Location of Israel in relation to the world powers of the day.
Three major political regions that shaped the ancient Near East
Land between two rivers: Tigris, Euphrates
civilization developed around 7000 B.C.
writing took place much later 3100 B.C. by the Sumerians.
Sumerians, Akkadians, Amorites, Baylonians, and Assyrians
Dynasties: Old Kingdom: 2700-2200 B.C.; Middle Kingdom: 2000-1700 B.C. (the time of the Patriarchs); New Kingdom: 1550-1100 B.C.
No early advanced civilizations
The Jewish Bible
Considered as a whole, this body of Scripture is sometimes called Tanak (h) ,
The Teaching, Guidance (Torah)
The Prophets (Nevi’im)
The Writings (Ketuvim)
Four Moments of time in the history of Israel.
Israel’s Ancestry: The Patriarchs
Bronze and Iron ages: 3300 B.C. Bronze was the metal that governed technology. Around 1200 B.C. iron was discovered to be stronger and lighter than bronze.
Early Bronze Age: 3300-2000 B.C.: Writing came about in this time; furthermore, city-states were developing in the ancient Near East. In Egypt this is the period of the Old Kingdom, and it is characterized by the building of the great pyramids.
(1) Israel’s Ancestry: The Patriarchs
Middle Bronze age: 2000-1550 B.C.: This is generally the time ascribed to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). In Babylon Hammurapi rose to power in 1792 B.C., and he is most famous for his code of laws. Egypt was taken over by the Hyksos, and in Palestine the Canaanites were establishing city-states.
Late Bronze Age: 1550-1200 B.C.: Characterized by international trade with Israel caught right in the middle. (Moses and Joshua)
(2) Israel’s beginnings: Moses and Joshua
Egypt moved into the New Kingdom period and dominated the world of the ANE at that time.
Akkadian became the lingua franca , “international language of the day.”
In Egypt Akhenaten tried to make Aten the official religion
Battle of Kadesh: Hittite king Hattushili III and Egyptian king Ramesses II fought and both claimed the victory yet backed down.
Israel in Egypt
After several centuries, the population of Hebrews in Egypt had grown so large that the Egyptians saw them as a threat.
The book of Exodus tells about the proposed solution, in which Hebrew midwives are commanded to kill all baby boys right after birth.
The baby Moses is spared by keeping him hidden.
He is discovered by an Egyptian princess who raises him as her own.
As a young adult, Moses sees an Egyptian foreman badly mistreating an Israelite slave.
In trying to put an end to the cruelty, Moses kills the foreman and then flees from Egypt.
Our next glimpse of Moses comes when he has found a new life beyond the borders of Egypt.
He is now a herdsman for a Midianite priest named Jethro.
One day, when Moses is out with his father-in-law’s herds, he sees a strange sight: a large bush appears to be burning, but it is not consumed.
As Moses approaches the bush, he hears the voice of God, who commands Moses to return to Egypt to help free the Hebrews.
Living in a world that believes in many gods, Moses is curious to know the name of the divine spirit speaking to him. The deity, however, refuses to give a clear name and says mysteriously, “I Am.”
In the Book of Exodus , Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, simply needs to show himself to be more powerful than any of the gods of the Egyptians (Exod. 12:12).
The Books of Exodus and Numbers describe in detail the migration back to Israel—a migration that lasted a full generation, about forty years.
Leviticus and Deuteronomy
The Book of Leviticus (named after the priesthood) begins with detailed laws about animal sacrifice and then takes up the complexities of ritual purity.
Leviticus outlines many special laws that would be important to the later development of Judaism.
The Torah ends with the Book of Deuteronomy , which repeats the Ten Commandments and describes the death of Moses, an event that occurs just before the Hebrews enter the Promised Land of Canaan.
(3) Israel’s Statehood: David and his Dynasty.
The fall of Troy brought about great political changes in the known world. Hittites and Egyptians declined in power, thus creating a vacuum.
Sea Peoples: “Philistines” brought trading and new metal working technology.
Iron technology replaced bonze during this time (1200 B.C.).
In Biblical times this covers the period of the “Judges” all the way to the Davidic Dynasty.
Israel’s Statehood: David and his Dynasty.
Israel wanted a king like all of the other nations (1 Samuel 8:19-20).
David ruled Israel in its golden years.
Under Solomon the kingdom grew to the largest, and Israel could be called an empire.
Solomon lost sight of God and after his reign the kingdom split into two geo-political bodies.
1. Judah was in the South.
It continued to have a royal family that governed.
2. Israel in the North.
It was plagued by political instability: 19 kings in 9 separate dynasties.
Assyrian Empire: 8th and 7th centuries B.C.
In Judah, moral decline took place as Judah coexisted in much prosperity with the Assyrians. As a result the classical prophets began to preach: Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah.
Shalmaneser V governed Assyria when the northern nation fell in 722 B.C.
597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzer (king of Babylon) attacked Jerusalem and deported a vast number of Jews to Babylon. In 587 B.C. he completely destroyed Jerusalem.
Prophetic figures in this time were: Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel.
Religious life for the Jews in Exile
The period of exile in Babylonia (586-539 B.C.E.) was a monumental turning point and one of the most emotional chapters in the history of Judaism.
Without a temple, public ritual had come to an end, but in its place the written word took on new importance.
During their exile in Babylonia, the Jews began to meet weekly to discuss the scriptures and to pray.
What developed was the Sabbath service of worship, study, sermon, and psalms, performed in a meetinghouse or synagogue (Greek: “lead together”).
(4) Israel’s Exile and Restoration: Ezra and Nehemiah.
Persian age (539-332 B.C.)
King Cyrus marks the beginning of the Persian empire
Cyrus enacted a policy of tolerance to religious beliefs, and he allowed the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.
The second Temple was finished in 515 B.C. during the prophetic careers of Haggai and Zechariah.