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Jerusalem is referred to by over 30 other names in the Bible including. Salem, Moriah, Jebus, the place which the LORD your God shall choose, Zion, Mt Zion, Stronghold of Zion, City of David, Ariel, Holy Hill, Holy Mount, Bloody City, Harlot, Holy City, The City of Righteousness, The Faithful City, Throne of the LORD, the LORD our righteousness, City of the Great King, City of God, City of our God, City of the LORD, The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth, the LORD is there, Great City, City of Truth, Sodom and Egypt, the place where our Lord was crucified, Beloved City. The Lord also says that she "shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name." (Is. 62) In Revelation, "the city of my God which is new Jerusalem" and "the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband," is described in chapter 21.
Original City of David at the time of Solomon, approximately 950 B.C.-- the extent of Jerusalem at that time. Solomon's Temple on Mt Moriah is in upper far right corner (Artist's rendering).
The first mention of Jerusalem in the central mountains of what was called Canaan is in Gen. 14:18 when Melchizedek, king of Salem and "priest of God Most High", blessed Abraham, approximately 2000 B.C. (Salem -- related to Heb. shalom meaning peace -- was known as "Jerusalem" (Heb. Yerushalayim) by the time of Joshua around 1300 BC. Likely from Heb. yir meaning "city" and shalayim probably meaning "peace" (plural)). God later commanded Abraham to go to Mount Moriah, a hill adjacent to and slightly North of Salem where Solomon's temple would later be built, and sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to him. God spared Isaac, and there Abraham sacrificed a provided ram to God in Isaac's place. Gen. 22.
God refers in various ways to Jerusalem either directly or indirectly from Genesis to Exodus, though not by the name Jerusalem. It is first called Jerusalem in the book of Joshua, and he conquers it briefly around 1300 B.C. 300 years later, David, after becoming king of Israel, finally conquers and takes Jerusalem permanently from the Jebusites. The original Jerusalem (now called in modern-day Israel "the City of David" and by the Arabs, Silwan) is a high hill in the Judean mountains of about 15 to 20 acres surrounded by other higher hills. David makes Jerusalem the eternal capital of his / God's kingdom, and calls it the City of David. (2 Samuel 5 & 1 Chron. 11) Mt. Moriah, the hill a few hundred yards North (top right corner of painting), is the place God later revealed to David as the place of God's House. David ordered the temple of God to be built there by his son Solomon on the basis of that revelation. (1 Chron. 21,22).
From the time of Melchizedek, king/priest of Salem, through the time of David's capture of the city from the Jebusites and the building of Solomon's temple until the departure of God's glory from the city in Ezekiel (Ezek 11:22-23), Jerusalem/Moriah was God's place of dwelling. Jerusalem continues to be in the focus of God's plan from before the appearing and sacrifice of Christ/Messiah outside the city to the coming down from heaven of the New Jerusalem in Revelation (Rev. 21). Yet it (the earthly city) is the city which "kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to [her]", "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings, and ye would not!," cried out the Lord Jesus near the city before it crucified him (Mat. 23:37-39) Hence, "they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21)
But let us continue with our condensed history. Solomon's reign from Jerusalem over Israel was between 900 and 800 B.C. The kingdom split between Israel in the North and Judah in the South after Solomon. Around 590 B.C. (about 400 years later) Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered and eventually destroyed Jerusalem and took most of the Jews throughout the Land to Babylon as prophesied by Moses (Deut. 28, Lev. 26) and the later prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The captivity in Babylon would last 70 years, as the LORD declared through Jeremiah, on account of the people's wickedness and rebellion against him and his laws and so that the Land should enjoy its sabbaths. But God promised that he would raise up and cause a future, Persian king by the name of Cyrus, and other subsequent kings, to issue decrees that the Jews return to their Land and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (See Lev 26, Isa 44; 2 Chron 36 and others).
After 70 years of the captivity, Cyrus of Persia and subsequent kings issued those decrees. Beginning with the decree and command of Cyrus, king of Persia around 530 B.C., groups of the Babylonian Jewish exiles began returning to the Land and rebuilding the temple and the city (2 Chron. 36, Ezra 1) as prophesied by Isaiah, Jeremiah and others. Several groups, as recorded in the book of Ezra the high priest, then Ezra himself with a large group, and soon thereafter Nehemiah, returned to the Land to continue rebuilding. (See Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah.)
The same prophets as well as others also speak of a far greater dispersion and restoration of the "outcasts of Israel" (including gentiles) from many nations and from "the four corners of the earth," far greater than the Babylonian exile. (e.g. Isaiah 11:11-16) I have quoted those prophecies and promises which refer to the first -- Babylonian -- exile and restoration and those which refer to the greater exile and restoration. In the first century, Rome enslaved, exiled and scattered the Jews throughout the Roman and other empires. The largest waves of Jews to begin returning to the Land from this dispersion began in the 1800s.
All Hebrew prophecy ultimately points toward God's promised "messiah" (meaning "anointed one") and culminates, according to the Hebrew prophets, in the appearing and universal reign of Messiah / the Anointed One in glory and power whom we believe to be Jesus Christ/Messiah, the Son of God. (Either in two consecutive reigns, first earthly and then eternally over a "new heaven and earth" or eternally over one new heaven and earth. (c.f. Dan. 2,7-9; Zech. 12-14, Mat. 24; Mark 13; Rev. 19-22 and others.)
While most of the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" do not recognize their Messiah yet, God is opening the eyes of many worldwide and in the Land and granting them saving faith in Jesus in numbers not seen since the recording of the book of Acts. Yet we know that it is only the "remnant" or "a third", who will be saved as seen in the above passages. In the meantime, Jerusalem will be "trodden down of the gentiles until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled", Lk. 21:24.
As you will see in the following scriptures, God restores his people to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel -- not for their sake, for they are a stubborn, rebellious, idolatrous, and unfaithful people -- but for his own name's sake and for the sake of his covenant and promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob -- To make his name known to Israel and the nations -- to fulfill the covenant he made to the fathers. Jehovah God (or Yah'weh in Hebrew) keeps his covenant and the word he gave to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David and to his son Jesus Christ the son of David, so that they, Israel, shall be his people and he their God. This is God's purpose for ALL who are his elect, both Jew and Gentile. Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), the Son of David, the Son of God, will save all who have been given to him that all might serve and worship him "and so ALL Israel shall be saved" (Rom 11:26).
John Owen, a Puritan theologian in the 1600s, mentions the restoration of the Jews to the Land and to their Messiah according to his study of the scriptures. He wrote on this at a time when such thinking regarding the Jews and the literal fulfillment of Old and New Testament scriptures under the Covenant (which ultimately includes Jerusalem) would have appeared impossible.
