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History of Israel

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Ancient Israel

Jews have lived in the Holy Land for nearly 4000 years. Jews are the only people on Earth who have retained their identity from so long ago, and undoubtedly the most tenacious people in history.

Jews and Arabs are descended from half-brothers. Their patriarch, Abraham, was gifted the land called Canaan, which we call Israel, or the Holy Land—by God Himself.

Abraham's son, Ishmael (father of the Arabs), was born to his servant girl, Hagar. Abraham sent them away when his wife Sarai got jealous of them.

Sarai later bore a son to Abraham named Isaac (father of the Jews or Israelis). Abraham's grandson from Isaac, Jacob, was given a new name by an angel sent from God. His God given name was Israel.

Jacob moved to Egypt, because of famine in Canaan, where his Son Joseph had become the right-hand-man of Pharaoh. The Jews, known as Hebrews then, were treated well for a long time because of Joseph, but eventually they were enslaved by the Egyptians. Moses led them out of bondage in Egypt roughly 3500 years ago, to reestablish the nation of Israel in the Holy Land.

MAP OF MIDDLE EAST WHEN ISRAEL WAS FOUNDED

MAP OF MIDDLE EAST WHEN ISRAEL WAS FOUNDED

Kingdom of Israel

King David and his son, King Solomon, created the great Kingdom of Israel approximately 3000 years ago.

Israel was a nation from 1220 B.C. (Before Christ) to 70 A.D., when it was destroyed by the Romans. It is estimated that 550,000 Jews were killed during this destruction, out of a population of six million.

The Romans renamed Israel "Palestine" after the ancient people who had lived there called Philistines, who were not Arabs but Greeks.

The Jews were scattered—eventually all over the world—though they maintained a physical presence in the Holy Land and it was always considered to be their spiritual, ancestral home. The scattering mostly involved the Jews being made slaves around the Roman Empire and is known as the Diaspora.

ANCIENT ISRAEL

ANCIENT ISRAEL

TOMB OF DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL, IN JERUSALEM

TOMB OF DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL, IN JERUSALEM

THE KINGDOM DIVIDED AFTER SOLOMON INTO JUDEA (PINK) AND ISRAEL (GREEN)

THE KINGDOM DIVIDED AFTER SOLOMON INTO JUDEA (PINK) AND ISRAEL (GREEN)

Arab Muslims Conquer Israel

The Arabs came out of Arabia, after slaughtering the Jews who had lived there for hundreds of years (for rejecting Muhammad's message), and conquered the Holy Land in 635 A.D. This ended 300 years of rule by Christian Byzantium and spelled serious trouble for the 3,000,000 Jews living there, many of whom fled.

The Arabs ruled about 450 years; then the Christian Crusaders took the Holy Land back and held parts of it nearly 200 years as the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

After the Crusaders were expelled, the Holy Land was ruled by Egyptians for 250 years before the Ottoman Turks took it from them, and kept it for 400 years. This brings us up to 1917 and the end of the First World War—a war in which the Ottomans were on the losing side.

TOMB OF THE PATRIARCHS IN HEBRON, WEST BANK WHERE ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND ISRAEL (JACOB) ARE BURIED

TOMB OF THE PATRIARCHS IN HEBRON, WEST BANK WHERE ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND ISRAEL (JACOB) ARE BURIED

THE HOLY LAND DURING THE TIME OF JESUS

THE HOLY LAND DURING THE TIME OF JESUS

CHRISTIAN BYZANTIUM 550 AD

CHRISTIAN BYZANTIUM 550 AD

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KINGDOM OF JERUSALEM OF THE CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS

KINGDOM OF JERUSALEM OF THE CHRISTIAN CRUSADERS

World War One

Before the war the Ottoman Sultan had welcomed Jews to settle in Palestine since nobody else seemed to care about this backwater, and he thought they might invest capital there and transform it from a desert wasteland into a prosperous area, since the Jews were world-famous as a successful people.

During World War One, European governments and intellectuals started seriously considering the idea of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, probably under the protection of the British. The largest Jewish populations were in Russia, Poland and Germany. During the war Jews living in the Holy Land fled persecution or were expelled by the Turks, except for those who became Ottoman citizens.

OTTOMAN EMPIRE

OTTOMAN EMPIRE

Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the first formal statement by the British government that the Jews should have their own nation in Palestine. There were parades of exhilarated Jews in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Arabs protested. That same year the very first Jewish military regiment was formed to fight for the British against the Turks.