The History of Palestine Pre-Islam
In its ancient history, Palestine witnessed models of leadership by many prophets and their subsequent command over their people. These prophets waged violent struggles for the sake of fixing the banner of truth on this holy land.
Before plunging into details, it is important to keep in mind the fact that Muslims do believe in all prophets, that Muslims consider the heritage of all prophets as their own, that Muslims consider their Islamic creed as an extension of the creed of the prophets prior to the coming of Islam and that the creed for which all prophets previous to Mohammed had called for is the same creed for which prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) had called.
Consequently, the stockpile of experience by all of the prophets in their call for truth and God worshipping is not separate or different from the Muslims’ call and their stockpile of experience.
Consider the following verse taken from the Holy Qur’an (Surah [S] XVI:36) as translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali: For We assuredly sent amongst every people an apostle (with the command), “Serve God, and eschew Evil.” It is the creed of oneness to which every messenger had called. When a certain people reject their messenger, they reject all messengers. Consider what God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: The people of Noah rejected the apostles (S.XXVI:105); The ‘Ad (people) rejected the apostles (S.XXVI:123); The Thamud (people) rejected the apostles (S.XXVI:141); The people of Lut rejected the apostles (S.XXVI:160); and The Companions of the Wood rejected the apostles (S.XXVI:176).
When they encounter the contemporary Jewish allegation of their right to Palestine, many historians engage themselves with archaeology and with the people who had settled, ruled or passed through Palestine and how long the rule of each one lasted. They eventually come up with the conclusion that the Jewish dominion over Palestine throughout history was so short in time and limited in place compared with the Arab and Muslim dominion. Although this aspect is very useful in refuting the historical and ideological aspects of the Jewish allegation, many writers and historians, it seems, have committed the following two major mistakes:
1. To consider the heritage of prophets, which were sent by God to the Jews to rule over them, as a heritage solely for the Jews (this is exactly what the Jews want), and
2. To abuse the biographies of a number of prophets sent to the Children of Israel by using evidences based on the deviated Torah or the Jews themselves. When they use this reasoning, they intend to show the “shameful behaviour” of the Children of Israel and their leaders once they settled in Palestine in order to degrade the value of their State and to show the decline of their level of civilization. Followers of this method of evidence talk about accusing prophets of cheating, of lying, of adultery and of raping the rights and killing the innocent to prove the cruelty, deceit and meanness of the Jews and to distort their image of rule and dominion at that time.
The Holy Qur’an has sufficiently provided us with the ways to identify the Jewish manners and has warned us regarding their debauchery and immorality. But their prophets and their virtuous followers are something else. Prophets are the best examples of all human beings. They should not be abused and most certainly God Almighty should not be abused. We should not follow the deviated stories of the Children of Israel, which abuse both prophets and God.
The deviated Torah and the Talmud, for instance, say that God (the Most High, Exalted and Great) plays with whales and fish for three hours every day. They also say that He cried over the demolition of the temple till His size was diminished from seven heavens to four heavens, and that earthquakes and hurricanes occur as a result of God’s tears, which supposedly fall into the sea in response to the demolished temple. The Holy Qur’an mention their allegations in the following verses: The Jews say: “God’s hand is tied up (S.V:64)”; God hath heard the taunt of those who say: “Truly, God is indigent and we are rich! (S.III:181)”.
The Jews attribute Prophet Jacob with the theft from his father an idol made of gold and with his having wrestled with God(!!) near the city of Nablus, thus he was named Israel. In addition, he has been attributed with offering bribes to his brother, cheating his father and keeping silent regarding the alleged adultery and polytheism of his two daughters. Such things are understandable considering what the Jews say about the rest of prophets.
The Jews have deviated from the Torah or the Old Testament, and they follow the path of the deviated Torah as seen in their manners, debauchery and immorality, under the pretence of what they had attributed falsely and untruly to their prophets. Historians, especially the Muslim ones, should not embark rashly in their search into Palestine’s history accusing God’s prophets and messengers, as the Jews did in their fabrications, in order to prove other prophets’ rights in Palestine.
If the creed-and-faith tie is the ground upon which Moslems of all kinds and colours are united, then Muslims have the priority to hold the heritage of the prophets, including the heritage of the prophets of the Children of Israel. Muslims are still holding the banner already held up by the prophets and are still following their path. All of those prophets were Muslims and believers in the unity of God according to the Qur’anic understanding. Consider the following verse as spoken by God (Almighty) as revealed in the Holy Qur’an: Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to God’s (which is Islam), and he joined not gods with God. Without doubt, among men, the nearest of kin to Abraham, are those who follow him, as are also this Apostle and those who believe: and God is the Protector of those who have faith (S.III:67-68), and God Almighty also says: … And remember Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us; for Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing, Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will) and of our progeny a people Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will) (S.II:127-128)”, and God Almighty also says: And, who turns away from the religion of Abraham but such as debase their souls with folly? Him We chose and rendered pure in this world: and he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the Righteous. Behold! his Lord said to him: “Bow (thy will to Me)”: He said: “I bow (my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe!” And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob: “Oh my sons! God hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam.” Were ye witnesses when Death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship thy God and the God of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac, the One (True) God: to Him we bow (in Islam) (S.II:130-133)”.
In general, the nation of monotheism is considered as one nation that came from Adam (peace be upon him) till God inherits the earth and all above the earth. God’s prophets and messengers and their followers are part of the nation of monotheism, and the call for Islam is an extension of their call. Muslims have the priority to hold God’s prophets and messengers and their heritage.
The prophets traditions are our tradition; their experiences are our experiences; their history is our history and the legality given by God to them and their followers to dominate over this blessed holy land is an indication of our legality and right to hold this land and to rule it.
God Almighty had given this land to the Children Israel when they were following the right path of God and when they were representing the nation of monotheism in ancient times. We are not shameful, and we do not hesitate to mention this fact, otherwise, we would contradict expressly the Holy Qur’an. For instance, when Moses (peace be upon him) said to his people: “O my people! enter the holy land which God hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin (S.V:21)”. This legality was linked with the commitment by the Jews for monotheism and conformity with God’s method. But, when they rejected to believe in God, disobeyed His messengers, slew His prophets, broke their covenants and oaths, rejected to follow the Islamic creed preached by Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) to whom the prophets of Jews had given glad tidings to their people, as mentioned in the following verses: “Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures), in the Law and the Gospel (S.VII:157)”; “and giving Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed (S.LXI:6)”, they incurred the curse of God and His wrath: “But because of their breach of their Covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard (S.V:13)” …Say: shall I point out to you something much worse than this (as judged) by the treatment it received from God? Those who incurred the curse of God and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped Evil, these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!.
Therefore, the legality of dominating over the Holy Land was changed to the nation that follows the prophets’ methods and carries their banner–the nation of Islam. The question as to who has the legal right to dominate the Holy Land, according to our understanding, is not related to race, kind, or people, it is rather related to who is following the correct method.
To continue discussing the Jewish allegation of their right in Palestine according to the Old Testament provisions, we would refer to what they mentioned in the changed Old Testament of giving this land to Abraham (peace be upon him) and his progeny. It includes the following: “…The Lord said to Abraham: Leave your land, your tribe, the house of your father and go to the land I am leading you to … .So, Abraham went as the Lord told him … Then, they came to the land of Canaan … and the Lord appeared before Abraham and said: ‘To your progeny I give this land’….” In the altered Torah, there is also the following: “…And (Abraham) lived in the land of Canaan. Then the Lord said to him: ‘Raise up your eyes and from the place where you were, look around you to the north, south, east and west, because all the land that your eyes can see I give to you and to your progeny for ever’….” It also includes: “… The Lord made a covenant with Abraham saying to your progeny I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river; the Euphrates…”.
