The Land of Palestine



The Land of Palestine - 5000 years of History [primary source: An Atlas of Palestine]

3000 BC The land was inhabited by the Canaannites and known as the Land of Canaan. They settled mainly along the coastline.


1468 BC The Egyptians conquered the Canaanites at the battle of Armageddon in Magiddo, Palestine. Coincidentally, this is the time Israel enters the Promised land.

1200 BC The Sea People attack Palestine. They become known as the Philistines. They rebuild Gaza, Ashdod, Ashqal, Edron and Gath.   (Map1)


1055 BC David becomes King of Israel and conquers neighboring inhabitants.  (Map2)



1015 BC Solomon becomes King of Israel.

975 BC The Kingdom is divided and the land becomes know as Judea and Samaria.

722 BC The Assyrians defeat the Kingdom of Israel. They replace the Israelites with people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath. (II Ki 17:18,24)  (Map3)

586 BC The Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, burn down the temple and conquer Philistia and Phoenicia. (II Ki 25:1-11)  (Map2)

539 BC The Persians destroy Babylon and occupy the areas under Babylonian control. King Cyrus permits Jews to return to Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-3)

332 BC The Greeks, led by Alexander the Great, attack the Persians and rule Palestine.

141 BC The Jewish Maccabees revolt and set up an independent state.

63 BC The Romans, led by Pompey the Great, invade and conquer Palestine.

66 AD Jews revolt, the Temple is destroyed. Romans rename Judea Syria Palaistina.

. 636 AD The Muslim Arab armies occupy Palestine and capture Jerusalem.

1099 AD The Crusaders invade and eventually establish control over Palestine. Jews fight alongside the Arabs against the Crusaders at Jerusalem and Haifa.

1187 AD At the battle of Hittin, the Crusader army is defeated in Palestine.

1290 AD The last of the Crusaders are expelled from Palestine by the Mamluks, [men of slave origin, chiefly from Russian and Central Asia, also spelled Mamelukes].

1516 AD The Ottoman Turkish army invades and conquers Palestine.

1831 AD Egypt invades and rules Palestine for 9 years.


"In the twelve and a half centuries between the Arab conquest in the seventh century and the beginnings of the Jewish return in the 1880’s, Palestine was laid waste. Its ancient canal and irrigation systems were destroyed and the wondrous fertility of which the Bible spoke vanished into desert and desolation…under the Ottoman empire of the Turks, the policy of disfoliation continued; the hillsides were denuded of trees and the valleys robbed of their topsoil". [2].

"In 1590, a ‘simple English visitor’ to Jerusalem wrote, ‘Nothing there is to be seen but a little of the old walls, which is yet remaining and all the rest is grass, moss and weeds’." [quote rendered in modern English by Ron Masek] [2].

"Nazareth was, in 1697, an inconsiderable village…a few poor cottages…nothing but a vast and spacious ruin. Nabulus [Shechem] consisted of two streets with many people and Jericho was a ‘poor nasty village’". [2].  (Map4)


"In the mid-1700s, British Archeologist Thomas Shaw wrote that the land in Palestine was lacking in people to till its fertile soil". [2].

"Count Constantine Frangois Volney, [eighteenth-century French author and historian] wrote of Palestine as the ‘ruined’ and ‘desolate’ land." [2].

"J.S. Buckingham, in his 1816 visit, described Ramle, [Ramla],…‘where, as throughout the greater part of Palestine, the ruined portion seemed more extensive than that which was inhabited’." [2].  (Map 6)


"In 1840, an observer traveling in Palestine wrote…the once populous area between Hebron and Bethlehem was ‘now abandoned and desolate’ with ‘dilapidated towns’. Jerusalem consisted of a ‘large number of houses…in a dilapidated and ruinous state’. ….the masses in Jerusalem were estimated at less than 15,000 inhabitants, of whom more than half were Jews." [2].  (Map 4)


