‘Palestine’ is an ancient name, for a land of many cultures

Israel/Palestine
on 129 Comments

What was the Palestine of today called before Roman times? It was called ‘Palestine’, which was by no means a transient name, being witnessed from around 1175 BCE and often thereafter. There are certainly other names for parts of Palestine and for the wider region to which Palestine belonged and there are yet other names placed on ‘utopian maps’ which describe what should be rather than what is. Of course all the famous Biblical names, very much including ‘Israel’, play a part in the story of this region.

What study of these names, perhaps especially of ‘Israel’, reveals is very interesting. What we perceive is a territory, properly called ‘ancient Palestine’, that had been somewhat multicultural for as long as memory could extend.

FIRST PHASE: ISRAEL, CANAAN, PALESTINE

The oldest pattern of Holy Land names comes from before 800 BCE, i.e. before names began to reflect the ideas of the Neo-Assyrian empire. 

The name ‘Israel’ occurs in the famous Stela (inscribed stone) of the Egyptian King Merneptah, which is often dated to 1205 BCE.  ‘Israel’ appears as one of many groups in the area concerned. It’s striking that these groups overlap in culture – there are no great differences in their appearance – and that they are all targets of Egyptian displeasure.  Israel first appears in union with other Palestinians.

Another inscription, recording King Ramesses’ conflict with the Sea Peoples, is dated to around 1175.  Here we first meet the ‘Peleset’, who must be the Philistines or Palestinians.  Only a few decades separate Merneptah’s ‘Israel’, of which we never hear the last, from Ramesses’ ‘Peleset’, of which we hear little.  Of the record of Genesis 20 – 21, where we find the kindly Palestinians already in place before Abraham arrived, that is some thousand years before Ramesses, we hear even less.  Admittedly, this is part of the Biblical record that most historians would dispute or dismiss, but there’s something intriguing about it.

We meet ‘Israel’ again around 850 – 800 in the Mesha, Tel Dan and Kurkh Stelae, all linking the name Israel with the royal house of Omri and Ahab and the important but limited realm ruled from Samaria.  Rather later, we have the Black Obelisk, now in the British Museum, not using the name ‘Israel’ but mentioning the tribute of Jehu, ‘son of Omri’: the current king is known not by the name of his land but of his real or supposed – quite recent – ancestor.  This submission to (Jehu would have said ‘alliance with’) Assyria was significant enough to leave threemore inscriptions mentioning it, all using the same ‘son of Omri’ terminology.(Tammi Schneider, Biblical Archaeology Review, 1995).

ASSYRIANS AND ‘OMRIA’; ISAIAH AND ‘CANAAN’.

For a while after 800 the Assyrians dominate the non-Biblical record and its wording. Their preferred term of the Kingdom based on Samaria seems to be‘Mat/Bit Humri-(a)’ – ‘Omria’, we might say.  Adad-nirari, who reigned from 810-783, speaks of King Joash as ‘of Samaria’ and refers to Omria, Palestine and Edom as subsets of the area which paid him tribute.  Tiglath-Pileser around 740 had trouble with Menachem ‘of Samaria’ and Hanno ‘of Gaza’.  Sargon, capturing Samaria in 721, refers to ‘Samaria and all Omria’.   The name ‘Israel’ recedes behind ‘Omria’ in this phase, the Assyrians presumably reflecting the usage of the kings reigning in Samaria.

The first series of Isaiah’s oracles is set ‘when King Uzziah had died’, that is in the years around 740 of growing Neo-Assyrian influence, though possibly they were written later.  Here (XIX, 18) ‘Canaan’ is the name chosen for the area where the prophet’s language is spoken, a word suggesting a region with many races rather than with just one.   But even by Uzziah’s time that name was obsolescent politically. 

‘Canaan’ is attested in the Amarna Letters, an Egyptian archive dated to around 1350 BCE.  Its equivalents are also found in Sumerian records going back to 3000.  ‘Canaan’ is linked with ‘Phoenicia’, both names referring to the red or purple dye from murex snails for which the region was famous.  The area to which the name belongs is never formally defined outside the Bible.  Its use seems to have become infrequent, informal – ‘the dye-producing region’ – and increasingly tied not to the lands assigned to Israel in the Bible but either to a wide trading area where Phoenicians were active or more narrowly to the Phoenician heartland with its snail beds, our Lebanon.  There is only one reference, where Pharaoh Seti around 1400 attacks a city thought by some to be Gaza, to ‘Canaan’ in the whole of James B. Pritchard’s often used anthology, The Ancient Near East.  Later, around 920, another Egyptian inscription (Sheshonq’s – I’m following the translation in R.K. Ritner’sbook picturesquely entitled The Libyan Anarchy, p.201) seems to call this area ‘all the lands of the Phoenicians’.

The convergence in meaning of ‘Canaan’ and ‘Phoenicia’ as time went by is illustrated by the way in which the Septuagint translators of the 200s sometimes (for instance, in Joshua V, 12) use ‘Phoenician’ where the Hebrew text says ‘Canaanite’.  By then the narrower, ‘Lebanese’ idea of Canaan/Phoenicia was becoming dominant.  Around 270 the city calling itself in coinage ‘the mother of Canaan’ was Beirut, the Phoenician Berytus/Laodicea.  ‘Canaan’ was not to be the name that stuck in the last millennium BCE to what is ‘Israel’ or ‘Palestine’ now; neither was ‘Israel’.

BIBLICAL HISTORY TEXTS: THE HETEROGENEOUS COUNTRY

We find in Numbers 34 a description delivered to Moses of the land donated by God – ‘the inheritance of the people of Israel in the land of Canaan’, according to the interesting words of the final verse – not regarded as identical with any actual Israelite kingdom.  It is notable that there is no instruction that the name of the land be changed.  Shlomo Sand (Invention of Land of Israel, p.86) cites Jewish scholars from the post-Temple period who explained the persistence in the Bible of the name ‘Canaan’ and the sparing use of ‘Land of Israel’ by saying that it was the privilege of the Canaanites that the land, after it had ceased to be theirs, should keep their name.  But Numbers 34 does not state that ‘Canaan’ is what the land within these borders was commonly called in Moses’ time or later: rather it establishes ‘Canaan’ as a term in Israelite law for the land that God has donated.  But that land continued to be a land of many peoples.

Judges records the terrible crime at Gibeah and refers (XIX, 29) to ‘borders of Israel’, indicating that this was the region where Israelites were found but conveys no implication that the land was ‘of Israel’ solidly.  The picture presented is of a patchwork of populations, Israelite and other, existing within these borders:  disaster befalls travellers who have carefully sought out an Israelite village.  This is the situation shortly before the establishment of the Monarchy, under whose rule no massive ethnic cleansing is recorded.  On the contrary, religious practices outside Israelite tradition – so much linked with other nations – evidently, according to the angry testimony of the main Biblical history texts, which stretch from Deuteronomy to II Kings, continued.

The title ‘King of Israel’ is ascribed to David and Solomon.  However, the story of the rending apart of their United Monarchy would not make sense if all its component kingdoms, Israel, Judah, Edom and perhaps more, were considered to have become effectively one or even to have used one name.  In Sand’s view, this comprehensive, ‘all kingdoms’, sense of ‘land of Israel’ occurs nowhere in Scripture.  I would say that it does occur, though only in a way that confirms, once again, the historic status of non-Israelites, notably in Ezekiel, composed at least in part around 570 under Nebuchadnezzar.  His references to the Land of Israel build up to the specificationfor a land to be divided among tribes- and this is very close to the specification of ‘the Land of Canaan’ in Numbers.  It is with reference to Ezekiel that Harold Brodsky (Jewish Bible Quarterly, 2006) uses the phrase ‘utopian map’: a religious prescription for what should be, not a geographical description of what is. Even in these utopian verses the presence of non-Israelites is recognised: their children are to be treated as if native-born (XLVII, 22). The highly heterogeneous country which is to be the Land of Israel when God wills is not, according to the Bible’s witness, the Land of Israel yet.

‘JUDAEA’.

‘Yehud’, named after the former Kingdom of Judah, was originally the Persian administrative district around Jerusalem when the Exile ended and the Second Temple period began in the late 500s.  Yehud expanded (Israel Finkelstein Revue Biblique 2010) into the major Herodian Kingdom ‘of the Jews’ (Josephus, Wars I, 14) or ‘of Judaea’ (Luke I, 5): not ‘of Israel’.  The name ‘Judaea’ sometimes expanded to fit the ancient Canaan (Josephus, Antiquities I, 7), sometimes stuck to its original area, particularly when it became the ‘tetrarchy’ of Herod’s son Archelaus.  Herod, King from 40 BCE, moved smoothly into the position of key local ally of Rome, making Roman-Jewish friendship, at least among elite families, into a kernel of policy (Antiquities XV, 11).The emphasis on the Jewish nature of the Kingdom, many of whose subjects were not Jewish, must have implied official disregard, though not necessarily general disuse, of other traditional names.

 ‘PALESTINE’.

Herodotus (IV, 39), writing around 450 BCE, refers to the ‘peninsula’, land between waters, that runs from Phoenicia ‘along our sea by way of Palestine-Syria, to Egypt, where it ends’.  This is one of some seven references to Palestine (often ‘Syria-Palestine’) in the Histories. Only three nations inhabit this tract of land, he says, presumably meaning Palestinian Syrians, Syrians living further inland (the Bible’s Aramaeans) and Egyptians.  Here at last we have a name, treated as if in general use and applied unmistakeably and specifically to the whole of the land from inner Syria to the sea. 

Josephus, who himself (Antiquities XX, 11)uses ‘Palestine’, refers (Apion I, 169) to another passage of Herodotus (II, 104) saying that by ‘Syrians of Palestine’ he must mean Jews, since they practised circumcision.  This is another question, quite debatable, since Herodotus himself thinks that circumcision is a sign of Egyptian influence: at any rate, Josephus had no objection to Herodotus’ choice of name.Adequate evidence of continuing use of the name ‘Palestine’ beyond Herodotus’ time comes from Aristotle on the Dead Sea (MetereologyII, 3) – (here the ‘Syria’ prefix is beginning to drop away) – and from other geographical works, of which The Circumnavigation of Pseudo-Scylax has the most entertaining name. 

CONCLUSION.

