Chapter One - Colonization and Land Confisication Policy in the Land of Israel under Hellenist Occupation , Part One / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak



Alexander the Great conquered the Land of Israel from the Persians in 332 BCE. His heirs, the Diadochi, established their Hellenist kingdoms: The Seleucid Empire in modern-day Syria, and the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt. The Ptolemies ruled the Land of Israel from 301 to 198 BCE; the Seleucids from 198 to 142 BCE, at which time Judea regained independence.

From Alexander’s time to the end of Hellenist rule in the Land of Israel, the Hellenist rulers employed a colonization policy throughout their empires, establishing some 350 Hellenist cities (Poleis).

Alexander’s conquests were followed by an enormous wave of immigration from Greece and Macedonia into the regions he conquered, including the Land of Israel. This immigration was encouraged by Alexander as well as his Seleucid and Ptolemaic successors, who established colonies of Macedonian veterans in the Land of Israel. Greeks from Greece, the islands of the Aegean Sea, and Asia Minor, streamed into the Hellenist empires, and, in the Land of Israel, joined the Aramaic-Syrian and Greco-Phoenician immigrants who had settled there earlier.

In the absence of official records, scholars estimate this immigration numbered hundreds of thousand people.

Alexander’s successors Hellenized existing cities as well as building new ones in the Hellenist style. The neighboring agricultural area was annexed to the cities .The Helenistic rulers confiscated these agricultural lands belonging to Jews and other non- Greek populations to provide land for the Helenistic population. The confiscation of agricultural lands annexed to the poleis transformed independent farmers into tenants on their own lands.
The Helenistic rulers also confiscated land in the Jezreel Valley, the Jordan Valley, the Galillee, Gaza, and Judea, and turned the land into royal estates, and their farmers into tenant farmers.

This policy reduced the land available for accommodating the Jewish natural population growth, effectively forcing Jews off their land.

In the province of Syria-Phoenicia (including the Trans-Jordan and the Land of Israel), about 30 poleis were established during the Hellenist period, 20 of them in the Land of Israel west of the Jordan River.

Unlike most other areas in the empire, where the Hellenization process was carried out with little objection, in Judea the Hellenist rulers encountered fierce resistance from the Jewish population. The resistance stemmed from several causes:

1. The policy of confiscating land that belonged to the Jewish population, and the consequent transformation of their status into dependents of the foreign poleis and royal estates, at times driving them off the land altogether;
2. The foreign colonization policy, stood in contrast to the Jewish natural population growth need for land to accommodate it;
3. The tax burden, carried mostly by the farmers;
4. The attempt to forcefully change the country’s national-religious character (i.e., religious and national reasons).

The Hasmonaean revolt of 167 BCE was preceded by a civil war in Jerusalem, which ended with the city becoming a polis called Antioch (175 BCE). This civil struggle between the Hellenized upper echelon of Jewish society, and the lower classes that were not accepted as citizens of the polis, became a rebellion against the Seleucid rule which supported the Hellenized elements in society against the lower states.

This combination of social-economic and national-religious tensions was the driving force behind these rebellions. At first, the struggle was against land confiscation, the transformation of farmers into tenants, and heavy taxes, to which were added demographic objections to the colonization process which barred the move of population surpluses from Judea to other parts of the country. The Hasmonaeans, while aware of these underlying causes, joined the rebellion for religious reasons.

(Refer to note 1 for bibliography and references)

The Hellenist period saw changes in the population composition in the Land of Israel. The Hellenist conquest brought waves of foreign settlers, and the wars among Alexander’s successors (323 – 301 BCE) and the Syrian wars (301 – 198 BCE) caused destruction, civilian massacres, and the enslaving of captured prisoners. The armies’ conduct caused the displacement of civilians who fled as refugees, mainly during the 4th Syrian war. In the absence of concrete data, Prof. Kasher proposes that, demographically, the overall result was a decrease in the local population and an increase in the colonizing Hellenic population. It is interesting to note, that the population of Judea was relatively less affected during the Syrian wars, probably because the main battles took place in other areas.


According to the book of Ezra, the Babylonian exiles who returned to the Land of Israel following Cyrus’ declaration of 538 BCE numbered 42,360 freemen and 7300 slaves.
Official data regarding the size of the Jewish population during the Hellenist period are unavailable, but an estimate can be made based on various sources:

In the mid-4th century BCE, Ptolemy I exiled 100,000 Jews to Egypt, 30,000 of whom were conscripted into the local garrison while the rest sold as slaves. The historian Hactaeus wrote that the population of Jerusalem numbered 120,000, but it is likely his numbers are slightly exaggerated.

