History of Ancient Israel
We often hear claims about the Palestinians being a 5,000-years ancient and indigenous people, including the claim that Jesus was a Palestinian. In a highly politicized public opinion war, it’s worth asking: what’s fact and what’s fiction?
Israel is an ancient nation whose people exiled, known as diaspora, or the dispersion of the Jews beyond ancient Israel. The Israel we know today is but a portion of their original land known as the United Kingdom of Israel.
The United Kingdom of Israel
Israel is the name of Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. When they settled in the land, which was called Israel (or the United Kingdom of King David and King Solomon), the nation divided into two areas, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah after King Solomon died because of rebellion within the tribes.
The Kingdom of Judah
The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name “Judah”, which originally encompassed the territory of the Israelite tribe of that name and later of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.
→ The Ark of the Covenant.
Where did the name Palestine come from?
The “Palestine” name created in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian, who massacred the Jewish population in Judea and sent most of them into exile. Hadrian was determined to obliterate thousands of years of Jewish presence in the land of Israel.
The ancient Philistines are not the Palestinians of today
Emperor Hadrian hated the Jews and renamed Judea to Syria-Palaestina, after the nemesis of the Jews, the Philistines. The Philistines were an ancient people that like many others (Hittites, Canaanites, Amorites, Nubians, Jebusites) have vanished over time and have no connection to today’s Palestinians.
The Philistines were an ancient people that like many others have vanished over time and have no connection to today’s Palestinians
Why did the Romans change Judea to Syria Palaestina
The Roman general Pompey conquered the land of Israel in 63 BC (Siege of Jerusalem). Naturally, the Jews rebelled against Roman authority. The province of Judea was a problem with the Roman power.
In 130 BC Emperor Hadrian promised the Jews he would rebuild Jerusalem, which was utterly destroyed in 70 AD by Emperor Vespasian’s eldest son Titus to stop the second Jewish Revolt. It finally ended in 73 AD at the final siege of Masada.
Hadrian’s promise was false and eventually gave rise to a third Jewish War. The War was very bloody, and many many people died.
Because of the series of rebellion, Hadrian merged Judaea with Syria and call the entire province Syria-Palaestina. Hadrian’s sought to remove the Jewish identity from the land. Jews and Christians were banned from the region. The region became mostly known as Palaestina and Aelia, instead of Judaea and Jerusalem.
Source: Ariel Lewin- “The Archaeology of Ancient Judaea and Palestine”; Peter Schäfer- “The Bar Kochba War Reconsidered”; Ronald Syme- “The Wrong Marcius Turbo” in the Journal of Roman Studies; Cassius Dio 69.12-15
The Jewish people remain rooted in their land.
Even if Hadrian exiled several indigenous people, the Jews have maintained a continuous presence in the land of Israel ever since. Even when most Jews lived in most of Europe, the Israelites (Jewish people) have maintained their culture, with the hope of returning to their land.
Archaeological evidence demonstrates a continuous Jewish presence in this area beginning in 1300 BCE. Suppose we take the Bible as a historical document, which is what we now call as modern-day Palestine is part of the United Kingdom of Israel in ancient times.
The Jews built healthy communities in Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron, Tiberias, over the years.
→ Basic Israel history Christians must know.
Naming the Jewish land – Palestine
Judea was the last independent state that existed in the land. Century after century, the remaining Jews as well as other groups, lived under the rule of successive foreign empires, that called the area by different names. However, in Europe, the Latin word ‘Palestina’ remained the geographic name that was used most frequently.
When the land fell into the hand of the British Empire in Europe in 1917 AD, they named this land, Palestine, and this is where the misconception began.
The British Mandate for Palestine
The League of Nations (a predecessor to the UN), granted the victorious World War I powers, mandate to control the Middle East and prepare the local people for independence (Lebanon 1943, Syria 1944, Jordan 1946, Iraq 1947).
This area came under the British Mandate of Palestine, and two populations lived under the Mandate of Palestine – the Arabs and Jewish.
Mandatory Palestine was a geopolitical entity under British administration, carved out of Ottoman Southern Syria after World War I. British civil administration in Palestine operated from 1920 until 1948.
In 1947, the mandate expired, and the UN decided to split the land into independent Arab and Jewish states.
The Jews (Modern Israel) accepted the UN resolution and called their state Israel (founded in 1948). The Arabs (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia) however, rejected the two-state resolution and attacked the newly independent Israel.
The Arabs wanted to eradicate the Jews in Israel.