For Adad-Nirari in 800 ‘Omria’ and ‘Palestine’ were subsets of the Holy Land. With the disappearance of Omria, ‘Palestine’ must steadily have become what it was for Herodotus in 450, the name in general use for the whole land. We commonly hear that the Romans eventually imposed the alien name ‘Palestine’ on Israel or Judaea.  But it would be truer to say that they eventually permitted the re-emergence, as Herodian ‘Judaea’ receded into the past, of ‘Palestine’, the only pre-Roman name of whose use – not as part of a religious plan for future times but as a normal term of reference – for that land specifically, and for all that land, we are sure.  The name remained in use through many turbulent centuries: something to bear in mind when talk arises of historic connections between lands and peoples.  Moreover, the study of ancient names reminds us of how multicultural ancient Palestine was.  The picture of ancient times as all conflict and conquest is a root both of Zionism and of anti-Semitism.  It could do with being re-drawn.

I have consulted The Oxford History of the Biblical World, Lester Grabbe’s Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? J.B. Pritchard’s anthology The Ancient Near East, and other recognised works.  

Martin Hughes, a frequent commenter on this site, has degrees in classics, philosophy and theology and was a lecturer in philosophy at Durham University, now retired. He is a past President of the UK Association of University Teachers.

129 Responses

  1. seafoid
    June 22, 2013, 11:40 am

    Thank you, Martin. Most interesting.

    The more I read, the more I sense that the official Zionist history is not fit to be put in a Masters dissertation.

    • Naftush
      June 23, 2013, 4:27 am

      You’ll never read enough if this author is your source. He insinuates that Peleset corresponds directly to Palestine and denotes an indigenous people. He doesn’t tell you that in Semitic languages the word Peleset and its derivatives (Pleshet, Plishti, Falasha, etc.) means the exact opposite, an invader.

      • Ecru
        June 23, 2013, 8:19 am

        Wales mean “Alien” and yet the Welsh are native. Your “point” isn’t one.

      • Darcha
        June 23, 2013, 10:18 am

        Didn’t know that one. Just to bring home the point:
        Old English Wilisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish), from Wealh, Walh “Celt, Briton, Welshman, non-Germanic foreigner;” in Tolkien’s definition, “common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech,” but also applied to speakers of Latin, hence Old High German Walh, Walah “Celt, Roman, Gaulish,” and Old Norse Valir “Gauls, Frenchmen” (Danish vælsk “Italian, French, southern”); from Proto-Germanic *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic name represented by Latin Volcæ (Caesar) “ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul.” The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in Old Church Slavonic as vlachu, and applied to the Rumanians, hence Wallachia.

        Among the English, Welsh was used disparagingly of inferior or substitute things, hence Welsh rabbit (1725), also perverted by folk-etymology as Welsh rarebit (1785).
        link to etymonline.com

      • James Canning
        June 23, 2013, 7:39 pm

        And the Scots, for whom Scotland was named, were from Ireland.

      • ziusudra
        June 24, 2013, 3:42 am

        Greetings Darcha,
        Love it, very enlightening.
        One small note, if I may?
        Wil, Whl ? West, Ok, but Saxon, no go!
        Consider please.
        The Anglo, Saxon & Jute make their great sweep in 449AD.
        They remove all males of maturity to Wales & Ireland.
        Wales remains Celtic. A Saxson suffix? Maybe much later?
        There was no High German in Germany 500 to 1100AD.
        7/8 C. Old AngloSaxon:
        Ic eom munuc and ic singe aelce daeg sofon tida mid gebrodrum.
        (I am a Monk & I sing every day 7 times with my Brothers.)
        Thank you,
        ziusudra
        PS The Celtic Children noticed that the Anglos built Huts with a round hole.
        They asked why & were told that that is the ‘ Wind Auge’, the eye (of the )Wind = Window! Yes, you’re right, they didn’t have any cases in old Saxon.

      • seafoid
        June 24, 2013, 3:54 am

        That is why I love this site.
        It’s not only about destroying the hasbara. There is so much top quality information as part of the process.

        BTW the Swiss Germans refer to the Swiss French as *die Welsche*, and their part of the country is called *Welschland* and there is a bilingual Swiss canton called Valais which is also linked.

      • homingpigeon
        June 27, 2013, 6:27 am

        “He doesn’t tell you that in Semitic languages the word Peleset and its derivatives (Pleshet, Plishti, Falasha, etc.) means the exact opposite, an invader.”

        Wow, so where does this leave the poor and abused Falashas? Are they invaders of Ethiopia or of Palestine?

        But more seriously I think the case rests on whoever cultivated eggplants first.

  2. Obsidian
    June 22, 2013, 11:41 am

    “What was the Palestine of today called before Roman times? It was called ‘Palestine’”

    You mean the West Bank and Gaza used to be called Palestine?

    • justicewillprevail
      June 22, 2013, 7:20 pm

      Are you being deliberately obtuse?

      • talknic
        June 22, 2013, 11:10 pm

        @ JWP Only when it’s all they have left .. admitting to the wholly holey olde Hasbara having a loose end is a no no

      • Darcha
        June 23, 2013, 10:20 am

        I’m sticking by calling it the Hasbara Galvanic Response.

      • ziusudra
        June 23, 2013, 5:08 am

        For all this info, the land of Israel still remains a Phantom!
        Mr Martin Hughs leads us on a wild goose chase.
        Ethmologish.
        Canaan 4BC, an area of Jordan, west Syria, Falesteena.
        Jerusalem was a walled in City called Schalim: God of Twilight.
        (1K BC Judaised as Schalom) Later Jerusalem,
        Jeru: he casts Salem: peace.
        Canaan ruled the area, but paid Tribute to Egypt & Hittite.
        Abraham, a Chaldern migrates to Canaan in 1700BC bringing
        Anthropo Monotheism to the Canaanites!!! It is here that the Hebrew
        & Arab Semites learn of Abraham in 1200BC!!! Abraham gets Judaised
        betw. 1200BC & 586BC! The 12 Tribes did not meet Abraham. El was his main Deity, but Jahweh( He creates) was one of his 70 children Deities! They Judasied both of them.
        The Sumerians start cuneiform 3000BC ( small clay bricks which they
        form their symbols!
        The Semites share the same afroasian language as the Egyptians, but don’t start writing until 1000BC having had help from the Phoenicians who develope the first alphabeth.
        Hebrew is written 1000BC & dies out in 200BC due to so little People wheareas, they take on Aramaic in Jerusalem. Rabbi Ezra returns to Jerusalem in 456BC with 5K followers.
        Israel remains a practical, convenient Phantom for the Zionists!
        Israel as ruler or empire or large territory ne’er happened. It was but a Kingdom on 7.3K Sq Km! Contiguous Falesteena was 308K Sq Km!
        The Tribes only resided in Falesteena ca. 600 yrs there in the last 2500yrs! This area was known as Peleset under the Egyptians. (Peleset,an ancient lake near Jerusalem)
        Israel : Isra, He fights El, God was named after Jacob, grandson of Abraham!? Jacob: He deceives! Later called Israel.
        ziusudra
        PS The Land of Israel was but 7.3K Sq Km! Today 21.0K Sq Km of contiguous Falesteena! Hail to the Conqueror, for now!

      • Obsidian
        June 23, 2013, 7:24 am

        @justice

        No. I don’t think I’m being deliberately obtuse.
        I feel that Mr. Hughes should have said, ‘What was today’s Israel and Palestine called before Roman times’?

        That’s not obtuse is it?

    • James Canning
      June 23, 2013, 7:40 pm

      Still are, Obsidian.

  3. MHughes976
    June 22, 2013, 12:09 pm

    The name ‘Palestine’ was widely used in pre-Roman times for Judaea, Samaria, Gaza and wider territories, yes.

    • Obsidian
      June 23, 2013, 12:10 am

      Were any parts of Judea and Samaria ever inhabited by Philistines?

      Didn’t the Peleset, who eventually became the Philistines, originate somewhere in Anatolia?

      • Ecru
        June 23, 2013, 8:32 am

        Obsidian you REALLY need a basic (kindergarten?) course in population dynamics. The Peleset did not replace the entire population – they replaced the rulers. Or do you think the Franks emptied France before they took over, the Vandals emptied Iberia, the Saxons Britain or the Arabs Egypt?

      • Obsidian
        June 23, 2013, 2:22 pm

        @Ecru

        So are you saying that Philistines ruled over Judea and Samaria? If that is what you are saying, did Philistines settle in Judea and Samaria?

        Fair questions?

      • James Canning
        June 23, 2013, 7:42 pm

        Cultural takeover. Language, customs, etc. Population base often not significantly changed. Depended on relative number of newcomers as opposed to existing population.

      • Ecru
        June 23, 2013, 10:45 pm

        @ Obsidian

        Well first off what do you mean by “ruled over?” Are you meaning over the entire geographic region as one, or part of, a larger polity or do you mean ruled within the area in smaller polities?

        They did apparently have a presence in Michmash and various other places within what is now the West Bank, and Philistine artefacts have been found throughout the region, though whether that’s trade or settlement I can’t say. However the question of “rule” just means “where they able to impose their authority” on what is now the West Bank and that, going by the number of battles fought there with the Israelites looks like a definite yes.

        Unfortunately the Palestinians aren’t able to prioritise archaeology at present since they’re under the thumb of Israeli Jews intent on displacing them, eradicating their history through Ahnenerbe “archaeology” and stealing their natural resources. So the question of how deeply Philistines penetrated to the East is a question without real answer at the moment.

      • Obsidian
        June 24, 2013, 3:00 am

        @”Cultural takeover.”

        So Judea and Samaria should contain Philistine material culture such as Philistine pottery, architecture, animal bones, etc.

        Could you please provide cites that show Philistine material culture was found in Judea and Samaria. I had thought that only Egyptian, Caananite and proto-Israelite material were found in Judea and Samaria

      • homingpigeon
        June 27, 2013, 6:33 am

        “Could you please provide cites that show Philistine material culture was found in Judea and Samaria. I had thought that only Egyptian, Caananite and proto-Israelite material were found in Judea and Samaria”

        Do your own research and provide us with cites showing it as being completely absent. Meanwhile I am more concerned with the provenance of domesticated jackass bones.

      • Shingo
        June 23, 2013, 9:49 am

        Were any parts of Judea and Samaria ever inhabited by Philistines?

