History of the Jews in the Land of Israel

History of the Jews in the Land of Israel

The History of the Jews in the Land of Israel begins with the ancient Israelites (also known as Hebrews), who settled in the land of Israel. The Israelites traced their common lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Jewish tradition holds that the Israelites were the descendants of Jacob's twelve sons (one of which was named Judah), who settled in Egypt. Their direct descendants respectively divided into twelve tribes, who were enslaved under the rule of an Egyptian pharaoh. In the Jewish faith, the emigration of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan (the Exodus), led by the prophet Moses, marks the formation of the Israelites as a people.

Throughout the centuries, in spite of oppression, banishment, and slaughter, there was an uninterrupted continuity of Jewish life in the country. The Jewish community in the land of Israel has always played a unique role in Jewish history.

This article refers to the history in the Land of Israel in the boundaries defined by Canaan or as the region was later also known by its Roman name in _la. Palaestina.

Early times

According to Biblical tradition the Jews originated with the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob received the name "Israel" and the land of the Jewish people was named after him. Following a draught, the descendants of Jacob settled in Goshen bordering Egypt and were later enslaved by the Egyptians. After escaping slavery under the leadership of Moses and forty years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites returned to the region of Canaan which was conquered under the command of Joshua and divided together with the region of Gilead amongst the twelve tribes. For a period of time, the united twelve tribes were led by a series of rulers known as Judges. After this period, an Israelite monarchy was established under Saul, and continued under King David and Solomon. King David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. After Solomon's reign the nation split into two kingdoms, the northern on retaining the name Israel, consisting of ten tribes (nine tribes and the two divisons of Manasseh), and Judah, consisting of the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin (in the south) as well as Levites and Aaronite priests. Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser V in the 8th century BCE with the elite being exiled to Aram-Naharaim, Assyria and Media. Subsequent loss of knowledge of ancestral lines amongst the Jews of the northern kingdom led to the myth of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Fall of the Kingdom of Judah

When the kingdom of Judah was conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BCE, the Judahite elite was exiled to Babylon. After the subsequent conquest of Babylonia by the Persians, some of the exiles returned to their homeland, led by prophets Ezra and Nehemiah. JewsWho|date=August 2008 were allowed to return with the Temple vessels that the Babylonians had taken.Fact|date=August 2008 Construction of the Second Temple was completed under the leadership of the Prophets Haggai,Zechariah and Malachi with Persian approval.

Persian and Greek rule

After the last three Jewish Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi died still under Persian rule, the leadership of the Jewish people was in the hands of five successive generations of zugot ("pairs") of leaders. They flourished first under the Persians then under the Greeks. As a result the Pharisees and Sadduccees were formed. Under the Persians then under the Greeks, Jewish coins were minted in Judea as Yehud coinage

The Hasmonean Kingdom and Roman rule

After: the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great; his demise; and the division of Alexander's empire among his generals, the Seleucid Kingdom was formed. A deterioration of relations between Hellenized Jews and religious Jews led the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to impose decrees banning certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Consequently, the orthodox Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family, (also known as the Maccabees). This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BCE to 63 BCE. The Maccabees purified the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, an event that to this day is celebrated on by Jews on Chanukkah. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated as a result of civil war between the sons of Salome Alexandra, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The people, who did not want to be governed by a king but by theocratic clergy, made appeals in this spirit to the Roman authorities. A Roman campaign of conquest and annexation, led by Pompey, soon followed.

Judea under Roman rule was at first an independent Jewish kingdom, but gradually the rule over Judea became less and less Jewish, until it became under the direct rule of Roman administration (and renamed the "Iudaea Province"), which was often callous and brutal in its treatment of its Judean subjects. In 66 CE, Judeans began to revolt against the Roman rulers of Judea. The revolt was defeated by the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus. The Romans destroyed much of the Temple in Jerusalem and, according to some accounts, stole artifacts from the temple, such as the Menorah. Altogether, 1,100,000 Jews perished during the revolt and another 97,000 were taken captive.

