Ancient Judaism 101

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The Story

The earliest biblical material was likely composed no earlier than the 10th century BCE. The historicity of many biblical stories is questionable. The first extra-biblical reference to the people Israel occurs in the late thirteenth century BCE.

By the time of the monarchy (c. 1020 BCE), there is extra-biblical evidence for some biblical material. The monarchy included the reigns of Kings Saul (c.1020-1000 BCE), David (c.1000-961 BCE), and Solomon (c. 961-928 BCE), during which the twelve tribes united and Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, emerged as a major power in the region.

ancient jewish historyAfter Solomon's death, the kingdom split into Judah (the southern kingdom, including Jerusalem and the Temple) and Israel (the northern kingdom). Israel was invaded and occupied by Assyria in 722 BCE. In 586 BCE, Judah was invaded by the Babylonians, and Jerusalem (including the Temple) was destroyed. A number of Jews were taken to Babylon in captivity.

From 538 (when the Temple was rebuilt) until 70 CE, Palestine came under the rule of several empires, including Persia, Greece, and Rome. During a brief period of self-rule, the Hasmonean dynasty-- including the Maccabees and their descendents--ruled the area.

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