EARLY HISTORY                                                                                            

Jewish Beginnings
Abraham, reported to be the first believer of monotheism was born in the city of UR located in what is today Iraq. G_d told Abraham to leave the city of his birth and go to a land that " I  will show you." Abraham and his wife Sara followed G_d's command and settled in the land that is now Israel. Abraham and his son Isaac and his son Jacob are considered the patriarchs of the Jewish people. Jacob had 12 sons who with their descendents became the Jewish people. The patriarchs lived in the land of Israel from 1800 to 1600 BCE.

During a severe drought in the 16th century BCE they migrated to Egypt. Jacob's son Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Through a series of fortuitous events over 20 years Joseph ends up in a very exalted Egyptian position. His family is welcomed and were very well treated. Many years later a new pharaoh arose who, fearing the growing size of the Jewish population and doubting their loyalty forced them into slavery in 1428 BCE. Moses is directed by G_d to lead the people out of Egypt. The 8 days of Passover celebrates the exodus from Egypt, which occurred in 1312 BCE. After Egypt the Jewish people spent 40 years in the desert, during which time most of the generation of slaves die. On Mount Sinai, the entire Jewish people, some 2 million people, heard the voice of G_d and Moses received the Ten Commandments and the Torah.

In 1272 BCE the Jews returned to Israel, the land promised to them by G_d.

Area settled by the 12 tribesl of Israel
The descendents of the 12 sons of Jacob become the 12 tribes of Israel. Each tribe settles in their own designated area in the land of Israel

The First State of Israel

In 1020 BCE a Jewish monarchy was established under King Saul. Saul consolidated Jewish control over the land in a number of successful battles.  After the death of Saul, David became king in 1004 BCE. David moved Israel's capital from Hevron to  Jerusalem. David established Israel as a major power in the region by successful military expeditions, including the final defeat of the Philistines. Developing a network of friendly alliances with nearby kingdoms allowed David to sucessfully reign for 39 years.

David's son Solomon became king in 965 BCE. Solomon further strengthened the kingdom which ranged from the Mediteranean Sea on the west, to the eastern shores of the Jordan river on the east, to what is now southern Lebanon in the north and to the Negev in the south. Solomon's crowning achievement was the building of the first Temple in Jerusalem in 960 BCE.  The Temple became the center of Jewish national and religious life.  read more

The Second Commonwealth of Israel
Cyrus king of Persia conquered Babylonia in 539 BCE. In order to have an ally positioned between Persia and Egypt, Cyrus directed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, which he helped fund. Opposition to the rebuilding of the Temple from people who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), halted work on the Temple until 521 BCE when the Persian King Darius (Ezra 5) ordered work to continue. The Temples was completed in 517 BCE and dedicated the following year. read more

The Conquest by Rome