History Of The Jewish People

The history of the Jews begins among those people who occupied the area lying between the Nile river on the one side, and the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers on the other. Surrounded by ancient seats of culture in Egypt and Babylonia, by the deserts of Arabia, and by the highlands of Asia Minor, the land of Canaan (later known as Israel) was a meeting place of civilizations. The land was traversed by old-established trade routes and possessed important harbors on the Gulf of Akaba and on the Mediterranean coast, the latter exposing it to the influence of other cultures of the Fertile Crescent.

The Jews, or Israelites (also known as Hebrews), settled in the land of Israel. The Israelites traced their common lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Jewish tradition holds that the Israelites were the descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons (one of whom was named Judah), who settled in Egypt. While in Egypt their descendants were enslaved by the Egyptian pharaoh, often identified as Ramses II. In the Jewish tradition, the Israelites emigrated from Egypt to Canaan (the Exodus), led by the prophet Moses. This event marks the formation of the Israelites as a people, divided into twelve tribes named after Jacob’s sons.

Jewish tradition and the Bible tells that the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty one years after which they conquered Canaan under the command of Joshua, dividing the land among the twelve tribes. For a time, the twelve tribes were led by a series of rulers known as Judges. Afterwards, an Israelite monarchy was established under Saul, and continued under King David and Solomon. King David conquered Jerusalem (first a Canaanite, then a Jebusite town) and made it his capital. After Solomon’s reign the nation split into two kingdoms, Israel, consisting of ten of the tribes (in the north), and Judah, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (in the south). Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser V in the 8th century BC. There is no commonly accepted historical record of those ten tribes, which are sometimes referred to as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.


The kingdom of Judah was then conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BC. The Judahite elite was exiled to Babylon, but later at least a part of them returned to their homeland. Already at this point the extreme fragmentation among the Israelites was apparent, with the formation of political-religious factions, the most important of which would later be called Sadduccees and Pharisees.

Roman Rule

Judea under Roman rule was at first an independent Jewish kingdom, but gradually the rule over Judea became less and less Jewish, until it came under the direct rule of Roman and later Christian administration (and renamed the Iudaea Province), which was often callous and brutal in its treatment of its Judean subjects. In 66 AD, Judeans began to revolt against the Roman rulers of Judea. The revolt was defeated by the future Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus. In the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Romans destroyed much of the Temple in Jerusalem and, according to some accounts, plundered artifacts from the temple, such as the Menorah. Judeans continued to live in their land in significant numbers, until the 132 AD when Roman general Sextus Julius Severus ravaged Judea crushing the Bar Kokhba revolt. 985 villages were destroyed and most of the Jewish population of central Judaea was essentially wiped out, killed, sold into slavery, or forced to flee. Banished from Jerusalem, most of Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire, as many were sold into slavery while others became citizens of other parts of the Roman Empire.

But, in spite of the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt, Jews remained in the land of Israel in significant numbers. The Jews who stayed in Palestine went through numerous experiences and armed conflicts against consecutive occupiers of the Land. Some of the most famous and important Jewish texts were composed in Israeli cities at this time. The Jerusalem Talmud, the completion of the Mishnah and the system of niqqud are examples.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was a civilization which arose along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern nation of Egypt. It began around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next three millennia. This ancient civilization thrived from its adaptation to the conditions of the Nile River Valley. Controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which fueled social development and culture that promoted the building of monumental pyramids, temples, obelisks, faience and glass technology.

The history of Ancient Egypt can be divided into historical periods: the Early Dynastic Period, the Old Kingdom, First Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom, Second Intermediate Period, New Kingdom, and Third Intermediate Period.

Early Dynastic Period
The ancient Egyptians chose to begin their official history with a king named "Menes" who they believed had united the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. In the Early Dynastic Period about 3150 BC, the first pharaohs solidified their control over lower Egypt by establishing a capital at Memphis, from which they could control the labor force and agriculture of the fertile delta region as well as the lucrative and critical trade routes to the Levant. The increasing power and wealth of the pharaohs during the early dynastic period was reflected in their elaborate mastaba tombs and mortuary cult structures at Abydos, which were used to celebrate the deified pharaoh after his death. The strong institution of kingship developed by the pharaohs served to legitimize state control over the land, labor, and resources that were essential to the survival and growth of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Old Kingdom
During the Old Kingdom period, the Fourth Dynasty stands out. It ruled from 2613 to 2498 BC and included the Pharaohs who had the famous Giza Pyramids built: Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaura (Mycerinus). Along with the rising importance of a central administration arose a new class of educated scribes and officials who were granted estates by the pharaoh in payment for their services. Pharaohs also made land grants to their mortuary cults and local temples to ensure that these institutions would have the necessary resources to worship the pharaoh after his death. By the end of this period, the power of the pharaoh diminished as regional governors called nomarchs began to challenge the supremacy of the pharaoh. This, coupled with severe droughts between 2200 and 2150 BC, ultimately caused the country to enter a 140-year period of famine and strife known as the First Intermediate Period.

