Catholic Dictionary




Name originally from Philistine of the country on the east shore of the Mediterranean. In the Bible, Palestine is called Canaan before the invasion of Joshua. It was the Holy Land of the ancient Israelites because it was promised them by God and became the Holy Land of the Christians because it was the home of Jesus Christ. Its boundaries have changed many times but, in general, have included the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, bordering southwest on Egypt. In the fourth century B.C., Palestine was conquered by Alexander the Great. In 141 B.C., the Jews revolted under the Maccabees and established a new state, but Rome took it over seventy years later. During the time of Christ, Palestine was ruled by the puppet Herods. The Jewish revolt provoked the Romans to destroy the Temple and either kill or expel the Jews from Palestine. Then followed, in sequence, the Christian occupation of the country until the seventh century, when the Moslems took over. during the Crusades, Palestine was temporarily in Christian hands but reverted to the Moslems by the thirteenth century. Jewish colonization began around 1870, and Zionism entered in the early twentieth century. In 1920 the British, who had acquired the area in World War II as a mandate, designated Palestine as a Jewish homeland, while safeguarding the rights of non-Jews. After many Jewish-Arab clashes, Palestine became the State of Israel in 1948.