You are on page 1of 16

The Israelites

World Civilizations
Open High School of Utah
A small group with
a HUGE influence
• The first Israelites, were a small group of nomads that
lived in Mesopotamia.

• Although they were a small group, their belief in one

god became the basis of the three main modern
monotheistic religions---Judaism, Islam and

• Their beliefs and struggles are at the heart of many of

the conflicts in the world today.
The First Israelites
• The history of the
Israelites is written down
in their language, the
Hebrew language and
found in the Bible.

• Around 1500 BCE, the

group settled in the fertile
area north of Egypt,
called Goshen.
• Abraham is the patriarch (the oldest male ancestor of
a group) of the people of Israel.

• According to their history, Abraham worshipped the

one true god, Yahweh.

• In return for his faithfulness to Yahweh, Abraham was

promised that his descendants would inherit their
own land and be the special people of Yahweh.

• According to Hebrew history, the Israelites went to

live in this promised land.
• Where is Canaan? Today
Canaan is the region
occupied by Lebanon,
Israel and Jordan.

• According to the Bible, at

the time that the Israelites
arrived, the Canaanites
were living in this
promised land. The
Israelites had to fight for
possession of the land
against two groups, the
Canaanites and the
Where did the name
Israel come from?
• According to the Hebrew
Bible, Abraham had a
grandson, named Jacob
who inherited the
covenant. Jacob was also
called “Israel,” which
means “one who struggles
with God.”

• Jacob had 12 sons, who

each became the

beginning of the 12 tribes

of the Israeli people.
Migration to Egypt

• The people of Israel lived in Canaan about 100 years,

but had to migrate due to a famine. Some went to
Egypt. Here is where takes place the famous story of

• The Israelites, according to their history, were made

slaves in Egypt to work on the pyramids.
In order to prevent a
rebellion from fomenting
by the Israelis, Hebrew
history teaches that the
ruler of Egypt had all
male infants thrown into
the Nile River
One child was put in a
basket and then found
and kept by the ruler’s
That child grew up to be
Moses, who led the
people of Israel out of
captivity and back to
The Ten
• On their way back to the promised land,
the Israelis traveled through the Sinai

• At Mount Sinai, Hebrew History teaches

that Moses received the laws, called The
Ten Commandments.

• These laws explained right and wrong

behaviors and became the basis of the
Torah---the first part of the Hebrew Bible.

• Two important principles originated in the

Ten Commandments: 1) The idea that
people should only worship one god and
Painting of Moses with the Ten
2) the idea of the “rule of law” (everyone Commandments--
is equal before the law).
Rembrandt 1659
Wars with
• The Hebrews fought many
wars with the inhabitants of
Canaan (who also thought
the land belonged to them). This is a painting by a Jean Fouquet (1452-1460)
The Taking of Jericho

Although historians are not certain of

• They settled in the central
the accuracy of the story, one
region of Canaan and built important traditional narrative tells
great walled cities. The land the story of the taking of the city of
was divided up among the Jericho by the Israelites. According to
the Bible the first war over Canaan
12 tribes. was the Battle of Jericho. The Hebrew
Bible reports that the city fell after the
leader Joshua led his troops around the city walls blowing trumpets.
The Philistines
• At first the Hebrews were led by
judges. Judges were usually
military leaders that led a tribe.

• The most powerful group in the

region was the Philistines, who had
strong fortified cities and iron
weapons. Philistines were led by a

• In 1020 BCE, the Israelites asked

one of their judges to choose a
king. They thought a king would
unify the tribes and lead them in
battle against the Philistines.
David and Solomon
• Under their second king,
King David, the Israelis won
an empire and drove out the

• David’s son, Solomon, was

known for his wisdom. He
also built an elaborate temple
in the capital of Jerusalem,
which became the spiritual
center of the religion of the
Israelites. Solomon Dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem
objectid=26550&artistlist=1&an=James by Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902)
A Divided Nation
• After Solomon, the people of
Israel divided into two

• The northern kingdom was

made up of 10 of the tribes and
called the Kingdom of Israel. Its
capital was Samaria.

• The southern kingdom was

called the Kingdom of Judah.
Its capital was Jerusalem. The
people in the Kingdom of
Judah were called “Jews.”
The Destruction of
the First Temple
• Like all the groups in Mesopotamia, the fate of the
Israelis was swept up in the tide of conquering

• Both kingdoms eventually fell and in 586 BCE, the

Jews were taken by the Chaldeans to Babylon. The
temple of Solomon was destroyed.

• Many of the Jews were killed but many were allowed

to remain.  These Jews along with their descendants
and other Jews who would resettle over the next 500
years, rebuilt the Nation of Israel  and also a Second
Temple upon the Temple Mount.

In 70 A.D. (nearly 2000 years ago),

the Roman Empire conquered the
nation of Israel and destroyed the
SECOND Jewish Temple. With this
destruction of the temple, many
Jews were killed and others fled to
other places to escape persecution.

The scattering of the Jews to other

places is called diaspora.

But thousands of Jews also stayed

with the hope of rebuilding their
It is difficult to describe the deep and profound significance
of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.

Jews all over the world turn in prayer to the city.

The Jewish groom, at his wedding breaks a glass in

remembrance of the destruction of the destruction of the

The Passover ends with these words "Next Year in


As we will learn later, all three of the world’s monotheistic

religions have deep spiritual ties to places in Jerusalem,
making it, arguably, the most important religious center in
the world.