Jonathan the Hasmonaean drafted 40,000 men for his campaign against Triphon. On the basis of this data, and assuming that the average family size was 5-6 heads, Prof. Kasher estimates that on the eve of the Hasmonaean revolt the Jews numbered several hundred-thousands. The men were drafted mostly from Judea and no information is available for other regions.


The boundaries of Judea during the Hellenist period were: Hebron and Beit-Zur fort in the south, Beit El and Beit Horon in the north, the Dead Sea and the Jordan River influx into it in the east, and the Gezer fort in the west.

During the wars among Alexander’s successors, and the Syrian wars, the population of Judea was hurt less than the population of other regions. Greeks and Hellenist Jews began to settle in Judea only during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Jewish immigration from the Diaspora and conversion campaigns run by the Hasmonaeans also contributed to an increase in the Jewish population during the Hasmonaean period.

According to Greek sources, the Jewish natural growth rate was very high during the Hellenist period. Judea was too small to contain this population, and Jews moved to other regions of the country, including the south of Samaria, the Galilee, the Gilead, and the coastal cities (especially Jaffa).

The Galilee

Archaeological surveys and excavations carried out by the Israeli Antiquities Authority in the Galilee indicate that during the Hellenist period the Jewish population in the Galilee was comprised of descendents of the Israelites who remained behind when the Assyrians exiled the top echelons of Israelite society at the beginning of the 8th century BCE, joined by settlers from among the returning Babylonian exiles from 538 BCE on, and later on by Jews from over-populated Judea.

Archaeological finds show that the Upper and Lower Galilee remained less populated following the Assyrian exile and the surviving population concentrated mostly in the south-west of the Netofa valley in the Lower Galilee. Aviam quotes The Book of Kings II, ch. 21, v. 19 and ch. 23, v. 26 in evidence that some of the population was not exiled. The sentences tells of connections that existed during the 7th and 6th centuries BCE between Judean Royalty and families from Romma (Rummana of the present) and Yotva (Yatva of the present), both situated near Kfar Qana.

In his book, “Land of the Galilee”, Shimon Klein lists Galilean settlements mentioned in various Jewish sources. Klein emphasizes that this is not an exhaustive list as there are few sources from that period. The Jewish settlements swelled during the Persian period as Babylonian exiles returned and settled in the Galilee, and later on when Jews from Judea moved there as well.

The Lower Galilee

Archaeological surveys show that following a gap of about 200 years (from the Assyrian conquest and deportation of the Galilee and its inhabitants at the end of the 8th century BCE, to the renewal of Jewish settlement in the 6th century BCE), a great wave of settlement took over the Lower Galilee. Of the 70 sites that were settled before exile of the 8th century, 55% were resettled. Of the 50 settled sites during the Persian period, 20% were new settlements. According to the findings of Aviram Oshri and Zvi Gal resettlement flourished during the Persian period.

Jewish settlement in the Galilee is known through Archaeological and historical records: The Jewish resistance to the Seleucid army on Mt Arbel (near Tiberias) testifies to a Jewish settled presence there. The cities of Sihin (Assochys) and Tzipori were mentioned during the conquest campaign of the King of Cypress in 103 BCE. The names of Jewish settlements collected by Shmuel Klein from various Jewish sources include Tzipori, Yodphat, Sihin, Arbel, the villages of Nemerin (on the border of the valley of Netofa) and Samonya (south-east of Acre), and the village of Saggeni (Sakhani). According to Klein, during the Hellenist period there were Jewish settlements in the valley of Netofa, around the Sea of Galilee, and around Acre. According to Shmuel and Zeev Saphrai, Jews also settled in Bet Anat, located in the valley of Bet Kerem.

The Upper Galilee

An archaeological survey completed in 1990 determines that, contrary to previously held belief, there was an increase in the number of settlements in the Upper Galilee during the Hellenist period. Scholars note that small villages were concentrated in the mountains of the Upper Galilee since as early as the end of the Persian period. Hatzor served as an administrative centre throughout the Persian period.

