Land of Israel: History

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For Prehistory see *Archaeology; for Biblical and Second Temple periods, see *History.

Destruction of the Second Temple until the Arab Conquest (70–640 c.e.)

the effects of the war of 66–70 c.e.

The Jewish war against the Romans, which lasted more than four years and encompassed the entire country, the continuing siege of the fortresses of *Machaerus, *Herodium, and *Masada, the last falling only in 73, the capture of *Jerusalem and the destruction of the *Temple – all these gravely affected the Jewish people and the cities and villages of Ereẓ Israel. Josephus (Wars, 6:420) states that during the siege of Jerusalem alone more than a million Jews fell, while his contemporary Tacitus places the number at 600,000 (Historiae, 5:13). To these figures are to be added those killed at various stages of the war in Judea, Galilee, and Transjordan. Many fell in the battles fought and the massacres perpetrated by the inhabitants of the Greek cities against the local Jews, such as in *Caesarea, *Beth-Shean, *Acre, and *Ashkelon. In addition to the slain, many were taken captive before the siege of Jerusalem; tens of thousands were sold into slavery, sent to toil in ships and mines, or presented to the non-Jewish cities adjacent to Ereẓ Israel to fight against wild animals in the theaters. While the figures given by the early historians are undoubtedly exaggerated, it is certain that tens upon tens of thousands of Jews were killed or taken prisoner. Cities and villages were burnt and destroyed either in the course of the war or as an act of revenge and intimidation. Agriculture in particular suffered. Fruit trees on the mountains and in the valleys were cut down by the army for use in the siege or by military detachments in order to cow the population. That they might not be utilized by the enemy, many fruit trees were uprooted by the Jewish fighters, as were also the groves of balsam trees in the vicinity of Jericho which, of a quality unequaled in the world, were deliberately destroyed by the Jews, according to Pliny. Several cities and villages, which were demolished and of which Josephus tells that they were razed to the ground and burnt, were not actually destroyed but were damaged in one form or another. Some, like Jaffa, were already rebuilt during the war, others were completely destroyed or never restored.

With the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem, although continuing to be inhabited by impoverished Jews, completely lost not only its spiritual significance but also its importance as a populated and economic center. Contemporary sages give distressing accounts of the plight of the surviving members of wealthy Jerusalem families (Mekh., Ba-Ḥodesh, 1; tj, Ket. 5:13, 30b; tbibid., 67a). A considerable proportion of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and its immediate vicinity had derived their livelihood from the service and the supplies as also from other public duties associated with the Temple, as well as from the pilgrimages. With the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem they lost their sole means of support. The protracted war greatly increased the hostility of the soldiers and the authorities toward the Jews, undermining their position and bringing religious persecutions in its wake. The sources attest to the destruction of synagogues and the building of theaters on their sites or with their plunder, "so as to wound the feelings of the Jews." More grievous were the tortures inflicted on the Jews to compel them to transgress the commandments of their religion (Jos., Wars, 2:150ff.; Apion, 1:43). For a time after the destruction of the Temple the Jews had the legal status of dediticii, that is, of a people that had unconditionally surrendered itself, its property, territory, and towns to the Roman state; they were deprived of their communal and religious rights by imperial edict; and were the arbitrary victims both in theory and in practice of unrestrained acts of lawlessness, as were also the Jewish communities in the immediate neighborhood of Ereẓ Israel. The authorities searched out the Jewish families descended from the house of David in order to destroy them and thus eradicate the last remnant of the nation's hope of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. There was also *Vespasian's decree that, instead of the half shekel which each Jew contributed to the Temple in Jerusalem, a tax of two drachmas was to be imposed on every Jew in Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora, and given annually to the imperial treasury for Jupiter Capitolinus, the Roman god, whose temple was on the Capitol. More than being a serious financial burden, this tax, which was paid also by women and children, was humiliating and oppressive, in addition to indirectly enforcing idolatry on the Jews. Although levied until the days of Julian the Apostate in the middle of the fourth century, its connection with Jupiter was discontinued some years after the destruction of the Temple. The memory of the war against the Romans and of the subjugation of Judea, with all that these implied, was kept alive by the Flavian emperors who throughout that dynasty's reign struck coins commemorating the victory and emphasizing the fact that Judea had been conquered.

the organizational and spiritual crisis

No less grave were the consequences in the spiritual and organizational spheres. The destruction of the country, the capture of Jerusalem, the burning of the Temple, and in their wake the abolition of the leading institutions – the high priesthood and the Sanhedrin – brought stupefaction and confusion in spiritual and communal life. Associated with the Temple and its divine service were communal and judicial institutions that had their seat in the Temple. There was the Sanhedrin, which administered justice, proclaimed the new months, and intercalated the year. There was the high priesthood, which had lost none of its commanding spiritual splendor despite its diminished prestige during the generations preceding the destruction of the Second Temple, its curtailed power, and the widespread criticism leveled at it. The destruction of the Temple brought an end to the sacrifices that atoned for Israel's sins and to the pilgrimages, and many categories of mitzvot connected with the Temple and its service fell into disuse, and so to some extent did numerous other mitzvot associated with festivals, such as the blowing of the shofar on the New Year and the waving of the lulav on Tabernacles, which were mainly observed in the Temple and only partially outside it. The Temple was also the political, juridical basis of the Jewish communal structure. Centering round it in the Persian and Hellenistic periods, Judea derived its constitutional power from the Temple, the nation's glory as far as the outside world was concerned and the focal point of the Jewish people both in Ereẓ Israel and in the Diaspora. In the Second Temple period Jerusalem was not only the capital of the state but also the theater of every spiritual creativity and political occasion. Coalescing as it were with the Temple, the city was intertwined in the practical life of the people and in the complex of the basic values of the nation's thought. The destruction of the city and of the Temple left a vacuum in the spiritual and practical life of the Jews. The crises that followed the revival and the fervent hopes aroused during the war against the Romans were calculated to undermine the nation's faith both in its teachings and in its future. One senses in the tannaitic literature and in the apocryphal works, composed in the generation after the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, the somber sorrow and pain that afflicted many contemporary circles. Some abstained from flesh and wine, for the altar had been destroyed on which flesh had been offered and wine poured out in libations. Many lived in caves and in fasting and self-mortification awaited the messianic era, which would soon dawn. There was no speedy transition to the spiritual, religious reality necessary to rebuild the sole basis of a hope of redemption – the life of the nation, now deprived of its Temple and its political framework.

the administrative changes and the regime after destruction

With the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, Judea, except for those settlements (like Caesarea) which, within the confines of Jewish Ereẓ Israel, enjoyed city status, passed under the direct control of the Roman administration. At Motza a colony was set up consisting of 800 Roman veterans, who received confiscated Jewish land. Jaffa and Flavia Neapolis, founded near Shechem, were granted city rights. No new cities were established within the limits of Jewish settlement, except *Tiberias and *Sepphoris which, having previously had city status, in the course of time regained their rights. The province of Judea, provincia Judaea, which was now founded, included all the coastal cities from Caesarea to Rafa, the whole of Idumea, Judea, Samaria, Perea in Trans-jordan, Galilee, and all the cities of the Decapolis, except Damascus and Canatha. After the death of *Agrippa ii (92), the last ruler of the Herodian dynasty, a considerable part of his kingdom, comprising territories in Perea, Tiberias, Magdala, and Gaulanitis, was added to Judea. In contrast to the period preceding the destruction, the province was now subject to the authority of a Roman senator who had formerly served as a praetor and whose title was legatus Augusti pro praetore provincia Judaea.

Contrary to the prevailing Roman imperial practice of stationing legions only in the provinces bordering on the empire,*Vespasian stationed in Judea, an "internal" country, a permanent garrison, the tenth legion, legio decima Fretensis, that had taken part in the war against the Jews. During the entire period of the Roman imperial rule of Ereẓ Israel this legion was permanently stationed in the country, and inscriptions and seals of it have been uncovered at its various encampments. Its main camp, located on the city's ruins, was in Jerusalem; its commander was the governor, who resided in Caesarea. To facilitate contact between the military headquarters in the center of the country and the administrative seat of government at Caesarea, a branch of the coastal road was built from Antipatris to Jerusalem. Encamped near the legion were other military units, auxiliary troops, etc., that had been brought from distant lands. The auxiliary forces which had been stationed in Ereẓ Israel before the destruction and which, consisting of soldiers from Caesarea and from Sebaste, were distinguished for their hatred of the Jews whom they had provoked to acts of war, were transferred by Vespasian to other provinces. Assisting the governor was a procurator who was in charge of financial affairs. It is doubtful whether the province of Judea became independent after the destruction and was not annexed to Syria, as it had been before the war, since civil, legal, and military issues of decisive importance still required the decision of the Syrian governor who resided in Antioch. Josephus tells that Vespasian ordered that all Jewish territory was to be hired out, for he founded no city in it (Wars, 7:216). Since in point of fact many Jewish farmers remained on their land as owners, Josephus' statement refers to that land which was confiscated and which indeed constituted a considerable proportion of Jewish territory. Contemporary literature echoes a poignant cry against the Roman tax-collectors (conductores) who held land throughout Ereẓ Israel. Some was actually transferred to non-Jews, such as to the 800 veterans, and its former owners were dispossessed. Other land was given to favorites and loyal friends of the Jewish and non-Jewish authorities or to large tenants, the conductores. The former owners were not ejected from most of the confiscated land but cultivated their own as tenant farmers, for which they had to pay a high rental in kind, expecting nevertheless to be evicted at any time on the pretext of not paying the rent or some other excuse.


On unconfiscated land a tax was levied which was increased after the destruction and from which only a few imperial court favorites, such as Josephus in the days of Domitian, were exempted. But whereas some in the territories of the Roman Empire were liable to a land but not to a poll tax, the Jews in Ereẓ Israel had to pay both. A Roman writer of a generation or two after the destruction states that, because of their rebelliousness, the tax imposed on the Jews of Ereẓ Israel was more severe than that demanded of the inhabitants of the neighboring countries. After the destruction the tax for the provision and maintenance of the army and of the enlarged Roman officialdom in the country, levied in kind (annona) from dough, animals, and all locally produced or imported agricultural and industrial products, was increased. There were bitter complaints against the excessive demands and the harshness employed in collecting them, as also against the various forms of forced labor, whereby the authorities and especially the army compelled the population, both urban and rural, to perform work, such as haulage, or repairing and making roads, with their own persons and with the help of their temporary or permanently requisitioned draught animals. A short time after the destruction small watchtower stations were erected along the borders and along the main roads in many places in Ereẓ Israel. In the years following the destruction, under the Flavian dynasty (until 96), a system of defense, known by its latter name of limes Palaestinae was established in southern Ereẓ Israel. Extending from Menois, north of Rafa, to the Dead Sea, the limes consisted of a series of fortresses connected by a road, along which, on allotments of land, military colonists enjoying a special status were settled. In the rear of the limes were two military bases: *Carmel and *Hebron. While its establishment brought security to the country's southern settlements, it further increased the already large non-Jewish population in the country.

the inception of a central leadership

The renewal in post-destruction Ereẓ Israel of Jewish communal life – which also reconstructed Judaism in the Diaspora – without the framework of a state and without a Temple which was the foundation of Jewish religious and spiritual existence, is associated with the name of Rabban *Johanan b. Zakkai and with his activities in the semi-Greek city of *Jabneh. One of the greatest Pharisaic sages in Jerusalem before the destruction, he vehemently opposed the Sadducees and the Sadducean high priesthood. He was deputy to the president of the Sanhedrin, Rabban *Simeon b. Gamaliel, who was the leader of the government set up after Cestius Gallus had been forced to retreat and with whom he signed the letters sent throughout Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora in connection with tithes and the intercalation of the year (Mid. Tan. 26:13). To him is ascribed the abolition of the ceremony of the bitter water in the examination of a wife suspected of infidelity (Sot. 9:9). Although a priest, he is depicted as a scholar and teacher who in his statements and teachings protested and strove against the priests' haughtiness and aloofness. It is possible that he gave no support to the revolt against Rome. At any rate, warning the rebels against fanaticism and impetuous acts, he called on them to display moderation in their relations with gentiles and toward their sacred objects: "Be not precipitate in tearing down the altars of gentiles that you do not have to rebuild them with your own hands, that you do not tear down those made of brick and be ordered: Make them of stone.…" (arn2 31, 66). He was in besieged Jerusalem, but left the city during the siege, apparently in the spring of 68 when Vespasian was closing in on the city. His departure then left a deep impression on talmudic tradition, and there are different versions of his appearance before Vespasian when he prophesied that the latter would become the emperor (which Josephus ascribes to himself, and various sources to different persons in the east). According to later traditions in the Babylonian Talmud, he obtained from the emperor "Jabneh with its sages" and "the dynasty of Rabban Gamaliel" (Git. 56b). But this tradition, which contains much taken from somewhat later circumstances, reflects the time when "Jabneh with its sages" was already established under the leadership of Rabban *Gamaliel, the son of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, and the foundations had been laid for the succeeding dynasty of nesi'im who presided over the Sanhedrin and led the nation for more than 300 years. The earlier traditions embodied in the Ereẓxs Israel literature (Lam. R. 1:5, no. 31; arn1 40, 22–23; arn2 60, 19–20) indicate that Johanan b. Zakkai was first held in custody at Gophna and later transferred, apparently under duress, to Jabneh, which was used together with other cities such as Ashdod, on account of their large non-Jewish population, as a place for concentrating and imprisoning the Jews, and especially the prominent ones, who had surrendered to the Romans. According to one source, he only requested of the emperor, who granted his request, that certain persons be saved; according to others he succeeded in obtaining Jabneh "to teach his pupils" or "to observe the mitzvot and study the Torah" there.

The general circumstances prevailing during the war against the Romans, as also the usual procedures adopted by Vespasian and his son *Titus, support these earlier versions of the origin of Jabneh. When requesting "Jabneh with its sages," Johanan b. Zakkai did not presumably ask of and receive from Rome permission to establish a national or even merely a spiritual center. Although the official permission he received was extremely restricted, he in effect began, with or without the authorities' knowledge, to rehabilitate Jewish life theoretically and to fill in practice the vacuum created by the destruction. He reestablished the *Sanhedrin, and in Jabneh commenced to proclaim the new months and intercalate the years, on which the entire calendar of Jewish festivals depended. The proclamation of the new month, based on the testimony of witnesses, and the intercalation of the year, dependent on the decision of the bet din, which were previously done in the Temple in Jerusalem, were now transferred to Jabneh, and the information was transmitted to all the cities of Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora. By this action alone Jabneh became the leading center and place of assembly for all Israel. To it was transferred some of the authority and activities that pertained to the Temple courtyards in Jerusalem. Several of Johanan b. Zakkai's regulations deal with the proclamation of the new month at Jabneh. He decreed that the shofar was to be blown at Jabneh also on a New Year that fell on a Sabbath, which had previously only been done in the Temple and in Jerusalem. Another regulation lays down "that even if the head of the bet din is in some other place, the witnesses (who testify when the new moon appeared) should still go only to the place of the assembly" (rh 4:4). His other regulations were likewise intended to fill the void created by the destruction and to rebuild Jewish life while retaining a remembrance of the Temple, so as to rehabilitate the former without the latter. He instituted that the lulav be waved all the seven days of Tabernacles, contrary to the situation that obtained during the existence of the Temple when it was waved seven days in the Temple and only one day in other parts of the country (ibid. 4:3). He ordained that the priests bless the people during prayers in the synagogue without their shoes on, as had been done at the end of the service in the Temple. According to the halakhah, a proselyte, on his conversion, had to bring a sacrifice to the Temple, but with its destruction he set aside a quarter shekel for a sacrifice to be offered when the Temple would be rebuilt, a regulation abolished by Johanan b. Zakkai (ibid. 31b). To the people, shaken by the destruction of the Temple, "where the sins of Israel were expiated," he taught: "My son, be not grieved. We have another means of expiation like it. What is it? It is deeds of loving-kindness" (arn1 4, 21). He laid the foundations for the structure of organized life by instituting or renewing the ordination of sages and the title of "rabbi" for ordained sages, a fact of great significance not only for the religious life, law, and leadership in Ereẓ Israel, but also for the country's hegemony over the Diaspora, since the right of granting ordination was restricted to the leading institutions in Ereẓ Israel. The title of rabbi also indicated that its bearer was a member of the Sanhedrin and acted in its name. Furthermore, Johanan b. Zakkai began to work for the consolidation and unity of the nation amid the various trends and movements which appeared in all their destructive virulence during the last days of the Temple's existence. Nevertheless Johanan b. Zakkai's activities are limited in comparison with those that marked the days of Rabban Gamaliel. This is not to be ascribed only to the difficult external conditions then prevailing and the Roman Empire's nonrecognition of the leadership at Jabneh. It is also due to the fact that many sages dissociated themselves from Johanan b. Zakkai and his actions at Jabneh. Conspicuous by their absence were not only the priestly sages who ministered in the Temple and ranked among the influential members of Pharisaic circles, but also many others, some of whom went to Jabneh after the days of Johanan b. Zakkai. Of his five pupils, only two, *Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and *Joshua b. Hananiah, accompanied him to Jabneh. Apparently a considerable number of the sages were unable to reconcile themselves with him, with his leaving besieged Jerusalem, his surrender to the Romans, and his throwing himself on the emperor's mercy. These circles, however, cooperated with Rabban Gamaliel, his successor and a member of the dynasty of the nasi.

in the days of the nasi rabban gamaliel

A change in the status of Judaism in Ereẓ Israel took place when the Flavian dynasty came to an end with the murder of Domitian (96). The policy of encouraging informers in Rome against those suspected of Judaism was abolished, as was that of persecuting proselytes. To this period is to be assigned the accession of Rabban Gamaliel to the position of nasi after having previously been compelled to go into hiding from the Romans. In contrast to Johanan b. Zakkai who according to the evidence had no contact with the authorities during his tenure of the office of nasi, Rabban Gamaliel traveled to Antioch where he obtained authorization from "the governor in Syria" (Eduy. 7:7). Roman imperial emissaries were sent to ascertain the nature of Hebrew civil law, then reintroduced and extensively in vogue. There were the journeys to Rome undertaken by Rabban Gamaliel together with the leading members of the Sanhedrin, Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, *Eleazar b. Azariah, Joshua, and *Akiva, their meeting with the authorities, and their visit to the Jews in the city. Under Rabban Gamaliel the center in Jabneh assumed most of the functions fulfilled by the Sanhedrin in Second Temple times. To it questions were addressed from all the cities of Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora. During this period missions were reintroduced on behalf of the nasi and the Sanhedrin to the communities of Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora, some of the most eminent sages, such as Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, Joshua b. Hananiah, Akiva, and *Ishmael, acting as emissaries and being sometimes accompanied by the nasi himself. These missions also had great economic importance, since the emissaries brought back with them the money collected in the Diaspora for the maintenance of the central authority in Ereẓ Israel. The ties that the emissaries formed with the cities of Ereẓ Israel and with the Diaspora had not only an organizational significance but also established a personal link between these places and the great teachers of the Torah acting in the name of the nasi. Wherever they went, they gave practical decisions on the questions submitted to them, brought with them the innovations decided upon in the battei midrashot in Ereẓ Israel, supervised the communal arrangements and institutions, and established those essential for the life of a Jewish community, such as charitable, educational and other similar ones. The emissaries decisively influenced the appointment of leaders in the cities and villages of Ereẓ Israel and the communities of the Diaspora, and even had the power to depose them if their leadership was found to be defective. During this period the character of the Sanhedrin assumed definite form as a bet midrash, a legislature and a dominant executive body.

Many discussions and actions that marked those years until the Bar Kokhba revolt (132) had not only then a decisive effect on the life of the Jews in Ereẓ Israel and in the Diaspora but shaped and directed the existence of the nation throughout all subsequent generations. Amid much argument and conflict the halakhah was decided according to Bet Hillel, a fact of great influence on the entire history of the halakhah. A final decision was taken on numerous problems concerned with proselytization, priestly dues, tithes, and other subjects. In this period the concept crystallized that study is greater than action, since "study leads to action" (Kid. 40b). At one assembly which took place at Lydda in keeping with the custom of meeting on occasion elsewhere than at the permanent center at Jabneh, it was decided that a Jew, if forced to transgress the mitzvot of the Torah, may do so to save his life except in the three instances of idolatry, murder, and incest. But at a time of open religious persecution intended to compel Jews to sin against their religion, a Jew should suffer death and not transgress even a minor custom (tj, Sanh. 3:6, 21a). At Jabneh the form of the festivals was laid down under the circumstances prevailing after the destruction, when there were now no pilgrimages, sacrifices, or Temple. The order was also fixed of the four fasts instituted after the destruction of the First Temple but either observed partially or totally disregarded in the Second Temple period. Under the direction of the sages of Jabneh, *Aquila the proselyte of Pontus translated the Bible anew into Greek. The earlier Septuagint did not mirror the later halakhic and aggadic interpretation of the Pentateuch and the Prophets, thereby creating a barrier between the Jews who used it and the halakhic and aggadic expositions they heard from the sages. That the Septuagint had been adopted and canonized by the Church and several of its passages were used as a basis for the Church Fathers' interpretations may have influenced the sages to produce a new translation. The Jews did not entirely discard the Septuagint but Aquila's version was adopted in synagogues and in Jewish life. On Rabban Gamaliel's explicit instructions the order was fixed of the prayer of Eighteen Benedictions, known already in Second Temple times (see *Amidah). While it is not certain what precisely was done in the days of Gamaliel, at all events from this period the prayer was permanently instituted for private and public worship two or three times daily.