        Yes,

        A century after Herodotus, Aristotle affirms the commonality of the term “Palestine” when, in his Meteorology, he describes the Dead Sea as “a lake in Palestine, such that if you bind a man or beast and throw it in it floats and does not sink.” (II.3) In the mid-2nd Century BCE, ancient geographer Polemon wrote of a “part of Syria called Palestine,” while Greek travel writer Pausanias wrote in his Description of Greece of “the dates of Palestine.” (9.19.8)

      • Obsidian
        June 23, 2013, 10:32 am

        @Shingo

        I’m not sure you’ve answered my question.

      • Ecru
        June 23, 2013, 11:56 pm

        @ Obsidian

        Only because you don’t want to accept an answer in the positive.

      • Obsidian
        June 25, 2013, 12:30 am

        @Ecru

        So lets try to answer my question, which was; “So Judea and Samaria should contain Philistine material culture such as Philistine pottery, architecture, animal bones, etc.

        Could you please provide cites that show Philistine material culture was found in Judea and Samaria. I had thought that only Egyptian, Caananite and proto-Israelite material were found in Judea and Samaria”

      • Shingo
        June 25, 2013, 3:45 am

        Could you please provide cites that show Philistine material culture was found in Judea and Samaria.

        You mean apart from the 500 villages and towns Israel destroyed in 1947-1949?

        I had thought that only Egyptian, Caananite and proto-Israelite material were found in Judea and Samaria

        What proto-Israelite material was found in the West Bank? A few dubious pieces of broken and pottery?

      • MHughes976
        June 25, 2013, 7:32 am

        There is room for debate about the material culture of ancient Palestine. I’ve been reading Jonathan Golden’s ‘Ancient Canaan and Israel’ (2004) for the earlier and Jodi Magness’ ‘Archaeology of the Holy Land’ (2012) for the later ancient periods. Both authors do indeed consider that there were significant differences of material culture between coast and interior but they are, to my mind, matters of degree and it is uncertain whether we should say ‘national differences’ or ‘regional variations’ in this context. I would only reaffirm that whatever these differences were in Herodotus’ time and afterwards they did not lead to the replacement of ‘Palestine’ by any other name for the area as a whole – and no other name with that force is attested. Shingo is right to mention Aristotle – and I think A uses ‘Palestine’, now without the ‘Syr0-‘ prefix, as if everyone would know what he meant.
        As I’ve said before, we should go one step at a time. Names tell us something but not everything. And just to add that I’m sure Zionists and non-Zionists can all contribute to the discussion. Lucky for me, since I depend heavily on the researches of Zionist scholars.
        Another point about ancient Jerusalem comes from Israel Finkelstein’s article on ‘Persian Period Jerusalem and Yehud’ (Journal of Hebrew Scriptures Vol.9 art.24). F argues (controversially of course) that Jerusalem of this period was ‘a small settlement…with a population of no more than a few hundred people’. He does not rule out the suggestion that at this time Jerusalem was slowly reviving as a religious centre but if the city was at the time of very little importance in secular terms we should not, in my view, expect it to have had a political dispensation very different from that of the area (the area then known as ‘Palestine’) in general.

  4. jon s
    June 22, 2013, 12:52 pm

    There is a distiction to be made between “Palestine” as a geographic location , referred to -for example- by Herodotus as cited above, and “Palestinian” as an ethnic or national identity, which came much later.

    • Pamela Olson
      June 22, 2013, 1:43 pm

      Well, it’s true in that modern Palestinian identity is in many senses different than it was 500 or 1000 years ago. French identity is likewise not the same as it was under Charlemagne. What are you trying to imply with this truism?

      It also bears noting, obviously, that the ancient Israelite identity is something verrrry different from current Israeli identity, dominated as it is by relative newcomers of mostly European abstraction.

      • seafoid
        June 22, 2013, 3:03 pm

        The usual zionist argument is that since they did not call themselves palestinian they never existed. And there ia no trace of many of their villages thus the land was empty.

      • Ecru
        June 23, 2013, 8:52 am

        …there is no trace of many of their villages thus the land was empy.

        I had a friend who went to Israel to excavate during their undergrad degree and their experience may shed some light on why that is. Jewish “archaeologists” routinely destroyed any context they saw as “non-Jewish” and hence “unimportant.” Added to which – how much funding I wonder goes to any Israeli “dig” that doesn’t glorify a Jewish past?

      • American
        June 23, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Science marches on…..destroying myths left and right.
        And one of the biggest fights going on is evidence that says the bible tales were mostly just myth and ‘embellished folk tales in a time of primitive cultures.

        link to ngm.nationalgeographic.com

        (Here what the Jewish archaeologist and funders of archeology say of the agenda ….)

        “Our claim to being one of the senior nations in the world, to being a real player in civilization’s realm of ideas, is that we wrote this book of books, the Bible,” says Daniel Polisar, president of the Shalem Center, the Israeli research institute that helped fund Eilat Mazar excavation work. “You take David and his kingdom out of the book, and you have a different book. The narrative is no longer a historical work, but a work of fiction. And then the rest of the Bible is just a propagandistic effort to create something that never was. And if you can’t find the evidence for it, then it probably didn’t happen. That’s why the stakes are so high.”

        ‘I’ve found one olive pit at a stratum in Megiddo, and this olive pit—which goes against hundreds of carbon-14 determinations—is going to decide the fate of Western civilization.’ ” He snickers. The lack of pig bones, suggesting it is a Judaean site? “A gun, but not a smoking gun.” The rare inscription found at the site? Probably from Philistine Gath rather than the kingdom of Judah.

        link to salon.com

        Wednesday, Feb 7, 2001 02:46 PM EST
        King David was a nebbish
        And Exodus never happened and the walls of Jericho did not come a-tumbling down. How archaeologists are shaking Israel to its biblical foundations.
        By Laura Miller

        ”Arguing among themselves about the meanings of objects like pottery shards, animal bones and the foundations of long-ruined buildings is something archaeologists usually do in the privacy of their own profession. But when the argument is about who wrote the Bible, why it was written and what, if any, of the historical events described in the Old Testament are true — and when the archaeologist’s excavations are conducted on some of the most contested land in the world, the Middle East — the tempest is almost guaranteed to boil over the rim of the teapot. No one knows this better than Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, who, with archaeology historian and journalist Neil Asher Silberman, has just published a book called “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text.”

        “The Bible Unearthed” is the latest salvo fired in a pitched battle between those who consider the Old Testament to contain plenty of reliable historical facts, and those who, at the opposite extreme, say it’s pure mythology. The debate reached the general population of Israel, sending what one journalist called a “shiver” down the nation’s “collective spine,” in late 1999, when another archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, Ze’ev Herzog, wrote a cover story for the weekend magazine of the national daily newspaper, Haaretz. In the essay, Herzog laid out many of the theories Finkelstein and Silberman present in their book: “the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom.” The new theories envision this modest chiefdom as based in a Jerusalem that was essentially a cow town, not the glorious capital of an empire.”

        You’re not going to hear much about this unless you specifically follow the archaeological world..but it’s a raging battle for those who want to prove the bible is a factual historical account.

      • Obsidian
        June 23, 2013, 2:31 pm

        @Ecru

        “Jewish “archaeologists” routinely destroyed any context they saw as “non-Jewish” and hence “unimportant.”

        Lie.
        One cite, please.

      • Castellio
        June 23, 2013, 4:55 pm

        A book dealing specifically with this was published by Routledge way back in 1996, written by K. W. Whitelam, The Invention of Ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history.

      • homingpigeon
        June 24, 2013, 2:29 am

        At some point we have to ask you to do your own research though I suspect you are well aware of the truth of the matter. It is a cunning hasbara technique to distract the conversation from core issues with a quick five word factoid and then challenge people to come up with long documentations which are then nit picked and dismissed one way or the other anyway. The meme about “Palestine being only a name imposed by the Romans” which hasbarists blast out in commentaries is a case in point. It is incorrect but irrelevant either way. Yet someone like Martin Hughs goes to great lengths to write in detail about the origins of the name and its evolution in ancient history. In response the hasbarists throw out a bunch more irrelevant distractions which are as insincere as the original quibble about “Palestine” being an artificial Roman imposition. Meanwhile the discussion is again diverted from the basic fact that a group of foreign immigrants came to a land, claimed it as their own, and uprooted the majority of the indigenous inhabitants. We assist the hasbarists in avoiding this core topic by getting sucked into arcane debates about whether or not the 48 armistice line is an international frontier, whether Hawking’s computer chip came from Seattle or Israel, whether the Balfour declaration included Trans-Jordan, and whether or not the Israelis are more tolerant of gays than the Arab world. I say the Palestinians domesticated the donkey first. Work on that one hasbara world.

      • Shmuel
        June 24, 2013, 2:47 am

        the basic fact that a group of foreign immigrants came to a land, claimed it as their own, and uprooted the majority of the indigenous inhabitants

        This is the only thing that really matters (although I do appreciate Martin’s scholarship), and no amount of talk about ancient kingdoms and exile and prayer and longing and messianic hope and “continuous presence” (of a few Jews in Peqi’in or Tiberias) will ever change that.

        I say the Palestinians domesticated the donkey first. Work on that one hasbara world.

        I think you mean invented the donkey ;-)

      • Obsidian
        June 24, 2013, 3:22 am

        Thanks for the cite. Unfortunately, Whitelam does not document his charges. See William Dever @ page 35.

        link to books.google.co.il

      • Shingo
        June 24, 2013, 3:51 am

        Unfortunately, Whitelam does not document his charges

        Unfortunately, you are relying entirely on the say so of William Dever. What’s more, Dever makes the absurd claim that all Israeli archaeologists are secular, which is hilarious.

      • Ecru
        June 24, 2013, 5:10 am

        @ Obsidian

        Well I gave the example of a friend who actually made the mistake of working one summer with the Jewish ahnenerbe but since that’s not enough (and be truthful for an moment here Obsidian – NOTHING would be enough proof for you) how about a whole book (another one)

        “Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society” by Nadia Abu El-Haj

        Now will you find critical reviews? Yes of course you will, archaeologists and historians are amongst the most argumentative people on the planet. But you’ll also find (and ignore) very positive reviews from very well respected scholars.

        Then of course there’s the ongoing destruction at Silwan. A living example of Ahnenerbe archaeology you can go see. And on your past comments – no doubt donate to.

      • James Canning
        June 25, 2013, 7:22 pm

        Incoming Jews created a country for themselves, carved from an existing country (Palestine) that was not in control of its own police, army etc.