Jewish settlements in the Upper Galilee mentioned in Jewish contemporary sources of the Hellenist period, quoted by Klein, include Gush Halav, Meiron, Tko’a, and Bet Dagan (Bet Jan).

According to Shimon Dar, at the time of Jonathan the Hasmonaean’s journey to the Valley of Lebanon in 145 BCE, the population of the Upper Galilee was Jewish. He rejects the assumption that at the time of the meeting between Judas Aristobolus and the Itureans at a later date, the Galilee was populated by foreigners. An Archaeological survey conducted by Moshe Hartal (Dar, note 40) in the north of the Golan Heights uncovered Iturean pottery, but no Iturean remains were found in the Galilee (see below for more on the Itureans).

The Valley of Acre

Following a long period from the end of the 8th century BCE to 538 BCE, when the valley was uninhabited, wide-spread settlement was renewed and villages and towns were established anew.

The Jezreel Valley and Bet Shean

Jews lived in the city of Bet Shean (Skithopolis), and it seems they also settled in the Valley of Jezreel. Klein mentions Haffarim (or Offarim) on the border of the valley, and is of the opinion that other settlements existed there as well.


The district of Narbata, which was settled by Jews, was included in the territory of the Helenist military colony of Samaria. Narbata was identified by the archaeologist Adam Zartal as Hirbet Al Hamam in the north-west of Samaria, although others identify it with Hirbet Biddus near Kibbutz Ma’anit. The district of Narbata ranged from Baqa el Garbiya in the west to the Dottan valley in the east. The district is mentioned in the book of Judith in connection to the Jewish resistance to the Persian conquest. Excavations conducted on-site in 1982 uncovered the upper city, including a street, residential buildings, and baths. Adam Zartal concluded that Jews constituted the main part of the population in Samaria, with Samaritans being the second largest group.

The Trans-Jordan

The book of Maccabaeans I, chapter 8, mentions Jewish settlements in the northern Gilead during Judas Maccabaeus’ journey in the Trans-Jordan. In the ancient land of Ammon, called Perea, Jews, Greeks, and Macedonians were living in a military colony commanded by Tobias, the son of a Samaritan and a Jewish woman.


No statistics are available for this population, but historical sources indicate there was massive immigration and settlement of Greeks and Macedonians in the Land of Israel. Kasher and Stern estimated their numbers at several hundred-thousands. The Greek-Macedonian immigration, which began during the life of Alexander the Great, continued for several generations. This was the way ancient Greece and Macedonia dealt with population over-growth and economic crises (foreign settlement is further discussed in section 2).


The Phoenicians absorbed Philistines and other ancient ethnicities who were living along the coast. They practically ruled the coastal cities during the Persian period.

Unlike other Semitic peoples, the Phoenicians integrated will into the Hellenist culture and the Polis system since the beginning of the Hellenist period, while maintaining their separate ethnic identity. As their trade increased, Phoenicians from Sidon reached and settled in Idumea in the south of Judea.

The Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon ruled parts of the western Galilee since the Persian period and perhaps even earlier. The distribution of Phoenician coins testifies to the links between these cities and the Galilee. Grain, oil, and wine surpluses from the Galilee were sold in the Phoenician cities, and archaeological finds indicate Phoenician settlement in Rosh Zayit and in Kadesh.


Excavations carried out in Nablus (Shkhem) show that the city was flourishing at the end of the 4th century BCE., until the Samaritan rebellion against Alexander the Great which resulted in the conquest of the Samaritans’ largest city, Samaria, the massacre of its inhabitants and the flight of those who survived. The Samaritan population decreased. Archaeological finds show that the Macedonian conquest at the end of the 4th century BCE brought about the destruction and desertion of 150 settlements, leaving only 84 – i.e., nearly half the settlements that existed during the Persian period disappeared. The archaeological finds reported by Adam Zartal in his study (pp. 86 – 87) attest to the extent of Alexander’s retaliatory actions against the Samaritans who had supported the Persians.

The Samaritan centre moved to Shkhem (today Nablus . A class of Hellenized Samaritans developed during the Seleucid rule. The internal struggles within Samaritan society, including resistance to the Hellenization process and Hellenist rule, resulted in the religious decrees being applied against the Samaritans as well as the Jews.

