History of the Jews and Judaism in the Land of Israel

The history of the Jews and Judaism in the Land of Israel is about the history and religion of the Jewish people who originated in the Land of Israel, and have maintained physical, cultural, and religious ties to it ever since. Although they had first emerged centuries earlier as an outgrowth of southern Canaanites,[1][2][3][4] and the Hebrew Bible claims that a United Israelite monarchy existed starting in the 10th century BCE, the first appearance of the name "Israel" in the non-Biblical historic record is the Egyptian Merneptah Stele, circa 1200 BCE. During the biblical period, two kingdoms occupied the highland zone, the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) in the north, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire (circa 722 BCE), and the Kingdom of Judah by the Neo-Babylonian Empire (586 BCE). Upon the defeat of the Neo-Babylonian Empire by the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great (538 BCE), the Jewish elite returned to Jerusalem, and the Second Temple was built.

In 332 BCE the Macedonian Greeks under Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire, which included Yehud (Judea) starting a long religious struggle that split the Jewish population into traditional and Hellenized components.

In 165 BCE, after the religion-driven Maccabean Revolt, the independent Hasmonean Kingdom was established. In 64 BCE the Romans conquered Judea, turning it into a Roman province. Although coming under the sway of various empires and home to a variety of ethnicities, the area of ancient Israel was predominantly Jewish until the Jewish–Roman wars of 66–136 CE, during which the Romans expelled most of the Jews from the area and replaced it with the Roman province of Syria Palaestina, beginning the Jewish diaspora. After this time, Jews became a minority in most regions, except Galilee, and the area became increasingly Christian after the 3rd century, although the percentages of Christians and Jews are unknown, the former perhaps coming to predominate in urban areas, the latter remaining in rural areas.[5] Jewish settlements declined from over 160 to 50 by the time of the Muslim conquest. Michael Avi-Yonah calculated that Jews constituted 10–15% of Palestine's population by the time of the Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem in 614,[6] while Moshe Gil claims that Jews constituted the majority of the population until the 7th century Muslim conquest (638 CE).[7]

In 1099 the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem and nearby coastal areas, losing and recapturing it for almost 200 years until their final ouster from Acre in 1291. In 1517 the Ottoman Empire conquered it, ruling it until the British conquered it in 1917, and ruled it under the British Mandate for Palestine until 1948, when the Jewish State of Israel was proclaimed, which was made possible by the Zionist movement and its promotion of mass Jewish immigration.


The term "Jews" originates from the Biblical Hebrew word Yehudi, and in its original meaning refers to the people of the Tribe of Judah or the people of the Kingdom of Judah. The name of both the tribe and kingdom derive from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob.[8] Originally, the Hebrew term Yehudi referred only to members of the tribe of Judah. Later, after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), the term "Yehudi" was applied to anyone from the Kingdom of Judah, including the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, as well as scattered settlements from other tribes.[9]

The Land of Israel, which is considered by Jews to be the Promised Land, was the place where Jewish identity was formed,[10][need quotation to verify] although this identity was formed gradually reaching much of its current form in the Exilic and post-Exilic period. By the Hellenistic period (after 332 BCE) the Jews had become a self-consciously separate community based in Jerusalem.