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The History and Meaning of "Palestine" and "Palestinians" - The Israel Report July 2001
The Israel Report ^ | July 2001 | various authors

Posted on 03/30/2002 2:40:34 PM PST by doug from upland

Israel Report

July 2001         

The History and Meaning of "Palestine" and "Palestinians"

"There is no such thing as a Palestinian Arab nation . . . Palestine is a name the Romans gave to Eretz Yisrael with the express purpose of infuriating the Jews . . . . Why should we use the spiteful name meant to humiliate us?

"The British chose to call the land they mandated Palestine, and the Arabs picked it up as their nation's supposed ancient name, though they couldn't even pronounce it correctly and turned it into Falastin a fictional entity."

---- Golda Meir quoted by Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, 25 November 1995

Palestine has never existed . . . as an autonomous entity. There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.

Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of one percent of the landmass. But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today . . . No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.

-- from "Myths of the Middle East", Joseph Farah, Arab-American editor and journalist, WorldNetDaily, 11 October 2000
From the end of the Jewish state in antiquity to the beginning of British rule, the area now designated by the name Palestine was not a country and had no frontiers, only administrative boundaries . . . .
-- Professor Bernard Lewis, Commentary Magazine, January 1975

Talk and writing about Israel and the Middle East feature the nouns "Palestine" and Palestinian", and the phrases "Palestinian territory" and even "Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory". All too often, these terms are used with regard to their historical or geographical meaning, so that the usage creates illusions rather than clarifies reality.


It has never been the name of a nation or state. It is a geographical term, used to designate the region at those times in history when there is no nation or state there.

The word itself derives from "Peleshet", a name that appears frequently in the Bible and has come into English as "Philistine". The name began to be used in the Thirteenth Century BCE, for a wave of migrant "Sea Peoples" who came from the area of the Aegean Sea and the Greek Islands and settled on the southern coast of the land of Canaan. There they established five independent city-states (including Gaza) on a narrow strip of land known as Philistia. The Greeks and Romans called it "Palastina".

The Philistines were not Arabs, they were not Semites. They had no connection, ethnic, linguistic or historical with Arabia or Arabs. The name "Falastin" that Arabs today use for "Palestine" is not an Arabic name. It is the Arab pronunciation of the Greco-Roman "Palastina" derived from the Peleshet.


In the First Century CE, the Romans crushed the independent kingdom of Judea. After the failed rebellion of Bar Kokhba in the Second Century CE, the Roman Emperor Hadrian determined to wipe out the identity of Israel-Judah-Judea. Therefore, he took the name Palastina and imposed it on all the Land of Israel. At the same time, he changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina.

The Romans killed many Jews and sold many more in slavery. Some of those who survived still alive and free left the devastated country, but there was never a complete abandonment of the Land. There was never a time when there were not Jews and Jewish communities, though the size and conditions of those communities fluctuated greatly.


Thousands of years before the Romans invented "Palastina" the land had been known as "Canaan". The Canaanites had many tiny city-states, each one at times independent and at times a vassal of an Egyptian or Hittite king. The Canaanites never united into a state.

After the Exodus from Egypt probably in the Thirteenth Century BCE but perhaps earlier -- , the Children of Israel settled in the land of Canaan. There they formed first a tribal confederation, and then the biblical kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the post-biblical kingdom of Judea. From the beginning of history to this day, Israel-Judah-Judea has the only united, independent, sovereign nation-state that ever existed in "Palestine" west of the Jordan River. (In biblical times, Ammon, Moab and Edom as well as Israel had land east of the Jordan, but they disappeared in antiquity and no other nation took their place until the British invented Trans-Jordan in the 1920s.)

After the Roman conquest of Judea, "Palastina" became a province of the pagan Roman Empire and then of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and very briefly of the Zoroastrian Persian Empire. In 638 CE, an Arab-Muslim Caliph took Palastina away from the Byzantine Empire and made it part of an Arab-Muslim Empire. The Arabs, who had no name of their own for this region, adopted the Greco-Roman name Palastina, that they pronounced "Falastin".

In that period, much of the mixed population of Palastina converted to Islam and adopted the Arabic language. They were subjects of a distant Caliph who ruled them from his capital, that was first in Damascus and later in Baghdad. They did not become a nation or an independent state, or develop a distinct society or culture.

In 1099, Christian Crusaders from Europe conquered Palestina-Falastin. After 1099, it was never again under Arab rule. The Christian Crusader kingdom was politically independent, but never developed a national identity. It remained a military outpost of Christian Europe, and lasted less than 100 years. Thereafter, Palestine was joined to Syria as a subject province first of the Mameluks, ethnically mixed slave-warriors whose center was in Egypt, and then of the Ottoman Turks, whose capital was in Istanbul.

During the First World War, the British took Palestine from the Ottoman Turks. At the end of the war, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and among its subject provinces "Palestine" was assigned to the British, to govern temporarily as a mandate from the League of Nations.


Travellers to Palestine from the Western world left records of what they saw there. The theme throughout their reports is dismal:
The land was empty, neglected, abandoned, desolate, fallen into ruins. Nothing there [Jerusalem] to be seen but a little of the old walls which is yet remaining and all the rest is grass, moss and weeds.
-- English pilgrim in 1590
The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population"
-- British consul in 1857
There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent [valley of Jezreel] -- not for 30 miles in either direction. . . . One may ride 10 miles hereabouts and not see 10 human beings.

For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a moldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...

-- Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, 1867

The restoration of the "desolate and unlovely" land began in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century with the first Jewish pioneers. Their labors created newer and better conditions and opportunities, which in turn attracted migrants from many parts of the Middle East, both Arabs and others. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, confirmed by the League of Nations Mandate, commited the British Government to the principle that "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object... " It was specified both that this area be open to "close Jewish settlement" and that the rights of all inhabitants already in the country be preserved and protected.

Mandate Palestine originally included all of what is now Jordan, as well as all of what is now Israel, and the territories between them. However, when Great Britain's protégé Emir Abdullah was forced to leave the ancestral Hashemite domain in Arabia, the British created a realm for him that included all of Manfate Palestine east of the Jordan River. There was no traditional or historic Arab name for this land, so it was called after the river: first Trans-Jordan and later Jordan.

By this political act, that violated the conditions of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, the British cut more than 75 percent out of the Jewish National Home. No Jew has ever been permitted to reside in Trans-Jordan/Jordan.

Less than 25 percent then remained of Mandate Palestine, and even in this remnant, the British violated the Balfour and Mandate requirements for a "Jewish National Home" and for "close Jewish settlement". They progressively restricted where Jews could buy land, where they could live, build, farm or work.

After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel was finally able to settle some small part of those lands from which the Jews had been debarred by the British. Successive British governments regularly condemn their settlement as "illegal". In truth, it was the British who had acted illegally in banning Jews from these parts of the Jewish National Home.


During the period of the Mandate, it was the Jewish population that was known as "Palestinians" including those who served in the British Army in World War II.

British policy was to curtail their numbers and progressively limit Jewish immigration. By 1939, the White Paper virtually put an end to admission of Jews to Palestine. This policy was imposed the most stringently at the very time this Home was most desperately needed -- after the rise of Nazi power in Europe. Jews who might have developed the empty lands of Palestine and left progeny there, instead died in the gas chambers of Europe or in the seas they were trying to cross to the Promised Land.

At the same time that the British slammed the gates on Jews, they permitted or ignored massive illegal immigration into Western Palestine from Arab countries Jordan, Syria, Egypt, North Africa. In 1939, Winston Churchill noted that "So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied . . . ." Exact population statistics may be problematic, but it seems that by 1947 the number of Arabs west of the Jordan River was approximately triple of what it had been in 1900.

The current myth is that these Arabs were long established in Palestine, until the Jews came and "displaced" them. The fact is, that recent Arab immigration into Palestine "displaced" the Jews. That the massive increase in Arab population was very recent is attested by the ruling of the United Nations: That any Arab who had lived in Palestine for two years and then left in 1948 qualifies as a "Palestinian refugees".

