Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922

Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922

Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922

Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922

Excerpt

The history of the name of the territory lying along the Mediterranean coast between Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt is reflective of the complex history of the land it describes. The name Palestine has its origin in the Hebrew Peleshet, first mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 15:14) in reference to the land of the Pelishtim, or Philistines, one group of the Sea Peoples that invaded the region during the early biblical period. The territory of the Philistines was located in the coastal plain of southwestern Cis-Jordan (the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River), the latter being known in biblical times generally as the land of Canaan, in an area overlapping the contemporary Gaza strip. The name later appears in the Persian Wars of the Greek historian Herodotus in the form of an adjective describing “the Philistine Syria,” which presumably was intended to include all of Cis-Jordan. Subsequently, the phrase was shortened and the Greek term Palaistinei became a proper noun, which was later transformed into the name Palestine. The name fell into disuse during the period of the Second Hebrew Commonwealth but was revived in Roman times by the emperor Hadrian. He used it to replace the name Judea (by which the land had been known for centuries), following the fierce struggle with the rebellious Jews that ended in their final defeat in 135 C.E. From Byzantine times to the end of the Ottoman Empire, the name was commonly applied in non-Jewish languages to the “Land of Israel” or “Holy Land.” The latter term was understood to include both Cis-Jordan and parts of the ancient territories of Amnion, Moab, and Edom on the east bank of the . . .

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