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The Hebrews


These laws and cult of Yahweh form the eternal character of the Hebrews to the present day. ... Jewish king Josiah (of Judah) tried to extend his territory ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Hebrews

The Hebrews
The Land
  • Mesopotamia
  • Ur in the South and Haran in the North
  • Egypt
  • Hebrew nation forms
  • Palestine/Israel/Canaan/Shechem
  • Hebrew god promised this land to them.
  • Many battles fought over it.
  • Center of a brief Empire.
  • Land bridge between Mesopotamia and Egypt

The Age of the Patriarchs1950 BCE 1500 BCE
  • No record of the Hebrews until 1224-1211 BCE
  • All history is from Genesis (part of Hebrew
  • Pre-Egyptian Hebrews age of the patriarchs
  • impossible to date
  • Written about a thousand years after it happened
  • no-one else was interested in the Hebrews
  • 1950 1500 BCE is a guess of scholars.

Age of the PatriarchsImportant Figures
  • Abraham
  • Selected by Yahweh to be his chosen people.
  • Semite living in Haran (northern Mesopotamia) -
    Father, came from Ur (southern Mesopotamia)
  • Visited by Yahweh told to move his family.
  • Migration - 1950 BCE
  • The region was collapsing
  • Yahweh tells him that all the land of Shechem
    (Palestine) will be given to the Him his
  • Entered into a covenantal relationship with the
    Hebrews and promises to protect them

The Original Hebrews
  • Nomads wandering tribal groups
  • Society organized around kinship rigid
  • Relationship with god is also a kinship
  • Anybody who isn't a descendant of Abraham is not
    included in the special relationship with God.
  • Top of the kinship hierarchy tribal leader
  • desiring a king is disobedience to God.
  • Hebrew tribes move to Egypt from Mesopotamia to
    find a better life.
  • Probably one of the foreign groups who
    overwhelmed Egypt at the end of the Middle
    Kingdom. (We will learn about this soon!)

More info on the Age of Patriarchs
  • Religion of the early Hebrews
  • had nothing to do with the Yahweh cult
  • introduced by Moses
  • Moses was first to hear the name of god, Yahweh.
  • Religious practices described in Genesis indicate
    a belief in animistic forces and even, possibly,
  • Highly controversial.
  • By the end of the patriarchal age, several tribes
    identified with one another as having a common
    ancestor and a common identity.
  • We don't even know what they called themselves.
  • We haven't successfully figured out where the
    term "Hebrew" comes from.
  • Maybe from the Egyptian word, "apiru," or

Egypt the Wanderings1500-1250 BCE
  • Migration out of Egypt 1250 BCE
  • the most important event in Hebrew history.
  • Gave the Hebrews an identity, a nation, a
    founder, and a name
  • Exodus , the biblical account of the migration
    "bene yisrael," "the children of Israel.
  • Almost no account of the Hebrews in Egypt, even
    in Hebrew history.
  • Several Egyptian records of foreign groups during
    the New Kingdom
  • Records of expelling groups that are threats or
    overly powerful.
  • The Hebrews never appear
  • The Hebrews only interested in events leading to
    the migration
  • The rest of their stay in Egypt (centuries) is a

  • Guesses about the Hebrews in Egypt
  • Big Hebrew population may have lived in N. Egypt
    1500-1250 BCE.
  • Many tribal groups, most Semitic, settling in N.
    Egypt from 1800 BCE.
  • Foreigners grew powerful
  • for a short time they dominated Egypt, ruling the
  • Egyptians took back control over Egypt at the
    start of the New Kingdom
  • kicked out as many foreigners as they could.
  • Life got harsh
  • Egyptian king, Seti I (1305-1290), moved his
    capital to Avaris at the N. end of the Nile
  • Established powerful military at the entrance to
  • Garrisoned cities are labor intensive
  • building projects involved heavy taxation in the
    form of labor taxes.
  • heaviest burden fell on foreigners in the area
    including the Hebrews.
  • Probably what is described as the oppression of
    the Hebrews

Moses and the Yahweh Cult
  • Moses made the Hebrews important.
  • United foreigners into a distinct people
  • Gave them a religion and a theology
  • Most believe that Moses was either a real man
    or a group of people.
  • Hard to pin down facts about him.
  • Has an Egyptian name
  • Spends a large amount of time with a non-Hebrew
    people, the Midianites
  • With them he marries and seems to learn the
    Yahweh religion
  • Are there two Moses, an Egyptian and a Hebrew? Or
    an Egyptian and a Midianite? Are the Midianites
    the first peoples to worship Yahweh and then
    teach their religion to the Hebrews?
  • Also hard to tell who participated in the
  • Focus is on the Hebrews, but Exodus claims that a
    "diverse group of peoples" left Egypt with Moses.

