Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV  Volume Sixteen   Number 2 (91)  ■  March 2003 ■ Adar II 5763 ■ Ariel Center for Policy Research





The Shaping of Jerusalem’s Landscape – The Hills and the Desert –
by the Israelites in Biblical Times

Menashe Har-El

The Jewish people living in Eretz Israel were the first in the history of this land and in the ancient Near East to determine the shape and use of the mountainous and desert landscapes and embark on an intensive settlement in these regions. This accomplishment, on an international scale, brought about construction in the heart of the Judean mountains and in Jerusalem, the capital city, the Temple of worship, and an array of fortifications, all being the most magnificent in the ancient world.

Since the mountainous and desert regions took up almost two thirds of the land area, the Israelites developed ingenious and pioneering technologies that were handed down to other nations:

1.   the culture of terrace agriculture,

2.   the storage and transportation of water,

3.   wood, stone and metal industries,

4.   the architecture of grand buildings,

5.   road engineering.

In this way, the mountain and desert regions turned from isolated and sparsely settled areas in the time of the Caananites, into preferred and populated areas in the times of the Israelites, as stated in the prophecy of Isaiah: “...And I will bring forth a seed of Yaakov, and out of Yehuda an inheritor of my mountains, and my chosen ones shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.” (Isaiah 65:9)


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