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A Brief History of the Children of Israel

A work in progress...

Michael Geelan

on 4 October 2016

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Transcript of A Brief History of the Children of Israel

A Brief History of the Children of Israel
The Hebrew Ancestors
Although the Jewish faith has a rich tradition about their origins, little of this material can be supported by archaeology or ancient histories.
The first point at which we actually have sufficient historical evidence of the people of Israel dates to the 12th Century B.C.E.
Note: Given the nature of the Prezi format, it is impossible to plot the points on this timeline according to a precise mathematical scale.
ca. 9000 B.C.E
A settlement in Jericho was established
The region was filled with similar types of people, and these various "nations" would come and go.
Had the ancient ancestors of the children of Israel remained mere shepherds, they too would have eventually died out.
ca. 1850 B.C.E
ca. 1600 B.C.E
Descent of Jacob's family into Egypt
The myths of Abraham's family culminate in the story of "Israel" (Jacob).
ca. 1270 B.C.E
The Exodus under Moses
Although the Exodus material is at the heart of the Jewish experience, the stories themselves are not quite history.
Under the leadership of the Pharaoh Ahmose (1552-1527), there was an Egyptian revival and the
were expelled from Egypt, resulting in the loss of status for all who were not pure blood Egyptian.
ca. 1270-
1230 B.C.E
The Wilderness Journey
The stories relating the the wanderings of the Hebrews under Moses' leadership make up the largest chunk of material in the Torah:
ca. 1230 -
1020 B.C.E
Israel enters Canaan
The Books of Joshua, Judges Ruth, and the first 8 chapters of I Samuel are set during this time period.
Exodus 19:1—40:38: Arrival at Sinai and the establishment of Mosaic covenant (and reestablishment after )
The biblical texts describe Joshua and the tribes of Israel taking control of Canaan by conquering its principal cities in a relentless display of force.
However, clues within the text as well as corroborating archaeological evidence suggest that Israelite settlement in Canaan took place through a gradual process of social transformation which included both assimilation and isolated military conquest.
During this period, the Israelites organized themselves into a confederation of tribes without one primary head or central authority.
An Egytptian stela dating ca. 1213 B.C.E. provides the earliest extrabiblical evidence of Israelites living in the Land of Canaan.
Actual "History"
ca. 1020 -
922 B.C.E
The United Monarchy
The Books of Samuel and 1 Chronicles describe how the people of Israel transition from a tribal confederation to a monarchy, first under King
(ca. 1020-1000), then under King
(ca. 1000-961).
ca. 922 -
721 B.C.E
The Divided Monarchy
The history of this era is recorded in the Books of Kings and 2 Chronicles.
1 Kings and 2 Chronicles detail the reign of David's son Solomon (ca. 961-922).
Solomon did not die beloved by all the people. His concern for status abroad alienated him from the common folk who served in forced labor crews to complete his ambitious building projects (2 Kings 3:27).
Even before Solomon's death, Jeroboam, a crew foreman, was marshaling the support of his laborers from the northern tribes for a revolt (1 Kings 11:26-40).
When Solomon's son and heir, Rehoboam, offered no promise of lifting the burdern of oppression that his father had imposed, the northern ten tribes united under Jeroboam's leadership and declared their independence from Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:1-25).
The entire Book of
Leviticus (1:1—27:34): The Hebrews sojourn at Sinai while YHWH speaks to Moses (sometimes both Moses & Aaron).
Exodus 19:1—40:38: Arrival at Sinai and the establishment of Mosaic covenant (and reestablishment after ).
The entire Book of Numbers (1:1—36:13): The journey from Sinai to the plains of Moab.
The entire Book of Deuteronomy (1:1—34:12): Prior to dying, Moses renews the covenant at Horeb ( 's term for Sinai) with Joshua's generation on the plains of Moab before entering the Promised Land.
In times of crisis, a leader or "
" emerged from a particular tribe to guide Israel through the emergency.
The last Judge was
(ca. 1030 B.C.E.), and he provides the bridge between the period of the judges and the dawn of the monarchy.