To refute these issues, in addition to our understanding of them in their fundamental religious context, we can say the following:
1. If there was a covenant, it was given to Abraham (peace be upon him) and his progeny, and the Children of Israel are not the only progeny from Abraham. The naturalized Arabs were also from the progeny of Abraham (the Children of Isma’il-peace be upon him) and Mohammed (peace be upon him) is one of them.
2. If these issues are linked with progeny and reproduction, all evidences show that the great majority of the Jews in our time are not from Abraham’s progeny, because most of the Jews nowadays are from the Caspian Jews who embraced this religion in the ninth and tenth centuries CE (Common Era).
3. The Holy Qur’an has clarified the chiefdom (Imamah) issues of Abraham and his progeny without any confusion. Consider what God Almighty says: And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain Commands, which he fulfilled: He said: “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.” He pleaded: “And also (Imams) from my offspring!” He answered: “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil doers (S.II:124).”
When Abraham asked God for the chiefdom to be held by his offspring, God pointed out to him that his offspring are not entitled to have the chiefdom and oppressors should not be allowed to obtain it. What more injustice, unbelieving and hindering from the path of God and corruption in the earth had been and is still being committed by the Children of Israel!!
Palestine in the ancient ages
Man lived in Palestine since early ancient ages. There are ruins which trace back to the ancient Stone Age (500,000-14,000 BC) and the middle Stone Age (14,000-8000 BC). This age in Palestine is called Al-Natoofieh civilization, attributed to Al-Natoof caves, north of Jerusalem. Al-Natoof origin is not yet known. Their civilization was concentrated on the coast. They lived in caves such as those found on Al-Karmel Mountain.
In the Modern Stone Age (8000-4500 BC) the cave life of man in Palestine was changed to settlements. He changed from food collector to food producer. The first evidence supporting settlement life appeared in Jericho, which is the most ancient city in the world. It was established in 8000 BC.
The Brass Stone Age ran from 4500 BC to 3300 BC. A lot of archaeological civilization locations that trace back to that era were discovered in the Beer Sheba region, between the Hebron mountains and the Dead Sea and along the sea coast of Al-Khudiera.
The beginning of the third millennium BC was characterized with the emergence of the old empires in the east accompanied by the discovery of writing and the start of writing history. From here, historical ages started in Palestine.
The era that extended from 3200 BC to 2000 BC is called the Ancient Bronze Age. It was characterized by the emergence of the fortified defending towns built on high hills.
They were spread out in large numbers, and most of them were built in the middle and north of Palestine. The most important locations were in Bashan, Majideo, Al-Afoula, Ras Al-Nakoura and Tal Al-Farei’a north of Nablus. In the third millennium BC, the population of Palestine increased, and the cities grew and became political and economic powers. This period can be called the period of “small-States of towns.”
During the third millennium BC, the Ammonites, the Canaanites and also the Yabousians and the Phoenicians, which are considered sub-branches of the Canaanites, had migrated to settle in Palestine. Their emigration to Palestine was around 2500 BC. The Canaanites settled on the plains of Palestine and the Ammonites settled in the mountains. The Yabousians settled in and around Jerusalem; they built the city of Jerusalem and named it “Yabous” then “Hierosolyma”. The Phoenicians settled on the north coast of Palestine and in Lebanon.
Reliable historians believe that the Ammonites, the Canaanites, the Yabousians and the Phoenicians had come from the Arab peninsula and that the majority of the current population of Palestine, especially the villagers, are the offspring of those old tribes and peoples or the Arab and Muslims who settled there after the Muslim Conquest.
During that period, the emigration of the Canaanites took place on a large scale. They became the original population of the country. The name of “Land of Canaan” was the oldest name to which the land of Palestine had been known. The Canaanites built most of the towns in Palestine. Their number-within the borders of the current Palestine-was more than 200 towns during the second millennium BC, hundred of years before the coming of the HebraiJews. In addition to Jericho and Jerusalem, there were other old towns, namely Shechem (Balatah, Nablus), Bashan, Ashkelon, Akka, Haifa, Hebron, Ashdod, A’aqur, Beer Sheba and Bethlehem.
After that time, the Middle Bronze Age followed from 2000 BC to 1550 BC. The first half of the second millennium BC witnessed the dominion of the Hyksos, who ruled Palestine during the eighteenth to sixteenth centuries BC. It seems that during this age (around 1900 BC), Abraham (peace be upon him) came to Palestine accompanied by his nephew “Lut” (peace be upon him) and there, Isma’il, Isaac and Jacob (peace be upon them) were born.
The Late Bronze Age (1550 BC-1200 BC) started with the withdrawal of the Hyksos dominion from Palestine and the subsequent control by the absolute Egyptian regime. As to the Iron Age (1200 BC-330 BC), it seems that in its early period (approximately 1200 BC), Palestine had received groups of emigrants who came from various regions, the most important ones were “the peoples of the sea” migrations. It seems that they came from western Asia and from islands of the Aegean Sea (Crete and others). At the beginning, those peoples launched their attacks against the coasts of Syria and Egypt, but Ramses the Third, Pharaoh of Egypt, drove them away from his country in the Blouzioun battle (near Port Said) and gave them permission to settle in the southern part of Palestine. In the archeological inscriptions, the name of “PLST” was mentioned and, accordingly, those peoples were called “Palestians” and then the letter “n” was inserted in their name (maybe because of the plural). So they became the “Palestinians”. The Palestinians built five kingdoms, including the cities of Gaza, Ashdod, Jet, Aqroun and Ashkelon. These cities were possibly ancient Canaanites, and they expanded and organized them and built two new cities, namely Lod and Saklash. They occupied the rest of the coast up to the Al-Karmel Mountains. Then they captured Marj Ibn Amir. The Palestinians soon mixed with the Canaanites, used their language and worshipped their gods (Dajoun, B’al and Ashtar). Although the Palestinians had been mixed with the people, they gave this land their name, so, it was called Palestine.
It is apparent from the comparative historical indications that Moses (peace be upon him) led the Children of Israel towards the Holy Land in the second half of the thirteenth century BC, i.e. in the Late Bronze Age. This Age and the Early Iron Age witnessed the beginning of the Jews entering Palestine and the emergence of the Kingdom of David and Solomon (peace be upon them) between 1004 BC and 923 BC. This period was divided into two kingdoms: the Israel Kingdom (923 BC-722 BC) and the Judah Kingdom (923 BC-586 BC). Each one ruled over a limited part of the land of Palestine. From 730 BC, Palestine, in general, was under the Assyrian dominion, which came from Iraq, till 645 BC. Thereafter, the Babylonians were the successors in dominion till 539 BC. The Assyrians and the Babylonians exchanged the domination over Palestine with Egypt. Then, the Persians invaded Palestine and ruled it from 539 BC to 332 BC. After that, Palestine entered the Greek Hellenistic Age. It was ruled by the Ptolemaics till 198 BC and was followed by Seleucias till 64 BC, at which time the Romans came and dominated over Palestine. After the division of the Roman Empire, Palestine was still influenced by the Eastern Roman Empire “Roman State”, with Constantinople as its capital. Thereafter, the Muslim Conquest took place and gave it its Arab-Islamic character.
The mission of truth and the tour of prophets in the Holy Land
Abraham (peace be upon him), was the first of the Prophets whom we know lived and died in Palestine. He is the father of all Prophets, as many prophets descended from his offspring, including Prophets Isaac, Jacob, Yousef, Isma’il and Mohammed (peace be upon them).
According to traditions, Abraham (peace be upon him), was born in Orr in Iraq and lived there for a period of time. He destroyed idols, called for monotheism and faced Al-Namroud with evidence. They tried to burn him at the stake as a punishment for destroying the idols, but God Almighty made it cool and a means of safety for him. Abraham migrated with his nephew Lut for the sake of God: He said: “I will go to my Lord. He will surely guide me (S.XXXVII:99).”
