So much has been written on the prophetic books of William Blake that one wonders what else can be said. I offer here some comments on ‘Jerusalem’ as a manifestation of the Divine Feminine.
The idealistic usage of ‘Jerusalem’ as an ideal, perfect holy city is well-known and frequently encountered in both Jewish and Christian writers; in addition there is the ‘New Jerusalem’ of the Book of Revelations in the New Testament of the Christian Bible (Rev 3:12; 21:2), and Blake was certainly familiar with the concept as his parents were members of Emmanuel Swedenborg’s New Jerusalem Church in the London of the 1780s.
So we find Blake using the imagery of Jerusalem the city in his prophetic books, especially Milton and Jerusalem, with much of the imagery and detail coming from his residence in Lambeth during the 1790s.
Blake additionally suggests ‘Jerusalem’ as a female counterpart to the male ‘Albion’. In The Four Zoas Blake refers to “Jerusalem which now descendeth out of heaven, a City, yet a Woman” and in Jerusalem provides in plate 46 a powerful portrayal of the female Jerusalem with her daughters. In the prophetic text of Jerusalem, the Universal Father speaks through Albion to Jerusalem:
Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely Emanation of Albion
Awake and over spread all Nations as in Ancient Time
For lo! The Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills: Awake Jerusalem, and come away.