The Land of Israel was part of the Seleucid province of Syria-Phoenicia. The Ptolemaic dynasty conquered the southern coastal plains, Pleshet, and named it Syria-Palaestina. When discussing Alexander’s actions in Gaza, which had resisted him, Kasher names the population of Gaza as Syrian-Palestinian. Alexander conquered the city, massacred part of the population and sold the rest as slaves. In their place he settled new immigrants. According to Herodotus, the old Syrian-Palestinian inhabitants were Arab. The new settlers were Phoenicians from neighboring cities.


The Itureans were a group of Arabic tribes who entered into the Bekaa (Lebanon Valley) during the Persian period. They established a kingdom in Southern Lebanon and spread to other areas of Lebanon. At some time they spread into the Golan Heights, and archaeological excavations conducted by Moshe Hartal (Dar, note 40) unearthed pottery shreds that indicate Iturean settlement east of Lake Hula and the Sea of Galilee.

Scholars argue whether Itureans settled in the Galilee or not. Dar and Kasher are of the opinion that the Jews to whose rescue Jonathan the Hasmonaean went in 145 BCE lived in the Bekaa (Lebanon) and not within the borders of the Land of Israel. According to Josephus Flavius (Antiquities of the Jews) Judas Aristobulus I conquered a large portion of the Iturean kingdom and annexed it to Judea, but he does not mention the Galilee, and there is no evidence either that the clash in 104 BCE between Judas Aristobulus I and the Itureans took place in the “foreign Galilee”.

An archaeological survey conducted by Moshe Hartal (Dar, note 40) in the Upper Galilee did not uncover Iturean pottery. Rappaport and Kasher believe that for a short time Itureans spread into the eastern part of the Upper Galilee, but did not become a stable ethnic element of the area’s population, maintaining a status of conquerors for the length of their short conquest.

In conclusion, Iturean settlements existed in the Golan but in the Galilee they had little presence.


The Nabataeans were an Arabic tribe that emerged from the Arab Peninsula during the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. They were part of one of the waves of Arabic migration that entered the region. The Nabataeans established the Kingdom of Nabataea in the south of the Trans-Jordan, after pushing the Idumeans west, into Judea. Petra was their capital. Starting at the end of the 4th century BCE (i.e., during the Hellenist period) they penetrated the south-eastern area of the Negev desert. The Nabataeans settled outside the borders of Hellenist rule. They controlled the camel-train roads leading south and held an important position in the trade of the time. An Aramaic-speaking nomadic tribe that lived off sheep and camel husbandry rather than agriculture, they numbered about 10,000 persons. The Ptolemies tried to take over their kingdom but were met with fierce resistance and gave up. During the Jewish revolt against the Seleucids, the Nabataeans collaborated with the Hasmonaeans, but later on their relations became more hostile.


The Idumeans were pushed out of the area known in the Bible as Edom (Idumea) by the Nabataeans and spread towards the southern Negev, reaching up to Hebron. The important settlements in Idumea were Maresha and Adulam.


It is known that a Semitic, non-Jewish, farming population living in the Galilee took on Judaism following the Hasmonaean conquest. Unfortunately, their origin or when they settled in the Galilee is not known. They may have been Syrian-Aramaeans. There is evidence from later periods for the presence of Syrian-Aramaean Christians in the Galilee.

(Refer to note 2 for bibliography and references)


King David had not conquered the Philistine and Phoenician coastal cities and they did not become part of the Kingdom of Israel. Contemporary sources are not available, but it seems that the coastal area remained under Egyptian rule until roughly the mid-8th century BCE.

At the end of the 8th century BCE the coastal cities were conquered by the Assyrians. Acre was annexed to the district of Megido; the area between Mt Carmel and the Yarkon river became the district of Dor; and the rulers of Gaza and Ashkelon became vassals of the Assyrian king. Hezekiah, King of Judea, took over the region for a short time (Kings II, ch. 18, v. 8), but the Assyrian king Sennacherib brought it back under Assyrian rule. The Egyptians ruled the area for a while after the fall of the Assyrians, and were replaced in their turn by the Babylonians.

The Persians conquered the Land of Israel from the Babylonians. In return for using the fleet of the Phoenicians, they awarded the Phoenicians control of the coastal cities as far south as Ashkelon. Acre and Gaza maintained their independence (Avi-Yona, pp. 23-24).


Greek settlement in the Land of Israel began before Alexander the Great’s conquest. According to Naveh’s research, close trading links existed between Israel and Athens as early as the 5th century BCE, and there is evidence for the presence of Greek army personnel in Hashaviah Fortress, south of Yavne-Yam, even earlier, in the 7th century BCE.

