Nehemiah 11:1
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1  The officers of the people settled in Yerushalayim; the rest of the people cast lots for one out of ten to come and settle in the holy city of Yerushalayim, and the other nine-tenths to stay in the towns.

va-yay-sh’-VU sa-RAY ha-AM bee-ru-sha-LA-im ush-AR ha-AM hi-PEE-lu go-ra-LOT l’-ha-VEE e-KHAD min ha-a-sa-RAH la-SHE-vet bee-ru-sha-LA-im EER ha-KO-desh v’-TAY-sha ha-ya-DOT be-a-REEM

א  וַיֵּשְׁבוּ שָׂרֵי־הָעָם בִּירוּשָׁלָ ִם וּשְׁאָר הָעָם הִפִּילוּ גוֹרָלוֹת לְהָבִיא אֶחָד מִן־הָעֲשָׂרָה לָשֶׁבֶת בִּירוּשָׁלַ ִם עִיר הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְתֵשַׁע הַיָּדוֹת בֶּעָרִים׃

 11:1   In the holy city of Yerushalayim

Rooftops of a Tzfat neighborhood.

In addition to Yerushalayim, Jews recognize three other holy cities, Tzfat (Safed), Teveria (Tiberias), and Chevron (Hebron). The idea of four holy cities originated after the Ottoman conquest of Israel, and corresponds to the four centers of Jewish life at the time. Each city is holy for a different reason, and each corresponds to one of the four elements from which the ancients believed the world was created. Chevron is the burial site of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, symbolic of earth. Teveria, where the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled, resides by the shores of the Kinneret and corresponds to water. Tzfat, located high up on the mountains, is the renowned center of mystical Judaism, the Kabbalah, and is therefore associated with air. And Yerushalayim, the site of the Temples which contained the altars and the menorah lamp, is associated with fire. In this way, the four holy cities of Israel contain all the elements for everything in heaven and earth.

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Nehemiah 11
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  • Wow! I never knew that, about the four cities, Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron and how the four elements can be associated with each of the cities.

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Nehemiah 11:1

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