The Israelites (/ˈɪzriəlaɪts/; Hebrew: בני ישראל Bnei Yisra'el) were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods. According to the religious narrative of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites' origin is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham and his wife Sarah, through their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and their son Jacob who was later called Israel, whence they derive their name, with his wives Leah and Rachel and the handmaids Zilpa and Bilhah.
Modern archaeology has largely discarded the historicity of the religious narrative, with it being reframed as constituting an inspiring national myth narrative. The Israelites and their culture, according to the modern archaeological account, did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the indigenous Canaanite peoples that long inhabited the Southern Levant, Syria, ancient Israel, and the Transjordan region through the development of a distinct monolatristic—later cementing as monotheistic—religion centered on Yahweh, one of the Ancient Canaanite deities. The outgrowth of Yahweh-centric belief, along with a number of cultic practices, gradually gave rise to a distinct Israelite ethnic group, setting them apart from other Canaanites.
In the Hebrew Bible the term Israelites is used interchangeably with the term Twelve Tribes of Israel. Although related, the terms Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews are not interchangeable in all instances. "Israelites" (Yisraelim) refers specifically to the direct descendants of any of the sons of the patriarch Jacob (later called Israel), and his descendants as a people are also collectively called "Israel", including converts to their faith in worship of the god of Israel, Yahweh. "Hebrews" (ʿIvrim), on the contrary, is used to denote the Israelites' immediate forebears who dwelt in the land of Canaan, the Israelites themselves, and the Israelites' ancient and modern descendants (including Jews and Samaritans). "Jews" (Yehudim) is used to denote the descendants of the Israelites who coalesced when the Tribe of Judah absorbed the remnants of various other Israelite tribes. Thus, for instance, Abraham was a Hebrew but he was not technically an Israelite nor a Jew, Jacob was both a Hebrew and the first Israelite but not a Jew, while David (as a member of the Tribe of Judah) was all three, a Hebrew, an Israelite, and a Judahite (Yehudi, Jew). A Samaritan, on the contrary, while being both a Hebrew and an Israelite, is not a Jew.
During the period of the divided monarchy "Israelites" was only used to refer to the inhabitants of the northern Kingdom of Israel, and it is only extended to cover the people of the southern Kingdom of Judah in post-exilic usage.
The Israelites are the ethnic stock from which modern Jews and Samaritans originally trace their ancestry. Modern Jews are named after and also descended from the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah, particularly the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon and partially Levi. Many Israelites took refuge in the Kingdom of Judah following the collapse of the Kingdom of Israel.
Finally, in Judaism, the term "Israelite" is, broadly speaking, used to refer to a lay member of the Jewish ethnoreligious group, as opposed to the priestly orders of Kohanim and Levites. In texts of Jewish law such as the Mishnah and Gemara, the term יהודי (Yehudi), meaning Jew, is rarely used, and instead the ethnonym ישראלי (Yisraeli), or Israelite, is widely used to refer to Jews. Samaritans commonly refer to themselves and to Jews collectively as Israelites, and they describe themselves as the Israelite Samaritans.
The term Israelite is the English name for the descendants of the biblical patriarch Jacob in ancient times, which is derived from the Greek Ισραηλίτες, which was used to translate the Biblical Hebrew term b'nei yisrael, יִשְׂרָאֵל as either "sons of Israel" or "children of Israel".
The name Israel first appears in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 32:29. It refers to the renaming of Jacob, who, according to the Bible, wrestled with an angel, who gave him a blessing and renamed him Israel because he had "striven with God and with men, and have prevailed". The Hebrew Bible etymologizes the name as from yisra "to prevail over" or "to struggle/wrestle with", and el, "God, the divine".
The name Israel first appears in non-biblical sources c. 1209 BCE, in an inscription of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah. The inscription is very brief and says simply: "Israel is laid waste and his seed is not" (see below). The inscription refers to a people, not to an individual or a nation-state.
In modern Hebrew, b'nei yisrael ("children of Israel") can denote the Jewish people at any time in history; it is typically used to emphasize Jewish ethnic identity. From the period of the Mishna (but probably used before that period) the term Yisrael ("an Israel") acquired an additional narrower meaning of Jews of legitimate birth other than Levites and Aaronite priests (kohanim). In modern Hebrew this contrasts with the term Yisraeli (English "Israeli"), a citizen of the modern State of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity.
