What Was Israel Called in Ancient Times?

Israel is a country with a rich history and culture that dates back thousands of years. It is known for its ancient ruins, religious significance, and political tensions.

But what was Israel called in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

The Land of Canaan

Before the formation of the Israelites, the land now known as Israel was inhabited by various groups of people, including the Canaanites. The name “Canaan” is derived from the Hebrew word “kenan,” which means “to be low” or “to be humbled.” The Canaanites were known for their advanced civilization and were skilled in agriculture, trade, and metalworking.

Israelite Tribes

The Israelites emerged from the region in the early 12th century BCE. They were a group of twelve tribes that settled in the area and established themselves as a distinct culture. The name “Israel” comes from Jacob, who was given this name after he wrestled with an angel according to biblical accounts.

The Kingdom of Israel

After years of wandering in the desert and battling neighboring tribes, the Israelites established a monarchy under King Saul in around 1020 BCE. The kingdom was initially called “Israel,” but it split into two after King Solomon’s death, forming two separate entities: Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom).


Following several wars with neighboring empires such as Babylon and Persia, Judah became an independent state under a Hasmonean dynasty in 140 BCE. During this time, it was referred to as Judea.

Roman Palestine

In 63 BCE, Judea came under Roman rule after being conquered by Pompey. The Romans renamed the region “Palestine,” derived from Philistia, the name of an ancient enemy of the Israelites. This name was used until the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948.


In conclusion, what is now known as Israel has gone by many names throughout history, including Canaan, Israel, Judah, and Palestine. Each name reflects the different cultures and empires that have controlled the region over time. Today, Israel remains a complex and fascinating country with a rich history that continues to shape its identity.