    • American
      June 22, 2013, 3:49 pm

      ‘jon s says:
      June 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      There is a distinction to be made between “Palestine” as a geographic location , referred to -for example- by Herodotus as cited above, and “Palestinian” as an ethnic or national identity, which came much later.”

      LOL…you will never escape the fact that “Arabs” and Arab lands existed long before Jews made a stab at establishing themselves as some sort of tribal nation in Israel. You were only a grain of sand in the ME and world history of Arabs….which is what the ancient Jews were —-a small group of Arabs who invented a new religion for themselves and became one of the many different tribes of Arabia.
      It is amazing how many think the ancient ME was all about the Jews, just like you think that WWII was all about the Jews.
      This kind of narcissism makes people very, very ignorant of real history and it’s lessons…leads them to overestimate their importance in and to the world.

      • seafoid
        June 24, 2013, 5:12 pm

        I think Zionism lays to rest any notion that Jews are different to other people or chosen or whatever you are having yourself. They really f$cked it up. It doesn’t matter how many Oscars individual Hebrews won in the meantime.

    • Ecru
      June 23, 2013, 8:23 am

      Out of curiosity do you also draw that same distinction between the name Britain as a geographic location and “British” as referring to a collective identity which came much later? Or Ireland and Irish?

      Didn’t think so.

      • jon s
        June 23, 2013, 2:28 pm

        Ecru, sure, why not?. When the Romans conquered “Brittania” was there a fully developed “British” identity? I doubt it. Actually that’s another good example of my point.

    • American
      June 23, 2013, 2:58 pm

      @ jon

      Will tell you one more time……Jews had no ethnic identity seperate from Arabs, they had a ‘religious tribe’ identity AFTER Judaism came to be. And the following time line of Arabia in Thompson’s book below is the factual historical account acknowledged by all historians world wide. None of these dates or events or groups are disputed by anyone…..except of course by the Zio myth makers.

      # Jerusalem was not founded by Jews, i.e. adherents of the Jewish religion. It was founded between 3000 BCE and 2600 BCE by a West Semitic people or possibly the Canaanites, the common ancestors of Palestinians, Lebanese, many Syrians and Jordanians, and many Jews. But when it was founded Jews did not exist.

      # Jerusalem was founded in honor of the ancient god Shalem. It does not mean City of Peace but rather ‘built-up place of Shalem.”

      # The “Jewish people” were not building Jerusalem 3000 years ago, i.e. 1000 BCE. First of all, it is not clear when exactly Judaism as a religion centered on the worship of the one God took firm form. It appears to have been a late development since no evidence of worship of anything but ordinary Canaanite deities has been found in archeological sites through 1000 BCE. There was no invasion of geographical Palestine from Egypt by former slaves in the 1200s BCE. The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor. The chronicle of the events of the reign of Ramses II on the wall in Luxor does not know about any major slave revolts or flights by same into the Sinai peninsula. Egyptian sources never heard of Moses or the 10 plagues & etc. Jews and Judaism emerged from a certain social class of Canaanites over a period of centuries inside Palestine.

      # Jerusalem not only was not being built by the likely then non-existent “Jewish people” in 1000 BCE, but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history. Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon. So Jerusalem was not ‘the city of David,’ since there was no city when he is said to have lived. No sign of magnificent palaces or great states has been found in the archeology of this period, and the Assyrian tablets, which recorded even minor events throughout the Middle East, such as the actions of Arab queens, don’t know about any great kingdom of David and Solomon in geographical Palestine.

      # Since archeology does not show the existence of a Jewish kingdom or kingdoms in the so-called First Temple Period, it is not clear when exactly the Jewish people would have ruled Jerusalem except for the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Assyrians conquered Jerusalem in 722. The Babylonians took it in 597 and ruled it until they were themselves conquered in 539 BCE by the Achaemenids of ancient Iran, who ruled Jerusalem until Alexander the Great took the Levant in the 330s BCE. Alexander’s descendants, the Ptolemies ruled Jerusalem until 198 when Alexander’s other descendants, the Seleucids, took the city. With the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE, the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom did rule Jerusalem until 37 BCE, though Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean, only took over Jerusalem with the help of the Parthian dynasty in 40 BCE. Herod ruled 37 BCE until the Romans conquered what they called Palestine in 6 CE (CE= ‘Common Era’ or what Christians call AD). The Romans and then the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium ruled Jerusalem from 6 CE until 614 CE when the Iranian Sasanian Empire Conquered it, ruling until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back.

      #The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city. The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return, and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether for about 1192 years.

      #Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so, i.e., the kingdom of the Hasmoneans.

      # Therefore if historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

      A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

      B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.

      C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

      D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

      E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

      F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

      G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin’s dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.

      Source, Thomas Thompson History of Arabia
      link to amazon.ca

      And more……

      link to worldagesarchive.com

      Harper’s Magazine

      ”Not long ago, archaeologists could agree that the Old Testament, for all its embellishments and contradictions, contained a kernel of truth. Obviously, Moses had not parted the Red Sea or turned his staff into a snake, but it seemed clear that the Israelites had started out as a nomadic band somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Mesopotamia; that they had migrated first to Palestine and then to Egypt; and that, following some sort of conflict with the authorities, they had fled into the desert under the leadership of a mysterious figure who was either a lapsed Jew or, as Freud maintained, a high-born priest of the royal sun god Aton whose cult had been overthrown in a palace coup. Although much was unknown, archaeologists were confident that they had succeeded in nailing down at least these few basic facts.

      That is no longer the case. In the last quarter century or so, archaeologists have seen one settled assumption after another concerning who the ancient Israelites were and where they came from proved false. Rather than a band of invaders who fought their way into the Holy Land, the Israelites are now thought to have been an ‘indigenous culture that developed west of the Jordan River around 1200 B.C. Abraham, Isaac, and the other patriarchs appear to have been spliced together out of various pieces of local lore.

      The Davidic Empire, which archaeologists once thought as incontrovertible as the Roman, is now seen as an invention of Jerusalem-based priests in the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. who were eager to burnish their national history. The religion we call Judaism does not reach well back into the second millennium B.C. but appears to be, at most, a product of the mid-first.

      This is not to say that individual elements of the story are not older. But Jewish monotheism, the sole and exclusive worship of an ancient Semitic god known as Yahweh, did not fully coalesce until the period between the Assyrian conquest of the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and the Babylonian conquest of the southern kingdom of Judah in 586.

      Some twelve to fourteen centuries of “Abrahamic” religious development, the cultural wellspring that has given us not only Judaism but Islam and Christianity, have thus been erased. Judaism appears to have been the product not of some dark and nebulous period of early history but of a more modern age of big-power politics in which every nation aspired to the imperial greatness of a Babylon or an Egypt. Judah, the sole remaining Jewish outpost by the late eighth century B.C., was a small, out-of-the-way kingdom with little in the way of military or financial clout. Yet at some point its priests and rulers seem to have been seized with the idea that their national deity, now deemed to be nothing less than the king of the universe, was about to transform them into a great power. They set about creating an imperial past commensurate with such an empire, one that had the southern heroes of David and Solomon conquering the northern kingdom and making rival kings tremble throughout the known world. From a “henotheistic” cult in which Yahweh was worshiped as the chief god among many, they refashioned the national religion so that henceforth Yahweh would be worshiped to the exclusion of all other deities. One law, that of Yahweh, would now reign supreme.

      This is not, of course, the story that we have all been led to believe is, at least to some degree, history.

      A growing volume of evidence concerning Egyptian border defenses, desert sites where the fleeing Israelites supposedly camped, etc., indicates that the flight from Egypt did not occur in the thirteenth century before Christ; it never occurred at all.

      Indeed, the chief disagreement among scholars nowadays is between those who hold that David was a petty hilltop chieftain whose writ extended no more than a few miles in any direction and a small but vociferous band of “biblical minimalists” who maintain that he never existed at all.

      In classic Copernican fashion, a new generation of archaeologists has taken everything its teachers said about ancient Israel and stood it on its head. Two myths are being dismantled as a consequence: one concerning the origins of ancient Israel and the other concerning the relationship between the Bible and science. Back in the days when archaeology was buttressing the old biblical tales, the relationship between science and religion had warmed considerably; now the old chill has crept back in. The comfy ecumenicism that allowed one to believe in, say, modern physics and Abraham, Isaac, et al. is disappearing, replaced by a somewhat sharper dividing line between science and faith.

      Their universalism, for the most part they seem to have fallen woefully short. To quote Julius Wellhausen on the Jewish scriptures: “Monotheism is worked out to its furthest consequences, and at the same time is enlisted in the service of the narrowest selfishness.”

      A single, all-powerful god required a single set of sacred texts, and the process of composition and codification that led to what we now know as the Bible began under King Josiah and continued well into the Christian era. “Canonization” of this sort concentrated rather than dispelled questions of nationalism and universalism. A framework for faith, the Bible was equally a machine for generating heresy and doubt, and out of this debate eventually arose Christianity, Islam, Protestantism, and a great deal else besides.

      The new universalism had enormous energy, encompassing as it did the entire cosmos and enlisting the entire population, but the new democratic spirit ran aground over the issue of universalism versus narrow nationalism. What, after all, was the point of mobilizing such a broad population in this manner? So that they could slaughter their neighbors all the more thoroughly? How could Moses prohibit murder and then, in Numbers 31, fly into a rage because a returning Israelite war party has slaughtered only the adult male Midianites? (“Now kill all the boys,” he tells them when he calms down. “And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”) Was murder a crime only when it involved members of the in-group? Or was it a crime when it involved human beings in general, regardless of nationality? Did an emerging concept of a more equitable social order apply only to Israel or to other nations as well?

      In one form or another, these questions have been with us ever since.’

      COPYRIGHT Harper’s Magazine Foundation

      • Taxi
        June 25, 2013, 3:21 am

        Fan-effing-tastic post, American!

      • YoungMassJew
        June 25, 2013, 11:37 am

        @ American

        Exactly. Those super pale skinned Jews (i.e. yeshiva scholars) weren’t building those pyramids in ancient Egypt. Not to sound too environmental determinist, but it’s quite unlikely Israelites (say from the northern kingdom of Israel with a more moderating Mediterranean climate,i.e. temperatures not getting into the 90s F regularly like in Nahariya) could have performed well in the Egyptian desert heat without getting burnt badly. Just a thought.

