In the Tanach, the word Yerushalayim is almost always written without a yud between the lamed and mem, but pronounced as if there is a patach under the lamed and a yud following it. We find though that Malki Tzedek was called Melech Shalem in Bereshis 14:18, and the midrash in Bereshis Rabba 56:10 implies that that is referring to Yerushalayim. This would seem to indicate that the city's name, at one point at least, was pronounced Yerushalem, as indeed it is vowelized in Aramaic, and that at a later period it was changed to Yerushalayim, as it indeed appears in Meggilas Esther. Did the switch occur, when, and why?


2 Answers 2


In the Chumash, we find "Malki-tzedek, king of Shalem", as well as Avraham referring to the place of Akeidat Yitzchak as "Hashem Yireh." The midrash says those names were combined, "Yireh+Shalem" -> "Yerushalayim."

Note that in Aramaic, it's pronounced "Yerushlame", which fits with how it's written Biblically -- no yud before the final mem. However in Hebrew, it's "Yerushalayim."

  • Why is it then that in Tanach it is still spelled without a yud? The aramaic pronunciation also would seem to indicate that the name as Yerushalem persisted after the combination of the names mentioned in the Midrash, which then makes the question stronger - when and why did the change occur?
    – Jewels
    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:00
  • 4
    This doesn't seem to answer the question (when and why); it just repeats what is said in the question.
    – Scimonster
    Apr 28, 2014 at 12:08
  • @Scimonster, that's because the question was edited substantially substantively since this answer was posted.
    – msh210
    Apr 28, 2014 at 16:02
  • @msh210 Oh. Now i want to take back the downvote, but it's been too long. :/
    – Scimonster
    Apr 28, 2014 at 17:22

Which Tanakh are you referencing to find the correct pronunciation of Jerusalem (ירושלם)?

We find in the Dead Sea Scrolls fragment of [Ezra 6:2] : "Yerushalem" (ירושלם). - without any niqqud [https://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/explore-the-archive/image/B-367571].

  1. We also find Jerusalem pronounced "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִַם) In the Tanakh [MT] published online @ [mechon-mamre.org]
  • [2 Samuel 5:5] - "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִַם).
  • [Isaiah 2:3] - "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִָם).
  • [Ezra 1:2] - "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִַם).
  1. We also find Jerusalem pronounced "Yerushalam" and "Yerushelem" in the Tanakh [MT] edited Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg [chabad.org] :
  • [2 Samuel 5:5] - "Yerushalam" (ירוּשָׁלַ֣םִ).
  • [Isaiah 2:3] - "Yerushalam" (ירֽוּשָׁלִָֽם).
  • [Ezra 1:2] - "Yerushalam" (ירֽוּשָׁלִַ֖ם).
  • [Ezra 6:3] - "Yerushelem" (ירֽוּשְׁלֶם֙).
  1. We also find Jerusalem pronounced "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִַ֣ם) in Tanakh online @ [sefaria.org].
  • [2 Samuel 5:5] - "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִַ֣ם).
  • [Isaiah 2:3] - "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִָֽם).
  • [Ezra 1:2] - "Yerushalaim" (ירוּשָׁלִַ֖ם).
  • 1
    Hi and welcome to MY! If the concordance is correct, the word Jerusalem occurs 643 + 26 times in the Tanakh. Out of them only 5 times it is written using the full spelling with the yud (see masorah for Yirmiyahu 26:18). In all other (Hebrew) cases we pronounce it in a different way as the orthography would suggest, and add the "yi" syllable (see ketiv and qerei). Aug 5, 2020 at 14:00
  • Welcome to MY. The question asks, in my words, “The name was pronounced Yerushalem and at a later period it was changed to Yerushalayim. Did the switch occur, when, and why?” Your answer provides interesting facts (for which many thanks) but does not address the main question. Aug 5, 2020 at 16:05

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