"A country founded in blood--built on the backs and the corpses of a group of its inhabitants--is badly off-balance and will never recover, if it does not undertake a terrible soul-searching, a flight from violence and lies." - Jonathan Wallace








Ancient History of Palestine

Much of the ancient history of this region of the Middle East is derived from religious scriptures. Indeed, the first one thousand years discussed in the Bible take place in the region known as Palestine. In the 13th century BCE the Jews, then known as the Israelites, left Egypt and eventually settled in the land of Canaan today known as Israel. In 1020 BCE the Jewish monarchy was established, beginning with Saul. Twenty years later the capital was established under David in Jerusalem. In the year 960 BCE the next king, Solomon, built the first temple, which was destroyed twice and rebuilt once. The temple was where Jews of the time would offer sacrifices.



Thirty years later the Jews were divided into Israel and Judah. But in two hundred years the Assyrians destroyed the kingdom of Israel and its inhabitants were dispersed, creating the ten lost tribes. In 586 BCE Judah was conquered by Babylonia. Most of the Jews were exiled to Babylonia.


The Hellenistic period in Palestine occurred between 536 and 142 BCE. During this time many Jews returned to Israel and the temple was rebuilt. Alexander the Great conquered Israel in 332 BCE, and two and half centuries later the Macabees revolted against the Greeks and their restrictive policies toward the Jews and the destruction of the temple. Later in 129 BCE the Jews gained independence until 63 BCE when Pompey captured Jerusalem. Between 63 BCE and 4 CE Roman vassals ruled over Israel and the temple was refurbished. In 66 CE there was a Jewish revolt and when the temple was destroyed in 70 CE the Jews once again revolted, at Masada. Then again between 132-135 CE there was a major uprising against Rome, known as the Bar Kokhba uprising.



From 313 to 636 CE there was Byzantine rule in Palestine and Israel. Then in 636 Arab rule began. A mosque, the Dome of the Rock, was built on the site of the destroyed temple. For most of the period of Arab rule Palestine was administered from Egypt. In 1099 the crusaders captured Jerusalem putting it under European rule. This period is known as the “Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.” Then in 1187 Salah al-Diin al-Ayyoubi won back Jerusalem, which from then onwards was ruled intermittently by Egypt and the Ottomans from Istanbul. [Ottoman Empire Map]