History of Israel: Part 2

Islam: 7th century 

In the 7th century the Arabs brought Islam to Palestine.  Mohammed started out having an amicable relationship with Jews (and Christians), but when they refused to convert to Islam, as he expected, friendship gave way to animosity and he persecuted them.  Muslim armies conquered Palestine and Islam was established in Jerusalem by the Arabs who turned it into a Muslim city except the Roman citadel, which they left standing as a sign of Roman supremacy which they had conquered.

Jews arrive in Britain: 1066

In 1066 the first Jews in Britain came with the Norman Conquest.  They were mostly merchants and financiers.

Jewish massacres: around 1190

There were massacres of Jews in Britain in the absence of their protector, Richard II, the Lion-heart, who was on Crusade.  An example is the destruction of the Jews in the Clifford Tower, York.  Jews were killed by the Crusaders at various times; their attitude being that the Jews had killed Christ and were therefore to be hated.

Jews expelled from Britain

In 1290  Edward I expelled all the Jews from Britain.

Ottoman Empire: 1517

In 1517 Palestine became part of the Ottoman Empire.

The Bible and God's heart for the Jews

The development of printing in Britain in the 17th century enabled the Bible to be uniquely at the heart of British society.  Anyone able to read could discover for themselves God’s heart for the Jews.

Oliver Cromwell: 1656

In 1656 Oliver Cromwell welcomed the Jews back into Britain unofficially.  It wasn't until the reign of Charles II that the return to Britain was made official.

Palestine and the seeds of return: around 1700

The Jewish population of Palestine was around 3,000 people.  Many Jews saw the exile in 70 AD as God’s punishment and thought that if they tried to resettle the land before the Messiah came, God was liable to interpret their actions as rebellion and extend the exile.  A minority understood the concepts of exile and Messiah differently, however, believing that God would only send the Messiah after Jews returned to Palestine permanently.  This minority view gained influence from the sixteenth century onwards and by the beginning of the eighteenth century some Jewish leaders were organising groups to settle the country.

Evangelical revivals: 18th century

During the evangelical revivals of Whitfield and Wesley a new wave of hymn writing reflected the aspiration of the restoration of Jews to their homeland.  These spiritual revivals in Britain coincided with the expansion of the British Empire and the desire to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

The French Revolution and the 19th century

The French Revolution of 1789 and onwards was a turbulent time in Jewish history, largely because of changes that took place throughout Europe concerning how states, societies and individuals related to each other.

Charter of Rights: pre-French Revolution

Pre-French Revolution, Jews had a charter of rights in a given country, and were welcomed because of the economic advantage they brought.

Decided by the citizens: post-French Revolution

Post-Revolution, in citizen-based states, Jews’ citizenship was decided by the citizens as a whole.  Jews’ right of residence and their well-being depended on the approval of their non-Jewish neighbours.  European nations debated whether Jews should be admitted as citizens or not.  By 1870 Jews were full citizens in most countries in Western and Central Europe.  Their religion was their only remaining distinctive feature.

While about 15% of Europe’s nine million Jews lived in nation states, the vast majority lived in the two great multi-national empires of Eastern Europe - Austria-Hungary (with over two million Jews) and Russia (with over five million).

Napoleon: 1799

Napoleon invaded Palestine and the Turkish army was defeated near Nazareth.  This caused a resurgence of interest in the scriptures amongst Christians, and a renewed focus on Israel.

The London Jew Society

In London, the London Jew Society (later known as the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People) was founded.  Key members were Wilberforce, Charles Simeon and Louis Way, who pushed for the return of the Jews to their homeland with key European leaders including the Russian Czar and Wellington.  A network formed,including Faber, Way, Wilberforce, Simeon, Frere, etc.  The London Jew Society constructed Palestine Place in London in 1814.

Henry Drummond: 1826

A network of leading clergy who held to the belief in the return of Jesus and the restoration of the Jews to Palestine developed.  They met at the home of Henry Drummond and included Irvine, Marsh and Hugh McNeil.

In the 1820's missionaries wanted to evangelise the Jews in Palestine, believing it was paving the way for the 2nd coming of Jesus, but the Turks (Muslims) would not allow them in.

Egypt invaded Palestine and ousted the Turks: 1831

Egypt invaded Palestine and ousted the Turks.  Egypt agreed to allow Britons to reside in Jerusalem.  John Nicholaison was the first permanent resident.  He wanted to establish a church in Jerusalem, opposite the citadel.  CMJ used their influence to bring this about, with the help of leading evangelical, Lord Shaftesbury.

Lord Palmerston

In 1838 Lord Palmerston established a British Consulate in Jerusalem.  The first consul was William Tanner Young.  His instruction was to protect the Jews there.

Robert Murray McCheyne

In 1839 Robert Murray McCheyne and other Scottish evangelicals joined the cause for restoring Jews to Palestine.  This coincided with a spiritual revival in Scotland.

Lord Shaftesbury

In 1840 Palmerston, urged by his son-in-law Lord Shaftesbury, used his influence to plead for the Jews to be allowed to return to Palestine.  Palmerston was seen as a modern ‘Cyrus’ but it didn't happen at that time because Egypt was ousted from Palestine by the Turks, and the window of opportunity closed.

Joint Anglican/German protestant bishopric

Kaiser Wilhelm IV wanted German influence in Jerusalem.  In 1842 he proposed a joint Anglican/German protestant bishopric.  Michael Solomon Alexander was chosen as the first bishop, opening the way for the first significant Protestant community there.  He helped Jewish people develop institutes and businesses.  The Turks owed Britain a favour for helping them gain the land and Britain asked for a church in Jerusalem.  Despite opposition from Muslims and Roman Catholics, Christchurch was completed and dedicated in 1849.