First Intermediate Period
After Egypt’s central government collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country’s economy. Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars.

Free from their loyalties to the pharaoh, local rulers began competing with each other for territorial control and political power. By 2160 BC, rulers in Hierakonpolis controlled Lower Egypt, while a rival clan based in Thebes, the Intef family, took control of Upper Egypt. As the Intefs grew in power and expanded their control northward, a clash between the two rival dynasties became inevitable. Around 2055 BC the Theban forces under Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II finally defeated the Herakleopolitan rulers, reuniting the Two Lands and inaugurating a period of economic and cultural renaissance known as the Middle Kingdom.

Middle Kingdom
The pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom restored the country’s prosperity and stability, thereby stimulating a resurgence of art, literature, and monumental building projects. Mentuhotep II and his 11th Dynasty successors ruled from Thebes, but the vizier Amenemhet I, upon assuming kingship at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty around 1985 BC, shifted the nation’s capital to the city of Itjtawy located in Faiyum. From Itjtawy, the pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty undertook a far-sighted land reclamation and irrigation scheme to increase agricultural output in the region. The last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, Amenemhat III, allowed Asiatic settlers into the delta region to provide a sufficient labor force for his especially active mining and building campaigns.

Second Intermediate Period
Around 1650 BC, as the power of the Middle Kingdom pharaohs weakened, Asiatic immigrants living in the Eastern Delta town of Avaris seized control of the region and forced the central government to retreat to Thebes, where the pharaoh was treated as a vassal and expected to pay tribute. The Hyksos ("foreign rulers") imitated Egyptian models of government and portrayed themselves as pharaohs, thus integrating Egyptian elements into their Middle Bronze Age culture. it was Kamose’s successor, Ahmose I, from the 17th dynasty, who successfully waged a series of campaigns that permanently eradicated the Hyksos’ presence in Egypt.

New Kingdom
The New Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt. The New Kingdom (1570–1070 BC) followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt’s most prosperous time and marked the zenith of its power.

Third Intermediate Period
The Third Intermediate Period marked the end of the New Kingdom after the collapse of the Egyptian empire. A number of dynasties of Libyan origin ruled, giving this period its alternative name of the Libyan Period. It was characterized by the country’s fracturing kingship.

Late period
The Late Period runs from 732 BC until Egypt became a province of Rome in 30 BC under Augustus Caesar, and includes periods of rule by Nubians, Persians, and Macedonians.

Assyria & Chaldea


The Assyrian was a Semitic people that originally inhabited a region straddling the Upper Tigris river, in what is today northern Iraq. They were named after its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Later, as a nation and empire, they came to control all of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and much of Anatolia. Its capital was Nineveh.

The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. These are called the Old (20th to 15th c. BC), Middle (15th to 10th c. BC), and Neo-Assyrian (911–612 BC) kingdoms, or periods, of which the last is the most well known and best documented.

The first inscriptions of Assyrian rulers appear after 2000 BC. Assyria then consisted of a number of city states and small Semitic kingdoms. The foundation of the Assyrian monarchy was traditionally ascribed to Zulilu (ca. 1900 BC). The capital was the city-state of Ashur, which had extensive contact with cities on the Anatolian plateau. Under Hammurabi, king of Babylon (ca. 1795–1750 BC), Assyria was reduced to vassal states. But later, between 15th and 10th BC, there began a period of expansion with Nineveh as the capital.