In the days of Jabneh, too, the breach and separation between Judaism and *Christianity took place. Pharisaic Judaism had in the Second Temple period shown tolerance alike to Gentile and Judeo-Christians. But after the destruction came the separation. The Judeo-Christians dissociated themselves from the war against the Romans and from the tragedy that had come upon the nation. Nor did some share the hope of deliverance, which had, in their view, been fulfilled with the advent of their Messiah. Many of them saw in the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem a proof of the truth of Christianity, in that Israel had been punished for killing their Messiah, and Jesus' prophecy regarding the destruction of the Temple had been fulfilled. Some even held that with its destruction and the discontinuance of many commandments, all the mitzvot had been annulled and Judaism's hour had passed. Thus they used the destruction of the Temple for propagating Christianity. To this the sages of Jabneh answered with actions calculated to bring about a breach and a separation between the Jews and Judeo-Christianity and especially those trends in Judeo-Christianity that approximated to Gentile Christianity. A notable factor that had a decisive influence in the Jewish community's rejection of Judeo-Christianity was the introduction in the Eighteen Benedictions of an additional blessing directed against its adherents: "To apostates let there be no hope if they return not to Thy Torah, and may the Nazarenes and the sectarians perish as in a moment" (such or something similar was the ancient Ereẓ Israel version). This prayer in effect excluded Judeo-Christianity from the Jewish people.

the educational activities of the sages of jabneh inside the confines of the house of assembly

The sages of Jabneh succeeded not only in reconstructing the life of the nation but also in achieving the efflorescence of its spiritual and social existence. This was largely due to the activities of the leaders of the bet midrash and the Sanhedrin as also to the great personalities with whom that period was favored. Most of them were ordained rabbis and functioned officially as members of the Sanhedrin. But there were also those – and some of them represented the most outstandingly creative and constructive forces – who, unordained, continued as "disciples" and worked as itinerant teachers of the Torah in Ereẓ Israel unhampered by any official obligations. Almost none of the personalities who established and consolidated the institutions of the communal national leadership at Jabneh emanated from the circles that, during Second Temple times, had constituted the social elite, whether of the priestly or the social-economic aristocracy. Some of the sages were indeed priests and even well-to-do or rich, but many, and they included some of the most eminent figures, were poor and of undistinguished birth, their standing being determined only by their learning and their rich personalities. In addition to the bet midrash at Jabneh, others flourished in the towns and villages, being found in all parts of the country from the south to the north, at Kefar Aziz in the south, where Ishmael was active; at *Bene Berak, where Akiva lived; at Lydda, the seat of Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and of *Tarfon; at Peki ʾ in, which was under the leadership of Joshua b. Hananiah; and in Galilean cities, such as at Sepphoris, where *Ḥalafta was active, at *Sikhnin, the seat of *Ḥananiah b. Teradyon, and at Tiberias, where *Yose b. Kisma taught. The heads of the local battei midrashot came regularly to Jabneh which some made their main place of residence, paying only short visits to their own battei midrashot.

resettlement and economic recovery

Despite the considerable suffering endured as a consequence of the war, Jewish Ereẓ Israel made a rapid recovery. Many captives, freed with the help of the local Jewish population or by other means, returned to their homes. As a result of the teachings of the contemporary sages, the significance of Ereẓ Israel, its settlement, and the redemption of its land now assumed the character of a basic principle in Jewish thought and action. Large tracts of land were redeemed from the non-Jews, plantations were restored, and new ones planted. Agricultural knowledge increased, and industry in Ereẓ Israel, consisting of processed agricultural products, quickly recovered. Craftsmen's associations plied their trades; farmers reaped bounteous harvests; agricultural and industrial products were exported. Already toward the end of the first century c.e. the economic position had improved considerably. In general, Jewish cities destroyed during the war were rebuilt and rehabilitated. All the Greek cities, whose Jewish settlement had been destroyed during the war, were repopulated by Jews. By the end of the first century c.e. there were flourishing Jewish communities in places like Caesarea, Ashkelon, Acre, Beth-Shean, and elsewhere. Great assistance in the speedy rehabilitation of the Jewish nation in Ereẓ Israel was rendered by those cities which had not revolted against Rome or had at an early stage in the war stopped fighting, while the basis for the restoration of a normal economic life was provided by those cities and circles which had not participated in the war. By reason both of postwar military requirements and of the economic and commercial prosperity of the Roman Empire under the Antonines (96–180), the network of roads in Ereẓ Israel was extended and many bridges were built. In 106 the *Nabatean kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire, and in 111 a start was made with constructing a road linking Damascus and Akaba. A large part of the foreign trade with the Arabian Peninsula and with India passed along this route, to the benefit of the cities, including the Jewish settlements, adjoining this road and of the Jews in the Greek cities in Transjordan. The Jewish population increased, too, in Akaba, that is, Ezion-Geber.

the war of quietus

In 115–117 the Jews in the Diaspora rose in a widespread revolt which, embracing Libya, Cyrenaica, Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia, was marked both by battles between the Jews and the Greeks and uprisings against Roman rule in the east. The focal point of the revolt was in the Diaspora and the early historical sources speak explicitly only of the revolt and the destruction of Diaspora Jewry and especially of North African countries. But epigraphic evidence about military missions sent at that time to Ereẓ Israel and fragmentary literary information indicate that there were uprisings on a considerable scale in Ereẓ Israel too. In Jewish tradition these uprisings are known as "the war of Quietus" (Sot. 9:14), after the Moorish commander Lusius Quietus, who, having ruthlessly suppressed the revolt of the Jews in Mesopotamia, was sent to stamp out the revolt in Judea and was then appointed its governor until recalled to Rome, where he was executed at the beginning of Hadrian's rule (118).

Talmudic traditions tell of meetings on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, of the revolt spreading to *Galilee, the destruction of various cities in Ereẓ Israel, and the execution of its leaders, *Pappus and Lulianus, whose activities extended also to the Diaspora (Sifra 8:9). With the suppression of the revolt religious persecutions were reinstituted. In an act of deliberate provocation, an idol was set up on the Temple Mount (Ta'an. 4:6).

the bar kokhba revolt

The accession of *Hadrian (117) brought with it a trend to restore peace in the east and to rehabilitate and reconstruct the region on an extensive scale. Apparent in Hadrian's actions was a regard for the national character, predilections, and needs of the provinces. Ereẓ Israel and the Jews, too, benefited from this trend. In his efforts to restore devastated areas, the emperor promised the Jews that he would rebuild and return Jerusalem to them, and permit the rebuilding of the Temple. Jews began to flock to Jerusalem, and organizational and financial preparations were made for rebuilding the Temple (Or. Sibyll. 5:252–4; Epistle of Barnabas, 16: 1–5; Epiphanius, Liber de Mensuris et Ponderibus, 170; Gen. R. 64:10). A few years after his accession Hadrian, changing his mind, abandoned the plan of rebuilding Jerusalem as a Jewish city and instead decided to continue its construction as a pagan Roman city. Even the coins struck in Ereẓ Israel in those days show a tendency to ignore the prevailing facts of Jewish existence. It is difficult to determine Hadrian's motives for this change of mind. He may have been prompted to adopt this new course by the profound echo which his promise produced among the Jews and by the political fears he entertained at restoring Jerusalem to the Jewish people. His attitude to Judaism may also have changed, for during his reign and already at the beginning of the twenties he displayed indubitable pan-Hellenistic tendencies, his policy being aimed at introducing in the empire and particularly in its eastern regions the later universal Hellenistic outlook and mode of life. This found expression alike in the erection of buildings and monuments, the passing of laws against Oriental usages, and, inclusion in the ban against castration which was punishable with death, the prohibition of circumcision.

This last was not specifically directed against Judaism, since its practice was also forbidden to others in the east who circumcised their sons. But for no other people did circumcision occupy so significant a place in its thought. Nor did any other people so scrupulously insist on circumcising every single boy. Hadrian, who before becoming emperor had been the governor of Syria and had come into contact with the Jews and their sages, was undoubtedly aware of what these arrangements of his meant for the Jews. But in his resolve to reshape and reconstitute life in Ereẓ Israel, he deliberately ignored the Jewish nation and its past in the country. No wonder that one historian, *Dio Cassius, mentions this resolve of Hadrian as the cause of the revolt: "For it was terrible in the eyes of the Jews that non-Jews should dwell in their city and that gentile temples should be erected in it" (Historia Romana, 69:12–14), while another source gives the prohibition of circumcision as the reason for the revolt (Historia Augusta: Hadrian, 14). These actions, coming as they did after the spiritual elation engendered by the permission to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, led to a profound agitation among the Jews and to military preparations against Rome, to the surreptitious construction of various fortifications, and to the accumulation of arms. Dio Cassius tells that the Jews purposely damaged the weapons they made for the Romans, so that these should be rejected and remain in the possession of the Jews without their stockpiling arousing suspicion. While Hadrian was in Ereẓ Israel and its neighborhood (128–132) the Jews did not openly rebel, but the grave terrorist acts then committed in the country found the permanent Roman forces there insufficient to cope with the situation. An additional legion, the Sexta Ferrata, was brought to Ereẓ Israel, and remained in the country after the revolt, being stationed in Kefar Otnai at the entrance to the Valley of Jezreel. The authorities were also compelled to reinforce the tenth legion by recruiting soldiers from nearby countries. When Hadrian left the east, the revolt broke out and assumed large proportions, since "the Jews throughout the entire world were in an uproar too, and joined them, inflicting openly or by stealth great losses on the Romans. They were moreover helped by non-Jews" (Dio Cassius loc. cit.). The *Samaritans, or at least some of them, also joined.

In contrast to the rebellion against the Romans in 66–70, the revolt was distinguished by national unity and centralized leadership. There are references to local heroes and to various messiahs and pretenders to the royal title who flourished in the first stages of the revolt, but conspicuous during its course and until its end were the leadership and the central figure of *Simeon bar Kokhba. It is he who is mentioned in the historical sources, round whose personality are centered talmudic traditions and legends, and in whose name – Simeon, Nasi of Israel – coins were struck. Documents and letters, dating from the time of the war and found in the caves of the Judean Desert, were taken there by fugitives from En-Gedi and its vicinity. In them it is "Simeon bar Kosiba, Nasi of Israel," who issues instructions and commands; in his name public lands are leased out. Christian sources state that he was called Bar Kokhba by reason of the messianic traits ascribed to him. Akiva, too, acknowledged his messiahship and declared: "This is the King Messiah" (tj, Ta'an. 4:8, 68d). With Simeon the Nasi there also appears on some coins "Eleazar the priest," apparently *Eleazar of Modi'in, a sage of Jabneh, whom talmudic tradition associates with Bar Kokhba. The headquarters of Bar Kokhba and of the commanders of the Jewish fighters was at *Bethar situated at the extremity of a mountain ridge to the southwest of Jerusalem. In the intervening period between the war against the Romans and the Bar Kokhba revolt, the town, having been rebuilt after its destruction, flourished as a commercial and inhabited center for the region in place of Jerusalem. Shortly before the revolt, the Sanhedrin and the household of the nasi moved to Bethar, in which not only schools for study of Torah were established but also one for Greek learning. It is not known what connection the household of the nasi had with the revolt or with Bar Kokhba, or to what extent the Sanhedrin was associated with the revolt, but it is clear that the sages supported it.

The revolt began with a great offensive. Bar Kokhba succeeded in gaining control of the whole of Judea, including Jerusalem, as well as of a considerable part of the rest of Ereẓ Israel, and in introducing in the territory under his rule an independent Jewish order. The rebels defeated Tinnius Rufus, the Roman governor, and Publius Marcellius, the governor of Syria, who arrived with the legions stationed in Syria and to whose assistance the legions stationed in Egypt and Arabia had been dispatched. The 22nd Legion, which had come from Egypt, was annihilated. At this juncture the Jewish fighters invaded the coastal region and the Romans engaged in sea battles against the Jews. In those days Rome enjoyed complete security, peace prevailed on its borders, and hence it was able to mobilize large numbers of men and forces even from distant places. Hadrian summoned Julius Severus, the governor of Britain, who arrived with his forces and with legions from Danubian countries. There were about 12 legions in all, composed of their full complement or of detachments of them. Julius Severus, "refraining from engaging in open warfare," forced the Jewish fighters back step by step amid heavy losses to the Roman army, compelled them to retreat to fortresses which were taken one by one. "Fifty strongholds … and 985 of the most important settlements were destroyed"; hundreds of thousands were killed. In the first stage, Galilee, which was not seriously affected, was captured, and the main burden of war fell on Judea. Eventually, the Jewish fighters were thrust back to their last stronghold, Bethar, which fell after a protracted siege. Tradition records that Bethar was captured on Av 9 (the summer of 135), on the anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temples (Ta'an. 4:6). With its fall and the death of Simeon bar Kosiba there came an end to the struggle which had lasted three and a half years, although there were sieges and skirmishes in the region of the Judean Desert caves to which the fighters had escaped in the final stages of the revolt, even as had been the case with the fortress at Masada after the war against the Romans. In conformity with Roman custom, Jerusalem was now plowed up with a yoke of oxen, and thus the limits were fixed of the Roman colony, henceforth called Colonia*Aelia Capitolina in Roman sources.

Consequences of the Revolt

In addition to the destruction of populated areas and the large-scale massacre, there were great numbers of Jewish captives who filled the slave markets in Ereẓ Israel and in distant lands. Especially notorious was the market under the terebinth near Hebron where a Jewish slave was sold for the price of a horse's feed. Many settlements, especially in Judea, were not rebuilt. The central Judean Mountains were largely depopulated of their Jewish inhabitants. In Galilee, which suffered less from the aftermath of the revolt, the olive plantations were destroyed (tj, Pe'ah 7:1, 20a). Hadrian now resolved to launch a war of annihilation against the Torah and to expunge the name of Israel from the land. To this end decrees were issued against the observance of the mitzvot, gatherings in synagogues for the purposes of prayer or study were prohibited, battei din were forbidden to meet. In a description of those times a contemporary Babylonian sage commented: "'Of them that love Me and keep My commandments' (Ex. 19:6) – 'These are the Jews who live in Ereẓ Israel and jeopardize their lives for the sake of the mitzvot.' 'Why are you being led out to be decapitated?' 'Because I circumcised my son.' 'Why are you being led out to be burnt?' 'Because I read the Torah.' 'Why are you being led out to be crucified?' 'Because I ate unleavened bread.' 'Why are you being whipped with the scourge?' 'Because I performed the mitzvah of the lulav'" (Mekh., ba-Ḥodesh, 6). Jews were forbidden to stay in Jerusalem and only once a year, on Tishah be-Av (Av 9), were they permitted to enter the city to weep over the remains of their holy places. Desirous of blotting out, too, all reference to the Jews' association with Ereẓ Israel, Hadrian changed the name of Judea to Syria Palaestina, by which it henceforth came to be known in non-Jewish literature. The authorities confiscated land on an extensive scale on the strength of martial law or of offenses against the new decrees, such as the prohibition of circumcision. Large tracts of land lay waste, their owners having been taken captive or compelled to flee. The Jews in the country underwent a harsh period of persecution. Many, and they included the nation's most eminent men and sages such as Akiva, Ishmael, Hananiah b. Teradyon, Tarfon, and others, were killed in the persecutions, many went into hiding in Ereẓ Israel, large numbers fled abroad and never returned or did so only after several years. There were numerous martyrs, this being the generation that bequeathed to the Jewish people the tradition of martyrdom (see Kiddush ha-Shem). From the end of the revolt until the close of Hadrian's reign (i.e., from 135 to 138) the Jews of Ereẓ Israel bore the full brunt of the anti-religious decrees.

The repressive measures were somewhat relaxed only on the accession of *Antoninus Pius. He neither annulled them nor immediately restored to the Jews the status they had enjoyed before the revolt. Gradually, however, their situation improved. Apparently at the beginning of Antoninus Pius' reign, circumcision was permitted, a law enacted by him having allowed the Jews to circumcise their sons but not slaves or proselytes. For the Samaritans the prohibition remained in force, and for a long time they circumcised their sons at great risk. But alike in the days of the Antonines as in those of Hadrian, a harsh military regime prevailed in Ereẓ Israel.

recovery after the revolt: usha

The first signs of the recovery of communal life appeared in Galilee, to which the center of Jewish life henceforth passed and where the main population as also the seat of the Sanhedrin and of the nasi remained until the end of the period. The Sanhedrin had first gone to *Usha, whence it moved for a short time to *Shepharam and from there to *Bet She'arim and Sepphoris. In the third century it finally settled at Tiberias, the capital of Galilee. But Judea still had its Jewish population, its battei midrashot, and sages – at Lydda there was a large bet midrash, which enjoyed independence in many spheres of Jewish life. But the central authority and the focal point of spiritual creativity were in Galilee, where the main work of collecting and of finally redacting the tannaitic and amoraic literature was done.

The leaders who restored the religious and communal life comprised several of Akiva's younger pupils who survived the massacre and who had not yet gained renown in the generation of Jabneh: *Meir, *Judah b. Ilai, *Jose b. Halafta, *Simeon b. Yoḥai, and *Nehemiah. The early meetings of the Sanhedrin were still held in temporary quarters and under semi-underground conditions in the Valley of Bet Rimmon, and only after many years, at "the end of the religious persecutions," did it meet at Usha (Song R. 2:5 no. 3). Among its first decisions was to declare the levitical cleanness of Tiberias. From its foundation at the beginning of the first century c.e. many Jews and especially priests refrained from living there for fear that it had been built on a cemetery. Hadrian had wanted to give the city a pagan character but the temple which he had begun to build was not completed. After the revolt Tiberias was almost entirely Jewish. Simeon b. Yoḥai sought to declare it levitically clean and following protracted discussions it was recognized as such (tj, Shev. 9:1, 38d). This facilitated the city's growth and enabled it to serve during the years as the spiritual center. Simeon b. Gamaliel, the son of Rabban Gamaliel of Jabneh, did not take part in the Sanhedrin in the early stages of its reestablishment, for he, too, had been compelled to go into hiding for several years. After some time he is mentioned as the head of the Sanhedrin at Usha.

The period not only of his tenure of the office of nasi (c. 140–170) but of the entire reign of the Antonines (until 193) was a difficult one both politically and economically. The authorities showed a growing contempt and suspicion of the Jews, and when Marcus Aurelius passed through Ereẓ Israel in 175 he expressed himself in opprobrious terms about them. They, for their part, displayed considerable rebelliousness, hoping as they did for the downfall of Rome, a hope that grew with the latter's clashes and preparations for war with the Parthians. Simeon b. Yoḥai asserted: "If you see a Persian horse tied in the burial places of Ereẓ Israel, expect the Messiah" (Song R. 8:9). This rebelliousness was responsible for the fact that the Jews of Ereẓ Israel, like the other peoples of the east, supported Avidius Cassius who had proclaimed himself emperor and was assassinated shortly before Marcus Aurelius' arrival in the country. Brigandage, too, increased greatly at this time, and although this was due to economic difficulties, it also had overtones of political insurrection. In Ereẓ Israel as a whole the economic situation was quite good during this period, although the country suffered in 166 from a plague which spread in the east. Like other provinces, Ereẓ Israel profited from the expanded international trade. Roads were built and bridges constructed, public institutions were established, markets and grain exchanges were set up and wells dug, creating a sense of security and promoting commerce, so that many cities flourished at this time. There were Jews, too, who benefited from this prosperity.

In Rome two inscriptions of Jews from Tiberias have been found that testify to commercial stations in the city, and some Jews, who were imperial court favorites, rose to positions of eminence. But the Jewish community as a whole lived in dire poverty. Thus reference is made to "the generation of R. Judah b. Illai … six of whose pupils covered themselves with one garment and studied the Torah" (Sanh. 20a). The nonrecognition of the Jews' religious rights brought in its train economic difficulties. Up to the Bar Kokhba revolt the authorities had exempted the Jews from land taxes during the sabbatical year, when they had no income from agricultural produce. After the revolt they had to pay these taxes, and were hard put to find a way of meeting the burden of taxation while observing, at least to some extent, the sabbatical year (Sanh. 3:3 et al.). This circumstance is the background to the halakhah which lays down that "if at the present time a man wishes to become a proselyte, he is to be addressed as follows: 'What reason have you for wanting to become a proselyte? Do you not know that at present Jews are persecuted and oppressed, despised, harassed, and burdened with afflictions … and do not conduct themselves in public like other peoples?'" (Yev. 47a; Tractate Gerim, beginning). As a result of the harsh conditions, there was an increasing emigration, either temporary or permanent, from Ereẓ Israel. Seeking to stem it, the sages enacted halakhot to curtail this tendency.

Despite the difficult political conditions and the imperial nonrecognition, the sages of the generation of Usha and Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel succeeded in consolidating the leadership of the central authority and in restoring to Ereẓ Israel its hegemony over the Diaspora. During the persecutions, when the house of assembly ceased to function, one of the Ereẓ Israel sages, *Hananiah, the nephew of Joshua, who had been sent to Babylonia, began to proclaim the new months and intercalate years there, and would not desist even when the central authority was reestablished in Ereẓ Israel. Only by resolute persuasion, by appeasement, and with the support of the Babylonian sages was the nasi able to make the separatist circles in Babylonia cease their activities, whereupon the Jews there once again submitted to the authority of Ereẓ Israel. In the days of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, the office of nasi assumed the form of a triumvirate, consisting of the nasi himself, the av bet din, and a sage, who was the authorized halakhist. For some time, *Nathan, the son of the exilarch in Babylonia, was the av bet din, thereby enabling the nasi to associate with his office also a representative of that large Diaspora community. This set an example for future generations, the great majority of those occupying the position of av bet din in the tannaitic and amoraic period having been sages who immigrated to Ereẓ Israel from Babylonia.

In the generation following the Bar Kokhba revolt the Samaritans began a large-scale expansion beyond the confines of "the land of the Cutheans." Their expansion to the north having been halted by the Beth-Shean and Jezreel Valleys, they spread northwest along the coast and especially southwest along the southern coastal plain. The reasons for this may have been the Jews' diminished power as well as the plight in which the Samaritans found themselves on account of religious persecution. They therefore sought refuge among the Jewish population, perhaps because of the close contacts established between them during the Bar Kokhba revolt. The Samaritans' expansion into the Jewish areas led to considerable friction, and there were assertions by sages that, since leaving their villages, they had become lax in the observance of mitzvot. In contrast to the earlier halakhah, they were now more and more adjudged as non-Jews.

the severan dynasty. r. judah ha-nasi

A period of political and economic efflorescence came to the Jews of Ereẓ Israel under the Severan emperors (193–235), coinciding largely with the tenure of the office of nasi by Judah i, the eldest son of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel and known as Rabbi. After the murder of Commodus (192) an armed struggle broke out between Pescennius Niger and Septimius *Severus which divided the east, including Ereẓ Israel and the legions stationed there. Pescennius Niger had, as governor of Syria, been ruthless in his attitude to the Jews. When they had asked him to lighten the burden of taxation, he had answered that were it possible he would tax the very air they breathed. He severely punished the cities which supported his rival. While the tenth legion sided with him, the house of the nasi and the Jews of Ereẓ Israel supported Severus, whose victory was regarded as a deliverance. The good relations that existed between the Jews of Ereẓ Israel and the Severans, which continued throughout that dynasty's reign, influenced several Severan emperors in their predilection and love for Judaism and for a syncretism in which it, too, was included. Alexander *Severus was derisively called archisynagogus (head of the synagogue). The political position of the Jews in Ereẓ Israel improved and they were able to occupy notable positions in the Greek and Roman cities. Their more influential status found expression mainly in an increased autonomy, both public and judicial. The nasi was permitted to levy taxes for the maintenance of the central authority, civil and criminal cases were tried, and judgment could be enforced against the guilty party. When necessary, the nasi could also try capital cases. While this right was not officially recognized by Roman law, it was not exercised surreptitiously (Origen, Epistola ad Africanum, 28:14).

The relations between the Roman Empire and *Judah ha-Nasi were particularly good. Extensive areas of state land in the Valley of Jezreel, Golan, and elsewhere were given to him as a gift or on lease. The aggadah frequently mentions the close ties between him and the Roman emperor *Antoninus, but since several Severans bore this name, it is difficult to determine which of them is meant. From what is known of the stay of the emperors in the neighborhood of Ereẓ Israel and their association with Judaism, this reference is probably to *Caracalla (198–217 c.e.) or Alexander Severus (222–235 c.e.). The Jews were grateful to the Severan dynasty and both in Ereẓ Israel (at Kaisan in Upper Galilee) and in the Diaspora synagogues dedicated to the emperors of that dynasty have been found. In their days there was a great expansion of settlement. Thus at this time there were included within the halakhic limits of Ereẓ Israel areas in the north and south, which halakhically had not belonged to Ereẓ Israel since the majority of their inhabitants had been non-Jews and to which the commandments applicable to Ereẓ Israel, such as those relating to priestly dues and tithes, had not previously applied. At this time, too, there was established in Jerusalem a permanent Jewish settlement, known in talmudic tradition as the "the holy community in Jerusalem" (kehilla kadisha de-bi-Yrushalayim). While presumably the prohibition against Jews' settling in Jerusalem was not officially rescinded, the authorities chose to ignore it. At this time, too, the economic position of the Jews of Ereẓ Israel improved. The extensive urbanization initiated by the Severan emperors had favorable economic repercussions. Septimius Severus bestowed city rights on *Bet Guvrin, now called Eleutheropolis, and granted it large areas which included the whole of Idumea. Land was even detached from Aelia Capitolina and the limes and given to it. Lydda, too, obtained city status, was named Diospolis, and granted considerable areas of land. In 220–221 c.e. the district of *Emmaus was made a city and named Nicopolis. This completed the urbanization of western Ereẓ Israel. Except for the part of Upper Galilee known as Tetracomia (the four villages) and the imperial estates in the limes and in the Valley of Jericho, the whole of western Ereẓ Israel became a city area enjoying special privileges.