"stirring scenes…occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings". [3]  (Map1)

"…come to Galilee for [the sort of solitude to make one dreary]…these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum; this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funeral palms…we reached Tabor, [on Western slope of Mr. Tabor], safely…we never saw a human being on the whole route. [3].  (Map 4)

"Nazareth is forlorn…Jericho the accursed lies a moldering ruin today, even as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago…Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Savior’s presence…the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang ‘peace on earth, good will to men’, is untenanted by any living creature…Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the desert places round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Savior’s voice & ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." [3].  (Map 4)



"Jaffa, a French traveler wrote late in the nineteenth century, was still a ruin…Haifa, to the north, had 6000 souls and ‘nothing remarkable about it’". [2].  (Map 5)

"Another Frenchman, the author of France’s foremost late-nineteenth-century Holy Land Guidebook, commended. Haifa ‘can be crossed in five minutes’. The city of Acre, [Akko, across from Haifa], he judged that magnificent port was commercially idle." [2].  (Map 5)

"Reverend Samuel Manning, mourned the atrophy of the coastal plain, the Sharon Plain. ‘But where are the inhabitants? This fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is almost a solitude…day by day we were to learn afresh the lesson now forced upon us, that the denunciations of ancient prophecy have been fulfilled to the very letter…"the land is left void and desolate and without inhabitants"’". [2].  (Map 1)



Various observers and commentators have used the following words to describe the land of Palestine. "a desolate country"…"wretched desolation and neglect"…"almost abandoned now"…"unoccupied"…"uninhabited"…"thinly populated". [2].

"Colonel C.R. Conder pronounced the Palestine of the 1880s a ‘ruined land’ and commented that as so far as the Arab race is concerned, it appears to be decreasing rather than otherwise." [2].

"Pierre Loti, the noted French writer, wrote in 1895 of his visit to the land: ‘I traveled through sad Galilee in the spring, and I found it silent….’ In the vicinity of the Biblical Mount Gilboa, ‘As elsewhere, as everywhere in Palestine, city and palaces have returned to the dust; This melancholy of abandonment weights on all the Holy Land’". [2].  (Map1)


"David Landes summarized the causes of the shriveling number of inhabitants: ‘As a result of the centuries of Turkish neglect and misrule, following on the earlier ravages of successive conquerors, the land had been given over to sand, marsh, the anopheles mosquito, clan feuds, and Bedouin marauders. A population of several millions had shrunk to less than one tenth that number – perhaps a quarter of a million around 1800, and 300,000 at mid-century.’" [2].

1917 AD During WWI, the British entered Palestine in October and defeated the Turkish troops. The Balfour Declaration by Arthur Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, declares support for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. After 400 years of Ottoman rule collapsed at the end of WWI, Britain and France carved up the area into spheres of control.

1922 AD Britain obtained a mandate to administer Palestine and Transjordan form the League of Nations. France had a mandate for Lebanon and Syria.

1923 AD In an Anglo/French great-power play, the border between Syria and "Palestine" was established. Syria did not exist as a political entity until after WWI. Until then it was a province in the Ottoman empire with ill defined borders. [FLAME, Message 49] { (Map 6), note Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Compare with  (Map 7)

1930 AD As Nazi atrocities convulsed Europe, a tide of Jews pressed into Palestine.

1936 AD Arabs revolt against British rule and Jewish immigration.

1948 AD Britain gives up its mandate. The establishment of the State of Israel.  (Map 5)


1967 AD Israel occupies the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Sinai & Golan Heights.  (Map 6)

1978 AD Camp David Accords. President Carter, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. Israel returns entire Sinai, including oil fields, in exchange for peace. Egypt is ostracized by the Arab countries and Sadat is later assassinated.