      • miriam6
        June 25, 2013, 1:10 pm

        american

        #The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city. The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return, and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether for about 1192 years.

        *****************************************************

        What you ought to have added to your section on Muslim rule over Jerusalem is that in the aftermath and beginning of the conquering of Jerusalem is that Jews were able to PRAY on the Temple Mount by the rule of the Muslims for a period of some 80 years.

        UNFORTUNATELY , then the Muslims banned them from access to the Temple Mount i.e. from access to Judaism’s HOLIEST site and also from praying close to the Temple Mount itself and then they took the site purely for themselves and their Islamic religion.

        That ban on Jewish prayer and access to Judaism’s holiest site lasted for 900 years.

        In omitting this element of Muslim rule over Jerusalem you are presenting a rather too rosy vision of Muslim rule as it dealt with the Jews.

      • Shingo
        June 26, 2013, 2:14 am

        What you ought to have added to your section on Muslim rule over Jerusalem is that in the aftermath and beginning of the conquering of Jerusalem is that Jews were able to PRAY on the Temple Mount by the rule of the Muslims for a period of some 80 years.

        Actually that would have been a waste of time seeing as it’s completely false.

        That ban on Jewish prayer and access to Judaism’s holiest site lasted for 900 years.

        Also false. Not only did Saladin actually issued a decree not to destroy any churches or Syangogues, but he allowed mized marriages.

        Tell your hasbara handlers to try some new material.

      • Hostage
        June 26, 2013, 6:41 am

        What you ought to have added to your section on Muslim rule over Jerusalem is that in the aftermath and beginning of the conquering of Jerusalem is that Jews were able to PRAY on the Temple Mount by the rule of the Muslims for a period of some 80 years.

        So what? A proclamation was publicized in the late 1960’s, signed by many major Rabbis from all the streams of Orthodoxy, saying that it is forbidden to enter the entire area of the Temple Mount. link to templemountcenter.com

      • Yitzgood
        June 26, 2013, 7:17 am

        So what? A proclamation was publicized in the late 1960′s, signed by many major Rabbis from all the streams of Orthodoxy, saying that it is forbidden to enter the entire area of the Temple Mount.

        Because the place retains the same holiness it had when the Temple was standing and therefore someone who is tamei–ritually impure–is forbidden to enter there. If the point was about the fairness or unfairness to Jews of Muslim rule, this is irrelevant.

      • miriam6
        June 26, 2013, 8:34 pm

        Hostage

        Rather than address the point and the historical period referred to in my comment, you employ mis-direction, choosing to talk about a period of history in the 1960’s I actually made NO reference to at all.

        My comment concerned relations between the Jews and the Muslims in Jerusalem early on in Islamic history , not many centuries later in the 20th century.

        Also it is very unfortunate that others on this site either choose to meet historical facts pertaining to JEWISH history with such condescension as to dismiss it out of hand with a “so what”, while other commenters who find the historical facts inconvenient , simply choose to ignore evidence to the contrary and rubbish Jewish history which happens to be TRUE.

        True recorded historical fact is just true.

        My comment was historically correct.

        From :

        Jerusalem- The Biography.

        by historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore ( gosh what an extravagant name!)

        from part four; ch. 17;

        The Arab Conquest 630-60

        Omar The Just: Temple Regained.

        ‘The Muslim conquerors were initially happy to share shrines with the Christians.

        Contrary to the Omar legend , it seems that the early Muslims first prayed in or beside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before arrangements could be made on the Temple Mount.

        The Jews at first too welcomed the Arabs after centuries of Byzantine repression . Omar’s interest in the Temple Mount understandably excited Jewish hopes, because the Commander of the Believers not only invited the Jews to maintain the Temple Mount but also allowed them to PRAY there with the Muslims.

        A well- informed Armenian bishop , Sebeos, who wrote thirty years later, claims ‘ the Jews planned to build the Temple of Solomon and, locating the Holy of Holies , they built (the Temple) without a pedestal’- and adds that Omar’s first governor of Jerusalem was Jewish. Omar certainly invited the leader of Tiberius’ Jewish community , the Gaon, and seventy Jewish families to return to Jerusalem where they settled in the area south of the Temple Mount.’

        from Jerusalem; A Biography;

        see Ch.18;

        The Umayyads: The temple Restored;

        ‘Jews ,many of them from Iran and Iraq, settled in the Holy City,living together south of the Temple Mount, retaining the privilege of praying on (and maintaining) the Temple Mount.

        But in about 720, after almost a CENTURY of FREEDOM to pray there , the new Caliph Omar 11, who was , unusually in this decadent dynasty , an ascetic stickler for Islamic orthodoxy,

        BANNED JEWISH WORSHIP – and this PROHIBITION WOULD STAND FOR THE REST OF ISLAMIC RULE.

        Instead, the Jews started to pray around the four walls of the Temple Mount and in a subterranean synagogue called Ha-Meara- the Cave-at Warren’s Gate, almost beneath the Temple Mount near the Holy of Holies.’

        This next bit deals with Muslim myth-making about the earliest era of Islamic rule over Jerusalem:

        ‘The stories of Omar in Jerusalem date from over a century later when Islam had formalized it’s rituals in ways that were very distinct from those of Christianity and Judaism.’

        Nevertheless, says Montefiore ,’ in those early decades the relaxed arrangements in Jerusalem and elsewhere suggest there may have been a surprising amount of sharing amongst the Peoples of the Book.’

        Below is one of those early stories as recounted.

        It is about Muslim myth -making a century later about the early days of Islamic rule immediately after the Islamic Arab conquest ;

        ‘ Sophronious, say the traditional Muslim sources, dating from much later when Sophronious escorted the Saracen Commander Omar to the Holy Sepulchre ,hoping his visitor would admire or even embrace the perfect sanctity of Christianity ‘ says author Montefiore.

        ‘Omar knew that Muhammad had revered David and Solomon.
        ‘Take me to the sanctuary of David, ‘ he ordered Sophronious. He and his warriors entered the Temple Mount, probably through the Prophets’ Gate in the south, and found it contaminated by a ‘ dung heap which the Christians had put there to offend the Jews.’

        Omar asked to be shown the Holy of Holies.

        A Jewish convert, Kaab al- Akbar, known as the Rabbi, replied that, if the Commander preserved ‘the wall'(perhaps referring to the last Herodian remains, including the Western Wall), ‘ I will reveal to him where are the ruins of the Temple.’
        Kaab showed Omar the foundation- stone of the Temple , the rock which the Arabs called the Sakhra.

        Aided by his troops, Omar began to clear the debris to create somewhere to pray. Kaab suggested he place this north of the foundation stone’ so you will make two quiblas, that of Moses and that of Muhammad.’
        ‘You still lean towards the Jews,’ Omar told Kaab, placing his first prayer house south of the rock, roughly where the al- Aqsa Mosque stands today, so that it clearly faced Mecca. Omar had followed Muhammad’s wish to reach past Christianity to restore and co-opt this place of ancient holiness , to make the Muslims the legitimate heirs of Jewish sanctity and outflank the Christians.’

        Simon Sebag Montefiore.Author of Jerusalem: A Biography.

        published by

        http://www.orionbooks.co.uk.

      • Hostage
        June 27, 2013, 6:12 am

        Because the place retains the same holiness it had when the Temple was standing and therefore someone who is tamei–ritually impure–is forbidden to enter there. If the point was about the fairness or unfairness to Jews of Muslim rule, this is irrelevant.

        Yeah and all of you were considered tamei. If you are trying to pretend that Muslims kept Jews from praying at the Western wall, for hundreds of years, it’s a lie. You are also trying to pretend that your own religious leaders would have considered you worthy of entering Judaism’s most holy site if they had been in charge. That’s not the case either.

      • Hostage
        June 27, 2013, 8:44 am

        Rather than address the point and the historical period referred to in my comment, you employ mis-direction, choosing to talk about a period of history in the 1960′s I actually made NO reference to at all.

        You’re disingenuously suggesting that the halakhah was different back then. But it wasn’t.

      • Shingo
        June 27, 2013, 8:45 am

        Also it is very unfortunate that others on this site either choose to meet historical facts pertaining to JEWISH history

        Yawn. t’s an established fact there was not a single Jewish historical text written between 1st ce (Josephus Flavius) & early 19th ce (Isaak Markus Jost). For almost 2000yrs Jews were not interested in their own or anyone else’s past, at least not enough to chronicle it. As a matter of convenience, an adequate scrutiny of past was never a primary concern within Rabbinical tradition. As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand puts it,“a secular chronological time was foreign to the ‘Diaspora time’ that was shaped by coming of Messiah”

        Prof Shlomo Sand’s explanation of the birth of the MYTH of Jews as a group with a common, ethnic origin has been summarized as follows: “at a certain stage in the 19th century intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of INVENTING A PEOPLE RETROSPECTIVELY. Jewish historians began to draw the history of Judaism as a history of a “nation” that became a wandering people that went back to its “birthplace”.

        In his recent book “The Invention of the Jewish People, Countering official Zionist historiography”, Sand questions whether Jewish People ever existed as a national group with a common origin in Land of Israel/Palestine. He concludes that Jews should be seen as a religious community comprising a mishmash of individuals & groups that had converted to the ancient monotheistic religion but do not have any historical right to establish an independent Jewish state in the Holy Land. In short, the Jewish People, according to Sand, are not really a “people” in the sense of having a common ethnic origin and national heritage. They certainly do not have a political claim over the territory that today constitutes Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.”

      • Yitzgood
        June 27, 2013, 10:16 am

        If you are trying to pretend that Muslims kept Jews from praying at the Western wall, for hundreds of years, it’s a lie.

        Whether it is or not, the issue of Har Habayis and tuma is irrelevant. That was my point.

      • James Canning
        June 25, 2013, 7:09 pm

        Great post. One might underline the fact the Sassanian (Persian) empire and the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) empire exhausted themselves in decades of war, clearing the way for Arab conquest of the Levant and Persia. Arabs nearly took Constantinople too.

    • Hostage
      June 25, 2013, 8:35 am

      There is a distiction to be made between “Palestine” as a geographic location , referred to -for example- by Herodotus as cited above, and “Palestinian” as an ethnic or national identity, which came much later.