[The Jews] shall return to their own land; they shall enjoy it for a quiet and everlasting possession, their adversaries being destroyed; they shall also be filled with the light and knowledge of the will and worship of God, so as to be a guide and blessing to the residue of the Gentiles who seek after the Lord, and perhaps, shall be entrusted with great empire and rule in the world. The most of these are foretold concerning them, not only in their own prophetic writings, but also by the divine writers of sundry books of the New Testament. But all this we say must come to pass, when the veil shall be taken from their eyes, and when they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and when they joyfully receive him whom they have sinfully rejected for so many generations....
When they shall receive, acknowledge, and believe in that Messiah who came to them so long time since, whom their fathers wickedly slew, and hanged on a tree, and whom they have since no less wickedly rejected; and when by his Spirit and grace they shall be turned from ungodliness, and shall have their eyes opened to see the mystery of the grace, wisdom and love of God in the blood of his Son; then shall they obtain mercy from the God of their forefathers, and returning again to their land, "Jerusalem shall be inhabited again, even in Jerusalem." John Owen (1670)
(An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Second Edition, Volume 1, published in Edinburgh in 1812. Quotes are from pages 443-444 and 454-455.)
From Chaim.org Reformed Perspectives on the Jewish People. (Emphasis and italics are mine.)
Abraham to David (2000 B.C. - 1000 B.C)
I (the webmaster) believe that as we understand some of Jerusalem's history and relationship to God according to his word we will better be able to better understand Jerusalem's future and destiny as he reveals it in his word. This will also help us to better understand how God works in his people, both Jew and Gentile, and God's plan for for everything to culminate in the glorification of his son with his people ("God's elect") who make up heavenly Jerusalem and the Israel of God according to the scriptures.
The descendants of the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were called Hebrews (meaning "one from the other side [possibly of the Euphrates river]" or "crossed over" or "immigrant" or wanderer c.f. World English Dictionary from Eber, son of Shem, son of Noah) in the land of Canaan. (Shem, who was still living at the time of Abraham, is the one from whom comes the name "Shemites" or Semites".) Abram (his original name) and his family came originally from Ur of Chaldea (later called Babylon, now Iraq/Turkey) between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
Abram, upon hearing God's call, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee," (Gen 12:1) left Haran (now in Turkey) and journeyed to the land of Canaan at around 2000 B.C. God establishes his covenant of blessing, land and seed:
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee:
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. (KJV) (Gen 12:1-7)
Much later, at God's command, he went to Mount Moriah (just North of Salem) to sacrifice his "only" son, Isaac. Through God's intervention, he sacrificed a ram to God in place of his son.
The term, Hebrew, was used by the Canaanites for Abraham, the "immigrant" from Chaldea (Iraq/Turkey region on the Euphrates) and for Abraham's descendants through Isaac and Jacob beginning approximately 2000 B.C. God gave Abraham's grandson, Jacob, (meaning deceiver) the name Israel (perseveres/prevails with God or God prevails) following his struggle all night wrestling with an angel of God (Gen. 32:24-32). Jacob, his twelve sons, and his family of about 70 moved to Egypt where his son, Joseph, had become the ruler of Egypt under the Pharaoh around 1800 B.C.
Moses led the Hebrews, the twelve tribes of Israel, in the Exodus from Egypt at about 1500 B.C. God appears to them at Mt. Sinai and gives his Law to them through Moses. He continues and expands his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and now their descendants, by sacrifice at Mt. Sinai. God leads Israel through the wilderness to the land of Canaan, but they rebel and attempt return to Egypt. God ends the rebellion and they wander in the wilderness for 40 years. (Numbers)
The next generation, at God's command, finally conquers the land of Canaan under Joshua around 1400 B.C. (Joshua). Israel under Joshua conquers much of Canaan, including the area of the Galilee (Hebrew for "district" or "circuit") and Jerusalem, but leaves many pockets of Canaanites whom they are unable to conquer. The name Jordan (Heb. Yarden, meaning River Dan or "River that descends from Dan"), refers to the Hebrew tribe of Dan which settled around the North end of the river after the conquest under Joshua. The twelve tribes of Israel teeter back and forth in the Land between autonomy led by judges whom God raised up as deliverers and oppression under the Canaanites and outside nations (Judges).
After about 400 years, the people demand of the latest judge and prophet, Samuel, that God give them a king. Samuel, at God's command, anoints Saul of the tribe of Benjamin as the first king of Israel around 1050 B.C. This king, whom the people had demanded, eventually rebels against God and Samuel. God sends Samuel to anoint a new king, a "man after God's own heart", a shepherd boy named David, Son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, to be the new king of Israel. After many attempts by Saul to kill David, David and his growing army of disenchanted Israelites eventually went over to the Philistines to hide from Saul. In a major battle with the Philistines, Saul is killed.
At God's direction, David returns to Israel in the land of Judah, to the city of Hebron. There, Judah anoints him king at around 1000 B.C., but the 10 other tribes side with Saul's son. Civil war ensues for the next seven years, with David and his kingdom gradually becoming stronger. Finally, the top general of the northern 10 tribes convinces all of the leaders to make David king of "all that his heart desires", over the entire kingdom of Israel.
David then conquers from its Jebusite inhabitants the hilltop village of Jerusalem, located in the Judean mountains of the tribe of Benjamin, the dwelling place of Melchizedek, king of Salem, 1000 ears earlier. David calls Jerusalem "the City of David" and he makes it the eternal capital city of his kingdom.
David brings the ark of God's Covenant (originally kept in the tabernacle of Moses) to Jerusalem and makes a temporary tent/tabernacle for it which the Bible calls the Tabernacle of David. From then on this is where he meets with and worships the Covenant God of Israel. But David continually seeks out a permanent place for the ark. He soon begins planning to build a "house" for God and the ark. But God, through the prophet, Nathan, while blessing him for having this on his heart, tells David that he cannot build the temple for he is "a man of blood". It will be built by his son, Solomon, during a reign of shalom or peace/completeness.
David rules as king of Israel for 40 years, defeating the Philistines and many other huge armies from the surrounding nations and empires which become tributaries and dominions under David. By the end of David's life he is ruling over much of the region that God promised to Israel in Genesis through Deuteronomy.
Near the end of David's life, God reveals to him the location of the temple. It is on Mount Moriah, just north of the City of David, on the threshing floor of Arunah/Ornan the Jebusite, the spot, Moriah ("Ordained by Yahweh"), where God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only beloved, begotten son, Isaac, and where God then provided a substitute sacrifice in Isaac's place. David purchases this spot from Arunah for 400 shekels of silver and builds an altar on that spot to God who accepts and consumes David's sacrifice by fire. David immediately recognizes that this is to be the location of God's temple. (See 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel.)
Solomon to Exile (950 B.C. - 600 B.C.)