Emigration from Ereẓ Israel was now replaced by immigration from the Diaspora, among the immigrants being people with expert knowledge, initiative, and money, who developed new branches of the economy, such as flax-growing, and of agricultural industry, such as the manufacture of clothes and dyeing.

The improved economic and political position found expression in splendid *synagogues which were built throughout the country and remains of which have been uncovered, chiefly in Galilee, such as at Kefar Naḥum (*Capernaum), Korazim (*Chorazin), Baram, and elsewhere.

The Jewish people in Ereẓ Israel saw in the enlargement of their power and in the aggrandizement of the nasi the beginnings of the redemption. A messianic aura surrounded him. From the days of Judah ha-Nasi and onward the nasi's court was distinguished by an outer splendor, great opulence, and regal pomp. He succeeded in attracting to his court and to a participation in public leadership the heads of the large cities and the financial aristocracy, whom he prevailed on to accept the responsibilities of public office and national discipline. This led to a protest on the part of the popular *Ḥasidean sages, the extremists among whom became estranged from Judah ha-Nasi. In internal affairs, too, Judah ha-Nasi's authority was extensive. The right to grant ordination and the control of the Sanhedrin were concentrated in his hands. Under him the central authority exercised increased supervision over the cities and communities in the Diaspora. Under him, too, there was considerable legislation in the spheres of communal religion, of apportioning the burden of taxes, and the manner of levying them. While not charged with collecting the taxes, he, by virtue of the authority of his office and of being a rabbi, gave decisions on various financial problems, among them being some which impressed their stamp on Jewish communal arrangements for generations, such as exempting scholars, who devote themselves wholly to the study of the Torah, from taxes and civic obligations. He also exempted areas in southern and northern Ereẓ Israel from priestly dues, tithes, and from the laws of the sabbatical year, from which last-named he sought to grant a total exemption, but due to the opposition of *Phinehas b. Jair, a Hasidean sage, the question was not brought up for discussion and a final decision.

His activities included the final redaction of the *Mish nah, which constitutes the summary and crystallization of most of the halakhic material of the Oral Law. Judah ha-Nasi was not the first to undertake the task of committing the *Oral Law to writing and of summarizing it in an halakhic compilation. Already in Second Temple times, and especially in the generation of Jabneh, this was done by tannaim, but their Mishnah collections were incorporated, either wholly or in part, in that of Judah ha-Nasi, whose compilation is the more comprehensive and extensive. Assembling the teachings and collections of preceding generations, he arranged them in sedarim and tractates according to subject matter, Shabbat, Pesaḥim, Gittin, Kiddu-shin, etc., and subdivided these into chapters, generally set out in a logical development of the subject. The final redaction of the Mishnah constitutes a compilation of the Oral Law without deciding between the various views but including also the decisions arrived at and the laws enacted in Judah ha-Nasi's bet midrash. His humility in teaching the Torah and in halakhic judgments, his readiness to pay heed to and examine different opinions, his spiritual independence, his exalted status, and his lengthy tenure of the office of nasi – all these contributed to the compilation of the Mishnah and its acceptance as the basic work for the study of the Oral Law and as the principal foundation of Jewish jurisprudence. Within a short time his Mishnah, having superseded and consigned to oblivion earlier or contemporaneous collections, became the basis and the prototype of the continued creation of the Oral Law. The close of the Mishnah represents a turning point and a landmark in the history of the Oral Law, which was further elucidated and defined throughout the generations. The literature created up to the close of the Mishnah, even if redacted shortly afterward, is the tannaitic, that which followed it the amoraic, literature. All halakhot mentioned in the Mishnah and in the other tannaitic productions are more authoritative than those in the amoraic works. Except for a number of Aramaic and Greek words and expressions, the language of the Mishnah is mishnaic Hebrew, reflecting the prevailing circumstances in Ereẓ Israel from Second Temple times onward. The death of Judah ha-Nasi (c. 225) initiated a process that led to a separation between the office of nasi and the Sanhedrin. The last testament ascribed to him states that Rabban *Gamaliel, his eldest son, was to be the nasi and the sage *Ḥanina b. Hama the president of the Sanhedrin (tj, Ta'an. 4:2, 68a).

In the following generation the separation was almost complete. Then the Sanhedrin, presided over by Johanan (from c. 240), had its seat at Tiberias, while the office of nasi occupied by *Judah ha-Nasi ii, had its seat for a considerable time at Sepphoris. Under normal circumstances a sage was the president of the Sanhedrin or the Great Bet Din, which was independent, but not entirely so, of the nasi, since the latter was theoretically its president, and in certain areas, as also in particular instances, its dependence on the nasi was maintained. Thus the ordination of sages was contingent on the sanction of the nasi, who continued to exercise the sole right to enact regulations. There was also cooperation between them in political matters. Alongside the central bet midrash or the Sanhedrin at Tiberias there were in amoraic times other battei midrashot which, as the centers of instruction and leadership for their immediate vicinity, taught the Torah and appointed dayyanim for the neighborhood. At Lydda there was the center, founded by *Joshua b. Levi, for the southern settlements; at Caesarea one established by *Hoshaiah; and a smaller one in Upper Galilee at Akbara, under the leadership of *Yannai, where a considerable nucleus of his companions lived a communal life for several generations. Each of these battei midrashot was distinct in its teachings and method of instruction, but in special instances their heads were invited to assemblies, the sages of the south (Lydda) in particular often meeting with the members of the Sanhedrin at Tiberias.

the period of anarchy (235–289 c.e.)

In this period of the frequent change of emperors, of chaos and collapse throughout the Roman Empire, Jewish Ereẓ Israel in particular suffered. There was indeed no religious persecution of the Jews, and even when the Christians and Samaritans were compelled to participate in emperor worship, the rights of the Jews were recognized and respected. The contemporary diatribes against the evil "Esau" who oppressed "Jacob" were mainly directed against Esau, the robber and plunderer, a circumstance conspicuous, too, in the non-Hebrew sources of the nations neighboring on Israel. The rural population suffered greatly from economic hardship, from taxation, and from oppression at the hands of soldiers, and since the economy of Jewish Ereẓ Israel was largely agricultural, the Jews were affected more than the non-Jewish population. During the period of anarchy there was a decline in agriculture, not because of the diminished fertility of the soil but because of the corrupt administrative arrangements that led to a neglect of the land and lack of interest in fostering the cultivation of the soil. During this period, too, the country suffered from privation and an extremely severe famine. Emigration increased, and although there was also a considerable immigration to Ereẓ Israel, it was not large enough to balance the number of those leaving the country. Despite the upheavals and wars which occurred in the east with the accession and onslaught of the Sassanid kings, there were increasing contacts between Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora, especially that in Babylonia. In the days of the principal generations of the *amoraim the contacts between these two Jewish communities were considerable, numerous, and frequent. As a result of the situation created by the fact that the Roman Empire was in the process of disintegration and by the Persian attacks, the kingdom of Palmyra (Tadmor) enlarged its power. This buffer state, situated between Persia and Rome, and subordinate to the latter, first forged ahead from 260 c.e. under Odaenathus within the ambit of the Roman Empire. Later, under Queen Zenobia (267–272), having proclaimed its independence and freed itself from Roman suzerainty, it initiated a policy of conquest and expansion directed against the countries of the east, including Ereẓ Israel. The Palmyrene regime was not only a continuation of Roman rule but also contained elements conducive to creating an independent eastern state. Although wide circles in the east supported it, at the decisive moment, when Rome reconquered the east from Zenobia, the great majority of them refrained from coming to its assistance and instead helped the Romans. When Odaenathus was a client king under Roman patronage, Jewish tradition charged him with being "a brother" (because of the eastern elements in his regime) who had come to the aid of "Esau" (Rome) in the latter's hour of weakness. "Happy is he," declared R. Johanan, the leader of that generation of Jews, "who witnesses the downfall of Tadmor [Palmyra]" (tj, Ta'an. 4:8, 69b). But with Zenobia, whose attitude toward them was one of protectiveness and esteem, the relations of the Jews were friendlier, the clash between her and Rome even raising messianic hopes in some circles.

stability returns to the roman empire

At the end of the third century (284) Diocletian became emperor and succeeded in transforming the regime and the system of the Roman Empire into a despotic monarchy on the Byzantine pattern with its exaggerated hierarchy and extensive bureaucracy. By dividing each of the provinces into two or three, their number was increased. Ereẓ Israel, one of the smallest among them, was likewise subdivided into several parts, so that from 358 to the beginning of the fifth century (429) it comprised Palaestina Prima, which consisted of Judea, Samaria, the Coastal Plain, Idumea, and Perea (Jewish Trans-jordan), and whose capital remained Caesarea; Palaestina Secunda, which embraced Galilee, the *Decapolis, and *Golan, and whose capital was Scythopolis (Beth-Shean); and Palaestina Tertia, which comprised the Negev and whose capital was *Petra. As in other provinces, the civil ruler, the praeses, was distinct from the military head, the dux. Instead of reforming the corrupt government system, the new regime perpetuated it, increasing its sway over the population. Participation in all the associations became compulsory and was enforced, ranging from performing municipal duties to the organization of craftsmen's unions from which all workmen were excluded, and to the obligation of children to continue in their parents' occupation. All the associations were at the disposal of the empire for levying taxes and providing services. During this period land tenancy assumed such proportions that the petty independent farmer, typical of Jewish Ereẓ Israel, all but disappeared. The land passed into the possession of the proprietors of large estates and its former owners became tenant farmers. The imperial law of the colonatus was introduced, binding the farmer in perpetuity to the soil. This perpetual tenancy was hereditary and was marked by several expressions of the tenant farmer's servitude to the landlord. The imperial tenant farmers were similarly bound in perpetuity to their tenancy and their holdings. Because land in Ereẓ Israel was retained in the possession of petty farmers for a longer time, the lex colonatus was introduced in the country at a comparatively late period, 383–388, about 50 years later than in the other provinces. At the beginning of the fourth century, the Jews were progressively becoming a minority in their ownership of land.

With the stabilization of the imperial regime, a new force emerged in the world: Christianity was gaining a commanding position, commencing with Constantine's recognition of the Christian religion (313). This was destined to have a decisive effect on the status of Ereẓ Israel and of its Jews, henceforth called upon to undertake a joint political self-defense. Hitherto the Jews had struggled culturally against a pagan world, which by its very nature acknowledged the existence of national religions. Even the Roman regime recognized in theory, and for most of the time in practice too, the Jewish religious reality in Ereẓ Israel. Christianity, which within a short period became the imperial religion, did not, as is the way of a monotheistic religion, recognize or tolerate other religions, and in this displayed a greater bigotry and inflexibility than Judaism. Although the Christian Church had a special interest in converting Jews, and particular those in Ereẓ Israel, Judaism was not declared illegal either in that country or in the Roman Empire, which nevertheless fostered an enmity toward and a contempt for Judaism. In addition to the hostility originating in the separation between them the Roman Christians were the object of much of the contempt for Jews prevalent in circles of the pagan Roman aristocracy. The hostile attitude to Judaism was expressed in the emperors' anti-Jewish legislation with its insulting language, and in the attacks of fanatics on Jews and their institutions, such as the campaign of the bigoted monk Bar Sauma of Nisibis who, with his band, passed through Ereẓ Israel in 419–422 c.e. destroying synagogues. Not only did Christianity have an interest in the *holy places, such as the site of the Crucifixion, the sepulcher of Jesus, and others, it also based its gospel on the destruction of Jerusalem and God's rejection of the people of Israel, so that the whole of the patriarchal blessing, including Ereẓ Israel, now belonged to it. Henceforward it was not the Jews alone who sought to have possession of Ereẓ Israel. Many Christian congregations were established in the country. The inhabitants of villages and of the large cities, most of which remained faithful to *Hellenism, had to fight for their continued pagan existence. Constantine and his mother Helena, who was devoted to Christianity and even immigrated to Ereẓ Israel in her old age, set about building magnificent churches, one – the Church of the Nativity – at *Bethlehem, and two – those of the Holy Sepulcher and of the Ascension – in Jerusalem, as also at Abraham's Oak. The Church Father Epiphanius has preserved a detailed account of the manner in which the emperor helped the apostate Joseph to build churches in the Jewish centers, at Tiberias, Sepphoris, and other localities holy to Christianity, such as Kefar Nahum (Capernaum) and Nazareth, places inhabited exclusively by Jews. The Jews fought Joseph who consequently succeeded only in building a small church at Tiberias (Epiphanius, Panarion adversus Haereses, 1:2, xxx, 4). The Christian population increased by reason of the conversion of non-Jews in Ereẓ Israel and of the arrival of Christians or pilgrims who settled in the country. The many monasteries which were first built in the fourth century and multiplied in the fifth and sixth also attracted devout Christians from abroad. There were instances of Jews who were converted to Christianity, as in the case of Joseph, but the number was not large either among them or among the Samaritans.

the revolt against gallus

In June 351 a revolt of the Jews broke out at Sepphoris against Gallus, the Roman ruler in the east. The rebels had heard of various uprisings in the west and of Constantius' reverses in his campaign to suppress them. They also relied on obtaining assistance from the *Persians whose attacks, some of them successful, had increased at that time. Having appointed a leader named Patricius, of whom little is known, the Jews defeated the Roman army in the city. From there the revolt spread through Galilee and reached Lydda in the south. It bore no anti-Christian character, nor were Christians or their institutions attacked, the revolt being directed solely against Gallus' corrupt rule. Ursicinus, an experienced commander, was dispatched against the rebels. The decisive battle took place near Acre. From there the enemy advanced against centers in Galilee inhabited by Jews, and several Jewish settlements and cities were destroyed. Some of them, such as Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Lydda, were rebuilt shortly after the revolt, but there were places like Bet She'arim which were now left with only a meager population. It is not known where the seat of the Sanhedrin and of the nasi was during the revolt, but not long after it they were once again engaged in their usual activities. During the years immediately following the revolt the authorities interfered with assemblies for the intercalation of the year and especially with emissaries sent to inform the Diaspora of it (Sanh. 12a). It was therefore apparently decided to draw up a permanent calendar (tj, Er. 3:11, 21c) which, according to a later tradition, was done by *Hillelii in 359 (Sefer ha-Ibbur, 97). Even after the calendar had been laid down and until it received its definitive form, questions were addressed to the sages of Ereẓ Israel to elucidate various problems. In Ereẓ Israel they continued even afterward to proclaim the new month and to celebrate the occasion as had formerly been done when its proclamation was made by the Great Bet Din.

julian the apostate

Excitement mounted in Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora during the brief reign of *Julian (360–363) who endeavored to resuscitate Hellenism, to which he was devoted, by diminishing the image of Christianity in the empire. Wishing to reinstitute the sacrificial service of the Jews, which he regarded as more important than anything else in their Bible, he announced and promised in his letters to the "Community of the Jews" and to the nasi that he would rebuild "with great diligence the Temple of the supreme God" and "the holy Jerusalem which you have for many years longed to see rebuilt and which I shall restore." When he set out to fight the Persians, a special emissary, Alypius of Antioch, was appointed who filled important duties in connection with the rebuilding and to whom large sums of money were allocated. By this act the emperor may have sought, as he departed for war, to win over the Babylonian Jews, and assure their support, but all his letters are marked by friendship and sympathy toward the Jews. Moreover, he revoked the decrees relating to the special Jewish taxes, such as that of the two drachmas, and even asked the nasi to reduce the tax levied for the needs of his high office from the Jews. Julian's proclamations and actions created a ferment among the Jews, who flocked to Jerusalem and began to collect money from Italy and as far afield as Babylonia and Persia. Jews settled in the city, started to expel Christians from certain parts of it, and set up a synagogue in one of the colonnades on the Temple Mount. The Christians were furious, and their writers tell of a fire that broke out when the pagan shrines, abandoned with the rise of Christianity, were removed from the Temple site. It is possible that the Christians, desirous of interrupting the work of building, started the fire. When Julian was killed, apparently by a Christian Arab soldier, on the Persian front, the matter was ended.

After Julian's death, the Christians began to attack the Jewish settlements in the south where the Jews were greatly in the minority. Christian sources report the destruction "in the south of 21 cities of pagans, Jews, and Samaritans, who had had a share in Julian the Apostate's sin." Even after this the Jewish settlements in the south did not cease entirely but were reduced in number and impoverished. In the period between the death of Julian and the accession of *Theodosius i (379) there was no anti-Jewish legislation, and several laws were even enacted which enhanced their status and that of the nasi, one law exempting officials of the communities subject to "the illustrious nasi" from sitting on municipal councils, another of 368 prohibiting the billeting of soldiers in synagogues. This period was a congenial one for the Jews either because Julian's personality and activities had fostered a tolerant attitude toward other religions and arrested the Church's domination or because the emperor Valens (364–378) acted with moderation due to his not wishing to add to his enemies, since the adherents of Arianism, of which he was one, were already then in the minority. Under Theodosius I and his sons Honorius and Arcadius as also under Theodosius II until the abolition of the office of the nasi (i.e., from 379 to 428) there was intensified anti-Jewish legislation which assigned an inferior status to Judaism and the Jews.

the close of the jerusalem talmud and the abolition of the office of the nasi

In the second half of the fourth century c.e. the Jerusalem *Talmud was finalized and redacted in Ereẓ Israel, for the most part at Tiberias. In it was summarized all that was said, initiated, and thought in the world of Ereẓ Israel's sages in the century and a half that elapsed since the close of the Mishnah. No tradition is extant of the time taken to redact it or who its redactors were. The date of its redaction is fixed on the basis of the last sages and of the latest historical events – the revolt against Gallus and the emperor Julian's activities – mentioned in it (tj, Meg. 3:1, 74a; tj, Ned. 3:2, 37d). Dating from the end of the fourth century are evidences which combine to portray the firm status of the office of nasi, his right to collect money and to appoint and depose the leaders of communities in the Diaspora. At the beginning of the fifth century the position of the last nasi, Rabban *Gamalielvi, was undermined. Accused of contravening the imperial laws by building synagogues, circumcising Christian slaves, and acting as a judge in cases involving Christians, he was deposed from the rank of "Honorary praefectus." The existence of the office of nasi, who claimed descent from the house of David, was not to the liking of the Church, which tried to diminish his image and spiritual stature. An order in the Codex Theodosianus of the year 429 mentions the death of the nasi and instructs the Sanhedrins in the two Palestines to transfer to the imperial treasury the money previously collected on behalf of the nasi. Taking advantage of the death of Rabban Gamaliel vi and of the "babes who died" (according to Jewish tradition), the authorities refrained from approving the appointment of another nasi. With the abolition of this office, the nation lost its leading institution which had persisted for three and a half centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Sanhedrin continued to exist, money was sent to it even without official permission, and Jewry was obedient to it and its leaders who were called "the heads of the school" (rashei ha-perek), but it progressively lost its hegemony over the Diaspora. With the accession in 520 of Mar *Zutra, the son of the exilarch Mar Zutra, the title of Head of the Sanhedrin was bestowed on him, and until the Arab conquest his descendants continued to occupy that position.

byzantine rule in ereẓ israel

During this period the economic position of the country improved. Many Christians, among them men of wealth and influence, immigrated to Ereẓ Israel. The visits, too, of Christians, as also the existence and export of the bones of patriarchs, prophets, and saints, whose graves were purported to have been discovered, brought much wealth to the land. In this period agricultural settlement, particularly in the Negev, was extended to areas never previously nor subsequently tilled, as evidenced by the remains not only of agricultural cultivation but also of cities in the Negev which flourished at this time. The period from the second half of the fifth century until the revival under *Justinian (527–565) of the aggressive Christian policy was a tranquil one for the Jews in Ereẓ Israel. The Christians were absorbed in a theological controversy between the orthodox and the monophysites on the relation between the human and the divine nature of Jesus, a controversy which was associated with political, military, and communal clashes, so that they had no time to concern themselves with the Jews. The latter benefited from the economic prosperity that had come to the country, as attested by the building, extension, and renovation of synagogues whose remains have been found in the north (Bet Alfa, Hammath-Gader, and elsewhere) and in the south (Jericho, Naaran, Ashkelon, Gaza, and in other places). Although the erection and renovation of synagogues were prohibited, the Jews were able to circumvent various repressive laws. The difficult position of the Samaritans and their hopes of receiving help from the Persians emboldened them to organize in 485 and in 529 two large revolts. At first successful, they set up their own brief government in a small area around Samaria, but the revolts were speedily suppressed with such ruthlessness that the Samaritans were considerably reduced in number. There followed a relentless religious persecution. Justinian's reign was the last glorious period of Roman-Byzantine rule in Ereẓ Israel. He fortified the borders, provided the cities with a water supply, and built magnificent churches in various places in the country. But his reign was marked by the beginning of a harsh legislative attack on Judaism and by the Church's growing obduracy in its policy toward the Jews. When the old laws were selected from the Codex Theodosianus for inclusion in Justinian's new legal compilation, several which confirmed the rights of the Jews were omitted, while others depriving them of rights were added.

the persian invasion

In 603 the Persians renewed their attempt to assail the Roman Empire. In 611 they arrived at Antioch, in 613 they entered Damascus, in 614 they reached Ereẓ Israel. The approach of the Persians inspired messianic hopes. Contact was made with the conquerors and the Jews gave them effective help in capturing Galilee. From there the Persians marched on Caesarea; proceeding along the coast, advanced against Lydda, and wound their way up to Jerusalem (May 614), in whose capture Jewish forces also took part. The Persians handed the city over to the Jews who, settling in it, began to remove from it the Christians and their churches. The leader in Jerusalem was one known only by the name of Nehemiah b. Ḥushi'el b. Ephraim b. Joseph, his messianic designation, and a beginning may even have been made to reintroduce sacrifices. His rule in Jerusalem lasted for three years. In 617 the Persians retracted, perhaps in order to gain the support of the Christians for their rule. The Jews did not acquiesce in this and the Persian regime was compelled to fight against them. Nehemiah and some of his closest adherents were killed by the Persians (Sefer Zerubbabel). In the meantime *Heraclius, the *Byzantine emperor, having begun to grow powerful, set out in the spring of 622 on a campaign of conquest against Persia. In 627 the Persians, accepting their defeat, agreed to withdraw to their own country and the Byzantine army regained control of Ereẓ Israel. In 629 Heraclius appeared at the gateways of the country. The Jewish leaders made a vain attempt to enter into a compact with him. They presented him with many gifts, he promised to overlook their past actions, and even made an agreement with them, binding himself by oath to observe it. One of the Jewish leaders, *Benjamin of Tiberias, who was extremely wealthy, lodged the emperor in his home there, maintained him and the army accompanying him, and even joined him on his journey to Jerusalem. On March 21, 629, the emperor entered Jerusalem in a typically magnificent Byzantine procession and restored to their site the remnants of the cross given to him by the Persians. The emperor, who was not an antisemite, wished to keep his promises but under pressure from the Church revoked them. A decree was issued expelling the Jews from Jerusalem and its vicinity, and Jews were put on trial. Many were killed and many fled. In the period between Heraclius' return and the Arab conquest there were forced conversions and persecutions by the Byzantine Empire. The Arab conquest brought relief to the Jewish population, but in the Arab period the Jews of Ereẓ Israel lost their central position in the leadership of Jewry.

