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The People
• The Hebrews
– Abraham was father of the Hebrew people
– Monotheists
• The Israelites
– Moses received the Ten Commandments, creating a
covenant between God and his “Chosen People”
– God gave them “The Promised Land” (Israel) and
they were the Israelites
• The Jews
– The land close to Jerusalem came to be called Judah
The Land
• In ancient times, Israel had many names
– Canaan
– Kingdom of Israel
– Israel
– Judah
– Judea
– Palestine
Map Activity
• This activity will help you understand the
locations and movements of the Hebrew
• Map
– As I discuss the overview of the land and
people you will label the map and take notes
The Lands continued
• Mesopotamia
– Ur
• Hebrews were not an ethnic group until they left.
• Egypt
– Hebrew “nation” forms
• Palestine/Israel/Canaan/Shechem
– Hebrew god promised this land to them.
– Desirable; geography determined the course of
Hebrew history.
– Land bridge between Mesopotamia and Egypt
• First monotheistic religion
• Abraham was the father of all Hebrew
• Different from other civilizations we have
and will discuss
Abraham’s Geneaology
12 Arabian
12 Tribes of
The Age of the Patriarchs
1950 BCE – 1500 BCE
• No record in history until 1224-1211 BCE
– New Kingdom, Egypt
– Listed as a conquered people “now living in Canaan”
• All Hebrew history is from Genesis
• Pre-Egyptian Hebrews: Age of the Patriarchs
– impossible to date
• Best guess of historians:1950 – 1500 BCE.
– Written about a thousand years after it happened
– Not recorded in other histories.
• Around the same time as the Egyptian Middle Kingdom
Age of the Patriarchs: Important Figures
• Representation of God’s name. 4 consonants – no vowels in
Hebrew: YHVH, JHVH, or YHWH in English.
• Selected with his descendants by Yahweh to be his people.
• Visited by Yahweh & told to move his family.
– Migration - 1950 BCE
– Mesopotamia was collapsing into chaos by this time – Akkadians had
• Yahweh says Shechem (Palestine) will be given to the Abraham
& his descendents.
– Why the Hebrews? Special purpose that only they can fulfill for Elohim
– Covenant based on obedience to God
The Original Hebrews
• Nomadic tribe
• Society organized around kinship
– Relationship with god is also a kinship relationship:
• Anybody who isn't a descendant of Abraham
cannot be in the covenant with God.
• Hebrew tribes move to Egypt for a better life.
– Probably one of the foreign groups who
overwhelmed Egypt at the end of the Middle
• Before this they were wandering – they did not
occupy modern day Israel until later.
More on the Age of Patriarchs
Religion of the early Hebrews
• NOT the Yahweh cult (Judaism)
– introduced by Moses not Abraham
• Religious practices described in Genesis indicate a belief
in animistic forces/polytheism
– Highly controversial.
• End of the Age of Patriarchs: several tribes claim a
common ancestor and a common identity.
• Name of tribes unknown
– "Hebrew".
• Maybe from the Egyptian word, "apiru," or "foreigner."
• “Habiru” = landless foreigner
Egypt & the Wanderings: 1500-1250 BCE
• Almost no accounts of the Hebrews in Egypt
• Several Egyptian records of foreign groups during the
New Kingdom
– expelling strong groups.
– The Hebrews never appear – even with the drama of
• Hebrew records only of events leading to the migration
– Centuries of missing history
• Migration out of Egypt ~1250 BCE: New Kingdom
– the most important event in Hebrew history.
– Gave the Hebrews an identity, a nation, a founder,
and a name (“Children of Israel” – first in Exodus)
Moses and the Yahweh Cult
• Hebrews should have disappeared from history
• Moses
– made the Hebrews important, united them into a distinct people, gave
them a religion and a theology
• Historical questions about Moses & Exodus
– One person or many (Hebrew, Egyptian, Midianite?) Egyptian name?
Spent a lot of time with the Midianites ; did he learn the Yahweh cult from
– Who participated in the migration?
• Focus is on the Hebrews; Exodus claims that a "diverse group of
peoples" left Egypt with Moses. Who were they?
• Crossing the Red Sea controversy.
– One Migration or several? What kind of resistance was faced? What was
the battle at the Sea of Reeds like?