Evangelicals favouring a Jewish return to Palestine

By now many British Christians across the denominations, but especially in the Church of England, wanted to see the Jews return to Palestine.

Charles Spurgeon

In 1855, Charles Spurgeon was preaching the conviction that the Jews should return to Palestine powerfully, along with a strong emphasis on the second coming of Jesus.

James and Elizabeth Finn

The successor to Bishop Alexander was Samuel Gobak (a Swiss born, Anglican minister).  At the same time, James Finn was appointed British Consul.  He and his wife Elizabeth lived next door to Christ Church.  Finn met with Moses Montefiore, a Jew, and Col George Boreham, a Christian and governor of South Australia – they all wanted to see Jewish restoration in the Holy Land.  Elizabeth Finn helped found the ‘Society for Jewish agricultural labour in the Holy Land.'

Severe poverty amongst Jews in Jerusalem

The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 brought severe poverty to Jews in Jerusalem, who had been supported by Jewish communities in Russia.  They turned to the CMJ and the Finns, who helped and employed Jews by buying land near Jerusalem for them to cultivate.  Jews were not able to work the land unaided at that time because they lacked the skills.

Jews were forbidden to buy land in Palestine

Jews were forbidden to buy land in Palestine, but British help to Turkey meant they owed Britain a favour and Lord Clarendon wrote to the British Consul in Constantinople with the request for Jews to be able to buy land in Palestine.  A year later Montefiore was allowed to buy land near Jerusalem.  The social improvements in Palestine came out of Christian missionary activity there.

Palestine Exploration Fund: 1870’s

The Palestine Exploration Fund began.  They made the first detailed map of the Holy Land.  Kitchener was involved.  Most of the staff were CMJ staff.  The headquarters was Christ Church, Jerusalem.  The PEF authenticated sites and events in the Bible for the first time, arousing interest in eschatology in British Bible colleges.

Henry Grattan Guinness

Henry Grattan Guinness was another remarkable preacher of the day.  He anticipated 1917 and 1948 as key events from his study of eschatology.  He started a mission at Harley House, Bow, and met Shaftesbury there.  At this time, the British population was mostly pro-Jewish.

John Nelson Darby and the Brethren Movement

The restoration vision spread to USA via John Nelson Darby, founder of the Brethren movement.  He met D L Moody, Blackstone and Schofield and influenced their theology.  It fired evangelistic zeal.

Jewish population in Palestine

By 1880 the Jewish population in Palestine was around 24,000, largely fuelled by the Messianic tradition, which was concerned with the end of the age and believed that the Messiah would usher in a completely new world order.

Perez Smolenskin (1840(?)-1885)

In 1880  Russian pogroms broke out against the Jews.  One of the key Zionist writings at the time was penned in 1881 by Perez Smolenskin(1840(?) – 1885).  This Russian Jewish intellectual was among the first to call Jews a nation in the contemporary sense.  He urged Jews to migrate to Palestine as a group.  To his mind, hostile portrayals of Jews in Russian newspapers over the previous two decades had irreversibly set non-Jews against their Jewish neighbours.  He suggested that money should be raised and organisations created to help Jews leave the country; the money being raised to buy land in Palestine.

Leo Pinsker (1821-1891) and the beginning of Zionism

Pinsker was brought up in Odessa, then part of the Russian Empire.  The pogroms of 1880 caused him to advocate organised mass Jewish migration from Russia preferably to a single country.  They were caused by the assassination of Czar Alexander II in March 1881 which was blamed on the Jews.

Auto Emancipation

Pinsker’s paper, ‘Auto Emancipation’, articulated Zionism and analysed anti-Semitism.  Around the time it was published, some Jewish students from Kharkov established the first agricultural Jewish settlement in Palestine.

Hovevei Tsiyon (Enthusiasts for Zion) and Hibbat Tsiyon (Fondness for Zion) 

Pinsker was a towering figure among the early Hovevei Tsiyon (Enthusiasts for Zion), who were members of Hibbat Tsiyon (Fondness for Zion).  Many of these groups formed in Russia and Romania during the early 1880s.  Unlike the Messianic tradition, they were concerned with their current material needs, not religious aspirations, so in the main they were secularists.  Not many rabbis therefore initially expressed support for the Zionist movement, which was to fully take shape about 17 years later.

Pinsker believed that the Jews were internationally feared because they were an historic anomaly.  Whilst they had no land they were still recognisable as a people, a nation by virtue of their common language, customs and collective connection to a particular space (Israel).  The fact that they owned no land made them appear to be ‘one of the dead walking among the living’, even ‘ghost-like.’  Pinsker’s solution was either to quash the fear or restore the body.  Of the two, the latter seemed more likely since he believed the fear was so deeply ingrained it would never be overcome.

Ahdad Ha’am (1856-1927)

Ahdad Ha’am was a Russian Jew.  He believed Zionism could not solve the economic, social and political plight of the Jews but it could solve the problem of assimilation – which was a growing problem as Jews defected to non-Jewish secular cultures.  He therefore advocated Zionist settlement in Palestine: a secular Jewish culture based on Jewish national consciousness, and the renewal of Hebrew as a means of ensuring the continuity of Jewish creativity.  He visited Palestine and warned of potential conflict between Jewish immigrants and native non-Jewish residents.

First Aliyah (transit or ascent to the land of Israel) 1881-1899

While anti-Semitism spread in Europe, 25,000 more Jews entered Palestine constituting the First Aliyah (transit or ascent to the land of Israel).

In the 7th century the Arabs brought Islam to Palestine. Mohammed started out having an amicable relationship with Jews (and Christians), but when they refused to convert to Islam, as he expected, friendship gave way to animosity and he persecuted them

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