Excerpts from ADVOCATING FOR ISRAEL 2001 Anti-Defamation League

United Nations Partition Plan (UN Resolution 181) 1947. This plan was to divide the British Mandate-controlled area of Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish. The two states, roughly equal in size and natural resources, were to cooperate on major economic issues, sharing their currency, roads and government services. The Jews reluctantly accepted the partition plan as it did offer sovereignty and control over immigration. The Palestinian Arabs and the surrounding Arab nations rejected it outright, refusing to accept the establishment of a Jewish state in the region.  (Map 5)


Thus it was the Arabs, not the Jews, who prevented the creation of a Palestinian State. [4]

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of the State of Israel. The State of Israel "will uphold the full social and political equity of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed, or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions…"

On May 15, 1948, the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon invaded the new state.

In January, 1949, an Armistice agreements were signed finalizing borders at the frontlines. Israel held the 5,600 square miles allotted to it by the UN partition plan plus an additional 2,500 square miles. Jordan held the West Bank and the eastern sector of Jerusalem. The Arab states refused to recognize Israel’s existence and maintained a total economic, political and social boycott of Israel. {Compare  (Map 5) and  (Map 6)} During the 1948 war, as many as 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes in Israel. 1/3 went to the West Bank, 1/3 went to the Gaza strip, 1/3 went to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Arab nations refused to absorb these Palestinians into their populations and they were settled into refugee camps. Only King Abdullah of Jordan conferred citizenship on the Palestinians living in Jordan and the West Bank.

"It is the Arabs, not the Jews, who created the Arab Refugee Problem". [4].

Neither Jordan nor Egypt made any attempt to establish a Palestinian state in these territories. In 1950, Jordan formally annexed the West Bank.

Thus it was the Arabs, not the Jews, who prevented the creation of a Palestinian State. [4]

During the 1967 war, another 250,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians who stayed in Israel were made full citizens of the State of Israel.

60,000 to 70,000 Palestinian refugees were repatriated between 1949 and 1967 under a family reunification program.

"Tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs have gained Israeli citizenship since 1967 through marriage to an Israeli citizen, Arab or Jewish". [4].

From 1948-1951, as many as 800,000 Jews were expelled or forced to flee from their native Arab nations. 500,000 fled to Israel and were immediately absorbed into the nation.


The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964. Its Charter contained 33 articles and called for the destruction of the State of Israel. The PLO is responsible for numerous acts of terrorism resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians. Yasir Arafat was elected PLO Chairman in 1969.

In 1974, the PLO developed the "Phased Plan". Phase 1, accept any piece of land in Greater Palestine. Phase 2, exterminate Israel. [Arafat’s War; How to End It, Charles Krauthammer, Jewish World Review, 8/28/01]

The PLO program calls for the exile of all Jews who arrived after 1917 along with their descendents. [Mideast website Historical Documents, PLO Charter]

In 1993, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist. Changes in its Charter were ratified but the original charter is still displayed.

"That pledge of nonviolence, made in Arafat’s famous September 1993 letter to Yitzhak Rabin in the Oslo accords, the foundation of the whole ‘peace process’, was a fraud and deception from the very beginning." [Arafat’s War; How to End It, Charles Krauthammer, Jewish World Review, 8/28/01] Six Day War of 1967. Arab mobilization and an Egyptian blockade caused Israel to launch a pre-emptive strike against Egypt. When Jordan and Syria entered the war, Israel captured the West Bank and the Golan Heights.  (Map 6)

The West Bank was the heart of ancient Israel and the site of many significant events in Jewish history. Shiloh Josh 18:1, Judg 18:31, I Sam 1:3, 4:3-4 Hebron Gen 23, II Sam 2:1-7, 5:1-5 Bethel Gen 12:6-8, 28:10-22, 35:6-7, I Ki 12:26-29, II Ki 23:1-5, 15-23

Israel immediately stated it would redeploy from territories in return for a peace agreement with Arab neighbors. Israel’s offer was rebuffed.

