Jewish tradition holds that the Land of Israel has been a Jewish Holy Land and Promised land for four thousand years, since the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). The land of Israel holds a special place in Jewish religious obligations, encompassing Judaism’s most important sites (such as the remains of the First and Second Temples of the Jewish People). Connected with these two versions of the temple are religiously significant rites which stand as the origin for many aspects of modern Judaism. Starting around the eleventh century BCE, the first of a series of Jewish kingdoms and states established intermittent rule over the region that lasted more than a millennium.
Under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and (briefly) Sassanian rule, Jewish presence in the region dwindled because of mass expulsions. In particular, the failure of the Bar Kokhba’s revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE resulted in a large-scale expulsion of Jews. It was during this time that the Romans gave the name Syria Palaestina to the geographic area, in an attempt to erase Jewish ties to the land. Nevertheless, the Jewish presence in Palestine remained constant. The main Jewish population shifted from the Judea region to the Galilee. The Mishnah and Jerusalem Talmud, two of Judaism’s most important religious texts, were composed in the region during this period. The land was conquered from the Byzantine Empire in 638 CE during the initial Muslim conquests. The Hebrew niqqud was invented in Tiberias during this time. The area was ruled by the Omayyads, then by the Abbasids, Crusaders, the Kharezmians and Mongols, before becoming part of the empire of the Mamluks (1260–1516) and the Ottoman Empire in 1517.
It is difficult to, as many Anti-Zionist and Anti-Semites do, claim that the Jewish People do not have any historical rights or connection to the land area between, in the East, the river Jordan, in the West the Mediterranean, in the North the border of Lebanon and in the South the Red Sea.Not only do we have long written tradition of a Jewish presence in the area – we have archeological evidence.
From Beyond Time and Place
“Where does our history begin? Most historians begin with the journey of Abraham as the first Jew. The biblical stories, although vastly important historically, have their place in the birth and development of a Jewish consciousness and as a moral guide, rather than as a day-to-day recorded history.
I have decided to start with the year 69 CE and the establishing of the Academy at Yabneh rather than Biblical history. Why?
It has been claimed that the Diaspora began with the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE). While there is a lot of truth in this statement, recent historians have found that the actual dispersion was far more gradual than we realize with most of the population still in place until after the Second Revolt in 135. So why the year 200? In all probability, the most critical act in preserving the Jewish people in a Diaspora setting was the action of Yohanan Ben Zaccai, the last of Hillel’s disciples. Around 69 CE, Ben Zaccai appealed to the Romans to allow Jewish scholarship to continue by saving the Sages of the time and transferring them to Jabneh.”
To be Continued…