[Shmuel Safrai]

Arab Period (634–1099)

the arab conquest

The raids against Syria and Ereẓ Israel carried out by Arab tribes from the Hejaz toward the end of *Muhammad's lifetime differed little from the attacks mounted by the inhabitants of the Arabian desert against the agricultural and trading settlements of the border lands from the ancient period on. The Byzantines, heirs of Roman power in the Near East, founded an Arab "state" embracing the territory that had formerly belonged to the Nabateans and Palmyra. In reality, though, it was a drifting camp of nominally Christian (Monophysite) Bedouin of the Ghasn tribe that constituted a buffer between the settled lands and the desert. These semi-barbarians were hired to stand guard against the barbarians of the hinterland, but after defeating the Persians and expelling them from Ereẓ Israel (628) and other lands they had conquered, Heraclius did not think it necessary to spend any more on his Bedouin mercenaries. The Byzantines did not grasp the impact of the rise of Islam in Arabia and did not regard the events seriously. The advance of Arabian bands probing their frontier and raids and incursions into Transjordan, and even into Ereẓ Israel, seemed no more than the usual Bedouin border attacks.

In 629 the Arabs suffered a defeat near Mu ʾ ta (east of the southern extremity of the Dead Sea). According to Arab historians, after the death of Muhammad (632) three commanders were assigned the mission of occupying Syria and Ereẓ Israel. ʿ Amr ibn-al ʿ As was given the task of conquering "Filastīn," i.e., Judea and the southern Coastal Plain; Shurahbīl ibn-Ḥasana was to take Galilee and the valleys of the upper Jordan and Jezreel, an area later called Jund Urdunn (the military district of the Jordan); and Yazīd ibn Abī-Sufyān marched on Damascus. ʿ Amr invaded Palestine by way of Elath, while the other two advanced along the caravan route from Tabk to the Balqā ʾ between the Jabbok and Arnon winter streams. The Byzantines suffered three serious defeats in 633–634, as the Arabs relentlessly pushed them back toward the sea from the east and south, and retreated to Beisan (Beth-Shean). For six months the Arabs raided towns and villages without capturing a single fortified city. When they marched on Beisan, the Byzantines withdrew to Fiḥl (or Faḥl-Pella) in Transjordan after destroying the Jordan River dams to impede the enemy's progress. Defeated near Fiḥl, the Byzantine troops fled to Damascus, with the Arabs in pursuit. The Arabs then briefly occupied Damascus, which they abandoned – along with other cities taken in Syria – when they received news of a large Byzantine force gathering at Aleppo and Antioch. This army, however, composed of about 50,000 Armenian and Arab mercenaries, was crushed in a decisive engagement at the confluence of the Ruqqād and Yarmuk rivers (in Golan) on August 20, 636. By the end of the year, all of Syria as far north as Aleppo was in Arab hands.

In Ereẓ Israel, Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Ashkelon were still garrisoned by Byzantine troops. Jerusalem surrendered in 637 or 638, after the Byzantine commander deserted, ending a two-year siege. Patriarch Sophronius conducted the

negotiations with the Arabs, who promised not to harm the Christian churches there. Caesarea was apparently taken by Mu ʿ āwiya in 640, ending a seven-year siege, after a Jew showed the Arabs a secret passage into the city. (According to an Arab historian, there were 700,000 "Roman" soldiers, 200,000 Jews, and 300,000 Samaritans inside the city.) The fall of Ashkelon followed soon after (641). The Arab conquest of Ereẓ Israel was a major event in the history of the Western world. It opened a gateway to the West for the inhabitants of the desert and brought them into direct contact with a 2,000-year-old culture. Had they been satisfied with their conquest of the Persian Empire, it is doubtful whether their influence on civilization would have been any greater than that of the Sassanids or Zoroastrians.

The conquerors did not change the administrative system in Ereẓ Israel. Northern Ereẓ Israel (the Byzantine Palaestina Secunda) became the military province (jund) of Urdunn (Jordan), with Tiberias as its capital, and southern Ereẓ Israel (the Byzantine Palaestine Prima) became Jund Filastīn, with Lydda as its capital. The latter province comprised Judea and Samaria and, according to the Arab geographers of the tenth century, the Negev, as well as the southern districts of Transjordan, were annexed to it. The conquest was followed by the migration of Arabs into the area. When taking a town, the Arabs sometimes stipulated that half of its area be handed over to them. Arabic historians record that this was the case in Tiberias and Beisan. At first, most of the Arabs lived in great camps, e.g., al-Jābiya in Golan and Emmaus in the Judean plain, where they soon began to acquire estates and settle down. The number who became landlords and engaged in agriculture increased when Mu ʿ āwiya became governor of Syria and Ereẓ Israel. Arabs bought estates, settled down and became peasants throughout the country. Mu ʿ āwiya also founded colonies of Arabs and other Muslims in the coastal towns as a military safeguard against Byzantine attacks on this vulnerable area.

The Ummayyads also granted lands to Bedouin tribes. Whereas most of the Arabs living in Transjordan and regions to the north before the Muslim conquest belonged to south Arabian Kalb tribes, under Ummayyad rule the North Arabian Qays tribes became predominant. Many Qaysites moved into Galilee, Golan, Hauran, and al-Balqā ʾ. On the other hand, the Arabs who settled in Tiberias and Bet Guvrin were Kalbites. The majority of the Arabs of southern Palestine belonged to the Lakhm and Judhām tribes (South Arabians). In the course of the ninth century, the number of Qaysites continued to increase in northern Ereẓ Israel and Transjordan. After the dissolution of the military camps, their inhabitants dispersed and settled in the established towns, and both Islam and the Arabic language proliferated. Nevertheless, these towns did not change completely: a great portion of the town dwellers remained Christians, as borne out by Al-Maqdis (985) in his account of Jerusalem. Ramleh was probably the one exception. Founded by the caliph Suleiman (715–17), who resided there, it became the flourishing capital of the south.

The decline of the Abbasid caliphate began in the ninth century, when Turkish princes established semiautonomous principalities. Ahmad ibn-Ṭūlūn founded an independent kingdom in Egypt (868) and ten years later conquered Ereẓ Israel and Syria; his son defeated the caliph's brother in battle at the Yarkon River (nahr abī Fuṭrus – Antipatris) in 885. After Ahmad's death, the Qarmatians – one of the Shi ʿ ite sects from the Syrian desert – began to carry out fierce raids against Syria and Ereẓ Israel in 906. A bit later, Ikhshidi princes became masters over Egypt (935) and Palestine (942) and set out to engage forces with the Turkish rulers of Aleppo. In the second half of the tenth century, the Fatimid Shi ʿ ite dynasty assumed power in Egypt. The Ikhshidis attempted to prevent the Fatimids from taking control of Palestine, but were defeated in a battle near Ramleh in 969.

fatimids and seljuks

During the early period of Fatimid rule in Palestine, the enemies of the dynasty carried out a number of incursions into the country. The first to invade Palestine were the Qarmatians, who captured the entire country except the coastal fortresses in 971. Although their attempt to penetrate into Egypt failed, they remained in control of Palestine for three years. In 974 the Qarmatians were driven out by Fatimid troops, but after a short time they managed to reestablish their authority for a few months. The confusion in Palestine was exploited by the Byzantines, who attacked the Abbasid caliph and, under the emperor Tsimiskes, undertook what modern scholars have called the Byzantine Crusade, penetrating as far as Beisan in 975. They were compelled to retreat from the areas conquered in Syria, but meanwhile the Qarmatians renewed their attacks. After joining forces with the Turkish leader Alptekin, the ruler of Damascus, the Qarmatians defeated the Fatimid troops near Ramleh and laid siege to Ashkelon; however, they were vanquished in 977 by the Egyptian caliph al-Aziz in a battle near Ramleh.

Even after defeating the Qarmatians, the Fatimids could not establish a stable government in the country because of the rising power of Ṭayyi ʾ Bedouin, who had been supported by the Egyptian caliphs in the hope that they would be useful against their governors in Damascus. In effect, the Bedouin chiefs of banū Jarrāḥ, who lived in Ramleh, were the real masters of the country, and the governors of the Fatimid regime were content to maintain their authority only in the coastal towns. In 998 the Bedouin chief Al-Mufarrij ibn Danfal ibn al-Jarrāḥ revolted against the caliph Al-Ḥākim and installed the sharif of Mecca as caliph at Ramleh. Later, the Bedouin were reconciled with the government, but Al-Mufarrij's power continued until his death in 1013, when the Egyptian Fatimid authorities sent a large army to Palestine to put an end to Bedouin rule. At first the caliph Al-Ẓāhir maintained peaceful relations with Al-Mufarrij's son and successor, Hasan; however, when relations again deteriorated, Hasan concluded an alliance with a league of Bedouin tribes ruling Syria, intending to make himself master of the entire region from the Taurus to the Egyptian border. Initially, the Bedouin scored a number of victories, taking Ramleh in 1024 and ruling the country for five years. In 1029, however, they were defeated by a Fatimid army near Lake Kinneret. In 1042 the banū Jarrāḥ again attempted to conquer the country. Fatimid power was already unstable at this period and the first Seljuk forays into Ereẓ Israel had begun.

The Seljuks were a Turkish people that had established an empire in Western Asia in the middle of the 11th century. In 1071 the Seljuk general Atsiz captured Jerusalem and most of the rest of Ereẓ Israel. Although his invasion of Egypt ended in failure, the rebellion that broke out in Jerusalem while he was occupied there was later suppressed. The Seljuk conquest brought an end to Arab rule in Ereẓ Israel, although the struggle between the Fatimids and the Seljuks lasted until the end of the 11th century; the Fatimids held the Coastal Plain and in 1098, a year before the arrival of the Crusaders, even recaptured Jerusalem.

The detailed description of the political events in the 10th–11th centuries indicates a gloomy picture of the living conditions in that period, which is also confirmed by contemporary letters found in the Cairo Genizah. Agriculture was predominant in the economic life of the country. The dams near Beisan were quickly repaired and the region soon became famous for its dates, rice, and indigo. Other sectors lost importance, compared to previous periods and neighboring countries. Ereẓ Israel was self-sufficient in the growing of cereals and exported olive oil, dried figs, and raisins. In the Jordan Valley and the Coastal Plain sugar plantations developed considerably, and the Arabs introduced the lemon and orange to Ereẓ Israel. In spite of the flourishing agriculture in the first centuries of Arab rule, heavy fiscal pressure exacerbated the peasants and provoked revolts, e.g., the uprising of Abu-Harb, who in 842, caused turmoil in Ereẓ Israel. The volume of industry decreased, however, when the coastal towns shrank in size as a result of the loss of overseas markets. The interruption of international trade in the Mediterranean area was a foremost phenomenon in the economic history of Syria and Ereẓ Israel under the caliphs. Industry, therefore, produced mostly for local markets, although soap (made from olive oil) and glass vessels were sold in Egypt and Transjordan. On the whole, the decay of maritime trade in the Mediterranean world was outweighed by the intensification of commercial relations with countries that had belonged to other economic regions before the Arab conquest. Ereẓ Israel's economy thus remained intact under the caliphs. Its decline and the subsequent general impoverishment of the population began in the tenth century, due to changes in the political structure, as described above.

In the south (the Negev), however, the deterioration of the economy began even earlier. With the consolidation of the Muslim empire from Spain to India, it became safe for travelers to journey by land, a permanent postal system was established, and new overland trade routes between Europe and the East came into being. These developments eliminated the Negev trade routes, which had functioned as a factor in international commerce, during the Roman and Byzantine periods, and the Negev's key position disappeared for centuries to come. Its cities declined as their inhabitants lost the transit trade and their livelihoods from dyeing and weaving, and the population dwindled. As the markets for agricultural products disappeared, the farmers also moved away, and villages ceased to exist. Ramleh, the headquarters of the administration, was then an important commercial center, and other larger cities were Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Jerusalem. These cities, however, declined like the rest of the country during the period of Fatimid rule. The constant Bedouin raids made life quite difficult for the inhabitants, and, in addition to man-made disasters, earthquakes, which occurred in 1016 and 1033, contributed still further to the country's impoverishment.

The Muslim population of Palestine was for the most part Sunni, and the Shi ʿ ite propaganda of the Fatimid government met with little success. There were large groups of Shi ʿ ites in Tiberias and a number of other places. Most of the inhabitants of Nablus and its environs were Samaritans. In Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Tiberias, the majority of the population was Christian and enjoyed the protection of the Byzantines who cared for the Christian shrines. The spoken language of all the inhabitants, regardless of religion, was Arabic, although Arabic culture had not struck roots in the country. The intellectual level of the population was lower than that of the neighboring countries. In 985 the Jerusalem geographer al-Maqdisī wrote that it was difficult to find a Muslim intellectual in Ereẓ Israel in his time. The cultural level of the Christians was higher than that of the Muslims, which explains the fact that Christians held most of the government positions. Talented and ambitious members of the population immigrated to the adjacent countries, where the chances of advancement in a number of fields were much greater.

the jewish population

In the period preceding the Arab invasion, there were Jewish agricultural and trade settlements in the Negev, south of the Dead Sea, along the shores of the Gulf of Elath, and in Transjordan. Delegations sent to conclude protective treaties with Muhammad, once his fame had begun to spread, included Jews from Transjordan and the Gulf of Elath, Maqnā, a small port along the southern portion of the Gulf, was a Jewish community inhabited by the banū Janbā, warriors who earned their livelihood from agriculture, fishing, trade, and home crafts. From the clothing they pledged to deliver to Muhammad, it is apparent that they were wealthy. The delegation from Elath was accompanied by groups of Jews from the neighboring communities of Adhruh and Jarbā, between Petra and Ma ʿ ān in Transjordan. The region between Edre ʿ i and Jericho was inhabited by Jews as late as the 10th and 11th centuries, but they disappeared completely during the Crusades. *Estori ha-Parhi, however, mentions a Jewish community in Edre ʿ i in his time (13th century).

The southern coastal towns continued to flourish after the Arab conquest. In the 11th century there were still Jewish communities in Gaza, Rafa, and El-Arish, but they disinte-grated with the Crusades, when the population as a whole declined. Many villages and small towns were destroyed in the Crusader wars against the Fatimids and the Ayyubids, but the disappearance of much of the population in the borderland was also due to the complete cessation of transit trade in the Negev during this period. Controversial reports exist about the resettlement of the Jews in Jerusalem after the Arab conquest. According to Arab sources, the treaty between the caliph *Omar and Patriarch Sophronius about the surrender of Jerusalem to the Arabs contained the condition that the Jews should not be allowed to settle in the city. On the other hand, a document in the Cairo Genizah testifies that Omar gave 70 Jewish families from Tiberias permission to settle in Jerusalem. A later Arabic source reports that Jewish families attended the Mosque of Omar in the Temple area. The sources about Jerusalem as seat of the academy do not indicate the date of this event (see section on Religious and Spiritual Life below).

In general, Jewish and Christian communities in Ereẓ Israel prospered during the first 50 years of Arab rule. The founder of the Ummayyad dynasty, Caliph Mu ʿ āwiya (661– 680), devoted himself to organizing and expanding his realm. His regime displayed tolerance toward the people under Muslim protection and afforded numerous opportunities to both Jews and Christians. Mu ʿ āwya settled Jews in Tripoli because he regarded them as loyal to the Arabs and wanted to strengthen reliable elements there. The situation changed for the worse when Omar ii (717–720) became caliph and introduced numerous restrictions against non-Muslims (see *Omar Covenant). These laws severely affected the public conduct, religious observances, and legal status of the people under Muslim protection. During the Abbasid rule, Jews were sometimes forced to wear yellow turbans, Christians, blue ones, and Samaritans, red ones. These regulations, however, were not strictly observed and had to be stressed from time to time in public proclamations. In 1009–13 the Fatimid caliph *Al-Hākim issued severe restrictions against the dhimmi (protected non-Muslim population) that affected the Christians more than the Jews. He also revived the regulations about prescribed garb and ordered the destruction of churches and synagogues. Finally, Jews and Christians were presented with the ultimatum of either adopting Islam or leaving the country. During this period, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem was demolished. Soon afterward, however, while Al-Ḥākim was still alive, the orders were rescinded and permission was granted to rebuild the houses of worship and allow persons who pretended to adopt Islam to profess their own religions openly.

Economic Conditions

Because of the heavy land taxes imposed on non-Muslim farmers, Jews ceased to cultivate the soil. They settled in the towns, where economic conditions were better and they were safer, and engaged in crafts such as dyeing and tanning, which became exclusively Jewish occupations for centuries to come. With the exception of Al-Hākim's decrees, the attitude of the authorities toward the Jews in the Fatimid period was generally favorable and better than the treatment accorded to the Christians, who sometimes provoked the Muslims with their arrogance. Whereas it was strictly forbidden to employ members of the protected faiths in government posts during the Abbasid period, under Fatimid rule, Jews and Christians were in the service of the caliphs, who had come to learn that the protected peoples were more loyal to them than the Sunni Muslims.

The Jews of Ramleh derived benefits from the trade caravans passing through the city. They traded with Egypt and Syria, as well as with North Africa. However, Bedouin depredations and severe earthquakes, which caused unusual damage to Ramleh, undermined the city's position. The economic status of Jerusalem was less satisfactory because of the city's distance from trade routes and its proximity to the desert. Whenever disorders and highway robberies increased, the number of Jewish and Christian pilgrims to the Holy City fell off. In addition, the tax burden in Jerusalem was heavier than in other Palestinian cities. Most of the Jewish population lived off contributions from foreign Jewish communities or visitors. Whatever Jewish merchants there were in Jerusalem were dependent on those in Ramleh. A number of copyists supported themselves from copying manuscripts to be sold abroad.

Religious and Spiritual Life

In the last century of Byzantine rule, Tiberias was again the center of Jewish spiritual and religious leadership. Mar *Zutra, a scion of the exilarchs, settled there in 520 and was appointed head of the academy. Even the persecutions of the emperor Justinian (527–565) could not destroy the community that had fostered the development of Jewish scholarship. Tiberias was the center of the masoretes (see *Masorah) and the inventors of the Tiberian system of vocalizing Hebrew, the most important cultural achievement of the period. This system superseded two others, the Babylonian and the Palestinian, and came into current use in all Jewish communities. The Tiberian pronunciation became famous for its precision and clarity, and many scholars went to Tiberias to study the proper tradition of reading the Torah. The city also attained renown for its liturgical poets. One of the most famous of them was *Yannai b. Yannai, several hundred of whose piyyutim have remained. Fragments from a halakhic work Sefer ha-Ma'asim li-Venei Ereẓ Yisrael ("Book of the Deeds of the Ereẓ Israel Jews"), in which important decisions on religious, social, and economic matters have been collected, provide a glimpse into the life of the period. Although the exact date of the collection is still controversial – the end of the Byzantine or beginning of the Muslim period – there is no doubt about its importance as one of the few halakhic works of that period from Ereẓ Israel to have survived. It is not known exactly when the academy passed from Tiberias to Jerusalem and Ramleh. From some hints in the letters of the Ereẓ Israel Gaon*Aaron b. Meir (a contemporary and an opponent of *Saadiah Gaon), it can be assumed that the move occurred in the ninth century. It may also be ventured that the transfer of the academy to Jerusalem was caused at least partially by the settlement of the *Karaites (see below) in the city. Among the outstanding heads of the academy during the period, in addition to Aaron b. Meir, were R. *Solomon b. Judah (1025–1051) and *Daniel b. Azariah (1051–1062), a scion of the Babylonian exilarchs who signed with the title "gaon of Tiberias," although his seat was in Jerusalem. The last gaon whose seat was in Jerusalem was *Elijah b. Solomon. After the Seljuk conquest of Jerusalem (1071) he had to move the academy to Tyre, where it remained until the Crusades. It then moved to Ḥadrak near Damascus and subsequently to Damascus itself. The academy existed in Syria for about a century and was still known as the Academy of the Holy Land.

The Karaites in Jerusalem

In the ninth century a number of Karaites left Iraq and Persia and settled in Jerusalem, which became an important center of Karaism. A letter written by Aaron b. Meir testifies that among them were nesi'im (princes), so styled because they belonged to the exilarchic family. The Karaites occupied a special quarter and called themselves "mourners of Zion"; the foremost among them were styled "shoshannim" (lilies). A genealogical list of Karaite Davidides published by Mann (Texts, 2 (1935), 131) tells that Ẓemah the prince (third generation after Anan) was also head of the academy, whereas his brother Jehoshaphat was called "head of the academy, the pride (Gaon) of Jacob." Abramson (Merkazim, 27) is inclined to assume that Ẓemaḥ was head of the academy in Jerusalem. In any case it seems that the rivalry between the Rabbanites and Karaites in Jerusalem was one of the reasons for the reestablishment of the seat of the Rabbanite academy in Jerusalem (for later developments, see *Karaites: in Palestine).


After the extinction of the patriarchate (c. 429), the leadership of the Jewish population passed to the scholars and heads of the academy, rather than to descendants of the Davidic dynasty, although the Karaites attempted to revive the office of the *nasi (patriarch) from the family of Anan, of the family of the exilarchs who were of Davidic stock. In the 11th century a Rabbanite descendant of the exilarchs, R. *Daniel b. Azariah who styled himself "patriarch (nasi) and Gaon," ascended to the leadership of the community. In an epistle to Egypt, he wrote: "Since we came to this holy place, we guide Israel, with God's help, in the whole of Palestine and Syria, and administer justice even to those in distant places. In all towns and settlements prayers are recited for us. The Haverim and judges in every place are authorized by us. Nobody else has any influence even over a small town.…" (Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 179; 2 (1922), 216). Daniel concentrated the powers of the exilarch and the gaon in Iraq in his hands. From the many letters of Solomon b. Judah, Daniel's predecessor in the office as head of the Palestinian academy, it is assumed that he was the acknowledged representative of the Jewish population vis-à-vis the Muslim authorities. The geonim*Elijah b. Solomon and his son *Abiathar also assumed leadership beyond the boundaries of Ereẓ Israel.

The ḥaverim mentioned in Daniel b. Azariah's epistle were authorized to head the local communities and sometimes also served as dayyanim. The judges were paid by their communities, but it is learned from many letters that they did not always receive their fixed emoluments or collections made to pay their salaries. In one of his letters, Solomon b. Judah mentions how the Jerusalemites induced him to become their ḥazzan before he became the head of the academy, because he was satisfied with a small livelihood; but two years passed and his services went entirely unrewarded, due to the great distress prevailing in the Holy City (Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), 318). One of Solomon b. Judah's main tasks was to request support for his communities and their functionaries from the Ereẓ Israel congregations in Egypt. The Gaon Josiah remarks in a letter (Mann, Egypt, 2 (1922), 69–70) that the academy used to be maintained by the Fatimid government, but this support ceased (during the Al-Ḥākim persecutions?), and the academy was in great distress. These financial problems increased with deteriorating political and economic conditions. At the end of the 11th century the Jewish population in Ereẓ Israel diminished and lost its firm organizational and spiritual features.

