Judea & Samaria Background


The heartland of the Jewish people is throughout Judea and Samaria; it is not Tel Aviv, which was established in 1909. It is in the land of Judea and Samaria where Shiloh is located, the site of the first tabernacle. Hebron is where King David reigned before he conquered and established Jerusalem as the capital. Hebron is also the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs, a place Avraham purchased as a burial place for Sarah and himself, where Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are interred. Rachel’s Tomb is located along the Jerusalem-Hebron road where people go for blessings, especially women hoping to get pregnant. In short, Judea and Samaria is the epicenter from where The Kingdom of the Jewish people emanated, and is the central connection to the Jewish ancestral body. 

The names Judea and Samaria (Yehuda & Shomron) have integral relevancy to the Jewish people and nation. Historically, the two kingdoms were created after the death of King Solomon, when the 10 northern tribes of Israel refused to accept the rule of King Solomon’s son.  There was the Northern Kingdom (Israel, which included Samaria. It was renamed Shomron after the Assyrian conquest in 722 CE), and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). During Hellenistic times, the Southern Kingdom was known as Judea.

The region of Samaria included land that was allocated to the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, while Judea encompassed the tribes of Benjamin and Judah.

Even under the British occupation, Judea & Samaria retained its rightful historical name, and served as an administrative district for the British.


Land Stolen by Arabs sign in Hebron, Israel
Land Stolen by Arabs sign in Hebron, Israel

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Shiloah Caves
Shiloah (Silwan) caves; Yemenite Jews settled here in 1882.

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Babylonian Exile

After the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE, Jews were exiled to Babylonia by Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar. The enemy King deported the most prominent Jews, around 10,000 people; this resulted in an acrimonious division between those left behind in Judea and the exiled. However, 90% of the Jewish population, which was agrarian and poor, was left behind and Judea became a Babylonian vassal state. In 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to their Homeland. Some Jews had established themselves in Babylonia and Persia by this time, yet others returned to rebuild Jerusalem.

It was during this Exile, that the Babylonian Talmud came to fruition.  

The Maccabee/Judea & Samaria connection

In 166 BCE, at Beit Horon, which is near what is now Ramallah, Judah the Maccabee conquered a Seleucid leader and redirected his forces in a crushing defeat. This military triumph occurred after Judah and his army had vanquished Apollonius, the Seleucid commander, at Ma’aleh Levona near Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria.

Michael Freund, in the The Jerusalem Post writes, “In Beit Zecharia, in what is now Gush Etzion, Judah’s brother Elazar was killed when confronting elephants deployed by Antiochus against the Jewish rebels. And it was in the hills around Beit El that many of the Hasmoneans found refuge from the Seleucid tyrant’s forces of oppression.

Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria
Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria

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Map of Maccabean battles
Map of Maccabean battles; major battle sites included: Wadi Haramia, Beth Horon, Emmaus, Beth Zur, Beth Zechariah, Adasa, Elasa

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Indeed, in Samaria one can visit the remains of fortresses that were erected by the Hasmonean dynasty, such as the one on the Horn of Sartaba, a mountain overlooking the Jordan Valley, where the Alexandrian fortress was built by King Alexander Yanai.

The list goes on, and it underlines the incontrovertible fact that Mattathias and the Maccabees fought to expel foreign invaders from Judea and Samaria and reclaim this central part of our ancestral patrimony.”

Topographic map of Chanukkah battles
Topographic map of Chanukkah battles

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Destruction of the Second Temple

Romans desecrated the Second Temple (see the Arch of Titus) as part of the Judeo-Roman wars, capturing Jewish slaves back to Rome, along with a multitude of treasures stolen from the sacred Temple. It cost the Romans more men and money to defeat the Jews than any other group, and in an attempt to de-Judaize the Jewish land, they renamed Judea to ‘Syria-Palestina.’ 

Adding to the alphabet soup of adversaries, were the Byzantines, Mamluks, and Ottomans. Jews were a constant presence in the land of Israel, no matter the conqueror. After WWI, the Ottoman Empire fell and the entirety of Palestine came under the British Mandate for Palestine.

Until 614 CE: Byzantine rule
614 – 629 CE: Persian rule
629 – 638 CE: Byzantine rule
638 – 750 CE: Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphs
750 – 970 CE: Abbasid Caliphs
970 – 1099 CE: Fatimid Caliphs
1099 – 1187 CE (and until 1291 CE in Acre): Crusaders
1291 – 1517 CE: Mamluk rule
1517 – 1917 CE: Ottoman rule

No Israelis allowed sign
No Israelis allowed sign outside of Jericho in Area A of Judea & Samaria

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