Although Saul

was the first king, he was more like a glorified judge. His influence was limited to the tribes in the central highlands and his kingdom was not recognized by the peoples beyond the Jordan.
David was the first real king in the strict sense of the term in that he united the tribes, established a capital city with a central administration, and other peoples recognized his territory as the "kingdom" of Israel.
The majority of the authors of the Hebrew Bible consider the reign of David to be high point in Israelite history.
's reign, the nation of Israel reached its zenith of power, wealth, culture, and influence. It was during his reign the the first Jewish Temple was built in Jerusalem (ca. 950).
Monarchical excesses led to tensions between the resource-rich northern tribes and Solomon's government located in the south. These tensions would lead to the dissolution of the United Monarchy upon Solomon's death.
It is also during this era that the
of Israel emerge as advisers to the kings.
Written Material
Cultural activity flourished in Jerusalem during the reign of Solomon. Prophets, writers, and archivists composed various forms of literature that find their way into the Hebrew Bible.
During this time, scribes put into writing oral traditions about Abraham and Jacob. They collected narrative and legal traditions that centered on Moses. The authors of the various sources of that would be edited into the Torah would make use of this material in the composition of their texts.
The priests at the Temple in Jerusalem established laws governing the annual celebration of festivals, the sacrificial rituals, and the tithes to support the Temple personnel. This material is later incorporated into the Torah.
Storytellers and scribes supported the inauguration of kingship by describing its genesis in the traditions of Samuel, Saul, and David.
Solomon transformed Jerusalem into a cosmopolitan center. He may have instituted an academy for training diplomats. A testament to his patronage of sages is the earliest collection in the Book of Proverbs (10:1—22:16).
Priests and Levites composed psalms for Temple ceremonies and claimed David as their patron.
It is possible that some of the lyrics found in the Song of Songs date to this era.
The era ends when the Neo-Assyrian Empire under the leadership of Shalmaneser V and then Sargon II invades the Northern Kingdom of Israel and utterly annihilates it.
The ten northern tribes called themselves "Israel" while the two southern tribes were known as "Judah."
Jeroboam established his capital first at Shechem and later at Tirzah. Around 880 B.C.E., Omri made
the royal city (1 Kings 16:23-28).
The dynasty that began with David, then Solomon, then Rehoboam remained intact throughout the duration of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and even into the Babylonian Exile. The Jerusalem temple still served as the primary site for religious observance.
The Assyrian conquerors were brutal. Much of the Israelite population was slaughtered while members of Israel's aristocracy were humiliated by being paraded around on leashes hooked through their mouths.
Due to the vast array of political intrigue during this era, this was a prolific literary period. Two major types of compositions emerge:
ca. 721 -
587 B.C.E.
The Kingdom of Judah
ca. 587 -
538 B.C.E
The Babylonian Exile
The Davidic line of kings effectively ended with the death of Jehoiachin in exile some time after his release from prison between 562 and 560 (2 Kings 25:27-30).
ca. 538 -
332 B.C.E
Reconstruction in Judea and the Persian Era
ca. 332-63 B.C.E
The Hellenistic Era
The vast Persian Empire finally had to give way to the Greek armies of Alexander the Great, who conquered the eastern Mediterranean in 332 and the whole ancient Near East by 326 B.C.E.
During his lifetime, Alexander overwhelmed the world with his armies, and, after his death, with his language and culture (
By this point, more Jews lived outside of Palestine than within. As a consequence, the first language of most Jews from this point on was Greek.
63 B.C.E -
70 C.E
The Roman Period
70 - 353 C.E.
Prior to the fall of Jerusalem, those books that the Jews considered "scripture" were stored in the Temple. Based on the evidence, these books numbered either 22 or 24 (though the difference in numbering may not have meant a difference in content).
When the Temple was destroyed, a new method was needed to distinguish between "scripture" and "non-scripture (or "canonical" and "noncanonical").
By around 200 C.E., there is an official listing of 24 sacred books within Rabbinic literature. This is known as the
(the Hebrew Bible).
The Growth of the Diaspora and Rabbinical Judaism

The Romans allowed the high priest to remain in office, using him as an administrative liaison with the local Jewish leadership, but there was no doubt who controlled the land.
