In the ancient Babylonian city called Ur of the Chaldees lived the patriarch Terah, who was the father of three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Lot was the son of Haran, who died in Ur. Terah, accompanied by Abram, Sarai, and Lot, started for "the land of Canaan," but they "came unto Haran and dwelt there," "and Terah died in Haran." "Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." So Abram, Sarai, and Lot came into the land of Canaan about 2300 B.C., and dwelt first at Shechem, but "he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Ai on the east." Abram did not remain here, but journeyed to the south, and when a famine came, he entered Egypt. Afterwards he returned to the southern part of Canaan, and still later he returned "unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai. * * * And Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents." On account of some discord between the herdsmen of the two parties, "Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren." Accepting his uncle's proposition, Lot chose the well watered Plain of the Jordan, "journeyed east," "and moved his tent as far as Sodom," but "Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron."

Some time after this Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, entered the region occupied by Lot, and overcame the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela, carrying away the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, "and they took Lot * * * and his goods." "And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew," who "led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan." As a result of this hasty pursuit, Abram "brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." "The king of Sodom went out to meet" Abram after his great victory, and offered him the goods for his services, but the offer was refused. Abram was also met by "Melchizedek, king of Salem," who "brought forth bread and wine," and "blessed him." Before his death, the first Hebrew saw the smoke from Sodom and Gomorrah going up "as the smoke of a furnace," and he also passed through the severe trial of sacrificing his son Isaac. At the age of one hundred and seventy-five "the father of the faithful" "gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, * * * and Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah," at Hebron, where Sarah had been laid to rest when the toils and cares of life were over.

From Abraham, through Ishmael, descended the Ishmaelites; through Midian, the Midianites; and through Isaac, the chosen people, called Israelites, from Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. The interesting story of Joseph tells how his father and brothers, with their families, were brought into Egypt at the time of a famine, where they grew from a few families to a great nation, capable of maintaining an army of more than six hundred thousand men. A new king, "who knew not Joseph," came on the throne, and after a period of oppression, the exodus took place, about 1490 B.C., the leader being Moses, a man eighty years of age. At his death, after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Joshua became the leader of Israel, and they crossed the Jordan at Gilgal, a few miles north of the Dead Sea, capturing Jericho in a peculiar manner. Two other incidents in the life of Joshua may be mentioned here. One was his victory over the Amorites in the neighborhood of Gibeon and Beth-horon, where more were slain by the hailstones which Jehovah cast down upon them than were killed by Israel with the sword. It was on this occasion that Joshua said: "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies. * * * And there was no day like that before or after it." The other event is the complete victory of Israel over the immense army of Jabin, king of Hazor, fought at the Waters of Merom, in Galilee. The combined forces of Jabin and several confederate kings, "even as the sand that is upon the sea-shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many," were utterly destroyed. Then came the allotment of the territory west of the Jordan to the nine and a half tribes, as Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh had been assigned land east of the river. The allotment was made by Joshua, Eleazer, the priest, "and the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the children of Israel."

The period of the Judges, extending from Joshua to Saul, over three hundred years, was a time in which Israel was troubled by several heathen tribes, including the Moabites, Ammonites, Midianites, Amalekites, and Canaanites. The most troublesome of all were the Philistines, who "were repulsed by Shamgar and harassed by Samson," but they continued their hostility, capturing the Ark of the Covenant in the days of Eli, and finally bringing Israel so completely under their power that they had to go to the Philistines to sharpen their tools.

The cry was raised: "Make us a king to judge us, like all the nations." Although this was contrary to the will of God, and amounted to rejecting the Lord, the Almighty gave directions for making Saul king, when the rebellious Israelites "refused to hearken to the voice of Samuel," and said: "Nay, but we will have a king over us." Two important events in Saul's reign are the battle of Michmash and the war with Amalek. In the first instance a great host of Philistines were encamped at Michmash, and Saul, with his army, was at Gilgal. Samuel was to come and offer a sacrifice, but did not arrive at the appointed time, and the soldiers deserted, till Saul's force numbered only about six hundred. In his strait, the king offered the burnt offering himself, and immediately Samuel appeared, heard his explanation, and declared: "Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of Jehovah thy God. * * * Now thy kingdom shall not continue." Saul's loyalty to God was again tested in the affair with Amalek, and his disobedience in sparing Agag and the best of the cattle and sheep should be better known and more heeded than it is. Concerning this, the prophet of God chastised him, saying: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king." The dark picture of Saul's doings is here and there relieved by the unadulterated love of Jonathan and David, "which, like the glintings of the diamond in the night," takes away some of the deepest shadows.