Casual use of population statistics for Jews and Arabs in Palestine rarely consider how the proportions came to be. One factor was the British policy of keeping out Jews while bringing in Arabs. Another factor was the violence used to kill or drive out Jews even where they had been long established. For one example: The Jewish connection with Hebron goes back to Abraham, and there has been an Israelite/Jewish community there since Joshua long before it was King David's first capital. In 1929, Arab rioters with the passive consent of the British -- killed or drove out virtually the entire Jewish community.

For another example: In 1948, Trans-Jordan seized much of Judea and Samaria (which they called The West Bank) and East Jerusalem and the Old City. They killed or drove out every Jew.

It is now often proposed as a principle of international law and morality that all places that the British and the Arabs rendered Judenrein must forever remain so. In contrast, Israel eventually allotted 17 percent of Mandate Palestine has a large and growing population of Arab citizens.


What was to become of "Palestine" after the Mandate? This question was taken up by various British and international commissions and other bodies, culminating with the United Nations in 1947. During the various deliberations, Arab officials, spokesmen and writers expressed their views on "Palestine".
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. . . . Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it."
-- Local Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not"
-- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian to Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, 1946
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."
-- Ahmed Shukairy, United Nations Security Council, 1956

By 1948, the Arabs had still not yet discovered their ancient nation of Falastin. When they were offered half of Palestine west of the Jordan River for a state, the offer was violently rejected. Six Arab states launched a war of annihilation against the nascent State of Israel. Their purpose was not to establish an independent Falastin. Their aim was to partition western Palestine amongst themselves.

They did not succeed in killing Israel, but Trans-Jordan succeeded in taking Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and East Jerusalem, killing or driving out all the Jews who had lived in those places, and banning Jews of all nations from Jewish holy places. Egypt succeeded in taking the Gaza Strip. These two Arab states held these lands until 1967. Then they launched another war of annihilation against Israel, and in consequence lost the lands they had taken by war in 1948.

During those 19 years, 1948-1967, Jordan and Egypt never offered to surrendar those lands to make up an independent state of Falastin. The "Palestinians" never sought it. Nobody in the world ever suggested it, much less demanded it. Finally, in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Movement was founded. Ahmed Shukairy, who less than 10 years earlier had denied the existence of Palestine, was its first chairman. Its charter proclaimed its sole purpose to be the destruction of Israel. To that end it helped to precipitate the Arab attack on Israel in 1967.

The outcome of that attack then inspired an alteration in public rhetoric. As propaganda, it sounds better to speak of the liberation of Falastin than of the destruction of Israel. Much of the world, governments and media and public opinion, accept virtually without question of serious analysis the new-sprung myth of an Arab nation of Falastin, whose territory is unlawfully occupied by the Jews.

Since the end of World War I, the Arabs of the Middle East and North Africa have been given independent states in 99.5 percent of the land they claimed. Lord Balfour once expressed his hope that when the Arabs had been given so much, they would "not begrudge" the Jews the "little notch" promised to them.

[Note: Some of the material cited above is drawn from the book From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters.]

Source: A Time To Speak -

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KEYWORDS: archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; israel; palestinians; telelajjul; tellelajjul
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1 posted on 03/30/2002 2:40:34 PM PST by doug from upland
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To: all
Bumping for a history lesson.
2 posted on 03/30/2002 2:48:24 PM PST by doug from upland
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To: doug from upland
Thanks for the post!

So, what you describe are people that in a way just could never grasp the concept of "change".

Kind of like all the types grousing about the change in this forum?

3 posted on 03/30/2002 2:53:36 PM PST by isthisnickcool
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To: doug from upland
Interesting discussion.

However, it ignores the fact that a group of people becomes a nation when it thinks of itself as such. Nations come into existence and fade away.

If ancient history were required for national status, most of the independent nations of the world would not qualify. For instance, India (despite an ancient history) had never been a unified state prior to its gaining independence from Britain.

I am willing to wager that nobody can post a disqualifying factor for Palestinian nationhood that does not equally fit at least one other group whose national status is universally accepted.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a supporter of the present Palestinian actions, but denying that this group is a nation NOW serves little useful purpose.

The debate should be about how to deal with the Palestinian nation, not whether these roughly five million people should be accorded that status.

4 posted on 03/30/2002 2:56:18 PM PST by Restorer
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To: doug from upland
and even MORE history!
Palestine, history of
 Encyclopædia Britannica Article

history of the area from prehistoric times to the present.

The Stone Age and the Copper Age

The Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) in Palestine was first fully examined by the archaeologist Dorothy Garrod in her excavations of caves on the slopes of Mount Carmel in 1929–34. (In this historical survey the term “Palestine” is used as conventional shorthand to refer to the area comprising most of contemporary Israel and parts of Jordan. The eastern boundaries of this area have fluctuated throughout history, and specific definitions are dependent on and will emerge from the historical context.) The finds showed that at this stage Palestine was culturally linked with Europe, and human remains were recovered showing that the inhabitants were of the same group as the Neanderthal inhabitants of Europe. The Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age) is best represented by a culture called Natufian, known from excavations at ‘Ain Mallaha and Jericho. The Natufians lived in caves, as did their Paleolithic predecessors, but there is a possibility that they were experimenting in agriculture, for the importance to them of the collection of grain is shown by the artistic care that they lavished on the carving of the hafts of their sickles and in the provision of utensils for grinding. During the subsequent Neolithic Period (New Stone Age) humans gradually undertook the domestication of animals, the cultivation of crops, the production of pottery, and the building of towns (e.g., Jericho by 7000 BC).

Excavations also have provided a picture of events in Palestine in the 5th–4th millennium BC, during which the transition from the Neolithic to the Copper Age took place. It was probably in the 4th millennium that the Ghassulians immigrated to Palestine. Their origin is not known; they are called Ghassulians because the pottery and flints characteristic of their settlements first attracted attention in the excavations of Tulaylat al-Ghassul in the Jordan Valley. There was a permanent village site with several successive layers of occupation, and the site probably was associated with reasonably efficient agriculture. The phase can be called Copper Age, since copper axes were found at Tulaylat al-Ghassul, and this is confirmed by the finds at sites near Beersheba, with pottery and a flint industry allied to those of Tulaylat al-Ghassul but not identical with them. At Beersheba there was a copper-working industry, which, presumably, imported ore from Sinai, and there was also evidence of an ivory-working industry, both proving the growth of a class of specialist craftsmen. Discoveries near ‘En Gedi have revealed a shrine of this period, and basketry, ivory, leather, and hundreds of copper ritual objects were found in the Nahal Mishmar caves of the Judaean desert.

The region in which the Ghassulian settlements have been found is mainly in the south of Palestine, with an extension up the coastal plain and its fringes. These settlements seem to have died out and disappeared in the last centuries of the 4th millennium, at about the same time as a new population immigrated, probably from the north. Thereafter, the composite elements in Palestine consisted of the indigenous Neolithic-Chalcolithic population, the Ghassulians, and these latest immigrants; in time the peoples were amalgamated into what was to become the sedentary urban population of the Early Bronze Age in the 3rd millennium.

Palestine dating is henceforth linked to Egyptian dating down to the time of the Hebrew monarchy; the interpretation of Egyptian dates in Rolf Krauss's Sothis- und Monddaten (1985) is followed in this article.

The Bronze Age

Early Bronze Age

It was in the Early Bronze Age that most of the towns that are known in historic times came into existence. The growth of these towns can be approximately correlated chronologically with the development of the Old Kingdom in Egypt, Early Bronze I corresponding to the late Predynastic Period and Early Bronze II being cross-dated by finds to the time of the 1st dynasty, c. 2925 BC. Evidence of the early phases of the Early Bronze Age comes mainly from Megiddo, Jericho, Tell el Far‘ah, Bet She’an, Khirbet Kerak, and Ai. All these sites are in northern or central Palestine, and it was there that the Early Bronze Age towns seem to have developed. The towns of southern Palestine, for instance Tell ed Duweir, Tell Beit Mirsim, and Tell el Hesi, seem only to have been established in Early Bronze III. The town dwellers, identified as the original Semitic population, can, for the sake of convenience, be called Canaanites, although the term is not attested before the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.