On Yom Kippur of 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to regain the land lost in 1967. Caught by surprise, Israel suffered severe losses in human life, military equipment and territory.

Saudi Arabia instituted an oil embargo after a massive airlift by the United States to aid Israel.

Under the Oslo Process, (begun in 1993), Israel agreed to redeploy from Palestinian population centers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Beginning with the West Bank city of Jericho and a large portion of the Gaza Strip in 1994, there have been a series of Israeli redeployments totaling 40% of the West Bank and 85% of the Gaza Strip, with 99% of the Palestinian population under the jurisdiction of the PLO.

"To keep the Oslo process from collapsing, both Israeli and U.S. leaders decided in 1993 to ignore the Palestinian Authority’s daily radio and TV calls for a renewed war against Israel. In 1995, [videos were] produced of Arafat’s speeches promoting Jihad (holy war)". [Focus Israel and the Palestinians, David Bedein, Reform Judaism, Fall 2002]

In July 2000 at Camp David, Prime Minister Barak offered 95% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip. Chairman Arafat demanded 100% of the West Bank, a complete withdrawal by Israel to the pre-1967 lines.

Palestinians insist that refugees have a "right of return" to their former homes in Israel. Israel argues that such a return is not viable for such a small state, given the national security problems it would pose as well as upsetting the country’s demographic makeup.

Settlements Historically, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), is the cradle of Jewish civilization. Jews lived in the area up until 1948, when the West Bank was gained by Jordan.

Several of the current West Bank communities existed prior to 1948. They were overrun by invading Arab armies and those Jews captured were massacred.

At the time of the Ottoman conquest in 1517, Jews lived in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron, Safad and in Galilean villages.  (Map 6) (There were an estimated 10,000 Jews in the Safed region in 1500. [4])

Jews sought a new home in the Safed region after their expulsion from Spain (1492), Lithuania (1495), Portugal, Sicily, and Sardinia (1497), Rhodes (1502), & Naples (1541).

Hundreds of Hasidic Jews immigrated in 1700 from Eastern Europe.

"Between 1880 and 1914, over 60,000 Jews entered Palestine, mostly from Russia, Galicia, Rumania, and Poland. The victims of persecution and discrimination, they sought a new homeland and a new security under Turkish rule. Many settled on wasteland, sand dunes, and malarial marsh, which they drained, irrigated, and farmed. In 1909, a group of Jews founded the first entirely Jewish town, Tel Aviv, on the sandhills north of Jaffa. The Jews purchased the land piecemeal from European, Turkish, and, (principally), Arab landlords, mostly at extremely high prices". [4].

Less than 150,000 Jews are settled in the West Bank. Why shouldn’t they live there? About a million Arabs live in Israel proper. [FLAME Message 36]

Arab population in Palestine.

The number of Palestinian Arabs living in the area when the Jews began to arrive en masse in the late 19th century remains a subject of dispute. The early Zionist pioneers saw the Arab population as small, apolitical, and without a nationalist element. They therefore believed there would be no friction between the two communities. They also thought that development of the country would benefit both peoples and they would thus secure Arab support and cooperation. Many Arabs migrated to Palestine in the wake of economic growth stimulated by Jewish immigration, attracted by new employment opportunities, higher wages, and better living conditions.


Since King David’s time, Jews have maintained a continuous presence in Jerusalem except for a few periods when they were forcibly barred from living in the city by foreign rulers.

Jews have constituted a majority of residents since 1880 and today represent 72% of its population.

The only time Jerusalem was divided was between 1948 and 1967. Jordan denied Jews access to their holy sites, including the Western Wall. 58 synagogues in the Jewish quarter were destroyed and Jewish cemeteries desecrated.

When all Jerusalem was captured in 1967, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law which guarantees the sanctity of all holy places and makes it a punishable offence to desecrate or deny access to them. Christians & Moslems administer their own holy sites.

