The history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham.
His story begins when G-d tells him to leave his
homeland promising him and his descendants a new
home in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12). This is the
land now known as Israel after Abraham’s grandson
whose descendants are the Jewish people.
The land is often referred to as the Promised Land
because of G-d’s repeated promise (Genesis 12:7; 13.15;
15:18; 17:8) to give the land to the descendants of
The land of Israel is central to Judaism. A substantial
portion of Jewish law is tied to the land of Israel, and
can only be performed there.
Some rabbis have declared that it is a mitzvah
(commandment) to take possession of Israel and to
live in it (Numbers 33:53)
The Talmud indicates that the land itself is so holy
that merely walking in it can gain you a place in the
World to Come.
Prayers for a return to Israel and Jerusalem are
included in daily prayers as well as many holiday
observances and special events.
Living outside of Israel is viewed as an unnatural
state for a Jew.
The world outside of Israel is often referred to as
"galut," which is usually translated as "diaspora"
(dispersion), but a more literal translation would
be "exile" or "captivity."
When Jews live outside of Israel, they are living in
exile from their land.
Jews were exiled from the land of Israel by the
Romans in 135 CE, after they defeated the Jews in a
three-year war, and Jews did not have any control
over the land again until 1948 CE.
Main cities in Canaan were fortified.
Trojan wars, Hittites invasions of Asia Minor. People
sailing from Greece to coasts of Canaan, Phoenicia and
Egypt. One of these groups Palasta, Philistines, who
came and occupied Gaza
13th century, Hebrews took hold of these advantages
and occupied areas in central highlands: Israelite.
Archaeologists uncovered pots, jars, houses of peasant
farmers who were Canaanite which suggests that the
setttlements were established peacefully.
Israel began as a social revolution within Canaan.
Letters in 14th century BCE written to Pharaoh in
Egypt: complaints about groups causing turmoil in
Marginal social group: Canaanites in revolt called
Some suggested that Israelites escaping from Egypt
may have joined with these disaffected peoples to
establish their own settlements rather than follow
Israelites were Canaanites who developed a separate
identity and settled in central highlands. No reasons given.
They withdrew for some reason. They worshipped G-d of
Hebrews not united people at this stage.
Local foreigners – Midianites, etc., merged with the
community. Not large-scale immigration or initiation of
anything radically new.
Elements of the group may have brought the story of
escape from Egypt and talked of YHWH.
Mixed group that would join together to become Israel
accepted YHWH and would have adopted the national
story of the Exodus as their own at some point.
Hebrew tribes themselves were still in formation
Tribal structure of Israelite society that would develop
would be strengthened by the natural division of the
land into these separate geographical areas.
Local tribes probably assimilated elements of local
Ethnic mix e.g G-d as tent dweller ‘El’; Reminiscent of
Ba-al; in the Book of Judges, the Temple is mentioned
as ‘Ba-al Berit’ ‘El Berit’ describe the G-d of the
We can hypothesise a union of cultural religious and
ethnic elements -
* Local Canaanite agriculturalists
* Semi-nomadic Hebrews of Exodus
* Escaped slaves
- who would come together to make a new political
and religious reality called Israel.
Joshua provides different accounts.
Outside conquest by means of war led by hosts of the
Military skill is far less important than ritual
preparation and purity (Jericho)
Conquest represented as miraculous victory by G-d
Decimation of the Canaanites – intense rivalry maybe
between differentiations of Canaanites and Jews who
were from Canaan.
Preserving distinct identity (Joshua 23 and 24)
One proper response to G-d is to observe the Torah
by not inter-marrying because, in doing so, they
would have to worship other gods.
Choose who they serve: YHWH or those whose
lands they’re settling in.
Ban on inter-marriage has to do with religious
Israel is to show undivided loyalty to G-d or G-d
will take the gift of the land from Israel as he did
from the Canaanites.