In the course of the 3rd millennium, therefore, walled towns begin to appear throughout Palestine. There is no evidence that the next step of unification under the leadership of a single town took place in Palestine, as it had in Mesopotamia and Egypt; Palestine's towns presumably remained independent city-states, except insofar as Egypt may at times have exercised a loose political control. By about the 23rd century BC, the whole civilization had ceased to be urban. The next phase was pastoral and was influenced by the settlement of nomads probably from east of the Jordan River. Among the nomads, Amorites from the Syrian desert may have predominated. It is not yet fully understood how these events are related to the creation of the Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia under Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin (24th and 23rd centuries BC) and to the latter's destruction of the powerful kingdom of Ebla (modern Tall Mardikh) in neighbouring Syria, nor is the extent of Eblaite and Akkadian hegemony over Palestine in this period known. It does, however, seem reasonable to associate the incursion of nomads from the east with the invasions of Asiatics into Egypt that brought the Old Kingdom to an end. An initial date of 23rd–22nd century BC, depending on the interpretation of the Egyptian evidence, and a final date of the 20th century BC seem probable.

The picture of Palestine at this period is thus unequivocally that of a region occupied by a number of allied tribes; while they had many features in common, there were also many differences. The most significant point is that, with the possible exception of the northern group, they made no contribution at all to town life. The different groups had tribal centres, but they were essentially seminomadic pastoralists. This description fits well that in the Book of Joshua of the Amorites who lived in the hill country, as opposed to the Canaanites who lived in the plains and on the coast—areas favourable to agriculture.

Middle Bronze Age

It was, in fact, the next period—the Middle Bronze Age—that introduced the Canaanite culture as found by the Israelites on their entry into Palestine. The Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–c. 1550 BC) provides the background for the beginning of the story of the Old Testament. The archaeological evidence for the period shows new types of pottery, weapons, and burial practices. Once more an urban civilization based on agriculture was established. It is not entirely clear whether the wave of urban development after the 20th century BC was the work of a new immigrant people accustomed to dwell in towns or of the local inhabitants themselves, some of whom may have adopted a sedentary lifestyle and begun, as in Mesopotamia and Syria, to establish dynasties. But where they settled there grew up towns of the widespread Middle Bronze Age civilization of Palestine. This civilization was intimately connected with that of the towns of the Phoenician-Canaanite coast. Extant Egyptian documents provide valuable information about Palestine in the period of the Egyptian 12th dynasty (1938–1756 BC) and argue for significant Egyptian interest and influence in Palestine at this time. (Most notable are the popular literary work known as the Story of Sinuhe, detailing the hero's exile in the Palestinian region, and the 20th–19th-century “Execration Texts,” inscriptions of names of Egypt's enemies on pottery, which was ceremonially broken to invoke a curse.) The culture introduced at this stage was essentially the same as the culture found by the Israelites who moved into Palestine later, in the 14th and 13th centuries BC.

A large repertory of new forms in pottery arose, and for the first time in Palestine it was turned entirely on a fast wheel. Comparisons of Palestinian early Middle Bronze pottery forms with metallic and ceramic forms at Byblos, dated by Egyptian contacts, suggest that these forms were brought to Palestine about the 19th century from coastal Syria. Bronze weapons of a distinctive type, paralleled also on the Syrian coast, are found at Megiddo, Jericho, and Tell el ‘Ajjul. Town life in Palestine gradually expanded after the mid-19th century BC, but the material culture was essentially a direct development from the preceding stage. Several towns of Middle Bronze Age Palestine were defended by plaster-faced ramparts (clearly discernible at Jericho and many other sites), an imported method of fortification giving evidence of a new and alien influence superimposed upon the existing Canaanite culture. These were probably introduced by the Asiatic Hyksos, possibly related to the Amorites, who secured control of northern Egypt in about 1630. The Hyksos may have included elements of a grouping of people, largely Semitic, called the Habiru, or Hapiru (Egyptian ‘Apiru). (The term Habiru, meaning “Outsiders,” was applied to nomads, fugitives, bandits, and workers of inferior status; the word is etymologically related to “Hebrew,” and the relationship of the Habiru [and aforementioned Hyksos] to the Hebrews has long been debated.) The Habiru appear to have established a military aristocracy in Palestine, bringing to the towns new defenses and new prosperity (as well as many Egyptian cultural elements) without interrupting the basic character of the local culture; this was to survive the destruction of Megiddo, Jericho, and Tell Beit Mirsim that followed the Egyptians' expulsion of the Hyksos into Palestine at the end of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1550).

Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon

Glenn Richard Bugh

Late Bronze Age

There was no sharp break between the Middle and the Late Bronze ages in Palestine. Shortly before the death of Ahmose I (1514 BC), the first native pharaoh of the New Kingdom, the Egyptian armies began to conquer Palestine, probably completing their task during his successor's reign. Under Queen Hatshepsut (1479–58), Palestine revolted against Egyptian domination, but the rebellion was put down firmly by her successor, Thutmose III, who established a stable administration, maintained through the reigns of his immediate successors. Egyptian administrative documents excavated in both Egypt and Palestine show in considerable detail how the provincial government was organized and even how it operated during the century 1450–1350 BC. Documents show, for example, that the land of Retenu (Syria-Palestine) was divided into three administrative districts, each under an Egyptian governor. The third district (Canaan) included all of Palestine from the Egyptian border to Byblos. This period is often known as the Amarna Age and is vividly illustrated by several hundred cuneiform letters found in Egypt at Tell el Amarna, site of the capital of the “heretic king” Akhenaton. The unusual concern of the pharaohs with the affairs of Palestine was chiefly a result of the fact that control of it was necessary for the defense of Phoenicia and southern Syria, menaced by Mitanni down to about 1375 and by the Hittite empire after that date.

About 1292 BC the increasingly weak rule of the last pharaohs of the 18th dynasty was replaced by the strong arm of the second and third kings of the 19th dynasty, Seti I and Ramses II (1279–13 BC). These kings blunted the southward thrust of the Hittites and consolidated the crumbling Egyptian empire. The exactions of foreign bureaucrats, however, combined with internal decay, had so enfeebled the Canaanite vassal princes of Palestine that it was comparatively easy for the incoming Israelites to occupy most of the hill country east of the Jordan River and in western Palestine in the course of the closing decades of the 13th century BC. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Israelite settlement in Palestine was much more complex and disconnected than the biblical accounts indicate. During a short interlude of anarchy that followed the last weak kings of the 19th dynasty, Egyptian rule was completely extinguished, and the ephemeral victories of Ramses III in the early decades of the 12th century scarcely affected Palestinian history.

The Iron Age

The Israelites in Palestine

Though the Israelite tribes entered Palestine before the end of the Late Bronze Age, they did not become firmly established in their new home until the early decades of the 12th century. Their number was increased greatly during the settling of Canaan by seminomadic Hebrew tribes already in Palestine, as well as by many settled Canaanites (e.g., the Gibeonites), who joined the invaders against their sedentary neighbours. Excavation has made it clear that the Israelites began building amid the ruins of their precursors and that new settlements sprang up rapidly all through the hill country. Had events followed their normal course, the resurgent Canaanites, who had not been driven from the coastal plain or the Plain of Esdraelon, might have overwhelmed the scattered and unorganized Israelite clans, but this was prevented by the great invasion of the Sea Peoples in the time of Ramses III, in the early decades of the 12th century BC. Among the invaders from the Aegean basin were the Philistines, who were to conquer much of the region within a century and a half after their settlement in the southern coastal plain. (The Philistines have been identified with the so-called Peleset, who were used as garrison troops and mercenaries by Ramses III.) Meanwhile, three other peoples were settling east of the Jordan River: the Edomites in the south, the Moabites east of the Dead Sea, and the Ammonites on the edge of the Syrian Desert east of Gilead. Considered by the Israelites as fellow Hebrews, these peoples had begun to settle down before the Israelite invasion, and they remained polytheists until the end of the Old Testament period.

