Space, its origins to the Gihon spring. However,
Space, taken for its face value, is a nebulous word. Depending on its context, space can mean anything from being “a preexisting static container isolated from other spaces” to an “undifferentiated vacuity, a void to be filled” (Tweed 117) . However, in Tweed’s essay Space, he limits the word to a personal level. He attempts to define it as an experienced space: the relationship between a person and the space itself. This experienced space implies that different people experience space differently because are derived from individualistic memories and values. And as Tweed explains, space involves three components: differentiation, kinetics, and interrelation (Tweed 117). Read alongside the Hebrew Bible, Tweed’s complex definition can be understood by analyzing Jerusalem’s mountains and springs, history of its successes and failures, and interconnection with politics and economic, illustrating that Jerusalem is not just a city. It is a place settled by God. Spaces are differentiated in that they are special in comparison to their surroundings. Although some of these spaces may be set apart because of their aesthetics, their differentiation is not primarily derived from physical features (Tweed 119). They are differentiated because of their perceived association with deities and their characteristics as holy or ideal. With these factors in mind, an observer may express an affective response for the space, such as a building, no matter how plain that building is (such as the chapel) by imagining and perceiving forces from the divine and images of the ultimate horizon (whether it is heaven or a variation of it) (Tweed 120). This differentiation can be first seen in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. According to its myth, God created a stream that rose from the earth. It split apart as it exited Eden where it divided into four rivers. “The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush” (Gen 2:13 NRSV). This Gihon “river” directly references the physical geography of Jerusalem, drawing its origins to the Gihon spring. However, only one of the two landmarks in the quote can be traced to a physical manifestation. The land of Cush is placed in reality, tangible to any viewer. On the other hand, the Gihon “river” has never been seen/discovered. Rather it is manifested within its devotees though belief, serving a mystical function because of its sacred geography. Additionally, its physical associations with water allow it to attain a status of sacred proportion. This is because water, in the creation story, is associated with life and fertility. It splits off from the Eden, the Garden of Life itself, and is associated with fortune and affluence, marked by the traces of bdellium and onyx stones that are scattered along the river (Gen 2:12). The spring’s relationship with water and close proximity to Paradise that was once located in Jerusalem makes the spring and the area of Jerusalem around it special, and according to Genesis, conducive to life itself. Additionally, differentiation can be seen in the story of the Binding of Isaac. According to the myth, Isaac was to be sacrificed in the name of the LORD God on Mount Moriah to prove Abraham’s piety to the LORD God. But just as Abraham is about to strike his son, a theophany occurs. An angel representing the divine beckons Abraham to stop and a sacrifice in the form of a ram was used instead. God blesses man (Abraham) with him offspring “as numerous as the stars of heaven” (Gen 22:17 NRSV). In the process of this divine dialogue between God and Abraham, Mount Moriah is depicted as a meeting place between planes of existence. This interaction makes the mountain spiritually higher, differentiating it from its surroundings. Because of this, it earns its name “The LORD will provide,” indicative of the ram that was used for the sacrifice instead of Isaac (Gen 22:14 NRSV). As seen in the myth, God does indeed provide, and in his magnanimity, the sacredness of the mountain and its city is made apparent. The Mountain of Zion and the City of Jerusalem around it are also worthy of differentiation. The mountain is depicted in Psalms as “His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth”, directly referencing the LORD (Ps 48:1-2 NRSV). And although the mountain is definitely not the tallest in elevation, even in the midst of the surrounding mountains, it is spiritually higher because of these said associations. According to the Psalms, it is a place that makes kings run in fear, an impenetrable fortress even in the face of disaster (Gen 48:5 NRSV). It is an area that is sheltered by God himself; “God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved” (Ps 46:5 NRSV). The Psalm poet and other Israelites truly believe that God dwells in the city, imbuing it with mystical powers. Additionally, its people want it to prosper and are emotionally invested in the space. This is depicted in a poignant exclamation for the wellbeing of the city. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem… Peace be within your walls… For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you”” (Ps 122:6-8 NRSV). Thus, Jerusalem is not just any city. It is a space saturated with the affection of its people, giving it an ideal and even divine status (Tweed 120). Tweed also argues that spaces are not just differentiated, but also kinetic, changing with the course of time. Spaces interlock the temporal and the spatial components of reality, providing it a history. For example, the Mexican chapel space in Tweed’s essay is kinetic. It was created in 1965, and a law that was passed in temporal proximity allowed more immigration. With the statute’s dramatic demographic effects and the chapel’s exponential increase in visitation, the space had changed. Just as the chapel is a process, Jerusalem is one as well that prospered in the second book of Samuel. This prospering begins with the tale of David marching into the city of Jerusalem against the Jebusites in 1000 BCE. He takes