Christian, Galilee, Tiberias, Samaritans, Palestine, Hebrews
The new state of Syria Palaestina thus became a good deal less problematic for the Roman government than Judaea had been. The government continued to permit the Hebrews certain religious freedoms, such as exemption from the imperial cult, and gradually the Roman governors permitted the Hebrews to recover certain of their communal rights, such as local courts and internal government, under the overall authority of the patriarch in Tiberias.
The Samaritans (a sect practicing a strict and uncompromising version of the Hebrew religion), fared less well, as the Romans took steps to prevent a resurgence of Samaritan nationalism by founding a pagan temple on Mt Gerizim, just south of Neapolis, and refused to make concessions to Samaritan religious practices.
The conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in about 300 A.D. set in motion events that made Palestine a major center of the Christian church. Before the fifth century A.D. very few Christians lived in Palestine.
The non-Hebrew regions of the coast, the south, and Aelia Capitolina had several Roman and Greek Christian communities, and a few Minim (Hebrew Christians) lived in such Galilean towns as Sepphoris and Capernaum.
But beginning in the fourth century the government responded to Roman Christian interest in the Holy Land; by embarking on a massive program of patronage, especially church-building, that was designed to encourage Christians to move to Palestine. There was also an imperial policy geared to encourage Hebrews to convert to Christianity; this by offering protection and rewards.
As a result of Christian settlement in the vicinities of Nazareth, Capernaum, and Tabgha, the region of Galilee lost its Hebrew majority. By about 400 A.D. there were ninety six Christian communities in Palestine. The sack of Rome in 410 A.D. caused a new round of migration to Palestine as a group of aristocratic Romans responded to Jerome's invitation to settle in Aelia Capitolina and Bethlehem, (Jerome was a Caucasian born in Stridon (a city in modern Croatia), he was probably of Turkish/Khazar ethnicity, he was later canonized a Saint by the catholic Church. In addition, numerous Christians came to Palestine not to settle but to visit holy sites on pilgrimage and to scour the land for relics to take home.
Emperor, Justinian, Tiberias, Damascus, Judaism, Hebrews
The Roman Emperors codified the separation of the two religions by forbidding intermarriage and conversion from Christianity to Judaism. However, Hebrew converts to Christianity; received protection from Hebrew retribution. Increasingly the Hebrews lost civil status. Imperial legislation labeled Judaism a wild and nefarious sect. Until about 500 A.D. Roman emperors regularly reaffirmed the Hebrews right to the free exercise of their religion, but it became increasingly difficult to control violence against the Hebrews and their property.
The accession of Roman Emperor Justinian, in 527 A.D. initiated the last great phase of Roman persecution of the Hebrews. The new emperor redefined heretics to include the Hebrews and excluded them from military and civilian offices. They had never served in the army, but now they could not even serve even in local municipal government. The leadership of the last Hebrew cities, Tiberias and Sepphoris, passed into Greek and Roman hands. Justinian dealt a further blow to the Hebrews when the new compilation of Roman law, the Codex Iustinianus, omitted the ancient law declaring Judaism a legitimate religion, and began to attack Hebrew religious practices and to force baptism.
Meanwhile there appeared renewed resistance from the Samaritans (a sect practicing a strict and uncompromising version of the Hebrew religion), they had never received any of the privileges that the Romans afforded the more liberal Hebrews. They were forbidden to circumcise their children since the second century, and forced to sacrifice to the pagan gods during the Tetrarchy. Now they were suffering under the Christian empire, even greater oppression than the Hebrews.
The Samaritans revolted against Emperor Zeno in 484 A.D. The Roman government put them down ruthlessly, and built a Christian church on their holy mountain, (Mt Gerizim) near Neapolis. Again in 529 A.D, they revolted after Justinian ordered the destruction of their synagogues. After they restored control, the Romans deported or forcibly baptized Samaritans and installed a garrison there. In both great revolts the Samaritans briefly set up their own royal state in the Davidic style.
In 603 A.D. the last war between Rome and Persia began. The Persians gradually occupied the eastern parts of the empire and in 613 A.D. they took Damascus. Then later, with Hebrew assistance, they occupied all of Palestine. They took Aelia Capitolina in 614 A.D. and gave it to the Hebrews. But within a few years they restored it to the Christians, because it was easier to deal with the majority population, which was Christian. In 622 A.D. Roman Emperor Heraclius turned the tide against Persia, and in 629 A.D. he recovered Palestine.
The Arab/Eurasian Invasion
But within a few years the Muslims - a conglomeration of Turks, Greeks, and Arabs, under the banner of the Prophet Muhammad - attacking from the south, through a Hebrew population that had no love for the Roman Empire, easily conquered Palestine.
The invasion began in 634 A.D, Gaza fell first, and the attack continued northward until, after the Battle of the Yarmuk southeast of the Sea of Galilee in 636 A.D. the Roman army withdrew from Palestine and Syria. Jerusalem held out until the spring of 638 A.D. Caesarea fell last, in 641 A.D, and with its conquest, the Muslims ended seven hundred years of Roman rule in Palestine.
From the time of the Roman occupation, Canaanites and Hebrews had begun to leave Canaan. By the time of the Muslim invasion, with the majority of the population already killed or displaced by Romans and Greeks, there is no telling how many were left alive to flee.
One group whose flight can be traced, is that of the Lemba tribe in Zimbabwe. They have maintained their Hebrew religion and traditions through the many centuries. (They were genetically tested, and confirmed to be Hebrews). Hebrews also fled to Ethiopia and other countries.
The population of Phoenicia (later Lebanon), also began to take its present form in the 7th century A.D. At some time during the earlier Byzantine period, a military group of uncertain origin, the Mardaites, had established themselves in the north among the indigenous population there. From the 7th century onward, another group entered the country, these were the Maronites, a Christian community adhering to the Monothelite doctrine. They had been forced by persecution, to leave their homes in northern Syria.
They settled in the northern part of Lebanon, and absorbed the Mardaites and the indigenous peasants, to form the present Maronite Church. Originally Syriac speaking (a Anatolian dialect of Aramaean), they gradually adopted the Arabic language although keeping Syriac for liturgical purposes. In the south of Lebanon, Arab tribesmen came in after the Muslim conquest, and settled among the indigenous people. In the 11th century A.D. many of these were converted to the Druze faith, an esoteric offshoot of Shi‘ite Islam.