The next king, Jesse's ruddy-faced shepherd boy, was anointed by Samuel at Bethlehem, and for seven and a half years he reigned over Judah from his capital at Hebron. Abner made Ish-bosheth, the only surviving son of Saul, king over Israel, "and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David." Abner, who had commanded Saul's army, became offended at the king he had made, and went to Hebron to arrange with David to turn Israel over to him, but Joab treacherously slew him in revenge for the blood of Asahel. It was on this occasion that David uttered the notable words: "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" Afterwards Rechab and Baanah slew Ish-bosheth in his bedchamber and carried his head to David, who was so displeased that he caused them to be killed, and their hands and feet were cut off and hanged up by the pool in Hebron. Then the tribes of Israel came voluntarily and made themselves the subjects of King David, who captured Jebus, better known as Jerusalem, and moved his capital to that city. During his reign the Philistines were again troublesome, and a prolonged war was waged against the Ammonites. During this war David had his record stained by his sinful conduct in the matter of Uriah's wife.

David was a fighting king, and his "reign was a series of trials and triumphs." He not only subdued the Philistines, but conquered Damascus, Moab, Ammon, and Edom, and so extended his territory from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates that it embraced ten times as much as Saul ruled over. But his heart was made sad by the shameful misconduct of Amnon, followed by his death, and by the conspiracy of Absalom, the rebellion following, and the death of this beautiful son. "The story of David's hasty flight from Jerusalem over Olivet and across the Jordan to escape from Absalom is touchingly sad. 'And David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up, and he had his head covered, and went barefoot.' Then what a picture of paternal love, which the basest filial ingratitude could not quench, is that of David mourning the death of Absalom, 'The king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O, my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!'" After finishing out a reign of forty years, "the sweet singer of Israel" "slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David."

His son Solomon succeeded him on the throne, and had a peaceful reign of forty years, during which time the Temple on Mount Moriah was erected, being the greatest work of his reign. David had accumulated much material for this house; Hiram, king of Tyre, furnished cedar timber from the Lebanon mountains, and skilled workmen put up the building, into which the Ark of the Covenant was borne. This famous structure was not remarkable for its great size, but for the splendid manner in which it was adorned with gold and other expensive materials. Israel's wisest monarch was a man of letters, being the author of three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs. His wisdom exceeded that of all his contemporaries, "and all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart." A case in point is the visit of the Queen of Sheba, who said: "The half was not told me; thy wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame which I heard." But the glory of his kingdom did not last long. "It dazzled for a brief space, like the blaze of a meteor, and then vanished away." Nehemiah says there was no king like him, "nevertheless even him did foreign women cause to sin."

Solomon's reign ended about 975 B C., and his son, Rehoboam, was coronated at Shechem. Jereboam, the son of Nebat, whose name is proverbial for wickedness, returned from Egypt, whence he had fled from Solomon, and asked the new king to make the grievous service of his father lighter, promising to support him on that condition. Rehoboam counseled "with the old men, that had stood before Solomon," and refused their words, accepting the counsel of the young men that had grown up with him. When he announced that he would make the yoke of his father heavier, the ten northern tribes revolted, and Jereboam became king of what is afterwards known as the house of Israel. The kingdom lasted about two hundred and fifty years, being ruled over by nineteen kings, but the government did not run smoothly. "Plot after plot was formed, and first one adventurer and then another seized the throne." Besides the internal troubles, there were numerous wars. Benhadad, of Damascus, besieged Samaria; Hazael, king of Syria, overran the land east of the Jordan; Moab rebelled; Pul (Tiglath-pileser), king of Assyria, invaded the country, and carried off a large amount of tribute, probably amounting to two millions of dollars; and thirty years later he entered the land and carried away many captives. At a later date the people became idolatrous, and Shalmaneser, an Assyrian king, reduced them to subjection, and carried numbers of them into Assyria, and replaced them with men from Babylon and other places. By the intermarriage of Jews remaining in the country with these foreigners a mixed race, called Samaritans, sprang up.