      You can’t seriously suggest that the original authors or latter-day translators of the Septuagint had any such separate development in mind. They have a Philistine [a.k.a Filsatin] nation in place before the Exodus and fully capable of waging war on Moses and the children of Israel. That means they were already living in “the Land of the Philistines” before Israel itself came into existence as a nation inhabiting a portion of the region:

      It came to pass when Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines for it was near, because God said, Lest the people reconsider when they see war and return to Egypt

      — See Exodus 13:17

      The Philistines were not included among the seven nations that God intended to drive out of the land. In fact the prophets point out that God had intentionally brought them there, just like the children of Israel:

      Are you not like the children of the Cushites to Me, O children of Israel? says the Lord. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and Aram from Kir?

      — Amos 9:7

      That’s your own foundational mythology. If Israel had already become “a great and mighty nation” in Egypt, then what kept the Philistines from being one before they left Caphtor? I’m just curious how this works. Your own mythology introduces them as a nation composed of five city-states straddling the trade route on key points of the coast and the coastal plain.

      • Obsidian
        June 25, 2013, 11:19 am

        But hadn’t the Philistines been already wiped out by the Assyrians well before the time of Herodotus and Aristotle?

        link to oracc.museum.upenn.edu

      • Shingo
        June 26, 2013, 2:16 am

        But hadn’t the Philistines been already wiped out by the Assyrians well before the time of Herodotus and Aristotle?

        Short answer: NO.

      • MHughes976
        June 26, 2013, 6:56 am

        No indeed: Jonathan Golden (Ancient Canaan and Israel, p.171) even thinks that the Assyrians expanded the local power of the Philistine cities at the expense of Judah. The Babylonian Chronicle does say that in December 604 Nebuchadnezzar, newly in power, received tribute from everywhere in the western lands except Ashkelon, which he devastated – and Golden considers that Ekron met a similar fate. But this would not have amounted to genocide. It’s interesting that Zechariah 9, which is famous for celebrating a royal visit to Jerusalem and is presumably written rather later, in the Persian period and not far from Herodotus’ time, refers to Philistines/Palestinians and envisages their assimilation into the Jewish world. Not that this led to the general application of a name other than Palestine to the whole Holy Land. Not that names tell us everything.

      • Obsidian
        June 26, 2013, 6:59 am

        What’s the long answer?

      • James Canning
        June 26, 2013, 2:28 pm

        Defeat of a city or city-state often only meant that city would be obliged to pay taxes to the empire that demonstrated its control.

        Greek cities in western Anatolia paid tribute to Persia and supplied troops, ships, sailors for Persian effort to take control of Attic Greece.

      • Hostage
        June 27, 2013, 6:14 am

        What’s the long answer?

        See link to mondoweiss.net

  5. MHughes976
    June 22, 2013, 3:24 pm

    Thanks, Pamela – I guess that many of Charlemagne’s subjects considered that they were Romans rather than French.
    I accept from Jon S that interesting questions arise over the ‘national identity’ of the Palestinians of old. The exchange between Herodotus and Josephus is interesting. Herodotus does seem to think (does say) that there is a Palestinian nation, marked by the (to him) Eygptian custom of circumcision without being Egyptian, distinct from the other two nations that inhabit the land between the waters. Were these the same as the People of the Land who attract little esteem from the Returning Exiles?
    The Seleucid Kingdom, taking over the Jerusalem area from the Ptolemies around 200 BGE, tried to get the term ‘Coele-Syria’ accepted. Despite sounding like Greek, ‘Hollow Syria’, this name is generally thought to reflect Aramaic ‘Kul’, ie ‘All Syria’, so that the Sels were trying to persuade people that ‘Syrians’ of all kinds were one nation with one popular monarch. They didn’t have much success in this, which suggests that there was a long-standing sense that the Syro-Palestinians were a nation with their own traditions and way of life, though it is evident that by no means all of them were Jewish in the sense of centring their entire religious life on the Jerusalem Temple or in accepting the idea that there can be no image of God. But yes, I accept that the sense of nationhood in ancient Palestine deserves more research. It isn’t that easy to accept Josephus’ comment that the people mentioned by Herodotus were simply Jewish.

    • jon s
      June 23, 2013, 10:43 am

      Mr. Hughes’ reference to the “exchange” between Herodotus and Josephus should not be taken literally: they lived hundreds of years apart. Josephus is obviously a better source for matters relating to Jews, being one himself.

    • James Canning
      June 23, 2013, 7:45 pm

      I doubt any of them thought of themselves as “French”. During the Crusades, the term “Franks” often was applied to European warriors from what is now France, the Low Countries, Germany, even Italy.

  6. Abdul-Rahman
    June 22, 2013, 5:28 pm

    This basic link is also useful here: link to en.wikipedia.org

    Also if one is reading about this topic, some other points that should be made regarding the history.

    link to books.google.com

    ‘Palestinians are an indigenous people who either live in, or originate from, historical Palestine. .Although the Muslims guaranteed security and allowed religious freedom to all inhabitants of the region, the majority converted to Islam and adopted Arab culture.’ Bassam Abu-Libdeh, Peter D. Turnpenny, and Ahmed Teebi, ‘Genetic Disease in Palestine and Palestinians,’ in Dhavendra Kumar (ed.) Genomics and Health in the Developing World, OUP 2012 pp.700-711, p.700.

    OUP stands for Oxford University Press there.

    And recently of course the work of Johns Hopkins University geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik link to eelhaik.aravindachakravartilab.org

    link to gbe.oxfordjournals.org “The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses”

    link to gbe.oxfordjournals.org Highlight: Out of Khazaria—Evidence for “Jewish Genome” Lacking by Danielle Venton

    link to google.com Gene study settles debate over origin of European Jews (AFP) January 16, 2013

    link to salem-news.com (a copy of the December 28, 2012 Haaretz article “The Jewish People’s Ultimate Treasure Hunt” by Ofer Aderet)

    From this Haaretz interview with Dr. Eran Elhaik

    The geneticist goes on to explain that, among the various groups of European and non-European Jews, there are no blood or family connections: “The various groups of Jews in the world today do not share a common genetic origin. We are talking here about groups that are very heterogeneous and which are connected solely by religion.”

    The bottom line, he claims, is that the “genome of European Jews is a mosaic of ancient peoples and its origin is largely Khazar.”

    “The majority of Jews do not have the Middle Eastern genetic component in the quantity we would expect to find if they were descendants of the Jews of antiquity.

    “Ironically,” observes Elhaik, “some of the Khazars were of Iranian origin. I think it is safe to assume that the Iranians have made a not-inconsiderable contribution to the Jewish mosaic.”

    • ziusudra
      June 23, 2013, 5:19 am

      Mahaba Abdul-Rahman,
      Kudos, bravo.
      Masalam, Habibi
      ziusudra

      • Abdul-Rahman
        June 23, 2013, 9:38 pm

        Thank you! Salaamu alaikum.

    • James Canning
      June 23, 2013, 7:47 pm

      Khazar empire was multi-ethnic. As was the case with virtually all empires in the Middle East/Black Sea area. Perhaps Turkic element was the greatest?

  7. talknic
    June 22, 2013, 11:16 pm

    Historically interesting

    However, like the Jewish people’s ‘historic home land’, it is completely irrelevant to the modern state of Israel’s internationally recognized sovereign extent as of 00:01 15th May 1948(me time) “MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to notify you that the state of Israel has been proclaimed as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ link to wp.me

    “independent” Neither in or a part of Palestine or any other place or entity

  8. jon s
    June 23, 2013, 1:43 am

    1. At the outset, one thing should be clear: some nations and ethnic groups have been around longer than others. That fact, however, has no bearing on the present-day conflict. In my view all people should enjoy equal rights and whether a certain national identity appeared 3000 years ago or last Tuesday is irrelevant. 2. The Philistines , from whom the name Palestine is derived , may be identified with the invading “Sea Peoples” who appear in Egyptian sources. The root peh-lamed-shin (as in Philistine) denotes “invader”. A discussion of this issue can be found here: Robert Drews: The End of the Bronze Age (Princeton,1993).
    3.There are two basic schools of thought regarding nationalism: one, that nationalism is essentially a modern phenomenon (see Benedict Anderson:”Imagined Communities”) . This is the concept that Shlomo Sand sought to apply to the Jewish people. The other, (Anthony Smith, for example) that nationalism has been around since antiquity. Of course I’m not going to presume to settle the debate here and now.
    4 American, The Jews as “a small group of Arabs”…If you want to promote a radically different narrative of history from the accepted, conventional , version, them I think the burden of proof is on you.

    • Taxi
      June 23, 2013, 8:11 am

      The ancient hebrews were nomads living in ancient pagan Arabia: this makes them Arab jews – whether you like it or NOT mister jon s.

      The burden of proof is on YOU to show us that the ancient hebrews were of european extraction, you know, related to YOU.

      • Yitzgood
        June 25, 2013, 4:06 pm

        The ancient hebrews were nomads living in ancient pagan Arabia: this makes them Arab jews – whether you like it or NOT mister jon s.,

        Is this a joke?

      • Shingo
        June 26, 2013, 2:17 am

        Is this a joke?

        No, but you are welcome to share one.

      • Yitzgood
        June 26, 2013, 8:01 am

        No, whats important is Jewish-ness has been perverted from a *Religious Indentity* into some mythical ethnic, semi racial, semi genetic nationality.
        You’ve invented a ‘people’ catagory for yourselves beyond religion –one that does not exist and is unidentifable by any traditonal defintions of ethnic or distinct people.

        Why are anti-Zionists so prone to these strange combinations of vagueness and denunciation? What things divide people into “peoples”? Religion isn’t one of those things? What else, then? Language? Dress? Cuisine? Literature? Jews have not been “distinct” from other peoples in those respects? If your answer is that these things have all been subordinate to religion, then go on to answer the next question, which is so what?

      • Hostage
        June 27, 2013, 5:59 am

        What things divide people into “peoples”?

        “Peoples” is a legal term of art for all the inhabitants of a territory who are eligible to exercise the right of self-determination, i.e. statehood or incorporation in another existing state.

        That term does not apply to diasporas because states must have well defined boundaries. It also does not allow any indigenous group to be excluded from the political life of their country on the grounds of race or ethnicity, in line with the prohibition of apartheid.

        Zionism was based upon colonial practices that are now considered immoral and illegal. The Jews no longer have the right to disenfranchise others to establish an ethnic nation-state. Full stop.

