Palestine From the Coming of The Greeks to the Coming of the Lord

By Jim Gabbard

Philip of Macedon might never have been heard of in history and his illustrious son, Alexander the Great, might have gone as an unknown but to a few except for the discovery of much gold in the area of Thessalonica, with which Philip built an army that eventually defeated the Medes, and if they had not lived in proximity to the life of Jesus Christ. Alexander was tutored by Aristotle and be-came a high genius, especially in terms of military strategy. He marched through Palestine in 332 and took it all.

The Maccabees

The Hasmonean family of Jewish patriots, Mattathias and his sons, Judas (The Hammer), Jonathan, Simon, and John, challenged the Greeks in 168 B.C., at which time one of the Greek officials, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, offered a pig on the altar in Jerusalem. The Maccabees fought for and won their independence and established a Jewish state which would last until 63 B.C., at which time the Roman General, Pompey, marched in with his army. The Jews were defeated, many killed, many carted off to Rome as prisoners to be displayed before the public.

From Christ to the Gulf War

The Romans continued to rule Palestine and oppress the Jews until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Herod the Great ruled as king from 37 to 4 B.C., during the latter end of which rule Jesus Christ was born (Matt. 2: 1). Herod’s son, Archelius, ruled as Tetrarch (governor of the fourth part of a region) to 6 A.D., from which time governors called Procurators ruled until 70 A.D. There was a short exception in their rule, Herod Agrippa ruled as king from 41 to his death in 44; God killed him for claiming God’s glory for himself (Acts 12:23). Among the procurators were Pontius Pilate (26-36 A.D.), Antonius Felix (52-58 A.D.), and Portius Festus (58-62 A.D.).

Jesus came into the world in the fullness of time for the purpose of saving fallen man (a continuous part of God’s scheme of human redemption). He was rejected by the Jews for a number of reasons just as many of the prophets be-fore him had been rejected and as the apostles who followed him would be rejected. For their rejection God totally destroyed the city of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. using the Roman army as agency.

The Destruction of Jerusalem

There was a constant uproar between the Jews and the Romans during the entire period 63 to 68 A.D., at which time Nero, shortly before he himself would commit suicide, ordered a Roman army under the command of Vespasian into Palestine with instructions to solve the Jewish problem. After Nero died, Vespasican had to go back to Rome to settle the uproar there, but sent in his son, Titus to finish off the Jews. The prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24, that not one stone of the temple would be left upon another had come to pass.

Hadrian Banishes Jews from Jerusalem

In 132 A.D. the Roman Emperor Hadrian banned the practice of circumcision and Jewish Sabbath keeping. He rebuilt the city of Jerusalem but renamed it Aelia Capitolina. He was attacked by an uprising of Jews led by a false Messiah named Simon bar Kohba, who tried to bring about a revolt that failed. No Jew was allowed in Aelia Capitolina on the pain of death for the next five hundred years.

The Byzantine Period

Constantine became emperor of Rome in 324 A.D. In 330 the capital was moved from Rome to Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople (presently Istanbul, Turkey) in Constantine’s honor. Constantine is said to have been converted to Christianity (actually he gradually adopted his new religion from paganism from 312 to 324 A D.). He proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, which had a very great effect on history.

Helena, the mother of Constantine, wanted Jerusalem restored and made a Christian city. She built many shrines and religious buildings, including the church of the Holy Sepulcher, on the site where many believed that Jesus had been buried.

By the fifth century the Roman Empire divided and the eastern half became the Byzantine Empire, with its capital in Constantinople, and Rome becoming the capital of the western Roman Empire. The Jews were permitted to enter Jerusalem and pray on the Temple Mount on the anniversary of the destruction of the temple. By the middle of the fifth century Jerusalem was recognized as a patriarchate equal in status to Constantinople, Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. In 614 A.D. the Persians conquered the land, massacred the people, and destroyed the church buildings. In 629 A.D. the Byzantine emperor Heraclius reconquered Jerusalem.

The Early Moslem Period (638-1099)

Just nine years hence the Moslems moved back in and took over. They permitted the Jews and those who called themselves Christians to worship as they chose. The Jews were able to return to Jerusalem. In 660 to 750 a Moslem Dynasty called the Umayyad reigned. During this time Mohammed made a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, he claimed, on his winged horse Al-buraq. His sojourn on the Temple Mount, in their eyes, made it holy. Caliph Abd el-Malik was commissioned to build a mosque, the Dome of the Rock, on the temple mount, which was started in 688 and finished in 691. It still stands there as a great oppression to the Jews. This site is considered by the Moslems to be their third holiest.

The Period of the Crusaders (1099-1244)

Pope Urban II could hardly abide the conditions in the Holy Land and persuaded the Crusaders to go to Palestine to liberate it from the Moslems. In five weeks of siege, they were able to capture Jerusalem, which they called the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Many noblemen and bourgeoisie from Europe settled in Jerusalem and began to turn mosques into church buildings and build new church buildings and monasteries. They would not permit Jews and Moslems to live in Jerusalem but permitted them to visit, for a period of eighty-eight years.

