Bereishit Rabbah (56:10) tells us that Yerushalayim was named as a unification of Avraham's "Yireh" after the akeidah and Malkhitzedek (who was really Shem) who greeted Avraham after saving Lot who was called the king of "Shalem". Both Avraham and Shem merited 'the place' to be named after them i.e. Yireh Shalem, namely Yerushalayim.

In the Torah Yerushalayim is never mentioned as this name. It is called "hamakom asher yivchar", "sha'ar ha'shamayim" or simply "makom".

I have heard it said in the name of the Rambam that the avot didn't want to reveal the name/location of such a holy place lest the nations occupy it and prevent the Jews from using it.

What are the other reasons? And are there others (other than the Rambam) that discuss the reason?


2 Answers 2


The Rambam (Moreh Nevukhim Part III, 45) writes, concerning Mount Moriah: "The fact that the Torah does not make specific mention of it [Jerusalem], but rather hints at it and says, "…[the place] which God will choose" etc., appears to me to have three explanations. The first: so that the nations would not seize the place and wage power struggles over it, knowing that this place – out of the entire Land – represents the ultimate purpose of the Torah; secondly – lest whoever possessed it at the time destroy it and devastate it to the limit of their power; and thirdly – the strongest reason of all – that a situation would not arise in which every tribe would want it included in its inheritance, so as to be able to rule over it, and it would fall to [whichever tribe would emerge victorious] as a result of controversy and strife, as did the quest for the priesthood. For this reason we are commanded that the Temple not be built until after the coronation of a king, so that there is one single ruler and all strife falls away…."


"hamakom asher yivchar", refers to multiple places. First, it was in 42 different places in the Midbar. Then it was Gilgal, Then Shilo, where the Mishkan resided for many years, Then Gibeah and Gibon And finally Yerushalaim.

Because of the changes that Israel had to go through, the name of the final resting place could not have been named until King David recognized that Gd's chosen place could no longer be mobile.

It should be noted, that Gd seems to have reservations about King David's decision, but ultimately blesses the idea. Shmuel 2 chapter 7

As explained in the book "The Temple", the reason for this is that ultimate, Gd wants Man to build the temple when the society is right for it's construction. It's final resting place is chosen by Gd, based on the actions of Man, as the Jewish people become a partner with Gd in regards to it's final resting place and ultimate construction.

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