It seems that Abraham in the beginning migrated with his companions to Harran (Al-Raha), which is presently located to the south of Turkey and north of Syria. From there, he migrated to the land of Canaan (Palestine). God Almighty says: “But we delivered him and Lut (and directed them) to the land which we have blessed for the nations.” Historians estimate that his arrival in Palestine was around 1900 BC. This date for the ancient history of Iraq represented the end of the “Third Orr” reign, which was ruled by the Samaritans and the beginning of the old Babylon era in which the Semitic elements that came from the Arabian Peninsula (Ammonites) prevailed.
Abraham (peace be upon him), dwelled in “Shechem” near Nablus. From there, he moved towards Ramallah and Jerusalem, passing through Hebron and then Beer Sheba, where he settled for some time. He then departed for Egypt. He returned from Egypt accompanied by Hajar. She was presented to him as a gift by the Egyptian leader. It was also mentioned that she was the daughter of Pharaoh or an Egyptian princess. Then he returned to Palestine and passed through Gaza, where he met Abu Malek, the Emir of Gaza. Then he moved between Beer Sheba and Hebron. Thereafter, he ascended to Jerusalem. Lut (peace be upon him) moved to the south of the Dead Sea as he was sent by God as an apostle to the people of that region, while Abraham remained in the mountains of Jerusalem and Hebron. Isma’il (peace be upon him) was born to Abraham from his wife Hajar. Thirteen years later, Isaac was born to Abraham from his wife Sarah. It seems that Abraham’s sons were born while he was in his old age. This we know from the following verse of the Holy Qur’an, spoken by Sarah: She said: “Alas for me! Shall I bear a child, seeing I am an old woman, and my husband here is an old man? (S.XI:72)”
It seems that Abraham (peace be upon him) visited the Hejaz many times. He brought Isma’il and his mother Hajar to Mecca. The story of Hajar running back and forth between the Safa and the Marwa hills and the gushing out of the Zamzam water is well known. Then Abraham returned and built the Ka’ba with Isma’il: And remember, Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: for thou art the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing (S.II:127).” However, the place of settlement of Abraham remained Palestine, where he died and was buried in Al-Makfeelah cave near Hebron, which is the city named after his name (peace be upon him). It is said that his age was 175 years.
Abraham (peace be upon him) was contemporaneous with Jerusalem’s ruler “Malaki Sadeq”, who seemed to be a monotheist and a friend of his. At that time, the believers in God were very few. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) related that Abraham said to his wife Sarah after he had visited one of the powerful people at that time: “There are no believers on earth except for you and myself.” This apparently happened when they went to Egypt. This can be concluded from the verse of God Almighty: Abraham was indeed a model (Ummat: Nation), devoutly obedient to God (S.XVI:120)…”
However, Abraham, the Father of the Prophets, was one of the firm-willed prophets. He had a missionary role in calling for the message of monotheism in Palestine. He used to establish mosques and prayer niches for the worship of God everywhere he used to visit. It seems that he did not have trouble or distress with the people of Palestine, and he was not forced to leave it because of his religion and message. He remained settled in Palestine with full freedom of movement until his death.
Lut (peace be upon him) dwelled south of the Dead Sea. He was sent as an apostle to the village of “Sodom”. The people of that village were committing le, i.e. sodomy. Their apostle Lut prohibited them from doing so, but they did not obey him. As a result, God punished them for that and turned their village upside down and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: We also sent Lut. He said to his people: “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” And his people gave no answer but this. They said, “Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And we rained down on them a shower of (brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime! (S.VII:80-84)” and “When Our Decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread, layer on layer, marked as from thy Lord: nor are they ever far from those who do wrong!” (S.XI:82-83).
The Holy Qur’an indicated that Abraham (peace be upon him) was contemporary with Lut’s mission and the destroying of his people. Angels came and gave him glad tidings of Isaac and told him that they were sent to destroy Lut’s people. He, then, said to them: “… But there is Lut there. They said: ‘Well do we know who is there: we will certainly save him and his following, except his wife’…” Thus, God Almighty gave victory to his apostle Lut and purified his holy land from “…the town which practiced abominations…” The glad tidings came to Abraham that Isaac would carry the banner of monotheism after him in the Holy Land so that the spreading of God’s light would continue.
Isaac lived in the land of Palestine. God Almighty blessed him with Jacob (peace be upon him) and Israel, who is considered by the Jews as their father. Isaac and Jacob were the light of guidance after Abraham (peace be upon him). Consider the following marvelous Qur’anic text: And We bestowed on him Isaac and, as an additional gift (a grandson), Jacob, and We made righteous men of every one (of them). And we made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practise regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only) (S.XXI:72-73).
Jacob (peace be upon him) was born in the eighteenth century BC (around 1750 BC) in Palestine. But, it seems that he immigrated to Harran “Al-Raha”, where he got married and produced 11 sons, among whom was Joseph (peace be upon him). His twelfth son, Benjamin, was born in the land of Canaan (Palestine). Jacob (peace be upon him) and his children returned to Palestine and lived in Sa’ar near Hebron. The history concerning his son, Joseph, is well known and detailed in Surah Yousef (Joseph) in the Holy Qur’an. The story unfolds as Joseph’s brothers plot against Joseph and throw him down to the bottom of a well. Then Joseph was found by a caravan of travelers who sold him as a slave in Egypt. He grew up there, prayed to God, rejected women’s temptations and was in prison till he was honoured by God and was put in charge of the storehouses of the land of Egypt. This was a result of his skillful interpretation of a dream by a king, and his absolution was proved. Joseph brought his father, Jacob, and his brothers to Egypt where God restored Jacob’s sight after his eyes became white from the sorrow he experienced over his perceived loss of Joseph. Joseph had also forgiven his brothers. Some narrations mentioned that Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years, but he was buried near his grandfather and father–Abraham and Isaac–in Hebron.
The period during which Jacob and his children lived in Egypt coincided with the domination by the Hyksos over Egypt from 1774 BC to 1567 BC; they were not originally from Egypt.
However, it seemed that Joseph and his brothers, the children of Jacob (Israel), were all kept busy with the liberty of work and worship in Egypt. They played their role in the calling for monotheism. However, their condition changed in the successive generations. The Children of Israel fell under the oppression of the Pharaoh till God sent Moses to Pharaoh to take the Children of Israel out of Egypt to the Holy Land.
The Children of Israel after Moses (peace be upon him)
The Children of Israel during that period were the people of truth-keepers and bearers of the monotheism banner. The Pharaoh of Egypt at that time was so arrogant and overbearing. He even went so far as to allege that he was of the divinity. In fact, he was a debaucher and oppressed the Children of Israel. He was known to slay their sons, and keep their females alive: Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land and broke up its people into sections, depressing a small group among them: their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief (S.XXVIII:4).
Moses (peace be upon him) was born under these circumstances. He grew up in the house of Pharaoh by an intriguing arrangement of God Almighty. The story of Moses, his growing up, his calling of Pharaoh, his feeling with the Children of Israel from Egypt and the destruction of Pharaoh, are well-known to everyone.
God Almighty had ordained to give the land of Palestine to that believing group at that time. And we wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders (in faith) and make them heirs, to establish a firm place for them in the land, and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts, at their hands, the very things against which they were taking precautions (S.XXVIII:5-6). Moses was sent to Pharaoh for this mission, helped by his brother Aaron, who was also a messenger. Moses said: “O Pharaoh! I am an apostle from the Lord of the Worlds, one for whom it is right to say nothing but truth about God. Now have I come unto you (people), from your Lord, with a clear (Sign): So let the Children of Israel depart along with me (S.VII:104-105).” But Pharaoh rejected this, exhibited haughtiness and did not believe in the signs and miracles brought about by Moses. Sorcerers who were gathered by Pharaoh believed in the call of Moses. However, it seemed that those who manifested their faith and joined the Children of Israel were a limited number of the young men of the Children of Israel. Their faith was mixed with the fear of Pharaoh lest he should persecute them. But none believed in Moses except some children of his People, because of the fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them; and certainly Pharaoh was mighty on the earth and one who transgressed all bounds (S.X:83).