Prof. Menahem Stern, however, determined that it was Alexander’s conquest that marked “a decisive turning point in the history of the country” in terms of the penetration of Greek population and Hellenist culture into the Land of Israel.

Prof. Stern notes that the Hellenization process of the coastal cities population (comprised of descendents of Philistines and Phoenicians) began before the waves of Greek, Macedonian, and Syrian-Aramaic immigration into the non-Jewish coastal cities. Stern believed that Greek settlement in the coastal cities prior to Alexander’s conquest explains this early Hellenization of the local population

Settlement activity mainly took place under Ptolemaic rule between 301 and 198 BCE.

According to Gideon Fux, the Greek colonization of the Land of Israel took place in three stages as Hellenist rulers encouraged and oversaw immigration over several generations. The Hellenist rulers, ruling over an occupied land and a conquered people, needed Greek settlers in order to maintain their power base. A Hellenist upper class was formed that was comprised of Macedonian military personnel and Greek administration, joined by business and professional immigrants and tradesmen (Stern, pp. 21-23), who gradually accepted into their fold members of the native upper class.

First Stage

The first stage began during Alexander’s life, immediately following his conquests, when Greeks and Macedonians began immigrating to the East and to the Land of Israel. This was in fact a third wave of Greek colonization, which began along the shores of the Aegean Sea, moving on to Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Sicily, and Cypress. Although Greek influence was felt in the East before Alexander the Great, his conquests turned this gradual flow into a flood (Jones, pp. 1-2).

Alexander established the Poleis system when he built the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Its stages included: Selecting the city’s site, settling a population of Greeks, Macedonians, mercenaries, and native settlers, establishing public institutions inspired by the Athenian model, and placing the surrounding country-side under the city’s jurisdiction.
Under Alexander’s rule, the coastal cities of the Land of Israel became Hellenist cities that enjoyed municipal autonomy. After suppressing the Samaritan revolt, Alexander built the city of Samaria, as a military colony for his soldiers in Samaria.

Stage Two

The second stage in the Greek colonization of the Land of Israel began with the Ptolemaic conquest in 301 BCE and continued until 198 BCE. The Land of Israel was part of the Syria-Phoenicia province. Contrary to Jones, Prof. Stern believes that the system for establishing Hellenist settlements developed during Ptolemaic rule rather than during Alexander’s time. The system Stern outlines included: inviting Hellenist settlers to settle near or within an existing city, awarding these settlers full citizenship in the city and drafting a constitution, building homes for the settlers and gifting them land in the country-side surrounding the city, transforming the native population of the country-side into tenants, and lowering the status of the native population in the city to second-rate citizens. The city was then given a new, Hellenist name.

Most of the Hellenist poleis were not newly constructed cities. They were of two kinds:
One kind was the native city which absorbed Greek settlement and was transformed by it into a Hellenist polis; the other kind was the polis that was built near a native village. According to Arye Kasher (p. 16), most of the Phoenician cities were of the first kind, while some of the inland cities, such as Maresha and Adorayim, were of the second kind.

The Ptolemies removed the Phoenician rule in the coastal cities and gave the cities new Greek names, as well as establishing new cities. Acre became Ptolemais, Beth Shean became Skithopolis, Rabbat Amon in the Trans-Jordan became Philadelphia, Beth Yerah (south of the Sea of Galilee) became Philoteria. Memphis (Memshit, or Kornov) and Elusa were built in Idumea, Crocodilonopolis was built near the Crocodile Stream near today Hadera. Boccolonepolis was built near Caesarea. All the cities were autonomous and were awarded lands around their country-side.

Hellenization took place among the upper classes, while the farmers were hardly touched by the process, which was happening mostly in the cities (Jones, p. 32). According to Arye Kasher (p. 18), the process of the cities’ Hellenization was completed at the beginning of Ptolemaic rule.

Stage Three

The Seleucids undertook an intensive colonization effort, bringing in Greek settlers (Jones, The Cities, pp. 243-249). Hellenization under the Seleucids reached its climax under Antiochus Epiphanes. Hellenist cities served to further the country’s colonization. The cities were also used as part of the Seleucid ruling structure: taxes were collected from the territories annexed to the cities, and the population was drafted into the Seleucid army’s militias. Jewish and non-Jewish farmers in those territories became tenants on their own lands, and their inferior status caused friction between them and the Hellenist settlers.