The Ayyubid Arabs Fight Back (1187-1192)

Under the Moslem General Saladin, who founded the Ayyubid dynasty, Jerusalem was recaptured, the cross which had been erected on top of the Dome of the Rock was take down, and many church buildings were turned into mosques. Jews were permitted to return to Jerusalem, and many came in from such places as North Africa, England, France, Russia, and other places.

Not to be outdone, at least for now, the Crusaders also fought back. Richard the Lion-Hearted (1192) and Phillip Auguste of France took the area and the city of Jerusalem back. But Jerusalem was divided with part, including the Temple Mount, remaining in Moslem hands, while the Crusaders ruled the remainder of the city. But they lost the city again in 1244.

The Mumluk Period (1260-1517)

Armies from Central Asia, called Mumluks, moved in 1260 and conquered Jerusalem. These were the new rulers in Egypt also. They held out until 1517.

The Ottoman Turks (1517-1917)

The Ottoman empire had enlarged greatly and became every powerful. It held Constantinople, Asia Minor, parts of Europe and the Balkans, Egypt, Syria, and added Pales-tine to its rule in 1517. Jerusalem was taken from the Mumluks and it was Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who now called the terms and defined the walls of Jerusalem. When he died the Jews were able to move in and build the Jewish quarter along the Zion Gate. With help from their friends, the Jews established learning centers in Jerusalem and other places.

A sad event occurred beginning in 1832: Mohammed Ali of Egypt cleared all the trees in the region for wood with which to build ships. To his credit, he had a liberal attitude toward other groups and allowed a myriad of activities such as missions, schools, foreign consulates, archeological digs, and generally allowed much western influence into Jerusalem. Zionism, a political movement among the Jews sprang up in Europe sometime in the late 1800s with a goal to create a homeland for Jewish people in Pales-tine. Jews infiltrated in large numbers from Europe and Russia with high hopes of a free state for Jews. The first Zionist Congress was held in 1897 in Basil, Switzerland

The British Mandate (1917-1948)

The great Arab dream of ruling the world came to an end on 9 December 1917 when the British under Field Marshal Edmund H.H. Allenby marched into Jerusalem and pronounced it the capital of the country. The Belfour Declaration raised high hopes for the Jews when it promised them an establishment of a national home. The Jews and Arabs clashed in 1920 and again in 1929, though violently, it was indecisive. Open war broke out in 1936 when the Arabs rebelled and fighting for control of Jerusalem continued until 1939.

Adolph Hitler systematically murdered six million Jews between 1939 and 1945. When World War II ended sentiment was greatly in favor of a Jewish homeland, in every quarter of the world. Tensions mounted greatly between Jews and Arabs so that the United Nations intervened in 1947 and voted thirty-three to thirteen to divide Palestine into two parts west of the Jordan River, one for Jews and one for Arabs. The Jews accepted, but the Arabs rejected the plan.

The State of Israel (14 May 1948)

British and Americans were in agreement for the British to withdraw which they did on 14 May 1948, at which time the Jews declared an independent State of Israel. Israel was immediately attacked by Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. By December, Israel had put them all away and was able to declare victory and independence. Jordan held part of the West Bank and part of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Egypt held on to the Gaza Strip. A cease fire agreement was reached in January 1949, with Jerusalem being partitioned. Jordan had all the shrines and the old city.

Israel had to make ready for nearly a million immigrants from more than 100 countries during the next decade. The Jews were willing for a trade-off, tough living conditions for a homeland. The land was converted from a desert to an agricultural near-miracle.

More War (1956)

The Sinai campaign was fought in 1956 between Israel and Egypt but didn’t last long. Israel had won, but agreed to pull back for a guarantee of free flow through the Straits of Iran and the Gulf of Elat.

The Six Day War (1967)

On 5 June 1967, the Six-Day war broke out, in which Israel took the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Jerusalem was now in Jewish hands and they could again weep at the Wailing Wall.

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement, which is Israel’s highest of holy days, and was the date set for Syria on one end and Egypt on the other (1973) to attack Israel. Israel again made rather short work of the enemy. In three weeks both were defeated and a precarious peace agreement was signed.

Egypt and Israel Come to Terms (1978)

In September 1978, Menahem Beagan of Israel, and Anwar Sadat of Egypt, signed a peace treaty returning the Sinai to Egypt. Israel launched a campaign through Lebanon on 6 June 1982 to root out the forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its threat to her territories.

Desert Storm (1991)

Israel was again attacked with missiles during the Middle East Gulf war between Iraq and a coalition of nations headed by the United States. Israel was not part of the coalition and restrained from entering the war, which came to an end in six weeks.

Yitzhak Rabin (1923-1995)

Although the opposition conservative party led by Benjamin Natanyahu strongly resisted it, the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin was making progress negotiating with the Palestine Liberation Organization to return the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Palestinians. He was cut down on 3 July 1995 by a young law student named Yigal Amir with three close range pistol shots. Shirnon Peres, who once served as Prime Minister and was at the time, Foreign Minister became new Prime Minister and vows to continue the peace process.

Guardian of Truth XL: 6 p. 10-11
March 21, 1996