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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

by Rabbi Joseph Schwarz


As in the geographical reference to Palestine, we have been compelled to be content with mere traces, the same will be the case in our historical account of this country. There are nowhere to be met with regular documents in respect to its history, states, and towns; the past seems to have been entirely forgotten; so that the whole country cared, so to say, only for the present, and took no cognizance of what had preceded or was to follow. It is true that some few Arabic historians have written something concerning Palestine, such as Abulfeda and Serif ibn Idrus; but their works have almost entirely disappeared, as was to be supposed would be the case under a government which had not and suffered not a free press. It was only with the greatest trouble that I could obtain here and there an historical document, and I extracted therefrom only what interested me, that is, what has reference to the Israelitish people, but not the general and to us indifferent accounts and narratives. Reports referring to modern times, I obtained occasionally by way of tradition. Therefore it cannot excite surprise that the historical portion of my book should be so brief and simple.

I divide the same into four periods:

Period I. From the destruction of the temple under Titus, in the year 3828 [A.M.] (68 [C.E.]), till the time of the conquest of Palestine by the Mahomedans in the year 4374 (614), consequently a period of 546 years.

Period II. From 4374 to the conquest of the country by the Christian Crusaders in the year 4859 (1099), an interval of 485 years.

Period III. From the year 4859 to the reign of Sultan Seliman the Great, in the year 5280 (1520), an interval of 421 years.

Period IV. From 5280 (1520) to the present [when this book was written] year 5606 (1845), an interval of 325 years.

A Short Review of the Different Governments in Palestine in the Above Periods.

In the year 3828, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, Palestine was under the dominion of the Romans.

In the year 4092 (332), under Emperor Constantine, the Greek — Romano-Greek Empire.

In the year 4374 (614), under King Kusarai (Chosroes?) for a brief space, Persian, but later, again under the government of the Greeks.

In the year 4397 (637) under Calif Omar, Arab or Mahomedan.

In the year 4502 (742), it was for a short time under the dominion of the Turks or Tartars, but at a later period again under the Arabs.

In the year 4628 (868), under the Califs of Egypt.

In the year 4800 (1040), again under the Turks or Tartars.

In the year 4859 (1099), under the European Christians.

In the year 4947 (1187), under Saladin, Calif of Egypt.

In the year 5004 (1244), under Casiunus, i.e. under Turks or Tartars.

In the year 5051 (1291), under Sultan Asa of Egypt, under Mameluks.

In the year 5161 (1401), under Timurlan [Tamerlane], for a short time, i.e. under Mongols, than again under the Mameluks.

In the year 5278 (1518), under Selim of Constantinople, under Ottomans.

In the year 5591 (1831), under Mahmud Ali, Pacha of Egypt.

In the year 5600 (1840), under Abd al Medjid, Ottoman.

Here would well apply the passage from Judges 9:2: “What is better for you, that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubaal, should rule over you, or that one man should be your master?”