Around 950 B.C. Solomon, the son of David, becomes king of Israel and begins building God's temple on Mount Moriah according to the plans God revealed to his father, locating the Holiest Place, the Holy of Holies of the temple, on the spot revealed to his father. Upon completion of the temple, the ark of the covenant is brought into the Holiest Place and Solomon offers sacrifices through the Levitical priests according to the Law. The cloud of God's glory comes into the Holiest Place and fills the temple such that none of the people can stand, all falling before him in worship. Yet Solomon acknowledges in his prayer, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (1 Kings 1-8)
Solomon ruled over a much larger region than his father, over much of what is now called the Middle-East, for 40 years.
Almost all of the kingdom was lost by his son, Rehoboam, during which time nine of the northern tribes revolted and split from Judah, forming their own kingdom of Israel, also called Samaria. By around 900 B.C., there were two nations in the Land -- Israel in the North and Judah in the South (which also included Benjamin and some of Simeon). The priestly tribe of Levi was interspersed among all of the the other 11 tribes, but some of Levi in the North probably fled South to Judah after the split. Thereafter, the region of Galilee/Samaria and its people are called Israel and the southern region and people are called Judah, and its people, Jews (Heb. Yehuda and Yehudim). Outside the Bible, "The earliest archaeological artifact to mention the word "Israel" is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE)." Wikipedia on "Israel".
The Northern kingdom of Israel lasted for about another 300 years and the southern kingdom 100 years longer before being conquered by Assyria and Babylon respectively. By the time of its conquest, the Northern kingdom was heavily into it's own religion of various idols and had lost all identity as a people connected with the God of Israel. Perversion, immorality (religious and social) and violence were rampant. God "cast them out" of the Land as promised by Moses and many prophets God had sent to them. Much of the Northern populace was exiled to Assyria and the region repopulated by the Assyrians with peoples from numerous other nations under its dominion. (1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles) From then on the people in that region were called Samaritans by the Jews in the South.
The southern kingdom of Judah lasted under various kings descended from David until about 600 B.C. By then Judah had descended into various forms of idolatry incorporated into the rites and sacrifices of the temple worship in Jerusalem along with pervasive social immorality, violence and oppression of and permanent enslavement of the poor. Judah had become worse than exiled Israel. It was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 600 B.C., but allowed some self-rule under kings chosen by Nebuchadnezzar. After several years of subjection to Babylon, the Judean king, Zedekiah, rebelled. Nebuchadnezzar defeated Zedekiah and the Jews after a 3-year siege of Jerusalem. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. All but the poorest of the land were exiled to Babylon. Many of those who remained fled to Egypt which was subsequently also conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. (See Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.)
From the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt (1500 B.C., see Exodus) through the time of David (1000 B.C.) and ultimately the Northern tribes' (Israel's) removal to Assyria (700 B.C.) and the southern tribe's (Judah's) exile to Babylon (600 B.C.) the land is called Canaan, the "land of Canaan," "the Land" and "land of Israel", and "land of Judah" in the South. The people are called the Hebrews, Israel, then Judah and the Jews in the South after the split. By 600 B.C. the land in the South where Jerusalem lay in ruins is usually called "the Land" and "Judah", and the people are called "the Jews" or Israel.
The language of the Hebrews (which we call Hebrew) was eventually called by themselves and others in the Bible "the Jews' language". It is called "the language of Canaan" in Isaiah 19 (approximately 700 B.C.). This language was mostly the Canaanite language which came from the older Phoenician language. Some Egyptian, and significant Assyrian and Babylonian (Aramaic) influence and concepts affected the language over time.
Restoration from Exile to the Coming of Jesus Christ (500 B.C. - 30 A.D.)
But God promises in the prophets to judge Babylon and restore Israel to himself and to their land.
Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.
Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.
Therefore thus saith the [Jehovah] of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.
And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.
In those days, and in that time, saith the [Jehovah] the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve. (Jeremiah 50:16-20, ~610 B.C.)
Almost 100 years before the return, God names the Persian king whom he will command to issue a decree for the Jews to return and rebuild the city and temple.
Thus saith the [Jehovah], thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the [Jehovah] that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Thus saith the [Jehovah] to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the [Jehovah], which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
I am the [Jehovah], and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the [Jehovah], and there is none else.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the [Jehovah] do all these things. (Isaiah 44:24-45:7, ~700 B.C.)
Around 540 B.C., Cyrus, the king of the Medo-Persian empire who conquered the Babylonian empire, issued a decree that the Jews should return to their land, rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and renew the worship and sacrifices to "Jehovah God of heaven", "the God of Israel" in Jerusalem as prophesied by Isaiah 200 years earlier and by Jeremiah 100 years earlier.
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, [Jehovah] God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of [Jehovah] God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. (KJV) (1 Chron. 36-Ezra 1, ~540 B.C.)
Waves of Jews began returning to the Land and to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city which by this time was mostly burned rubble. A large group led by Ezra, a Levitical priest, returned. He was given ruling authority by Cyrus with the commission to lead his people back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. (See Ezra.) The city of Jerusalem continued in a state of uninhabitable disrepair. Nehemiah, a Jewish official in the court of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, returned with a group and stirred up the people to begin clearing the rubble and rebuilding the wall and the city. (See Nehemiah)
After all had been rebuilt, Alexander the Great of the Macedonian/Greek empire arrived with his armies in "Iudaea" (Judah) around 300 B.C. and gave the Jews almost complete autonomy and self-rule. Alexander died early, and the entire Greek empire was divided among his four top generals.
Over the next 150 years, huge wars developed between kings of the divided Greek empire, particularly between the Seleucid Greeks of Syria and the Ptolemy Greeks of Egypt. The Seleucids under Antiochus Epiphanes eventually dominated. Antiochus and his Greek soldiers filled the Land and took Jerusalem. They brutally enforced Greek god-worship and culture upon the Jews and did away with the Covenant, Jewish Law and temple practice, replacing all with Greek paganism. He forced Jews to defile themselves, and he defiled the temple by sacrificing pigs and pouring the remains on the temple alter and Holiest Place. All who resisted were tortured and killed.
The Maccabees of Judah, 164-63 B.C. In the small village of Modine, Greek soldiers called the people to a gathering to worship the Greek gods and to enforce the sacrifice of a pig and the eating of its flesh. A leading Jewish priest in the town, Mattathias the Hasmonean, and his seven sons, revolted, killing the Greek soldiers and one of the Jews who had stepped forward to go along with the new rituals. This began a revolt against the Seleucid (Syrian) Greeks led by the Mattathias and then his oldest son, Judas the Maccabee (meaning hammer), which spread throughout the nation. This included civil war between the Maccabees and pro Maccabee/Law-keeping Jews on one side and the Hellenized (Greek-oriented) Jews on the other. The leaders of the former developed into what became the party of the Pharisees, the latter, the Sadducees.