Chaldean was a Hellenistic designation for a Semitic people that settled in southern Mesopotamia. It turned into a Babylonian colony in the early days of Hammurabi, but remained in a special position in relation to other cities ruled by Babylon in that region. The 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty. Their kingdom in the southern portion of Babylonia lay chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates. Though the name came to be commonly used to refer to the whole of Mesopotamia, Chaldea proper was the vast plain in the south formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending to about four hundred miles along the course of these rivers, and about a hundred miles in average width.
Political and Social Organization: the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Babylonians were ruled by despotic, theocratic monarchies as the kings exercised absolute power over their people. The empires were divided into provinces called satrapies governed by a satrap. Although there were virtually no social classes as the power exercised by the kings was absolute, and the people lived as serfs or slaves, the population was divided into clans with patriarchal families.


Babylonia was a state in southern Mesopotamia, in what is today Iraq, combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. The earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad, dating back to the 23rd century BC.

At around 2000 BC, a semitic people known as Amorites from west of the Euphrates River gained control over most of Mesopotamia, where they formed a series of small kingdoms. One of these Amorite dynasties was established in the city-state of Babylon, which would ultimately take over the others and form the first Babylonian empire, during what is also called the Old Babylonian Period.

The city of Babylon obtained hegemony over Mesopotamia under their sixth ruler, Hammurabi (c. 1780– c. 1750 BC; dates highly uncertain). He was a very efficient ruler, writing an influential law code, called Hammurabi’s Code, and giving the region stability after turbulent times, thereby transforming it into the central power of Mesopotamia.

Babylonian beliefs held the king as an agent of Marduk, patron deity of the city of Babylon, and the city of Babylon as a "holy city" where any legitimate ruler of Mesopotamia had to be crowned. A natural development was the establishment of a bureaucracy, with taxation and centralized government, to allow the king to exert his control.


Sumer is considered the first civilization in the world’s history. It developed in southern Mesopotamia, along the Euphrates river, as independent city-states and it lasted from ca. 5300 BC until the 2nd millennium BC. The most important cities were Ur, Lagash, and Kish. The cities of Sumer were the first to practice intensive, year-round agriculture. The surplus of storable foodstuffs created by this economy allowed the population to settle in one place instead of migrating after crops and herds. With this fact, the need for a pottery industry as well as for a more complex economic and social organization arose. And this organization led to the necessity of record keeping and the development of writing.


The kings of Ur became the effective rulers of Sumer, in the first dynasty of Ur established by the king Mesannepada, who is on the king list and is named as a son of Meskalamdug on one artifact. The first dynasty was ended by an attack of Sargon of Akkad around 2340 BC. Not much is known about the following second dynasty.

The third dynasty was established when the king Ur-Nammu came to power, ruling between ca. 2112 BC and 2094 BC. During his rule, temples were built, and agriculture was improved through irrigation. His code of laws, the Code of Ur-Nammu, is one of the oldest such documents known. The third dynasty fell around 1950 BC to the Elamites. Later, Babylon captured the city.


History (fr. Latin historia, fr. Greek historia, knowing or learned)

History is the chronological record of great human events which have had a direct effect on future political and sociological development. It is a cause and effect human phenomenon, as when one throws a stone in stagnant water. This disturbance causes ripples, one behind the other. The greater the stone is (or the greater the human event is), the greater the ripples will be, and the greater the consequence upon the shore of human circumstances. For example the human event that took place in North America by the end of the 18th century, which was the independence of the thirteen British colonies, had a great effect upon the political, cultural, and scientific development of the Western Civilization.

History can be divided into Ancient Times, which is the period that begins with the invention of writing around 5000 BC until the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD; the Dark Ages, from 476 AD until the First Crusade; the Middle Ages, the period comprising the Crusades until the fall of Constantinople in the hands of the Turkish Empire in 1453; Modern Times, which begins in the 15th Century with the Humanism and Renaissance period and finishes in 1789, the year of the French Revolution; and Contemporary Times, from 1789 until today. This division of history is for a better comprehension of human events. The period before the beginning of history, that is to say the period before the invention of writing is known as prehistory; in order to know what happened or how human beings lived then, a researcher has to sift through the human remains, artifacts and weapons primitive men left behind.

History is an exact science, since what happened in a given period or date can not be altered or changed. It is exactly what happened and not in any other way. A historian, a history teacher, or a holliwood script writer, must not take a historical event out of context, for every human event, before occurring, matures in its particular environmental and cultural background. The usual mistake committed by a writer is to project his own present patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior back in time, giving historical characters values which surely they did not really had. Every historical character is the product of his epoch.