The southern section of the country, known as the kingdom of Judah, was ruled over by nineteen kings and one queen for a period of about three hundred and seventy-five years. Asa, one of the good kings, was a religious reformer - even "his mother he removed from being queen, because she had made an abominable image for an Asherah; and Asa cut down her image and burnt it at the brook Kidron." But he, like many other reformers, failed to make his work thorough, for "the high places were not taken away: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect with Jehovah all his days." Joash caused a chest to be placed "at the gate of the house of Jehovah," into which the people put "the tax that Moses, the servant of God, laid upon Israel in the wilderness," until they had gathered an abundance of money, with which the house of God was repaired, for the wicked sons of Athaliah had broken it up and bestowed the dedicated things upon the Baalim. But after the death of Jehoida, the priest, Joash was himself led into idolatry, and when Zechariah, the son of Jehoida, rebuked the people for turning from God, they stoned him to death by the order of King Joash. The last words of the dying martyr were: "The Lord look upon it and require it." This is strangely different from the last expression of Stephen, who "kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Amaziah returned "from the slaughter of the Edomites," and set up the gods of the idolatrous enemies he had whipped, "to be his gods." Ahaz was a wicked idolater, worshiping Baal and sacrificing his own sons.

In strong contrast with such men as these we have the name of Hezekiah, whose prosperous reign was a grand period of reformation and improvement. He was twenty-five years old when he came on the throne, and in the twenty-nine years he ruled, "he removed the high places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the Asherah." The brazen serpent, made by Moses in the wilderness, had become an object of worship, but Hezekiah called it "a piece of brass," and broke it in pieces. The passover had not been kept "in great numbers in such sort as it is written," so Hezekiah sent messengers from city to city to call the people to observe the passover. Some "laughed them to scorn, and mocked them," but others "humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem," and in the second month the "very great assembly * * * killed the passover. * * * So there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there was not the like in Jerusalem."

Manasseh, the next king, reestablished idolatry, and his son Amon, who ruled but two years, followed in his footsteps. Josiah, who next occupied the throne, was a different kind of a man. "He did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left." In his reign, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law in the temple, and delivered it to Shaphan the scribe, who read it, and took it to the king and read it to him. "And it came to pass when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes," and commanded that inquiry be made of the Lord concerning the contents of the book. As a result, the temple was cleansed of the vessels that had been used in Baal worship, the idolatrous priests were put down, the "houses of the sodomites," that were in the house of Jehovah, were broken down, the high places erected by Solomon were defiled, and a great reformation was worked.

Zedekiah was the last king in the line. In his day, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invaded the land, and besieged Jerusalem for sixteen months, reducing the people to such straits that women ate the flesh of their own children. When the city fell, a portion of the inhabitants were carried to Babylon, and the furnishings of the temple were taken away as plunder. Zedekiah, with his family, sought to escape, going out over Olivet as David in his distress had done, but he was captured and carried to Riblah, thirty-five miles north of Baalbec, where his sons were slain in his presence. Then his eyes were put out, and he was carried to Babylon. In this way were fulfilled the two prophecies, that he should be taken to Babylon, and that he should not see it.

Thus, with Jerusalem a mass of desolate, forsaken ruins, the Babylonian period was ushered in. Some of the captives rose to positions of trust in the Babylonian government. Daniel and his three associates are examples. During this period Ezekiel was a prophet. No doubt the frame of mind of most of them is well expressed by the Psalmist: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea we wept when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps."