While the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained.
However, it was literally surrounded by hostile forces.
This, along with the beginning of the reign of the religiously devout King Hezekiah, spurred the people to embark on a series of reforms.
The idea was to bring Judah into compliance with their covenant with YHWH.
The arrival of refugees from the north would have brought a new seriousness to the peoples of Judah.
It was thought that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had so grievously offended the covenant, YHWH used the Assyrians to punish them. If Judah wanted to avoid the same fate, it needed to be in complete compliance with the covenant.
The new commitment to the faith seemed to pay off, for when the Assyrian troops of Sennacherib (704-681) were at the gates of Jerusalem after ravaging cities throughout Judah in 701, he inexplicably withdrew his forces allowing the city to stay in Hezekiah's command.
Unfortunately, Hezekiah's successor, Manasseh, abolished the reforms of his father and practically surrendered the heritage of Judah to the Assyrians. Many priests and prophets faithful to YHWH lost their life during his reign.
Judah survived despite Manasseh, but the religion of YHWH was decimated.
But now there was a new Empire...
Unfortunately for Judah, Josiah was killed in a battle against Egyptian forces.
Fortunately Manasseh's grandson, Josiah, ascended to the throne in 640 and by 629 embarked on an epic religious reform movement even greater than that of Hezekiah.
It was during this reform that the once mighty Assyrian Empire collapsed after its military defeat to the Babylonians in 612.
The Egyptians were the main rival to the Babylonians, and so they took control of Judah and made sure that Josiah's successor would be loyal to the Egyptians. This king's name was Jehoiakim (609-598).
Eventually the Egyptians were forced to relinquish control of their territories (Judah included) when the Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar II (634 – 562) defeated them in 605.
In 600, Egyptians were successfully able to defend the country of Egypt from Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim took this as a sign of weakness, and rebelled against the Babylonians.
This was a bad idea...
Nebuchadnezzar responded by sending troops of mixed nationalities against Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died (perhaps violently) at the end of 598.
Jehoiakim's eighteen year old son, Jehoiachin (598-597), succeeded him to the throne, but reigned only three months before Nebuchadnezzar's own forces invaded Jerusalem in 597 and deported the king, along with thousands of the leading citizens, to exile in Babylon.
The Babylonians sanctioned the passing of the crown to Jehoiachin's uncle Zedekiah (the third son of Josiah). Being only 21 years old, Zedekiah lacked the experience and sober judgment required to stabilize life in Judah.
Zedekiah was too easily swayed by public opinion, he never formulated a policy for governing that was his own.
The popular opinion of the day was that YHWH would soon defeat the Babylonians. Just like when the Assyrians failed to ultimately conquer Judah in 701, it was popularly thought that the kingdom would also stand against the Babylonians. Zedekiah was swayed by this line of thinking.
This was a bad idea....
In 588, Nebuchadnezzar's army arrived at the gates of Jerusalem and set up siege works around the city walls to hedge in the population.
In 587, the Babylonians broke through the walls and burned down the Jewish Temple.
Zedekiah was captured and delivered to Nebuchadnezzar.
An additional 20,000 people were taken into exile.
In 582, the Babylonians swept through Judah for a third time and deported the remaining people into exile.
Written Material
As was the case in the previous era, this was a time when prophetic literature flourished. The sources of the Torah continued to develop as well.
Whether that counsel was accepted depended on the kings and citizens of the era. For the most part, the prophets were rejected.
The "Jews" in Babylon had to determine how their faith in YHWH could survive without a king, a land, or the Temple.
This era marks a religious and cultural turning point for the descendants of the people of Israel. Without a king, it fell to the prophets, priests, and scribes to counsel and lead the exiles who found themselves in an entirely new reality.
In the absence of the Temple, religious observance turned increasingly toward the oral and written traditions of the patriarchs, the Mosaic covenant, and the prophets. Priests prophets and scribes rethought these traditions as they tried to make sense of the fact that they had been expelled from the land that YHWH had promised them.
The Exile is considered the transitional point from the era of ancient Israel, to the beginning of early Judaism.
