Syria 500 BCE
The Phoenicians and Israelites have come under the power of a succession of great empires.
What is happening in Syria in 500BCE
For a couple of centuries after 1000 BCE the Phoenician city-states, particularly Tyre and Sidon, flourished as the leading trading powers of the Mediteranean Sea. To the south, the people of Israel inhabited a kingdom which, under kings David (c. 1006-965) and Solomon (c.965-928) became a leading regional power. After Solomon’s death, however, the kingdom divided into two, the southern part centred on Jerusalem, the northern part on Samaria.
In both kingdoms, the Israelites continued to worship their one God, Yawheh, and their faith developed as a succession of prophets taught that it was not just a matter of belief and worship, but of ethical behaviour as well.
From the mid-8th century onwards, the small kingdoms of Syria and Palestine fell one by one under the power of Assyria. The Assyrians destroyed the kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE, many of its people deported to other parts of the empire; and the kingdom of Judah became a vassal state.
With the fall of Assyria in 612 BCE, Syria and Palestine came under Babylonian control. The kingdom of Judah, having unsucessfuly rebelled against Babylon, was destroyed in 586 BCE. Thousands of Jews were sent into exile. Then Syria and Palestine, like most of the Middle East, passed into the hands of the Persians in 539 BCE, who shortly restored the Jewish people to their homeland.