Gradually the Maccabees and their Jewish armies prevailed, drove the Greeks out of most of Judea, retook Jerusalem and the temple, cleansed it and rededicated it to the God of Israel. According to story in the books of the Maccabees, they found enough oil to light the lampstand in the holy place for one day. Creating and consecrating new "holy" oil would take seven more days. According to the narrative, the lamps miraculously continued to burn for the entire eight days until the new oil was ready. This was celebrated and became what is now known as Hanukkah (the Dedication) (c.f. Jesus in the Temple at the Dedication (Enkainia, Gk), John 10:22-39) or "Lights". (See Daniel 7-12, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Josephus, Wikipedia on the Maccabees)
By 150 B.C. the Romans referred to the northern region of the land by the Latinized name, Galilea, and the southern region as Iudaea. The area between the Galilee and Judea was called Samaria, as in the New Testament, and is still called Samaria by the Samaritans living there now (as of 2013). The largest Jewish-controlled territory before being conquered by Rome consisted of Judea, Samaria, most of Idumea, and most of the Galilee.
The Roman general, Pompey, conquered the Galilea/Samaria/Judea/Idumea region including Jerusalem in 63 B.C. (c.f. Judea and Judea (Roman province)). He entered the temple and went into the Holy of Holies, apparently to see for himself the "strange God" the Jews worshiped who dwelt in an empty room and couldn't be seen. (He was assassinated several years later after losing a climactic battle with Julius Caesar.)
Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew, meaning Savior), descendant of David, Son of Man, Son of God, the promised Messiah according to the Bible, was born in Bethlehem near Jerusalem between 5 and 4 B.C. in fulfillment of Micah 5:2. He was crucified by the Romans between 29 and 33 A.D. at the insistence of the Jewish religious leaders just outside of Jerusalem according to the plan and prophecies of the Old Testament scriptures. He was buried in a rich man's tomb.
Before his crucifixion, he referred to himself (his body) as the true temple of God that would be destroyed (by the religious leaders) which he would then raise up again. (John 2:19-22) He wept over Jerusalem; for its rejection of him and its consequent coming destruction.
Jesus, called the Messah/Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Man, Immanuel (God is with us), King and Messiah of the Jews and Jerusalem, Lion of the tribe of Judah, was the final sacrifice and atonement required by the God the Father to pay the price for the sin of his people and to bring them into his new covenant (Jeremiah 31) and into God's temple (dwelling place) in heaven. He was resurrected on the third day as was fortold by the Old Testament prophets, and was seen by over 500 witnesses at once before being "taken up" in a cloud into heaven from where he rules as Lord and King of heaven and earth. He is coming again in glory and power and judgement on the nations. He will set foot on the Mount of Olives which will split in half from East to West according to the Bible (Old and New Testaments). (See Matthew, Luke, John, Acts and Revelation.)
Roman Destruction of Jerusalem and Israel (70 A.D. - 135 A.D.)
After Jesus' crucifixion, Rome continued it's rule of the region until the first Jewish revolt of 66 A.D. In this revolt the Jews drove the Romans out of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and much of the Galilee. Most Jewish believers in Jesus fled as warned to do by Jesus when he was on earth. Rome returned with large armies under Vespesian, then his son, Titus, and reconquered the region. They conquered the last holdout -- Jerusalem -- and destroyed the city and the temple except for part of an outer temple wall (now called the Western Wall or wailing wall) as prophesied by Jesus. (See Mat. 23:37-24:2) Roman rule continued until 132 A.D. (See Josephus, "The Jewish War")
A second Jewish revolt broke out in 132 A.D. (Some historians refer to this as the third revolt.) The Roman emperor Hadrian had earlier completely razed the city of Jerusalem and had begun rebuilding it as a Roman pagan city, giving it the name Aelia Capitolina, along with a pagan temple of Jupiter on the holy mount where the Jewish temple had stood. The Jews, who had been in preparation for years, revolted. The leading Rabbi, Akiva, declared Simon bar Kochba, the head of the Jewish armies, to be the messiah. At this point, most remaining Jewish believers in Jesus separated from the majority, refusing to have anything to do with this messiah.
This time the Jews achieved much greater success. They retook Jerusalem and most of Judea, Samaria and Galilee from the Romans, retaining their independence for three years. They referred to this as "The Redemption of Israel" and "The Freedom of Israel" on their coinage. Wikipedia on bar Kokhba and Bar Kochba Revolt coinage (as of 2012).
After heavy fighting for two years at terrible cost to the Romans, Hadrian and his armies (much larger than those used to put down the first revolt of 66 A.D.) defeated Bar Kochba and the Jewish armies in 135 A.D. and slaughtered or carried away as slaves most of the remaining Jews in the land. "The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans "went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils. " Jerusalem was further razed and divested of any of its former identity. Wikipedia on Hadrian.
Lead-up to Modern Palestine and Israel (135 A.D. - 1200 A.D.)
The Philistines originally inhabited the area now called Gaza and the plains of Judea (southern coastal area of Canaan) from before the time of Abraham, 2000 B.C.. Abraham met them and traded with them in Canaan as did Isaac. At that time they made covenants of peace with one another. By the time the Hebrews/Israel returned to Canaan from Egypt after the exodus in 1400 B.C., the Philistines had become strong, and they controlled much of the territory that was given by God, according to Scripture, to Judah, though they are the only major people group in the land of Canaan who were not in the Old Testament list of Canaanite nations to be displaced. Throughout most of Israel's history since the Hebrew invasion of Canaan after the Exodus, the Philistines were Israel's archenemies, and there were frequent and fierce wars between them. The Philistines severely oppressed Israel whenever they could. After David became king of Israel in 1000 B.C. the Philistines attacked him numerous times, but he repeatedly defeated them. They eventually made peace with and brought tribute to David's son, Solomon. The Philistines remained unconquered until defeated by the Babylonian and Persian empires in the 600s-400s B.C., and they disappeared as a distinct people by the late 5th century (400s) B.C.
The area now consisting of Modern Israel and the West Bank was called in the Bible, Caanan and "the Land", beginning with God's promise to Abraham in Gen. 15:18-21 and Land of Israel beginning in 1 Sam 13:19. (See "Land of Israel" in Wikipedia as of 2013.) The Southwest region along the Mediterranean inhabited by the Philistines was called in the Canaanite/Hebrew language, Philistia. Keep this in mind, as we are working towards an understanding of how the region came to be called "Palestine".
Iudea (Judea in Englsh) was the official name of the Roman province making up Judah, Samaria and Idumea from the 2nd century B.C. The name, Palaestina (pronounced "palesteena" or "Filistin" in Arabic) was also used rarely by Romans and other nations for part of the region. Some Greek writings from the 6th century (500s) B.C. also referred to this region as "Palaistinee". Wikipedia on Judea, Palestine, Syria-Palaestina (as of 2012). The New Testament at the time of Christ always refers to the region by the commonly known names of Judea and Samaria.