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]

Crusader Period (1099–1291)

In 1095 Pope Urban ii appealed to the French at Clermont to rescue the Holy Land and recover it for Christendom. The response was instantaneous: Peter the Hermit, a Fleming from Amiens, harangued crowds; fanatical bands of peasants streamed eastward, passing through southern Germany, Hungary, and the Balkans, destroying the Jewish communities on the way; but this first mob "army" did not reach the Holy Land and was destroyed by the Turks (July–October 1096). Two years elapsed before the mailed Christian chivalry could be organized, and it took another year before that military expedition reached the coastal road leading from Lebanon into Ereẓ Israel (May 1099). The coastal cities agreed, out of fear, to furnish the advancing expedition with provisions and funds. The army made its way from Caesarea to Ramleh (whose population fled) on the way to conquer Jerusalem, the proclaimed aim of the *Crusade movement. The Crusaders besieged Jerusalem from June 7 to July 15, 1099, and the city capitulated after Godfrey de Bouillon's troops had broken through the northern wall and Raymond of Toulouse's men had broken through at "Mt. Zion." The conquerors carried out a mass massacre of the population, which numbered between 20,000 and 30,000. The Jews, who had heroically defended their quarter, were in part killed and burned in their synagogue and in part taken captive and sold into slavery in Italy. Only few managed to flee to Ashkelon and Egypt.

Having conquered the capital, the Crusaders proceeded to occupy the rest of the country. Bethlehem had surrendered even before the conquest of Jerusalem; the city was in fact handed over to the Crusaders by its Eastern Christian inhabitants, who constituted the majority of its population. Jericho and Nablus had also surrendered when Tancred took both Tiberias and Beisan without a battle, turning the former into the capital of a new principality. The last serious Fatimid attempt to combat the Crusaders ended in the defeat of the Fatimids at the battle of Ashkelon (August 1099), and the Crusaders were thus free to proceed with the occupation of the coastal cities. Like Ramleh, Jaffa was abandoned by its Muslim population and for a while served the Crusaders as their main port; during this first stage in the existence of their state, they were totally dependent on the supply of men, horses, arms, and provisions from overseas. It took the Crusaders ten years (1100–10) to conquer most of the coastal cities. *Haifa, then a small fortress (1100), was important because of its shipyards; the Jewish community, which resided there by special arrangement with the Fatimids, played an important role in its defense. Arsūf (April 1101), Caesarea (1101), Acre (May 1104), Beirut (1101), and Sidon (December 1110) followed suit. The conquest of the port cities facilitated the renewal of military and commercial ties with Europe and also provided the main residential centers of the Crusader community, which never struck roots in agricultural areas. Ashkelon constituted a serious danger to the Crusaders and was finally captured from the Egyptians in 1153.

Crusader expansion into the southern part of Transjordan had begun by 1100. In spite of the deterring efforts of the rulers of Damascus, the Crusaders succeeded first in establishing control over the local nomad population. In 1107 they captured Wadi Mūsā; in 1112 they fortified Shawbak, calling it Montreal; in 1113 they conquered Elath; and, finally, the fortification of Le Crac (Kerak), captured in 1142, secured their control over the area, the land connection between Syria and Egypt, and the "Pilgrims' Road" from the north to Mecca and Medina. Omitting further details it should be pointed out that from the standpoint of territorial expanse, the Kingdom of Jerusalem (or the Kingdom of David and even Israel, as it was called during the period of *Saladin's rise to power in Egypt (1174)) was at its height. Its border in the north went along the Mu ʿ āmalatayn River (or Nahr Ibrahim) between Giblet (which belonged to the principality of Tripoli) and Beirut and continued in the west along the coast southward to Dayr-al-Balah (Daron of the Crusaders). It extended eastward from Beirut to encompass the sources of the Jordan and reached the foot of Mount Hermon. From there the border turned southward and encompassed parts of Horan and Bashan, Gilead, and all the territory of Moab up to Elath. The desert region of the Negev (Grande Barrie, from the Arabic bariyya (desert)) completed the borderline between Elath and Daron.

Saladin, Ayyub's son, directed his policy toward the unification of Syria and Iraq with Egypt, a goal that was fulfilled with his conquest of Aleppo (1183). His halting attempts to attack the Crusaders' borders during the lifetime of Nur al-Din (Gaza, 1170; Montreal and Elath, 1171; Crac, 1173) took on the appearance of a planned mission in 1177, when he attacked southern Gaza, captured Ramleh, besieged Lydda, and reached Arsūf. But at the battle of Gezer (Montgisard, as it was called by the Crusaders), he was routed by Baldwin iv, and his attempts to impose a sea blockade on the Crusaders (1179–82), accompanied by attacks on Montreal, Galilee, Beisan, and Beirut, ended in yet another Crusader victory in the battle of Forbelet (1182). In 1183 Saladin captured Beisan and Zar ʿ īn, besieged Crac, and destroyed Nablus, Samaria, and Jezreel. His victories terminated in the battle of Hattin (July 1187) with the crushing defeat of the Crusader camp, which had left Sepphoris to come to the aid of besieged Tiberias. As a result of this battle, all the Crusader cities and fortresses, including Jerusalem (November 1187), surrendered to Saladin almost without a fight. Tyre, which was not conquered due to Conrad Montferrat, now became the center of the remaining Crusaders, under the leadership of their king, Guy de Lusignan. The prolonged siege imposed on Acre by the Crusaders (August 1189–July 1191) and their conquest of the city constituted the beginning of a renewed conquest under the leadership of Richard the Lion-Hearted; but, as a result of the conflict between the kings of France and England, this endeavor produced poor results. According to the peace treaty of September 1192, the Crusader state was established in the area between Tyre and Jaffa (the Lydda-Ramleh area was divided between the two sides); in addition, the Christians obtained the right of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which remained in Muslim hands.

Upon Saladin's death (1193), the Muslim empire was once again broken up. The Crusaders, however, were no longer able to exploit this situation, despite the fact that their state continued to expand by virtue of the various Crusades (such as the German Crusade that succeeded in capturing Beirut in 1197). The treaty of 1204 returned Jaffa (which fell to the Egyptians in 1197), as well as part of the territories of Sidon and Nazareth, to the Crusaders. The Fourth Crusade, which might have brought aid to the Crusaders in Ereẓ Israel, turned to the capture of Constantinople and resulted in the diversion of the European forces to Cyprus (captured by Richard in 1189). The military Crusade of the kings of Hungary and Cyprus in 1217 spent itself in undirected missions in the Galilee, Beisan and Mt. Tabor, and its only positive results were the fortification of Caesarea and the founding of Athlit (Château Pélerins). The remnants of this Crusade joined the daring attempt to attack Egypt (the Fifth Crusade). Fear of the Crusaders prompted the Muslims to destroy their fortresses at Tibnīn, Banias, Belvoir (Kawkab al-Hawā), Safed, Mt. Tabor, and Jerusalem simultaneously.

The Crusaders now awaited the arrival of Frederick ii, emperor of Germany and king of Sicily. His departure was delayed until 1228, when, meanwhile excommunicated by the Pope, he reached Acre. In the interim, the Crusaders had captured parts of Sidon, built the walls of Caesarea, and fortified Qal ʿ at al-Qurayn (Montfort). As a result of his connections with Al-Malik al-Kāmil, the sultan of Egypt, Frederick succeeded in acquiring the Crusaders' territorial sovereignty without entering battle. Sidon (with the exclusion of Beaufort), Tibnīn, Sepphoris, Nazareth, Lydda, Ramleh, Bethlehem, the Ramleh-Jerusalem road, and Jerusalem itself – excluding the Temple area, which remained under Muslim jurisdiction – were transferred to the Crusaders. The kingdom now included two enclaves connected to the coastal region: Nazareth and Jerusalem. Frederick proclaimed himself king of Jerusalem and then left the country. Frederick's excommunication,

self-coronation, and departure from the country brought about civil war, with the opposition to Frederick under the leadership of the House of Ibelin. The war raged intermittently from 1231 to 1243 and depleted the strength of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The Italian communes and military orders carried out their own policy, and the country remained bereft of a true ruler.

The Crusaders' attempt to reconstruct the ruins of Ashkelon terminated with their defeat in the battle of Gaza (November 1239). Meanwhile, the sultan Ismail of Damascus convinced them to enter into a treaty with him against Ayyub, ruler of Egypt and stipulated he would return to them Beau-fort (Qal ʿ at al-Shaqīf), Safed, and Tiberias in Galilee. During the period of mutual political intrigues, Egypt called upon the assistance of the Khwarizmian Turks, who were then in flight from the Mongols. They overran the country, captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders (August 1244), and dealt them a crushing blow at the battle of Hirbiya (Forbie) near Gaza (October 1244), later destroying Galilee. Jerusalem, which was annexed to Egypt, and Judea and Samaria, which were annexed to Transjordan, were never again returned to the Crusaders. Later still (1247), the Egyptians also captured Tiberias and Ashkelon.

The days of the Crusader coastal kingdom were now numbered by the rise of the Mamluks in Egypt (1250), which brought to power a strong military class. With the appearance of a new factor in the Middle East – the Mongols, whose commander (Hulagu) conquered Baghdad in 1258 – it appeared that a Mongolian-European Christian pact that would help the Crusaders withstand the Muslims (rumors circulated that there were numerous Christians among the Mongols) was in the offing. The Crusaders, however, did not exploit the presence of the Mongols and adopted a neutral stance in the severe clash between the latter and the Mamluks of Egypt. In 1260 the Mongols suffered a blow in the battle of Gaza and later a crushing defeat at ʿ Ayn-Jālūt (En-Harod), which routed their army. A result of the neutral stance of the Crusaders was that they now faced Baybars, the great ruler of Egypt, who slowly but surely captured one fortress after another. Once again the remnants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem did not cooperate with each other and made separate treaties with the conqueror, in order to preserve their meager possessions. Eventually Acre, the center of the kingdom, fell, after a period of siege (April–May 1291), to Al-Malik al-Ashraf the Mamluk. The last fortress, that of Atlit (the Castle of the pilgrims), was abandoned soon after. The period of the Crusades thus came to a close in Palestine.

the jewish population

During the period of Crusader conquests, the Jews cooperated with the Fatimid forces and the urban Muslim population. Rumors of the murder and pillage perpetrated by the Crusaders upon the Jewish communities in the Rhine area reached the East and gave rise to messianic expectations, which were in turn nourished by the naive belief that the First Crusade served only to gather the nations of the world into the Holy Land in order to destroy them in war ("the war of *Gog and Magog"). Christian sources from that period first mention Jews in connection with the defense of Jerusalem. The Jewish quarter, founded in the 11th century in the northeastern section of the city (between Damascus Gate and the Valley of Jehoshaphat), was the first to be attacked and invaded by the troops of Godfrey of Bouillon. Only a very few survived the terrible carnage and the burning of the synagogues (together with those who sought refuge within them). The Jews are mentioned again in connection with the defense of Haifa in 1100. The Jewish community there enjoyed special conditions conferred upon it by the Fatimids. It is said that Tancred, who retreated from the walls of Haifa, did not attempt to besiege it again until he was admonished that failure to conquer this city defended by Jews would make a mockery of the God of the Christians. The Crusader armies and the Venetian sailors likewise slaughtered the Haifa community.

Contemporary letters and edicts and fragments thereof discovered in the Cairo Genizah (some of which have been published by S.D. Goitein; see bibliography) provide more than a glimpse into the life of the Jewish community in Ereẓ Israel under the Crusader rule; they add much to the (sometimes) later descriptions from the non-Jewish sources. A letter found in the Genizah describes the fall of Jerusalem, the ransoming of the captives, and the relief efforts on behalf of the refugees who fled with the Fatimid commander. Leaders of the Jewish community in Ashkelon dispatched the letter to the Alexandrian community, begging it to cover the debts incurred by the Jews of Ashkelon in connection with their relief work. A second letter was written by a pilgrim to Ereẓ Israel, who, it may be presumed, came from the Maghreb (North Africa) or Spain. He proceeded as far as Cairo but could not move to Jerusalem because the Holy City had been captured by the "Franks … who murdered all who were in it – Ishmaelites and Israelites. The few who remained after the slaughter have been captured. Some of those have been ransomed and some are still in captivity." He goes on to express the hope that the sultan will defeat the enemies and he will be able to visit Jerusalem soon. Another letter, written in the winter of 1099/1100 by the av bet din of the academy, a scion of the Ben Meir family, deals with ransoming members of his family. The writer regards the conquest as an affliction. Indeed, a long letter sent from Ereẓ Israel to Egypt in the first decade of the 12th century informs that conditions changed for the better for those who remained in the country, and the writer would like to renew business relations with his relative and friend. A letter written (in Tyre) to the dayyan of Fostat in 1100 includes a short description of the siege of Beirut as related by a fugitive who left the city by night. It seems that all of the 35 Jewish families who lived there were massacred.

Tyre and Banias in the north and Ashkelon and Rafa in the south, which still withstood the Crusaders, absorbed many of the refugees from the massacred communities, while others fled to Egypt. It may be assumed that the communities located in the agricultural region, such as Galilee, suffered minimally from the Crusader conquests. Despite their generally difficult situation, the Jewish settlements still made their influence felt and instances of conversion to Judaism were recorded, such as that of Obadiah the Norman, who remained for a time at Banias and Tyre (when those cities were in Muslim hands). Once the period of military conquest had ended, the Jewish communities began to reconstruct their lives. Their status was enhanced somewhat by the immigration movement from Europe, which was in turn encouraged by improved maritime transportation between the two areas. The legal status of the Jews under the Crusader code, which did not differ from that of Syrian-Christians and Muslims, also helped renew Jewish life in Ereẓ Israel, for inasmuch as the Muslims constituted the majority of the population and the Crusaders' continued existence depended upon them, the Crusader code was very tolerant with respect to infidels. This was in contrast to the hostile attitude of European Christianity toward the Jews that was taking shape in the 12th century. Only in Jerusalem did the Crusaders revive the Byzantine edict that forbade Jews to live within the holy city, and, indeed, only a few families settled there by special permission of the king of Jerusalem.

Various travelers (including *Benjamin of Tudela) who visited Palestine during the second half of the 12th century left descriptions of the conditions of the Jewish communities there. These descriptions are confirmed by the finds in the Cairo Genizah. The most important of these communities was Tyre, which apparently continued to exist even after the Crusader conquest. It was an organized community whose leaders and scholars exchanged letters with Maimonides in Egypt on halakhic matters. Next in importance was the Acre community, whose scholars also maintained contact with Maimonides, and third came the Jewish community in Ashkelon, which may not have been destroyed after the surrender of the city to the Crusaders in 1153. The remainder of the Jewish settlements of the period were very small. There were small communities in the coastal cities of Beirut, Sidon, and Caesarea. The cities of Galilee had only the isolated communities of Tiberias in the 12th century and Safed in the 13th century. A letter that mentions the "regnant Dame" of Tiberias (the allusion being to Eschive, who ruled in Tiberias before 1187) has been found in the Cairo Genizah. There were also rural Jewish settlements in Galilee: Gush Ḥalav, Almah, Kefar Baram, Amkah, Kefar Ḥananyah, Kefar Tanḥum, Meron, Dalta, Biriyyah. The small communities of Zar ʿ in, Nablus, Belt Nuba, and Bet Guvrin were scattered in Judea and Samaria. Although the Jewish community in Ereẓ Israel did not intentionally abandon its former settlements, it increasingly concentrated in the Christian area of the coast cities. This move may have been motivated by economic factors, as opportunities for artisans and tradesmen were more abundant in the ports.

Saladin's conquests and those of his successors, the *Ayyu-bids and the *Mamluks, diminished the territorial scope of the Crusader kingdom and wakened messianic hopes among the Jews in Europe and the East. An important manifestation of the period was the immigration to Palestine from the Diaspora. Many of the refugees of the Crusades longed to return to the Holy Land. The scant information that has been preserved about the 12th-century immigration deals not so much with actual immigration as with visits to the Holy Land (in the 1260s and 1270s) by travelers such as Benjamin of Tudela, *Pethahiah of Regensburg, and R. Jacob b. Netanel Hacohen. Parallel to the unceasing flow of visitors during the 13th century (Judah *Al-Ḥarizi), a trickle of immigrants began to settle. Furthermore, two rather short-lived spiritual centers were created in Jerusalem and Acre. This new movement was probably encouraged by the Crusaders' inability to defeat Saladin and was likewise sustained by the waves of persecution that plagued European Jewry at that time. The Jewish population in Jerusalem, which was limited to a few families during the Crusader occupation, expanded markedly after Saladin's conquest (1187). According to Judah Al-Ḥarizi, who visited Jerusalem (1218), Saladin immediately published a proclamation calling the Jews from all over the world to come and settle in the capital. In his time the Jerusalem community consisted of scholars from France; a fine congregation from Ashkelon (apparently refugees from the Jewish community destroyed there in 1191), led by a Yemenite "prince"; and a large congregation from North Africa, where there was an increase in persecution at the end of the 12th century.

Sources from the Cairo Genizah add interesting details to the observations made by Judah Al-ḥarizi. The fragments published by Braslavi (Ereẓ Yisrael, 4 (1956), 156–9) include the names of other French scholars who lived in Jerusalem during the period. A proclamation by Saladin reducing the custom duties to be paid by non-Muslims by half, mentioned in a letter, was no doubt an invitation for Jewish merchants to settle in the conquered area. A letter from 1214 clarifies some of Al-Ḥarizi's remarks about the Jerusalem community. It expressly mentions the synagogue of the "Son of the Yemeni" and ends with greetings for the "Ashkeloni and Maghrebi elders." The first immigration wave from Europe included the "300 French and English rabbis" who immigrated in 1210–11 and settled in Acre. Among them were learned scholars from the ranks of the tosafists, such as R. *Jonathan ben David ha-Kohen from Lunel and R. *Samson of Sens.

The renewed Jerusalem community was short-lived. During the occupation of Jerusalem by the Christians (1229–39, 1243–44), the Jews were not initially allowed access to the city. In about 1236 a special agreement permitting them to visit the Holy City was arranged; it included a special permit for Jewish dyers to settle in Jerusalem, and their presence in the city is mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela and Pethahiah from Regensburg. It may be assumed that the destruction of the city in 1244 by the Khwarizmian Turks caused the simultaneous demise of its Jewish inhabitants. Nahmanides' immigration to Jerusalem in 1267 stimulated efforts to revive the community, and many students flocked to him from distant places in the East. He completed his commentary to the Pentateuch in Jerusalem. He left Jerusalem for Acre and his death in 1270 apparently brought the Jerusalem community's revival to a halt. At a later period a legend arose about the "Nahmanides synagogue" in Jerusalem that attempted to ascribe the revival and uninterrupted existence of the Jerusalem community to Naḥmanides.

The development of the Acre community stood out in contrast to Jerusalem's deteriorated condition. Part of the 1210–11 immigration settled in Acre, and later waves were also absorbed there for the most part. Among its important settlers was R. *Jehiel of Paris, who immigrated after 1257 and apparently succeeded in founding a yeshivah in Acre called "midrash ha-Gadol" of Paris. Emissaries from the city collected funds in various European communities. The Acre community also maintained connections with R. Solomon b. *Adret and R. *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg and played an important role in the second disputation on the writings of Maimonides. The nagid*David ben Abraham, grandson of Maimonides, lived in Acre for a considerable time during his exile from Egypt (1284–89) and there met R. Solomon Petit, the most active opponent of Maimonides' doctrines. David used all his influence to procure the issue of a ban (1287) against Solomon by the nasi of Damascus as well as a letter against him from *Samuel ben Daniel ha-Kohen, the Gaon of the Baghdad Academy (1288). This controversy confirms the existence of a religious center at Acre. The community was almost completely wiped out during the conquest of the city by Al-Malik al-Ashraf in 1291.

As to the economic activities of the Jewish community at the time, the majority of the Jews were artisans, particularly dyers of woven fabrics (dyeing was then a royal monopoly). Another skill practiced particularly by Jews was the blowing of the famous Tyre glass. They also figured among ship owners, as well as druggists and physicians. In contrast, Jews played a minor role in the great Mediterranean international trade (an Italian monopoly), although there were Jewish merchants and peddlers among the local tradesmen.

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg /

Encyclopaedia Hebraica]

mamluk period (1291–1516)

When the country again returned to the total rule of the Muslims, its importance in international politics was lost for hundreds of years. Al-Malik al-Nāṣir Muhammad was ruler in Egypt and his governor, Tangiz, longtime omnipotent ruler in Syria and Ereẓ Israel, maintained order and security in the country and constructed waterways and public buildings. Mamluk rule was undermined after the death of Al-Malik al-Nāṣir, and at the beginning of the 15th century disagreement among the chief ministers led to civil wars that wreaked havoc in the Syrian territories. In the middle of the same century, during the rule of the sultans Al-Malik al-Ashraf Barsbāy (1422–38) and Al-Ẓāhir Sayf-al-Dīn Jaqmaq (1438–53), Ereẓ Israel again enjoyed a short period of respite, followed by the increased disintegration of Mamluk rule.

The two-and-a-half centuries of Mamluk domination in Ereẓ Israel brought about little change in the administration of the country. Syria and Ereẓ Israel were divided into large provinces (niyāba), which in turn were divided into districts. Each province was headed by a "deputy king" ( ʾ ib) and each district (wilāya) by a governor (wali). The province of Safed included the districts of Safed, Nazareth, Tiberias, Tibnīn, Athlit, Acre, Tyre, al-Shāghūr, al-Iqlīm al-Shaqīf, and Jenin. It was, in effect, an enclave in the larger province of Damascus, which included a great part of Ereẓ Israel, i.e., the northern districts of eastern Transjordan (Edrei, ʿ Ajlūn, al-Balqā ʾ, Banias), the Beth-Shean district, and the districts of central and southern Ereẓ Israel (Shechem, Qāqūn, Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramleh, Lydda, and Gaza). Various changes were introduced in the administration of the southern districts in the second half of the 14th century. The status of the governor of Jerusalem was raised, and Hebron was added to his district; a special governor, directly responsible to the government in Cairo, was appointed for Ramleh, and Lydda and Qāqūn were added to his district. Because Gaza periodically became an independent province, the status of this district underwent frequent changes. Eastern Transjordan was under the jurisdiction of a special province, Kir Moab (al-Kerak).

Sources from the 14th and 15th centuries attest that the economic structure of Ereẓ Israel remained essentially unchanged during the last centuries of the Middle Ages. The author-prince Abu al-Fidā ʾ, who visited the country in 1312, describes the fruit of Ereẓ Israel as export produce. The geographer Al-Dimashkī and a traveler, Ibn Batutah, both of the 14th century, report that olive oil and soap made from it were the most important products of Ereẓ Israel. Al-Qalqashandī (15th century) relates that there were sugar plantations in the Jordan Valley, and the Burgundian traveler Bertrandon de la Broquière, who visited in 1432, recounts that cotton was cultivated in the Beth-Shean Valley. When the last vestiges of Crusader rule were eliminated, Ereẓ Israel again had no share in the international spice trade, which in the past had been a source of great profits for its inhabitants.

