A Summary of Hebrew History

Abraham was called by God to go from his home in Mesopotamia to Canaan. His son, Isaac had two children, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had twelve children. His youngest, Joseph, was much favored by Jacob. Joseph’s brothers became jealous and sold him to  traders from Egypt. In Egypt, Joseph gained the favor of the Pharaoh by interpreting from one of the Pharaoh’s dreams that there will be a famine. Egypt was able to prepare and, when the famine struck, the Hebrews took refuge in Egypt.

They lived happily in Egypt until Joseph and the Pharaoh died. After they died, the Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians and the new Pharaoh ordered all the baby Hebrew boys killed. But one mother put her baby into a basket and floated it down the river. The baby was discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter. She took the baby in and raised him in the palace. When this boy, named Moses, grew up, he was upset by how badly the Hebrews were treated. One day, he killed a cruel slave overseer and fled into the desert. He was now determined to free the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt. Eventually, he led them across the red sea and out of Egypt. He then brought the tablets of the ten commandments down from Mt. Sinai.

The Hebrews were unable to return to Canaan, so they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Moses Chose Joshua to be his successor. Joshua recaptured Canaan, and the Hebrews were divided between 12 tribes. The tribes decided they needed a king so a judge, Samuel, appointed Saul. Samuel realized that he had made a mistake, so he appointed David as his successor. David won the favor of Saul by curing him with harp music. Saul became  Jealous of David and tried to kill him. David fled into the desert. Saul was killed in a battle with the Philistines.

David, now king, conquered Bethlehem. After his death, his son Solomon, became king. Solomon lived in luxury and built magnificent palaces, and a temple (David couldn’t because he was a man of war). Solomon was unpopular, and when he died, revolt was just below the surface. His son, Rehoboam, was also unpopular, and during his reign, revolt broke out. As result of the revolt, the kingdom divided into Israel in the north, and Judah in the south. In 722 BC, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians. Then, in 586 BC, Judah was overtaken by the Babylonians. This period is known as the Babylonian captivity.

Persia took over Babylon in 538 BC. Many Hebrews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (which was destroyed). Judah was taken by Alexander. During this time, Greek culture was spreading through the east. This is known as the hellenistic period. Judah then passed to Syria in 198 BC. Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria demanded that the Jews adopt Greek customs. Rebellion broke out, and, under Judas Maccabeus, they restored the temple in 133 BC. Judah became a Roman province. Pompey subdued Jerusalem in 63 BC. Jews revolt but are unsuccessful. Titus attacks Jerusalem in 70 AD and buns it to the ground.

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