The early Israelites possessed a strong centralizing force in their monotheistic faith, combined with a stern code of ethics, which set them apart from all their neighbours. The Mosaic tradition of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel, made concrete by the tabernacle and its ritual, bound the tribes together in a cultic bond resembling the later Greek amphictyonies. Characteristic of all these organizations was a central sanctuary, surrounded by its worshipers. Straining against this religious bond were disruptive tribal forces held in leash by a loose alliance between the tribes, which was often severed by civil war. But for the constant attacks launched by its neighbours, Israel would perhaps never have attained any political solidarity. As it was, salvation from its foes lay only in union, and, after abortive attempts had been made at one-man rule, Saul became king of all Israel (c. 1020 BC).

He defeated the Ammonites and the Philistines but was killed in battle against the latter about 1000 BC and was succeeded by David. King David crushed the Philistines (c. 990) and conquered the three Hebrew states east of the Jordan River, after which the intervention of the Aramaeans from Syria forced him to defeat and annex the states of Aram as far north as the borders of Hamath on the Orontes. Farther east he established some sort of control over the nomadic tribes of the Syrian Desert as far as the Euphrates, though it is scarcely probable that Israelite domination was very effective. At home David organized a stable administration based largely on Egyptian models and, according to tradition, carried out a census of the population. He died before he could complete his plans, but they were put into effect by his successor, Solomon.

The reign of Solomon (mid-10th century) represents the culmination of Israelite political history. Though Solomon gradually lost control over outlying territories conquered by David, he was extraordinarily successful in organizing the economic life of the country. He joined forces with Hiram of Tyre, who was leading the Phoenicians toward the exploitation of Mediterranean trade. Expeditions to Ophir, a region probably in either East Africa or India, brought rich items such as gold, peacocks, and sandalwood to Palestine. At the same time, the Israelite king entered into trade relations with the Arabs as far south as Sheba (Yemen). These activities would have been impossible but for the development of new principles in shipbuilding and for the recent domestication of the Arabian camel and its use in caravans. Among the king's other undertakings was the construction of a fortress or storehouse at a site near the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. The modern site, Tall al-Khalifah, may have been the biblical Ezion-geber. Most of the kingdom's wealth was spent in elaborate building operations, which included the Temple and royal palace in Jerusalem, as well as numerous fortified towns. The best-known of these are Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer. But royal activities on such a vast scale cost more than was produced by foreign trade and the tribute of vassal states, and the Israelites themselves were forced to submit to conscription in royal labour gangs as well as to heavy levies of various kinds. It is not surprising that the people of northern Israel revolted after the great king's death, thus disrupting the united monarchy.

The rump kingdom of Israel lasted for two full centuries, sharing the worship of Yahweh and the Mosaic tradition with its smaller southern neighbour, Judah. After a period of intermittent warfare between Judah and Israel, King Asa of Judah entered into an alliance with the growing kingdom of Damascus, by which the latter attacked northern Israel, thus relieving pressure on Judah. This move cost Israel its territory to the east of the Jordan River and north of the Yarmuk River and ushered in a long series of wars between Israel and Damascus, which did not end until the capture of Damascus by the Assyrians in 732.

The best-known phase of Israelite history is the period during which the great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, flourished, under the Omrides of the 9th century. Omri himself, founder of the dynasty, selected Samaria as his capital and began the construction of elaborate defenses and royal buildings, which have been uncovered by excavations. His son Ahab was alternately hero and villain of the principal stories of the prophets; he became involved in complex international maneuvers, which ended with his ignominious death at Ramoth-Gilead. The dynasty of Omri closed amid torrents of blood (c. 841 BC); it was followed by the dynasty of Jehu, which lasted for nearly a century. This was a period of extreme oscillations, from the catastrophic defeat of Israel (c. 815 BC) and the destruction of its army by Hazael, king of Damascus, to the triumphs of Jeroboam II (c. 786–746 BC). Meanwhile, Judah also oscillated between periods of prosperity and weakness; when it was strong, it controlled Edom and the caravan routes of the south from Midian to the Mediterranean; when it was feeble, it shrank behind its own narrow boundaries. Great kings like Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Uzziah alternated with weak kings.

In 741/740 the death knell of independence in Syria and Palestine was sounded by the capture of Arpad in northern Syria by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III. Events unfolded with dizzying speed. In 738 Israel and Judah paid tribute to Assyria for the first time in decades; in 733 the Assyrians devastated Gilead and Galilee, turning the entire land into Assyrian provinces except for the territory of two tribes, western Manasseh and Ephraim; in 732 Damascus was captured and Aram ceased to exist as a state; in 725 the siege of Samaria began. Finally, in the first months of 722, Samaria was taken and Israel became politically extinct.

Assyrian and Babylonian rule

Judah was left the sole heir of the glories of David and Solomon. Hezekiah (c. 715–c. 686), lured by promises of Egyptian aid, attempted to resist Assyria but was defeated and compelled to pay a crushing tribute. It is possible that only the timely intervention of an epidemic that decimated the Assyrian army of Sennacherib saved Judah from total devastation. The eloquent guidance of Isaiah restored the morale of the people, and even the weakness of Hezekiah's son Manasseh did not bring complete ruin. Another strong king, Josiah (c. 640–609), arose in time to restore the ebbing fortunes of Judah for a few years, during which much of the ancient territory of united Israel was brought back under the rule of the Davidic dynasty. Assyria was rapidly declining in power, and in 612 its hated capital, Nineveh, was destroyed by the Medes. Josiah's successful rebellion ended when he fell in battle against a more powerful contender for the Assyrian succession, Necho of Egypt.

Meanwhile, the Chaldean kings of Babylonia were rapidly gaining strength. Nabopolassar of Babylon and Cyaxares of Media divided the old Assyrian empire between them, and the former's son, Nebuchadrezzar, gained control of Syria and Palestine in swift campaigns. The defeated Egyptians, however, continued to intrigue in Palestine, whose native states repeatedly joined anti-Babylonian coalitions, all of which collapsed of themselves or were crushed by the Chaldean armies. Jerusalem was twice besieged, in 597 and after 589. Finally, about 587/586, it was stormed and destroyed. The prophet Jeremiah, who had foreseen the tragic denouement and had repeatedly warned his people against their suicidal policy, died in Egypt. Judah was devastated and almost depopulated.

The Persian empire

In 539 Cyrus II of Persia followed up his triumph over Media by conquering Lydia and Babylonia, thus making himself ruler of the greatest empire thitherto known. In the administrative reforms implemented by Darius I (reigned 522–486 BC), Phoenicia, Palestine-Syria, and Cyprus constituted the fifth province (satrapy) of the Persian empire (Herodotus, The History, 3.91).

One of Cyrus' first acts was to decree (c. 538) the restoration of Judah and the rebuilding of the First Temple of Jerusalem. A large number of Jewish exiles in Babylonia returned to Jerusalem, and work on the Second Temple was begun. The political situation was extremely unfavourable, however, since Judah south of Hebron had been occupied by Edomites escaping from Arab pressure, while the tiny remainder north of Hebron had passed under the control of the governor of Samaria. In spite of political intrigues to prevent completion of the work of rebuilding the Temple, the Jews took advantage of the civil wars and rebellions that racked the empire after the accession of Darius I to press forward with the work. They were urged on by the fiery prophets Haggai and Zechariah. In 515 BC the Second Temple was finished, but the Jews had meanwhile aroused the suspicion of the Persian authorities, and further efforts to improve their situation were discouraged.

Matters rested in this unsatisfactory state until about 445 BC, when the Jewish royal favourite, Nehemiah, deeply stirred by reports of the sorry condition of Judah and Jerusalem, succeeded in obtaining the Persian ruler's support for a mission to Palestine. Under Nehemiah's leadership, Jerusalem's walls were rebuilt. Knowledge of the exact sequence of events is complicated by the confused state of the documentary sources, and the chronology of events in the time of Nehemiah and Ezra, who became a leader of the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylonia, is not certain. There is good evidence to suggest that Ezra's return to Jerusalem should be dated to 398 BC, early in the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes II. The mention of Persian intervention in the priestly affairs of the high priest Johanan can reasonably be associated with Ezra's reform activities. In any event, Nehemiah and Ezra were able to establish both the religious autonomy of Judah and the practice of normative Judaism so firmly that they continued with little change for several centuries.

