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9 Eras in Israel's History
Transcript of 9 Eras in Israel's History
Era 2 - Patriarchs
Era 3 - Exodus
The Israelites then travel to Mt. Sinai, where Yahweh makes a covenant with the Israelites. He is to be their God, and He alone. The laws and regulations for their society and religious practices are spelled out in the Book of the Covenant and most of the Pentateuch. The Israelites then build the tabernacle, which is the center of worship and the dwelling place of Yahweh himself.
Era 4 - Conquest
Dates: 1406–1375 BC
Era 5 - Judges
Dates: 1375–1050 BC
9 Eras in Israel's History
Why study the Nine Eras of Israelite’s history?
The ultimate purpose of studying Israelite’s history is to comprehend scriptural context, interpret God’s messages to us, and to apply those principles to our lives. Remember, covenant history is not a history book! Rather, it is history with a purpose—to inform about our God and what he wants us to do.
The Nine Eras of Israelite’s history spans from the Creation to the last Old Testament events. The dates covered range from creation, (conservatively dated at around 4000 BC, but there is some flex in that date) up to their rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem around 500 BC. The eras are divided into small units of Israel’s history, not based on length of time but by the general events and themes of that era. Where the period of the Judges is almost 400 years, the Exodus is only 40 years. What is expected of you is a general familiarity with the flow of Israel’s history, some knowledge of dates, and an ability to briefly explain each era and the major events that characterized that time period. You should be able to explain the transition from one era to the next.
Dates for the Creation are not concrete; however, possible dates of the Creation include the following:
~5504 BC Traditional Eastern Orthodox date for creation
~3760 BC Traditional date for creation according to the Jewish Calendar
~10,000 BC Taking archeology and its findings into account.
Cain and Abel
Tower of Babel
Major events during and shortly after the Creation include the following:
During the Creation era, which is sometimes called early history, God created the earth, animals, and mankind out of nothing. What he created was perfect, but this perfection was shattered when Adam and Eve ushered sin into the world through disobedience to God. This event is known as the Fall. The remaining events all highlight the role of sin in the world and its consequences in a series of sin-judgment-grace cycles. Cain and Abel are the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain becomes jealous at God’s favoring of Abel’s sacrifice and then kills him. He is banished by God, but still given his protection in the form of a mark. The flood account is prompted by the profound wickedness of mankind and God’s sorrow in creating man. God destroys all mankind with a great flood, but spares one Noah and his family as well as all animal species on the ark. He also makes a covenant with Noah and promises never to destroy the world by flood again. Finally in the Tower of Babel account we see the final event in the creation era of the Old Testament. Men brazenly attempt to build a tower to reach God. God, noting what bad things can be accomplished when wicked men work together, scatters mankind across the globe and causes them to speak different languages to hinder their cooperation in wicked things.
Patriarchs means “father leader.”
The era of the patriarchs centers on the background for the establishment of Israel through the line of Abraham.
The focus in this era is the continuation of the promise that Yahweh made with Abraham in the form of land and ancestors. This promise is both a great hope and a point of conflict as the usual methods of passing down blessings are upset by God’s unusual plan for the establishment of his people. Part of that plan includes working through sinful people, and so the patriarchal narratives are fraught with their shortcomings. Major Biblical patriarchs include, but are not limited to, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Abraham lived around 2166–1991 BC. Abraham was not from Canaan, but lived in Ur, near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Yahweh called to Abraham and made a covenant with him to be his God and to provide land and ancestors. Though old and sonless, Yahweh fulfilled his promise by granting Abraham a son,
Jacob lived around 2006–1859 BC. Jacob was the twin brother of Esau, and the younger son of Isaac. Typically the older son would receive the blessing of the father, which in this case is especially important because of the connection to Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham. But Jacob tricks his father and receives the blessing through deceit. He flees from Canaan to northern Mesopotamia and is fooled into marrying both Rachel and Leah. Jacob returns to Canaan and wrestles with God himself one night beside the Jabbok River. His name is changed from Jacob, which means “deceiver” to Israel, which means “contends with God.” His two wives, along with their maidservants, bear twelve sons, who later become the twelve tribes of Israel with some modifications for Joseph and Levi).
Joseph lived around 1915–1805 BC. He was the oldest son of Jacob through Rachel, and his favorite son. Joseph had ten sons older than Joseph, but none of them came from Rachel, the wife whom he loved. Joseph’s good standing with his father causes resentment from the other, elder sons who sell him to a caravan bound for Egypt. Yahweh provides for Joseph in his times of need and struggle, eventually Joseph becomes the second person in Egypt with only pharaoh above him. His wisdom in storing grain for the seven years of famine allows Egypt and the entire region to survive. His own family travels from Canaan to find grain. Joseph eventually reveals who he is to his brothers and moves his entire family to Egypt. This story explains how the line of Abraham ended up in Egypt and sets the background for the Exodus.
The Exodus picks up the story of the Israelites (who are descendants of Israel) in the land of Egypt some 400 years after Joseph lived on earth.
