Sand and Sin: More Research on the History of Jerusalem

wall-796434_1280As I continue to read and explore, the picture I have of Jerusalem becomes clearer and clearer. The state that Jerusalem is in now, and has gone through in the past, is a fulfilment of the curses Moses warned the people of Isra’el about the consequences of breaking their Covenant with God in Deuteronomy 28. The destruction of the land is the result of the people turning away from God time and time and time again. Sadly, the land of milk and honey doesn’t appear fit to hold that title.

Robert Mock has written a very long article about the history of Israel on the blog, Destination Yisra’el which gave me further information on why the area is so desolate in our era. I have only copied the relevant parts here. All the work belongs to David and you are encouraged to read the full article here. The text is fully his and his blog states that it’s use of other’s content comes under Fair Use.

Please connect this article with these related posts:


The modern depiction of a barren wasteland surrounding Jerusalem came when the Roman forces under Titus, now the victors with Jerusalem destroyed and the magnificent Temple of King Herod disassembled the block by block down to bedrock. After that, the Romans cut down every tree within twenty miles of Jerusalem in 71 CE, to make a wooden palisade around the city walls. Then the land was salted to prevent any forest from growing back from native seeds in the region.

Some of these trees, including the immense forests of cedars, some over 1000 years old which the Jews had planted and nurtured through all the centuries were wasted in order to prevent any Jews, upon the pain of death, to return to the land of their forefathers for now they were permanently exiled from Jerusalem, the capital of their former homeland.

Yet the trees and the lush terrain again return to G-d’s Zion, only to again be denuded by the Ottoman Empire who ruled the entire Middle East for eight Jubilees from the years of 1517 to 1917, when the British forces under the command of General Allenby took control of the city of Jerusalem and the Ottoman Empire within six months was history.

During the 400 years under the harsh rule of the Ottoman Turks, the land of Roman Palestine, dedicated by the League of Nations in its entirety to be the new homeland for the Jewish people, was only populated sparsely by the Arabs and the Bedouins nomads. By the 17th century the land now owned by absentee owners was now being leased out to tenant farmers impoverished by their harsh Ottoman overlords.

flag-408317_1280The region was poorly cultivated and the tenants allowed the expanse of forest lands to become denuded and transformed back into eroding hills, sandy deserts, and malarial infested marshland. The ancient terraces and irrigation systems were abandoned as the remaining towns and villages were progressively abandoned. The remainder of the agricultural land became like the remaining forests, destroyed by the crippling taxation of the Ottomans, so the remaining Arabs living in the region cut down the forests to pay the taxes in order to fuel the wood burning steam engines that carried goods for the Turkish Empire from Istanbul to Beirut, over to Damascus and then down to Cairo. The glorious city of Jerusalem, once the capital of the greatest empire in the world lay abandoned almost disappearing from the world populations except from the hearts of the Jews who daily prayed; “someday in Jerusalem.”

The wasting fauna and the trees now stripped down made this region a virtual wasteland by the 18th century. The great forests that surrounded the Sea of Galilee and ranged over to the mountainous region in Carmel were stripped to the ground. The desert and the swamps encroached upon the disappearing farms and terraced orchard vineyards and groves when in the year of 1967, Mark Twain visited Palestine and there he described this region the following: Mark Twain – “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeks – a silent mournful expanse…We never saw a human being on the whole route…There hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”


Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.