Who occupied Jerusalem and when?



1000 BCE  The ancient city of Urusalim, meaning “Foundation of Shalem (God)” is conquered by David, King of Israel.  The Hebrews occupy Jerusalem.

975-926 BCE David’s son Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem.

922 BCE Solomon dies, and the Hebrew tribes occupying the northern part of Palestine secede, leaving the kingdom of Israel divided into the northern and southern kingdoms–Israel to the north and Judah to the south.

850 BCE Philistines & Arabians sack Jerusalem.

786 BCE King Joash of Israel (the northern kingdom) conquers the city.  The northern kingdom controls the city.

721 BCE Conquest of the tribes of the northern kingdom by Assyria. These tribes, the legendary Ten Lost Tribes of Israel disappear from history, leaving only the tribes of the southern kingdom.

612 BCE  Assyria yields to Babylon

604 BCE Jerusalem is despoiled and her king is deported to Babylon.

587/86 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon totally destroys the city and the Temple, and Jews are taken into captivity.

538 BCE  Persian King Cyrus II vanquishes the Babylonians and allows Jews to return to Jerusalem.

515  Temple is restored.

444 Nehemiah restores fortifications of Jerusalem.

333 BCE  Alexander the Great of Greece overthrows the Persians and the Hellenistic/Roman period begins.

40 BCE Herod the Great begins his 40-year reign during which the city reaches her peak of greatness.

70 CE Jerusalem besieged and almost totally destroyed by the Roman Titus.  The temple is reduced to rubbish.

130 CE The city is partially repopulated.

135 CE  Roman emperor Hadrian plants a new city on top of the rubbish of Jerusalem and names it after his family and Roman gods:  Aelia Capitolina.  A sanctuary to Jupiter is erected on the Temple Mount and other Roman deities are honored throughout the city.  Jews are prohibited from entering the city.

4th century CE  Under the influence of Constantine, Christianity becomes the official religion of Rome and the city returns to her original name Jerusalem.

Source:  Britannica online https://www.britannica.com/place/Jerusalem



Politics West of the Jordan

On the trip to Israel in February our guide Sam gave us a map of Israel.  The Israeli-published map from Sam describes complicated borders with the Palestinians on the interior of the country, as well as, differences from the UN-generated map describing the border with Syria to the north.

Geographically, Israel’s politics are A-B, but mostly -C, described in color-coded areas on the map below:

Isreali mapLilac colored areas are under Palestinian control, Area A; blue colored areas (harder to see here) have both Israeli and Palestinian authorities as described in the Legend (quoted below), Area B; the balance of the map is under Israeli control.  The map’s Legend explains it like this:

Area A – Palestinian responsibility for civil affairs, internal security and public order.

Area B – Palestinian responsibility for civil affairs and public order of Palestinians. Israeli responsibility for security of Israelis.

Our road trip from the southern tip of the Dead Sea took us north and westward into Area A, the West Bank.  (Bethlehem, just a few miles south of Jerusalem is located in Area A.)   We knew we were approaching area A when rolls of barbed wire protecting the boundary and a sign at the military checkpoint announced “Area A    Entry Forbidden to Israeli Citizens.”

Typical signage at border of A
This is a sign at the northern border of the West Bank

We had no trouble dealing with the several armed soldiers at the checkpoint because our guide, who is an Israeli, had applied for and was granted entree into Area A; he being a professional guide had his “papers” with him.  We tourists were granted entree without showing any papers, mostly because the soldiers easily identified us as a tourist group, they knew Sam as a trusted guide and their government is dependent on tourist dollars.

This is a picture of another Palestinian checkpoint at which 2 of the soldiers did board the bus and ask a few of us some generic questions about where we were from, what we were doing there, etc.  Sam gave us a heads up that this would happen as we were approaching this particular checkpoint.
Armed watchtower at Border of A.jpg
This is a Palestinian watchtower at a border crossing.

The West Bank is so named because it is the geographic area on the western side–the west bank–of the Jordan River, just across the river from the Kingdom of Jordan occupied by the Palestinians.  The roads are controlled by the Israeli government. (You can see on the map above that the lilac areas do not include the main highways.)  Within the West Bank (Palestinian) are many towns populating the desert hillsides that are called “settlements;” these settlements are Israeli.  They occur in blue areas on the map, Area B.  In the English dictionary “settlement” means simply a place where people establish a community.  In the mid-East, the definition is generally understood as: “. . . illegal houses built on illegal land” (information from Sam).

A picture from the tour bus window includes an image of a typical “settlement”, the cluster of white buildings located a little down and on the right side of the picture.  Israelis who live in this and any of the many settlements in the West Bank carry their identification papers at all times in order to pass through the Area A checkpoints, which surround each settlement.  The Israelis have checkpoints, as well, for entry into their settlements.


The word Palestine derives from Philistia, the name given by the Greeks to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th century BCE occupied a small pocket of land on the southern Mediterranean coast, between modern Tel Aviv and Gaza. (The Gaza strip is still Palestinian, the lilac-colored small area on the southern Mediterranean coast, Area A.¹)  

Biblical history provides the first prediction about how the Israeli/Palestinian relationship would develop. Exodus 13.17 (NIV) reads:

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.