– 2 Accounts in Exodus: 1. Yahweh parts the sea; the Egyptians get stuck in
the mud. 2. Yahweh parts the sea; the Egyptians drown. Which is right?
Traditional Exodus Route
Introduction to Yahweh and Yahweh cult
• Mount Sinai (Arabian Peninsula).
• Midianites
– Nomadic, tribal group who lived there
– Worshipped a nature god in Mt. Sinai
– Moses is introduced to Yahweh; After Moses returns
from Mt. Sinai a Midinite says he knew Yahweh was
the most powerful god all along.
The Monarchy
1050 – 920 BCE
• After 200 yrs. In Canaan Hebrews unite &
form a single state under a King.
– Bible stories say this was seen as an act of
disobedience against Yahweh
– Would lead to great suffering.
• Still faced constant threat of invasion and
• Judaism was not yet a stable religion.
King Saul
• King – following Egyptian and Mesopotamian
– Still tribal people; slow transition to monarchy.
• Saul
– Chosen by popularity among the people.
• Tall, good looking
– Ineffectual leader
– Mostly a military leader (not like other kings)
• No accounts of acting like a king – other than military
– Not rich
– Only king for 2 years due to disobedience to Yahweh.
• Yahweh picks a new king.
• Saul’s kingdom in
• Starts as young, handsome, popular teenager in Saul’s
– Chosen by Yahweh before Saul is even King.
– Saul tried to kill him several times.
• Character changes as king (from hero in Saul’s court to
• The Good: Big accomplishments. (40 years as king).
Defeats the Philistines
Hebrew kingdom into a Hebrew empire.
Unites the tribes of Israel under an absolute monarchy.
Non-military affairs: building, legislation, judiciaries, etc.
Built up Jerusalem to look more like the capitals of other kings: rich, large,
• The Bad
– Hebrews found themselves under heavy taxes and forced labor.
– Killed a man to marry his wife.
• Last king,
• best of all the kings of Israel?
• The Good
– He built up the capital in Jerusalem (temple of Jerusalem)
– imported products: gold, copper, and cedar, - unavailable in Israel.
• The Bad
– Taxed his people heavily.
– Gave twenty towns to foreign powers for imported goods
– Paid Phoenicia in slave labor: every three months, 30,000 Hebrews
performed slave labor for the King
• Portrayed as a good king in the bible
– from accounts of Hebrews living under they did not agree.
– They became very unhappy.
• When he died (around 926 to 922 BCE) the 10 northern tribes
– 10 of 12 tribes Established their own kingdom.
– Empire of David and Solomon was gone
• Two kingdoms emerged & lost all the territory within 100 years.
The 2 Kingdoms
920 -597 BCE
• North – Israel
– Israelites capital in Samaria
• South - Judah.
– Judeans capital in Jerusalem.
• Separate states for 200+ years
• Many bad kings
• Empire continues to diminish as lands claim
– Within 100 years Israel and Judah are tiny states - no
bigger than Connecticut.
– Controlled by Mesopotamian kingdoms and Egypt
– Important for military and commercial use.
The Conquest of Israel
• 722 BCE: Assyrians conquered Israel.
– forced migration: 10 tribes; upper class/powerful
• Disappear permanently; 10 lost tribes of Israel
• scattered in small populations all over the Middle East.
• Drop their Hebrew names, identity, and religion to fit in.
– Sent Assyrians to move into the conquered territory.
• Some later adopt Yahweh religion
• Babylonians later did the same thing when they
conquered Judah – but all to one location.
– Jews set up a separate community retained their
religion and identity.
The Conquest of Judah
• 701 BCE: Assyrians
• 625 BCE: Babylonians
• Judah tries to extend territory as area is in chaos – loses.
– Judah attacked by Egypt
• 605 BCE: Babylonians defeated the Egyptians
• 601 BCE: Babylonians defeated BY the Egyptians
– The king of Judah defected to the Egyptians.
• 597 BCE: Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, sent troops to
punish Judah
– King gave Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar
• Nebuchadnezzar deported 10,000 Jews to his capital in Babylon
– Ordinary people were allowed to stay in Judah.
• New King of Judah defects from the Babylonians.
– 586 BCE: Jerusalem re-conquered by Nebuchadnezzar
– New smaller deportation.
• The Hebrew kingdom was ended.
