Hebrew History 1: This is a short history of the Hebrew nation to supplement Thru the Bible.


The Hebrews as a Nation

1. Period of Beginnings.
The first eleven chapters of Genesis cover the period from the time of creation to the time of Abraham. This period is concerned with beginnings. The Genesis account tells of the creation of the world and is climaxed by the creation of man and the institution of the home and the Sabbath. Then follows the story of the Temptation and Fall of man, with its consequent punishment. This is followed by the story of Cain’s slaying of Abel, and the birth of Seth. The account of the wickedness of the race, the building of the Ark, and the Flood is then related. The accounts of the new start after Noah, the building of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues are then given.

2. Hebrew Patriarchs.
The second period begins with Abraham , 1900 B.C. – 1800 B.C. and goes to the time of Moses 1350 B.C. – 1250 B.C. This history is recorded in Gen 12-50. The contents of this period may be summarized as follows: The Call of Abraham and the record of some of his accomplishments, the experiences of his son Isaac , the stirring stories of Jacob and his twelve sons, the heroic struggles and achievements of Joseph in Egypt, and finally, the account of the coming of the sons of Jacob (Israel) to Egypt and their experiences there up to the death of Joseph.

3. Egyptian Slavery and Deliverance.
This period begins with the work of Moses and goes to the time of the conquest of Palestine by the children of Israel. There is some difference of opinion as to the time of Moses’ work. While the exact date has not been finally determined there seems just now to be a turning to the date of approximately 1300 B.C Be that as it may, this period in the history of the Hebrews is full of interesting and important history. These events are recorded in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Deuteronomy. Moses is the chief figure in this era. He was born and reared in Egypt, adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh and trained in the best Egyptian learning and culture. He fled to the land of Midian and there, after a residence of some forty years, was called to be the deliverer of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. He organized the Hebrews and led them forth from Egypt to Palestine through a period of some forty years. They were led first to Sinai where they received the Law. From there they went to Kadesh-Barnea about eighteen months after their departure from Pharaoh’s land. Upon their failure to exercise faith and enter the “Land of Promise” they were forced to wander for nearly forty years. Moses led them through many trying experiences to the land of Moab east of the Jordan, where he relinquished his leadership, commissioned Joshua to be his successor and then bade farewell to his people before his mysterious death in the silent hills of Moab.

4. Conquest and Organization in Canaan.
The period begins with Joshua ‘s work as leader in crossing the Jordan river to capture Jericho and includes his further conquests. After the so-called conquest of the land of their fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) Palestine was divided among the twelve tribes. Joshua finished his labors and the people were left without an out-standing leader. The period that follows is called the period of the Judges and was a time of apostasy, decline and failure. It was the “Dark Ages” of Hebrew history. These Judges, who really were only military deliverers, were not great national figures. The last and the greatest of these was Samuel who bridged over the chasm between the period of the Judges and the establishment of the Kingdom (1100 B.C.). ,

5. Hebrew Kingdom.
This period is the most glorious one, from a material point of view, in all Hebrew history. It began about 1100 B.C. and closed in 587 B.C. Samuel anointed Saul as the first king who started auspiciously, but ended his career in disaster. His accomplishments were not outstanding. His reign of forty years left the Hebrew people in a weak state, harassed by their enemies, and discouraged. David assumed leadership then and was one of the greatest of all the kings of the Jews. He reigned for seven and a half years at Hebron in southern Palestine and then became king over all twelve tribes. He captured the ancient city of the Jebusites (Jerusalem ) and made it the capital of his kingdom. He rapidly organized his forces, and in brilliant military movements soon subdued his enemies and gave his nation a magnificent start. He died as an old man, after forty years’ reign, and was succeeded by his son Solomon . Solomon inherited this strong kingdom and then inaugurated his great building program including fortresses, his palaces, and the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem. Solomon’s reign marked the climax of the golden age of Israel’s history. The splendor and the fame of his reign were the pride of the Hebrews and the envy of the world. But he ended his career, after forty years’ reign, almost as a failure. The seed of rebellion had been sown as a result of Solomon’s lavish expenditure of money and the consequent imposition of very heavy taxes, and immediately after his death this rebellion broke out. His son Rehoboam succeeded him and then the ten northern tribes revolted and established the kingdom of Israel which existed for about 250 years as a rival to the southern kingdom, Judah. The northern tribes finally established a capital at Samaria . In 722 B.C. Samaria fell, after a siege of several years, and the best people of these ten tribes were taken into Assyria as captives. With this event the record of the ten tribes came to an end. Judah, the southern kingdom, continued to exist as a small but mostly independent nation after the fall of Samaria until 587 B.C. when their beloved city was finally captured and destroyed. Then most of the Hebrews were taken into captivity in the land of Babylonia near the ancient city of Ur, the original home of Abraham their forefather. Thus the kingdom of the Hebrews came to an end.

6. Captivity and Restoration.
The next period, 587 B.C. – 400 B.C., closes the record in the Old Testament. This includes the Captivity and the Restoration. These captive Hebrews remained in Babylonian exile, not as slaves but as colonists, for about seventy years. Three distinct groups made the long journey hack to the old homeland of Palestine after the famous decree of Cyrus the Great, king of the Persians and sovereign of the Jews . Under the Ieadership of Nehemiah the walls of ancient Jerusalem were rebuilt, and Zerubbabel was successful in rebuilding the temple. Ezra was the great reformer and teacher of the Jews in this restored kingdom. It was only a small kingdom, subject to the king of Persia, but it was distinctly spiritual in nature. About 400 B.C. the Old Testament closes with the Hebrews back in Palestine, but not as an independent kingdom.

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