The Greek term Ioudaioi (Jews) was an exonym originally referring to members of the Tribe of Judah, which formed the nucleus of the kingdom of Judah, and was later adopted as a self-designation by people in the diaspora who identified themselves as loyal to the God of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Samaritans, who claim descent from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (plus Levi through Aaron for kohens), are named after the Israelite Kingdom of Samaria, but until modern times many Jewish authorities contested their claimed lineage, deeming them to have been conquered foreigners who were settled in the Land of Israel by the Assyrians, as was the typical Assyrian policy to obliterate national identities. Today, Jews and Samaritans both recognize each other as communities with an authentic Israelite origin.
The terms "Jews" and "Samaritans" largely replaced the title "Children of Israel" as the commonly used ethnonym for each respective community.
Several theories exist proposing the origins of the Israelites in raiding groups, infiltrating nomads or emerging from indigenous Canaanites driven from the wealthier urban areas by poverty to seek their fortunes in the highland. Various, ethnically distinct groups of itinerant nomads such as the Habiru and Shasu recorded in Egyptian texts as active in Edom and Canaan could have been related to the later Israelites, which does not exclude the possibility that the majority may have had their origins in Canaan proper. The name Yahweh, the god of the later Israelites, may indicate connections with the region of Mount Seir in Edom.
The prevailing academic opinion today is that the Israelites were a mixture of peoples predominantly indigenous to Canaan, although an Egyptian matrix of peoples may also have played a role in their ethnogenesis, with an ethnic composition similar to that in Ammon, Edom and Moab, and including Habiru and Šośu. The defining feature which marked them off from the surrounding societies was a staunch egalitarian organisation focused on Yahweh worship, rather than mere kinship.
The language of the Canaanites may perhaps be best described as an "archaic form of Hebrew, standing in much the same relationship to the Hebrew of the Old Testament as does the language of Chaucer to modern English." The Canaanites were also the first people, as far as is known, to have used an alphabet.
The name Israel first appears c. 1209 BCE, at the end of the Late Bronze Age and the very beginning of the period archaeologists and historians call Iron Age I, on the Merneptah Stele raised by the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah. The inscription is very brief:
Plundered is Canaan with every evil,
Carried off is Ashkelon,
Seized upon is Gezer,
Yenocam is made as that which does not exist
Israel lies fallow, it has no seed;
Ḫurru has become a widow because of Egypt.
As distinct from the cities named (Ashkelon, Gezer, Yenoam) which are written with a toponymic marker, Israel is written hieroglyphically with a demonymic determinative indicating that the reference is to a human group, variously located in central Palestine or the highlands of Samaria.
Over the next two hundred years (the period of Iron Age I) the number of highland villages increased from 25 to over 300 and the settled population doubled to 40,000. By the 10th century BCE a rudimentary state had emerged in the north-central highlands, and in the 9th century this became a kingdom. Settlement in the southern highlands was minimal from the 12th through the 10th centuries BCE, but a state began to emerge there in the 9th century, and from 850 BCE onwards a series of inscriptions are evidence of a kingdom which its neighbours refer to as the "House of David."
After the destruction of the Israelite kingdoms of Samaria and Judah in 720 and 586 BCE respectively, the concepts of Jew and Samaritan gradually replaced Judahite and Israelite. When the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, the Hasmonean kingdom was established in present-day Israel, consisting of three regions which were Judea, Samaria, and the Galilee. In the pre-exilic First Temple Period the political power of Judea was concentrated within the tribe of Judah, Samaria was dominated by the tribe of Ephraim and the House of Joseph, while the Galilee was associated with the tribe of Naphtali, the most eminent tribe of northern Israel. At the time of the Kingdom of Samaria, the Galilee was populated by northern tribes of Israel, but following the Babylonian exile the region became Jewish. During the Second Temple period relations between the Jews and Samaritans remained tense. In 120 BCE the Hasmonean king Yohanan Hyrcanos I destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, due to the resentment between the two groups over a disagreement of whether Mount Moriah in Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim in Shechem was the actual site of the Aqedah, and the chosen place for the Holy Temple, a source of contention that had been growing since the two houses of the former united monarchy first split asunder in 930 BCE and which had finally exploded into warfare. 190 years after the destruction of the Samaritan Temple and the surrounding area of Shechem, the Roman general and future emperor Vespasian launched a military campaign to crush the Jewish revolt of 66 CE, which resulted in the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE by his son Titus, and the subsequent exile of Jews from Judea and the Galilee in 135 CE following the Bar Kochba revolt.