Major battles were in Masada and in Gamla. Gamla was the district capital of the Golan Heights first established by the last king of the Hasmonean dynasty. Gamla's citizens saw their battle as directly connected to Jerusalem and fiercely defended their stronghold. Eventually, all of the 9000 city's residents were killed. Both historical sites of Masada and Gamla have been excavated and are frequently visited in the modern State of Israel.

Judeans continued to live in their land in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion, until the 2nd century when Julius Severus ravaged Judea while putting down the Bar Kokhba revolt. 985 villages were destroyed. Banished from Jerusalem, the Jewish population now centred on Galilee.

This was also the time of . Many Christians considered the new religion to supersede Judaism. See also Council of Jamnia.

Late Roman period

In this period the "tannaim" and "amoraim" were active, rabbis who organized and debated the Jewish oral law. The decisions of the "tannaim" are contained in the Mishnah, Beraita, Tosefta, and various Midrash compilations. The Mishnah was completed shortly after 200, probably by Judah haNasi. The commentaries of the "amoraim" upon the Mishnah are compiled in the Jerusalem Talmud, which was completed around 400 CE, probably in Tiberias.

In 351 CE, the Jewish population in Sepphoris Roman laws started a revolt under the leadership of Patricius against the rule of Constantius Gallus. The revolt was eventually subdued by Ursicinus.

According to tradition, in 359 CE Hillel II created the Hebrew calendar based on the lunar year. Until then, The entire Jewish community outside the land of Israel depended on the calendar sanctioned by the Sanhedrin; this was necessary for the proper observance of the Jewish holy days. However, danger threatened the participants in that sanction and the messengers who communicated their decisions to distant congregations. As the religious persecutions continued, Hillel determined to provide an authorized calendar for all time to come.

The last pagan Roman Emperor, Julian, allowed the Jews to return to "holy Jerusalem which you have for many years longed to see rebuilt" and to rebuild the Temple. However, the Temple was not rebuilt.

Byzantine period

Jews at this time in Israel were living under the oppressive rule of the Byzantines under whom there were two more Jewish revolts and three Samaritan revolts. Under the oppression, Jews still lived in at least forty-three Jewish communities in Israel: twelve towns on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan, and thirty-one villages in Galilee and in the Jordan valley.

In 438, The Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews' praying at the Temple site and the heads of the Community in Galilee issued a call "to the great and mighty people of the Jews": "Know that the end of the exile of our people has come"!

In about 450, the Jerusalem Talmud is completed.

In 613, a Jewish revolt against the Byzantine Empire coming into aid of the Persian invaders erupted. The Jews gained autonomy in Jerusalem for 5 years but were frustrated with its limitations. At that time the Persians betrayed the agreements with the Jews and Jews were again expelled from Jerusalem. The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius then managed to overcome the Persian forces with the aid of Jewish leader Benjamin of Tiberias. Nevertheless, he betrayed the Jews too and put thousands of Jewish refugees to flight from Israel to Egypt.

Islamic and Crusader periods

In 638 CE, the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Mideast. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palaestina, and Egypt. Under the various rules, Jews suffered and moved from driven from villages, to towns to coastal towns being reduced in numbers due to massacres. Nevertheless, the Jews still controlled much of the commerce in Israel. The Jews worked as assayers of coins, dyers, tanners and bankers in the community.

Professor Moshe Gil [Moshe Gil, "A History of Palestine: 634-1099"] documents that at the time of the Arab conquest in 7th century CE, the majority of the population was Jewish.

The niqqud was invented in Tiberias. The Jews defended Jerusalem and Haifa against the Crusaders in 1099. At the time, there were Jewish communities throughout the country which included Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza. Yehuda Halevi famously makes his trip to Jerusalem.

The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the Crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June-July 1099). At this time, there were Jewish communities all over the country. 50 of them are known by name and include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza. Along with the Arabs and the Turks, the Jews vigorously defended Jerusalem. When the city fell, the Crusaders gathered the Jews in a synagogue and burned them.

