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Home > Secteur-English > General > Foreign Empires that ruled in Israel

Foreign Empires that ruled in Israel

Period Empire Major Events
587 BCE Babylonian Destruction of the first Temple.
538-333 BCE Persian Return of the exiled Jews from Babylon and construction of the second Temple (520-515 BCE).
333-63 BCE Hellenistic Conquest of the region by the army of Alexander the Great (333 BCE). The Greeks generally allowed the Jews to run their state. But, during the rule of the king Antiochus IV, the Temple was desecrated. This brought about the revolt of the Maccabees, who established an independent rule. The related events are celebrated during the Hanukah holiday.
63 BCE-313 CE Roman The Roman army led by Titus conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple at 70 CE. Jewish people were then exiled and dispersed to the Diaspora. In 132, Bar Kokhba organized a revolt against Roman rule, but was killed in a battle in Bethar in Judean Hills. Subsequently the Romans decimated the Jewish community, renamed Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina and Judea as Palaestina to obliterate Jewish identification with the Land of Israel (the word Palestine, and the Arabic word Filastin originate from this Latin name).

The remaining Jewish community moved to northern towns in the Galilee. Around 200 CE the Sanhedrin was moved to Tsippori (Zippori, Sepphoris). The Head of Sanhedrin, Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi (Judah the Prince), compiled the Jewish oral law, Mishna.
313-636 Byzantine
636-1099 Arab Dome of the Rock was built by Caliph Abd el-Malik on the grounds of the destroyed Jewish Temple.
1099-1291 Crusaders The crusaders came from Europe to capture the Holy Land following an appeal by Pope Urban II, and massacred the non-Christian population. Later Jewish community in Jerusalem expanded by immigration of Jews from Europe.
1291-1516 Mamluk
1516-1918 Ottoman During the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were rebuilt. Population of the Jewish community in Jerusalem increased.
1917-1948 British Great Britain recognized the rights of the Jewish people to establish a "national home in Palestine". Yet they greatly curtailed entry of Jewish refugees into Israel even after World War II. They split Palestine mandate into an Arab state which has become the modern day Jordan, and Israel.
After the exile by the Romans at 70 CE, the Jewish people migrated to Europe and North Africa. In the Diaspora (scattered outside of the Land of Israel), they established rich cultural and economic lives, and contributed greatly to the societies where they lived. Yet, they continued their national culture and prayed to return to Israel through centuries. In the first half of the 20th century there were major waves of immigration of Jews back to Israel from Arab countries and from Europe. During the British rule in Palestine, the Jewish people were subject to great violence and massacres directed by Arab civilians or forces of the neighboring Arab states. During World War II, the Nazi regime in Germany decimated about 6 million Jews creating the great tragedy of The Holocaust.

In 1948, Jewish Community in Israel under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion reestablished sovereignty over their ancient homeland. Declaration of independence of the modern State of Israel was announced on the day that the last British forces left Israel (May 14, 1948).

Arab-Israeli wars

A day after the declaration of independence of the State of Israel, armies of five Arab countries, Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq, invaded Israel. This marked the beginning of the War of Independence. Arab states have jointly waged four full scale wars against Israel :

1948 War of Independence
1956 Sinai War
1967 Six Day War
1973 Yom Kippur War
Despite the numerical superiority of the Arab armies, Israel defended itself each time and won. After each war Israeli army withdrew from most of the areas it captured (see maps). This is unprecedented in World history and shows Israel’s willingness to reach peace even at the risk of fighting for its very existence each time anew.

Note that with Judea and Samaria Israel is only 40 miles wide. Thus, Israel can be crossed from the Mediterranean coast to the Eastern border at Jordan river within two hours of driving.

For further information and resources see :

The Crux of WORLD HISTORY - First Chapter : The Birth of the Jewish People by Francisco Gil-White. This is the best revolutionary exposition of the influence of Judaism on World culture in a historical perspective.
Arab-Israeli conflict
Historical Maps and Atlases
Israel Wars and Maps
Jewish People
Time-Line for the History of Judaism
Photographs of Israel from 1800’s and early 20th century
Historical highlights of the history of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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