After the Roman emperor Hadrian defeated the Jews in 135 A.D. he officially renamed the entire region of Judea/Samaria/Galilea along with much of Lebanon, Syria and present day Jordan "Syria-Palaestina" in an apparent attempt to remove all traces of reference to Judea and the Jews. (This is most of the region also referred to by historians and archaeologists as the Levant.) The name Palestina comes from Israel's long-time enemies, the Philistines (e.g. Josh 13:1-8 1300 B.C., Zeph 2:4-7 450 B.C. et. al).
"At the former Temple sanctuary, [Hadrian, 135 A.D.] installed two statues, one of Jupiter, another of himself. In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel, he wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina (after the Philistines, the ancient enemies of the Jews ), supplanting earlier terms, such as 'Judaea' and Israel. Similarly, he re-established Jerusalem but now as the Roman pagan polis of Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were forbidden from entering it, except on the day of Tisha B'Av  [9th of Av on the Jewish calendar, the date the Temple was thought to have been destroyed]." From that time the entire region was broadly known by the name of the ancient Philistines -- Palaestina and later Palestine.
. . .
To briefly recapitulate:
66-70 CE [1st century] The Jews drove the Romans out of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and much of the Galilee. Rome returned with large armies and reconquered the region. They conquered the last holdout -- Jerusalem -- and destroyed the city and the temple.
132-135 CE [2nd century] The Jews under Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiva revolted the second time against Rome and drove them out of the region with a terrible slaughter of the Roman soldiers. They referred to their brief three-years of independence as "The Redemption of Israel" and "The Freedom of Israel". The ultimate failure of the revolt led to the worst slaughter and enslavement of Jews in their history. The Roman emperor Hadrian renamed the entire region along with surrounding regions, Syria-Palaestina, or Palaestina.
"In 351–352 CE [4th century], the Jews launched yet a fourth revolt [in Palaestina], provoking once again heavy retribution [and slaughter by the Roman armies]."
"In 438 CE [5th century], when the Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews' praying at the Temple site, the heads of the Community in Galilee issued a call "to the great and mighty people of the Jews" which began: "Know that the end of the exile of our people has come!"
"During the 5th and the 6th centuries, a series of Samaritan insurrections broke out across the Palaestina Prima province. Especially violent were the third and the fourth revolts, which resulted in the annihilation of almost entire the Samaritan community. It is likely that the 4th Samaritan Revolt was joined by the Jewish community, which had also suffered a brutal suppression of Israelite (Mosaic) religion."
In the early early 7th century, "In the belief of restoration to come, the Jews made an alliance with the Persians who invaded Palaestina Prima in 614, fought at their side, overwhelmed the Byzantine [eastern Roman] garrison in Jerusalem, and for five years governed the city. However, their autonomy was brief: with the withdrawal of Persian forces, Jews surrendered to Byzantine forces in 625 CE and were consequently massacred in 629 CE. The Byzantine control of the region was finally lost to the Muslim Arab armies in 637 CE, when Umar ibn al-Khattab completed the conquest of Akko." From Wikipedia as of 2012 on the Bar Kokhba revolt
The Palestine region was further "cleansed" of Jews by the Crusaders who slaughtered all Jews, Muslims and Christians (non-Catholics) they found in Jerusalem and elsewhere in 1219.
Between 135 A.D. and the 1800s Palestine waxed and waned from depopulation and wilderness between wars to highly developed Jewish and Arab/Gentile civilization and trade. While a continuous population of Jews remained in the land, especially in the Galilee, exiled Jews and other various people groups returned or moved in under various dominions over the millennia. South of the Galilee the land became almost devoid of Jews since their 4th major defeat by the Byzantines in the 700s and further "cleansed" under the Crusaders in 1219. Jews subsequently returned to Jerusalem whenever they were allowed to by the Arab or Ottoman rulers. The major dominions over Palestine during the last two millennia have been Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Arab, Crusader, Egyptian Mamluk, Ottoman-Turk and British.
History of Modern Palestine (1200 A.D. - 1917)
Over the next few centuries after the Crusades of the 1200s and beginning seriously in the mid to late 1800s, waves of Jews from Europe and later, Africa, the Arab nations of the Middle East, South America, Russia and the other former Soviet republics, and other nations migrated to Palestine, many dying enroute due to the harsh conditions. Palestine at this time consisted of most of what is now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, also known as the Levant. The people living there, mostly Arabs (the majority), Christians and Jews, were all called Palestinians. It was sparsely populated in most places, especially South of the Galilee. Where land in Palestine was owned by others (mostly Arabs and the Greek Orthodox Church), it was purchased by Jewish organizations and settlers, usually at extremely exorbitant prices until the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
In the late 1800s/early 1900s new influxes/waves of Jews came into all the regions of Palestine from all over the world as they attempted to escape from new persecutions and pogroms. There was no "partition" and there were no national borders as we know them now. All was under the dominion of the Ottoman empire at that time. By 1903 there were approximately 30,000 Jews in settlements in the Palestinian regions of Galilee/Judea/Jerusalem and an estimated 750,000 Arabs and other nationalities. Still a sparse population for that area, much of which remained as mostly wilderness. (For comparison, the population of Chicago and immediate suburbs was 7 million as of 2000). Zionist leaders in Europe met to plan and appeal to European governments to allow for a Jewish homeland in the British Commonwealth where Jews would be safe from persecution. Part of Uganda and several other territories were considered by Zionist and European leaders, but none were considered viable except currently settled and wilderness areas of Palestine.
During WW1 (1914-1918) the the British General Lord Allenby and his army conquered much of the Middle-East (including the Levant or Palestine) from the Ottoman Turks. In appreciation for breakthrough assistance in science, technology and finances given by the Jewish people to the war effort, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, promising a homeland in Palestine for the Jewish people. After the war, the mandate to govern all of Palestine was officially given by the League of Nations to Great Britain.
Recent History of Modern Palestine and Israel (1920s - 1948)
From the late 1800s till now, the fight between Arabs and Jews over Palestine had been bitter and bloody. From the Palestinian Arab perspective, the European and Russian people calling themselves Jews moved into their territory over the centuries, drove them out of their land and took their homes, land, towns and villages away where many had lived for millennia, some going back to the time of Christ. (Most nations, including the U.S., are guilty of doing this as well.)
From the Jewish perspective, the land was always theirs from the time of Abraham, given to them by God, and at least a remnant has always lived in the land from the time Joshua and the twelve tribes entered Canaan (1400 B.C.). Nevertheless, they paid Arab land-holders in Palestine exhorbitant sums of money all over Palestine and in Jerusalem over many years in order to settle and develop a safe homeland for the Jewish people. Their goal was to pioneer, develop, agriculturalize, industrialize and modernize whatever land, wilderness or desert they could purchase and settle on, no matter how inhospitable or seemingly useless it was. The goal of making the land productive, intensive education and building of universities, schools and hospitals for all was part of their effort. Many Christians and churches helped substantially in these endevors. Jews have considered Jerusalem to be their capital from the time King David took it from the Jebusites around 1000 B.C. Yet the majority of them pursued this dream in self-reliance with very little thought of God and his plan. Most orthodox Jews who were in the minority looked to the Bible and their traditions as the basis for their effort with fervent belief in a coming Messiah to Jerusalem and regathering of the diaspora to the land.