Then Moses (peace be upon him) led the believers of his people eastwards across the sea, and Pharaoh and his hosts followed them. Then the story of the dividing of the sea, of the saving of the Children of Israel by God and of the drowning of Pharaoh and his hosts was revealed: “Then we told Moses by inspiration: ‘Strike the sea with thy rod.’ So, it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain. And we made the other party approach thither. We delivered Moses and all who were with him; but we drowned the others”.
Here, we have to stop at some historical opinions and narrations which showed that the number of the Jews who departed Egypt with Moses was only around 6,000 or, according to some narrations, 15,000. From the historical aspect, it seems that this period fell during the thirteenth century BC, and the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt was exactly during the last third of that century. This period coincided with the rule of “Ramses II”, who is presently known as “Ramses the Second”. By the power of God Almighty, the corpse of this Pharaoh is presently exhibited at an Egyptian museum. This reminds us of what God Almighty says: “This day shall we save thee in thy body, that thou mayest be a Sign to those who come after thee! But verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Signs! (S.X:92).”
After the saving of the Children of Israel by God Almighty, the epiof Moses and Aaron suffering with them are manifest. Their characteristics included the weakness of faith, ignorance and cowardice. For, immediately after they crossed the sea, they soon came upon a people devoted entirely to idols: They said: “O Moses! fashion for us a god like unto the gods they have (S.VII:138).” Then when Moses went to the place (of communion) with his Lord, his people worshipped the calf, in spite of Aaron’s presence among them: The people of Moses made, in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of a calf (for worship): it seemed to low (S.VII:148) …” So they said: “This is your god, and the god of Moses, but (Moses) has forgotten (S.XX:88)!”
They were about to kill Aaron when he prohibited them from committing acts of disbelief. He said to his brother Moses: “…The people did indeed reckon me as naught, and went near to slaying me!”, in addition to many other situations.
Then Moses led the Children of Israel towards the Holy Land. He said to them: “O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.”
But they had chosen to turn back!! “They said: O Moses! In this land are a people of exceeding strength: Never shall we enter it until they leave it: if (once) they leave, then shall we enter.” The advice was unpalatable to the crowd, who repeated: “They said: O Moses! While they remain there, never shall we be able to enter, to the end of time. Go there and thy Lord, and fight ye two, while we sit here (and watch).” Sayyid Qutb, God’s mercy be on him, commented on this attitude of the Children of Israel saying, “The real nature of the Jews had been clearly manifested here without any indication of even a slight effort to hide their true nature. They felt that the danger was near and once confronted with it, nothing would protect them from it, even God’s promise to them that they would be the proprietors of the land and that God had written it for them. They wanted it without cost, without effort and an easy victory to be sent down to them, just as the Manna and the quails were sent … So, these incidents embarrassed the cowards and made them insolent and afraid of the danger in front of them. Thus, it was the insolence of the disabled who could only be insolent and his tongue impudent. The Holy Qur’an says: ‘…Go there and thy Lord…’ He would not be their god if his Divinity entailed them to fight! ‘…While we sit here (and watch).’ They did not want sovereignty, pride or the Promised Land because that required them to fight a people of exceeding strength. That was the end for Moses, peace be upon him; the end of an extreme effort of travelling a long distance and enduring humiliation, misery and deviation by the Children of Israel.”
Moses, peace be upon him, suffered too much so he prayed to his God: “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother; so separate us from this rebellious people!” God Almighty responded to his apostle: “God said: ‘Therefore will the land be out of their reach for 40 years: In a distraction will they wander through the land:” So, God decreed that they should be left to wander distractedly through the wilderness after they were very near to the Holy Land. It seemed that God Almighty had adjudged that this generation of the Children of Israel should not see the Holy Land till another generation with strength from the desert’s hardship would grow in them. “This generation had been spoiled due to humiliation, captivity and persecution in Egypt. They were no more fit to this sublime mission.”
Moses, peace be upon him, died before he could enter the Holy Land. In the Prophet Mohammed’s tradition, narrated by Abu Huraira, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that: “When Moses had come to die, he said, “My lord! Let me be so near to the Holy Land as far as a stone throwing”; and that Prophet Mohammed said: “By God! If I were near it I would show you the spot of his tomb beside the road near the red hill.”
Entering by the Children of Israel into the Land of Palestine
After the new generation had grown up and the years of wandering in the wilderness ended, the Children of Israel were led by an apostle called Joshua Ibn Noon, peace be upon him. The Jews called him “Yashou”. He succeeded Moses in their leadership, and he crossed the Jordan River with them in the year 1190 BC. Together, they conquered the enemy and occupied the city of Jericho. Then he led them in the invasion of “A’ai”, near Ramallah, and attempted to conquer Jerusalem but he could not because the number of the Jews was small. It was difficult for them to spread out and to occupy and control all the regions. The information about Joshua had come from the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) who said that when Joshua met his enemies in a battle that lasted till the sun was going to set, he prayed to God not to set the sun until the battle was over in his favour. God Almighty responded to his prayer and delayed the setting of the sun till Joshua achieved victory.
Joshua, peace be upon him, was succeeded by leaders known as “Judges”. Their time was known as “The time of the Judges” and lasted for about 150 years. Despite the attempts by the Judges to guide their people to the right path, this period was dominated by rebellions, disasters, disputes and a general decline in morals and religion among the Children of Israel. The Jews settled in that period in the heights surrounding Jerusalem and in the northern plains in Palestine.
When the Children of Israel became aware of their deteriorated condition, the leaders among them asked one of their Prophets (called Samuel) to appoint for them a king who might lead them to fight in the cause of God. However, their Prophet, who was well acquainted with their tempers, said to them: “Is it not possible, if ye were commanded to fight, that ye will not fight?” They said: “How could we refuse to fight in the cause of God, seeing that we were turned out of our homes and our families?” But when they were commanded to fight, they turned back, except a small band among them (S.II:246). Their Prophet told them that God had appointed for them Talut as a king over them. But they objected for they were “…better fitted than he to exercise authority…(S.II:247)” and that “he is not even gifted with wealth in abundance (S.II:247)?” Their Prophet said that God had chosen him above them and had gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess.
The faithful leader Talut became the king of the Children of Israel about 1025 BC. The Israelite narrations named him “Shauel”. God tested his followers; they were told not to drink the water from a certain stream. However, they failed even this simple test: “Only those who taste not of it go with me: A mere sip out of the hand is excused.” But they all drank of it, except a few (S.II:249). Those few who passed the first test, failed the next test when they saw Goliath and his forces. They said: “This day we cannot cope with Goliath and his forces (S.II:249).” Only a small faithful band fought with firmness till the end, achieving the victory given by God to them. David, peace be upon him, was a raw youth who knocked down Goliath by using his slingshot.
The history of Talut is not clear. However, the Israelite narrations mentioned that around the year 1004 BC, the Philistine army defeated Talut “Shauel” in the “Galobou’” battle. They killed three of his children, forced him to commit suicide, cut off his head, and nailed his body, as well as his children’s, on the wall of the city of Bashan.
A new chapter was opened in the history of the Children of Israel under the rule of David, peace be upon him. He succeeded Talut in the year 1004 BC. Monotheism spread throughout the Holy Land. David was considered the real founder of the kingdom of the Children of Israel in Palestine. The Jews had very limited power over a small percentage of Palestine during the period preceding David’s rule. The “time of the Judges” period was spent in sporadic fighting among the small groups (tribes). Each tribe hardly defended tharea of land it was occupying.
