley of the Son of Hinnon joined a former a natural fortress.
The Jebusites felt so secure they taunted David saying our blind and lame can keep your army from entering out city 2 Samuel 5:7 [Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.] So King David took the city and the fort above it called Zion and he dwelt there in a new house for the king built on the slope of the Hill Ophel. The city of David grew and David pitched a tent there at Zion and the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Zion and set in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it. The tapering extremity of My. Moriah to the south was Ophel, the site of the city of David, the fortress, the Kings house and the tabernacle containing the Arc of the Covenant. This was the original Mt. Zion. Later when Solomon moved the Ark to the Temple Mount it became known as Mt. Zion, and much later the entire city was called Zion, The Holy City.
King David was directed by God, 1 Chronicles 20 to go up on Mt. Moriah and built an alter to the Lord on the rock which belonged to Ornan the Jebusite which he was using as a threshing floor. King David bought the threshing floor, and Ornans oxen for burnt offering and his carts for wood and his wheat for a meat offering for 600 shekels of Gold and David built an alter there and sacrificed to the Lord.
That rock on the top of Mt. Moriah maybe the only thing that hasn’t changed in the city of Jerusalem. On this rock Abraham offered Isaac. David bought this rock and offered a sacrifice to the Lord upon it. When Solomon built the temple of the top of Moriah, the brazen alter where the burnt offerings of all Israel were sacrifice was on that rock, and the that rock is there to this day; its as big a barn floor, its 6 foot high flat. 58 feet long and 44 wide. The beautiful dome that protects the rock was erected in 691 A.D. by the Moslems who also consider it a holy place.
The erection of a permanent house of the Lord instead of the movable tabernacle was proposed by King David and the necessary materials were largely amassed by him, but the temple was to be built by Solomon.
The problem was, the top of Mt. Moriah needed some major landscaping work done before construction of the temple could begin. First Solomon needed to construct a level platform on the top of the mountain.
To accomplish this, Solomon built a retaining wall on four sides of the crest to support the earthen fill of the platform the top of the walls was level with the top of the mountain making a Hugh flat temple mount, 861 ft. or 500 cubits on each side.
The work that was done at that time and later efforts to enlarge this original platform was a prime factor in the ever changing topography of the city of Jerusalem.
The temple itself was then built upon the temple platform and stood as a beautiful house of God for 500 years until the time of the Bablonian captivity 536 B.C. when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar tore the whole city apart.
The walls of the city and the temple were rebuilt or patched up by the faithful returning Jews after the captivity but Israel was ruled by one occupying army after another until they became an independent nation in 1948.
In 148 B.C. some more large-scale landscaping was done, this time especially to the hill, Acra. At that time Acra was a fortified position which had been held by invaders for 40 years.
During the revolt of the Machabees the city was taken and the temple purified by the Jews but Acra was higher than the temple mount and the enemy could look down into the temple area.
The prompted a battle and the Jews not only drove the enemy from their fortified hill top but they then proceeded to remove to whole top of the hill and fill the valley that separated Acra from Bezetha. One hill gone, two to go!
In 20 B.C. Herod the great builder desired to built a temple, bigger and better than Solomons temple. With such a beautiful landmark he figured people would never forget him, that temple lasted only 90 years.
In order to build this new temple Harod was forced to enlarge the temple platform, actually he doubled it. New walls were built, North, South, and West. The Eastern wall was also extended to form the new larger platform. This is the platform that is there today. It is as big as 6 football fields. The new platform was extended West over the Typolian valley very nearly completely filling it. The prayer of wailing wall is north part of the platform Solomon built, it is part of the new wall built under Herod.
Before the platform was extended north the top of the hill Bezetha was pushed into the valley that separated Bezetha from Moriah. Now 2 hills Acra and Bezetha are down and one to go. Yes, the platform was extended south over the hill Ophel; therefore, if you were to stand at the top of the Mount of Olives as Brother Russel did a hundred years ago, you would see the temple mount with the Dome of the Rock right before you and beyond it to the west you would see what today is called Mt. Zion which is covered with buildings.
The valley of the Son of Hinnon has been filled and is the site of a large new shopping mall.
But even though the topography of the city has changed the Bible truth that the city has brought to light has not changed.
Of course Bible truth never changes, what was true once remains forever true, but the old truths are better understood as we continue to receive more and more light.
In 1892 Brother Russell offers some thoughts on Psalm 72:3 [The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.] This entire Psalm describes the Millennial reign of Christ. The mountain (new ruling powers of Christs kingdom) shall bring peace to the people and the little hills(the tributary powers under the main government – shall also be agencies of blessing and peace) through righteousness.
In E. Vol. 4 “The Epiphanies” Elect, Bro. Johnson adds further light on this beautiful Psalm. Symbolic Jerusalem is to be the seat of the new government, the mountain and hills pictured in this Psalm we understand represent the heavenly and earthly phase of that Kingdom.