    • American
      June 23, 2013, 12:45 pm

      American, The Jews as “a small group of Arabs”…If you want to promote a radically different narrative of history from the accepted, conventional , version, them I think the burden of proof is on you.”…jon

      No the burden of proof isn’t on me–it’s already been proven to death by real historians and researchers.
      It’s fact, get over it. You can ‘make up’ all the crap you want….no one in the world accepts your mythical version of the Jews except you own cult members.

      If you don’t think the ‘original’ Jews were Arabs (The Semites), who as I said became one of the many different ‘tribes’ of Arabia –tribes who defined themselves by religion, what ever God or Gods or Idols they worshipped, or by geographical empires or by nomadic group ,who banded or drifted together simply for survival and etc.—-then who do you think the Jews were?

      Tell us who they were if they weren’t Arabs, tell us who they were if they weren’t the same mixture of Arabs, that were interwoven with Persians, Greeks in the populations of the ancient ME.

      Come on tell us who the original Jews were if not Arab…I really want to hear another fantastic tale about how Jews werent what they were and how they are what they were not.
      What magical, mysterious, *unidentified in ancient times ,race, ethnic, gene pool, did Jews come from and how did they end up as semites in the ME?

      The “First” Jews were Arabs who became ‘known as the Jews’ thru Judaism, the Religion, pagans in the era who adopted the One God concept— not a race, or gene pool distinct from other semites of the era.

    • Abdul-Rahman
      June 23, 2013, 9:40 pm

      Also as regards the word Palestine as well (you might want to see these on the issues regarding modern hebrew, with “biblical hebrew” of course being a dead language that has to be very tenuously “reconstructed”, linguists Paul Wexler link to books.google.com and Ghil’ad Zuckermann link to en.wikipedia.org)

      Again on Palestine: “proposed by Jacobsohn and supported by others, is that the name (Palestine) derives from the attested Illyrian locality Palaeste, whose inhabitants would have been called Palaestīnī according to normal grammatical practice”

  9. OlegR
    June 23, 2013, 4:40 am

    Oh well our bad i’ll guess we just pack our bags and go …

    • Obsidian
      June 23, 2013, 7:33 am

      I’m on my way to Ben Gurion Airport and I left my keys in the door.

      • Taxi
        June 23, 2013, 8:19 am

        Obsidian,

        Neither key nor door is yours in the first place. Both are stolen by you.

        Thieves don’t own property, they hold it hostage till the police comes and kick their asses all the way to jail – if they survive the shoot out, that is.

      • Ecru
        June 23, 2013, 8:27 am

        About time. Just so I know, where are you off to ’cause if it’s anywhere near where I live I’ll have to prepare. Y’know barricading the doors, putting bars on the windows, making sure everything I own is registered 1000x in various places and warning the neighbours that a bunch of very aggressive psychotic squatters are on the way.

        Thanks in advance.

      • Elliot
        June 23, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Oleg and Obsidian –
        As well-educated Israelis, you and your children are particularly at risk for packing your bags and leaving Israel.

        link to haaretz.com

        Now, would you care to comment on Martin’s compelling article?

      • Obsidian
        June 24, 2013, 12:09 am

        @Eliot

        Uhh…I just made aliyah, but thanks for the ‘well educated’ compliment. It’s true.

      • OlegR
        June 24, 2013, 8:35 am

        I pretty much said it all in my first comment.

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 24, 2013, 12:15 pm

        “I just made aliyah”

        Why do you use these racist dog-whistle phrases when English has the word you’re looking for: immigrate (or emmigrate, depending on sentence…)

      • Elliot
        June 24, 2013, 10:07 pm

        So, neither you nor Oleg are native Israelis. You are Jews who use your reading of Jewish history to settle in a disputed land. And you scoff at a scholarly study of your adopted country’s history.
        You might show some more humility.

      • Obsidian
        June 25, 2013, 1:28 am

        My family emigrated to Jerusalem in 1811 and helped build the yishuv.

        Israel is not our adopted country. With all modesty, it is ours by birthright.

      • talknic
        June 25, 2013, 4:29 am

        Obsidian “My family emigrated to Jerusalem in 1811 and helped build the yishuv.”

        Bravo… So they settled in Palestine prior to the Zionists Federation’s colonialist project getting under way and eventually robbing you of the right to live anywhere in Palestine.

        You do realize in Herzl’s lifetime he could have immigrated to Palestine, gained citizenship, bought land and settled anywhere in Palestine. Odd that he didn’t and only ever visited briefly. Nor did his family. Now he’s buried in non-Israeli territory. Ironic eh!

        “Israel is not our adopted country. “

        If you already held citizenship in another country through being born in that country, Israel IS your adopted country.

        “With all modesty, it is ours by birthright”

        Say ….. Why does the Israeli Government insist on selling people land to people who make aliyah if the land is theirs by birthright? Best be careful not to buy any land in “territories occupied”, because it ain’t Israel’s to sell.

        BTW Birthright is an internal Israeli matter, completely irrelevant to the legal status of the State of Israel’s Internationally recognized sovereign extent and the actions of the State of Israel and its citizens in “territories occupied” since 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time). Remembering if you can, that Israel has never legally acquired ANY territory “outside the State of Israel”

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 25, 2013, 7:16 am

        “My family emigrated to Jerusalem in 1811 and helped build the yishuv. ”

        Great. So you stem from a long line of land thieves.

        “With all modesty, it is ours by birthright.”

        What racist twattle. At most, your ancestors had the right to live in peace in a country with their fellow Palestinian citizens, in Palestine. When they chose to conspire with alien Jews from Europe and America to steal the land from its rightful owners, they showed themselves to be nothing but common thugs, terrorists and criminals.

      • Obsidian
        June 25, 2013, 11:25 am

        “Bravo… So they settled in Palestine prior to the Zionists Federation’s colonialist project getting under way..”

        Yes. They also settled in Eretz Yisroel before any number of other Syrian Arabs, Bedouin, Circassian, Egyptian, Bosnian and Algerian settlers.

      • Ecru
        June 25, 2013, 12:57 pm

        @ Obsidian

        So Israel’s yours by “birthright” but not that of the people who’d only been living there since the Natufians? Because of course “birthright” is limited to Jews. Nice.

      • James Canning
        June 25, 2013, 6:46 pm

        Purchase of land in Palesstine, by Jews, was not in itself “theft”. Problem came later, when there were enough Jews to set up own state, by military force.

      • Yitzgood
        June 25, 2013, 8:49 pm

        “I just made aliyah”

        Why do you use these racist dog-whistle phrases when English has the word you’re looking for: immigrate (or emmigrate, depending on sentence…)

        Look up “olei Bavel” and “olei Mitzrayim.” “Aliyah” for moving to Israel is a very old usage.

      • Shingo
        June 26, 2013, 2:19 am

        Purchase of land in Palesstine, by Jews, was not in itself “theft”. Problem came later, when there were enough Jews to set up own state, by military force.

        The land acquisition program led to theft and fraud, with Jewish purchased being exaggerated and misrepresented.

      • James Canning
        June 26, 2013, 2:30 pm

        Absolutely true, Shingo. The Jewish land purchases were the “nose of the camel in the tent”.

      • homingpigeon
        June 24, 2013, 2:38 am

        Actually, Oleg and Obsidian, you probably won’t have to go. Be reasonable about the Palestinian right to return and you’ll probably get to live anywhere you want between the river and the sea. You’ll get to travel, work, and even live and work in many Arab countries. You may not want to, but the chance will be there for those Israelis who want it. It’s the safest option for future generations of Israelis and life will be a lot more fun.

    • talknic
      June 23, 2013, 7:16 pm

      OlegR “Oh well our bad i’ll guess we just pack our bags and go … “

      Obsidian “I’m on my way to Ben Gurion Airport and I left my keys in the door.”

      No homes in Israel for Jews? Can’t have non-Israeli territory, so you don’t want any? Can’t have all the territory so you don’t want any? Exactly what are you trying to convey?
      ————-
      The over the top reactions by these two clowns is similar to techniques exhibited by domestic abusers. They’re so pathetic.

      • Obsidian
        June 24, 2013, 12:11 am

        “techniques exhibited by domestic abusers”

        Hey bud. Leave my wife out of this!

  10. Yitzgood
    June 23, 2013, 5:01 am

    Doesn’t English usually use “Philistia” for the territory of the Philistines?

  11. Taxi
    June 23, 2013, 8:21 am

    What a fascinating and immense article. Thank you Martin Hughes.

  12. jon s
    June 23, 2013, 10:54 am

    Let me get this straight :the Hebrews were Arabs, the Jews are Khazars, the Israelis are Europeans. Did I miss anything in the bizarro history class?
    Sort of reminds me of the old ” Who’s on first?” routine…

    • Taxi
      June 23, 2013, 12:49 pm

      jon s,
      Read very slowly, this often helps one understand what one is reading:
      Ancient hebrews = Arabs
      Ashkanazim = khazars
      Zionist israelis = Apartheidists

      • seafoid
        June 24, 2013, 5:09 am

        Just one slight amendent Taxi

        Zionist israelis = Brainwashed Apartheidists

    • American
      June 23, 2013, 1:14 pm

      jon s says:
      June 23, 2013 at 10:54 am
      Let me get this straight :the Hebrews were Arabs, the Jews are Khazars, the Israelis are Europeans. Did I miss anything in the bizarro history class?>>>>

      The only bizarro history here is what you make up.

      PROVE to us that Jews are a different, distinct ethnic, race, people, etc. magically inserted into the world in Europe, Asia, etc.—–and not just members of a religion who spread to different continents.

      Point us to the exact genesis and creation of this distinct race or gene pool that existed before Judaism was created…..where were they? There is No mention of “Jews” in all of ancient history UNTIL after Judaism came into being.

      Maybe you have some good sci fi explanation, like God sent some special God created race to earth and implanted them underground when he created the world and then they rose above ground on clue at a specified time in history to establish Judaism and lead the world.

      Be a good science fiction movie. LOL But for zionist, they already believe a version of themselves just as wild as this.

    • Shingo
      June 23, 2013, 7:11 pm

      Did I miss anything in the bizarro history class?

      Yeah right Jon, it’s so much more plausible to believe all Jews descended from King David, who didn’t exist.

    • James Canning
      June 23, 2013, 7:48 pm

      jon s – – In the early 19th century, Arabs living in Palestine (Greater Syria) could be Muslims, or Christians, or Jews.