David, peace be upon him, was born in Bethlehem. His reign lasted for 40 years from approximately 1400 BC to 963 BC. In the beginning, his capital was “Hebron”, where he stayed for seven years. Then around 995 BC he overcame Jerusalem and moved his capital there. He carried on with his fight against unfaithful people in the Holy Land till he was able to conquer them in the year 990 BC. He forced Damascus to pay land-taxes and conquered the Muabis, the Edomis and the Ammonites. During that period, the followers of monotheism dominated for the first time over most of the region of Palestine. But, most probable, the borders of David’s kingdom did not connect with the sea except at a place near Yoya (Jaffa). The borders of the Kingdom of Israel at its zenith measured 120 miles long (longest points) and 60 miles wide (widest points). Its area was not more than 1,200 square miles–20,000 square kilometres, which is about 7,000 square kilometres less than the current area of Palestine.
The Jews occupied the hilly areas, but failed to occupy the plains, especially most parts of the coast of Palestine. These parts had never been dominated by their State during its survival.
The Jews of this time were proud of David, peace be upon him, and considered themselves bearers of his banner and heritage. However, the Muslims also consider David their Prophet, and they have more of a right than the Children of Israel do to consider him so. Muslims do believe in him as one of God’s prophets. They like and honour him and feel proud of him because he established the State in Palestine built on monotheism. They are following his path and carrying his banner even in the present time, after the Children of Israel retreated, became infidels, denied God and broke their covenants with God.
We know from the Holy Qur’an that God Almighty had blessed David, peace be upon him, with knowledge and wisdom, and gave him the gift of the Psalms. He was given a strong kingdom. Hills and birds were celebrating the praises of God with him and were expressing, in their singing, God’s praises in unison with him: …and remember Our Servant David, the man of strength: for he ever turned (to God). It was we that made the hills declare, in unison with him, Our Praises, at eventide and at break of day, and the birds gathered (in assemblies): all with him did turn (to God). We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and sound judgement in speech and decision (S.XXXVIII:17-20). And God Almighty says: O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth: so judge thou between men in truth (and justice): nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of God…(S.XXXVIII:26). God Almighty made the iron soft for David. In his hands it became pliable like wax or paste formed in the way he wanted without melting it in fire, and this was a miracle given by God to David. Although David was given a kingdom, he was a craftsman using iron and did not eat except for what he made by himself. David also developed in his time the manufacture of armour. When the armour was made of one solid plate, it was heavy in weight to a warrior and hindered his movement. Thereafter, God guided David to make it from rings of chains fitted into each other. It did not hinder the movement nor could arrows penetrate it. “It was we who taught him the making of coats of mail for your benefit, to guard you from each other’s violence: Will ye then be grateful?” God Almighty also says: We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from Ourselves: “O ye Mountains! sing ye back Praises of God with him! and ye birds (also)!” And We made the iron soft for him; (Commanding), “Make thou coats of mail, balancing well the rings of chain armour, and work ye righteousness; for be sure I see (clearly) all that ye do (S.XXXIV:10-11).”
Solomon, peace be upon him, inherited wisdom, knowledge and prophecy from his father David. Narrations passed down through history indicated that Solomon was one of the 19 sons of David. He was born in Jerusalem, and his rule over the Holy Land lasted for about 40 years from 963 BC to 923 BC.
God Almighty bestowed upon Solomon a kingdom which had never been granted to anyone after him. God Almighty gave him the Jinn to work for his service. He also made the wind obedient to him. Solomon was well known for his wisdom, justice and strong dominion. God also taught him the language of birds and animals.
King Solomon’s reign was in itself a divine miracle given to him by God as a sign of his prophecy. Under this miraculous faithful rule, supported by the Jinn, men, birds and wind, Palestine was blessed. God had honoured Solomon with the miracle of a spring of melted brass flowing from the earth. The Kingdom of Solomon witnessed a great deal of construction and building. His kingdom was expanded to reach the kingdom of Sheba in Yemen.
Solomon is mentioned several times in the Holy Qur’an, highlighting his knowledge, dominion and prophecy: He said, “O my Lord! Forgive me, and grant me a Kingdom which, (it may be), suits not another after me: For Thou art the Grantor of Bounties (without measure).” Then We subjected the Wind to his power, to flow gently to his order, whithersoever he willed, as also the evil ones, (including) every kind of builder and diver, as also others bound together in fetters. “Such are Our Bounties: whether thou bestow them (on others) or withhold them, no account will be asked.” And he enjoyed, indeed, a Near Approach to Us, and a beautiful Place of (final) Return (S.XXXVIII:35-40).
God Almighty said: “..And Solomon was David’s heir. He said: ‘O ye people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and on us has been bestowed (a little) of all things: This is indeed grace manifest (from God).’ And before Solomon were his hosts, of Jinn and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks.” And God also said: And to Solomon (We made) the Wind (obedient): its early morning (stride) was a month’s (journey), and its evening (stride) was a month’s (journey); and We made a Font of molten brass to flow for him; and there were Jinns that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord, and if any of them turned aside from Our Command, We made him taste of the Penalty of the Blazing Fire. They worked for him as he desired, (making) Arches, Images, Basons as large as Reservoirs, and (cooking) Cauldrons fixed (in their places): “Work ye, sons of David, with thanks! But few of My servants are grateful (S.XXXIV:12-13)!” And God as well said “(It was Our power that made) the violent (unruly) wind flow (tamely) for Solomon, to his order, to the land which we had blessed: for we do know all things. And of the evil ones, were some who dived for him, and did other work besides; and it was we who guarded them.”
From the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) we can conclude that Solomon had great bodily power, was a lover of the fighting for the cause of God, and had many wives. Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, said: “Solomon said: that I would ramble this night to 90 women, or 100, in another narration; all of them would beget a knight who might fight for the cause of God. The king said to him: ‘Say God willing!’ But he did not say and forgot. He rambled to them. None of them became pregnant except one who delivered a half man. I swear by whom the life of Mohammed is in his hand that if he said: ‘God willing’, they might all fought for the cause of God as knights.”
The death of Solomon, peace be upon him, was a sign of God and a lesson addressed to men and Jinn that the Jinn did not know the unseen. Solomon, peace be upon him, had stood up to say his pray in his chamber leaning on his rod. He died and remained in this posture for a long period while the Jinn were working hardly without getting the knowledge of his death till a little worm ate his rod and he fell down on the ground; God Almighty said: Then when We decreed (Solomon’s) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell do, the Jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task) (S.XXXIV:14).
The two kingdoms of Israel and Judah
The rule of David and Solomon lasted for about 80 years, which was considered a golden period during which Palestine was ruled under the banner of monotheism and faith prior to the Muslim Conquest.
The Jews after the State of Solomon (peace be upon him)
After the death of Solomon, his kingdom was divided into two parts comprising two separate States with fights between them from time to time. Both suffered from internal corruption, military and political weakness and foreign influence. When Solomon passed away, the representatives of the 12 tribes of the Children of Israel held a meeting at Shechem (near Nablus) to set up Rehbe’am bin Solomon as a king. However, according to narrations, the representatives from 10 of the tribes agreed not to set him up as a king because he did not promise them to reduce taxes. They, instead, elected “Yarba’am” from the tribe of Ephraim as a king and called their kingdom “Israel”. They took Shechem as their capital (then Tarzah then Samaria).
As to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, they maintained their loyalty to Rehbe’am bin Solomon and established the kingdom of “Judah”, with Jerusalem as its capital under his rule.
The kingdom of Israel lasted during the period from 923 BC to 721 BC. The Encyclopedia Britannica disdainfully named it “The Tail Kingdom”. Because of the invasion by the residents of Damascus, it lost all its lands located in the east of Jordan and north of Yarmouk. “Omri” was the most famous king of the kingdom of Israel whose reign lasted from 885 BC to 874 BC. He built Samaria and took it as the capital.
His successor “Akhab” reigned from 874 BC till 852 BC. He allowed his wife, “Isabel”, the daughter of the king of Sidon and Tyre, to enjoin the worship of the Phoenician God “B’al”, which consequently caused a revolution carried out by an officer named “Yaho”, who overthrew “Akhab” and restored the worship of “Yahweh”.