Information concerning the history of Palestine in the period following the age of Nehemiah and Ezra is very scanty. It is known that the province of Judah continued to be administered by high priests who struck their own coins and that the provinces of Samaria and Ammon remained under governors of the houses of Sanballat and Tobiah. In 343 Artaxerxes III Ochus is said to have devastated parts of Palestine in connection with his reconquest of Egypt. Eleven years later the country passed into Macedonian hands after Alexander's conquest of Phoenicia.

William Foxwell Albright

Glenn Richard Bugh

From Alexander the Great to AD 70

To Alexander, Palestine was, as to many before him, a corridor leading to Egypt, the outlying Persian province. Consequently, in his attack on that province after the Battle of Issus (333), he confined his attention, in his passage southward, to reducing the coastal cities that might form bases for the Persian fleet. He left the Jews undisturbed in their religion and customs. The high priest remained the head of the Jewish state, perhaps assisted by a council of elders.

The Ptolemies

After the death of Alexander in 323, Palestine, with much of Syria and Phoenicia, fell to Ptolemy, who established himself as satrap in Egypt in 323 BC and adopted the title of king by 304. (After the death of Ptolemy, the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt for 300 years.)

The successors of Alexander, including Ptolemy and Seleucus, defeated Antigonus Monophthalmus, one of Alexander's generals, who had almost succeeded in re-creating under his sole rule Alexander's great empire, at Ipsus in Phrygia in 301 BC. This victory confirmed Ptolemy in his possession of his territory, although he had arrived too late for the battle, and Seleucus, whose participation in it had been decisive, at first disputed Ptolemy's claim to Syria and Phoenicia and actually occupied northern Syria. This early dispute laid the foundations of a century of bitter antagonism between the house of Ptolemy and that of Seleucus, an antagonism that led to war five times within a century and was finally stilled only when Palestine, in 200 BC, became part of the Seleucid kingdom. The northern boundary of the kingdom established by Ptolemy I lay apparently slightly north of the modern Tripoli, perhaps on the course of the Kabir River (ancient Eleutherus), and there are no signs of any important change in this frontier throughout the next century.

Of Ptolemaic rule in the southern part of this territory, Palestine, little is known. What little can be discovered, mainly from writers of a later period, especially the author of the First Book of Maccabees and Josephus, suggests that, unlike the northern region, known as Syria and Phoenicia, the area was left in much its previous state, with considerable power and authority in the hands of the native chieftains.

More is known of taxation than of administration. A story preserved by Josephus (The Antiquities of the Jews, xii, § 154 ff.) indicates that tax farming, whereby the right to collect taxes was auctioned or was awarded to privileged persons, was employed for the collection of local taxes. It seems likely that there were additional extraordinary taxes levied by edict from Egypt.

Knowledge of the economic and commercial life of Palestine in the middle of the 3rd century is, on the other hand, fuller and more reliable. It is drawn from the dossier of letters received and written by Zenon, the confidential business manager of the chief minister of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246). In 259 Zenon was sent to Palestine and Syria, where his master had commercial interests. His letters speak particularly of a trade in slaves, especially of young girls for prostitution, in whom there appears to have been a brisk trade, with export to Egypt. Zenon's records also testify to a considerable trade in cereals, oil, and wine. Inevitably, like all imports to Egypt, Palestinian exports worked under state monopoly, without which the internal monopolies of Egypt would have been undermined. Palestine, like Egypt and Syria, seems to have had no economic freedom under Ptolemaic rule; in all transactions the hand of the government's agents is clearly visible.

Of the material culture of Palestine in the Ptolemaic period, far less is known. The population seems, as in Syria, to have been divided between the Hellenized cities (poleis) of the coast, notably Ascalon and Joppa, and the rural population living in villages (komai). The fact that several cities had Ptolemaic dynastic names (Philadelphia, Philoteria, Ptolemais) must not lead to the conclusion that the early Ptolemies wanted to urbanize and raise the standard of living of the people of Palestine. It seldom appears that they did more than rename a previously existing city (e.g., Scythopolis for Bet She’an)—a practice not uncommon in the Hellenistic world. In fact, unlike the Seleucids, the Ptolemies do not appear to have been great city builders. Nor do they appear to have encouraged the outward forms of independence in local government. It seems likely from the story of the Phoenician tax farmers mentioned above that considerable authority lay in the hands of the wealthy; yet the fact that both Ascalon and Joppa issued Ptolemaic regal coinage, but apparently no autonomous bronze coinage, suggests a rigid control. The absence of epigraphic evidence from the cities of Ptolemaic Palestine, however, renders any judgment about the conditions of the cities hazardous. Archaeology, too, helps but little, inasmuch as the buildings of Roman Palestine have swamped most of the Hellenistic remains. One exception must be noted: the tombs of the Hellenized Sidonian military settlers at Marisa in Idumaea, the walls of which are decorated with frescoes of fine hunting scenes, indicate that Hellenic civilization had been embraced by the non-Greek population in this period.

The chronic state of hostility between Egypt and the Seleucid house, which in much of the 3rd century BC had been concerned with the coastal regions of western Asia Minor, received a new impetus with the accession to the Seleucid throne of the energetic Antiochus III the Great (223–187), who aimed to win southern Syria and Palestine from Egypt, now weakly governed, and thereby establish the frontier to which Seleucus I had unwillingly renounced his claim in 301 BC. After his decisive defeat by Ptolemy IV at Raphia in 217, however, Antiochus was for several years occupied with internal troubles, and it was therefore not until about 200 BC that he could think again of an attack on Egypt. There a child—Ptolemy V Epiphanes—had recently ascended the throne, and the government was in the hands of overly powerful ministers who were more concerned with feathering their own nests than with preserving the integrity of the kingdom. At Panion, on the northern boundary of Galilee, the armies of Antiochus and Ptolemy met, and Ptolemy was defeated. Thus, the Ptolemaic possessions north of the Sinai desert, including Palestine, passed into the hands of the house of Seleucus.

The Seleucids

The Seleucids brought to the problem of the administration of Palestine a different tradition from that which had been behind Ptolemaic rule. The latter was based on that careful exploitation of territory that was possible in a small and closely knit land like Egypt and had thence been extended to the Ptolemaic provinces. This had never been possible for the Seleucids, who had always been masters of regions so vast as to render a unified and absolute control impossible. There is no sign of oppression in Seleucid government of the native peoples—they seem, on the contrary, to have aimed at improving the natives' status as far as possible, largely through bringing them into contact with Greek modes of urban existence.

It might then be supposed that Seleucid rule would have been popular in Palestine. In fact, however, it was under Seleucid rule that the great uprising of the Jewish people, the revolt of the Maccabees, occurred. The explanation of this paradox is perhaps twofold. First, the Seleucids were in need of money, and, second, the throne, at a critical time, was occupied by a tactless and neurotic king. Knowledge of Seleucid rule in Palestine before the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes is slight. The years from 188 BC onward were lean years for the dynasty, because the war with Rome, which had ended (in 189) in a complete Roman victory, had cost it not only almost the whole of Asia Minor but also a yearly indemnity of 15,000 talents. It is therefore not surprising that the first glimpse of Seleucid rule in Palestine tells of an attempt by Heliodorus, the leading minister of Seleucus IV (187–175), to deprive the Second Temple in Jerusalem of its treasure. His failure was soon ascribed to divine protection.

With the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes in 175 BC, relations rapidly deteriorated. Antiochus appears to have aimed at a wholesale restoration of the Seleucid empire in the east, including an occupation of Egypt, as a counter to the loss of the western province occasioned by the Peace of Apamea. He made an unwise beginning in Palestine by establishing a philhellene high priest, and it is clear from this and from his whole subsequent policy that he wished to extirpate Jewish religion from its central stronghold (there is no indication that he persecuted Jews of the Diaspora living in the cities of his kingdom).

