Saturday, June 4, 2016

Syria-Palaestina, How It Got the Name of Palestine

Nadene Goldfoot
Herodotus, b: 484 BCE in
HalicarnassusCaria (modern-day BodrumTurkey
When people talked about "Palestine,"  what were they talking about?

From the time of Herodotus, Greeks had been calling the Jewish Homeland "Syria-Palaestina" or as we called it, Palestine from the Philistines, enemies of the Jewish people such as King Saul and King David.  "The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC E Ancient Greecewhen Herodotus wrote of a "district of Syria, called Palaistinê" in The Histories, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley In the treatise Meteorology . 
The Philistines had been a thorn in the side of the family of Abraham ever since the first period.  They came in waves.   They believed in multiple gods, and Dagon, seen in the form of statue, was the leading one. Others were Astarte and Baal.  The Canaanites of the land were using their gods as well.   Canaanite religion was polytheistic, and in some cases monolatristic. Dagon was also their god.  "
  • Dagon, god of crop fertility and grain, father of Ba'al Hadad

1. Pre-patriarchal period and settled south of Beersheba in Gerar where they conflicted with Abraham and Isaac.   Could have been slightly different from the following Philistines that entered later.                                                              
Rameses II 
2. Second period:  They came from Crete (Greek island, probably the biblical Caphtor) after being repulsed from Egypt by Rameses II in 1194 BCE.  They seized the southern coastal area of Palestine where they founded 5 principalities of 1. Gaza, 2. Ascalon (Ashkelon) , 3, Ashdod, 4. Ekron, 5. Gath of which Achish was king, friend of David.  By nature, they were a fighting people.  They dominated parts of Judah in the period of the Judges.  King Saul at first won battles but was ultimately defeated.  King David ended their era of domination and overran Philistia. (Read Samuel I.)

Note: It was in the ancient Egyptian city of Raameses in the Nile Delta where Jacob and his family settled, told in Gen. 47:11, 27.  Their descendants were compelled to build storehouses for the Egyptian king.  Raameses was the point of departure for the Exodus.
Moses and Ten Commandments (5 things to do and 5 things not to do.)
 1-5: one G-d, no other G-ds, G-d name sacred, Shabbat-day of rest; honor parents
6-10: not to murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness,  nor covet anything.
Imagine what people were like before this list of 10 rules to follow.   
Note: Moses led the Exodus from Egypt at age 80 for 40 years, about from 1311 BCE to 1271 BCE and so entered Canaan in 1271 BCE, superceding the 2nd wave of Philistines by some 77 years by my math.  Philistines were not native Canaanites, but had been a Mediterranean people, thought to have originated from Asia Minor and Greek localities.

3. Third period: Persian and Greek Periods; foreign settlers from the Mediterranean islands, overran the Philistine districts.
Herod, selected by the Romans to be King of Judea
4. Fourth Roman Period from 63 BCE. Roman invaded and took Syria.  " Herod the Great, Antipater's son, was designated "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate in 40 BCE: "  So Roman soldiers were in the city of Jerusalem and thereabouts.  Judea had been overcome by Rome for a good 130 years before it fell to them in 70 CE.  That's at least 5 generations of Jews living under oppression.  They could only talk about their own state of Judea in their great great grandfather's days.  It would be like Jews in 1950 talking about their great great grandparents of 1820.  Note how time had changed between just 130 years!  From covered wagons to automobiles and planes for us in this time change, but for our biblical ancestors, not much could have changed except their thinking.

From 6 CE, Rome had become the administrators of Judea, Samaria and Idumea.  .

Judah's " revenue was of little importance to the Roman treasury, but it controlled the land and coastal sea routes to the bread basket Egypt and was a border province against the Parthian Empire because of the Jewish connections to Babylonia (since the Babylonian exile). The capital was at Caesarea (Maritima), not Jerusalem."
Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE) gave the name officially to the former land of Judah in 135 CE after fighting General Bar Kokhba for 3 years who had re-taken Jerusalem.  He did this out of anger to get even with the Jews.  He also renamed Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina. This emperor decided to Hellenize the land and had outlawed circumcision amongst other things,  which brought on the rebellion of the Jewish General (Aluf) Bar Kokhba and the war from 132-135.  After winning against the Jews, he received the title of Imperator.  Judea was made a consular province called SYRIA-PALAESTINA.  .  The ruins of Jerusalem were re-built into a pagan city and a statue of Hadrian was erected on the site of THE HOLY OF HOLIES , the inner sanctum which was the most sacred place in the temple, meant only for Aaron and following Cohen  priests.
1920 Palestine
A state of Palestine?  Never.  At the time of the end of World War I in 1917, the Ottoman Empire, who fought against the allies with the Germans, were the losers, and thus lost all their land to the allies.  This was a WORLD-WIDE WAR, and the allies had already decided to give this land to the Jews who had been in meetings with them about it.  Most of the land had no value to anyone.  It was hot there, and either swampy, full of weeds, or a dry desert.  Not many people lived there.  There were Jews whose ancestors had never left after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Then there were more recent Jews who had come mainly from Russia in the 1880s and on, who were building up the land and creating Tel Aviv.   There were Bedouins riding camels and horses, the Princes of the desert, who were mainly raiders of others, and only a few bedraggled landowners who had had a hard existence with the Ottoman Empire representatives who picked up tax money from them.
Mehmed VI, last Sultan of Ottoman Empire
from 1918 to 1922
Who were Palestinians?  From the end of WWI to May 14, 1948 when Israel was announced as being born, both Jews and Arabs were Palestinians.  Jews had lost Judea and Arabs had lost nothing but the Ottoman Empire's holdings, and they were only subjects of the Ottoman Empire.  It was the Turks who were working for the Empire and had been for the past 400 years.  .

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (religion).
Read:  THE Settlers by MEYER LEVIN,  an epic novel following a family's return to the Jewish homeland-once Palestine, now Israel, always Eretz Yisroel.  Set in Palestine at the turn of the century to the Balfour Declaration, covers 1/4 of a century.  Turkish overlords, Jewish pioneers, Arabs.

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