In the period of “Yab’am the second” from 785 BC till 745 BC, the third of in the line of “Yaho” ancestry, his kingdom expanded towards the north on the account of the Aramaians. But this situation did not last for long because of the emergence of the Assyrian king “Tajilat Blissr the third” (745 BC-727 BC), who put an end to this expansion. His successor “Shillmanasar the fifth” and after him “Sarjon the second” had punished Joshua, who was the last of the kings of “Israel”. They exterminated his kingdom in 721 BC. Then, the Assyrians moved the people of Israel to Haran, Khabour, Kurdistan and Persia and replaced them with groups of Aramaians. It seems that the banished Israelis were completely mixed in with their neighbours in exile. Thereafter, there was not a trace left of the ten tribes of the Children of Israel.
According to the Israeli narrations, which should be considered very carefully and with caution because there is very little available to prove or disprove most of them, the Kingdom of Judah was one of great turmoil during the period 923 BC to 586 BC. Idol worshipping had spread during the period of Yarba’am bin Solomon’s rule (923-916 BC). The manners of the people were corrupted owing to the spread of sodomy. When his son, Abyam, succeeded him from 915 BC to 913 BC, their manners remained corrupted. And when Yahoram bin Yahoshfat ruled during the period 849 BC to 842 BC, he killed his six brothers along with a group of the people’s chiefs. As for Youhaz bin Yatam, who ruled during the period 735 BC to 715 BC, it is mentioned that his heart had been attached to the love of idols. He even went so far as to sacrifice his own children on the altars of idolatrous gods and gave himself the free reins of lust and evil-doing. Mansi bin Hazqiya, who ruled from 687 BC to 642 BC, had misguided his people from worshipping god and built idolatrous temples for them.
Such things are not strange to the Children of Israel. Their manners with Moses (peace be upon him) would testify to this. The Holy Qur’an also points out that they have changed, replaced and deviated from the words of God, and slew many prophets: “We took the covenant of the Children of Israel and sent them apostles. Every time there came to them an apostle with what they themselves desired not–some (of these) they called impostors, and some they (go so far as to) slay”. History proves that they slew the prophet Haziqual because he prohibited one of his judges from committing iniquities. The king Mansi bin Hazqiya killed the prophet Ashiya bin Amous. He gave orders to hang him on a tree stump because the prophet had offered him advice and preachment. The Jews killed the prophet by throwing stones at him because he blamed them for iniquities they themselves did.
It seemed that the Kingdom of Judah faced many weakness factors, as well as falling under the foreign influence for a long period of time. It was attached and defeated several times, and the attackers entered Jerusalem itself. Sheshaq, the Pharaoh of Egypt, entered Jerusalem and took it over in the late tenth century BC.
Arabs had also attacked Jerusalem during the period of Yahoram (849 BC-842 BC). They entered it and occupied Yahoram’s palace and captured his children and women. As to the king Hazqiya (715 BC-687 BC), he was forced to declare his full surrender to the king of the Assyrians, Sarjon the Second, after he seized the Kingdom of Israel. Mansi Bin Hazqiya paid the tax to Assyrhadon and Assyrbanybal, two kings of Assyria. The Assyrians tied up this king with brass chains and sent him to Babylonia. Then, he returned to Jerusalem and died there. During the rule of Yoshyia bin Amon (640 BC-609 BC), the Egyptian Nackhaw had only been ruling for three months. Yoshyia captured him and sent him back to Egypt where he died. He was replaced with Yahoyaqim bin Yashyia (609 BC-548 BC). This ruler had overtaxed his people in order to pay tax to his Egyptian master and reverted to idol worshipping. During the time of Yahoyaqim, the Babylonian Buchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian Nackhaw, north of Syria in the year 605 BC and advanced till he entered Jerusalem. There he conquered Yahoyaqim, humiliated him and forced his country to surrender to his influence. And when Yahoyaqim revolted against Buchadnezzar, the latter entered Jerusalem, with his army, and tied Yahoyaqim up with brass chains till he died.
When Yahoyaqim ruled from 598 BC-597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, or Buchadnezzar, besieged Jerusalem and captured the king and his family, the chief of the Jews and about 10,000 of its population, which is known as the first capture, and robbed some of the temple treasures and sent them to Babylon. Thereafter, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Sodkiya bin Yoshyia (597 BC-586 BC), who swore the oath of loyalty to him. However, Sodkiya, during the last days of his regime, revolted against the Babylonians, who in turn advanced towards Jerusalem and besieged it for 18 months till it surrendered. Nebuchadnezzar captured Sodkiya, tied him up with brass chains and sent him to Babylonia where, as mentioned, his children were slain before him and his eyes were poked out. Then Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. He demolished the temple, robbed the treasures and wealth, and captured about 40,000 Jews and sent them to Babylonia, known as “the second Babylonian capture”. The remaining Jews migrated to Egypt, including the Prophet Arimyah. The Kingdom of Judah fell in 586 BC.
The Talmud recorded that the fall and the destroying of the Jewish State would not have happened unless the sins of the Children of Israel had reached the utmost and their sins overburdened the great God. When they refused to listen to Arimyah’s words and warnings and after destroying the temple, the Prophet Arimyah addressed his speech to Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldaeans. He said: “You should not think that by your strength alone you were able to overcome the chosen People of God; it was by their unchaste sins that drove them to this torture”.
The Old Testament had referred to the collapseof the kingdom of the Children of Israel as being a direct result of these sins. It mentioned that Prophet Ashiya said: “Woe to the sinful people, the people of heavy sins, the progeny of evil-doers, the depraved children who abandoned God and despised the holy Israel, who had retreated and fallen back” (Ashiya Book-Chapter 1). The Old Testament also said: “The land had been profaned under its people because they abandoned the laws, changed the obligations and broke the eternal covenant” (Ashiya Book, Chapter 24).
Alternative dominions of Persian, Greek and Roman over Palestine
The Jews lived, after the fall of their kingdom, in Palestine during the period of the Babylonian Capture in Iraq. It is apparent that during this period, they started recording the Old Testament, i.e. not less than 700 years after the emergence of Moses (peace be upon him), till the late second century BC, when they ended its recording (after more than 400 years). During that period, the Jews abandoned their religious obligations and imitated the countries in which they lived concerning the worshipping of idols.
The opportunity to return once again to Palestine came to the Jews when the Persian Emperor, Qorash the Second, overcame the Babylonian Chaldaean State (539 BC). The Jews helped him. He overcame Media, and extended his influence throughout Palestine, which consequently entered under the Persian Domination period (539 BC-332 BC). Qorash permitted the Jews to return to Palestine and permitted them to re-build the temple in Jerusalem. However, a rather small number of the Jews took advantage of this opportunity to return. This was because most of those captured admired the new land, and only a small number of extremists objected to the mixing with other people, the thing which protected the Jews from extinction.
One of the historians mentioned that the number of returnees was 42,000, representing a minority compared with the actual number. Those Jews built the temple, and the building was completed in the year 515 BC. In the Jerusalem region, the Jews enjoyed some kind of autonomy under the Persian dominion. This autonomous area did not exceed a radius of 20 kilometres in any direction.
In the year 332 BC, the Macedonian Alexander occupied Palestine during his famous campaign in which he occupied Greater Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and parts of India. Alexander kept the Jews safe. Since that date, Palestine entered the Greek Hellenistic Era, which lasted till 63 BC.
After the death of Alexander, a conflict had broken out among his leaders, which caused his kingdom’s division. Palestine and the rest of Syria, from the south of Lattakia, Lebanon and parts of Syria (such as Damascus), Egypt, Borqa (Libya) and some of the Aegean Sea Islands, were under the control of the leader Ptolemy. His rule and the rule of his successors was called the Ptolemaics Era, which lasted in Palestine from 302 BC to 198 BC. The Ptolemaics felt sympathy for the Jews, whose affairs were administered to by the “Great Priest”. Then came the Seleucids, whose share, after the death of Alexander, included North Syria, Asia Minor, Rafidain (the Tigris and the Euphrates) and the Iranian heights.