Antiochus invaded Egypt in 170 or 169 BC, returning to Syria by way of Jerusalem, where he and his army despoiled the Temple of all its wealth. Two years later, after his humiliating expulsion from the gate of Egypt by the Roman legate, he sent a financial official to exact taxes from the cities of Judaea. Antiochus' official attacked the city of Jerusalem by guile and largely destroyed it. He then built a fortified position on the citadel, called by the Greeks the Akra. This became the symbol of Judah's enslavement, though in itself the presence of a royal garrison in a Hellenistic city was by no means unusual. Its imposition was followed by an open attack on religious practice; many rites were forbidden. Noncompliance with the order—which contained many items calculated to raise the bitterest resistance in the hearts of law-abiding Jews, such as the prohibition of circumcision and the abolition of the observance of the Sabbath—was punishable by death. Finally, on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev (December) in 168 BC, the “abomination of desolation,” namely the altar of Zeus, was set up in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was this above all that summoned forth the resistance of the sons of the aged priest Mattathias; thus began the Maccabean revolt, led by Judas Maccabeus.

The resistance, it must be emphasized, came from only a section of the population. The century and a half of Greek rule had Hellenized much of the upper class of Jerusalem, and some of the characteristic features of Greek city life—such as the ephebic institute, for the training of young men, and the gymnasia—had been established on the initiative of this section of the ruling class, which was able to accept a less radical observance of Judaism and combine it with loyalty to the throne. Throughout the revolt, and indeed until the closing days of the Hasmonean dynasty established by the Maccabeans, this Hellenized element had to be taken into account.

Judas Maccabeus proved himself a leader of high quality. He successfully resisted the weak forces sent by the Seleucid authorities, and after three years of intermittent warfare he succeeded in purifying the Temple (165 BC), though the Akra remained in Seleucid hands until 141 BC.

After the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164 BC, the numbers of claimants to the Seleucid throne made a continuous policy toward Palestine impossible, because each claimant felt the need to seek support wherever it might be found. Thus, Jewish high priests were bribed by the kings and dynasts of Syria. This development enabled Judas and those who succeeded him to hold their own and eventually to establish a hereditary dynasty, known as the Hasmonean for their ancestor Hasmoneus. Soon after Antiochus Epiphanes' death, an agreement was reached with the Seleucid regent Lysias (who feared the appearance of a rival in Syria) through which the Jews received back their religious liberty. But, at the same time, the regular practice of pagan worship, beside the Jewish, was established, and a Seleucid nominee was appointed high priest. Thus were laid the seeds of fresh revolt.

Almost immediately Judas again took the field and scored a considerable victory over Nicanor, the Seleucid general, in which Nicanor was killed. Within two months, however, Demetrius I, the Seleucid king, sent Bacchides to take up a position near Jerusalem, and, in the engagement that followed, Judas lost his life (161/160).

The Hasmonean priest-princes

In the following years, dynastic disputes within the Seleucid empire prevented a succession of rulers from settling the Palestinian question. These circumstances allowed first Jonathan (161/160–143/142), the brother and successor of Judas, and then his brother Simon (143/142–134) to attain power. In 153 one of the Seleucid pretenders, Alexander Balas, in order to outplay the legitimate king, Demetrius I, granted Jonathan the office of high priest and gave him the Seleucid rank of a courtier, thereby legitimizing his position. When Simon succeeded Jonathan, he acquired the status of a recognized secular ruler; the year of his assumption of rule was regarded as the first of a new era, and official documents were dated in his name and by his regnal year. He secured from the new Seleucid monarch, Demetrius II, exemption from taxation for the Jews.

In 142–141 Simon forced the Syrian garrison on the Akra to surrender, and the Jews passed a decree in his honour, granting the right of permanent incumbency to Simon and to his successors, until “an accredited prophet” should arise. It was thus in Simon's reign that the rule of the priest-prince was transformed into a secular hereditary rule. The Seleucid king recognized this, granting Simon the right to issue his own coins.

Simon's son, John Hyrcanus I (134–104), suffered an initial setback at the hands of the last great Seleucid king, Antiochus VII Sidetes, who set out to reconquer Palestine, but at the latter's death John renewed his father's expansionist program, which resulted in the conquest and destruction of Samaria. In internal policy, however, he committed the grave error of quarreling with one of the two main Jewish ecclesiastical parties, the Pharisees—who followed the Law with great strictness and with whom the Maccabean movement had in origin close affinity—and siding with their opponents, the more liberal Sadducees. This is an early instance of that denial of the revolutionary origin of the movement which became entirely obvious in the reign of Alexander Jannaeus. Hyrcanus I was succeeded by Aristobulus I (104–103), who extended Hasmonean territory northward and is said to have assumed the title of king (basileus), though on his coins he appears, like Hyrcanus I, as high priest.

The reign of his brother and successor, Alexander Jannaeus, was long (103–76) and largely filled with wars. He imposed his rule rigorously over an increasingly large area, including both the cities of the coast and the area east of the Jordan River. Still more clearly than Hyrcanus I, he attests the change in direction and aim of the Hasmonean house. He was the bitter enemy of the Pharisees, his coins bear Greek as well as Hebrew legends, and his title on them is simply “King Alexander.” He was succeeded by his widow, Salome Alexandra, who reversed his policy and was guided by powerful religious advisers, members of the Pharisaic movement. After her death in 67 BC her two sons Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II fought for the succession. Hyrcanus was defeated but was encouraged to reassert his rights by Antipater, an Edomite, son of the governor of Idumaea and father of the future Herod the Great.

At this stage the Romans appeared on the scene. Pompey the Great, during his reorganization of the lands of the newly conquered Seleucid kingdom, also arranged the affairs of Palestine (63 BC). He attempted to arbitrate between the brothers and eventually, after he had laid siege to and captured Jerusalem, appointed Hyrcanus II as high priest without the title of king adopted by his predecessors. He also imposed taxes on the Jews and curtailed Jewish dominions, granting virtual autonomy to a group of 10 or 11 Hellenized cities in Syria and Palestine, thenceforth to be known as the Decapolis, and placing them under the jurisdiction of the newly appointed governor of Syria. Pliny the Elder lists these cities as Damascus, Philadelphia (modern Amman, Jordan), Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippos, Dion, Pella, Gerasa, and Canatha. On the basis of evidence in inscriptions, Abila can be added to the list. Thus, despite the name Decapolis, the actual number appears to have been 11. All of these cities, except for Scythopolis, are located east of the Jordan River, extending from Damascus in the north to Philadelphia in the south. Except for Damascus, all the other cities lie immediately to the east of Galilee, Samaria, or Judaea. Whether the Decapolis geographically belonged to Syria, to Coele Syria (“Hollow Syria”; i.e., the southernmost region of Syria, which may include Palestine and is sometimes mistakenly limited to the modern al-Biqa‘ valley), or to Arabia, often identified as the land east of the Jordan River, is not clear, especially in the ancient geographers. In any event, the Decapolis ended as a political entity when Arabia was annexed in AD 106; the cities were distributed among the three provinces of Arabia, Judaea, and Syria. It appears that Philadelphia, Gerasa, and probably Dion went to Arabia, Damascus certainly to Syria, and the rest to Judaea or Syria.

After the death of Pompey, however, the power of Antipater and his family greatly increased. Hyrcanus II became a figurehead of no importance, and Antipater himself, in return for services to Julius Caesar, received Roman citizenship and was awarded the title of “procurator of Judaea,” while his sons Phasael and Herod became governors (strategoi) of Jerusalem and Galilee, respectively. The unexpected occupation of Palestine by Parthian troops in 40 BC altered the situation. Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus and therefore a legitimate Hasmonean, won the favour of the Parthians and was established by them as king and high priest of Jerusalem. Phasael was reported to have committed suicide, while his brother Herod escaped to Rome.

