As a youngster who loved
woodwork, I remember once announcing to my mother that I was about to build her
a spice rack. After a few hours of sawing and gluing, I realized it
looked more like a doll house so I asked mom if she’d mind having a doll house instead.
It later became clear to me that it was actually a bird feeder. Happily
it turned out that mother really did need a bird feeder.
Each decision I made
about where to cut my planks modified the eventual outcome of my project. Each
hasty cut modified it further.
Real life resembles my
childhood woodworking efforts. We start off with vague hopes and plans
but real life intrudes.We fall in love, we marry, we have children and become
involved in a job. You once wanted to be a single fireman in Fresno?
Well, you’re now a mechanic in Miami with a wife and five children. And
the trick is being as happy with your life as mom was with her bird feeder.
We humans can never know
the end outcome. Though we are partners in shaping our futures, we cannot flawlessly
design and execute our life blueprints. We can only try to do right and then
accept the result, living each day happily. Ancient Jewish wisdom
emphasizes this life tool by showing that just like our lives, even the name of
Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, was not set in stone from Creation but was shaped
by future events and actions.
Jerusalem is mentioned
by name over 600 times throughout the books of the Tanach, (the Hebrew
Scriptures) but not one of those mentions can be found in the Torah, the Five
Books of Moses.
Instead, Jerusalem is
referred to by other names.
And Malki-Zedek king of Shalem, took out bread and wine…
How do we know that
Shalem (Salem), which means both peace and completion refers to the future city
of Jerusalem? Well, King David announced that the Temple would be built there:
And His tabernacle shall be in Shalem
and His dwelling place in Zion…
Another name for
Jerusalem is Moriah as we see from these two verses:
And He said, take your son, your only son,
whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of
And Solomon began to build the House of God in Jerusalem,
at Mount Moriah where God appeared to David his father…
(II Chronicles 3:1)
The first time that
Jerusalem is ever mentioned by the name with which we are familiar, is in the
book of Joshua:
And it was when Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem,
heard that Joshua had conquered Ai…
Did you notice that both
rulers of Jerusalem that we have so far encountered have the word zedek,
meaning justice, in their names? Malki-Zedek and Adoni-Zedek. Another
person identified as a king in Jerusalem also has zedek, in his name.
Zedek-iah was twenty one years old when he began to reign;
he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem…
(II Kings 24:18)
Jerusalem, pronounced in
Hebrew as Yerushalayim, implies a place of Divine peace and completion. Peace
and completion are based on a Godly vision of justice. Peace seldom arrives
through cowardice and appeasement. Peace is the result of doing the right thing
and securing a just completion. Sometimes the only avenue to real peace
leads through the pain of conflict because a peace without justice is no peace.
It is merely a temporary cease-fire. The name Jerusalem couldn’t be
bestowed on that special place until the Israelites arrived in the land and
under Joshua’s leadership followed God’s commands.