They dominated over Palestine as a result of the Banion battle in which the Seleucid King Antiokhis the Third achieved a complete victory over the Ptolemaics. The domination of the Seleucids over Palestine lasted up to 63 BC.
The Seleucids attempted to colour the Jews’ life with the Greek Hellenistic. So, Antiokhis the Fourth tried to turn the Jews away from their religion. In the year 167 BC, he sent one of his leaders to them and commissioned him with canceling the Jewish religious rites and to replace their God, Yahwa, with the Olympic God, Zeus. He appointed an idolatrous Greek priest in Jerusalem and prohibited their circumcision and the possession of the holy books and enjoined on them the eating of pork. Under these orders, the Jews were divided into two parts: the first were those who turned away, convinced or forced, from the Law. Those were the “Hellenistics” or the “Greekists”. They resided in Jerusalem and in the Greek towns. The second group, which was less in number, fled from Jerusalem. They were called “the Party of Saints”.
In general, the Greeks influenced the Jews. The Aramaic language replaced the Hebrew language, and the Greek language became the language of the educated class. From among the Jews, a group had emerged to support the Greeks and they managed to reach power under the leadership of the Great Priest Jayson.
As for the Jews who fled from Jerusalem, “the Party of Saints”, they entrusted their leadership to Mattathyas (Mattayeeh), the head of the Ashmonians Family, who passed away after a while. His son Judah, also called Maccabee, which means the hammer, succeeded him. He revolted against the Seleucids and defeated them more than once (166 BC-165 BC). A lot of Jews joined him. This made Antiokhis the Fourth stop oppressing the Jews. He permitted them to perform their religion side by side with the Greek supporters. The Maccabees returned to Jerusalem on 25 January 164 BC. The Jews are, till now, celebrating this occasion under the name of the “Lights Feast” (Hanukah).
After that, a self-rule regime for the Jews was established in Jerusalem. It became either wider or narrower, and the aspects of its independence became stronger or weaker, according to the conflict among the super powers of the period (the Romans, the Ptolemaics and the Seleucids) over Palestine. The regime became hereditary in the progeny of Judah, the Maccabee. The Maccabees ruled as “Chief priests” and they called themselves kings, although they were subordinates and paying land-tax to the Seleucids. In the year 143 BC, the Emperor Dimetrius the Second exempted the Jews from taxes and gave the nickname “ruler” to Simon, and the Jews agreed among themselves to consider him as their king. Thus, a royal regime was established, and the Seleucids recognized it and also gave Simon the right of striking coins.
During the era of the Jewish King Alexander Janous (103 BC-67 BC), his regime expanded to include Trans-Jordan, which was called “Iberia” by the Jews, and the coast. The borders of his kingdom were about to make contact with the borders of Solomon. His widow, Salom Alexandra, ruled after him till the year 67 BC. Thereafter, both her sons fought against each other over the power, and the Nabatean Arabs interfered in supporting Hercanous the Second against his brother Aristopolous. In the year 63 BC, the famous Roman leader Pompeii destroyed the small Jewish state and appointed Heirkanous the Second to be chief of priests. He demolished the walls of Jerusalem, removed the other parts from the hands of the Jews and left the Maccabee dynasty to survive under the Roman dominion.
During the period 47 BC-40 BC, the “colony” entered under the domination of Edam’s ruler, Ante Peter. In the year 40 BC, the Persians stormed Palestine and appointed Ante Johanous, the brother of Hercanous the Second, to be the ruler and the chief of the priests. The rule of Ante Johanous” lasted for three years. He was the last of the Maccabee dynasty. In the year 37 BC, the Romans conquered the Persians, restored their domination over Palestine and appointed Herod, the son of Ante Peter, a ruler. Although Herod became Judaized and tried to conciliate with the Jews, he was detested by them. In general, he was a tyrant, unjust and extremely loyal to the Romans. He carried out the renovation of the temple, doubled its area, lifted its ceiling up and characterized it with great perfection and architecture.
The rule of Herod lasted till the year 4 BC, which was contemporary with the two prophets Zakariya and his son Yahya (peace be upon them). This was also contemporary with Maryam bint Imran (peace be upon her). By the end of his life, Jesus (peace be upon him) was born.
Zakariya (peace be upon him) was a carpenter. He was the sponsor of Maryam bint Imran. He had a son called Yahya (peace be upon him), whose birth was made possible by God Almighty since Zakariya was old and his wife was barren. Zakariya and Yahexerted great efforts to call the Children of Israel to guidance and truth.
The glad tidings of Yahya came witnessing the truth that “He would be noble, chaste and a prophet of the company of the righteous,” i.e., to master his people and to turn himself, virtuously and devotionally, away from lusts and to be a prophet. When Yahya was born and reached the age of receiving orders, God Almighty said to him: “O Yahya! take hold of the Book with might (S.XIX:12).” It meant that he should take what was included in the Book of God vigorously and diligently. God gave him wisdom and reason even though he was young: And We gave him Wisdom even as a youth (S.XIX:12). Yahya performed his duty of preaching, and calling for enjoining what was right and forbidding what was wrong. He was known in the Christian literature as “John the Baptist”. “The Baptist” was ascribed to the fact that he was baptizing people (washing them with water) to purify them from sins. Yahya had announced good tidings of the coming of Jesus (peace be upon him).
Yahya (peace be upon him) sacrificed his life defending his firm attitude against Herod’s wishing to marry Yahya’s niece. The girl, whose name was Herodya, was very beautiful. She and her mother bore spite against Yahya for his refusing to allow her to marry Herod. The girl, fully embellished, danced in front of Herod till she mastered his feelings. He then requested her to ask for a wish. She then wished to have the head of Yahya! He responded to her wish and killed Yahya and presented his head on a plate to this adulteress. So Peace on him, the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again) (S.XIX:15).
Herod was not satisfied with his crime, as he also slew Zakariya (peace be upon him) by using a saw! Zakariya defended his son, Yahya, and objected to the validity of the marriage owing to kinship impediment.
Maryam (peace be upon her), the mother of women of all nations, was born before Yahya (peace be upon him). Her mother dedicated her unto God when she was in her womb: Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya (S.III:37). And God had chosen Maryam: Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee–chosen thee above the women of all nations (S.III:42).” God Almighty predestined His great miracle that Maryam shall deliver her son, Jesus, without having a father and that would be accomplished by the word from God: “Be”. Here, we have to pause and to read the following miraculous Qur’anic text about Jesus and his Message: Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God; He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.” She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: God createth what He willeth when He hath decreed a Plan, He but saith to it, ‘Be’ and it is! And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel, and (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel (with this message): ‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s leave: and I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by God’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe’ (S.III:45-49).”
Jesus, the son of Maryam, was born in Bethlehem around 4 BC. Narrations mention that Maryam fled with Jesus, together with Joseph “the Carpenter”, to Egypt, fearing for her son, away from Herod’s injustice and tyranny. They quickly returned to Nazareth, where he spent his childhood and grew up. Thereafter, he was known by the name “Jesus the Christ”, and his followers were known by the name “Christians”.
Jesus, the son of Maryam, was one of God’s signs sent to mankind. He declared himself as such at the very outset. He spoke when he was just a babe in the cradle. He assured the people that he was indeed a servant of God, and he gave his people the glad tidings that God had made him a prophet: He said: “I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; and He hath made me blessed wheresover I be, and hath enjoyed on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live (S.XIX:30-31).”
There, in the Holy Land of Palestine, Jesus (peace be upon him) carried out his obligation of calling for God. He exerted great efforts for the sake of the Children of Israel, giving them guidance and the glad tidings of the coming of the seal of the prophets, Mohammed (peace be upon him): “… and giving Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed (S.LXI:6).” Despite all the miracles God made apparent through him and the truth and the light included in his message, the Children of Israel rejected, denied and stood against him. Only a few of them believed in him.