The Israelite story begins with some of the culture heroes of the Jewish people, the Patriarchs. The Torah traces the Israelites to the patriarch Jacob, grandson of Abraham, who was renamed Israel after a mysterious incident in which he wrestles all night with God or an angel. Jacob's twelve sons (in order of birth), Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin, become the ancestors of twelve tribes, with the exception of Joseph, whose two sons Mannasseh and Ephraim, who were adopted by Jacob, become tribal eponyms (Genesis 48).
The mothers of Jacob's sons are:
Jacob and his sons are forced by famine to go down into Egypt, although Joseph was already there, as he had been sold into slavery while young. When they arrive they and their families are 70 in number, but within four generations they have increased to 600,000 men of fighting age, and the Pharaoh of Egypt, alarmed, first enslaves them and then orders the death of all male Hebrew children. A woman from the tribe of Levi hides her child, places him in a woven basket, and sends him down the Nile river. He is named Mosheh, or Moses, by the Egyptians who find him. Being a Hebrew baby, they award a Hebrew woman the task of raising him, the mother of Moses volunteers, and the child and his mother are reunited.
At the age of forty Moses kills an Egyptian, after he sees him beating a Hebrew to death, and escapes as a fugitive into the Sinai desert, where he is taken in by the Midianites and marries Zipporah, the daughter of the Midianite priest Jethro. When he is eighty years old, Moses is tending a herd of sheep in solitude on Mount Sinai when he sees a desert shrub that is burning but is not consumed. The God of Israel calls to Moses from the fire and reveals his name, Yahweh (from the Hebrew root word 'HWH' meaning to exist), and tells Moses that he is being sent to Pharaoh to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.
Yahweh tells Moses that if Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrews go to say to Pharaoh "Thus says Yahweh: Israel is my son, my first-born and I have said to you: Let my son go, that he may serve me, and you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will slay your son, your first-born". Moses returns to Egypt and tells Pharaoh that he must let the Hebrew slaves go free. Pharaoh refuses and Yahweh strikes the Egyptians with a series of horrific plagues, wonders, and catastrophes, after which Pharaoh relents and banishes the Hebrews from Egypt. Moses leads the Israelites out of bondage toward the Red Sea, but Pharaoh changes his mind and arises to massacre the fleeing Hebrews. Pharaoh finds them by the sea shore and attempts to drive them into the ocean with his chariots and drown them.
Yahweh causes the Red Sea to part and the Hebrews pass through on dry land into the Sinai. After the Israelites escape from the midst of the sea, Yahweh causes the ocean to close back in on the pursuing Egyptian army, drowning them to death. In the desert Yahweh feeds them with manna that accumulates on the ground with the morning dew. They are led by a column of cloud, which ignites at night and becomes a pillar of fire to illuminate the way, southward through the desert until they come to Mount Sinai. The twelve tribes of Israel encamp around the mountain, and on the third day Mount Sinai begins to smolder, then catches fire, and Yahweh speaks the Ten Commandments from the midst of the fire to all the Israelites, from the top of the mountain.
Moses ascends biblical Mount Sinai and fasts for forty days while he writes down the Torah as Yahweh dictates, beginning with Bereshith and the creation of the universe and earth. He is shown the design of the Mishkan and the Ark of the Covenant, which Bezalel is given the task of building. Moses descends from the mountain forty days later with the Sefer Torah he wrote, and with two rectangular lapis lazuli tablets, into which Yahweh had carved the Ten Commandments in Paleo–Hebrew. In his absence, Aaron has constructed an image of Yahweh, depicting him as a young Golden Calf, and has presented it to the Israelites, declaring "Behold O Israel, this is your god who brought you out of the land of Egypt". Moses smashes the two tablets and grinds the golden calf into dust, then throws the dust into a stream of water flowing out of Mount Sinai, and forces the Israelites to drink from it.