    • Abdul-Rahman
      June 23, 2013, 9:30 pm

      I don’t know what exactly you are trying to “imply”, with your “comment”.

      The Palestinians are the culturally and linguistically Arabized link to en.wikipedia.org, indigenous people of Palestine. They (the Palestinian people) are the actual descendants of the Canaanites, the Hebrews, etc. etc.

      Let us see for example Professor Emeritus Alan Dowty of the University of Notre Dame link to books.google.com “Palestinians are the descendants of all the indigenous peoples who lived in Palestine over the centuries; since the seventh century, they have been predominantly Muslim in religion and almost completely Arab in language and culture.” Dowty, Alan (2008). Israel/Palestine. London, UK: Polity. p. 221.

      As for the various different groups of Jews in the world today they descend from various converts to the religion of Judaism throughout the centuries link to mondediplo.com: such as Greco-Roman converts to Judaism, Berber North African converts, Yemeni converts from the Himyar Empire in 6th century CE Yemen, and in the case of European Jews heavily from the Judaized Khazar Empire starting in the 8th century CE (under the Khazar Kagan, meaning “King”, Bulan who began his people’s mass conversion to the religion of Judaism from the local Shamanism of the Caucasus in the 8th century CE once again)

      link to versobooks.com

      “The various groups of Jews in the world today do not share a common genetic origin. We are talking here about groups that are very heterogeneous and which are connected solely by religion.” (Johns Hopkins University geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik, PhD link to eelhaik.aravindachakravartilab.org in Haaretz on December 28, 2012 link to salem-news.com)

      As for the modern construct of “nationalism” (link to versobooks.com), even the very word “nationalism” was only coined as a neologism (aka a new word) in the late 1770s CE by German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder as “nationalsmus” in German. But one can even cite scholars like Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal who point to an event marking the germination of modern Palestinian nationalism that is a full 63 years before the founding moment of Zionism which in the case of the Zionist European colonization movement was the “First Zionist Congress” chaired by Theodor Herzl in Switzerland in August 1897 CE link to en.wikipedia.org

      Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal point to the 1834 Palestinian Arab revolt: link to en.wikipedia.org

      “Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal argue that the 1834 Arab revolt of the Egyptian conquered part of Ottoman Syria was a formative event for the Palestinian sense of nationhood, in that it brought together disparate groups against a common enemy.”

    • homingpigeon
      June 24, 2013, 2:53 am

      “Did I miss anything in the bizarro history class?”

      Actually, you did. Forget about the Khazars. I have encountered a group of people from Mbale, Uganda, known as the Abayudaya. They are Jewish Bantu. They do not claim to be descended from ancient Hebrews but are descendants of a small clan and hangers on who began the conversion process about a century ago. And they are super kosher and have been certified by Orthodox rabbis. They are the real thing. Meanwhile there are communities and clans of Palestinians who are the descendants of Jews who converted to Islam. The latest conversions were as recently as three centuries ago. So these Abayudaya, according to Zionism, are allowed to “return” to their ancient homeland and dispossess Palestinians whose ancestors were unfortunate enough to abandon Judaism. I think I’m going to start bringing this one up more often as I am so curious as to what the hasbara would be.

  13. MHughes976
    June 23, 2013, 11:01 am

    Just a few responses. Thanks for all comments!
    Those who say in effect that human rights don’t come from ancient history are absolutely right. But ancient history is so often mentioned, often but not always linked with religious ideas, that it’s worthwhile attempting to study it objectively. Some of you don’t think I’ve succeeded in that attempt, I can see.
    I’m not sure why ziusudra thinks I’m leading you all on a wild goose chase, ie a search for what is not real. I think ancient Palestine, which is what I was discussing, was a very real reality – and I can’t see that Ziu contradicts me at any significant point. I’d agree that ‘Israel’ is a theological term but that isn’t enough to prove that it’s a phantom name of no historical value: if that’s what Ziu thinks; maybe I’ve misunderstood.
    I certainly remember ‘Philistia be thou glad of me’ from the Psalms in the Book of Common Prayer, also Isaiah 14’s ‘whole Palestina’ from the King James version. There’s more than one Anglicisation. It’s interesting to note how the Greek version dislikes and avoids the terms ‘Palestine/Philistines’ and in Is. 14 prefers ‘all you aliens’.
    Surely we should take things one step at a time. I think that the ancient record of names shows us the importance of the name ‘Palestine’ over many ancient centuries and it shows us something of the diversity and multiculturalism of those times. There is much more to be said, of course. There has, for instance, been a lot of argument over the ‘onomasticon’, the set of personal names that survives.
    The etymology of ‘Palestine’ didn’t seem necessary to make my point. Many of you have mentioned it. I don’t think that its derivation from a Semitic root (= ‘marauders’) is proved. Names ending in -ine/ina are highly characteristic of the Greek and (I’m told) Hittite worlds and we do know that the earliest Palestinians/Philistines had some cultural connection with Greece. So the name may be Greek, from phyle and hestia, giving us ‘the people of the hearth’ and Palestine ‘the land of hearth and home': rather a nice name, I think. Not that what I think nice or nasty proves anything either. If only we had some written records from ‘whole Palestina’. Fun to read their side of the story.
    Thanks to seafoid , Taxi and others for kind words.

    • American
      June 23, 2013, 2:06 pm

      “Those who say in effect that human rights don’t come from ancient history are absolutely right. ” Hughes

      Human rights came in the process of evolution……much like the domestication of other animals ‘evolved’.

    • Castellio
      June 23, 2013, 5:02 pm

      Our lack of information reaffirms the loss to civilization of the works kept in the destroyed Library Of Alexandria.

      • James Canning
        June 23, 2013, 7:36 pm

        Yes, what a catastrophe for all mankind.

  14. W.Jones
    June 23, 2013, 7:29 pm

    You wrote an excellent and interesting, as well as useful analysis, Martin.

    Congratulations on your writing!

  15. James Canning
    June 23, 2013, 7:35 pm

    Fascinating piece. Should be required reading in the White House.

  16. lyn117
    June 23, 2013, 8:15 pm

    It’s a pretty good ancient history, however, I’m not personally convinced that the Merneptah stela actually refers to Israel. The transliteration is I.si.ri.ar. That could be Assyria as much as Israel, or as some have suggested, Jezreel. People latched onto “Israel” as the reference for religious reasons. Of course there’s no biblical confirmation of the horrendouse defeat described in the stela (maybe the bible writers wouldn’t have fessed up anyway). Anyway, maybe does refer to the tribe Israel, but maybe not.

    • MHughes976
      June 24, 2013, 4:34 pm

      A good point, Lyn. However, I think we should accept the ‘Israel’ reading for the sake of argument. I have my suspicions of the Mesha Stela as well. The story of its discovery seems so dodgy.

      • homingpigeon
        June 27, 2013, 7:38 am

        Thank you for your wonderful research and detailed posts. I have argued that hasbarists are skilled at distracting us off into pedantic tangents. But now I cannot resist asking you to go off further: what is dodgy about the Mesha stone story? I’m aware of it’s discovery in Dhiban, and of it being a Moabite king’s version of a story that appears in the Bible. I’ve seen a plaster cast of the intact original in Kerak castle museum and the reassembled pieces in the Louvre. Can I impose on you to expound further?

  17. George Smith
    June 23, 2013, 10:44 pm

    Bottom line: “Palestine” is a geographic name, not an ethnic or sectarian identity. It is the name that the Yishuv themselves called the land that they coveted. So “Palestine” is an entirely appropriate name for the Free Palestine of the near future. “Israel,” a sectarian ethnic name, is entirely inappropriate. Examples of Palestinians with full citizenship and equal rights in Free Palestine:

    Arab Palestinians dispossessed in the ongoing Nakba, whether they live in Israel, West Bank, E.J., Gaza or the diaspora
    Righteous Israeli Jews like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, etc.
    Kippa-wearing former Uzi-toting hilltop youth
    Moldovan immigrants like Avigdor Lieberman

    Same freedom of expression (even of Zionist sentiment), same laws, same rights. Same jails if they break the law.

  18. MHughes976
    June 24, 2013, 4:07 pm

    Thanks again for all the comments.
    I think that the area around Jerusalem was regarded as part of ‘Palestine’ in Herodotus’ time (around 450 BCE) and the people as ‘Syro-Palestinians’, the Syro bit meaning Aramaic-speaking. This seems to me thoroughly compatible with the portrait of the ‘people of the land’ in the Ezra-Nehemiah tradition, so does not call (as I don’t think anything here calls) for a choice between Biblical and non-Biblical evidence.

  19. jon s
    June 25, 2013, 1:15 am

    (I’m partially recycling an earlier comment of mine. Thanks for the “search ” function…)
    To what extent present day Jews are directly descended from the Jews of 2000 years ago is a fascinating subject… if you’re interested in ideas of “racial purity”, “bloodlines” and such. I’m not. Over the generations people intermarried, converted, migrated -the result being the Jewish people of today. What’s important is that the Jews preserved an identity and an historic memory, whatever their biological lineage.
    The British people of today are descendants of Picts , Celts Romans , Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Normans and more recent immigrants from all over. Does that mean they’re not really British?
    Personally, I can trace my ancestry to certain 18th century rabbis. Before that: who knows? Jews are not a “race”, and the whole topic of “lineage” (are present-day Jews biological descendants of the Jews of antiquity?) is absurd. Who cares?

    • American
      June 26, 2013, 12:23 am

      ”What’s important is that the Jews preserved an identity and an historic memory, whatever their biological lineage”….jon

      No, whats important is Jewish-ness has been perverted from a *Religious Indentity* into some mythical ethnic, semi racial, semi genetic nationality.
      You’ve invented a ‘people’ catagory for yourselves beyond religion –one that does not exist and is unidentifable by any traditonal defintions of ethnic or distinct people.

      • James Canning
        June 26, 2013, 2:31 pm

        Bravo, American. A cultural heritage is perverted into a genetic heritage.

  20. talknic
    June 25, 2013, 6:39 am

    Interesting historical debate.

    However, it’s completely irrelevant to the Internationally recognized extent of the State of Israel and Israel’s actions “outside the State of Israel” link to wp.me

  21. James Canning
    June 25, 2013, 7:00 pm

    If most Americans grasped the fact Israel was carved out of Palestine, this would be a step forward.

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