What Was Israel Known as in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, Israel was known by several names. From the biblical era to the Roman period, the region that we know today as Israel has had a rich history and a diverse cultural heritage. Let’s dive into some of the most common names for this land throughout history.

What Was Israel Known as in Ancient Times?


The earliest known name for this land was Canaan, which is mentioned in various ancient texts including the Bible. Canaan was home to many city-states that were ruled by different kings and tribes. The people of Canaan were known for their agriculture, trade, and seafaring skills.


Israel is another ancient name for this land. It comes from the Hebrew word “Yisrael” which means “one who struggles with God”.

According to biblical tradition, Jacob was given this name after wrestling with an angel of God. Later on, Israel became the name of Jacob’s descendants and eventually came to refer to the entire nation.


After King Solomon’s reign ended in 922 BCE, Israel split into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Judah included Jerusalem and became a center of Jewish culture and worship.


During Roman rule in 135 CE, Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and Palestine became an official Roman province. The name Palestine comes from Philistia, which was an ancient enemy of Israel mentioned in the Bible.

  • Fun Fact: The word “Palestine” does not appear in any Jewish or Christian scriptures.

The Holy Land

The term “Holy Land” refers to the spiritual significance that this land holds for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It is considered holy because it is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the site of many important events in each religion’s history.


Throughout history, Israel has been known by several names and has played a significant role in shaping world events. Whether you call it Canaan, Israel, Judah, Palestine or The Holy Land, this region has always been a place of cultural diversity and spiritual significance.