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A city called Rušalimum or Urušalimum (Foundation of Shalem) appears in ancient Egyptian records as the first two references to Jerusalem, in c. 2000 BCE and c. 1330 BCE respectively. The form Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) first appears in the Bible, in the book of Joshua. This form has the appearance of a portmanteau (blend) of Yireh (an abiding place of the fear and the service of God) and the original root S-L-M and is not a simple phonetic evolution of the form in the Amarna letters. The meaning of the common root S-L-M is unknown but is thought to refer to either "peace" (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew) or Shalim, the god of dusk in the Canaanite religion. 

Typically the ending -im indicates the plural in Hebrew grammar and -ayim the dual thus leading to the suggestion that the name refers to the fact that the city sits on two hills. However the pronunciation of the last syllable as -ayim appears to be a late development, which had not yet appeared at the time of the Septuagint.

The tradition names the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem the City of David. "Zion" initially referred to part of the city, but later came to signify the city as a whole and as a metaphor for the Biblical Land of Israel. In Greek and Latin the city's name was transliterated Hierosolyma (Ἱεροσόλυμα), although the city was renamed Aelia Capitolina for part of the Roman period of its history. In Arabic, Jerusalem is most commonly known as القُدس, transliterated as al-Quds and meaning "The Holy".

 

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