The heavenly class will consist of our Lord and his “elect” of the Gospel Age, to whom he said, “Fear not, little flock, it is the Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
The earthly class will act as a mediator between the spiritual Kingdom and their subjects mankind will be the resurrected Ancient Worthies who will be Princes in the earth.
Literal Jerusalem was built on two mountains. Mt. Zion and Mt. Moriah which represent the two higher powers of the Kingdom, The Messiah, the Christ, head and body, the spiritual power, and Ancient Worthies, earthly powers.
Akra and Bezetha represent the subordinate powers of the Kingdom, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies.
Thus are resented the two phases of the Kingdom, the heavenly invisible phase by the two on the west and the earthly visible phase by the two on the east. The valley between symbolizes the Restitution class: the higher parts the quasi-elect, believing Jews and the faithful faith-justified and the lower parts the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles of this life.
The thought seems to be that the two phases of the Kingdom, represented by the mountains and hils of Jerusalem, will be used by Jehovah to bless the world of mankind with peace and prosperity through righteousness during the Millennium. Even to special messengers it is not given that they should understand certain details concerning the unfolding of Gods’ future plans.
Brother Russell knew the Bible taught that the harvest was the end of the Age, therefore it was his thought that the kingdom would be set up and the restitution morning would begin shortly after 1914. He also realized there was a lot of unfinished business at the time of his death in 1916. The restoration of Israel had not been completed, the Great Company had not been cleansed and there was a class he called the “Between the age consecrators” which were just beginning to be developed. He didn’t see much of this work would take another 40 years to complete.
Brother Johnson’s ministry covered that period which is our Lords Epiphany and he saw the completion of much of that work. Israel became a nation in 1948 and in his writings Brother Johnson explained the errors of the Great Company and revealed a fourth faith class, the Youthful Worthies, symbolized by the hill Bezetha in the city of Jerusalem. Brother Johnson died in 1950, he believed and taught the Kingdom would be ushered in by 1954 or 1956 at the latest. It was not part of his ministry to see this long transitional period that was to follow his death.
Brother Jolly had been appointed and elected to serve as the business director of the Layman’s Home Missionary Movement and according the scripture the Lord had appointed him the teacher and the leader of God’s people after Brother Johnsons death.
The thought at that time was that Brother Jolly would have a short ministry and just keep things going by publishing a few reports. Well, it didn’t happen quite that way. The supposed short ministry lasted 29 years and added a great amount of new light on the truth received during the Parousia and the Epiphany.
In harmony with this evenings study about the hills of Jerusalem we now see there was one more hill than there were faith classes during the Gospel age. Gradually during Brother Jollys ministry the truth was revealed respecting a new class of faith-justified, Consecrated Epiphany Campers and they are represented on the map by the hill Ophel.
Questions are bound to be asked. Why didn’t Brother Johnson explain what the hill Ophel represents in relation to the other four heights in Jerusalem?
It was not yet Gods’ due time to bring forth this item of truth. God reserved its understanding until the Consecrated Epiphany Campers would be coming forth as a class.
Brother Johnson knew the Ophel was there, but he always considered it part of Mt. Moriah.
In his writings he has referred to Mt. Moriah as the two peaks of Jerusalems south-eastern eminence on which Solomons Temple was built (Evol. 12 p.526)
Brother Johnson was well aware that the city of David was located on the south side of Moriah and he taught that Mt. Moriah was the first height of literal Jerusalem to be built upon this was because it was not for him to see Ophel as a separate hill. He didn’t see the Consecrated Epiphany Campers wither because they didn’t exist during his ministry.
In closing, we see the topography of the city of Jerusalem is in perfect harmony with the light we have received from the Bible revealing the consecrated, faith-justified family of God. E-vol. 16:282
Mt. Moriah represents the heroes of the Old Testament, the faithful Ancient Worthies.
Mt. Zion is a symbol of the Gospel Age overcomers, the Christ, head and body.
The hill Acra represents the Great Company.
Bezetha, the Youthful Worthies.
The hill Ophel, the Consecrated Epiphany Campers.
The Valleys of the city are also symbols. The valley that separates the city, the central valley, represents the Restitution class. The higher parts of the quasi elect and the lower parts the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles of this life.
The Kedron Valley represents the Adamic death. The walls of the Kidron valley seems to be graves nearly to the top. It is called the valley of death.
The valley of the Son of Hinnon, the Gehenna of the new Testament is symbolic of the second death.
I’ll really close with a final word by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 3:17 [At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.]
[Editor’s Note: While I believe Brother Jolly was a good man who had a lot of wisdom and dedicated more of his life to understanding the truth than I have, I *personally* believe his research and concept of Consecrated Epiphany Campers is questionable and I highly recommend that you do your own research on this topic.] – Collected Truth Admin