Yes, there’s dust, but hey, the dust is old. When I try to read about exactly how old this place is, it’s as if I ate an ice cream bar too fast: brain freeze. During our five years in England we explored its history backwards, starting with Victorian, then heading out to medieval cathedral towns, and on our last trip, searching for signs of the Romans at Hadrian’s wall. People don’t come to Jerusalem for any of that comparatively modern history. Here history is religious — it’s where BC and AD began.
What do I mean by old dust, anyhow? Do I want geological information? Or human habitation? My Baedeker’s Israel tells me that people have been living in the Jerusalem area since the Early Stone Age. And that people were moving around and conquering Israel well before the Egyptians temporarily took charge. What makes me double check that I am indeed reading the chapter called “History,” pages of which are tabbed with “Facts” is the discussion of biblical figures. Such as Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt (which took 40 years and suggests he had a worse sense of direction than I do): “…ended their migration on Mount Nebo in present-day Jordan, where Moses died and his successor Johsua organized the land seizure. Neither the story recounted in Exodus, nor the character of Moses, can be taken literally from a historical perspective. Nevertheless they are a valuable source that describes different migration groups at that time…” p. 54.
I like that bit about “organized the land seizure” even if it can’t be taken literally.
It just gets better. Remember David and Goliath? That stone slinging incident was part of a larger engagement against the Philistines, and David became king, and captured Jerusalem and made it his capital around 998 BC. There is more about David in the chapter “Famous People,” where he has an entry (p. 97). Who did he capture Jerusalem from? From whom? The Jebusites. He let them stay.
As I said, old dust. I’ll have to give that sandy dust that I sweep off the balcony everyday a little more respect.