Judea & Samaria - It's Jewish From the Bible through to Today
Judea and Samaria – the Promised Land
Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, and Jacob and Rachel and Leah, the founders of the Jewish nation, dwelt in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, residing in Shechem, Elon Moreh, Beit El (Bethel) and Hebron (Joshua 21). It was where G-d promised to give Abraham the land for his descendants as an everlasting covenant (Genesis 12:7), and so it was forever named “The Promised Land.”
When the Israelites came out of Egypt as a nation, they settled mainly in the hill country, in the portions and cities allotted to Benjamin, Ephraim, Menashe and Judah (Judea) (Joshua 18). From every part of the land, members of the twelve tribes would gather at the Tabernacle in Shiloh (I Samuel 1) to worship the G-d of Israel in the Jewish People’s first spiritual center
In the days of David and Solomon, the Israelite Kingdom expanded rapidly. King David’s first political capital was Hebron (2 Samuel 51), before ultimately moving the nation’s capital to the eternal city of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 11:4).
After the destruction of the First Temple and a brief period of exile, the Jewish People returned to their land, once again settling in Jerusalem and in the mountainous areas surrounding it (Ezra 2:1). During the days of the Maccabees in the first century BCE, and when King Herod ruled and at the time of the Revolt against Rome, Judea and Samaria continued to be the geo-political center of Jewish life in Israel. The cities of Herodium, Betar, Maaleh Bet Horon and the Maccabean city and stronghold of Modiin are just some of the places where Jews dwelt in the Greek and Roman periods. All the major battles of the Maccabees were conducted in Judea and Samaria. For hundreds of years following the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews still made their homes from Sussiyain the Southern Hebron Hills to Ein Ganim (Jenin) and Shchem (Nablus) in the north and Gaza in the west. Throughout the annals of history, Judea and Samaria has always been the heartland of Jewish life in the Land of Israel.
Until the Arab invasion and conquest in the year 636 CE, the Jews still constituted a significant portion of the land’s population despite the Roman, Byzantine and Persian rules. In the centuries following the Arab occupation, the land was neglected and the population gradually dwindled. During the period when the majority of the Jewish People were in exile in the Diaspora, the land passed from one foreign ruler to another, yet no nation made it their national home. As conquerors came and went, the Jewish People always yearned in their prayers to be restored to the Land of Zion and Jerusalem. In every century Jews did come back, in greater or lesser numbers, to Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza and other locations such as Safed and Tiberias. Jews had never left Peqii’in. After centuries of neglect, the area began to flourish once more upon the Zionist return to Israel and the waves of immigration, especially in the 19th century when in 1860, Jerusalem’s majority population was Jewish.
The Continued Efforts to Renew the Jewish Presence in Judea and Samaria.
Since the Jewish People began returning home, from the 18th-century immigration of the Hassidim beginning in 1777 and the disciples of the Vilna Gaon1808-1810 through until the War of Independence, many attempts were made to create a permanent Jewish presence in the mountain areas of Judea and Samaria. There were Jewish communities in Shechem, Atarot and a historic community in Hebron, until it was evacuated in wake of the Arab massacre of Hebron’s Jewish population in 1929. Several communities were established just south of Jerusalem throughout the Gush Etzion region. However they were all destroyed defending Jerusalem on May 14th 1948, the day that the State of Israel was born.