The Philistines of the Old Testament are best known to us in the story of Sampson and Delilah from Judges 13-16.

The Roman emperor Hadrian first called the region of the Holy Land Palestine in the early second century CE.  After the Romans were conquered the region continued to be called Palestine, the word gaining its current form from the Arabic during the early Islamic period (600s CE).

The name had no official status until after World War I.  After that war, the region identified as Israel on the map above was called “Palestine” and was one of the regions mandated to and occupied by Great Britain as an outcome of that war.  The mandate included the territory east of the Jordan River now constituting the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan.²



Of course, the word “Israel” comes from Abraham’s grandson Jacob who was renamed “Israel” when he stopped in the desert to worship God before meeting his estranged brother Esau.  Jacob had 12 sons whose descendants became the nation Israel and were rescued from Egyptian bondage by Moses.  Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years reaching the Promised Land of Canaan; ironically, wandering in the desert of Paran, the southern third of modern-day Israel.  When they finally arrived in Canaan, they conquered all the Canaanite cities, and the region became theirs — Israel.  Some few centuries later, Israel was divided into two, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  Both were populated by descendants of Jacob.  This was the political division for many centuries.  When Jesus was born the area was Roman and the Bible refers to the area as Judea, Samaria and Galilee.

In post-war agreements in 1947, after massive immigration by the Jews fleeing Naziism during WWII, British occupying forces left the region, and Palestine was divided by the United Nations giving birth to the modern nation of Israel.²


Palm Sunday–Some thoughts about how Jesus may have felt and what he saw from the Mt. of Olives on that day

“After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, . . . ”   Luke 19:28


On our trip to Israel in spring of 2019, Tra and I did get a chance to go to the Mt. of Olives, a hilly informal plot of land where ancient olive trees and stones are planted.  But we looked out across the Kidron Valley (as seen below) and saw what Jesus may have seen.

From the Mount of Olives Jesus and his disciples saw the great city of  Jerusalem, the City of David, Zion, the Eternal City.  The picture below is the 2019 version of Jerusalem as seen from the Mt. of Olives. The gold dome¹ covers the Jewish Temple Mount, the cornerstone of the temple that was standing when Jesus and his disciples looked over the city.

Mt of Olives
There we are (somewhere) standing at the overlook on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus and His disciples may have stood to view the Holy City.


What did Jesus feel when He saw the Eternal City that day?

Herod's Temple

He saw the ancient Jewish temple that King Herod the Great had re-built.²    He knew about the central structure, the “Holy of Holies,” in which hung the veil that would be “rent asunder” the moment He died on the cross.

Tower of David and old city walls

The Tower of David and the city walls built by Herod the Great, pictured here, 2019.

He saw Herod the Great’s magnificent renovations to the temple and the more magnificent palace dominating the city-scape. Herod was famous as Rome’s master builder.  But for  Jesus and his Jewish followers, this Herod was the same man responsible—just 33 years before—for the mass murder of all Jewish boys under 2-years old. It was Herod’s attempt to eliminate the baby who was Jesus, now a man who  was viewing the city from the Mt. of Olives.  How did Jesus and His disciples feel when they saw the palace of this mass-murderer in their Holy City?

Adjacent to the temple stood Antonia’s Fortress, another architectural masterpiece, Herod’s monument honoring the Roman leader Marc Antony.  This fortress is where the governor’s of Rome would stay the following weekend–the weekend of Christ’s crucifixion–because it was from Antonia’s Fortress that they would have a clear and up-close view of Golgotha.


¹The gold dome, now famously called “The Dome of the Rock,” was built by a Moslem caliph in the 7th century C.E.   For the Moslems, it commemorates the place from where Mohammed was lifted for his sacred Night Journey, a visit to Allah in heaven. No Jews or Christians are allowed in the “Dome of the Rock.”

²A model of the Temple, which would have stood where the Golden Dome is now seen.  The image comes from the Oxford Biblical Studies on-line. 



The document linked below is an attempt to outline a brief history of the city of Samaria,
which was built in the 9th century BCE and survived to the Byzantine era, hundreds of years after Christ.   The Samaritan sect, which traces its origin back to the northern Israelite form of the Mosaic religion, still exists in small numbers at the city of  Nablus and accepts only the Pentateuch as Scripture.  (britannica.com) In ancient times, Samaria was also the central region of ancient Palestine, known as the West Bank. SamariaWest Bank    Contemporary Map of Samaria/West Bank from britannica.com.

What does BCE stand for?

This question was posed at the Wednesday night Soup Supper on February 28.

When used in conjunction with dates, BCE means “Before Common Era” and CE means “Common Era.” “Common Era” is an alternative name for the traditional calendar era “Anno Domini” (“in the Year of Our Lord”), abbreviated AD. BCE is an alternative name for the traditional calendar era “Before Christ,” abbreviated BC.

Example: The dates AD 2001 and 2001 CE are equivalent. The dates 457 BC and 457 BCE are equivalent. Per style guide convention, AD traditionally precedes the year, whereas BC, BCE, and CE always follow the year.