  • Introduction to Yahweh and Yahweh cult occurred
    in an area around Mount Sinai (S. region of the
    Arabian Peninsula).
  • Occupied by a nomadic, tribal people
  • Worshipped a nature god - believed lived on Mount
  • There, Moses first meets Yahweh and learns his
  • Moses returns to Sinai with the people of Israel
    and stays
  • There, all the laws and cultic practices of the
    new Yahweh religion are set down.
  • The laws come directly from Yahweh "ten
  • These laws and cult of Yahweh form the eternal
    character of the Hebrews to the present day.

Occupation of Canaan1250-1050 BCE
  • Hebrews arrive at Canaan land promised to them
    1000 yeas earlier
  • Begin long process of settling the land.
  • There were people already there.
  • Canaanites Semitic people spoke language close
    to Hebrew.
  • Farmers, some nomads, but civilized.
  • used Mesopotamian cities as models built small
  • Learned military technology, tactics, law from
    the Mesopotamians
  • Hebrews uncivilized, tribal, and nomadic

  • The Hebrews had a few spectacular victories in
  • Gained territory along the coastal plains
  • But were driven out of these areas
  • Settled in a few places in the Jordan River
  • Held their own against the Canaanites, but could
    not defeat a new people - the Philistines (from
    the north)
  • overwhelmed everyone in their path.
  • had chariots and iron weapons
  • few could stand against new technologies.
  • Hebrews found themselves living in the worst
    areas of Canaan
  • Balance of power shifted as local kingdoms would
    grab and then lose territory
  • Hebrews would find themselves under one and then
    another master.

The Judges and the Deliverers
  • During this time, the Hebrews rarely organized
    into a single group.
  • Divided into separate tribes
  • No center of Yahweh worship no central
  • Only official positions were Judges Deliverers.
  • Judges exercised some authority over all the
    tribes of Israel.
  • May have had some kind of legislative and
    judicial control
  • Judges" weren't gender specific.
  • Most important "judge" was a woman Deborah.

  • Deliverers were military commanders.
  • Organized intertribal armies led them into
    battle against foreigners
  • Appeared at the time of the greatest oppression
    of the Hebrews
  • elected by Yahweh to free the Hebrews from
  • Hebrews regularly abandon the Yahweh religion for
    local cults
  • particularly Canaanite cults.
  • focused on the god Baal
  • Hebrews that settle in the Canaanite cities
    disappear into the Canaanite religion
  • Yahweh religion largely maintained by the nomadic
    groups in the hill country.
  • Hebrews eventually want the identity and
    stability of a unified nation and monarchy.
  • Monarchy was an act of disobedience towards
  • Turned this group of tribes into a kingdom and

The Monarchy1050 920 BCE
  • Two hundred years of poor success in occupying
    lands in Palestine
  • Hebrews united to form a single state under a
    single monarch.
  • First ruled loosely by judges, then deliverers
  • Still faced constant threat of invasion and
  • Still has not even remained firm in their Yahweh

  • Hebrew tribes decided they wanted a king (like
    the Egyptians and Mesopotamians had)
  • Hebrews asked Samuel, the "judge" of Israel, for
    a king.
  • disobedience towards Yahweh
  • Yahweh selected a king for the Hebrews Saul
    (probably chosen by popularity among the people).
  • Ineffectual leader
  • Mostly a military leader.
  • No accounts of him exercising monarchical power
    outside of military exploits.
  • still tribal people, so the transition to a
    monarchy was slow.

  • Saul not a wealthy monarch (like any tribal
  • Fails to carry out Yahweh's instructions
  • Yahweh chooses another king, David.
  • Saul was king for only 2 years.    
  • Pattern emerges monarchy is viewed as a
    negative development in Hebrew history (even
    though written about centuries after the rule of
    Jewish monarchs).
  • Monarchy creates new conflict Who is the ruler
    if the king can disobey Yahweh?

  • Chosen before Saul became king
  • Saul tries to kill him, David runs eventually
    Saul kills himself.
  • David returns and becomes king.
  • Character changes as king
  • he murders a man in order to marry his wife.
  • Worse than anything Saul did!
  • Big accomplishments too. (40 years as king).
  • Defeats the Philistines
  • Transform the new Hebrew kingdom into a Hebrew
  • Never fully integrated, but send tribute and
    labor to David out of fear.
  • Unites the tribes of Israel under an absolute
  • Non-military affairs building, legislation,
    judiciaries, etc.
  • Built up Jerusalem to look more like the capitals
    of other kings rich, large, beautiful
  • Hebrews found themselves under heavy taxes and
    forced labor.