The Mamluks destroyed Acre, Jaffa, and the other coastal cities for fear that they would be used as aids in renewed Crusades. Jaffa remained in ruins until the end of the Middle Ages, while a small settlement was established in Acre in the 15th century. Tiberias and Ashkelon were also partly in ruins at the end of the Middle Ages. Fabri, who visited Ereẓ Israel in 1480 and 1483, found many places in Jerusalem in ruins. According to Obadiah of *Bertinoro, who reached Jerusalem in 1488, the city contained about 4,000 householders, among whom the 70 Jewish heads of families were the poorest of all, lacking any livelihood (A. Yaari, Massa'ot Ereẓ Yisrael (1946), 127). According to information from the period of early Mamluk rule, Ramleh was a large city with a flourishing trade; but visitors to Ramleh from the end of the 15th and to the beginning of the 16th century related that it, too, was progressively declining into ruin. All the sources attest that Gaza was a flourishing trading town, about twice the size of Jerusalem. Gaza, Ramleh, and Nablus (Shechem) were apparently the largest towns in Ereẓ Israel at the end of the Middle Ages.

Ereẓ Israel did not play an important role in Arabic cultural

life during the period, but various sources attest that there was no lack of learning and education in its towns. The Mamluk sultans and their ministers continued to establish madrasas (schools) for instruction in religion and allocate funds for the maintenance of their teachers and students. The number of madrasas established in Ereẓ Israel by the end of the Middle Ages reached 50, of which 43 were in Jerusalem. From a religious point of view, the Mamluk period stamped Ereẓ Israel with the characteristic that has distinguished it up to modern times. It became an orthodox Muslim country, while the number of its Shi ʿ ites progressively decreased. Its distance from the ruling centers, on the one hand, and the espousal of religious fanaticism in the madrasas, on the other, gave rise to the prominent role played by religion in the daily life. There were periodic complaints by Muslim extremists, which often resulted in lengthy controversies, that the Christians had enlarged their churches in disregard of the Muslim law. Similarly, Jerusalem (from 1473 on) was the scene of a prolonged controversy between the Muslims and Jews over the latter's right to a particular synagogue, which was eventually destroyed by the Muslims (see below). At the same time, the more gifted among the inhabitants would leave Ereẓ Israel for Egypt and Syria. Arabic sources mention a number of Muslim religious scholars who were born or were active in Ereẓ Israel and several local Arabic writers in different areas. Only a few of them, however, were of any significance. Among these, special mention should be made of Mujīr al-Dīn al-ʿ Ulaymī (1456–1521) who was a judge in Jerusalem and Ramleh and wrote a work on the history of Jerusalem and Hebron.

A number of magnificent buildings were constructed by the Mamluk sultans and their representatives out of a desire to perpetuate their names, even in a forsaken province such as Ereẓ Israel. Fine examples of Muslim architectural art of the period are the tower on the site of the White Mosque in Ramleh, of which only remnants have remained. Others are Bāb al-Qattānīn in the Haram area of Jerusalem ("the cotton-workers' gate"); Qā ʾ it bāy Sabīl ("the fountain of Qā ʾ itbāy") on the Temple Mount; and the Tankiziyya madrasa near the Western Wall (first half of the 14th century). Also worthy of mention are the Mamluk bridge, the "Jisr Jindās" (second half of the 13th century), which still serves traffic near the town of Lydda.

At the end of the Mamluk period, the security of Ereẓ Israel was undermined, and a worsening of the economic situation ensued. The wars against the Ottomans compelled the Mamluk rulers to seek additional sources of income (e.g., confiscating oil from the farmers in the Nablus district and then forcing the residents of Jerusalem, Hebron, and Ramleh to buy it at exorbitant prices) and to conscript the Bedouin tribes for military service. Such actions caused rebellions among the populace who sometimes even left their permanent places of residence to hide in the mountains and deserts. In the last decade of the 15th century the Bedouins in the Beth-Shean district and Transjordan rebelled. Apart from political and economic upheavals, there were also natural disasters. Arabic sources record the outbreak of plagues in 1438, 1469, 1476, and 1492; a locust plague in 1484, which laid the land waste; and earthquakes in 1458 and 1497. The hardships endured by the people and their dissatisfaction with the authorities gave rise to the general hope that the annexation of Ereẓ Israel to the Ottoman state would result in a change for the better.

jewish community

After the wave of bloodshed perpetrated by the Crusaders at the beginning of their conquests, there was a period of respite and gradual recovery among the small and impoverished Jewish communities that managed to survive the difficult times. Gradually, pilgrims began to visit the land and refugees returned to settle there. However, as the Mamluks destroyed the ports that had served the Crusaders as important centers of trade with Europe and the inland towns lost their importance in overland international commerce, the Jews had difficulty in supporting themselves in the large settlements and were scattered in small towns and villages throughout Ereẓ Israel and even Transjordan. R. *Estori ha-Parhi, a refugee from France (1306) who settled in Beisan during the first half of the 14th century and was the first to study the land, several times makes mention of small Jewish communities in Ereẓ Israel in his book Kaftor va-Ferah. He even made trips into Transjordan and became acquainted with the communities in Edrei, ʿ Ajlūn, Salka, Ḥabram (Amrawa). In western Ereẓ Israel he found Jews in Jerusalem (where he lived for some time), Lydda, Ramleh (which he calls Gath), Gush Ḥalav, and Safed. In addition to Rabbanite Jews, he also mentions the Ṣadducees, i.e., Karaites, as well as the Samaritans. He makes special mention of *pilgrimages to Jerusalem from the neighboring countries: Sin (i.e., Syrian Tripoli), Hama, Aleppo, Damascus, Cairo, and Alexandria. There is information from the second half of the 14th century about Jews who lived in Miẓpeh Shemuel (i.e., Nabī Samwīl) near Jerusalem. It is evident, however, that these settlements lacked the economic basis required for peaceful development.

Despite the difficult political and economic conditions in Ereẓ Israel, the Jewish community began to strengthen and consolidate from the beginning of the 15th century, especially in Jerusalem. This caused a reaction on the part of the Franciscan friars, who held the cenaculum above the Tomb of David on Mt. Zion. Properties belonging to the Jewish community were also situated on Mt. Zion. The *Franciscans accused the Jews of having dispossessed them of their share of the tomb, and in 1428 the pope issued an order forbidding the fleets of Italian towns to transport Jews to Ereẓ Israel. The dispute over the ownership of the Tomb of David continued for an extended period (see *Jerusalem) and resulted in great difficulties in Jewish immigration by sea and the renewal of the prohibition against transporting Jews in Christian ships (c. 1468). R. Isaac Sarfati (second half of the 15th century), in a famous letter (whose exact date is unknown), calls on the Jews to settle in Ereẓ Israel, suggesting that they make their way overland for "indeed the way of Turgemah is the way to the land of life, all of it overland until Jerusalem, there is only a passage of six miles through the sea" (A. Jellinek (ed.), Zur Geschichte der Kreuzzuege (1854), 20–21). The German traveler Ruter (1479) gives the details of this route: "Following is the description of the overland route from Nuremberg and its neighboring districts to Jerusalem, as described to me by a Jew in Jerusalem who took this road a long time ago. The route can be traveled in great safety. Most of the Jews who come from the lands of Germany to Jerusalem make their way overland … from Nuremberg to Posen … Lublin … Lemberg … through Wallachin to Chocim (?) … Akerman (on the shore of the Black Sea) … Samsun (Turkey) … Tukat … Aleppo … Damascus … Jerusalem" (J. Braslavsky, Le-Ḥeker Arẓenu (1954), 142; R. Roehricht and H. Meisner (eds.), Deutsche Pilgerreisen nach dem Heiligen Lande (1880), 112–3). This description explains the presence of settlers from Central and Southern Europe in Jerusalem.

The suffering of the Jews of Spain and the Balearic Islands at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, even before the expulsions in 1492 and 1497, increased the immigration from hostile countries. Members of their communities could be found in the major cities of Ereẓ Israel even before the Ottoman Turks conquered it. It appears that some of these settlers were Marranos. Obadiah of Bertinoro explicitly states that he found Marranos in Jerusalem and Hebron who had "returned to the fold" (the Spanish refugees in Safed will be discussed below). Many of the details about the population at this time are known from the letters and travelogues of Italian Jews who were then living in Ereẓ Israel: R. *Elijah of Ferrara (1435); R. *Meshullam of Volterra and R. Joseph de Montagna (both 1481); R. Obadiah of Bertinoro and his anonymous disciple (1490–95); R. Israel of Perugia (1517–23); R. Moses *Basola (1521–23). In addition to the settlements already noted, mention should also be made of Kefar Kannā (near Nazareth), where about 38 families lived. R. Obadiah records that 70 families were living in Gaza. According to R. Joseph de Montagna (A. Yaari, Iggerot Ereẓ Yisrael (1943), 91) in 1481 there were 300 Jewish families in Safed, more than four times the size of Jerusalem's Jewish population. A "letter about the matter of shemittah from the sages of Safed to the rabbis of the holy yeshivah of Jerusalem" from 1504 has been preserved and shows that even before the great influx of refugees from Spain into Safed, there were revered scholars in the town, headed by R. PEreẓ Colombo (for Safed, see also Yaari, ibid., 152), and R. Joseph Saracosti (of Saragossa), teacher of David ibn Abi Zimri.

According to the detailed description by Obadiah of Bertinoro, the economic situation of the Jews of Jerusalem was severe. The heavy tax burden led the wealthy and the scholars of the community to leave the city. Out of 300 Ashkenazi and Sephardi families, only 70 of the poorest remained, of whom only the artisans – strap makers, weavers, or smiths – and traders in spices and medicines made a scant living. The burden of taxes and levies, to the extent that Torah scrolls and religious objects had to be sold, was connected with fines and bribes that the community had to pay in order to save the synagogue (named after Naḥmanides, near the Ḥurvah Synagogue) from the Muslims, who destroyed it in 1474 (see *Jerusalem).

In view of the poor moral and economic situation, the nagidNathan *Sholal also left Jerusalem and returned to Egypt, where he met Obadiah of Bertinoro. Nevertheless, Obadiah praises the relations between Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem and emphasizes that in all his travels he did not come across Muslim hostility toward the Jews. According to him, if there had been a wise Jew possessing political acumen in Ereẓ Israel, he could have been "a minister and judge both for the Jews and for the Ishmaelites" (Yaari, ibid., 128). Obadiah also reveals some of the ignorance and crudeness rampant in Jerusalem in his time. Learning had decreased in these generations, and the scholars who are still remembered are very few. At the beginning of Mamluk rule, Tanhum b. Joseph ha-Yerushalmi (d. 1291 in Cairo), an exegete and grammarian who wrote his works in Hebrew, lived in Jerusalem. He also composed a lexicon to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, of which only the introduction is extant. The importance of R. Estori ha-Parḥi's work Kaftor va-Feraḥ lies not only in the geographic-historical information it contains, but also in the opinions and decisions on the mitzvot of Ereẓ Israel discussed therein. R. Elijah of Ferrara (settled in 1435) disseminated the teachings of Maimonides, the Mishnah, and the Talmud with tosafot in Jerusalem and was also appointed a dayyan and received questions from Cairo, Alexandria, and Damascus. Obadiah of Bertinoro, according to his own account, served as a gravedigger, for there was no one to perform the rites of burial. He was, in effect, the rabbi of Jerusalem – where he also wrote his commentary to the Mishnah. Two Sephardi pupils studied with him regularly, and there were two Ashkenazi rabbis in the city. According to the testimony of his anonymous pupil, the situation in Jerusalem greatly improved because of Obadiah's activities.

The system of takkanot in Jerusalem continued after Obadiah's death (c. 1500) and lasted until the Ottoman conquest. The extant version of the takkanot was preserved by R. Moses Basola (d. 1572) who copied them from the calendar of the synagogue in Jerusalem. One of the most important takkanot was that according to which scholars were exempt from taxes, even if they were wealthy, except for the head tax. In matters of controversy their cases would be brought to the court of the nagid in Egypt. This takkanah was apparently first formulated by the nagid R. Isaac *Sholal (nephew of R. Nathan Sholal) in 1509.

Isaac Sholal went to Jerusalem a short while after the Ottoman conquest of Cairo. R. Abraham ha-Levi had settled there even earlier and had been known before his immigration as an outstanding scholar and kabbalist. The expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the time of Selim i indicated to him the forthcoming downfall of the "Edomite" kingdom, and he prophesied the coming of the messiah in 1530 or 1531.

[Encyclopaedia Hebraica]

Ottoman Period

the golden period of ottoman rule (1517–1574)

Selim i (1512–20), who manifested the same qualities as his grandfather, Muhammad (ii) the Conqueror, did not continue his predecessor's attack on Europe. He was "a man of the Eastern front," as one historian describes him, and during his rule the Ottoman territories were doubled through conquests in Asia and Africa. His first campaign was waged against the Persian shah Ismail i, founder of the Safawid dynasty. After defeating him in 1514, Selim pretended he was preparing for a second military campaign against Persia and complained that the Mamluk sultan was conspiring against him together with the "infidel" Safawids, who belonged to the Shi ʿ ite sect. Selim apparently received authoritative reports about the decline of the government in Egypt and intended to entice the Mamluks into leaving their country, extending far from their supply bases in Africa, and attacking him in Asia. This stratagem succeeded: in May 1516 the aged Mamluk sultan Qansūh al-Ghawri went to Syria to fight against Selim and in the battle that broke out on Aug. 24, 1516, in the Valley of Dābiq (near Ein Tāb) in northern Syria, the Egyptians were decisively defeated. As a result, Selim gained all the large cities of northern Syria: Aleppo, Ḥama, Homs, and Damascus. From Damascus, Selim sent out commanders to take control of the neighboring districts. Druze chiefs and Bedouin sheikhs from all over Syria arrived there to swear allegiance to the new ruler and the great vizier Sinān Pasha, who left Damascus to conquer Gaza. Even before the end of 1516, the entire country was apparently under Selim's control. At the beginning of 1517, when Selim embarked on his campaign against Egypt (of which he gained control after a military victory), he visited Jerusalem.

At the beginning of the rule of Selim's son, *Suleiman (i) the Magnificent (the Law Giver in Arabic) (1520–66), the wali of Syria and Ereẓ Israel, Jan-Birdi al-Ghazālī, rebelled against him, believing the time had come to overthrow the yoke of Ottoman rule and establish a sovereign kingdom in Syria and Ereẓ Israel. Some scholars maintain that he exploited the ferment among the population that resulted from the poor economic situation. However the wali was killed by the Ottomans, and his head was sent to Constantinople. Calm was restored in the rebellious districts, the roads that had been impassable during the war were again safe, and the movement of trading caravans to Egypt was renewed. A letter by R. Israel of Perugia (written shortly after the conquest) indicates that the Jerusalem community suffered from the general disorder that resulted from the rebellion (A. Yaari, Iggerot Ereẓ Yisrael (1943), 177). Subsequent to the rebellion, all native-born walis were removed from their posts, and thereafter all responsible positions in the government were held only by Ottomans. The military and civilian administration was established according to the Ottoman system evolved by Suleiman the Magnificent. The conquered territories were divided among the Ottomans as military feudal states, and the feudal lords were required to join the battle as cavalry, bringing with them auxiliaries in proportion to the size of their states. The cavalries of the entire region were united under a standard (Turk. sanjak, Ar. liwā ʾ) and in battle were under the command of the sanjak bey (Turk. "lord of the standard") or the mir-liwā ʾ (same in Ar.). This commander was at first appointed from among the cavalry. The external symbol of his position was a banner, with a golden ball on top and a horsetail below it.

With the growth of the Ottoman Empire and its expansion beyond the regions of Anatolia, it was necessary to adapt the administrative organization to the new conditions. The number of the sanjaks increased, and it was useful to appoint deputies to the sultan with a rank higher than that of the sanjak bey. They were placed in charge of an area including a number of sanjaks and served as intermediaries between the highest authority and the districts. The first 50 years after the conquest of Ereẓ Israel were the decisive years in the evolution of the new organizational framework of the empire. The organizational framework of the iyāla (i.e., the authority) or the wilāya or vilayet (the "rule" of the district) was probably also established then.

Ereẓ Israel was divided into four sanjaks: Jerusalem, Gaza, Nablus, and Safed. Each sanjak was an organizational, military, economic, and judicial entity. For practical purposes the sanjak was divided into a number of rural regions (nāḥiya). In the sanjak of Jerusalem there were two regions: Jerusalem and Hebron. The sanjak of Gaza was at first divided into three regions: Gaza, Ramleh, and Lydda, but according to the second deftar (assessment), Lydda was joined to the Ramleh region. In the sanjak of Nablus (Shechem) there were four regions: Jebel Shāmī (the northern mountain, i.e., Mt. Ebal), Jebel Qiblī (the southern mountain, Mt. Gerizim); Qāqūn, and Banī Sa ʿ ab. The deftar of 1533–39 also mentions the region of Marj Bani ʿ Amir (Valley of Jezreel), but according to the deftar of 1548/49 this was annexed to the Tiberias region. In the sanjak of Safed there were at first six regions: Safed, Tibnīn, Tyre, Shaqīf, Acre, and Tiberias; later Tyre was annexed to Tibnīn.

The constitution of the province of Damascus, which included Ereẓ Israel, was established in the qanun-name of Suleiman (1548). In contrast to the disorganization and lack of security that characterized the end of the Mamluk period, Ereẓ Israel now enjoyed a secure rule and regulated organization. The improvement in the general condition was also manifested in agriculture, which was improved where it previously existed but was not expanded into desolate areas. Censuses conducted during the first 50 years after the conquest show that the population of Ereẓ Israel doubled, reaching approximately 300,000, and only a fifth to a quarter of the population lived in the six towns: Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Ramleh, Nablus, and Safed. The remainder were primarily farmers living in villages, and some were Bedouin and seminomad who worked the land only seasonally and temporarily. The Bedouin also engaged in collecting a variety of plants for medicine, resin, and the burning of the kali, using its ashes for the manufacture of soap. The major agricultural products of the field were wheat, barley, maize, and different strains of beans (which served as food for man and beast (vetch)), vegetables, cotton, and sesame. The orchards produced dates, figs, pomegranates, berries, olives, apples, pears, and nuts. Fruit was also used for fruit honey. The Jews and Christians produced grape wine, as well as grape honey, which were permitted for the Muslims. The sources also make frequent references to beehives. Cattle breeding was undertaken mainly by the Bedouin, as well as by the fellahin and the residents of urban settlements. There were many jamus (buffalo) in the area of the Ḥuleh swamps, and fishing was popular in the settlements near the Huleh and Lake Kinneret, as well as a few points on the shores of the Mediterranean (Acre, Jaffa).

The growth of the population, the expansion of cultivated lands in villages and the outskirts of cities, and the cultivation of orchards and olive trees led to the expansion of agriculture. There was an increase in the number of oil presses for the production of olive and sesame oils and for extracting fruit juices for the preparation of fruit honey. Together with oil production came the manufacture of soap, which was well known for its quality throughout the Middle East. The windmills operated regularly. Apparently at the initiative of the Jewish immigrants, new branches of industry were established in Safed, e.g., the manufacture and dyeing of cloth and felt. Information about these fields is also supplied by the tax lists in the canuns and the deftars of private censuses of the centers of these industries and the countries to which the products were exported. Especially noteworthy were the taxes that were levied on olive oil produced in Jerusalem and Ramleh and on the soap from Jerusalem exported to Egypt. The soap factory in Hebron was the property of the waqf. The center of the weaving and cloth dyeing industry was in Safed and its environs, although dyeing was also carried out in Kafr Kann, Nablus, and Gaza. In addition, there were tanneries in Nablus and Ein Zeitim. The fact that a special tax was levied on berry trees indicated that they were apparently cultivated for the feeding of silkworms. In fact, silk spinners are mentioned in a number of places. With the expansion of the cultivation of cotton in Ereẓ Israel, spinning began in Majdal, Lydda, Nablus, and Acre. Apart from the crafts undertaken by the Jews during the period of Mamluk rule, the Christians in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and neighboring villages engaged in the home manufacture of religious objects (from wood and shells), which were sold to pilgrims on their visits to Ereẓ Israel or exported for sale abroad.

New Developments in the Jewish Communities

The writings of R. Moses Basola (who visited Ereẓ Israel in 1521/22) testify that Jerusalem grew in his time as a result of the Spanish immigration. According to his estimate the Jews of Jerusalem numbered about 300 families, not including widows, who numbered no more than 150 and were not subject to taxes, thus enjoying a comfortable income. About 200 people were supported by charity from public funds and from funds collected in the Diaspora. From 1502 to 1524 the community was headed by the nagid R. Isaac Sholal. The detailed Ottoman deftar of 1525–26 dealing with the jam ʿ āti yahudyin (the Jewish community) contains a detailed listing of 199 names of householders, excluding bachelors, and it can be assumed that not all of Jerusalem's Jewish residents were included in this census. The community was then composed of four groups: (1) the Ashkenazim, numbering 15 families descended from the Ashkenazim who had lived there since the time of Maimonides, joined by immigrants from Europe (the Italians were counted together with the Ashkenazim at that time); (2) the Sephardim, refugees of the expulsion who were the majority in the city; (3) immigrants from North Africa, known as Maghrebis; and (4) *Musta ʿ rab (the Moriscos), longtime residents, descendants of the local inhabitants who had never left Ereẓ Israel. Among the dayyanim and scholars, including members of all the communities, there were often differences of opinion regarding the arrangement of prayers, the synagogue, etc. According to R. Israel Ashkenazi, after the conquest spiritual hegemony passed from the Musta ʿ rabs and Maghrebis to the Sephardim.

In the center of the country there was still a Jewish settlement in Nablus, and in the south there were settlements in Hebron and Gaza. The community of Safed comprised more than 300 householders, whose economic situation, according to R. Moses Basola, was good. There were three synagogues: a Sephardi, a Musta ʿ rab, and a Maghrebi. With the aid of the Jews of Egypt, the Jews of Safed managed to survive the difficult transition period of Mamluk retreat and Ottoman conquest. Jews also lived in the villages of Galilee: Ein Zeitim (four householders); Birya (Biriyyah, 19 families); ʿ Almāh (18 families); Peki'in (33 householders); Kafr Kannā (40–50 families); Kefar Hananiah (14 families); and Kefar Yasif, Shepharam, and Kābūl. It is estimated that there were about 1,000 Jewish families (i.e., 5,000 persons) in Ereẓ Israel at the beginning of the Ottoman conquest. The transition period gave rise to messianic hopes among the Jews of both Ereẓ Israel and the Diaspora. In 1523 David Reuveni and Shelomo (Solomon) Molcho arrived in Jerusalem bringing tidings of the forthcoming redemption. When he was in Portugal (1526), David Reuveni asked the king John iii: "Help us and let us go out to battle against the provoking Suleiman and take the Holy Land from his hands" (Joseph ha-Kohen, Emek ha-Bakha, ed. by M. Letteris (1895), 113). Such hopes, as well as the improvement in the economic situation, gave rise to increased immigration, especially among the refugees from Spain. A few of them went to Jerusalem, whose population, according to official Turkish deftars, increased from approximately 200 families in 1526 to 338 families in 1554. R. Levi b. Ḥabib also settled there and cared for the spiritual and material needs of the community. Among the great teachers who lived for a long or short period in Jerusalem were R. *David ibn Abi Zimra (c. 1485; died in Safed, c. 1575) and R. Bezalel *Ashkenazi, a native of Jerusalem (beginning of 16th century) who headed the yeshivah in the city.