The Seleucids continued the Hellenization process of existing cities, such as Adorayim and Maresha in the south, and Kadesh in the Galilee; Jerusalem became Antioch, and Gaza became Seleucia; another Antioch was built near the Dan river in the north, and the estate at Tel Anafa was Hellenized as well and Kadesh in the Galilee.

According to Apelbaum (p. 277) and Cherikover (pp. 71-94), The Hellenist cities in the Land of Israel were divided into three groups: the coastal cities, cities on the mountain range inland, and the cities of the Trans-Jordan. Altogether they numbered about 30, twenty of them in the Land of Israel west of the Jordan river.

To summarise the Hellenist cities distribution (Stern, p. 71, pp. 75-89):

The Coastal Cities included:

Acre, which became Ptolemais (Cherikover, p. 72, notes that the Seleucids renamed it Antioch, but the name did not stick); Doar, which became Dorra or Dorris; Straton’s Tower (later, Caesarea) which had been built as late as the 4th or 3rd century BCE by a Sidonian ruler; Crocodilopolis, near the Crocodile Stream; Phoenician Arshoof, which became Apolonia; Jaffa; Yavne, which became Yamania; Ashkelon and Ashdod, which kept their names; Gaza, which became Seleucia; Antadon, built north-west of Gaza and Rafiah.

The Inland Cities included:

Flavius mentions Arthosa, following Ashdod and Yavne; Shomron became Samaria; Bet Shean and two villages annexed to it, became Skithopolis; Jerusalem became Antioch; Adorayim and Maresha (settled by Hellenized Sidonians) in the south; Eilat became Berenice.

Lower Galilee
Philoteria, a new city, was built in the Lower Galilee near Bet Yerah, where the Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee. The site, which was populated in the Persian period, became a Hellenist city.

Upper Galilee

Several Hellenist cities were built in the Upper Galilee: Tel Anafa, in the north of the Hula Valley, had been settled during the Persian period and was Hellenized during the Hellenist period, as evidenced by the Acropolis mound and a portion of the wall which were discovered by American Archaeologists in 1968. Dan-Antioch was built by the Seleucids but little information exists about it. Excavations were conducted in Tel Kadesh in 1981 which uncovered the remains of a magnificent pagan temple. Following excavations conducted there in 1999, researchers are convinced that during the Hellenist period this was a Hellenist settlement.

Jerusalem was renamed Jerusalem-Antioch.

Poleis in the Trans-Jordan:

Kenath, Rafon, and Sussita located in the south of the Golan was renamed Hippos; Gadder, which was also named Antioch and Seleucia; Avel Seleucia; Palla-Berenice; Dion; Geresh became Antioch; Rabbat Ammon (Amman) became Philadelphia ;and Paneas (known as Banias). These cities were populated by Greeks and Macedonians. Prof. Cherikover is of the opinion that these cities were Hellenized by the Ptolemies, and the Seleucids only renamed them.

Subordinate centres, i.e. settlements that adopted the Hellenist organisation and structure but had not reached the status of polis, existed in addition to the poleis. They included Gezer, Kamos, Gephros (Ephron), and Kadesh Naphtali (which was populated by Hellenised Phoenician settlers who came from north of Kadesh; Apelbaum, p. 282).

According to Rapaport, the poleis and the military colonies performed an important role in the wars against the Hasmonaeans. The cities’ militia forces were the backbone of anti-Jewish actions (ibid., pp. 266-268).

Unlike the poleis in Greece, the poleis in the Land of Israel were dependent on the Hellenist king to whom they paid taxes. In the poleis, the Greek-ethnic population (joined by Hellenized locals) were first-class citizens, while the local population had an inferior status.


The poleis, scattered over the country, were awarded vast territories by the Hellenist rulers. (Prof Michael Avi-Yona, ‘Geographical History of the Land of Israel’ 1963, p. 41; and Cherikover, pp. 48-51)): The Hellenist cities got the entire coastal region, including areas to the north-east and east . The lands annexed to Straton’s Tower (Caesarea), Samaria, and Skithopolis bordered on each other and separated Judea and the Galilee, and created a territorial continuum between the Hellenist cities in the Trans-Jordan and along the Mediterranean. Acre controlled a territory in the Western Galilee (Rapaport, p. 266, note 13).