  • Last king of a united Hebrew state,
  • Wise and shrewd king - best of all the kings of
  • Wanted to be like a Mesopotamian king
  • He built up the capital in Jerusalem with a huge
    palace and temple attached to it
  • had 700 wives and 300 concubines
  • most of whom were non-Hebrew (in the book of
    Judges , Yahweh forbids all male Hebrews to marry
  • imported products gold, copper, and cedar, -
    unavailable in Israel.
  • Taxed his people heavily.
  • Gave twenty towns to foreign powers for imported
  • 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 revolted.
  • Would not be ruled by Solomons son.
  • Established their own kingdom.
  • Empire of David and Solomon was gone
  • Two kingdoms emerged lost all the territory
    within 100 years.

The 2 Kingdoms920 -597 BCE
  • The 2 Kingdoms of the Hebrews North - Israel,
    South - Judah.
  • Israelites capital in Samaria
  • Judeans capital in Jerusalem.
  • Remained separate states for over two hundred
  • Both had many ineffective, disobedient, and
    corrupt kings.
  • With the collapse of the Hebrew Empire
  • Moab successfully revolts against Judah
  • Ammon successfully secedes from Israel
  • Within 100 years Israel and Judah are tiny states
    - no bigger than Connecticut.
  • tiny states never survived in that region
  • Israel and Judah were of commercial and military
    importance to nearby powers (Mesopotamia Egypt)

The Conquest of Israel
  • 722 BCE Assyrians conquered Israel.
  • forced the 10 tribes to move to other parts of
    their empire.
  • Kept them weak and peaceful.
  • chose the upper and more powerful classes
  • No reason to fear general population.
  • Sent Assyrians to move into the conquered
  • Many of them adopt the worship of Yahweh over
  • These Israelites disappear from history
    permanently the ten lost tribes of Israel.
  • They were scattered in small populations all over
    the Middle East.
  • Drop their Hebrew names, identity, and religion
    to fit in.
  • 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
  • Judah was conquered by the Chaldeans in 701 BCE
  • 625 BCE, Babylonians took control of
    Mesopotamia for a second time.
  • Jewish king Josiah (of Judah) tried to extend his
  • Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians fought over
    Judah he failed.
  • Babylonians defeated the Egyptians in 605 BCE
  • Judah became a tribute state to Babylon.
  • Babylonians were defeated in 601 BCE
  • The king of Judah, Jehoiakim, defected to the
  • Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, sent troops to
    punish Judah in 597 BCE.
  • Jehoiachin (new King of Judah), gave Jerusalem to
  • Nebuchadnezzar deported 10,000 Jews to his
    capital in Babylon
  • all deportees were drawn professionals, the
    wealthy, and craftsmen.
  • Ordinary people were allowed to stay in Judah.

  • Zedekiah defected from the Babylonians again
  • Nebuchadnezzar sent another expedition 588 BCE
  • Conquered Jerusalem in 586
  • Zedekiah caught and forced to watch the murder of
    his sons, then blinded deported to Babylon.
  • Prominent citizens deported again
  • Number was far smaller between 832 and 1577
    people were deported.
  • The Hebrew kingdom was ended.
  • Never appear again, except for a short time in
    the 2nd century BCE

Exile597 538 BCE
  • Nebuchadnezzar (king of the Chaldeans) deported
    the most prominent citizens of Judah
    professionals, priests, craftsmen, and the
  • The "people of the land" were allowed to stay.
  • 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
  • Famine
  • infinite despair.
  • Some people were better off land of rich
    deportees redistributed to the poor.
  • Rivalries between the two groups of Jews.
  • Wealthy and professional Jews in Babylon regarded
    themselves as the true Jewish people.

  • Jews were settled in a single place by
  • Deported Jews formed their own community in
    Babylon and retained their religion, practices,
    and philosophies.
  • Unlike the 10 lost tribes.
  • Some adopted the Chaldean religion, but most
    remained united in worship of Yahweh.
  • Defeat and loss of land promised by Yahweh seemed
    to indicate that Yahweh had turned away from
  • Period of great despair
  • Blamed Exile on their own impurity.
  • They betrayed Yahweh, allowed Mosaic laws and
    cultic practices to become corrupt
  • Theology of salvation appears.
  • Israelites would be gathered together, society
    and religion purified, unified kingdom
  • The Torah was probably written in its finalized
    form in this period. (Central holy text of the

After the Exile538-332 BCE
  • Cyrus of Persia conquered Mesopotamia and the
    Middle East for religious reasons.
  • Cyrus wanted to conquer the world.
  • Conquest was strategic before Cyrus guaranteed
    your territorial safety by conquering potential
  • Middle of the 7th century BCE prophet,
    Zarathustra (aka Zoroaster), appeared among
  • preached a new religion.
  • Zoroastrianism the universe was made up of two
    distinct parts.
  • good and light
  • evil and dark.
  • History was the battle between these forces.
  • Humans were part of the struggle in all they did.

