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Chronology: Six key moments that shaped Jerusalem

But, as historians explain in the CNN original series “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury,” the story of the capital’s religious and political tensions goes back far beyond the 20th century. It is centuries old.

“The history of Jerusalem is a very complex story,” Hunter College history teacher Laura Shore says on the CNN series. “And if you don’t know it in its complexity, it’s very hard to understand what’s going on today.”

Then there’s the fact that Jerusalem is also “the center of the national aspirations of two communities: the Israeli community and the Palestinian community,” Smith College religion professor Solomon Murad explained in the “Jerusalem” series. “It adds another layer of complexity.”

Shore adds that the challenge of resolving centuries of conflict may be difficult, but “it is impossible to imagine mending the present and building a better future for Jerusalem without understanding the many stories of Jerusalem’s past.”

“Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury” offers a place to start by focusing on half a dozen critical moments in the city’s evolution. Below is a history of these six major controversies and rivalries, along with expert commentary on the series.

Circa 1,000 BC: David vs. Goliath

The story of an Israelite shepherd boy powerfully defeating a giant is so legendary that it is still part of modern popular culture. Even those who have never read the biblical text know the plot: David, portrayed as the last helpless man, shoots down an imposing and deadly enemy named Goliath. Gives, except a slingshot and a little faith.

Here’s why this well-known story is so fundamental to the history of Jerusalem: It’s not just a good story in the Hebrew Bible. This is a turning point in the establishment of the empire.

When David kills Goliath around 1000 BC, it puts him on the path to becoming the king of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Once he does this, David forcibly takes Jerusalem as his capital.
The walled enclave was built in an area called Canaan, “which the Israelites believed God was giving them as a land they were to inherit,” explains University of Iowa religious studies professor Robert Cargill. According to the biblical text, a local population called the Jebusite already resided in David’s chosen capital and, as a result, his conquest of Jerusalem is still debated today, adds historian and author Simon Sebag Montefiore.

39 BC: Rise and fall of Herod the Great

The reign of King David was followed by the reign of his son Solomon, who built the first temple on the famous site of today. Like Temple Mount or Haram Al-Sharif.
Aerial view of the city through the Temple Temple and the Dome of the Rock.  (Photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images)

In the centuries since his death, the power structure has changed, but Jerusalem remains a desirable fortress. And by 39 BC, another ruler had ruthlessly taken control: Herod the Great.

Aided by a powerful Roman army, Herod ascended the throne violently and devoted himself to becoming “the most successful king, not only . . .

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