The Medo-Persian period began with the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, who brought the Jews under his rule. The captives were permitted to return to Palestine, and Zerubbabel soon had the foundations of the temple laid; but here the work came to a standstill, and so remained for seventeen years. About 520 B.C., when Darius was king of Persia, the work was resumed, and carried on to completion. For some years the service of God seems to have been conducted in an unbecoming manner. Nehemiah came upon the stage of action, rebuilt the city walls, required the observance of the Sabbath, and served as governor twelve years without pay. Ezra brought back a large number of the people, repaired the temple, and worked a great reformation. Under his influence, those who had married foreign wives put them away, and "some had wives by whom they had children." As the Samaritans were not allowed to help build the temple, they erected one of their own on Mt Gerizim. A few Samaritans still exist in Nablus, and hold services on Gerizim. "After Nehemiah, the office of civil ruler seems to have become extinct."

The Greek period begins with the operations of Alexander the Great in Asia, 333 B.C., and extends to the time of the Maccabees, 168 B.C. After Alexander's death, his empire fell into the two great divisions of Egypt and Syria. The Egyptian rulers were called Ptolemies, and those of Syria were called the Selucidae. For one hundred and twenty-five years Palestine was held by Egypt, during which time Ptolemy Philadelphus had the Septuagint version of the Old Testament made at Alexandria. Syria next secured control of Palestine. The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed, and the altar of Jehovah was polluted with swine's flesh. We now hear of an aged priest named Mattathias, who at Modin, a few miles from Jerusalem, had the courage to kill a Jew who was about to sacrifice on a heathen altar. He escaped to the mountains, where he was joined by a number of others of the same mind. His death soon came, but he left five stalwart sons like himself. Judas, called Maccabeus, became the leader, and from him the whole family was named the Maccabees. He began war against the Syrians and apostate Jews. The Syrians, numbering fifty thousand, took up a position at Emmaus, while the Maccabees encamped at Mizpah. Although greatly outnumbered, they were victorious, as they were in another engagement with sixty thousand Syrians at Hebron. Judas entered Jerusalem, and repaired and cleansed the temple. Thus the Maccabean period was ushered in. After some further fighting, Judas was slain, and Simon, the only surviving brother, succeeded him, and Jerusalem was practically independent. His son, John Hyrcanus, was the next ruler. The Pharisees and Sadducees now come prominently into Jewish affairs. The Essenes also existed at this time, and dressed in white. After some time (between 65-62 B.C.), Pompey, the Roman general, entered the open gates of the city, but did not capture the citadel for three weeks, finally taking advantage of the day of Pentecost, when the Jews would not fight. The Roman period began with the slaughter of twelve thousand citizens. Priests were slain at the altar, and the temple was profaned. Judaea became a Roman province, and was compelled to pay tribute.

Herod the Great became governor of Galilee, and later the Roman senate made him king of Judaea. He besieged Jerusalem, and took it in 37 B.C. "A singular compound of good and bad - mostly bad - was this King Herod." He hired men to drown a supposed rival, as if in sport, at Jericho on the occasion of a feast, and in the beginning of his reign he slaughtered more than half of the members of the Sanhedrin. The aged high priest Hyrcanus was put to death, as was also Mariamne, the wife of this monster, who was ruling when the Messiah was born at Bethlehem. Herod was a great builder, and it was he who reconstructed the temple on magnificent lines. He also built Caesarea, and rebuilt Samaria. After his death, the country was divided and ruled by his three sons. Achelaus reigned ingloriously in Jerusalem for ten years, and was banished. Judaea was then ruled by procurators, Pilate being the fifth one of them, ruling from A.D. 26-36. In the year A.D. 65 the Jews rebelled against the Romans, after being their subjects for one hundred and twenty-two years. They were not subdued until the terrible destruction of the Holy City in A.D. 70, when, according to Josephus, one million one hundred thousand Jews perished in the siege, two hundred and fifty-six thousand four hundred and fifty were slain elsewhere, and one hundred and one thousand seven hundred prisoners were sold into bondage. The Temple was completely destroyed along with the city, which for sixty years "lay in ruins so complete that it is doubtful whether there was a single house that could be used as a residence." The land was annexed to Syria, and ceased to be a Jewish country. Hadrian became emperor in A.D. 117, and issued an edict forbidding the Jews to practice circumcision, read the law, or to observe the Sabbath. These things greatly distressed the Jews, and in A.D. 132 they rallied to the standard of Bar Cochba, who has been styled "the last and greatest of the false Messiahs." The Romans were overthrown, Bar Cochba proclaimed himself king in Jerusalem, and carried on the war for two years. At one time he held fifty towns, but they were all taken from him, and he was finally killed at Bether, or Bittir. This was the last effort of the Jews to recover the land by force of arms. Hadrian caused the site of the temple to be plowed over, and the city was reconstructed being made thoroughly pagan. For two hundred years the Jews were forbidden to enter it. In A.D. 326 the Empress Helena visited Jerusalem, and built a church on the Mount of Olives. Julian the Apostate undertook to rebuild the Jewish temple in A.D. 362, but was frustrated by "balls of fire" issuing from under the ruins and frightening the workmen. In A.D. 529 the Greek emperor Justinian built a church in the city in honor of the Virgin. The Persians under Chosroes II. invaded Palestine in A.D. 614 and destroyed part of Jerusalem. After fourteen years they were defeated and Jerusalem was restored, but the Mohammedans under Omar captured it in A.D. 637. The structure called the Dome of the Rock, on Mt. Moriah, was built by them in A.D. 688.