Jews were not allowed to hold land in the Crusader period but concentrated their efforts on the commerce in the coastal towns during times of quiescence. Most of them were artisans: glassblowers in Sidon, furriers and dyers in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew orthography Niqqud, the system of diacritical vowel points in the Hebrew alphabet was created at this time by the Masoretes of Tiberias (see Masoretic Text, Tiberian Hebrew). A large volume of piyutim and midrashim had their origin in Palestine in those days.

During Maimonides' residence in Jerusalem, a synagogue stood on the Temple Mount alongside other structures; Maimonides prayed there. He wrote that in 1165 he visited Jerusalem and went up on to the Temple Mount and prayed in the "great, holy house". [Sefer HaCharedim Mitzvat Tshuva Chapter 3] Maimonides established a yearly holiday for himself and his sons, the 6th of Cheshvan, commemorating the day he went up to pray on the Temple Mount, and another, the 9th of Cheshvan, commemorating the day he merited to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

In 1141 Yehuda Halevi issued a call to the Jews to emigrate to the land of Israel and took on the long journey himself. After a stormy passage from Córdoba, he arrived in Egyptian Alexandria, where he was enthusiastically greeted by friends and admirers. At Damietta, he had to struggle against the promptings of his own heart, and the pleadings of his friend Ḥalfon ha-Levi, that he remain in Egypt; and free from intolerant oppression. He, however resisted the temptation to remain there, and started on the tedious land route, trodden of old by the Israelite wanderers in the desert. Again he is met with, worn-out, with broken heart and whitened hair, in Tyre and Damascus. Jewish legend relates that as he came near Jerusalem, over-powered by the sight of the Holy City, he sang his most beautiful elegy, the celebrated "Zionide," "Zion ha-lo Tish'ali." At that instant, he was ridden down and killed by an Arab, who dashed forth from a gate.

Mamluk period

In the years 1260-1516, Palestine was part of the Empire of the Mamluks who ruled first from Turkey, then from Egypt. War and uprisings, bloodshed and destruction followed. Jews suffered persecution and humiliation but the surviving records cite at least 30 Jewish urban and rural communities at the opening of the 16th century.

A notable event during the period was the settlement of Nachmanides in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1267 which since then a continuous Jewish presence existed in Jerusalem until modern day occupation of Jordan in 1948. Nahmanides then settled at Acre, where he was very active in spreading Jewish learning, which was at that time very much neglected in the Holy Land. He gathered a circle of pupils around him, and people came in crowds, even from the district of the Euphrates, to hear him. Karaites were said to have attended his lectures, among them being Aaron ben Joseph the Elder, who later became one of the greatest Karaite authorities. Shortly after his arrival in Jerusalem he addressed a letter to his son Nahman, in which he described the desolation of the Holy City, where there were at that time only two Jewish inhabitants — two brothers, dyers by trade. In a later letter from Acre he counsels his son to cultivate humility, which he considers to be the first of virtues. In another, addressed to his second son, who occupied an official position at the Castilian court, Nahmanides recommends the recitation of the daily prayers and warns above all against immorality. Nahmanides died after having passed the age of seventy-six, and his remains were interred at Haifa, by the grave of Yechiel of Paris. Yechiel emigrated to Acre in 1260, along with his son and a large group of followers [http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/places/acco.html] [http://www.lookstein.org/resources/bionotes.pdf] There he established the Tamudic academy "Midrash haGadol d'Paris". [http://www.jewishhistory.com/jh.php?id=AdditionalReadings&content=content/segal_ch17] He is believed to have died there between 1265 and 1268.

In 1488 Obadiah ben Abraham, commentator on the Mishnah, arrived in Jerusalem and marked a new epoch for the Jewish community in The Land.

