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Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsOgden, D. Kelly
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsAncient Near East; Israel; Jerusalem (Old World); New Jerusalem; Prophecy
Citation Key432

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Author: Ogden, D. Kelly

Latter-day Saints view Jerusalem as a holy city, as do other Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The existence of Jerusalem as a unique holy place stems from at least the time that David captured the city and made it his capital. With Solomon's efforts, the temple stood in Jerusalem as God's dwelling place (1 Kgs. 6). For a Millennium, Jehovah was worshiped there, and his people looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). Tradition holds that its former name was Salem (Gen. 14:18; Ps. 76:2), where Melchizedek reigned and Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac. Later, Jesus Christ died there to atone for the sins of mankind. Concerning Jerusalem's future importance, latter-day scripture affirms biblical prophecies that Jerusalem is to be the scene of important events in the last days.

Old Testament prophets spoke of the rise and demise of Jerusalem (e.g., 1 Kgs. 9:3; Micah 3:12). About 600 B.C., the future Book of Mormon prophet Lehi lived in the land of Jerusalem and encountered opposition when he called its inhabitants to repentance and prophesied the coming of the messiah. He and his family were subsequently commanded by the Lord to flee the city, eventually journeying to the Western Hemisphere, where his descendants became two rival Book of Mormon Peoples, the Nephites and the Lamanites. Thus, from Jerusalem sprang the Book of Mormon saga.

Jerusalem was the scene of important events in Jesus' ministry. He taught and performed miracles there. No place was more holy to his followers than the temple, which Jesus considered the legitimate sanctuary of God, calling it "my Father's house" (John 2:16) and "my house" (Matt. 21:13). In an upper room of a house in Jerusalem, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his apostles, instituted the Sacrament, gave special meaning to the washing of feet, and revealed who would betray him. In Gethsemane and on Golgotha, Jesus accomplished the most selfless suffering in history, leading to his atoning sacrifice and resurrection.

Jesus mourned over the city as he recalled its past and envisioned its future (Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44;13:34-35). Like Jesus, Jerusalem would suffer indignities, anguish, and death (JS-M 1:18-22). But as Jesus lives again, so will Jerusalem (Isa. 52:1-2, 9; D&C 109:62). As part of the restoration of all things, the holy city must be restored. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple,…and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance" (HC 5:337).

Jerusalem will be restored in its former place, be sanctified, and become a city of holiness, graced with a new temple (Zech. 2:12;12:6; Ether 13:5, 11; 3 Ne. 20:29-36; D&C 77:15). Elder Orson Hyde, an apostle, journeyed to Jerusalem in 1841 to dedicate the land "for the building up of Jerusalem again…and for rearing a Temple in honor of [the Lord's] name" (HC 4:456).


Other events are yet to occur in Jerusalem: a major struggle will yet rage in Jerusalem's streets, that of Armageddon (Zech. 14); an earthquake will divide the Mount of Olives; and the Savior will appear to the Jews (D&C 45:48-53).

Two separate Jerusalems, the old and the new, will serve as headquarters of the millennial kingdom of God from which Jesus will rule. Old Jerusalem will be built up by Judah. The New Jerusalem, also to be known as Zion (D&C 45:66-67), will be built up in Jackson County, Missouri, by Ephraim, whose descendants largely make up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Isaiah foresaw the day when this second Jerusalem or Zion would be established: "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3; cf. 64:10). Moroni 2, the last Book of Mormon prophet, first described the Jerusalem of old, then quoted the prophecy of Ether that "a New Jerusalem should be built up upon the land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph," and finally mentioned the "New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven" (Ether 13:3-12). John the Revelator also envisioned this final "Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven" (Rev. 21:2, 10). From this New Jerusalem, the city of Zion, God and the Lamb will reign over a celestialized earth (Moses 7:62-63; cf. DS 3:55-79).


BYU Studies Staff. "The Holy Land: A Premodern Photo Tour." BYU Studies 37:4 (1997-98):65-92.

Burton, Alma P. Toward the New Jerusalem. Salt Lake City, 1985.

Madsen, Gordon A. Review of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, by Karen Armstrong. BYU Studies 37:4 (1997-98):194-198.

Madsen, Gordon A. Review of Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Richard Galbraith, D. Kelly Ogden, and Andrew C. Skinner. BYU Studies 37:4 (1997-98):194-198.

Nibley, Hugh. "Jerusalem: In Early Christianity." In CWHN, Vol. 4, pp. 323-54.