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Ancient Hebrews and Judaism-Part 1 (9/8/14)
Israelites (ancient Hebrews) are the only surviving nation of people who lived in the Fertile Crescent
since ancient times. Today, they are known as Jews.
Israelites began the world’s first monotheistic religion, “Judaism.”
Monotheism means the belief in ONE god.
Judaism is still a world religion and greatly influenced the development of both Christianity and Islam.
Abraham is seen as the original follower and teacher of God’s word, in Judaism as well as Christianity
and Islam.
According to the Bible, God promised to give Abraham and his descendants a land of their own if they
would worship only Him.
To test Abraham's love for Him, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son. Jews and Christians believe
this son was Isaac, but Muslims believe it was his son Ishmael.
“Exodus” was the escape of the ancient Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt.
Moses was the leader of the Exodus.
Hebrews, Christians and Muslims believe that God gave Moses 2 tablets of stone carved with 10 sacred
laws, called the “Ten Commandments.” These were the 2nd set of written laws in the world.
“PASSOVER” is still a very important Jewish holiday! (It celebrates the last plague on Egypt, when the
Angel of Death “Passed Over” the homes of the Jews).
Ancient Hebrews and Judaism-Part 2 (9/9/14)
King Solomon united the tribes of Israel into a kingdom and made Jerusalem its capital city.
He built a great temple (“Temple of Solomon”) in Jerusalem which became the center of the Jewish
The only remains of this temple is the Western Wall (aka- Wailing Wall), which is still an important part
of Judaism.
The kingdoms of Israel and the Temple of Solomon were destroyed by the Neo-Babylonians. The NeoBabylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, in 586 BC, brought the Jewish people to Babylonia as slaves. This was
called the “Babylonian Captivity.”
“Diaspora” is the scattering of the Jews outside their homeland.
There were two Diasporas: the 1st was the Babylonian Captivity, (which ended when the Persians freed
the Jews and they returned to rebuild the Temple of Solomon).
The 2nd Diaspora occurred after the Romans destroyed the Temple of Solomon, in 70 AD. After that the
Jews were scattered throughout Europe.
The 2nd Diaspora lasted from 70 AD until 1948, when the United Nations created a homeland for the
Jews (state of Israel).
Yahweh- the sacred Jewish name for God (“I AM”).
Torah- Most important part of the Jewish holy book (called the Old Testament by Christians).
Yarmulke- Head covering (like a hat) worn by Jewish men.
Menorah- Special Jewish candlestick (7-9 branches) used at Hanukah.
Rabbi- Jewish religious leader (like a Christian pastor or priest, or a Muslim Imam).
Today, the “Star of David” is the symbol most closely associated with Judaism.
Synagogue- Jewish house of worship.
Different types of Judaism: Conservative, Orthodox, and Reformed. All have some different beliefs.
Kosher: Some branches, of Judaism are kosher. This means they observe strict dietary rules from the
Torah. This includes NOT eating pork or shellfish.
Ancient Egypt- Part 1 (9/10/14)
The Nile flows north into the Mediterranean Sea.
Since it flows north, the southern part of the Nile is called the “Upper Nile” and the northern part is
called the “Lower Nile.”
Where the river empties into the Mediterranean Sea it forms the Nile Delta, an area of rich soil. Egyptian
civilization began on the Nile Delta (Lower Egypt)!
Egypt is called the “Gift of the Nile,” because its flooding irrigated and fertilized the land with rich mud
called “silt.” There’d have been NO civilization here without this!
Egypt had many natural barriers (deserts, seas, and cataracts).
The Nile had several cataracts (shallow, rocky river areas; often with waterfalls).
Egypt’s natural barriers protected its civilization for thousands of years with few invasions.
The Egyptians believed in an afterlife, where people were judged by their deeds on Earth.
The Egyptians were polytheistic.
The Egyptians kings were called Pharaohs, and were seen as “god-kings”.
was the Egyptian symbol for eternal life.
Egyptian History is divided into three main periods:
-Old Kingdom (when the pyramids were built)
-Middle Kingdom
-New Kingdom
Pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs.
Building the pyramids required great skill in engineering and mathematics
Pharaoh Menes (aka-Narmer) united Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt into one united kingdom.
Menes started the first “dynasty” (the power to rule is passed on within the same family-father to son,
Ancient Egypt- Part 2 (9/11/14)
Egyptians used “mummification” to preserve bodies so that their soul could live in the afterlife.
During the Middle Kingdom, Egypt began to expand. It began conquering some countries and trading
with others.
New Kingdom began with Egypt being conquered by the Hyksos. Hyksos had chariots and better
weapons. They were eventually defeated and Egypt became the most powerful country in Africa and
Southwest Asia.
Hatshepsut was the first woman pharaoh, but had to pose as a man.
Akhenaten was a rebel Pharaoh who tried to get rid of polytheism. He worshiped a sun god called Aten.
Akhenaten’s son, Tutankhamun (“King Tut”) is only famous because his tomb was the only one found
intact (ALL the other Pharaohs’ tombs had been robbed at some point in history!)
Ancient Egyptian writing was called “hieroglyphics.”
Egypt made the first type of writing paper. It was made from flattened reeds and was called “papyrus.”
(Not that good, and was really lumpy to write on!)
No one knew how to read hieroglyphics until the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799. It had the same
text written in three languages (one was hieroglyphic). Scholars could read the other two languages and
were able to decode the hieroglyphics.