Living in Exile also brought "the Jews" into contact with new religions. One of these religions -
- had an influence on how authors of "exilic" (period during the Babylonian Exile) and post-exilic (period after the Babylonian Exile) understood God, the cosmos, and the ultimate destiny of humanity.
The Babylonians designate the region of the former Southern Kingdom "Yehud" (province of Judah). Former exiles are referred to as the
(where we get the English word "
" ).
Written Material:
The role of prophecy shifted during this era. Prophets during the era of the monarchy often spoke to kings, warning them of impending doom if they led the people astray from the covenant.
Since the "impending doom" was now a reality with the destruction of the monarchy, prophets of this era generally spoke words of hope, comfort and consolation.
A relatively small group of hardy exiled Jews return to the site of the former Kingdom of Judah (now the Persian province of Judea) under the leadership of Zerubbabel (the governor) and Joshua (the priest).
Through the persistent encouragement from the post-exilic prophets, the people rebuilt and rededicated the Temple in 515 B.C.E.
The Persian Empire was distinguished by its respect for local religious and cultural traditions.
The returning Jews exhibited initial enthusiasm to resettle the land and rebuild the city, but tensions eventually arose within the community, especially between families who had remained in the land and those who returned from exile (the "
Ezra, the priest and scribe whom Babylon sent to Jerusalem, gave post-exilic Judaism a definitive shape when he carried out his reforms in 458 B.C.E.
The names of the tribes are
; their relationship to one another is personified in the stories of the children (and grandchildren) of Father "Israel" (Jacob).
Because much of the material is mythic, it is difficult to separate what is pure history.
Two names: "
" ("high father") and "
" ("father of multitudes"). Abraham is considered the first
of the Jewish faith.
Although the stories of Abraham are clearly mythic, his description is consistent with the archaeological evidence of seminomadic herdsmen living in the Fertile Crescent in the mid-19th Century B.C.E.
The myths of Israel (Jacob) reveal that he is a complex character. He is at times compassionate, at times michevious, and at times rebellious.
The "children of Israel"
become the
ancestors of the tribal peoples that will come together to form the nation of Israel.
Whatever the Exodus event actually was, the following historical observations can be made:
Scholars typically situate the Exodus event about 250 years later, either late in the reign of Seti I (1294-1279)
or early in the reign of his son Rameses II (1279-1212).
The Torah describes the "
" buildings at "Rameses," the city in the northeast that the pharaoh historically made into his capital (Exodus 1:11).
There appears to be at least a loose connection between the word "Hebrew" and "
" does not refer to an ethnic group, though many Semitic peoples were involved.
The "
" refers to a social stratum of peoples who lacked citizenship in established nations of the Near East. They were "wanderers" or "outsiders" who lived a rootless existence on the fringes of society.
Various groups of
formed guerrilla bands that attacked caravans or raided villages, hired themselves out as mercenary soldiers, and sometimes were forced into slave labor on building projects.
The name "
" is actually Egyptian (not Hebrew). It means "son" or "son of." So:
Ahmose = "son of Ah" (a moon god)
Rameses = "son of Ra" (a sun god)
Some scholars suggest that the historical Moses was of Egyptian origin who came to lead a small band of
out of Egyptian slavery. Through the process of oral tradition, the story takes on legendary overtones in the Israelite tradition and eventually comes to be the defining moment for all of Israel.
Within the Biblical tradition, "prophecy" refers to the discernment of God's action and the communication of God's purposes at a specific point in history.
A prophet is a man or woman called by God, and ultimately recognized by the people, to announce God's word to his or her generation.
The Bible describes prophecy as an intensely personal event that begins in God and shapes the prophet's life into a foreshadowing of how the prophetic word will transform the community.
Prophecy is viewed as both a grace and a ministry.
The era of the prophets in ancient Israel and post-exilic Judah extended at least from the time of Samuel (ca. 1030) to the advent of Alexander the Great (332). Thus, there is a great diversity of form and content found in the prophetic literature.
