For Blake, the development of the Symbol - Jerusalem - begins in the Old Testament as the center of the people of Israel, the location of the Temple and the Holy City. Continuing in the New Testament, Jerusalem is the location of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The symbolic Biblical meaning culminates in the vision of a New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation.
Blake also read and studied Swedenborg and had a temporary association with Swedenborg's church before Blake created his 'own system'.
"According to Swedenborg, the New Jerusalem described in the Bible is a symbol for a new dispensation that was to replace/restore Christianity. Also according to these books, this New Jerusalem began to be established around 1757. This stems from their belief that Jerusalem itself is a symbol of the Church, and so the New Jerusalem in the Bible is a prophetic description of a New Church."
The rich symbol of Jerusalem which Blake inherited became richer as he used it in his mythopoeic poetry.
Used by Blake, Jerusalem is such a complex symbol that it can't be pinned down to a single meaning or complex of meanings. What it represents is within every individual and manifest in the world as a city and a temple. As an image of the search for completeness, she is the holy wanderer; as the fruition of man's search she is Liberty. As the spiritual principle of life she is the provider of souls. She is the emanation of the Universal Man, the giant Albion; the portion that seeks regeneration while Albion sleeps. She is the bride of the Lamb of God, the heavenly city of Revelation descending from heaven. The meaning of her name is Peace.
As a city to Blake, Jerusalem is not of this world. She is the pattern for the London which Blake could envision.
In the end of Blake's Jerusalem, she has become an all-inclusive image of the manifestations of Eternity.
Jerusalem, PLATE 99, (E 258)
"All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all
Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied
Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing
And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.
And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem
The End of The Song
In the following passage we see Blake building his image and incorporating aspects of Jerusalem into a multidimensional, elusive but inclusive, paradigm. As we build our image of Jerusalem, we master the activities of imagination that are essential to Blake's process of building Jerusalem itself. This is the process which he is trying to teach us even though it takes incessant building and destroying at the anvil of Los.
Jerusalem, PLATE 86, (E 244)
"And this is the Song of Los, the Song that he sings on his Watch
O lovely mild Jerusalem! O Shiloh of Mount Ephraim!
I see thy Gates of precious stones: thy Walls of gold & silver
Thou art the soft reflected Image of the Sleeping Man
Who stretchd on Albions rocks reposes amidst his Twenty-eight
Cities: where Beulah lovely terminates, in the hills & valleys of
Cities not yet embodied in Time and Space: plant ye
The Seeds O Sisters in the bosom of Time & Spaces womb
To spring up for Jerusalem: lovely Shadow of Sleeping Albion
Why wilt thou rend thyself apart & build an Earthly Kingdom
To reign in pride & to opress & to mix the Cup of Delusion
O thou that dwellest with Babylon! Come forth O lovely-one
I see thy Form O lovely mild Jerusalem, Wingd with Six Wings
In the opacous Bosom of the Sleeper, lovely Three-fold
In Head & Heart & Reins, three Universes of love & beauty
Thy forehead bright: Holiness to the Lord, with Gates of pearl
Reflects Eternity beneath thy azure wings of feathery down
Ribbd delicate & clothd with featherd gold & azure & purple
From thy white shoulders shadowing, purity in holiness!
Thence featherd with soft crimson of the ruby bright as fire
Spreading into the azure Wings which like a canopy
Bends over thy immortal Head in which Eternity dwells
Albion beloved Land; I see thy mountains & thy hills
And valleys & thy pleasant Cities Holiness to the Lord
I see the Spectres of thy Dead O Emanation of Albion.
Thy Bosom white, translucent coverd with immortal gems
A sublime ornament not obscuring the outlines of beauty
Terrible to behold for thy extreme beauty & perfection
Twelve-fold here all the Tribes of Israel I behold
Upon the Holy Land: I see the River of Life & Tree of Life
I see the New Jerusalem descending out of Heaven
Between thy Wings of gold & silver featherd immortal
Clear as the rainbow, as the cloud of the Suns tabernacle"
A paradox of Blake's Jerusalem is that within her outer manifestations can be seen the Lamb of God, the vision of whom can initiate the process of redemption which will transform Jerusalem.
Four Zoas, PAGE 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376)
"And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire
Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body
Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us"
Plate 92, Jerusalem______Christ and Mary from Paradise Regained