Learn about Judea and Samaria—The Heartland of Israel
Judea and Samaria are regions of Israel that are deeply connected to the Jewish people historically and religiously. Most of the events of the Bible were written and took place in these areas.
The regions were divided in the times of the Kings; the area of Israel north of Jerusalem was called Samaria, the area south of Jerusalem, Judea (Judah). In modern times, Judea and Samaria refers to the mountainous area to the west of the Jordan River. Judea and Samaria contains many significant sites, like:
- Hebron—Burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives. David originally set up his kingdom here.
- Shiloh—Resting place of the Tabernacle for 369 years. Three times a year, all of Israel gathered here.
- Shechem—Burial place of Joseph. Jacob bought land here.
- Bethel—Possible site of Jacob's dream.
- Elon Moreh—Site of God’s promise of the land to Abraham.
It was these mountain areas that most of the Israelites settled in when they entered the land with Joshua.
In ~135 CE, the Roman emperor Hadrian exiled most Jews from Israel, across the Empire. It would be more than 1,700 years before the Jewish people began returning home in significant numbers. They started purchasing and working the deserts and swamps that much of Israel had become in their absence.
Many Jews returned to the city of Hebron, in Judea, and began to build the community, which was only home to a few Jewish families. But in 1929, the Arabs launched a massacre of Hebron’s Jews. Synagogues and homes were destroyed and sixty-seven Jews were murdered. The remaining Jews fled to Jerusalem, leaving Hebron vacant of Jews for the first time in centuries.
During Israel’s war of independence, Jordanian forces moved into Judea and Samaria and remained there after the war had ended, when they drew up armistice lines with Israel. Several years later Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria, illegally, as the land had been designated by the international community for the Jewish State. Jordan renamed Judea and Samaria the “West Bank” since it sat on the west bank of the Jordan River. The term is still propagated today by those who reject and wish to end Israel’s rightful control of the land.
In June 1967, Israel was attacked from the east by Jordan, which began shelling Jerusalem and sending planes to bomb other Israeli cities. Responding in defense, Israel pushed enemy forces out of Judea and Samaria in just two days, in a miraculous victory.
Soon after, Jews began to return to reclaim an important part of their ancient homeland. For many of them their presence in the land and call to action is rooted in Biblical prophecy:
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations
Communities began springing up all over as homes were built, and life started to come back to the hills. Vineyards and olive trees were planted and today, wineries in Judea and Samaria are winning gold medals worldwide with their wines, and Israel is exporting olive oil to other countries. Approximately 450,000 Jews now call Judea and Samaria home.
Judea and Samaria is also an integral part of Israel for security reasons. Without Judea and Samaria, Israel is only 9 miles wide in places. The mountain ranges of Judea and Samaria overlook Israel’s international airport, and would put Israel’s enemies within 15 miles of most of its major cities. Judea and Samaria provides strategic territorial depth and high ground, which in the current Middle East, is critical for Israel’s security.
There are nearly 2 million Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.They are governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), a corrupt government presided over by a leader who has not held elections for his office in the 14 years he has been in office. The PA incites its people to violence against Jews, pays salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons, and educates its children to hate Israel.
Israel has, over the years, offered the Palestinians control of over 90% of Judea and Samaria. Each time the Palestinian government has refused. Their true goal is not to live peaceably alongside Israel. It is to pursue their goal of retroactively undoing the results of the 1948 war, that is, the destruction of Israel.
Unfortunately, today there are many—world governments, college professors, religious leaders, etc.—who are calling on Israel to give up Judea and Samaria for the creation of a Palestinian State. They want Judea and Samaria to be Jew free—a policy reminiscent of the Nazis’ Final Solution. The United Nations and countless other organizations call Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria illegal, despite the fact that the land was mandated for a Jewish State by the League of Nations, and no other nation has ever exercised legitimate sovereignty over it.
Judea and Samaria is a special place; a place where one can look and see Biblical prophecy in action. The land that once flowed with milk and honey is once again prospering. The mountains that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob heard from God on, are once again home to their descendants.