solstice in Zion, and with his anointing from God, David leaves the war victorious, turning his spoil of victory into the capital of his empire (2Sam 5:7). He changes the very landscape of the Holy Land, moving the ark into the heart of his city and enacting a pact with God to secure his throne for his generations to come (2Sam 6:17). His son succeeds him, inviting the Lord to Jerusalem after the creation of his temple; “the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud,” leaving the priests incapable of conducting their ceremony “for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God” (1 Chronicles 5 NIV). With God’s visitation, the holiness of the city is established. Solomon also adds the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, and the Hall of the Throne, further establishing the city’s political power by displaying its affluence. Thus from a site isolated from two major highways and only known for its proximity to the affluent empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia, Jerusalem transforms into the centerpiece of the Middle East. It was on the road to nowhere. However, with the LORD’s settlement into the city, Jerusalem kinetically grew a status of honor. However, the kinetic space of Jerusalem also experienced a period of destruction and devastation, which distorts the city’s image as an immaculate institution of the holy. This destruction was instigated by a lack of piety in its rulers and resulted in the conflicts of the Iron Age. For although God had promised Jerusalem eternal peace and protection in the covenant between Him and David, Solomon had violated the divine vows. He proved to be an idolator, decorating his Temple with pagan references and building “shrines to gods of his neighbors” (Armstrong 54). As a result, God “cut Israel off the land He had given them”, manifested in the siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC (1Kgs 9:7 NRSV). God’s will, manifested in the assault of the Babylonians, leaves the city in ruins. Jerusalem’s streets are plundered; its Temple is destroyed; its gates are desolated; its people dispersed (Lam 1:4-5). This dispersion, seen in Lamentations, leaves the people in emotional trauma, as expressed by the personification of the city as a grief-stricken wife. “How like a widow she has become… She weeps bitterly in the night… with no one to comfort her” (Lam 1:1-2 NRSV). The people now see the city as a skeleton that once was, the “impenetrable” fortress of God. Their mourning is further emphasized by the words of sadness (lonely, servitude, distress) that litter the poem, reflecting the chaotic and senseless state of the city. Jerusalem had become a “mockery,” and according to the King James’ version of the Bible, as well as a whore because it served multiple masters (gods) simultaneously (Lam 1:8 NRSV). Thus, the pristine label of Jerusalem becomes tarnished to its people. However, this tarnished holy land remains as a sacred space. The Bible records God bounded to His land. “If they sin against you… and carried away captive to the land… but they repent with all their heart and soul… forgive the people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they committed against you” (1Kgs 8:46-50 NRSV). Thus God is always near the city of Jerusalem, waiting patiently for His people to return. As a result, Jerusalem remains a sacred, albeit imperfect, space for its devotees. Finally, Tweed adds a third dimension to space: interrelation. By this, Tweed means that spaces are areas that act as a “confluences” or rather focal points where “cultural “streams” – political, social, and economic” – dynamically interact with one another (Tweed 121). In his article, Tweed depicts this interrelation using the natural materials and the devotees of the chapel. The former represents the economic cost of the space while the latter illustrates its associations with ethnic identity and nationalism (Tweed 121). These two cultural streams both converge into the space, producing a “swirl of transfluvial currents” that influences one another as they intermingle (Tweed 121). This intermingling is made apparent in the interrelated construction of Solomon’s Temple. For although the Temple is primarily seen as a religious center, its ornate construction and expensive building materials serve as an economic and political testament to other nations and its people. The Book of Kings describes the rocks used as “costly stones”, all meticulously carved and placed with absolute measure (1Kgs 7:9 NRSV). Each house is joined by timbers of cedar, a luxurious wood from the King of Hiram (1Kgs 6:10). It is decorated by the carvings of cherubims, angels that bless the halls (1Kgs 6:25). Overlaying the design, is pure gold that makes its appearance in front of the inner sanctuary, the whole house, the altar, and even the cherubim decorations (1Kgs 6:29). Thus, Solomon is seen to spare no expenses for his religiously and politically resounding temple. He disregards frugality, using an abundant work force (from King Hiram), and expensive materials to construct his house of God. To its people, its grand appearance served to illustrate that Jerusalem lacks no resources and that its ruler is supreme. Thus, the creation of the Temple not only represents Solomon’s dedication to the LORD but also to Jerusalem’s strength and political prestige. Through its lavish buildings, it truly becomes a place worthy of God’s throne on earth. Together, with the differentiations in geography (especially mountains), kinetics in Jerusalem’s rise and fall, and interrelations with politics and economics, Jerusalem rises above other cities as a religious site and acts as the seat of God. Its very landscape is an imago mundi with its temple acting as the axis mundi for many Christian followers. Thus many have professed that “of the ten portions of beauty which came down to the world, Jerusalem took nine,” earning itself the divinity it deserves and playing a pivotal role in the guidance of its believers (Jerusalem’s Religious Significance).