Beginning with the British mandate to govern Palestine and much of the Middle East in 1921, the British government increasingly blocked Jews from entering Palestine. During WW II they reduced Jewish immigration to a trickle. From the end of WW II in 1945 to their departure in 1948 the British totally blocked tens of thousands of escaping European Holocaust-survivors and all other Jews from entry, putting them by the shipload into huge prison camps. In the meantime, battles in Palestine between Arab and Jew grew increasingly bloody.
The U.N. attempted to resolve the conflict by carving a small, indefensible sliver of territory out of Palestine/Transjordan (much of it Arab-owned and populated land) to create a Jewish partition, and left the rest of Palestine/Transjordan and the Levant/Middle East to the Arabs. As of 1947 the population in the Jewish partition (less than the area of Delaware) was 67% non-Jewish, mostly Arab, and 33% Jewish. In 1947 there were approximately 1,237,000 Arabs and 608,000 Jews in the Jewish partition along with a number of other nationalities, according to Wikipedia's (as of 2011) sources. The population density of the region was still relatively sparse. After the Arabs attacked the Jewish partitoin upon U.N. recognition of Israel, the new state fought back and "cleansed" their partition by driving most of the Arabs out. They took over hundreds of Arab towns and villages along with many Arab farms throughout and beyond the partition. A million Jews at that time also lived among the Arabs throughout the rest of the Levant/Palestinian regions, the Middle East and Africa. They were driven out, and those who survived fled to the new nation of Israel.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, a massive exodus of nearly a million Arabs from and influx of a million Jews into the Jewish partition drastically changed the makeup of the newly formed state of Israel. Incredibly, the earlier and much worse instance of a massive exchange of millions and deaths of over a million Muslims and Hindus in the formation of Pakistan from India six months earlier in August 1947 was and is still barley considered by comparison.
By 2010 the population within Israeli borders was about 7.5 million. About 5.5 million were Jewish (about 80%) and the rest Arab Israeli (about 20%), Bedouin and other ethnic groups and nationalities. (From various Wikipedia articles)
The term "Palestinian" until 1948 (whenever the term was used) referred to all inhabitants of all regions of Palestine, irrespective of their ethnicities or nationalities. Jew, Arab, Gentile or whatever -- all long-term residents in the land were Palestinians. The Palestine Post (now the Jerusalem Post) was founded in 1925 by Jewish writers for all English and French-speaking Palestinians, especially the Jewish ones. Arabs increasingly distanced themselves from being identified as "Palestinians". After Israeli independence and conquest of the "Jewish partition" in 1948, the Arabs in former Palestine, including Jordan, began to identify as Palestinians, particularly after Yasser Arafat began the Arab uprising against Israel, while the Jews identified as Israelis. This was a reversal of those who identified themselves as Palestinians before Israeli independence.
Remember that the term "Palestine" (Palaestina) was the new name officially applied by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, to the most of the Levant region after he had defeated the Jews in 165 A.D. Until Hadrian, most of the biblical region had been called by the former names of Canaan, Israel, Judea and Galilee. The area belonging to the Philistines from before 2000 B.C. (which changed back and forth between them and Israel until Israel prevailed under David) was called Philistia (Palaestina in Latin and Greek). This was the general rule until the Babylonian and Persian invasions of 600-400 B.C. From Hadrian's conquest until 1948, the territory called Palestine included much of Syria, Lebanon, much of what became the new nation of Jordan (originally Transjordan) and what is now modern Israel. See "Definitions of Palestinian," Wikipedia as of 2012
Here is how the original 1948 borders of modern Israel came about. From the early 1900s, especially after WW1, Arabs increasingly attacked growing Jewish settlements as the Jews strove to form settlements out of what they possessed in the regions of Palestine. There were a number of terrible slaughters of Jews by Arabs. In 1937 the Arabs launched a full-scale revolt against the British occupation. 1000s of Palestinian Arabs were killed by the British and Palestinian Jews as they put down the revolt. After the revolt, the British changed tactics, deciding that the Jews were more expendable under the circumstances, and increasingly did everything possible to keep the Jews in Palestine from defending themselves against the Arabs who continued attacking Jewish settlements and territory. In response, the Jews developed military training programs and militias, and struggled to find ways to protect themselves with financial and material help from Jewish and some Christian communities and organizations.
On Nov. 30, 1947 the newly formed U.N. voted to approve a resolution to end the British Mandate in Palestine and implement a plan for the partition of the region between the Arabs and Jews, to be effective on May 15, 1948. The Jewish partition was relatively small. The rest of the Levant region was left to the Arabs. Both "partitions" contained Arabs and Jews, with the Jews being a small minority. The Jewish leaders in Palestine agreed to the U.N. partition plan; the Arabs rejected it. This plan consisted of a small slice of indefensible land and borders of majority-owned Arab land and villages for the Jews, and various remaining portions of the Palestine regions and the rest of the Levant/Middle East left for the Arabs. The ethnic majority in the Jewish partition was overwhelmingly Arab. Arab leaders rejected the plan as unfair and unacceptable, and most of the leaders announced their intention to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean and/or annihilate them, while the Jewish leaders completed their plan to drive out most of the Arabs from the Jewish partition.
Immediately after the U.N. resolution was announced, the Jewish leaders declared an independent state which they called Israel, to become effective on May 14th 1948. The Jewish leaders had drawn up plans to expel much of the Arab population from the Jewish partition, including from the many Arab towns, villages and farms, but also planned to allow many Arabs to stay with the opportunity to become Israeli citizens.
The 1948 Arab-Israeli War
On April 1, 1948, in the midst of fierce battles between Arabs and Jews, Britain completed withdrawal of its forces from Palestine, usually assisting the Arabs as much as possible in the process. British officers informed the Jewish leaders that they would not last more than a few weeks, a month at most. Jewish officers informed them otherwise.
Poorly organized, but murderous Arab partisans and militias, along with better equipped troops from surrounding nations who had infiltrated the Jewish partition, consisting of 12,000 to 15,000 in total attacked the Jewish towns, settlements and farm communes in the newly declared state of Israel inside and outside of the U.N.-alotted Jewish partition, which at the start was over two-thirds Arab. At the same time the Israelis put their plan into effect to "cleanse" the Jewish partition of most Arabs and make it into a viable and defensible Jewish state.
