In honor of Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Holy City in the 1967 Six Day War – here’s a list that includes some of the lesser-known names used to refer to Israel’s eternal capital.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
According to Jewish tradition, there are 70 names for Jerusalem, and in honor of Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day – we’ve decided to share many of these names with you, briefly describing what they mean and how each one is indeed appropriate. Here we go:
Jerusalem, of course, is the primary name for the Holy City and the one most commonly used to refer to the eternal capital of the Jewish State. The name “Jerusalem” dates all the way back to the era of the “Amarna Tablets” (1300 BCE). Jerusalem is a combination of the words “Yeru,” meaning “God watches,” and “Shalem,” meaning “whole” and “peace.” Put it together, and Jerusalem means the “peaceful city that God watches over.” (May it truly be one day soon!)
Moriah, another famous name for the city, is actually the formal name for the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest place site. It also means “place of teaching,” as Jerusalem is the center of spiritual teaching for the whole world.
Zion, another famous name for the city, is also an ancient name for the Temple Mount. It is occasionally used in Scripture to refer to the entire Land of Israel.
Ariel, meaning “Lion of God,” refers to Jerusalem being the “king” of all cities, just as the lion is the “king” of all animals. It is also another name for the Holy Temple.
Ir Hakodesh – meaning “the Holy City” – is an easy one to remember. It is interesting to note that in many languages around the world, the word used for Jerusalem is essentially the equivalent of “the holy city.” For example, “Al Quds” (the Holy Place) in Arabic and “Kudus” (Holiness) in Turkish.
Derusha, meaning “the one who is sought after,” refers to that inexplicable desire to visit Jerusalem and be a part of its holiness.
Ir Ha’elokim, “the City of God.” Not much commentary needed here. God chose the city as His place of residence and the Holy Temple as His home.
Ir Ha’emet, “the City of Truth,” referring to the great court that would sit in Jerusalem and pursue truth in all matters, from religious requirements to disputes between individuals.
Neve Tzedek,” City of Justice” – same reasoning as “City of Truth.”
Kiryat Aliza, meaning “City of Happiness,” as Jerusalem is meant to bring happiness to those who visit her, especially in terms of the “Simchat Beit Hashoeva” festival that would take place in the Temple on the holiday of Sukkot.
Beit Tefilla, “City of Prayer.” No big surprise here. Besides the fact that the Holy Temple was, and will be, the house of prayer for all mankind, Jews have always faced Jerusalem when praying. Every synagogue in the world faces Jerusalem. King Solomon prayed to God that He should answer the prayers of anyone who prays facing Jerusalem.
Ohaliba means “my tent is in her.” God’s “tent” of course, is the Holy Temple.
Beula, meaning “married,” referring to both the “marriage” between God and Jerusalem and that of the Jewish people and Jerusalem.
Har Hamor, meaning both “Mount of Teaching” and “Pleasant Smelling Mountain,” refers to the Temple, which is the source of all Torah teaching and brings a beautiful aroma to the world.
Har Moed, meaning “Mountain of Assembly,” again referring to the Temple and Temple Mount, where the Jewish People would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Temple on the holidays.
Heftziba, meaning, “I desire her,” referring to God’s (and the Jewish People’s) love for Jerusalem.
Tabur Ha’aretz means “belly of the world.” Just as human life forms in the area of the belly (where the umbilical cord was connected), so too, Jerusalem is the source of spiritual life for the entire world.
Yefeh Nof, meaning “the beautiful view,” referring to the magnificent scenery surrounding Jerusalem. In fact, in many places in Jerusalem one can catch a view that extends to the Dead Sea!
Mesos Kol Ha’aretz, meaning “joy of the world,” referring to all the happiness that emerges from Jerusalem.
Happy Jerusalem Day!
Sign the Declaration to Keep Jerusalem United
Jerusalem Must Remain the United Capital of Israel
I declare that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish People and support all efforts to maintain and strengthen a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.