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May 08, 2007

LA Times Slow Learning Curve on 'Palestine'

Again and again the Los Angeles Times has erred -- and corrected -- the nomenclature for the Palestinian areas. The most recent case was Saturday (May 5):

Carter speech: An article in Friday's California section included a subhead saying former President Carter urged students to travel to Palestine. The area referred to is the Palestinian territories.

Kudos to the Times for setting the record; too bad Carter can't take the hint.

Today there is a new twist in the Times' misnaming of the West Bank. An article about an important archeological find, the discovery of King Herod's tomb, states that Herod "expanded theJudean empire from Palestine to parts of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria . . . "

Only King Herod died in 4 BCE and that land did not become known as Palestine until 139 years later, when the Romans defeated the Jews in 135 AD and renamed Judea after the Jews' ancient enemies the Philistines (who are not related to present day Palestinian Arabs.)

Posted by TS at May 8, 2007 04:34 AM


The land was not called Palestine until 137 years after Herod died? A little fact-checking is in order so that the complete story is told.

Around 450 BC Herodotus traveled the region. In his three books about his travels he makes several mentions of the Palestinians as the Palestine Syrians. At least two of his three books are online. They can be found using google as can a listing of the mentions of the Palestinians. Should the region have been given a name it would have been Palestine because of the people who lived there.

This happened later in the Land of the Jews or Judea/Judah.

He makes no mention of anyone who could have been the Jews/Judeans leading to the inevitable conclusion the Judean religion was invented after the time of Herodotus. This would explain why there is no contemporary mention of Biblical Israel or any of the events in it without a great stretch of the imagination and incredible license with translations.

Posted by: Matt Giwer at May 8, 2007 07:40 PM

No Matt, they are correct.

Herod would not have called the land over which he ruled 'Palestine'. Citing Herodotus does not disprove this since the Philistines, a rival kingdom, would have their own name for the land. The Philistines were not a semitic peoples. They invaded southern Cannan and were possibly from Greece. They definately were not arabs.

The Roman Empire conquered the area in 63 BCE but it wasn't until a jewish revold led by Bar Kokhbah between 132-135 BCE that the name of the region was changed to Palaestina after regional rivals of the Jews.

So .. the entire region was not known as Palestine prior to Roman Rule. I'm sure the Philistines called their land, when they held it, Palestine' just as the Jews called the lands 'Cannan' when they held them. The region, however, never went under the collective name 'Palestine'.

And there is no need to reference the bible to prove the Jews held sway in that are for a long time - the Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian records do that for us.

Posted by: Dan Irving at May 9, 2007 11:03 AM

These questions about Israel's name in ancient times are cleared up by this article:

Posted by: Eliyahu [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 9, 2007 05:51 PM

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