The Herodian house and the Roman procurators

Herod, in Rome, was recognized by the Senate, with the approval of Octavian and Mark Antony, as king of Judaea (40 BC) and returned to Palestine in 39 BC. Shortly afterward Roman troops expelled the Parthians, whose popularity in Palestine had been and subsequently remained considerable. After struggles against Antigonus, the Parthian nominee, in which he was assisted by Roman troops, Herod eventually captured Jerusalem. At about the same time, he married a niece of Antigonus, thus probably consoling those who remained loyal to the memory of the almost defunct Hasmonean house. Antigonus, when he fell into the hands of his enemies, was executed by order of Mark Antony.

The accession of Herod, a Roman protégé and an Edomite, brought to Palestine the peace that in the years of independence it had often lacked. His long reign (37–4 BC) was marked by general prosperity; his new city of Caesarea Maritima received lavish praise from Josephus for its spectacular port and sewer system. Between 31 and 20, Augustus restored to him the Jewish territories that Pompey had taken away, and in this enlarged kingdom he created a sound administrative system of Hellenistic type. Toward the end of his life the complex demands of a vast family (he had at least nine wives) led him into difficulties regarding the succession, and it was then that he developed into the gruesome and vicious figure that Christian tradition has made so familiar. He had Mariamne and several of his sons put to death to prevent them from succeeding him; and on his death in 4 BC the country again entered a period of divided rule, which led to the reestablishment of direct Roman government. Augustus decided later that year, in the presence of three surviving sons of Herod, that Archelaus should rule Judaea, Samaria, and Edom (i.e., central and southern Palestine); Herod Antipas rule Galilee and Peraea (east of the Jordan River); and Philip rule Trachonitis, Batanaea, and Auranitis (the area between the Decapolis and Damascus).

The fates of the rulers (of whom Philip and Herod Antipas were called tetrarchs, Archelaus ethnarch) and their territories were different. Philip, the most peaceable of the three, ruled the northern area until his death in AD 34. Antipas reigned in Galilee and Peraea until AD 39 but was then banished by Caligula on the ground that he had parleyed with Rome's enemies. Archelaus reigned for 10 years only; he was removed at the request of his subjects in AD 6. The region under Archelaus' rule (i.e., Judaea, Samaria, and Edom) became the province of Judaea and passed to a series of undistinguished Roman prefects, the last of whom (Pontius Pilate, AD 26–36, under whom Jesus was crucified) lost office for the unnecessary massacre of some Samaritans. Palestine finally was united under the emperor Caligula's protégé, Herod Agrippa I, who succeeded Philip in the north in AD 37. The tetrarchy of Antipas was added soon after his removal in 39, and the territories of Judaea, Samaria, and Edom were added in 41, so that from 41 to his death in 44 Agrippa ruled the kingdom of his grandfather, Herod the Great, from Jerusalem. In 44 the entire kingdom passed under Roman rule and was reconstituted as the procuratorial province of Judaea.

Disturbances in the early years of procuratorial rule were frequent and largely caused by maladministration. Serious trouble arose under Ventidius Cumanus (48–52); and under his successor, the imperial freedman Felix (52–60), rebellion was open though sporadic. The incompetence and anti-Jewish posture of Gessius Florus, procurator 64–66, led in 66 to the decisive and final outbreak. Florus, the heir to a long tradition of hostility between the large Hellenized populations of Palestine and the Jews (also a problem in the Diaspora, most notably at Alexandria during the reign of Caligula), allowed the Greek population of Caesarea Maritima to massacre the Jews of that city with impunity. Greeks in other towns of Palestine repeated the assault. In turn, the Jews responded by slaughtering Gentiles in Samaria, Galilee, and elsewhere. Soon Florus had lost control of the situation.

The organization of the Jews was better than it had previously been, and they were successful in an early engagement against the governor of Syria, who had advanced to Palestine with two legions to assist the hard-pressed procurator.

In 67, however, Vespasian, the future emperor, with his son Titus, arrived with a force of about 60,000 men, and the war became increasingly bitter. By the end of 67 Galilee was captured, and Judaea was reduced in three campaigns, which ended with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The Temple was destroyed, though tradition recorded that Titus gave orders that it was to be spared, and the city became the permanent garrison town of a Roman legion. By AD 73 all resistance had ceased.

Peter Marshall Fraser

Glenn Richard Bugh

Roman Palestine

After the destruction of Jerusalem, a legion (X Fretensis) was stationed on the site, and the rank of the provincial governor was raised from procurator to legatus Augusti, signifying a change from equestrian to senatorial rank. Caesarea Maritima, the governor's residence, became a Roman colony, and, as a reward for the loyalty of the Greeks in the revolt, a new pagan city, Neapolis (modern Nablus), was founded at Shechem, the religious centre of the Samaritans.

The Jews, deprived of the Temple, founded a new religious centre in the rabbinical school of Jamnia (Jabneh). When a revolt broke out in AD 115, the Roman emperor Trajan appointed the first consular legate of Judaea, Lucius Quietus, to put it down. The rank of the legate confirms that two legions were stationed in Judaea, one at Jerusalem, the other at Caparcotna in Galilee, and thenceforth the province must have held consular status.

In AD 132 the emperor Hadrian decided to build a Roman colony, Aelia Capitolina, on the site of Jerusalem. The announcement of his plan, as well as his ban on circumcision (revoked later, but only for the Jews), provoked a much more serious revolt, led by Bar Kokhba. It was ruthlessly repressed by Julius Severus; almost 1,000 villages were destroyed and more than half a million people killed, according to certain accounts. In Judaea proper the Jews seem to have been virtually exterminated, but they survived in Galilee, which, like Samaria, appears to have held aloof from the revolt. Tiberias in Galilee became the seat of the Jewish patriarchs. The province of Judaea was renamed Syria Palaestina (later simply called Palaestina), and, according to Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica iv. 6), no Jew was thenceforth allowed to set foot in Jerusalem or the surrounding district. This prohibition apparently was relaxed some time later to permit Jews to enter Jerusalem on one day a year, a Day of Mourning. While this ban was officially still in force as late as the 4th century AD, there is some evidence that from the Severan period onward (after AD 193) Jews visited the city more frequently, especially at certain festival times, and even that there may have been some Jews in residence. About the time the Bar Kokhba revolt was crushed (AD 135), Hadrian proceeded to convert Jerusalem into a Greco-Roman city, with a circus, an amphitheatre, baths, and a theatre and with streets conforming to the Roman grid pattern. He also erected temples dedicated to Jupiter and himself (Aelia was his clan name) on the very site of the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem. To repopulate the city, Hadrian apparently brought in Greco-Syrians from the surrounding areas and even perhaps some legionary veterans. The urbanization and Hellenization of Palestine was continued by the emperor Septimius Severus (reigned AD 193–211), except in Galilee, where the Jewish presence remained strong. New pagan cities were founded in Judaea at Eleutheropolis and Diospolis (formerly Lydda) and at Nicopolis (formerly Emmaus) under one of Severus' successors, Elagabalus (reigned AD 218–222). In addition, Severus issued a specific ban against Jewish proselytism.

With the conversion of Constantine I to Christianity early in the 4th century, a new era of prosperity began for Palestine. The emperor himself built a magnificent church on the site of the Holy Sepulchre, the most sacred of Christian holy places; his mother, Helena, built two others—at the place of the Nativity at Bethlehem and of the Ascension in Jerusalem—and his mother-in-law, Eutropia, built a church at Mamre. Palestine began to attract floods of pilgrims from all parts of the empire. It also became a great centre of the eremitic life; men flocked from all quarters to become hermits in the Judaean wilderness, which was soon dotted with monasteries. Constantine added the southern half of Arabia to the province, but in 357–358 (or perhaps as late as the 390s) the addition was made a separate province under the name of Palaestina or Salutaris (later Palaestina Tertia). At the end of the 4th century, an enlarged Palestine was divided into three provinces: Prima, with its capital at Caesarea; Secunda, with its capital at Scythopolis (Bet She’an); and Salutaris, with its capital at Petra or possibly for a time at Elusa. It is clear that the province of Palaestina underwent several territorial changes in the 4th century AD, but the details and the chronology remain obscure. The governor of Prima bore the high rank of proconsul from 382 to 385 and again from 535 onward. A dux of Palestine commanded the garrison of all three provinces.