In 1948 the Israelis had a total of about 38,000 men and women, mostly new refugees from other countries, along with several thousand armed settlers, but most were not well equipped nor able to communicate well among themselves in the beginning. About 80% of the Arabs in Jewish territory including West Jerusalem and in 100s of Arab towns, about 750,000, fled or were driven out by the Israelis. The fleeing Arabs poured into the West Bank areas (Jordanian territory on the West side of the Jordan River) of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon where they were kept by those nations from assimilation in squalid refugee camps. About 20% of the Arabs chose to stay in the new state of Israel. As the tide of the war began to turn in Israel's favor, trained and better-equipped Arab armies with air support from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and two or three other countries invaded. Jordan's plan was to take as much of the West Bank (land West of the Jordan River) and of the Jewish partition as possible, including Jerusalem. Egypt's plan was to take the Gaza, Palestinian territory and as much of the Jewish partition as possible. For the next year, the Israelis fought off the militias and invading Arab armies in many terrible, bloody battles, but were driven out of East Jerusalem and the Old City which became a part of Jordanian West Bank territory. At the same time, Israel drove many of the Arabs out of West Jerusalem.
At the beginning of the war, it appeared to most of the world that another Jewish holocaust would take place. Atrocities were committed on both sides. The Jews allowed many Arabs to stay in Israeli territory, but the Arabs for the most part were intent on eliminating the Jews altogether.
As the war continued, all Jews in most Arab countries throughout Africa and the Middle-East were completely driven out. Most, if they could make it, fled to Israel. Among the foremost thoughts in the minds of most Jews was that If they lost the war, judging from past treatment and threats at the hands of their enemies, none of them would survive. However they had been long in planning on how to win the expected war, though top Israeli leadership gave themselves only a 50% chance of success. In the second half of 1948 Israel went on the offensive and took most of the Jewish partition along with about 60% of the rest of [West Bank] Palestinian territory alotted to the Arabs West of the Jordan river. "1948 Palestine War","1948 Arab-Israeli War" (Wikipedia as of 2013)
Where did the term, "West Bank" come from? Until the U.N. patron, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan (Transjordan) had been part of Palestine. During the 1948 war ending in Israel's independence (called by Arabs the great catastrophe), Jordan took Palestinian territory on the west side of the Jordan River which included territory almost up to the Mediterranean Sea (a remaining 9-mile wide section was retained by Israel) which Jordan referred to as its West Bank (the land on the West side of the Jordan River). This land was mostly Arab territory taken by the Jordanian army, not alottted to Jordan by the U.N.). Egypt took Gaza.
During the year of fighting in 1948 the Israeli army took whatever territory it could beyond the original narrow partition lines to establish more defensible borders. Almost all remaining Jews (nearly 1 million over the next 30 years) in African and Asian/Middle-eastern Arab nations, Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem were driven out and most fled to newly formed Israel. At the same time, nearly 1 million Palestinian Arabs who had fled or been driven out by the Israelis, waited in squalid West Bank, Jordanian and Lebanese refugee camps for the expected defeat of the Zionist Jews (as they were called) so that they could return.
From 1948 to 1967, access to Jordan's West Bank territory by Jews, including East Jerusalem and the Old City, was forbidden in violation of the U.N. resolution and truce agreement between Israel and Jordan. The Arab refugees were forbidden by Israel in violation of the U.N. resolution from returning to the homes they had fled and/or been driven from. See "Palestine" and "United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine" and "the Arab-Israeli War," Wikipedia as of 2011 Neither were the approximately one million Jews who had fled Arab lands allowed to return, nor did they wish or intend to for obvious reasons. Both groups lost everything and had to start over, but the Arab nations refused to provide much assistance to their people other than to keep them in the squalid refugee camps near the boders with Israel, with the assumption among all that Israel would soon be eliminated and that they would return.
Remember the same, much more massive and deadly cross migrations between Muslims and Hindus between Pakistan and India six months earlier with a vastly greater loss of lives on both sides as well as many other similar past and recent cases of forced population migrations and ethnic cleansings with comparitively little attention paid to those massive deadly exchanges. The difference in world focus is incredible. Yet the focus is the same as where the God of the Bible has focused and has been sovereignly moving all along.
The 1967 6-Day War
In 1967 the 6-Day War broke out as a result of increasing Arab attacks, threats and acts of war by Egypt's President Nasser. Troop deployments, naval blockades and promises to destroy Israel grew in intensity. Israel finally preemptively attacked Egypt. Jordan then attacked Israel. The Israeli army took the entire Sinai peninsula, Gaza and West Bank of the Jordan river including East Jerusalem and the Old City. The Jewish state declared its sovereignty over the all of Jerusalem but left most of the holy places and the temple mount in the Old City in the possession of the Arab inhabitants, officially under Jordan's management. Jews then began flocking back to the Old City and East Jerusalem for the first time since being driven out in 1948. (For a good documentary, see the book, From Time Immemorial, by Joan Peters, Myths and Facts and A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin (I haven't read them) by Mitchell Bard.) See also "Six-Day War", Wikipedia
The Zionist Dream
An important difference between ancient entries to the Land by the Hebrews/ Israel from other lands -- Abraham from Ur/Chaldea (2000 B.C.), Moses/Joshua and Israel from Egypt (1400 B.C) and Judah from Babylon (600-500 B.C) -- and the modern return of the Jews, is that the earlier returns were commanded and initiated either directly by God or by God through his prophets, according to the Bible.
The modern return has arisen out of a people's dream to return to the Land called Zion and to Jerusalem which they believed God had given them. (As the Jewish Passover seder has ended every year for a thousand years with all saying "Next year in Jerusalem".) Yet this is also in fulfillment of many prophecies given by God in the Old Testament.
This dream continued in the hearts and minds of most of the Jewish people worldwide since the prophesied exile and destruction of Roman times. And also for many Jews fleeing to escape the murderous persecutions worldwide, particularly those throughout Russia and Europe, the worst of the persecutions culminating in the Holocaust and ethnc cleansing of the Jews from African and Arab nations. All of the genocidal murder, persection and ethnic cleansing resulted in somehere around 1.5 million surviving Jews with nowhere to go and no nation where they could live (neither the U.K. nor the U.S. would accept them), and in the desire to find a place for themselves where they could be in a Jewish homeland of their own without persecution; also based on the belief that the Land of Zion was given to them by God, though the majority of Israelis today have little or no belief in the God of the Bible. Yet there is an awakening developing as more and more Jews in and outside the Land come to faith in Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah.
Most of the growing number of orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews in the Land (though still a small, but powerful minority) believe fervently in their covenant relationship with the God of Israel, and keep the Law and oral traditions as they understand them, much as did the Pharisees of old. Most believe that the commands and hand of God through Ezra, Nehemiah and the post-Babylonian prophets still apply to them today as the basis for their return to the Land, restoration of Jerusalem and rebuilding of the Temple. At the same time they persecute (and wish to do away with) the Jews who believe that Jesus is the Savior/Redeemer/Messiah. However, God raises up nations and peoples and brings them down; scatters them and restores them as he pleases. (Gen 6, Job 12:23; Dan. 4:34-37; Acts 17:6, etc.)