Ottoman period

"The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Middle East and North Africa" estimates the Jewish population of the Palestine region at "approximately 10,000 during the first half-century of Ottoman rule. Bold development projects for reviving the Holy Land were conceived by Jewish courtiers in Constantinople, such as Don Garcia Mendes and Don Joseph Nasi. Jerusalem, Tiberias and above all, Safad, became centres of Jewish spiritual and commercial activity... Many of the gains achieved by Islamic Jewry during the 16th century were lost over the next 200 years ... as Ottoman rule became more inefficient, corrupt and religiously conservative." ["The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Middle East and North Africa". Trevor Mostyn, Albert Hourani (editors) Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.186]

Thirty Jewish communities exist at the time in Haifa, Sh’chem, Hebron, Ramleh, Jaffa, Gaza, Jerusalem, and many in the north.

Tzfat/Safed became a spiritual centre. Kabbalah flourished among Sefardic Jews in Safed even before the arrival of Isaac Luria (known as "the Ari"), its most famous resident. The great Yosef Karo, author of the "Shulchan Arukh" was part of the Tzfat school of Kabbalah. Shlomo Alkabetz, author of the famous L'cha Dodi, taught there. His disciple Moses ben Jacob Cordovero authored "Sefer Pardes Rimonim", an organized, exhaustive compilation of kabbalistic teachings on a variety of subjects up to that point. Rabbi Cordovero headed the Academy of Tzfat until his death, when Isaac Luria, also known as the Ari, rose to prominence. Rabbi Moshe's disciple Eliyahu di Vidas authored the classic work, Reshit Chochmah, combining kabbalistic and mussar teachings. Chaim Vital also studied under Rabbi Cordovero, but with the arrival of Rabbi Luria became his main disciple. Vital claimed to be the only one authorized to transmit the Ari's teachings, though other disciples also published books presenting Luria's teachings.

In Safed, the Jews developed a number of branches of trade, especially in grain, spices, and cloth. They specialised once again in the dyeing trade. Lying halfway between Damascus and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast, Safed gained special importance in the commercial relations in the area. The 8,000 or 10,000 Jews in Safed in 1555 grew to 20,000 or 30,000 by the end of the century.

In 1569, the Radbaz moved to Jerusalem, but did not stay there long, because of the burdensome taxes that the Turkish government had imposed upon Jews. He settled in Safed, where he became an active member of the beth din presided over by Yosef Karo, who held him in great esteem.

In 1577, A Hebrew printing press is established in Safed. It's the first press in Palestine and the first in Asia.

In 1660, the Jews of Safed and Jerusalem were massacred by the Arabs at the behest of the Turks. Safed was emptied of inhabitants and only one Jew escaped from Jerusalem. These events surround the episode of the false Messiah Shabatai Tsevi.

In 1759, a massive earthquake destroys much of Safed killing 2000 people with 190 Jews among the dead.

The disciples of the Vilna Gaon settled in the land of Israel almost a decade after the arrival of two of his pupils, R. Hayim of Vilna and R. Israel ben Samuel of Shklov. In all there were three groups of the Gaon's students which emigrated to the land of Israel. They formed the basis of the Ashkenazi communities of Jerusalem and Safed, setting up what was known as the Kollel Perushim. Their arrival encouraged an Ashkenazi revival in Jerusalem, whose Jewish community until this time was mostly Sephardi. Many of the descendents of the disciples became leading figures in modern Israeli society. The Gaon himself also set forth with his pupils to the Land, but for an unknown reason he turned back and returned to Vilna where he died soon after.

During the siege of Acre in 1799, Napoleon prepared a proclamation declaring a Jewish state in Israel, though he did not issue it. The siege was lost to the British, however, and the plan was never carried out.

The connection of the Jewish people to the land was kept strongly. In 1888, Professor Sir John William Dawson wrote::"Until today (1888), no people has succeeded in establishing national dominion in the Land of Israel. No national unity, in the spirit of nationalism, has acquired any hold there. The mixed multitude of itinerant tribes that managed o settle there did so on lease, as temporary residents. It seems that they await the return of the permanent residents of the land." [Modern Science in Bible Lands, page 450]

In 1821 the brothers of murdered Jewish adviser and finance minister to the rulers of the Galilee, Haim Farkhi formed an army with Ottoman permission, marched south and conquered the Galilee. They were held up at Akko which they besieged for 14 months after which they gave up and retreated to Damascus.

