History of Israel
Early history of Israel
Dominant part of what scholars know about ancient history of Israel comes from the Hebrew Bible. According to the text, Israel’s origins hinges back to Abraham, who has got wide acceptance as the father of both Islam (through his son Ishmael) and Judaism (through his son Isaac).
Descendants of Abraham were supposedly enslaved by the Egyptians for hundreds of years before settling in Canaan, which is the region of modern-day Israel. Origins of the word Israel is the name given to Abraham’s grandson Jacob by the Hebrew God in the Bible, “Israel”.
King David and King Solomon
King David ruled the said territory around 1000 B.C. His son, King Solomon, has the credit of building the first holy temple in ancient Jerusalem. In about 931 B.C., the region was bifurcated into two kingdoms: Judah in the south and Israel in the north.
The Assyrians attacked and devastated the northern kingdom of Israel, around 722 B.C. Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 568 B.C. and demolished the first temple. First temple was replaced by a second temple around 516 BC.
In the ensuing several centuries, the territory of modern-day Israel was occupied and ruled by many groups, including the Persians, Arabs, Fatimids, Greeks, Romans, Seljuk Turks, Mamelukes, Islamists, Crusaders, Egyptians, and others.
The Balfour Declaration
Between 1517 and 1917, territory of today’s Israel, along with major part of the Middle East, was reigned by the Ottoman Empire. But World War I changed the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East dramatically. In 1917, when the war was at its peak, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour extended support to the idea of establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine through a letter of intent. The British government expected that the formal declaration—identified thereafter as the Balfour Declaration—would garner support for the Allies in World War I.
End of World War I in 1918 with an Allied victory was curtains for 400-year Ottoman Empire, and Great Britain occupied the territory that became known as Palestine (modern-day Israel, Palestine and Jordan). Although the Balfour Declaration and the British mandate over Palestine got approval from the League of Nations in 1922, Arabs opposed the Balfour Declaration tooth and nail, fearing that establishment of a Jewish homeland would mean absolute subjugation of Arab Palestinians. The British had control over Palestine until Israel became an independent state in 1947, after World War II ended.