Written Material:
Because Jerobaom was not from the royal household, there was never a Davidic lineage of kings in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
In fact, there was really no lineage of any kind that lasted more than four generations. Insurrection and revolution were the order of the day as rulers from NINE different families seized the throne at one time or another over the course of two centuries.
In order to solidify and legitimize their right to rule a new kingdom of Israel, the northern kings established new religious festivals and constructed sanctuaries.
- the literary prophets
- the written source material for the Torah.
While the Literary Prophets dealt with contemporary issues of the day, the sources dealt with the history of Israel. HOWEVER, BOTH sets of authors were contemporaries of each other and were affected and shaped by the same events.
The political intrigue that dominates this era necessitated sound prophetic counsel.
It was during this era that the majority of the written material that would become the Hebrew Bible emerged.
By 250 B.C.E., the city of Alexandria was a center of Judaism where scribes began translating religious texts into Greek. The finished product came to be known as the
Septuagint (LXX).
At his death, Alexander's empire was divided between the Ptolomies and the Seleucids, two dynasties that ruled from Egypt and Syria respectively.
The region of Palestine eventually came under the jurisdiction of the Seleucids.
Seleucid oppression of the Jews reached a climax under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.E.) and provoked the
Maccabean Revolt
Within Judaism, a group known as the "
" ("pious ones") distinguished themselves as nonconformists in the world because of their strict adherence to the Torah. The were the leaders of the Maccabean revolt.
Although the revolt was successful in driving out the Seleucids, not every Jew was happy with the new leadership (especially after the first generation). New traditions emerged which gave rise to the
Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes
The descendants of the Hasideans, (the Hasmoneans) ruled Judah as an autonomous state for about eighty years, until 63 B.C.E., when the Roman general Pompey conquered it.
In 40 B.C.E., Rome appointed a king to rule the Jews of Palestine. He was known as Herod the Great.
Known for his ruthlessness but also for his magnificent building projects.
Despised by his subjects.
After Herod's death in 4 B.C.E., the leadership of Judea was divided among his three sons:
Archelaus received the lion's share - Idumaea (Judea and Samaria). He also recieved the title "Ethnarch" ("ruler of the people." No Jewish rulers would ever be called "king" again)
Herod Antipas became "Tetrarch" of Galilee (region directly north of Idumaea region) and Perea (region east of Idumaea).
Philip became Tetrarch of the region northeast of Galilee ( Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and "the House of Zenodorus."
This arrangement did not last long, in 6 C.E., the Romans grew dissatisfied with Archelaus and had him deposed.
Idumaea would now be governed by a Roman official known as a "
The era was marked by considerable political unrest. Eventually, a group of
Zealots led a revolt

against Rome
in 66 C.E., which culminated in the
destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E.
Our goal is to take a broad look at history of the people - which includes their myths - so that we can understand how they view what is of ultimate relevance.
What we can say with relative certainty was that the ancestors of the children of Israel were a loose connection of nomadic tribes - most likely shepherds.
But this motley crew were the bearers of a radical new concept:
Ethical Monotheism
- is a form of exclusive monotheism in which God is the source for one standard of morality, who guides humanity through ethical principles.
The myths found in the
speak of the unique relationship between the deity and the ancestors of the children of Israel.
The Hebrew song of Victory over the Egyptians (Exodus 15:21 and 15: 1-16).
1096 -
1204 C.E
The Medieval Period
In 1096, Western Christians embark on the 1st Crusade. The idea was to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. Unfortunately, the ideology often shifted against anyone who was not Western Christian. There was massive anti-Jewish violence in France and Germany. 1000s of Jews are murdered.
In 1138
Moses Maimonides
was born. He will become the most famous Jewish rabbi of the common era.
Written Material:
5 Books
8 Books
11 Books
Total: 24 Books
Prayer services begin to evolve into the
structure in use today. Rabbi Joseph ben Gamla, the High Priest of the Second Temple, arranges for towns living in the Diaspora to have their own teachers.
Around 130 C.E., another Jewish rebellion against the Romans commenced. The end result was the
renaming of the Roman province "Judea" to "Palestine"
and the permanent expulsion of all Jews from it.
