Who Founded Jerusalem

Who Founded Jerusalem

A. S. Al-Dahir

According to Deut 26:5:

“You shall answer and say before the LORD your God, “A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and lived there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and numerous.”

The Amorites were absorbed by the Aramaeans according to Wiki:

“In the earliest Sumerian sources concerning the Amorites, beginning about 2400 BC, the land of the Amorites (“the Mar.tu land”) is associated not with Mesopotamia but with the lands to the west of the Euphrates, including Canaan and what was to become Syria by the 3rd century BC, then known as The land of the Amurru, and later as Aram and Eber-Nari.”

The Aramaeans absorbed the Amorites which explains the Amorite name Yacoub or Jacob who was renamed Israel, a Canaanite name. Hebrew is a branch of the Canaanite language. The reference in Deut 26:5 is to Yacoub and not to Abram. Abram, or Abarama is an Eblaite name. Ebla was conquered by the Amorites circa 1800 BCE, but the Amorites were in the area from about 2400 BCE, so it is highly likely that there was much cultural interchange between the Eblaites and Amorites since both were Semitic peoples.

According to Judges 6:10:

“and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”‘”

The Hebrew authors acknowledged that the Amorites preceded the Hebrews in the land of Canaan and that the Hebrews were attempting to occupy Amorite territory. In contradiction to this apparent attempt to distinguish the Hebrews from the Amorites, later known as Aramaeans, the Genesis authors recognize that Abram is an Aramaean/Amorite (Gen 24:3 & 4):

(Abraham said): “You must not acquire a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living. 4 You must go instead to my country and to my relatives to find a wife for my son Isaac.”

That country, according to Gen 24:10 is ‘Aram Naharayim’ or Aram of the 2 rivers (the Euphrates and the Orontes). In addition according to Gen 10:16, the Amorites and the Hethites (Hittites) were related to Canaan, so the Hittite Amorite relationship was recognized by the Biblical authors:

“15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, Heth, 16 the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites.”

According to Ezekiel 16:3:

“and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.”

According to Judges, the Hebrews recognized that they lived in the land of the Amorites. According to Ezekiel, Jerusalem was a city founded in the land of Canaan by the Amorites and Hittites. According to Joshua, Jerusalem’s early name was (the city of the) Y?buwciy or Jebusites. According to Gen 10:16, the Jebusites were located between the Hittites and the Amorites, so they are recognized as close kin which would allow for quite a bit of confusion in identifying the actual founders of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is mentioned in the Eblaite tablets which date to 2500 BCE, so the biblical authors are probably wrong on all counts. The only attested occupants of Canaan at this time were Canaanites, so Jerusalem was very likely founded by indigenous Canaanites and not Amorites, Hittites and/or Jebusites, although the Jebusites are thought by some scholars to be a tribe of Canaanites. Also, the Ezekiel verse may be a reference to an ancient relationship between the Amorites and Hittites which began with the Hittite conquest of the Amorite kingdom of Ebla. According to Wiki:

“After their expulsion from Mesopotamia, the Amorites of Syria came under the domination of first the Hittites and, from the 14th century BC, the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1050). They appear to have been displaced or absorbed by a new wave of semi-nomadic West Semitic-speaking peoples, known collectively as the Ahlamu during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The Arameans rose to be the prominent group amongst the Ahlamu, and from c. 1200 BC on, the Amorites disappeared from the pages of history. From then on, the region that they had inhabited became known as Aram (“Aramea”) and Eber-Nari.”

Aram, according to Wiki:

“The Arameans, or Aramaeans … were an ancient Northwest Semitic Aramaic-speaking tribal confederacy who emerged from the region known as Aram (in present-day Syria) in the Late Bronze Age – from the 11th–8th centuries BC. They established a patchwork of independent Aramaic kingdoms in the Levant and seized large tracts of Mesopotamia.

The Arameans never formed a unified nation; they grouped into small independent kingdoms across parts of the Near East, particularly in present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, the northwestern Arabian peninsula and south-central Turkey. Their political influence was confined to a number of states such as Aram Damascus, Hamath, Palmyra, Aleppo and the partly Aramean Syro-Hittite states, which were entirely absorbed into the Neo-Babylonian Empire by the 9th century BC. In the New Babylonian, or Chaldean, empire, Chaldeans, Aramaeans, Suteans and indigenous Babylonians became largely indistinguishable.”

So, the Amorites were dominated by the Hittites; the both of whom became absorbed into the Aramaean sphere of influence. However, it is evident that the Hittites in Canaan were cultural Semites and that they retained their identification with the Amorites down to the time of Ezekiel. It is also evident that these Amorites carried tales from their ancient kingdom of Ebla into Canaan:


“Many Old Testament personal names that have not been found in other Near Eastern languages have similar forms in Eblaite, including a-da-mu/Adam, h’à-wa /Eve, Abarama/Abraham, Bilhah, Ishmael, Isûra-el, Esau, Mika-el/Michael, Mikaya/Michaiah, Saul, and David). Also mentioned in the Ebla tablets are many biblical locations: For example, Ashtaroth, Sinai, Jerusalem (Ye-ru-sa-lu-um), Hazor, Lachish, Gezer, Dor, Megiddo, Joppa, and so on.”

The personal names in the Eblaite tablets are not related to the Biblical characters who have similar names. However, these names may indicate a cultural heritage that was brought to Canaan by the Amorites and their Hittite allies in exile. It can be surmised that this Eblaite/Amorite cultural heritage colored the Biblical narratives. El was also worshiped by the Amorites and Eblaites as well as the Canaanites. El was not the god of Jerusalem which means ‘the city of the god Shalem’ who was the Canaanite god of dusk. The Amorites aka Aramaeans inhabitants in Canaan may have had influence in changing the chief god of Jerusalem from Shalem to El, but that possibility could also be attributed to the Canaanites as El was the head of the Canaanite pantheon. The Hebrews, whose patriarch, Jacob, was an Amorite/Aramaean, borrowed much from the Canaanite culture and religion, so attribution of religious tenets to a definite source is a wade into deep and murky waters.

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