Ancient Eras of Ancient Jewish History

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Patriarchal Era

Ancient Palestine. Perry Castaneda Historical Map Library

Patriarchal Period from c. 1800 B.C. to perhaps 1500 B.C.

This is the time from before the Hebrews went to Egypt. Technically, it is a period of pre-Jewish history, since the people involved were not yet Jewish.

Abraham

A Semite from Ur in Mesopotamia (roughly, modern Iraq), Abram (later, Abraham), who was the husband of Sarai (later, Sarah), goes to Canaan and makes a covenant with God. This covenant includes the circumcision of males and the promise that Sarai would conceive. God renames Abram Abraham and Sarah Sarai. After Sarah gives birth to Isaac, Abraham is told to sacrifice his son to his God. This story is like the one of Agamemnon's sacrifice of Iphigenia to Artemis. In a Hebrew version as in some of the Greek, an animal is substituted at the last minute. In the case of Isaac, a ram. In exchange for Iphigenia, Agamemnon was to obtain favorable winds so he could sail for Troy at the start of the Trojan War. In exchange for Isaac, nothing was offered initially, but as a reward for the obedience of Abraham, he was promised prosperity and more offspring.

Abraham is patriarch of the Israelites and Arabs. His son by Sarah is Isaac. Earlier, Abraham had had a son named Ishmael by Sarai's maid, Hagar, at Sarai's connivance. The Arab line runs through Ishmael. Later, Abraham bears more sons, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah, to Keturah, whom he marries when Sarah dies. Abraham's grandson Jacob is renamed Israel. Jacob's sons are the fathers of the 12 Hebrew tribes.

Isaac

The second Hebrew patriarch was Abraham's son Isaac, father of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob

The third patriarch was Jacob who, like his grandfather, received a name change to Israel. He was patriarch of the tribes of Israel through his sons. Because there was a famine in Canaan, Jacob moved the Hebrews to Egypt but then returned. Jacob's son Joseph is sold to Egypt and it is there where Moses is born c. 1300 B.C.

There is no archaeological evidence to corroborate this. This fact is important in terms of the historicity of the period. There is no reference to the Hebrews in Egypt at this time. The first Egyptian reference to them comes from the next period, but by then they're no longer in Egypt.

Some think that the Hebrews in Egypt were part of the Hyksos, who ruled in Egypt. The etymology of the names Hebrew and Moses are debated. Moses could be Semitic or Egyptian in origin.

Page 1: Patriarchal Era
Page 2: Period of the Judges
Page 3: United Monarchy
Page 4: Divided Kingdom
Page 5: Exile and Diaspora
Page 6: Hellenistic Period
Page 7: Roman Occupation

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Period of the Judges

Merneptah Stele
Merneptah Stele. Clipart.com

The period of the Judges begins (c. 1399 B.C.) after the the 40 years in the wilderness described in Exodus. Moses dies before reaching Canaan. Once the 12 tribes of the Hebrews reach the promised land, they find they are in frequent conflict with the neighboring regions. They need leaders to guide them in battle. Their leaders, called judges, also handle more traditional judicial matters as well as warfare. Joshua comes first.

There is archaeological evidence of Israel at this time. It comes from the Merneptah Stele, which is currently dated to 1209 B.C. and says the people called Israel were wiped out by the conquering pharaoh (according to Biblical Archaeology Review) Although the Merneptah Stele is called the first extrabiblical reference to Israel, Egyptologists and Biblical scholars Manfred Görg, Peter van der Veen and Christoffer Theis suggest there may be one from two centuries earlier on a statue pedestal at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin.

For an English translation of the Merneptah Stele, see: "The Poetical Stela of Merneptah (Israel Stela) Cairo Museum 34025 (Verso)," Ancient Egyptian Literature Volume II: The New Kingdom by Miriam Lichtheim, University of California Press: 1976.

Ancient Eras (Almost Entirely B.C.)

Page 1: Patriarchal Era


Page 2: Period of the Judges


Page 3: United Monarchy


Page 4: Divided Kingdom


Page 5: Exile and Diaspora


Page 6: Hellenistic Period


Page 7: Roman Occupation

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United Monarchy 1025-928 B.C.

Saul and David
Saul and David. Clipart.com

The period of the united monarchy begins when the judge Samuel reluctantly anoints Saul as the first king of Israel. Samuel thought kings in general were a bad plan. After Saul defeats the Ammonites, the 12 tribes acclaim him king, with his ruling capital at Gibeah. During Saul's kingship, the Philistines attack and a young shepherd named David volunteers for a one-on-one with the fiercest of the Philistines, a giant named Goliath. With a single stone from his slingshot, David fells the Philistine and wins a reputation that outshines Saul's.

Samuel, who dies before Saul, anoints David to be king of Israel, but Samuel has his own sons, three of whom are killed in the battle with the Philistines.

When Saul dies, one of his sons is appointed king, but at Hebron, the tribe of Judah declares David king. David replaces Saul's son, when the son is assassinated, becoming king of the re-united monarchy. David builds a fortified capital at Jerusalem. When David dies, his son by the famous Bathsheba becomes the wise King Solomon, who also expands Israel and starts the building of the First Temple.

This information is short on historical corroboration. It comes basically from the Bible, with only occasional support from archaeology.

