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Ancient Israelites
Chalk Talk: Write down a list of the world’s
major religions. For each religion, write down
the religion’s god(s) and sacred text. Work
together. No one should write more than 3
Central Questions
• What were the main beliefs of the Israelites?
• What made their belief system unique for
their time?
• What were the main events in the early
history of the Israelites?
The History of the Israelites
• This history is according to the sacred text of the
Israelites, the Torah
• A man named Abraham lived near Ur in Mesopotamia
• 2000 BC: Abraham and his family migrated to Canaan
• Israelites believe that God made a covenant (promise)
with Abraham
– God would have a special relationship with Abraham and
his descendents
– Canaan would someday belong to the Israelites (their
“promised land”)
More History of the Israelites
• A famine forced the Israelites to migrate to
Egypt, where they were eventually enslaved
• A man named Moses (with God’s help) leads
them out of slavery and into Canaan (after 40
long years, though Moses never got in)
• Kingdom of Israel set up by 1000 BC
• King David united the 12 tribes of Israel into a
single nation
More More History of the Israelites
• 922 BC: After the death of David’s son, Solomon,
the kingdom split into Israel in the north and Judah
in the south
• 722 BC: Assyrians conquered Israel
• 586 BC: Babylonian armies captured Judah;
Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the great temple and
forced the defeated Israelites into exile for 50 years
(Babylonian Captivity)
• 539 BC: Persian ruler Cyrus the Great conquered
Babylon and freed the Israelites
• Diaspora: 500-year spreading of the Jewish
people to different parts of the world that
began with the Babylonian Captivity
• Jews maintained their identity by living in
close-knit communities and keeping their
religious laws and traditions
• Anti-Semitism: hatred or distrust of Jews was
common throughout Europe and other parts
of the world where they settled
Beliefs of Judaism
• Monotheistic (belief in one God)
• Believe God is all-knowing, all-present, and allpowerful
• Sacred texts: Torah and Talmud
– Torah= books of law
• Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
– Talmud= additional laws and customs
• Society was patriarchal: men held greatest legal and
moral authority
More Beliefs of Judaism
• Ten Commandments
– Set of laws that Jews believe God gave to them through
– Included religious laws such as keeping the Sabbath
(holy day of rest) and having no Gods before their one,
true God
– Included basic laws such as murder, theft, etc.
• Strong code of ethics/morality, which all leaders
and prophets had to adhere to
• Christianity and Islam were influenced by Judaism;
both religions honor Abraham, Moses, and the
prophets found in the Jewish texts and embrace
the same morality