Modern times

British Mandate

Between 1882 and 1948, a series of Jewish migrations to what is the modern nation of Israel, known as Aliyahs commenced. These migrations preceded the Zionist period.:"For full article, see Aliyah."

In 1917, at the end of World War I, Israel (known at the time as Palestine) changed hands from the defeated Ottoman Empire to the occupying British forces. The United Kingdom was granted control of Palestine by the Versailles Peace Conference which established the League of Nations in 1919 and appointed Herbert Samuel, a former Postmaster General in the British cabinet, who was instrumental in drafting the Balfour Declaration, as its first High Commissioner in Palestine. During World War I the British had made two promises regarding territory in the Middle East. Britain had promised the local Arabs, through Lawrence of Arabia, independence for a united Arab country covering most of the Arab Middle East, in exchange for their supporting the British; and Britain had promised to create and foster a Jewish national home as laid out in the Balfour Declaration, 1917.:"For full article, see British Mandate of Palestine."

War of Independence

In 1947 Britain announced its intention to withdraw from Palestine, and on 29 November the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state (with Jerusalem becoming an international enclave). The Jewish Agency accepted the plan, while the Arabs of Palestine and the neighboring countries rejected it and commenced to use force to abort the establishment of a Jewish state in the area allotted to it by the UN.

Having developed since the 18th century, the political movement to establish an autonomous Jewish state in Israel, known as Zionism, reached its pinnacle on May 14, 1948, when the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine led by prime minister Ben-Gurion, made a declaration of independence, and the state of Israel was established.:"For full article, see Zionism."

Modern nation of Israel

Since 1948, Israel has been involved in a series of major military conflicts, including the 1956 Suez War, 1967 Six-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon War, and 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, as well as a nearly constant series of ongoing minor conflicts to preserve its national interests.

Since 1977, an ongoing and largely unsuccessful series of diplomatic efforts have been initiated by Israel, its neighbors, and other parties, including the United States and the European Union, to bring about a peace process to resolve conflicts between Israel and its neighbors, mostly over the fate of the Palestinian people.

Present day

Despite the constant security threats, Israel has thrived economically. Throughout the 1980s and the 1990s there were numerous liberalization measures: in monetary policy, in domestic capital markets, and in various instruments of governmental interference in economic activity. The role of government in the economy was considerably decreased. On the other hand, some governmental economic functions were increased: a national health insurance system was introduced, though private health providers continued to provide health services within the national system. Social welfare payments, such as unemployment benefits, child allowances, old age pensions and minimum income support, were expanded continuously, until they formed a major budgetary expenditure. These transfer payments compensated, to a large extent, for the continuous growth of income inequality, which had moved Israel from among the developed countries with the least income inequality to those with the most.

Today, Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of over 7.1 million people, of which about 5.8 million are Jewish.

:"For the history of the modern State of Israel, from its Independence Proclamation in 1948 until the present, see History of Israel."

ee also

*Old Yishuv


External links

* [http://www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=1527&subject=28 Yearning for Zion]
* [http://www.alsadiqin.org/history/The%20Persian%20conquest%20of%20Jerusalem%20in%20614CE%20compared%20with%20Islamic%20conquest%20of%20638CE.pdf The conquests of Jerusalem in 614CE and 638CE within the context of attempts at Jewish restoration]
* [http://www.jewishhistory.com/jh.php?id=Timeline&content=Timeline Timeline of the History of the Jews and the Land of Israel Based on "A Historical Survey of the Jewish Population in Palestine Presented to the United Nations in 1947]


* [http://www.jewishhistory.org.il/ Jewish History]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/ Jewish Encyclopedia]
* "The Works of Josephus, Complete and Unabridged New Updated Edition" Translated by William Whiston, A.M., Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1987. ISBN 1565631676
* Katz, Shmuel (1973) "" Shapolsky Pub; ISBN 978-0-933503-03-8
*E.W.G.Masterman (1903): " [http://www.sephardiccouncil.org/palestine.pdf The Jews in Modern Palestine] "

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