Ancient Eras (Almost Entirely B.C.)

Page 1: Patriarchal Era
Page 2: Period of the Judges
Page 3: United Monarchy
Page 4: Divided Kingdom
Page 5: Exile and Diaspora
Page 6: Hellenistic Period
Page 7: Roman Occupation

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Divided Kingdom - Israel and Judah c. 922 B.C.

Map of the Tribes of Israel
Map of the Tribes of Israel. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After Solomon, the United Monarchy falls apart.

Jerusalem is the capital of Judah, the southern Kingdom, which is led by Rehoboam. Its inhabitants are the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon (and some Levi). Simeon and Judah later merge.

Jeroboam leads a revolt of the northern tribes to form the Kingdom of Israel. The 9 tribes that make up Israel are Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Menasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad (and some Levi). The capital of Israel is Samaria.

Ancient Eras (Almost Entirely B.C.)

Page 1: Patriarchal Era
Page 2: Period of the Judges
Page 3: United Monarchy
Page 4: Divided Kingdom
Page 5: Exile and Diaspora
Page 6: Hellenistic Period
Page 7: Roman Occupation

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Exile and Diaspora

Assyrian Empire
Assyrian Empire. Perry Castaneda Historical Map Library

(Israel falls to the Assyrians in 721 B.C.; Judah falls to the Babylonians in 597 B.C.)

In 722 - Assyrians, under Shalmaneser, and then under Sargon, conquer Israel and destroy Samaria. Jews are exiled.
In 612 - Nabopolassar of Babylonia destroys Assyria.
In 587 - Nebuchadnezzar II seizes Jerusalem. The Temple is destroyed.
In 586 - Babylonia conquers Judah. Exile to Babylon.
Diaspora: 722 (Israel) and 586 (Judah).
In 539 - the Babylonian Empire falls to Persia which is ruled by Cyrus.
In 537 - Cyrus allows Jews from Babylon back into Jerusalem.
From 550-333 - The Persian Empire rules Israel.

From 520-515 - Second Temple is built.

Ancient Eras (Almost Entirely B.C.)

Page 1: Patriarchal Era
Page 2: Period of the Judges
Page 3: United Monarchy
Page 4: Divided Kingdom
Page 5: Exile and Diaspora
Page 6: Hellenistic Period
Page 7: Roman Occupation

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Hellenistic Period

Antiochus
Antiochus. Clipart.com

The Hellenistic Period runs from the death of Alexander the Great in the final quarter of the fourth century B.C. until the coming of the Romans in the late first century B.C.

After Alexander dies, Ptolemy I Soter takes Egypt and becomes king of Palestine in 305 B.C.

250. - The beginning of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
198. - Seleucid King Antiochus III (Antiochus the Great) ousts Ptolemy V from Judah and Samaria. By 198, the Seleucids controlled Transjordan (an area east of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea).

166-63. - The Maccabees and Hasmoneans. The Hasmoneans conquered areas of Transjordan -- the Peraea, Madaba, Heshbon, Gerasa, Pella, Gadara, and Moab to the Zered, according to Transjordan, from Jewish Virtual Library.

See Maccabees

Ancient Eras (Almost Entirely B.C.)

Page 1: Patriarchal Era
Page 2: Period of the Judges
Page 3: United Monarchy
Page 4: Divided Kingdom
Page 5: Exile and Diaspora
Page 6: Hellenistic Period
Page 7: Roman Occupation

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Roman Occupation

Asia Minor Under Rome. Perry Castaneda Historical Map Library

The Roman Period is divided into an early, middle, and late period:

I.

63 B.C. - Pompey makes the region of Judah/Israel a client kingdom of Rome.
6 A.D. - Augustus makes it a Roman province (Judaea).
66 - 73. - Revolt.
70. - Romans occupy Jerusalem. Titus destroys the Second Temple.
73. - Masada suicide.
131. - Emperor Hadrian renames Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina" and forbids Jews there.
132-135. - Bar Kochba revolt against Hadrian. Judaea becomes the province of Syria-Palestine.


II.

125-250


III.

250 until either an earthquake in 363 or the Byzantine Era.

Chancey and Porter ("The Archaeology of Roman Palestine") say Pompey took those territories that were not Jewish out of the hands of Jerusalem. Peraea in the Transjordan retained a Jewish population. The 10 non-Jewish cities in Transjordan were named the Decapolis.

They commemorated their liberation from the Hasmonean rulers on coins. Under Trajan, in A.D. 106, the regions of Transjordan were made into the province of Arabia.

"The Archaeology of Roman Palestine," by Mark Alan Chancey and Adam Lowry Porter; Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 64, No. 4 (Dec., 2001), pp. 164-203.

The Byzantine Era followed, running from Emperor Diocletian (284-305) or Constantine (306-337), in the fourth century, to the Muslim conquest, in the early 7th century. For more on this late period, see: "An Empire's New Holy Land: The Byzantine Period," by S. Thomas Parker; Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 62, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 134-180.

Ancient Eras (Almost Entirely B.C.)

Page 1: Patriarchal Era
Page 2: Period of the Judges
Page 3: United Monarchy
Page 4: Divided Kingdom
Page 5: Exile and Diaspora
Page 6: Hellenistic Period
Page 7: Roman Occupation