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31 History Facts!

14. Why was ancient Israel renamed Palestine?

Roman legion commander Lucius Flavius Silva (Masada, 1981)


In ancient times, the Israelite kingdom was called Judea. After suppressing the Jewish rebellion in Judea, the Roman Emperor Hadrian decided to punish the Jewish population By: 

  • Exiling the vast majority of Jews to all corners of the empire. 
  • Forbidding the practice of Jewish religious decrees.  
  • Building a pagan city – ‘Aelia Capitolina’ – on the ruins of Jerusalem.
  • And …. renaming ‘Judea’, ‘Palestine’. 

Hadrian’s goal was to obliterate any connection between the Jewish people and the Holy Land.  

He failed. The Jewish connection to the Holy Land did not diminish and they kept it in their hearts, in songs and prayers.  

However, it took 2000 years for the jews to regain independence in the territory Hadrian renamed Palestine, now known as the state of Israel.   

Bonus fact: Hadrien chose to name it ‘Palestine’ in reference to the Philistines, a nation of greek origin who lived in the southern coastal plain of Canaan, between the 12th century BCE and 6 century BCE.   

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