The majority of the new immigrants settled in Safed, which developed into an important commercial and industrial town. According to R. David de Rossi, who settled in Safed in 1535: "Whoever saw Safed ten years ago and sees it again now is amazed, for the Jews are constantly coming in and the clothing industry is expanding daily…. There is no galut here like in our country [Italy] and the Turks respect the important Jews. Here and in Alexandria [cf. Egypt], those appointed over the taxes and incomes of the king are Jews" (A. Yaari, Iggerot Ereẓ Yisrael (1943), 184, 186–7). In the middle of the 16th century, the Jews of Safed apparently numbered 10,000, i.e., the majority of the Jewish population of Ereẓ Israel was concentrated in Safed and its environs – Ein Zeitim, Birya, and other villages in Galilee. During the 16th century Safed became known as a large and important center of Torah and teaching. In 1524 R. Jacob (i) *Berab settled there and sought to renew the system of *ordination, which had not been used for hundreds of years. His plans aroused the violent opposition of the sages of Jerusalem, especially R. Levi b. Habib, guardian of the spiritual and material needs of that community. They argued, inter alia, that the renewal of ordination required the authorization of all the scholars of Ereẓ Israel. Nevertheless, R. Jacob (i) Berab ordained four of the great scholars of his day, who were his students and colleagues: R. Joseph *Caro, author of the Shulḥan *Arukh; R. Moses *Trani (the Mabbit); R. Abraham *Shalom; and R. Israel di *Curiel (1538). Furthermore, these four ordained a number of their own disciples. This attempt to renew ordination and reinstate the full authority of the battei din of Ereẓ Israel ultimately failed, but the spiritual influence of the scholars of Safed continued, as evidenced by Caro's Shulḥan Arukh, which has been accepted by the Jewish world.

Safed became the center of mysticism during this period. In fact all the great halakhic scholars who lived there at the time studied Kabbalah and the Zohar. Maggid Mesharim, dialogues between the author and the mystical inspiration (Maggid) who guided him, was written by R. Joseph Caro. Before the arrival of R. Isaac *Luria (ha-Ari) in Safed (1569?), mystical scholars and formulators of new methods, such as R. Moses *Cordovero and R. Solomon *Alkabeẓ, author of the Sabbath hymn Lekhah Dodi, became known there. The system of practical Kabbalah established by Luria soon acquired many adherents throughout the Diaspora. His teachings were disseminated by his outstanding disciple, R. Ḥayyim *Vital, and other disciples known as "gurei ha-Ari."

The yearnings for redemption and messianic hopes which increased during this period, especially among the Spanish refugees, found ultimate expression in the bold attempt by Doña Gracia Mendes *Nasi and her nephew Don Joseph *Nasi, the wealthy Marrano statesman and Jewish leader, to rebuild Tiberias from its ruins. Don Joseph and Doña Gracia leased from the sultan the area of Tiberias, which was then desolate. Joseph sent his representative Joseph b. Ardict, or Joseph Pomar (presumably identical to Joseph Cohen, his secretary at about this time), to deal with the settlement of Jews in Tiberias. The area, intended to become a city, was surrounded with a wall (1564). As there are but few sources, it is difficult to determine whether Don Joseph intended to establish a Jewish state in Ereẓ Israel or create a limited haven for the Spanish refugees and derive economic benefit from the establishment of a new economic center in which wool and silk cloth would be manufactured. Whatever the original intent, the rebuilt Tiberias began to attract settlers from near (even from Safed) and far (Yemen). At the end of his life, Don Joseph displayed less enthusiasm in dealing with Tiberias. After his death, Solomon *Abenaes received new rights over Tiberias from the sultan Murad iii and erected a number of buildings in Tiberias. Finally, however, the plan to reconstitute the city disintegrated and was abandoned because of various political and economic factors.

In connection with these messianic trends and hopes during the time of Sultan Suleiman, when Ottoman rule was at its peak, Christian priests in Syria, still adhering to Crusader ideas, suggested to Emperor Charles V that he conduct a campaign to regain the *holy places. This plan was never realized. Once again, during the rule of Selim ii, the Greek patriarch Sophronius (1570) asked the German kaiser to deal mercifully with Jerusalem by renewing Christian rule there.

beginnings of the decline

During the rule of Murad iii (1574–95), his son Muhammad iii (1595–1603), and succeeding sultans – Ahmed i (1603–17), Mustafa i (1617–18; 1622–23), and Murad iv (1623–40) – the Janissary army lost the strict discipline instituted by Selim i and became a constant source of danger to the sultan by its frequent rebellions and exaggerated demands over salaries and various grants. The situation in the political center was quickly reflected first on the borders of the desert through signs of overthrowing the yoke of the empire. Sheikhs and small princes began to entertain a hope of rebuilding from the ruins wrought by the Ottoman rulers. Prominent among the emirs of the *Druze who ruled in Lebanon was the Ma ʿ an family, whose head, Fakhr al-Din II (1590–1635), conquered the Safed region and ʿ Ajlūn in eastern Transjordan while Muhammad iii's army was engaged in battles with the Persians. Fakhr al-Din successfully uprooted the robbers who had spread throughout the land, and he turned Galilee into a tranquil and secure area. The same period saw the growth of the idea to establish an independent Christian Crusader state in Syria, Ereẓ Israel, and Cyprus. Fakhr al-Din utilized this idea to expand the scope of his influence in Ereẓ Israel with the help of the Christians. He occupied territories in the area of Jenin, came close to Mount Carmel, and signed agreements with the Bedouin in the mountains of Hauran. This activity aroused a violent reaction from the Turkish throne. In 1613 the great vizier Mansur instructed the wali of Damascus, Ahmad al-Ḥāfiẓ, to engage Fakhr al-Din in battle. The Druze emir passed on the administration of his political affairs to his brothers and left for Italy, where he spent a number of years in the courts of the prince of Tuscany and other rulers; he visited the knights of Malta and returned to Lebanon in 1618. Immediately upon his return, he renewed his efforts to regain all the territories lost while he was in exile. Eventually, he conquered the sanjaks of Safed, ʿ Ajlun, Shechem, and Gaza. At that time the sultan had no statesman or commander who could instill fear into the Druze emir, who even dared to renew the plan for establishing a Christian state in Ereẓ Israel through negotiations with the representatives of the king of Spain.

The expansion of the Ma ʿ an family's rule over almost the entire area of Ereẓ Israel led to clashes with other local rulers, especially the members of the Ṣarbāyā. According to tradition, they received the Jenin region from the conquering Sultan Selim and expanded their sphere of influence gradually to Haifa, along the seacoast, and up to Gaza, sometimes even enforcing their rule over certain areas in Galilee. The al-Furaykh family, a Bedouin family from the Lebanon valley, established their rule by force in Safed, Nablus, and ʿ Ajlun. Under their influence, the wali of Damascus, Ahmad Kūtshuk ("the Small") was ordered by the central authorities to wage battle against Fakhr al-Din whom the kapudan pasha (commander of the fleet), Ja ʿ far, was ordered to besiege from the sea, thus preventing Christian boats from rendering assistance. Fakhr al-Din attempted to conciliate the wali of Damascus by giving him Sidon (Saida) and Beirut, and in the meantime he sent Bishop Maroni to Italy to seek aid. Disappointed by his allies, he decided to surrender to the Ottoman rulers. In 1634 he was imprisoned in Constantinople and a year later was killed together with his two sons, who had been taken captive with him. His death, however, did not terminate the Druze's attempts to gain control of Ereẓ Israel. The settlements in Galilee, especially Safed and Tiberias, suffered from the renewed attempts by several Druze emirs to reconquer the region.

The total defeat of the Ma ʿ an family did not improve the situation in the country. The gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire was reflected in repeated rebellions by the Janissaries, the increasing burden of taxes, and the loss of large areas in Europe. Clearly the general situation had a negative influence on the population of Ereẓ Israel in general and on the Jews in particular.

Jewish Population

During the last quarter of the 16th century the security situation of Ereẓ Israel deteriorated. Safed and Galilee suffered particularly from robbery raids by Bedouin and Druze tribes eager for the wealth of this industrial commercial town. Several sources give evidence that such acts were repeated several times. An Ottoman decree of 1576 ordered the expulsion of 500 or 1,000 wealthy Jewish families of Safed, forcing them to move to Cyprus. This decree was annulled later, but the very existence of the order undermined faith in the authorities. Safed began to be depleted of its wealthy residents, a phenomenon that sometimes took on the form of actual flight. The scholars also began to abandon the town, including R. Joseph Trani (son of R. Moses Trani, in 1599), who went to Constantinople. R. Ḥayyim Vital moved to Damascus. R. Isaiah ha-Levi *Horowitz (kabbalist, author of the famous moralistic work Shenei Luḥot ha-Berit) decided not to settle in Safed and went to Jerusalem in 1621.

Although Safed was not totally abandoned, as was the case with Tiberias (where not one Jew remained by the end of the 17th century), the decline was evident.

A short time after R. Isaiah Horowitz' arrival in Jerusalem, the community was harmed by the greed of a Bedouin sheikh, Muhammad ibn Farukh, who achieved the position of sanjak bey of Jerusalem (1625) and began to tyrannize the population, and especially the Jews, through the imposition of heavy taxes. After a year of persecution, the pasha in Damascus finally dismissed ibn Farukh, but the heavy debts remained in force and many emissaries went out to the Diaspora to collect funds to save the community. The situation was not as favorable as envisioned by R. Isaiah Horowitz, but Jerusalem was rebuilt to some extent, as were other communities in the south – notably Hebron, in which a few of the disciples of R. Moses Cordovero and R. Isaac Luria settled.

During periods of trouble in Jerusalem, Hebron and Gaza served as a temporary refuge from persecution and oppression. The number of Jerusalem's residents increased especially after the decrees of 1648, when some Jewish war refugees from the Ukraine arrived in Ereẓ Israel. The rulers of the city exploited the situation by imposing a heavier burden of taxes on the Jews, especially affecting the poor. Many awaited aid that was usually sent regularly by the Diaspora communities. When this assistance did not arrive in time and was insufficient, emissaries would be sent abroad to arouse the sympathy of the Jews. One of these emissaries was *Shabbetai Ẓevi, who left Jerusalem shortly after his arrival there in order to collect funds in Egypt (1664). On his way to Egypt he stopped in Gaza. The Gaza community was very important at that time because the city was regarded as the capital of the Negev and Sinai and was a large commercial center and a stopping place on the route between Africa and Asia. It was an asylum for Jewish refugees because it enjoyed an independent administration and was also even a refuge in times of plague. In the 16th–17th centuries there were outstanding scholars there. Shabbetai Ẓevi also made the acquaintance there of *Nathan of Gaza. It was in Gaza that Shabbetai Ẓevi saw his visions, and the city became an important center for the dissemination of Shabbeteanism.

Jerusalem, which was then the center of most of the scholars of Ereẓ Israel and even attracted some of the great scholars from the countries of the East, again took over the spiritual leadership, which it had relinquished during the previous century to Safed. Despite the difficult material situation and the harsh attitude of the local rulers, in the 17th century the Jewish population succeeded in consolidating its position in Jerusalem and in the entire southern section of the country.


At the turn of the century, during the reign of Mustafa ii (1695–1703), there was a change in the political status of the Ottoman power in Europe. The Treaty of Karlowitz (Jan. 26, 1699) forced the sultan to make many territorial concessions in his border regions. Russia demanded, inter alia, control of the holy places in Jerusalem and all Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, be they Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, or others. This control was expected to provide personal immunity and exemption from taxes and Muslim jurisdiction. With the decline in the military power of the Janissaries, the central authority was compelled to allow its walis to conscript soldiers in another way, in order to put them to use locally. Thus cavalry and infantry troops, composed of Albanian, Bosnian, and Maghrebi mercenaries, were founded. Their salaries were derived from the incomes of government estates and special taxes levied on the population, usually without basis in religious tradition and regarded as illegal by religious scholars. These private armies were one of the sources of the anarchy in Turkey during the 18th century. The walis used them for the purposes of tax collection and expanding their rule at the expense of weaker neighboring provinces.

At the beginning of the 18th century, Ẓāhir al-Omar, a local Bedouin ruler, received the iltizām (the right to levy taxes) for most of the districts of Galilee (in the regions of Nazareth, Tiberias, and Safed) from the tribe of Zaydān. He very soon overcame some of his opponents and extended his rule over the district of Tiberias, where he fortified himself as the tax farmer of the pasha of Sidon. In 1742 the pasha of Damascus was ordered by the sultan to fight against Ẓāhir. This episode was described in Hebrew by the son-in-law of R. Ḥayyim *Abulafia, who rebuilt the Jewish community in Tiberias (1740). The attack on Tiberias failed, and in 1743 the pasha tried again. A short while later he died. Thereafter Ẓāhir was able to overcome his remaining opponents and annexed their estates (such as Shepharam) to his territories. He then turned to the sea and conquered Acre. His control of Acre and Haifa (and economically also of Dar-Ṣantūra) brought him in direct contact with the traders and agents of Europe who had established bases in the coastal towns to conduct trade with inland regions.

Ẓāhir formed an alliance with the ruler of Egypt, Ali Bey, and the Russian fleet, which arrived in the Mediterranean to the surprise of the Ottomans. In 1771 almost the entire country was under his control, and his Egyptian allies captured Damascus. Ẓāhir captured Gaza, Lydda, Ramleh, and Jaffa, but the Egyptian commander joined the sultan's army, regaining what Ẓāhir had captured and perpetrating a massacre in Jaffa (1775). The Ottomans attracted to their side Ẓāhir's mercenary forces, who betrayed their master and murdered him (1775). On the same day the sultan's army captured Acre and Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzār ("the Butcher") was appointed sanjak bey of the Sidon area.

Ahmad Pasha was wali of the Sidon area, whose capital he transferred to Acre, for 29 years (1775–1804). He also became the ruler of the Tripoli area and in 1790–99 and 1804 was the wali of Damascus. He organized a private army of Albanians, Bosnians, Maghrebis, and Bedouin and fortified the walls of Acre, and the value of these fortifications was proven during Napoleon's siege.

Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 came as a complete surprise for Istanbul, which had considered him an ally when he was conquering Malta and putting an end to the activities of the pirates. At the beginning of 1799, Napoleon's army was advancing toward Ereẓ Israel. He attempted to bribe Ahmad al-Jazzār into joining his side, but the pasha refused to receive Napoleon's delegation. The French then conquered Gaza, Ramleh, Lydda, and Jaffa without difficulty, but had to unleash a fierce attack on Jaffa because of the presence of a large garrison there. Most of the city was destroyed during and after the siege. The population welcomed the conquerors, for Napoleon had incurred their affection through various promises and a humane attitude. Napoleon's army did not turn to Jerusalem because he was interested only in strategic conquests that would open the way to the centers of the Ottoman Empire (for the international constellation, see The Land of Israel in International Affairs). The French conquered Haifa and then besieged Acre. The English fleet came to the aid of al-Jazzār and remnants of the Ottoman army engaged the French in battle but were ambushed near En-Harod by the French general J.G. Kleber. This victory opened the way to Safed, but the opportunity was not exploited. In contrast, Acre defended itself, and Napoleon could not destroy its fortifications because the British fleet destroyed his navy and he lacked heavy cannons. In the meantime, plagues broke out in the French camp, and the famous commander was forced to retreat with his army to Egypt and from there he returned to France.

The situation of the farmers who worked the lands of the government was, at the beginning of Ottoman rule, not unfavorable. The "miri," or the land of the emirate that was taxed, was not a burden on the fellahin, while the land was populated and they benefited, directly or indirectly, from profits made through international trade. With the impoverishment of the Ottoman Empire, however, the tax burden increased and the people began to abandon the villages for the towns. The various payments demanded from the villages became an intolerable burden in the absence of working hands. Furthermore, the Bedouin harassed the villagers in the plains and the valleys and robbed them of the fruits of their labors, which was an added reason to abandon the fertile lands.

According to the French traveler C.F. de Volney (in 1783– 85), the decisive majority of the population were fellahin. Nevertheless, this traveler, and others who visited the country, noted the strange contrast between the fertility of the land and the poor state of the few farms. This was the situation in the southern plain (between Gaza and Ashkelon and Hebron) and in the area between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The broad Acre plain and the region around the Kinneret, which were known for their abundance of water, were overgrown with reeds. The naturalist T. Shaw (1722), who investigated the flora and fauna of North Africa and the Middle East, records that the soil of many valleys was fertile and good. He mentioned that if the land had been cultivated as in the past, it would have yielded a larger crop than the best lands on the shores of Syria and Phoenicia. According to him, cotton grown in the valleys of Ramleh, Jezreel, and Zebulun was of a better quality than that cultivated near Sidon or Tripoli. It was difficult to find beans, wheat, or other grains superior to the produce sold regularly in Jerusalem. The desolation about which travelers sometimes complained was not a result of the natural character of the country, but rather of the sparseness of the population and the indolence of the inhabitants.

Ẓāhir al-Omar attempted to improve the condition of agriculture in Galilee. He encouraged the fellahin to work their lands by granting loans and he especially tried to protect them from bandits. He favored the settlement of Jews and they reestablished themselves in Peki'in, Shepharam, and Yasif. In contrast, a traveler accuses Ahmad al-Jazzār, Ẓāhir's successor in Galilee, of not being concerned with the development of agriculture in the Acre plain, which remained a swampland.

Reconstruction of the Jewish Community

The messianic ferment that increased in the Diaspora at the end of the 17th century was connected with increased immigration to Ereẓ Israel. At the beginning of the 18th century it was headed by *Judah Ḥasid and Ḥayyim *Malakh, both Shabbeteans – the former covertly and the latter overtly – who arrived in Jerusalem at the end of 1700 at the head of a convoy organized in Europe. Before their arrival, the Jewish community of Jerusalem numbered 1,200, of whom 200 were Ashkenazim weighed down by a burden of debts. Of the people who left with this convoy, which took two routes (one through Venice and the other through Istanbul), about 500 died on the way and only about 1,000 reached Jerusalem. Its leader, Judah Hasid, died almost immediately after the convoy's arrival, and conflicts arose with the veteran settlers, who were opposed to the Shabbatean movement. The new arrivals were a heavy burden on the Ashkenazi community, for the Arabs had lent money to the members of the convoy and now demanded reimbursement from the veteran Ashkenazim. They appealed to the *Council of the Four Lands for the aid of the Polish communities in their battle against the Shabbateans and sent emissaries to Frankfurt and Metz, where financial help for the poor of Ereẓ Israel was concentrated. Help did not arrive, due to political reasons unconnected with Ashkenazi Jewry. The Arab creditors broke into the Ashkenazi synagogue on a Sabbath (Nov. 8, 1720), set it on fire, and took over the area, which they held until 1816. For several years after the burning of the synagogue, Ashkenazi Jews, who were recognizable by their dress, could not settle in Jerusalem for fear of being held for the old debts. Those who dared to do so a generation later had to disguise themselves as Jews from Oriental communities. The European immigrants settled mainly in Hebron, Safed, and even Tiberias.

At that time the Jews lived mainly on charity received from abroad and, in a few cases, on income from businesses in their lands of origin. Any slight change in the situation of the contributors, or any delay in sending aid, could bring disaster upon the poor. The extreme poverty led R. Moses b. Raphael Mordecai *Malkhi, a scholar and famous physician in Jerusalem (end of 17th century), to speak out against the immigration of very poor people, arguing that Ereẓ Israel needed immigrants who could be self-sustaining. In order to supervise the distribution and use of funds and also facilitate the payment of the numerous debts burdening the Jerusalem community, the "officials for Jerusalem" in Istanbul, sent a special parnas to act as a kind of administrator for the community and take care of Jewish pilgrims. For those Jews who wanted to devote themselves to the study of the Torah, yeshivot were established in Jerusalem, where outstanding scholars studied. Ḥayyim Joseph David *Azulai, R. Sar Shalom *Sharabi, and R. *Abraham Gershon of Kutow (brother-in-law of Israel b. Eliezer Baal Shem-Tov) were in the yeshivah Beth-El, where kabbalistic studies were also pursued.

The Jews of Hebron suffered because of constant civil wars between the Arabs of Hebron, who belonged to the Qays faction (of north Arabian origin), and those of Bethlehem, who belonged to the Yemen faction (from south Arabian tribes). The Istanbul officials extended their activities to include Hebron, whose situation had been aggravated by debts owed by the community. Ḥayyim Joseph David Azulai went to Western Europe in 1753 and in 1773 on behalf of the Hebron community. Another emissary was Ḥayyim Isaac *Carigal, who reached North America. In the 1880s the number of the Jews in the city of the patriarchs reached about 300.

The community of Gaza was smaller than that of Hebron and suffered from repeated incursions made by the various armies. It was decimated after the conquest of the town by Napoleon (1799), and in 1811 no one remained there. Many Ashkenazim from Poland and Lithuania settled in Safed and Tiberias, which were centers of Ḥasidism from the second half of the 18th century, establishing a new link with the greatest Diaspora community of the time. Immigrants from Eastern Europe thus settled Galilee and Tiberias, which had been almost depleted of inhabitants during the 17th century. Tiberias was rebuilt by R. Abraham *Abulafia (1740) with the help of the sheikh Ẓāhir al-Omar. After the *Ḥasidim came a wave of their opponents, disciples of R. *Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna. According to tradition, the gaon himself wanted to immigrate but halted his journey in the middle. In 1770–72, his most important disciples, R. Ḥayyim of Vilna and R. *Israel b. Samuel of Shklov, arrived and a few years after his death many of his disciples, called perushim, immigrated. The immigration of the perushim was brilliantly described by R. Israel of Shklov.


The beginning of this period saw the end of the district system of administration, during which time Ereẓ Israel displayed all the characteristics of a neglected province of a disintegrating empire but after 1840 there was a turn for the better. The population increased appreciably. The administration of the country was changed and there was an increase in Western influence, resulting from the revolution in means of communication, which brought the Ottoman Empire closer to Europe. The increased rivalry among the European powers turned Ereẓ Israel into a focal point of the "Eastern problem."

According to estimates, which tend to be exaggerated, the number of the inhabitants in Ereẓ Israel in 1800 did not exceed 300,000. The number of Jews apparently did not exceed 5,000, most of whom were Sephardim. Most of the Jewish population was concentrated in the "Four Holy Cities," Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias, and Hebron. The Christians, who apparently numbered about 25,000, were scattered over a wider area. Their main concentrations – in Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem – belonged primarily to the Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and Roman Catholic Churches. The remaining inhabitants were Muslims, almost all of them of the Sunni sect. As more Jews immigrated to the country, the size of the Jewish population doubled by about 1840, with the Christian and Muslim elements unchanged. Between 1800 and the end of 1831, Ereẓ Israel was divided into two Ottoman vilayets (pashaliks). The borders of these changed from time to time, but in general the eastern central mountain region from north of Nablus to south of Hebron (including Jerusalem) belonged to the vilayet of Damascus (al-Shām) and Galilee and the Coastal Plain, to Khan Yunis, belonged to the vilayet of Acre. The coastal region from Khan Yunis to Caesarea was divided into three nāḥiyāt (sub-districts): Gaza, Ramleh, and Jaffa. Most of the Negev was at that time under the vilayet of Hejaz, centered in Medina, in the Arabian Peninsula.