Emphasis shifted more than ever to the written word as the ultimate
expression of Jewish identity. Schools are established for children to learn both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The
begin writing the Oral Torah down. Final product known as the
After Emperor Constantine made Christianity the preferred religion of the empire, Judaism becomes further marginalized. In 353, any non-Jew who converted to Judaism would have to forfeit all their goods to the State.
In 1190, Jews are massacred in England
In 1400, the first known examples of
bar mitzvahs
In 1492, Jews expelled from Spain. In 1497, they are expelled from Portugal. This will become an ongoing trend.
1600 -
1948 C.E.
The various
continued against the Jews with increasing regularity. In 1648, 100,000 Jews are massacred in Ukraine, Poland. Thousands more lose their lives during the Russo-Swedish War of 1655.
Things appeared to change for the Jews during the Enlightenment. There were a series of countries that granted Jews full legal equality: the U.S.A. (1789), France (1791), Netherlands (1796), Canada (1832), Great Britain (1856), Germany (1871), Switzerland (1874), Bulgaria (1878), Serbia (1878), the Ottoman Empire (1908), Spain (1910), and Russia (1917).
However, anti-Semitism continued to rage on. The birth of the Nazi Party in Germany capitalized on general anti-Semitic feelings withing the German population. Hitler's "
Final Solution
" begins in earnest in 1942.
Growing Anti-Semitism and Hitler's "Final Solution"

Sectarian forms of Judaism begin to emerge from within traditional Judaism (R
eform, Hascidic ,Reconstructionist
, etc.)
After World War II, the
Zionist movement
gains popular support. This eventually leads to the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Jews from all over the world are invited to return to the "Promised Land."
1948 - Present
The Present Reality
Although remarkable progress has been made, there is still considerable anti-Semitism throughout the world.
Within Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, there has been more of shift away from traditional patriarchal norms. Both groups appoint female rabbis in the early 1970s.
Reform Judaism recognizes the children born to a Jewish male and a non-Jewish female to be Jewish if they are being raised as such.
In 1972,
Beit Chayim Chadashim
becomes the first gay and lesbian synagogue.
(Like the play The Crucible - which dealt with the Salem Witch trials of 1692-1693 - was really a commentary on McCarthyism and the Red Scare of the 1950s).
This term is defined in a variety of ways.
In the narrowest sense, it refers to the first five books of the Bible.
In a broader sense, it refers to all Jewish law and tradition.
According to observant Jews, it was given to Moses in written form with oral commentary.
It is often literally translated as "the Law" but is better translated as "the Teaching."
An eponym is a person, place, or thing for whom or for which something is named, or believed to be named.
An eponym can be a historical person, place or thing, or it can be mythical or legendary.
Thus, this term refers to the inhabitants of the historical tribal territories of the region of Israel.
The names of are derived from the biblical children of Jacob ("Israel").
These were people of mixed origins from Western Asia, who settled in the eastern Nile Delta, some time before 1650 B.C.E.
The name literally means "rulers of foreign lands."
They would have been sympathetic to the "children of Israel."
These were military leaders who also presided over legal hearings.

With no central government, the Israelite tribes were led by these ad hoc chieftains during times of crisis.
These were the descendents of citizens of the Northern Kingdom that had survived its destruction, but have now interbred with outsiders over the past 200-plus years.
The result was a collection of people that were very similar to the returning Jews in terms of some beliefs and rituals, but had evolved in a completely different way, which consequently led to crucial differences between the two groups.
This is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into the Greek language.
The festival of Hanukkah celebrated the liberation of the Jews from the Selucids by the Hasideans.
Depending on the time, they were a political party, a social movement, and/or a school of thought in Israel.
They insisted on the strict observance of Jewish law, which they began to codify.
They stressed faith in the one God; the divine revelation of the law both written and oral handed down by Moses through Joshua, the elders, and the prophets to the Pharisees; and eternal life and resurrection for those who keep the law.
They developed the synagogue as an alternative place of worship to the Temple, with a liturgy consisting of biblical and prophetic readings, and the repetition of the
, the basic creed of Judaism.
After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, they were the only Jewish group to continue.
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