Exile in Babylon
597 – 538 BCE
• During the exile 2 groups: the Jew in Babylon
and the Jews who remain in Judah.
• We know almost nothing of the Jews in Judah
after 586.
– Famine, infinite despair.
– Some people were better off: land of rich
redistributed to the poor. (Rich in Babylon)
• Rivalries between the two groups of Jews.
– Wealthy and professional Jews in Babylon regarded
themselves as the true Jewish people.
• Jewish communities in Babylon
– Some adopted the Babylonian religion, but
most remained united in worship of Yahweh.
• Period of great despair
– Felt Yahweh had turned away from them.
– Blamed Exile on their own impurity.
• Theology of salvation appears.
– Israelites would be gathered together, society
and religion purified, unified kingdom reestablished
– The Torah was probably written in its
finalized form in this period. (Central
holy text of the Jews).
After the Exile
538-332 BCE
• Cyrus of Persia conquered the Middle East
– wanted to conquer the world for religious
– Conquest was strategic before Cyrus
• Middle of the 7th century BCE: prophet,
Zarathustra (aka: Zoroaster), appeared
among Persians
– preached a new religion, Zoroastrianism
• Zoroastrianism: Gods took sides.
– Cyrus said Yahweh was on the Good side
– Cyrus ordered the temple rebuilt.
– Ordered that the Jews in Babylon return to Jerusalem.
• not unique to Jews
• Not all Jews chose to return.
• Judah became a Theological State
– Jews were sent home only to worship!
• Society Changed
solely concerned with religious matters
foreign religions not tolerated
Non-Jews were persecuted
only Yahweh was worshipped.
Persians and Greeks respected this
Romans eventually try to introduce new Gods and greatly
offend the Jews.
• Jews included Persian elements in their religion
– Most elements were popular not official beliefs
– Some persist in Christianity.
• Persian Beliefs:
– dualistic universe (good vs. evil)
• Hebrew belief: the universe was dominated only by
Yahweh. History was the result of Yahweh and Human
will – not good and evil.
– dualistic afterlife. (heaven and hell)
• Hebrews belief: soul after death went to a house of dust
called "Sheol," for a brief time then faded from existence.
• Focus on present life.
• In popular religion (which becomes Christianity), the
Hebrews adopted this view of the afterlife.
• explains suffering in this life: Exile & justice at one's death
Greeks and Jews 332-63 BCE
• Alexander the Great defeats Persia
– Judah became part of Macedonia, a Greek state.
• After his death empire divided among three generals.
– Hebrew state caught in the middle of power struggles
– Between 319 and 302 BCE, Jerusalem changed hands
seven times.
• Jews bitterly resented the Greeks.
– More foreign than any group they had ever seen.
– The gods of the Greeks seemed wildly offensive.
– Jewish society was very opposed to exposure of the
• Greeks wrestled nude and dressed very lightly
• Jews also lived in Mesopotamia, Egypt, & other parts of the Middle
– Jews outside of Judah still thrived.
– Hellenistic (Greek) world, Jews formed unified and solid
• Torah was translated into Greek in Ptolemaic Egypt because it was
the law code of the Jews.
– Anti-Egyptian elements softened or removed.
– This translation made Judaism into a “World Religion”: Made
the Hebrew scriptures available to Mediterranean world & early
The Diaspora
(dispersion, scattering)
• Jewish state ends in 70 C.E
– Romans began to drive Jews from the home
• Really began before the Romans
– Forced Migrations under Assyrians & Babylonians
• In 63 BCE, Judea became a protectorate of
– Judea was allowed a king
– Roman Governor's was to regulate trade and
maximize tax revenue.
• Romans were a nightmare for the Jews.
– They heavily taxed the Jews, called their emperors Gods,
• 70 CE: the Judeans revolted
– 73 CE, last of the revolutionaries stuck in fort called
• Romans had waged war for two years
• 1000 men, women, and children inside were beginning
to starve.
• Jewish revolutionaries killed themselves
– The Romans then destroyed Jerusalem, annexed Judea as a
Roman province
• Systematically drove the Jews from Palestine
– After 73 CE, Hebrew history would only be the history of
the Diaspora as the Jews and their world view spread over
Africa, Asia, and Europe.
– The Roman Israel was the land Jesus was born into.