The Israelites, here known as Hebrews, have become numerous and Josephs saving of Egypt is forgotten by a new pharaoh. This pharaoh enslaves the Hebrews and treats them brutally. Moses is called by Yahweh to lead the people out of Egypt. It takes ten plagues, including the death of every firstborn son in Egypt, to convince the pharaoh to let the people go. Yahweh then wipes out the pharaoh’s army, which quickly pursued the fleeing Israelites. This deliverance is the foundation for the relationship between the Israelites and Yahweh.
But upon reaching the Promised Land, the faith of the Israelites falters and they demand a new leader to lead them back to Egypt. This disobedience is met with 40 years of wandering as a consequence, until the current generation of Israelites dies off. The promise of land to Abraham’s descendants is not in danger because their children will enter the Promised Land.
Dates: 1846–1406 BC
The conquest does not belong to the military power of the Israelites, but to the gracious might of Yahweh whose power goes before them and gives them all of their victories. Each tribe is allotted segments of the Promised Land and begins to settle down. But the conquest of Canaan is not completed by the Israelites. Joshua dies and, in his final speech, warns the Israelites not to forsake Yahweh.
The promise made to Abraham of a land for his descendants is fulfilled. Under the leadership of Joshua, both military and spiritual, the Israelites conquer the promised land of Canaan.
But the Israelites never completely drive out the Canaanites and are plagued by their armies and foreign Gods for the rest of their existence.
During the time period of the Judges, the Israelites have no king but are led by judges who are called by Yahweh when the need arises.
The time period of the Judges is presented as a downward spiral of apostasy, foreign chastisement, outcry, and deliverance. The Israelites commit serious idolatry, not heading Joshua’s plea to remain faithful. This is a very dark time for the Israelites; they are constantly attacked by foreign powers and do not operate as a nation, but instead they work as a conglomerate of disparate tribes.
They finally have enough of foreign powers’ conquests and demand a king be anointed by Samuel, the last judge. The people want to be like other nations and have a king who is a military leader. This is a wholesale rejection of Yahweh as their ruler, because until now He was their king. But Yahweh grants the people their request and Samuel anoints Saul as the first king of Isreal in 1050 BC.
Era 6 - Monarchy
The time period of the monarchy is a bright spot in the history of Israel.
Under King Saul, David, and Solomon, the Israelites manage to become a world power for the first time.
But everything is not perfect during the time of the Monarchs. Saul consults a witch, David commits adultery and murder, and Solomon has over 1000 wives and concubines. Idolatry continues to be a problem for Israel, although David’s reign seems to escape the trouble. The major event in the time of the Monarchs is Yaweh’s promise of an eternal king in the bloodline of David. This anointed one, or messiah, will rule Israel forever. This promise shadows the rest of Israel’s history as their one hope in the midst of their downhill slide.
David expands Israel’s territory all the way to the Euphrates River in the north and to the border of Egypt in the south.
King Solomon builds the temple, a permanent tabernacle and dwelling place of Yahweh as well as the spiritual center of Israel.
Saul is anointed the first King of Israel.
Era 7 - Divided Kingdom
Dates: 930–586 BC
Upon Solomon’s death in 931 BC, the kingdom of Israel divides into the Northern Kingdom ( Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). This is a product of Solomon’s idolatry and heavy taxes. Judah continues to be ruled by a king in the line of David, because Yahweh remains faithful to David.
The Northern Kingdom is ruled by a succession of wicked kings. Israel’s brief existence is characterized by rampant idolatry and a persecution of God’s word. Yahweh finally destroys them at the hand of the Assyrian armies in 722 BC.
The Southern Kingdom is slightly more stable, but also eventually falls prey to idolatry. Jerusalem is destroyed in 586 BC and Judah is taken into exile in Babylon.
Era 8 - Exile
Dates: 586–538 BC
Judah ’s inhabitants live in Babylon. They are not allowed to return to their own homeland and live under the government of the Babylonians. The time of exile is a difficult one; the temple is destroyed and it would seem that Yahweh has forsaken his chosen people. But Israel will not rust on the scrap heap of history. They remain in exile until Cyrus the king of Persia conquers the Babylonians. The Persian foreign policy was to allow foreign people to return to their own lands and to encourage prosperity. So under, Zerubabbel, a leader from among the Israelites, the Israelites begin a slow return to Jerusalem in 538 BC. The last group of returnees arrives in Jerusalem in 432 BC.
Era 9 - Judaism
Dates: 538– about 430 BC
This is the time period in which the exiles return to Jerusalem and undergo a program of rebuilding and renewal. They rebuild the temple and the Walls of Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. The rebuilding is not just physical, but it is spiritual as well. Aware of what caused their exile in the first place (idolatry) the covenant takes center stage for the Israelites. They are determined not to blow it again. But Israel is just a shadow of its glory under the kingship of David. They have been reduced to a vassal state of the Persian Empire and would be dominated by foreign empires until their destruction and dispersion under the Roman Empire. But the great hope of the Jews remains the one who was promised to David, the eternal king who will rule Israel forever.
It is at this point that the Old Testament stage grows dark and there is a 400 year silence between Judaism and the birth of Christ. This time is known as the intertestamental period.