The bishop of the civil capital, Caesarea, was, according to the usual rule, metropolitan of the province, but the bishops of Jerusalem were claiming special prerogatives as early as the Council of Nicaea. Eventually, Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem from 421 to 458, achieved his ambition and was recognized by the Council of Chalcedon (451) as patriarch of the three provinces of Palestine.

There was a revolt of the Jews in Galilee in 352, which was suppressed by the Caesar Gallus. Under Marcian (reigned 450–457) and again under Justinian I (reigned 527–565) the Samaritans revolted. Palestine, like Syria and Egypt, was also troubled by the Monophysite Controversy, a debate among Christians who disagreed with the Council of Chalcedon's assertion that the person of Jesus Christ comprised two natures, human and divine. When Juvenal returned from Chalcedon, having signed the Council's canons, the monks of Palestine rose and elected another bishop of Jerusalem, and military force was required to subdue them. Gradually, however, the Chalcedonian doctrine gained ground, and Palestine became a stronghold of orthodoxy. Apart from these disturbances the country enjoyed peace and prosperity until 611, when Khosrow II, king of Persia, launched an invasion. His troops captured Jerusalem (614), destroyed churches, and carried off the True Cross. In 628 the Byzantine emperor Heraclius recovered Palestine, and he subsequently restored the True Cross to Jerusalem, but 10 years later Jerusalem fell to the Arabs.

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones

Glenn Richard Bugh

© 2002 Inc.

5 posted on 03/30/2002 3:00:41 PM PST by Phil V.
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To: doug from upland
This area was also referred to as the Levant. I don't hear of anyone referring to themselves as Levantines and proclaiming rights deriving therefrom.
6 posted on 03/30/2002 3:11:56 PM PST by Mike Darancette
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To: doug from upland
Thanks, Doug. Outstanding post.

Joe Farah's an Arab?

7 posted on 03/30/2002 3:14:36 PM PST by oprahstheantichrist
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To: Restorer
The debate should be about how to deal with the Palestinian nation, not whether these roughly five million people should be accorded that status.

That pollyanna attitude doesn not square with history or reality.
All the Muslim countries expelled all the Jews and enjoy stability as a result.
The Jews are entitled to at least the same.

Israel made a huge (fatal?) mistake in granting the muslims any administrative right in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza strip, and particularly Jerusalem.
It will have completed it's own coffin if it allows a hostile muslim state without an adequate physical buffer.

Perhaps you are (intentionally) unaware that the destruction of Israel is still part of the "palestinian" charter?

8 posted on 03/30/2002 3:18:29 PM PST by Publius6961
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To: doug from upland
Out of curiosity, I looked up "Palestine" in an 1899 encyclopedia I have that was published in the USA.

The "Palestine" entry defined Palestine as the southern third of Syria (then a part of the Ottoman Empire)and futher defined it as the land "that had been settled by the Hebrews".

To be fair to the British, they did not casually assign the name Palestine to their mandate. Their mandate was acquired after the end of World War I and the encyclopedia shows that "Palestine" was the accepted geographic name of the region in 1899.

Even in 1899, however, the name "Palestine" was identified with the Hebrews.

9 posted on 03/30/2002 3:34:18 PM PST by Polybius
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To: Publius6961
Israel made a huge (fatal?) mistake in granting the muslims any administrative right in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza strip, and particularly Jerusalem. It will have completed it's own coffin if it allows a hostile muslim state without an adequate physical buffer.

You are jumping to conclusions. I do not disagree with any of what you say here.

I did not say that the Palestinian nation should be granted a state, much less anything about possible boundaries for such a state or where the state would be located. You are just assuming that I am in favor of a West Bank/ Gaza state.

There are many nations or nationalities without their own nation-state. Zionists especially should recognize this fact, because otherwise they are forced to believe that the Jewish nation came into existence in 1948, which is of course ridiculous.

Perhaps you are (intentionally) unaware that the destruction of Israel is still part of the "palestinian" charter?

Well aware of it. Its one of the things that must be taken into consideration when deciding how to deal with the Palestinian nation.

It's interesting that apparently nobody is trying to take me up on my challenge to point out a factor that disqualifies the Palestinians from being a nation that does not also apply to at least one other nation.

10 posted on 03/30/2002 4:37:28 PM PST by Restorer
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To: Publius6961
...Israel made a huge (fatal?) mistake in granting the muslims any administrative right in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza strip, and particularly Jerusalem...

I disagree. The mistake was in the degree of rights given and the ultimate goal. If Israel is to survive as a Jewish nation, no other sovereign state can ever exist within its present borders (including Gaza, WestBank, and Golan). However, they cannot simply disenfranchise the Arabs in Israel. Those people must either be expelled or given a degree of control.

I suggest the creation of city-states. There are 14 major Palestinian cities. Each would get its own representative government but no representation in the Knesset. Israel would have full control of the land between the cities. Israel would have sovereignty over the city-states.

11 posted on 03/30/2002 4:39:07 PM PST by jadimov
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To: doug from upland
12 posted on 03/30/2002 4:47:19 PM PST by knighthawk
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To: doug from upland; Yehuda; Mercuria; AnnaZ; Incindiary; Starfan; Firebrand; Dutchy; Nutmeg...
13 posted on 03/30/2002 5:00:12 PM PST by RaceBannon
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To: Restorer
...a group of people becomes a nation when it thinks of itself as such...

Thinking of oneself as a nation does not equal a right to statehood. There are numerous nations across the world that do not have a state. This includes numerous Native Tribes in America, the Basques and Catalans of Spain, the Welsh, the Scots, the Kurds. If the gates are opened for even all nations to receive a state, only turmoil will result as each group claims a state for itself.

...India (despite an ancient history) had never been a unified state prior to its gaining independence from Britain...

India is not a good example. It has been unable to maintain a stable government. It is at constant war with Pakistan. Internally the Taamil and Sikh people want independence. There are religious riots between the Hindu and Muslims. The caste system keeps the poorest people poor with no way of advancement. India as constituted today was not ready for independence.

...denying that this group is a nation NOW serves little useful purpose...

There is also no purpose in creating a state where none should exist. The world is full of failed states now (search posts on Zimbabwe). Do we need one more?

14 posted on 03/30/2002 5:02:18 PM PST by jadimov
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To: jadimov
Did you read Port #10?
15 posted on 03/30/2002 5:16:58 PM PST by Restorer
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To: jadimov
Make that POST #10!
16 posted on 03/30/2002 5:17:54 PM PST by Restorer
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To: oprahstheantichrist
Joseph Farah is a Christian of Arab descent.
17 posted on 03/30/2002 5:23:38 PM PST by lancer
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To: doug from upland
As usual the British were their devious duplicitous selves
18 posted on 03/30/2002 5:45:05 PM PST by uncbob
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To: doug from upland
For interested lurkers/posters:
Radio commentator Michael Medved has an excellent tape about this topic called "Why They Fight".

Granted that Mr. Medved as an observant Jew (born and raised in the USA) can't
help but be sympathetic to the Israeli side of the dispute, he does
a good job of detailing how the Israelis and Palestinians have arrived at
their current juncture.

Myself, as a native-born American of Christian culture background, can only say that
what is happening right now is that the Palestinians still can't believe they
backed the wrong horse in 1948 by not making a decent accomadation with the Jews who
legally bought their land holdings...and that the 1967 and 1973 wars even made
their situation worse.
They now are trying to do what has happened to Jews over many generations.
The Palestinians want to kill/drive into the sea all the Jews and take over the
buildings and infastruture built up over the past hundred years...and not pay a cent for it.

Just my naive opinion from having listened to Jewish/Palestinian conflict
since I was a tyke.

(Oh, I suspect anyone interested in the Medved tape can find it for sale on his website
19 posted on 03/30/2002 5:59:48 PM PST by VOA
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To: Restorer
...Did you read Post #10?...

I didn't. My connection slowed down considerably and I missed your post. I wasn't paying attention. My apologies. It appears we may be in agreement and I misunderstood your initial position.

20 posted on 03/30/2002 6:34:35 PM PST by jadimov
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