Land of Israel and Jewish heritage – 41

Land of Israel and Jewish heritage

A series from the book written by Naveed Anjum

Jewish Life in the Land of Canaan, cont’d

The Promised Land, cont’d

Byzantine period

During the Byzantine period, Jews in the province of Palestine lived under the oppressive rule of the Byzantines. Under Byzantine rule, Jews revolted twice more and Samaritans revolted three times. Under this oppression, Jews continued living in no less than forty-three Jewish communities within Palestine: Twelve of their towns were on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan, and thirty-one of their villages were in Galilee and the Jordan valley.

In 438 CE, Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews praying at the Temple site. This led the heads of the Galilee Community to issue a call “to the great and mighty people of the Jews,” saying: “Know that the end of the exile of our people has come!”

In about 450 CE, rabbis completed the Jerusalem Talmud. Talmud means “instruction” or “learning” (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד יְרוּשָׁלְמִי). The name of the Jerusalem Talmud or Talmud Yerushalmi is often shortened to Yerushalmi. It is a collection of Rabbinic notes regarding the 2nd-century Mishnah (Jewish oral tradition as we previously reviewed). Compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th centuries, this very large text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael (Talmud of the Land of Israel). Some consider the latter names more appropriate because the work originated in the Galilee area rather than from Jerusalem. The Byzantine provinces of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda shared this Talmud.

In 613 CE, the Byzantine Empire came to the aid of Persian invaders in Israel, which caused another Jewish revolt. As a result, Jews gained a form of autonomy in Jerusalem for 5 years; however, continued limitations frustrated them. Then, the Persians betrayed agreements they had made with the Jews and expelled them again from Jerusalem. With the aid of Jewish leader Benjamin of Tiberias, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius managed to overcome the Persian forces. Nevertheless, Heraclius also betrayed the Jews and put thousands of Jewish refugees to flight from Palestine to Egypt.

(To be continued…)

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