Each Polis had its own farming territory, whose population became tenants subject to the polis administratively, economically, and legally. The relations between the foreigners and the local population were tense and hostile.

The Hellenist city inhabitants became estate owners, while the land was worked by the farmers who became tenants (Cherikover, p. 87; Stern, p. 22, p. 73). The poleis inhabitants were first-class citizens while the farmers, who previously owned their land, became tenants or serfs. Rents on farm land were higher than taxes on private land. Taxes paid by the tenants included land tax and tax on sheep and cattle, per-capita (Uriel Rapaport, The Hellenist Cities, p. 266; Stern, pp. 21-23, p. 51).

Jews who lived in the valley of Acre and the Western Galilee (see item VII) were put under the jurisdiction of Acre-Ptoelmais, Tyre, and Sidon. Those living in the Lower Galilee came under the jurisdiction of Philoteria. The Jews of the upper Galilee were under the jurisdiction of Dan-Antioch, Tel Anafa, and the Bet Anat estate. Those living in Bet Shean and the Valley of Jezreel were put under jurisdiction of Skithopolis, while those in Judea were under jurisdiction of Jerusalem-Antioch.

(Refer to note no. 3a' for bibliography and references)

The Hellenist rulers established royal estates on lands confiscated from farmers in the Land of Israel. Estates were also awarded to high-ranking administrators.

Royal Estates:

The Hefzibah Inscription indicates that the Ptolemaic rulers owned large estates in the Jezreel Valley and the Valley of Bet Shean, as well as estates in the Upper Galilee, the Bashan, the Jordan Valley, the area of the Hula, and in the area of Gaza.

In Bet Anat (identified by Smuel and Zeev Saphrai with Al Ba’ina in the Bet Kerem Valley in the lower Galilee) the Ptolemies built a royal estate. It was probably taken later by the Seleucid rulers.

The Seleucids built royal estates in Ekron, Lydda, Ramatayim, and Offrin. Some were located in Judea and some on Judea’s northern border with Samaria.

The Hasmonaean rulers had royal estates in Mt Melekh, between Waddi Arab and Bet Guvrin. Appelbaum suggests these may have previously been royal estates of Hellenist rulers. They got also all the Royal estates

Estates awarded to high officers

During Ptolemaic rule, the Ptolemaic Treasurer, Appolonius, was given the estate of Bet Anat, and its farmers became tenants on their own lands. Scholars are divided over whether Bet Anat was located in the Lower or Upper Galiee. Shmuel and Zeev Saphrai locate Bet Anat at Al Ba’ina in the Lower Galilee. Zenon’s papyri mentions that the Ptolemies established an estate there, and it seems it was awarded to the Ptolemaic Treasurer. It is likely to have passed on to the Seleucids later on.

Some of the Ptolemaic estates in the Jezreel Valley were given to a high-ranking administrator, Ptoelmy son of Terasias.

The Seleucids awarded estates to high-ranking administrators. The Seleucid governor received estates that included villages in the eastern Jezreel Valley, around Bet Shean, and in the Lower Galilee. The farmers were tenants, and according to Appelbaum, Jewish tenants were among them.

Royal Fortresses:

Royal forts were built on Mt Tabor, in Gezer, and in Bet Tzur, where Seleucid soldiers were stationed. It is likely they were given land near the forts, whose farmers then became tenants.

Average American citizen does

Average American citizen does not think a lot about other cultures, and it is such a shame for us. Articles like this one help us to understand our place in the world, with other nations, writing jobs and traditions.

The titles of the chapters 2-7

Chapter Two - Elimination of the Jewish National - Cultural Entity and Jewiush Majority under Roman Occupation(63 BCE - 324 CE)

Chapter Three - The Failure of Forced Conversion of Jews under Byzantine Occupation 324 - 640 CE)

Chapter Four - Population and Arab Settlement unde Arabic - Muslim Occupation (640 - 1099 )

Chapter Five - Cultural Arabization without Islamization
of Jews under Arab - Muslim Occupation (640 - 1099 )

Chapter Six - Population Constitution under Crusaders' Occupation (1099 - 1260)

Chapter Seven - Population Constitution under Mamluk Occupation (1260 - 1516 )

Chapters 2-6 are available on this web site

The Title of the Chapters:
How and when the Jewish majority in the land of Israel was eliminated
Sub- title:
A Jewish minority survived the Christian and Mualim Occupation

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