There are also two large Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish sects who are (and have been from centuries before) vehemently opposed to "Zionism" and the state of Israel on Talmudic and scriptural grounds, believing that the Jews are to wait for the Messiah to come (since they believe Jesus was not that Messiah) and restore his people to the Land; they are not take or possess the Land until he comes to bring about the restoration. They believe that the two millennia of Jewish suffering, including the Holocaust, and the current terrorism in Israel is "the divine will". "[The secular and orthodox Jews] have the audacity to think that they can prevent the Almighty [Shaddai] from repeating a Holocaust. This is heresy, Why are Jews at the 'Holocaust denial" conference?, BBC 12/13/06 They support some of the nation of Israel's enemies to various degrees for the overthrow of the "unlawful" Jewish state and government. (See Satmar & Neurei Karta Hasidim, Jewish religious groups that do not recognize Israel, Wikipedia) Their rejection of Messiah/Christ Jesus makes the ripe for deception and seduction by an anti-Christ just as they fell for this with Rabbi Akiva and Simon bar Kochba in the second century, in my opinion.
The bottom line is that the Land belongs to God alone and he gives it to whomever he pleases. He keeps his covenant given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his covenant of the Law given to Israel at Mt. Sinai (Exodus-Deuteronomy). This covenant included his promise to expel Israel from the Land if they continued in disobedience to him and his Law, which we believe is fulfilled in Christ Jesus, their Messiah; but also includes his promises to bring them back (as you will see in the scriptures below). The Jews, the nation and the city of Jerusalem (mostly secular/non-observant mixed with the religious) are there by God's doing, according to his promise, whether they know this or not. Religious Jerusalem is considered by the New Testament to be "in slavery with her children" until now (Gal. 4:21-31). All of God's word concerning the Jews and the nations (Gentiles), including the scriptures and prophecies below, are certainly being and will all be fulfilled by God, in order that all will know that he is Jehovah/Yahweh, the Covenant-keeping God of Israel, that those whom he has chosen will be his people and he their God, and that he is and will always be the King of Israel and the nations. (Ezek. 37:19-28 and many others)
Recent History of Modern Jerusalem
We need to return briefly to Jerusalem's history to bring us to a better understanding of it in modern times.
The remains of the city by the time of the Roman emperor Constantine in 301 A.D. was again called by its original name, Jerusalem. Most of what remained was rubble except for the area of Roman construction. Major Byzantine construction took place from 600 A.D. and continued under subsequent conquerors -- the Arabs, Crusaders and Ottoman Turks. The borders of the city consisted mostly of the area that made up Jerusalem before its destruction. The current walls around the city, presently known as the "Old City" (a very tiny area compared to modern Jerusalem), were mostly built by the Turkish ruler, Suleiman II in 1535-1538. The original hilltop village of Jerusalem conquered by David was left outside of those walls.
Jerusalem's population inside the walls waxed and waned over time. By the time of the reinstatement of Ottoman rule over Palestine in 1840, "many Egyptian Muslims remained in Jerusalem and Jews from Algiers and North Africa began to settle in the city in growing numbers. In the 1840s and 1850s.... according to the Prussian consul, the population [of Jerusalem] in 1845 was 16,410, with 7,120 Jews, 5,000 Muslims, 3,390 Christians, 800 Turkish soldiers and 100 Europeans. The volume of Christian pilgrims increased under the Ottomans, doubling the city's population around Easter time.
"In the 1860s, new neighborhoods began [for the first time] to develop outside the confining Old City walls to house pilgrims and relieve the intense overcrowding and poor sanitation inside the city. The Russian Compound and Mishkenot Sha'ananim were founded in 1860. In 1867 an American Missionary reports an estimated population of Jerusalem of 'above' 15,000, with 4,000 to 5,000 Jews and 6,000 Muslims. Every year there were 5,000 to 6,000 Russian Christian Pilgrims.
Jerusalem under the British Mandate: "From 1922 to 1948 the total population of [Jerusalem] rose from 52,000 to 165,000 with two thirds of Jews and one-third of Arabs (Muslims and Christians). The situation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine was not quiet. In Jerusalem, in particular, riots occurred in 1920 and in 1929. Under the British, new garden suburbs were built in the western and northern parts of the city" From the Wikipedia article on Jerusalem as of 2010. All of the Jewish inhabitants of East Jerusalem and the Old City were attacked and driven out by Jordan's army in 1948 while most of the Arabs were driven out of West Jerusalem by the Israelis.
East Jerusalem and the Old City remained Jordanian territory until Israel took the city and its surroundings in the 1967 war. In the meantime, West Jerusalem expanded and developed at an enormous rate into a large metropolis of almost 1 million Jews and Arabs, dwarfing the tiny, closed-off original Old City on it's eastern border (which itself dwarfs the original City of David). All of Jerusalem since 1967 (except for most of the holy places and temple mount) has continued under Israel's sovereignty to this day (2013).
The orthodox Jews have completed plans to build a temple. The Muslim "Dome of the Rock" and its complexes are located where the Jewish temple used to stand, so no Jewish temple can be built. However, it has been discovered that the Dome rests South of the actual spot where the of the temple Holy of Holies stood. (If the Jews ever succeed in building a temple with accompanying sacrifices, it will be in complete conflict with the word of their own Messiah who claimed to be the true temple (Jn. 2:13-22) and the final sacrificial offering and atonement for the sins of his people (Isa. 52,53), thus opening the way for their turning to an anti-christ / false messiah instead.)
For a good timeline of the history of Jerusalem, see Timeline of Jerusalem on Wikipedia. This page is worth a scroll through to get a quick and easy overview of Jerusalem's history. The page was fairly accurate as of 2013. Another easy-to-follow timeline of the history of Jerusalem at centuryone.com. (Use caution concerning other works on this site which do not hold to the authority and inspiration of the Bible.)
For a timeline of the history of Israel and modern Israel, see Timeline of Palestine [Israel] on Wikipedia and Timeline of [Modern] Israeli History.
The Old Testament and Jesus in the gospels speak of a day when two thirds of the city's inhabitants will be killed, yet that God will save a remnant during a time of tribulation and war such has never been seen and will never be seen again (see Zech. 13).
"Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.... Then the sign of the Son of man in heaven shall appear, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (KJV) (Mat 24:21-31)
Drawings and photos of early Jerusalem
- Wikipedia article on the history of Jerusalem for more depth, historical and modern-times background on Jerusalem. A fairly well balanced article (as of 2013) except for the claim of numerous Israeli massacres of Arab civilians. There was one known horrific massacre of hundreds of civilians in an Arab village near West Jerusalem by two Jewish radical groups during the war for independence and the blowing of the British headquarters at the King David Hotel by the same groups.
- Wikipedia article on the City of David. Briefly discusses the archaelogical history of the original hilltop village of Jerusalem as it was when captured by David.
- Some background on Jerusalem and the East Gate