Earlier I mentioned a city in Canaan called Shalem. The earliest reference to the city was 1850 B.C.E. in Egyptian texts. Baal was the god of all nations in the Near East, except for Egypt, and each locality had its own version of Baal. Shalem was the Baal for its region. It was in the same family of Gods as Ashtar and Molech. Cities of the Near East like Shalem weren’t just economic centers. They were religious centers. They were the very incarnation of the deity. These religious cities were the highest expression of defiance against God. Babel was the archetypical city in defiance of God and Shalem was another manifestation of Babel.
Shalem symbolized Venus, the evening star. It conveyed the idea of completeness and fulfillment, the culmination of the day. Shalem is in the Bible. We first encounter Shalem in Genesis 14:18 when the priest-king Melchizedek, described as the "king of Salem," comes out to bless Abraham. (The anglicized version of the Shalem is spelled “Salem.”) Ancient texts that referred to the city often referred to it as Urushalim meaning “foundation of Shalem.” David annexed the area of Urushalim to Israel after Israel had conquered Canaan. He altered the name of the city and made it his capital. He took the first syllable for God’s name, “Yah” from Yahweh, and added to the front of the name: Yahurushalim. The anglicized name for God is Jehovah and the first syllable is “Je.” Therefore, the anglicized name of the city becomes “Jerusalem.” Shalom, appears to have evolved from the Canaanite word “shalem.” (1)
The theological imagery is powerful. "Shalem" originally meant completion and fulfillment through human idolatry. God enters the picture and infuses a new vision of what completion and fulfillment really is. God adds God's name to that which was humanity’s highest expression of defiance toward God (Urushalim) and transforms it into God’s foundation of completion and fulfillment (Jerusalem). What is the euphemism for the newly restored order at the end of the biblical narrative in Revelation? The New Jerusalem!
Urusalem > Jerusalem > New Jerusalem
This is the mission of God in the world. To transform Shalem to Shalom and Urusalem to the New Jerusalem. God will not abide the vain illusions created by his rebel eikons. God will disillusion the world that all may see God for who God is. God will renew shalom.
(1) Much of the preceeding comes from, Robert C. Linthicum, City of God. City of Satan: A Biblical Theology of the Urban Chruch, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991, p. 24-26.