The Crusades next engage our attention. The first of these military expeditions was made to secure the right to visit the Holy Sepulcher. It was commenced at the call of the Pope in 1096. A force of two hundred and seventy-five thousand men began the march, but never entered Palestine. Another effort was made by six hundred thousand men, who captured Antioch in 1098. A little later the survivors defeated the Mohammedan army of two hundred thousand. Still later they entered Jerusalem, and Godfrey of Bouillon was made king of the city in 1099. By conquest he came to rule the whole of Palestine. The orders of Knights Hospitallers and Knights Templars were formed, and Godfrey continued in power about fifty years. In 1144 two European armies, aggregating one million two hundred thousand men, started on the second crusade, which was a total failure. Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, conquered Jerusalem in 1187, and the third crusade was inaugurated, which resulted in securing the right to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem free from taxes. The power of the Crusaders was now broken. Another band assembled at Venice in 1203 to undertake the fourth crusade, but they never entered Palestine. The fifth effort was made, and Frederick, Emperor of Germany, crowned himself king of Jerusalem in 1229, and returned to his native land the next year. The Turks conquered Palestine in 1244 and burned Jerusalem. Louis IX. of France led the seventh crusade, another failure, in 1248. He undertook it again in 1270, but went to Africa, and Prince Edward of England entered Palestine in 1271 and accepted a truce for ten years, which was offered by the Sultan of Egypt. This, the eighth and last crusade, ended in 1272 by the return of Edward to England. In 1280 Palestine was invaded by the Mamelukes, and in 1291 the war of the Crusaders ended with the fall of Acre, "the last Christian possession in Palestine." Besides these efforts there were children's crusades for the conversion or conquest of the Moslems. The first, in 1212, was composed of thirty thousand boys. Two ship loads were drowned and the third was sold as slaves to the Mohammedans.

In 1517 the country passed to the control of the Ottoman Empire, and so remained until 1832, when it fell back to Egypt for eight years. The present walls around Jerusalem, which inclose two hundred and ten acres of ground, were built by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1542. In 1840 Palestine again became Turkish territory, and so continues to this day. The really scientific exploration of the land began with the journey of Edward Robinson, an American, in 1838. In 1856 the United States Consulate was established in Jerusalem, and twelve governments are now represented by consulates. Sir Charles Wilson created an interest in the geography of Palestine by his survey of Jerusalem and his travels in the Holy Land from 1864 to 1868. Palestine was surveyed from Dan to Beer-sheba and from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the years from 1872 to 1877. The Siloam inscription, the "only known relic of the writing * * * of Hezekiah's days," was discovered in 1880. The railroad from Jaffa to Jerusalem was opened in 1892. Within the last ten years several carriage roads have been built. Protestant schools and missions have been established at many important places. The population of the city is now about fifty-five thousand souls, but they do not all live inside of the walls. What the future of Palestine may be is an interesting subject for thought.