Reformatted by David Sielaff
It was common custom in the centuries before Christ for people in the Roman world to refer to the City of Rome itself as the "City of Seven Hills." The references are numerous and consistent. And indeed, when Romulus and Remus wanted to build a city in the area of the Tibur River (just inland from the coast to afford a greater protection for the city from sea pirates or from the naval warfare of hostile powers), it was divinely selected, in Roman parlance, that the city had to be on "seven hills." The number "seven" was a universal symbol that signified "completion" or "perfection," and the ancients who founded Rome wanted people to know that this particular city was destined to have a world influence and fame, and that it was no ordinary city that was being constructed in the 8th century BC.
The fact that Rome was designated "The Seven Hilled City" was significant enough to render it as a sacred and holy city that was designed to have world power and authority. This is one of the reasons the ancient people of the world always respected the City of Rome, whether they were its arch defenders and supporters or its enemies and were alien to its political and religious concepts. Even when the city in the time of the Empire finally grew beyond the strict limits of the "Seven Hills" (and reached out to embrace other hills in the vicinity and even hills on the other side of the Tibur River, such as Vatican Hill), the people for nostalgic reasons still retained the name of the city by its original designation: "the City of Seven Hills."
But strange as it may seem, the City of Jerusalem, as it existed in the time of Christ Jesus, was also reckoned to be the "City of Seven Hills." This fact was well recognized in Jewish circles. In the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, an 8th century midrashic narrative (section 10), the writer mentioned without commentary (showing that the understanding was well known and required no defense) that "Jerusalem is situated on seven hills" (recorded in The Book of Legends, edited by Bialik and Ravnitzky, p. 371, paragraph 111). And, so it was. Those "seven hills" are easy to identify. (Read more)