  • Zoroastrianism involved two gods but other gods
    took sides.
  • Cyrus believed Yahweh was one of the good gods
  • Cyrus said Yahweh visited him one night.
  • Yahweh commanded him to re-establish Yahweh
    worship in Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple.
  • Cyrus ordered the temple rebuilt.
  • Ordered that the Jews in Babylon return to
  • Sent many people back to the native lands to
    worship the local gods there
  • Jews were not unique.
  • Judah became a Theological State
  • Jews were sent home only to worship!
  • Society Changed
  • solely concerned with religious matters
  • foreign religions not tolerated as they had been
    before foreign religions expelled
  • Non-Jews were persecuted
  • Yahweh and only Yahweh was worshipped.
  • Persians and Greeks respected this
  • Romans eventually try to introduce new Gods and
    greatly offend the Jews.

  • Learned many things from the Persians
  • included Persian elements in their religion
  • occurred at the same time there was an effort to
    purify the religion!
  • Most elements were popular not official beliefs
  • Persist only in Christianity
  • Arose among the people not the educated and
    priestly classes.
  • 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.
  • Identical to all other Semitic versions of the
  • 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
  • After two centuries under Persia, Judah became
    part of Macedonia, a Greek state.
  • Alexander the Great had conquered Persia and most
    of the world. (known at that time)
  • After his death empire divided among three
  • After two centuries of peace under the Persians,
    Hebrew state caught in the middle of power
  • 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.
  • Society was very opposed to exposure of the body
  • Greeks wrestled nude and dressed very lightly

  • Mostly, Greeks left the Jews alone
  • They let the Jews run their own country
  • declared that the law of Judah was the Torah
  • Attempted to preserve Jewish religion.
  • When the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, desecrated
    the Temple in 168 BCE, he touched off a Jewish
    revolt under the Maccabees
  • Judah became an independent state again.
  • During this period, Jewish history in several
    areas in Judah, in Mesopotamia and other parts
    of the Middle East, and Egypt.
  • Large, powerful groups of Jews lived throughout
    the Persian empire
  • Jews outside of Judah still thrived.
  • In many foreign cities throughout the Hellenistic
    (Greek) world, Jews formed unified and solid
  • Jewish women had more rights and freedom in these
    communities rather than at home.  
  • Torah was translated into Greek in Ptolemaic
    Egypt because it was the law code of the Jews.
  • Mistakes and mistranslations occurred
  • Hebrew Torah is very anti-Egyptian -- founding
    event of the Hebrew people was the oppression of
    the Hebrews by the Egyptians
  • The Greek translators, working for the Greek
    rulers of Egypt changed the anti-Egyptian
  • This translation made Judaism into a World
    Religion Made the Hebrew scriptures available
    to Mediterranean world early Christians.

The Diaspora (dispersion, scattering)
  • Jewish state ends in 70 C.E. Romans began to
    drive Jews from the home they had lived in for
    over a millennium.
  • Really began before the Romans, when the
    Assyrians conquered Israel in 722
  • 597 BCE on, three distinct groups of Hebrews a
    group in Babylon and other parts of the Middle
    East, a group in Judea, and another group in
  • Thus, 597 is considered the beginning date of the
    Jewish Diaspora.
  • In 63 BCE, Judea became a protectorate of Rome.
  • under the administration of a governor
  • Judea was allowed a king
  • Governor's was to regulate trade and maximize tax

  • Romans were a nightmare for the Jews.
  • Governorships were bought at high prices
  • They heavily taxed the Jews.
  • Even with a Jewish king, the Judeans revolted in
    70 CE
  • ended tragically.
  • 73 CE, last of the revolutionaries were holed up
    in a mountain fort called Masada
  • Romans had waged war on the fort for two years
  • 1000 men, women, and children inside were
    beginning to starve.
  • Jewish revolutionaries killed themselves rather
    than surrender to the Romans.
  • The Romans then destroyed Jerusalem, annexed
    Judea as a Roman province
  • Systematically drove the Jews from Palestine
    (named by the Romans after the Jews enemies the
  • 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.