------ End – Excerpts from ADVOCATING FOR ISRAEL ------

Arab Extremists

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine led by George Habash. "Our only aim is a democratic, non-Zionist, Palestine. [Time, June 13, 1969]

"There is not a single democratic Arab state. All of them are tyrannies of varying degree. Even today, under Israeli administration, the PLO, the Islamic fundamentalists, and other factions fight for supremacy and ruthlessly murder each other". [FLAME Message 37]

Hamas. "Israel is our enemy". Hamas wants an end to the Jewish occupation of historical Palestine. [NY Times, 4/4/02]

Hezbollah (Lebanese Shiite Party of God). After Israel withdrew from Lebanon, Hezbollah imported huge new supplies of weapons and began cross-border attacks on Israel. [Washington Post 4/10/02]

The Palestinians (Are the Arab Palestinians a nation and deserving of a homeland?)

The so-called "Palestinians" are no different from the Arabs living in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. They are undifferentiated in dialect, dress, social customs or any other thing. [FLAME, Message 15, 36; Myths of the Middle East, Joseph Farah, 2000 WorldNetDaily]

Palestinian Arabs do have a homeland, it is Jordan. [FLAME, Message 15]

The British divided the country into two parts, giving the land east of the Jordan to the Hashemite tribes. Transjordan was given independence by the British in 1946. [FLAME, Message 5]

"Until Jewish immigration into ‘Palestine’ began in earnest in this century, the country was sparsely populated and underdeveloped. (Mark Twain described the desolation in his book Innocents Abroad.) Its civilization was that of the Middle Ages. When the Jews came into the country, they created commercial, agricultural, and industrial opportunities that acted as a magnet to the Arabs, most of them nomadic". [FLAME, Message 5]

"Arabs have inhabited Palestine for nearly 1400 years, since the arrival of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula. The Jewish claim to this land goes back 2,000 years earlier, to biblical times. Jews have lived continually in the land of Israel since the destruction of the Jewish state by Rome in 70 C.E. In 1500, for example, an estimated 10,000 Jews lived in the Safed region, and in the mid-1800’s, Jews constituted the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem. Many Palestinians, on the other hand, cannot trace their local lineage back very far. Two examples: the large and influential al-Masri clan in Nablus arrived from Egypt in recent centuries, and the 10,000 members of the Arab al-Turkman clan, in the Jenin area, migrated from Turkey in the 19th century. During the period of the British Mandate, (1920-1948), large number of Arabs from Lebanon and Syria settled in Palestine to take advantage of the relative prosperity that resulted from Jewish immigration". [4]. "Palestinian scholars and politicians have argued that Palestinians are descendents of the Jebusites and other Biblical peoples who predated the Israelite conquest of Canaan in the 13th century B.C.E. This line of argument contradicts the insistence of Palestinian Muslims that they are descendents of the Arabs who swept across the Middle East and North Africa at the time of Mohammed, conquering Palestine from the Christian Byzantines in 637 C.E." [4].

Book recommended by a Reform Rabbi
Arab and Jew, Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, David Shipler, 1986, 2002

[2]. Palestine, a land virtually laid waste with little Population.

[3]. The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain

[4]. What Everyone Should Know About the Conflict, Reform Judaism, Fall 2002, pg. 38

The Land of Palestine - 5000 years of History [primary source: An Atlas of Palestine]

Two handouts….text and maps

We will review a brief 5000 year history of Palestine including the use of the maps

We will review recent history of Palestine, since the founding of the State of Israel

We will discuss the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)

We will discuss Jewish settlements

We will discuss the "Palestinians"…specifically the Arab Palestinians

Circa for BC dates
Ussher Beecher Hastings Jewish Cyclopedia 1st year of Rehoboam 975 BC 982 BC 939 BC 978 BC

The Maps

Please label each map from front to back, 1,2,3, etc.

2. When looking at a map, for orientation, always look to see where the two seas are.

----Ron Masek