Israel against all odds
The Jewish people in Palestine without a regular army or an air force was able to defeat all of the Arab armies that intended to destroy them. After the War, Jordan annexed the West Bank, and Eygpt took over the Gaza strip.
Both areas that have been assigned to the Arabs as part of the partition plan (by the UN), neither countries saw the need to set-up an independent state in these areas. As a result, an Arab nation did not materialize.
Antisemitism is the hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews that has plagued them since they were driven out of their land in 70 AD. This form of racism was well depicted by many Europeans that culminated in the killing of 6 Million Jews under Adolf Hitler.
The word antisemite surfaced in Germany in 1879. It was a better word to use than Judenhass which means “Jew-hatred.” Judenhass extends today through the Arab-Israeli conflict, where the Arabs have openly promoted the destruction of the Jews.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization
In 1964 AD, the Arab league founded the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), this was the first time this Arab group that previously defined themselves Assyrians and Egyptians, started naming themselves the Palestinian people. The PLO demanded the entire area of the mandate. However, it called for the destruction of Israel but did not challenge Jordanian and Egyptian rule.
Arab aspiration continued to focus solely on eliminating the state of Israel and killing all of the Jews who live there, instigating another war in 1967, in which Israel gained control over the former mandate territory int the West Bank and Gaza.
The State of Israel today is being shown as the oppressor of Palestine when, in fact, it is the opposite. The Palestinians (Arabs) want Israel obliterated, and in defense, the Israel State with its state of the art weapon can counter strike military threats. Arab propaganda is bought by some mainstream media, mainly for political reasons.
In 2015, MSNBC showed a map of Israel that appears to be the oppressor of the Palestinian people. Anchor Kate Snow and the Middle East correspondent Martin Fletcher admitted that the plans gave “the wrong impression” of the region and did not reflect the demographic reality. During a live on-air discussion between Snow and Fletcher, a series of maps were displayed entitled “Palestinian loss of land 1946 – present.”
The first map pertaining to 1946 labeled the entire territory as “Palestine” with the vast majority of the map colored green, denoting Palestinian control, which was utterly wrong. Kate Snow apologized for the incorrect information and said, “Not factually accurate, and we regret using them; clearly, that set of maps was wrong.”
The maps and subsequent analysis gave the impression that a state of Palestine had existed in 1946 when in fact, the area was under British Mandatory rule until May 14, 1948. MSNBC later apologize for their inaccuracy, but the damage has been done.
→ Israel building the Third Temple?
Before the War in June 1967 (6-Days or Third Arab–Israeli War), control of this land was divided between three states, and none of them is Palestinian. The 2005 map would be accurately as it is presented in the original series, showing the very first lands ever be ruled by Palestinian Arabs qua Palestinian Arabs. By 1995, the map shows the withdrawals undertaken during the first two years of the Oslo process, just up to but not including the 1997 Hebron Protocol.
Before the war in June 1967, control of this land was divided between three states, and none of them is Palestinian.
Here we see how the peace process of the 1990s resulted in the first time a Palestinian Arab regime ruled over any piece of land. This occurred in 1994 with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Jericho. That control steadily expanded over more and more land during the years leading up to the failed final talks. Much of it was then lost during the second intifada but eventually regained as violence died down, and the Gaza disengagement even expanded it slightly.
All of these Palestinian land gains have taken place in the last 20 years, and every square meter of it came not from Turkey or Britain or Jordan or Egypt, but from Israel alone, and nearly all of it through peace negotiations. (Source: The Tower)
Israel remains undefeated, a cause for more uproar
Despite the many Arab countries that want Israel obliterated, it not only continues to exist, but they thrive economically. Israel, as we know it today, is only a portion of what it used to be during Biblical times. When the Jews were allowed to return in 1948, the land of Israel was barren, a desert with no valuable natural resources. Today, Israel is indeed the land of Milk and Honey, where the whole world benefits from its agricultural and technological advancements.
Even scientists and experts in other fields marvel at the advancements in Israel in the areas of technology and agriculture, which allow for the more excellent production of food with less effort, or in cities and ways previously not possible. Only in Israel do the dessert bloom!
Facts that should be remembered about the Israel-Palestine conflict
1. The name Palestine created in 134 AD (Roman Syria-Palestina)
2. The Arab population that lived in Israel during the British Mandate only started calling themselves Palestinians in 1964.
3. Jesus is not a Palestinian. He was a Jew living in Judea, part of ancient Israel.