According to historical narrations, Jesus went to Jerusalem (Hierosolyma) and visited the temple around 30 CE at the time of the Easter feast. He denounced the presence of moneychangers and sellers in the temple.
According to the chapter St. Matthew (21:12-13) of the Bible, “… and Jesus went to the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And said unto them, it was written, my house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
The Jews and the noble persons bore spite against Jesus. According to the chapter of St. Matthew (19:47) of the Bible, “… and he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him”. The religious Jewish Council (Synhadrin) quickly held a meeting and decided to arrest Jesus and immediately sentenced him to death, accusing him of blasphemy and of dissenting from the religion.
They then brought him before the Roman governor at that time, Pontious Pilate, who had alone the right of execution. But this Pilate did not find any fault in Jesus that would cause him to be made worthy of death. But the Jews cried out all at once, saying “Crucify him, crucify him; his blood must be on us and on our children.” As a result of the pressure on him by the Jews, Pilate sentenced him to death. However, God Almighty sent him His mercy and raised him up unto Himself when they thought they had killed him. “But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, God raised him up unto Himself (S.IV:157-158).”
This page of history of the conflict between the truth and the falsehood over the Holy Land had been turned over. The Children of Israel rejected the last prophet sent to them, accused him of sorcery and plotted against him.
The Disciples believed in Jesus. They called for his message after him, and they encountered oppression and harm because of their message. The Disciples continued in calling the Jews for their creed and orated in the temple. When the number of Christians multiplied after some years, the Jews feared the spread of Christianity and demanded to seize Peter and others in order to be tried before the Synhadrin Council. However, the Council was satisfied with clearing them and thereafter released them. The new guided persons fled to Samaria, Kaisarieh and Antakiyah. They founded there many Christian groups. Peter also went to Rome where he founded a Christian group. He focused on the Jews in his call. As for Paul he was calling the idolatrous, as he called the Jews. In his calling, he was using philosophical idioms and concepts to interpret Christianity according to the Hellenistic culture prevailing at that time. Paul Peter were, in the end, sentenced to death during the era of the Roman Emperor Nero in 64 CE. But, the message proclaimed by Jesus (peace be upon him) was soon distorted, and the Gospel, as revealed to him, was changed. His followers were, after him, influenced by the Hellenistic civilization and the Roman regime, and their call was mixed with a lot of tradition, rites and teachings that prevailed in the countries in which it was spread. It became easy for people to embrace it. Christianity did not become ingrained in the society until the Emperor Constantine, in the year 325 CE, believed in it. Thereafter, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine took care of Palestine and built the Holy Sepulchre Church, which became the most important Christian church. He also built the Church of Ascension on the Mount of Olives, and he built the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. However, the Palestinian people at that time embraced Christianity till the Muslim Conquest took place in Palestine.
The end of the Jewish presence in Palestine
Once again, reference is made to the affairs of the Children of Israel in Palestine after Jesus’ ascension. The Romans commenced ruling Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine directly from about 6 CE. During this time period, they deposed Archilles, who succeeded his father, Herod, owing to the abuse of power by him. During the period of their governor, Pontious Pilate (26-36 CE), the events of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) took place. In November of 66 CE, during the period of the Emperor Nero, the Jews revolted against the Roman rule, but the Roman military leader Tetas had managed to squelch the revolution in September of 70 CE. It took four years. After a light besiege, he entered Jerusalem where he killed, robbed, burned and completely destroyed the temple built by Herod. Then, Jerusalem became a demolished city, and many of the captors were sold cheaply as slaves in the Roman Empire markets. Every Jew’s desire was to be purchased by a person who would treat him with kindness and who would not send him to a wrestling ring with beasts. This was a sport in which the Romans used to enjoy viewing the beasts eating the people! This leader also built a triumph arch in Rome on the occasion of his conquering the Jews. It still exists there and has inscriptions of that victory remembrance where the candlestick, with its seven heads and which was well known to belong to the Jews, had been taken from the temple. It still can be seen today.
The Jews once again rebelled against the Romans under the leadership of Barcokhapa, whose original name was Simon. Their revolution lasted through the years 132-135 CE. Under his leadership, a large number of the Jews were gathered. He managed to occupy Jerusalem, but the Roman Emperor Hadrian sent a huge army under the leadership of Julius Cephrius, who defeated the Jews and occupied Jerusalem again. The Jews fled to Battier, where the debris of the citadel in which the Jews were fortified is still there. It was called “The Kherbit of the Jews” by Arabs. Hadrian severely slew the rebels, destroyed “Hierosolyma” and ploughed its location, killed and captured a great number of the Jews and prevented them from entering, living or coming near Jerusalem. He allowed the Christians to live in it provided that they should not be of Jewish origin. Hadrian built up a new city on the debris of Hierosolyma and called it “Elia capitolina”. Later on it was known as “Elia”, which was the first name of Hadrian the First. He constructed an idolatry temple for Jupiter on the same site of the old temple.
The Jews were prohibited from entering Jerusalem for the next 200 years. They rarely entered it or lived in it until the nineteenth century.
They were dispersed throughout the world, and they no longer had any connection with Palestine except for the reminiscences that consisted mostly of disbelief, debauchery, injustice and the killing of the prophets. They received their penalty from God, which manifested itself in His wrath, His curse, His depriving them from the Holy Land and His dispersing them throughout the world.
The following summations can be derived from the previous text:
1. The Muslims have remained the inhabitants of Palestine up until the present.
2. God had promised to give the Holy Land to the Children of Israel when they were following the straight path of God and the prophets were their guides. However, when they changed their attitude and rejected and disbelieved in God, this right was rescinded.
3. Muslims are more entitled to the heritage of the prophets of the Children of Israel. The call for Islam by Muslims is a continuation of the call by the previous prophets. The truth to which the prophets had devoted themselves to realize is the same truth that the Muslims are devoted to realizing.
4. The dominion of the Children of Israel had never, at any time, included the whole of Palestine as it is known in its current boundaries. The period of their domination with complete independence was so short in comparison with the history of Palestine. Even when they had two kingdoms, they were subordinates most of the time to other powers stronger than they were.
5. The self-rule that the Jews enjoyed after they had captured Babylonia was weak and restricted to the Jerusalem area and its suburbs. After that, they enjoyed a limited independence during the Maccabee epoch.
6. After their being dispersed throughout the world owing to their evil doing, the relation of the Jews with Palestine had discontinued, without interruption, for 1,900 years.
Finally, H.G. Wells said in his book, “Brief History of the Children of Israel’s Experience in Palestine after the Babylonian Captivity”, that “The life of Hebrews (in Palestine) was resembling the life of a man who insisted to settle in the middle of a crowded highway, so buses and trucks were continuously running over him … and from the start to the end, their (Kingdom) was just an emergency event in the history of Egypt, Syria, Assyria and Phoenicia, the history which was much greater than their history.”
The well-known historian Gustav Lobon said about the Children of Israel when they settled in Palestine that “they did not borrow from the superior nations except for the meanest things of those civilizations, i.e., they did not borrow anything but infamies, harmful customs, debauchery and superstitions. They offered oblations to all Asian Gods. They offered more oblations to Ashtarout, B’al and Mouloukh than to the God of their own tribe, the frowning and spiteful Yahwa, in whom they had but every little trust.”
He also said, “The Jews lived almost always in massive anarchy. Their history was just a story of abominations.… The history of the Jews from the aspect of civilization was null … (They) did not deserve to be considered among the civilized nations in any shape whatsoever”. Gustav Lobon also said, “The Children of Israel remained, even under the reign of their kings, shedding and always embarked rashly in brutal fighting.” He also said, “The psychological temper of the Jews always remained very close to the most primitive nations. The Jews were stubborn, were dupes and simpletons, were rude like beasts and acted like babies … You could not find a nation like the Jews who lacked the sense of artists.”