The structure of the Ottoman state should not be analyzed from a Western point of view. Even during its zenith, no attempt was made to Ottomanize non-Turkish conquered regions. The children of ruling groups often married local women and assimilated into the local population. Thus local traditions and officials were maintained in Ereẓ Israel and a subject of the Sultan had to maintain his prime allegiance not to the imperial government, but to the religious group or the social class into which he was born. The Christians and Jews, as members of special millets, even had limited direct contact with the Ottoman government. Even the head tax, which exempted one from military service, was collected by means of the millet. Only those non-Ottoman subjects belonging to the Sunni sect of Islam could identify to some extent with the higher (though only nominal) function of the sultan: the defense of the Muslim faith against apostasy.

The vague connection between Ahmad al-Jazzār and the supreme authority continued during the rule of Ahmad's successors – Suleiman, Ismail, and Abdallah (1804–32), who were less active and cruel than he. Of a similar nature were the relations between the supreme authority and the pashas who ruled in Damascus and Gaza. Public welfare had no significance in the view of the rulers, who regarded as their prime function the collection of taxes derived from three major sources: the "miri" land tax (from Muslims); the "kharj," head tax; and customs. When these sources proved insufficient, various crop taxes were levied arbitrarily on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

At the beginning of the 1780s, Ramleh and Acre derived their income from the sale of raw cotton and plain cotton cloth to the French traders in the Levant. Clothes, dyes, sugar, and coffee (from the West Indies) were bought from the French traders. These traders, however, disappeared from the country after the French Revolution and returned only after the Napoleonic wars. The (British) Levant Company, which filled the gap created by the disappearance of the French traders, was not interested in the cotton of Ereẓ Israel. When the French traders returned to the East after 1815, they did not succeed in reestablishing their former trade connections. In 1821, when the long-fibered strain of cotton was introduced into Egypt, the manufacture of cotton in Ereẓ Israel became relatively useless, except during the U.S. Civil War, when it enjoyed a brief revival. Acre and Ramleh never regained their primary position in the economy of the country. In 1825, when the concession to the Levant Company and privileges granted the Trade Bureau of Marseilles were abolished, the way was opened for free trade.

The period of Egyptian rule in Syria and Ereẓ Israel, which lasted nine years (1832–40), marked the peak of provincial government. This was the first time that an independent pasha had rebelled against the Sublime Porte, conquered territories from other pashas, and compelled the sultan to admit the "legality" of his conquests. Nevertheless, after consolidating his position in Syria and Ereẓ Israel, *Muhammad Ali, the pasha of Egypt, agreed to pay to Sultan Mahmud II the "accepted quota" of the tax (1834). Ibrahim Pasha (stepson of Muhammad Ali), who successfully conducted the military campaign, became the general ruler of the conquered area and established his residence in Damascus. The whole of Ereẓ Israel, whose northern border reached Sidon, now became one district. The few forests remaining in the valleys and on the mountain slopes in central Ereẓ Israel were cut down to supply wood for Muhammed Ali's fleet. Ibrahim Pasha forced the Muslim farmers to join the Egyptian army. Rebellions, which occurred in most of the towns, were put down by force and law and order established. Swiftly executed punishments halted the incursions of the Bedouin. Even a blood revenge feud between the Qays and the Yemen factions was put down and travelers from Jaffa to Jerusalem no longer had to pay taxes to the Circassian sheikhs of *Abu Ghosh. Attempts were made to eradicate bribery in the courts, institute a fair division of taxes, and avoid discrimination against the Jews in favor of the Muslims.

For more than a decade before Egyptian rule in Ereẓ Israel, Protestant missionaries from Britain and the United States tried to obtain permission to establish regular institutions in Jerusalem and other parts of the country. These attempts met with the strong opposition of the provincial rulers and their representatives. Ibrahim Pasha allowed the missionaries not only to preach but even to establish schools. The Egyptian period also saw the beginning of extensive activity in biblical geography and archaeology, especially by the U.S. scholar Edward *Robinson. Moreover, in 1838 the Egyptian government permitted Britain to open a regular consulate in Jerusalem; previously, consular representations were limited – apart from ephemeral French attempts in Jerusalem in 1699–1700 and 1713–15 – to the coastal towns (Acre, Haifa, Jaffa) and Ramleh, and even in these places the powers would appoint local agents as their representatives. Twenty years later, all the important Western nations, including the United States, were represented in Jerusalem by regular consular delegations.

The intervention of the European powers in 1840–41 in the Egyptian-Ottoman conflict forced Ibrahim Pasha and his forces to leave Ereẓ Israel and Syria, which returned to the direct control of the Ottoman Empire. Egyptian rule did not last long enough to have any lasting influence, but thousands of Egyptian farmers who had settled in the southern parts of the country remained there after the retreat of the Egyptian Army. The Qays and the Yemen factions again caused disturbances in the rural areas and the people of Abu Ghosh reinstated the collection of taxes from travelers (lasting until 1846). Former pashas, however, were not returned to their posts and a new administration was established on the basis of strict centralization.

The increasing administrative changes were finally expressed in the Vilayet Law of 1864, which unified the whole provincial administration into one framework. Most of Ereẓ Israel was covered by the sanjaks of Nablus (which, until 1888, included the area of Balqā ʾ, east of the Jordan) and Acre, which were part of the vilayet of Beirut, and the independent sanjak or mutaṣariflik of Jerusalem (previously part of the vilayet of Damascus), which was now placed directly under the authority of Istanbul. Each district was divided into sub-districts (Ar. qaḍā ʾ, plural aqḍiya) and each qaḍā ʾ into subdistricts (Ar. nāḥiyāt). The provincial administration was composed of a strict hierarchy of Ottoman officials: mudīr (head of a nāhiya), qāymaqām (head of a vilayet). Each official was subordinate to the head of his administrative region, while the Wali was subordinate to the ministry of the interior in Istanbul (established in 1860). A council (majlis) representing all sectors of the population, both Muslim and non-Muslim, aided Ottoman officials of every grade who headed an administrative unit. This administrative system, of course, did not terminate all corruption and abuse or institute representative rule, but it greatly curtailed the arbitrary actions of the provisional rulers and even granted the various religious communities a small measure of influence in public affairs.

Missionary organizations, representing almost every sect in Western Christianity, increased quickly after the departure of the Egyptians. They were concentrated mainly in Jerusalem, which had, toward the end of the 19th century, the greatest proportion of missionaries per capita of any city in the world. Some of the missionary groups developed an increasing number of educational, medical, and charitable institutions. The number of those converting to the new faith, even among Eastern Christians, was negligible, but the establishment of schools and clinics by Protestant missionaries stimulated the Latin and Greek Orthodox communities, as well as the Ottoman government and even the Jewish community, to establish similar institutions.

Political considerations led to increased rivalry among the missionary groups from various countries. The great European powers, which made attempts to gain areas of influence in every part of the Ottoman Empire as potential holding points in a future division of the empire, exploited the missionary activities of their subjects in Ereẓ Israel for the advancement of their political aims. Austria-Hungary, France, Prussia, and Russia rendered financial assistance to missionary activities. After the signing of the Treaty of Kutchuk-Kainarji (1774), Russia claimed the right to protect the Arabs who belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church and even granted its protection to the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Jerusalem. The czarist government, which was aided by the Russian Orthodox Company for Palestine and the delegation of the Russian church in the country, contributed funds for the establishment of schools, churches, and hostels. France, claimed similar rights in relation to the Roman Catholic community, institutions, and holy places. The Pope reinstituted the Roman Catholic patriarchate in Jerusalem in 1847. The status of France as the protector of Roman Catholicism in the Ottoman Empire was officially confirmed in Article 62 of the Treaty of the Congress of Berlin (1878). This status, however, aroused increasing rivalry on the part of other Catholic countries. In 1841 the Protestant missions of England and Prussia established a joint bishopric in Jerusalem, which the Germans stopped supporting in 1881.

The activities of the Protestant powers within the Ottoman Empire were conducted under less favorable conditions than those of Russia and France since the former had no millets in Ereẓ Israel to "adopt" for religious reasons. Thus, during the Ottoman-Egyptian War of 1839–41, Britain became the "defender" of the Jewish and Druze communities in Ereẓ Israel, as a sort of countermove to France's identification with the Christian Maronite community of Lebanon. One of the causes for the outbreak of the Crimean War (1853–56) was the conflicting claims of France and Russia to the guardianship of the holy places. After 1868 the German *Templer movement established settlements in Jaffa, Sarona, Haifa, and Jerusalem, reaching over 500 in the course of time. The Templer settlements, which continued to expand, later supplied William ii with the means of political penetration. Of the U.S. groups of Millennarians who lived in Artas (near Bethlehem) in 1852, in Jaffa in 1866/67, and in Jerusalem in 1881, only the last remained. This was called the "American Colony," although after 1896 it comprised more Swedes than American subjects. Archaeological investigation of the biblical period expanded. A U.S. naval unit headed by Lt. W.F. Lynch explored the Jordan and the Dead Sea. The *Palestine Exploration Fund, established in 1865, completed a survey map of the area west of the Jordan, before embarking on the exploration of ancient sites. The American Palestine Exploration Society, which was short-lived (1870–81), concentrated on eastern Transjordan.

With the appearance of steam boats in the Middle East in the 1830s, regular communications between Ereẓ Israel and Europe were established for the first time. In 1837 Austria and France gained licenses to operate postal services in the Asian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish-Tatar postal messengers, who traveled between Istanbul and the capitals of the provinces at approximately six-week intervals, were finally replaced in the mid-19th century by an Ottoman service which, although more frequent, was no less confused. In 1865 telegraphic communications were set up in Jerusalem and other important towns of Ereẓ Israel with the capital of the empire and Europe. Three years later the provincial administration completed the first road in Ereẓ Israel (between Jerusalem and Jaffa) that was suitable for wheeled carriages. Improvements in transportation and communications led to an increase in the number of pilgrims and tourists, who brought new sources of income. By 1880 the population of Ereẓ Israel had increased appreciably, reaching 450,000, of which 24,000 were Jews and 45,000 were Christians. Jerusalem, which had expanded beyond the walls of the Old City following the Crimean War, became the largest town in the country. Its population was estimated as at least 25,000; more than half of them were Jews.

See also the Land of Israel in International Affairs, in *Israel, State of: History.

The Jewish Population

In the history of the Jews of Ereẓ Israel there is a distinct contrast between the periods 1800–40 and 1841–80. In the first 30 years of the 19th century the corruption of Ottoman rule reached heights of perversion. The eight years of the Egyptian conquest (1832–40) were a kind of transition period. After 1840 the Jews were drawn into international conflicts connected with the Eastern problem, but began to enjoy the protection of Western powers. Their numbers increased considerably, as did their economic and cultural influence, although Napoleon's campaign in Egypt and Ereẓ Israel and his call to Eastern Jewry to come to his aid and thus pave the way for the political renaissance of Ereẓ Israel – if such a proclamation was indeed made – made little impression on the Jews of the country. The restraining influence of Ḥayyim Salim *Farḥi, scion of an ancient Jewish family from Damascus, was felt in the country for 20 years. As the financial official and general adviser of Aḥmad al-Jazzāār and his successors in the pashalic of Damascus, Farhi somewhat eased the lives of not only the Jews, but the Muslims and Christians as well. After 20 years of rule he was murdered in 1820 by Abdallah Pasha, whom Farhi had aided in his rise to the status of governor.

At that time most of the Jews of the country lived in the four holy cities: Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias, and Hebron. Although they were sustained by funds from the *halukkah, they labored under a heavy yoke of taxes imposed by the Ottoman officials. Thus J. Conder wrote in 1831: "The extortions and oppressions were so numerous that it was said of the Jews that they had to pay for the very air they breathed." Nevertheless, the population continued to increase, especially as a result of immigration from Europe. This flow increased with the introduction of steamboat transportation on the Odessa-Jaffa and other routes. The age-old attraction of Ereẓ Israel, which was then felt especially among Eastern European Hasidim, brought a constant stream of hasidic settlers to Jerusalem and other holy cities. The first Ashkenazi community was established in Hebron in 1820 by Ḥabad Ḥasidim influenced by Ber, the son of R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady. Jaffa, which had been rebuilt by the Ottoman ruler Mohammed Abu Nabut in 1800–20, attracted a considerable number of Jews from 1830 on. The development of the community, interrupted by the bad earthquake of 1837, was renewed after 1839 and especially after the establishment of the rabbinate in 1841. Most of the Jaffa Jews came from North Africa; in 1857 there were only three Ashkenazi families there. In 1874 their number increased to 20, and the total Jewish population of Jaffa numbered 500. Safed, which competed with Jerusalem for spiritual hegemony, suffered greatly in the earthquake of 1837, when some 2,000 Jews lost their lives, and never regained its former position of leadership. The first Hebrew printing press in Ereẓ Israel, which was established there in 1831, moved to Jerusalem after nine years.

Egyptian rule did not greatly ease the burden of taxes, but Muhammad Ali's efforts to institute Western methods opened the way for vital internal and external changes. Although the promises in the sultan's decree of 1839 to grant equal rights to members of the three faiths – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim – were never fulfilled, there was a considerable improvement in the situation of the Jews. The high-flown proclamations of the Ottomans, such as that of 1841 ("Muslims, Christians, Israelites, you are all the subjects of one ruler, you are all the sons of one father"), also had some influence on the status of the oppressed minorities. Of similar significance was the fact that the Western powers, in their struggle for the hegemony of the Middle East, displayed a certain interest in the Jews of Ereẓ Israel. According to the system of *Capitulations (agreements granting special rights to foreign powers in the Ottoman Empire), the Western consuls in the country "protected" the interests of their citizens. Great Britain, and often Russia as well, became (for the reasons mentioned above) the patrons of the Jews of Ereẓ Israel. Britain intervened on behalf of Jews who were Ottoman subjects, but primarily on behalf of Jews from European countries when their own consuls refused to provide assistance. This was so not only during dramatic events, such as the *Damascus Affair of 1840 and the Christian massacre in Syria in 1860, but even under normal conditions. The British government even ventured, in connection with the Damascus Affair, to suggest that the sultan allow the Jews of the "ra ʿ āyā" class (non-Muslim subjects of the sultan) to address their complaints against local Ottoman authorities to him through the mediation of the British consuls.

Although the Ottomans rejected this suggestion, the British consular authorities found opportunities to intervene on behalf of the Jews. In 1849 R. Isaiah *Bardaki, the leader of the Russian Jews of Jerusalem, requested that the British consul in Jerusalem grant protection to Jews who had become stateless as a result of discriminatory legislation in Russia. Thirty years later Russia relented in its hostile attitude toward the Jews of Ereẓ Israel and even granted them some protection, while persecuting the Jews in Russia itself. Laurence *Oliphant reflected: "Had Russia encouraged Jewish immigration to Ereẓ Israel and protected the immigrants, she could have had an excellent pretext for political interference in the country."

The idea of establishing a Jewish state or, at least, an autonomous Jewish settlement under supreme Ottoman control became a subject for serious discussion. In 1839, during the second of his visits in Ereẓ Israel, Sir Moses *Montefiore opened negotiations with Muhammad Ali to gain a charter for Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel in return for a large loan to Egypt. These negotiations failed, however, because of the downfall of Muhammad Ali, in 1841. The idea of establishing a Jewish buffer state between Egypt and the rest of the Ottoman Empire, however, gained supporters during the conflict between the two powers. The first who advocated this solution was Rev. Wilson Filson Marsh. A detailed plan for Jewish settlement was advanced at that time by Abraham *Benisch, a Bohemian Jew who became editor of the London Jewish Chronicle. The memorandum he composed on the question was made available to the Foreign Office by the British consul in Jerusalem, William Young, and gained the support of Montefiore and other British Jewish leaders. Similar plans, though less detailed, were offered at that time on the European continent. The idea was supported by English notables such as Col. Charles Henry Churchill (1840–56), Col. George Gawler (1845), Laurence Oliphant (1879), and others.

Relations between Jews and non-Jews in Ereẓ Israel were not at all amicable. Religious disputes were always common and the Jews were in a state of conflict with the missionaries, who were prohibited by law to convert Muslims, although the London missionary society for the dissemination of Christianity among Jews usually fought for the rights of Jews in Ereẓ Israel. This group was supported by British consuls such as James *Finn, whose autobiographical account, Stirring Times (1878), is an important source of information. Although contemporaries often remarked that missionary progress in Ereẓ Israel was slow, Ludwig August Frankel, who visited Jerusalem in 1856, found 131 converts there. According to the estimation of Goodrich-Freer, no fewer than 523 Jews converted in 1839–96, and the expenses for baptizing one Jew amounted to £1,000. In their battle against the missionaries, the Jews often came into conflict with the British and other consuls.

There were also serious internal conflicts within the Jewish community itself. Recipients of ḥalukkah funds often complained about discrimination, real or imagined, in their treatment by the ḥalukkah officials. The Jews of Germany and Holland were the first to establish a separate kolel for themselves, known as "Kolel Hod" (Holland-Deutschland), which served as a model for kolelim established by other factions of the community. By the beginning of the 20th century, there were 30 such kolelim. This division aroused internal controversies and also damaged the work of the *meshullaḥim (see *Sheluhei Ereẓ Israel) sent to collect money for the welfare funds. In 1886 the Ashkenazi kolelim in Jerusalem organized a general council under the leadership of Meir *Auerbach and Samuel *Salant.

Although the authority of the Ashkenazi rabbis was solid within their own community, they did not enjoy the legal recognition accorded the Sephardi ḥakham bashi, as most of the Ashkenazim were foreign subjects. The first Sephardi chief rabbis, including Solomon Moses *Suzin (in the time of Muhammad Ali), Jonah Moses *Navon (1836–40), and Judah Navon (1840–41), lacked governmental recognition, but from the time of Ḥayyim Abraham *Gagin (1842–48), the ḥakham bashi received an official status by governmental appointment, or rather by the sultan's confirmation of his election by the Sephardi community of Jerusalem. After Gagin, the post of ḥakham bashi was held by Isaac Kovo (1848–54), ḥayyim Nissim *Abulafia (1854–61), Ḥayyim David *Ḥazzan (1861–69), and Abraham *Ashkenazi (1869–80) who came from Larissa, Greece.

The number of Ashkenazim gradually exceeded the Sephardim in most of the communities of Ereẓ Israel, and while the old settlements grew from decade to decade, new ones were established. Nablus, the old center of Samaritanism, began to attract Jews when it became a trading center. In 1864 there were in Nablus about 100 Jews, 150 Samaritans, 600 Christians, and 9,400 Muslims. According to Ludwig August Frankl, there were about 100 Jews in the renewed community of Haifa in 1856. The influence of the Jews grew, especially in Jerusalem, which came to have a Jewish majority. When the Old City could no longer contain them, the Jews set up the first suburb outside the walls in 1860 (Mishkenot Sha'ananim, established by Sir Moses Montefiore). During the twenty succeeding years they established more than ten additional suburbs, including Nahalat Shiva (1869) and Me'ah She'arim (1872), which became the nucleus of the New City.

The economic situation of the Jews of Ereẓ Israel remained generally unchanged, despite several attempts to settle some Jews on the land and teach them useful trades. In 1839 and again in 1849 Montefiore responded to requests by the Jews of Ereẓ Israel to implement far-reaching plans to settle Jews on the land. Montefiore, together with the Rothschilds of Paris, who worked mainly through their adviser, Albert Cohen, and other European philanthropists, helped to establish a Jewish hospital in Jerusalem (1854) and supported the Laemel school, founded by Frankl in 1856 to teach Jews professions and to remove Jewish children from the mission schools. Since the teaching methods of this school were new from several points of view, and since European languages were also taught there, it met with the fierce opposition of extreme Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews and their supporters in the Diaspora, so that Frankl had to turn over the administration of the school to Sephardim, who were more tolerant.

The process of the Jewish community's transformation into a productive factor did not cease but rather increased in pace. Even the missionaries thought of establishing an agricultural settlement for apostate Jews. In 1861 the first land purchase by Jews for agricultural purposes in modern times was made by the Yehuda family at Moẓa. Finally, in 1870, the *Alliance Israélite Universelle established the *Mikveh Israel agricultural school near Jaffa. Agricultural settlements were established at *Moẓa (1873), Petaḥ *Tikvah (1878), and Jauni (Rosh Pinnah), which, although they were abandoned after a short time, opened the way for future development and were reestablished later. In 1881 the U.S. consul wrote that about 1,000 Jews in Ereẓ Israel earned their livings through agricultural labor, and therefore many of them were no longer "paupers and beggars." On the other hand, the appearance of the first Hebrew journals – Ha-Levanon in 1863 and *Ḥavazzelet in 1870 – attested to the expansion of the cultural horizons. In this way the population became ready to open its gates to new immigrants, ways of life, and ideas, which were brought to Ereẓ Israel by the *Ḥibbat Zion movement.

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]


arab period: Mann, Egypt; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959), 3–25; S. Klein, Toledot ha-Yishuv ha-Yehudi be-Ereẓ-Yisrael (1935); M. Assaf, Toledot ha-Aravim be-Ereẓ-Yisrael, 1 (1935); S. Assaf and L.A. Meyer, Sefer ha-Yishuv, 2 (1942); B. Klar, in: S. Yeivin and H.Z. Hirschberg (eds.), Ereẓ Kinnarot (1951), 90–117; Abramson, Merkazim (1965), 25–33; R. Hartmann, Palaestina unter den Arabern 6321516 (1915). add. bibliography: S.D. Goitein, Palestinian Jewry in Early Islamic and Crusader Times in the Light of the Geniza (1980). crusader period: B.Z. Dinur, in: Zion (Me'asef), 2 (1927), 38–66; Dinur, Golah, 2 pts. 1–2 (1931–36); Y. Prawer, Mamlekhet Yerushalayyim ha-Ẓalvanit (1946); idem, in: Zion, 11 (1946), 38–82; Prawer, Ẓalbanim (includes bibliography). add. bibliography: J. Prawer, The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1988). mamluk period: M. Assaf, Toledot ha-Aravim be-Ereẓ-Yisrael, 2 (1941); Ashtor, Toledot, 3 vols. (1944–70); M. Gaudefroy-Demombynes, La Syrie à l'époque des Mamlouks d'après les auteurs arabes (1923). ottoman period: Ben Ẓvi, Ereẓ Israel (includes bibliography). add. bibliography: Y. Ben Arieh, The Rediscovery of the Holy Land in the Nineteenth Century (19832); idem, Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century (2 vols, 1984, 1986). jewish community in ereẓ yisrael: B.Z. Gat, Ha-Yishuv ha-Yehudi be-Ereẓ Yisrael … (1963, includes bibl.: 347–52); N. Sokolow, History of Zionism (1918); J. de Haas, History of Palestine … (1934); S.W. Baron, in: Jewish Studies in Memory of George A. Kohut (1935), 72–85; idem, in: jsos, 2 (1940), 179–208; A. Revusky, Jews in Palestine (1936); G. Kressel (ed.), Netivot Ẓiyyon vi-Yrushalayyim, Mivḥar Ma'amarei A.M. Luncz (1970).

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