Moses ascends Mount Sinai for a second time and Yahweh passes before him and says: 'Yahweh, Yahweh, a god of compassion, and showing favor, slow to anger, and great in kindness and in truth, who shows kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving wrongdoing and injustice and wickedness, but will by no means clear the guilty, causing the consequences of the parent's wrongdoing to befall their children, and their children's children, to the third and fourth generation' Moses then fasts for another forty days while Yahweh carves the Ten Commandments into a second set of stone tablets. After the tablets are completed, light emanates from the face of Moses for the rest of his life, causing him to wear a veil so he does not frighten people.
Moses descends Mount Sinai and the Israelites agree to be the chosen people of Yahweh and follow all the laws of the Torah. Moses prophesies if they forsake the Torah, Yahweh will exile them for the total number of years they did not observe the shmita. Bezael constructs the Ark of the Covenant and the Mishkan, where the presence of Yahweh dwells on earth in the Holy of Holies, above the Ark of the Covenant, which houses the Ten Commandments. Moses sends spies to scout out the Land of Canaan, and the Israelites are commanded to go up and conquer the land, but they refuse, due to their fear of warfare and violence. In response, Yahweh condemns the entire generation, including Moses, who is condemned for striking the rock at Meribah, to exile and death in the Sinai desert.
Before Moses dies he gives a speech to the Israelites where he paraphrases a summary of the mizwoth given to them by Yahweh, and recites a prophetic song called the Ha'azinu. Moses prophesies that if the Israelites disobey the Torah, Yahweh will cause a global exile in addition to the minor one prophesied earlier at Mount Sinai, but at the end of days Yahweh will gather them back to Israel from among the nations when they turn back to the Torah with zeal. The events of the Israelite exodus and their sojourn in the Sinai are memorialized in the Jewish and Samaritan festivals of Passover and Sukkoth, and the giving of the Torah in the Jewish celebration of Shavuoth.
Forty years after the Exodus, following the death of the generation of Moses, a new generation, led by Joshua, enters Canaan and takes possession of the land in accordance with the promise made to Abraham by Yahweh. Land is allocated to the tribes by lottery. Eventually the Israelites ask for a king, and Yahweh gives them Saul. David, the youngest (divinely favored) son of Jesse of Bethlehem would succeed Saul. Under David the Israelites establish the united monarchy, and under David's son Solomon they construct the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, using the 400-year-old materials of the Mishkan, where Yahweh continues to tabernacle himself among them. On the death of Solomon and reign of his son, Rehoboam, the kingdom is divided in two.
The kings of the northern Kingdom of Samaria are uniformly bad, permitting the worship of other gods and failing to enforce the worship of Yahweh alone, and so Yahweh eventually allows them to be conquered and dispersed among the peoples of the earth; and strangers rule over their remnant in the northern land. In Judah some kings are good and enforce the worship of Yahweh alone, but many are bad and permit other gods, even in the Holy Temple itself, and at length Yahweh allows Judah to fall to her enemies, the people taken into captivity in Babylon, the land left empty and desolate, and the Holy Temple itself destroyed.
Yet despite these events Yahweh does not forget his people, but sends Cyrus, king of Persia to deliver them from bondage. The Israelites are allowed to return to Judah and Benjamin, the Holy Temple is rebuilt, the priestly orders restored, and the service of sacrifice resumed. Through the offices of the sage Ezra, Israel is constituted as a holy nation, bound by the Torah and holding itself apart from all other peoples.
In 2000, M. Hammer, et al. conducted a study on 1371 men and definitively established that part of the paternal gene pool of Jewish communities in Europe, North Africa and Middle East came from a common Middle East ancestral population. In another study (Nebel) noted; "In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be much more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors."
After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible "historical figures" [...] archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus has similarly been discarded as a fruitless pursuit.
Aaron ( or ; Hebrew: אַהֲרֹן Ahärôn) is a prophet, high priest, and the brother of Moses in the Abrahamic religions.Knowledge of Aaron, along with his brother Moses, comes exclusively from religious texts, such as the Bible and Quran. The Hebrew Bible relates that, unlike Moses, who grew up in the Egyptian royal court, Aaron and his elder sister Miriam remained with their kinsmen in the eastern border-land of Egypt (Goshen). When Moses first confronted the Egyptian king about the Israelites, Aaron served as his brother's spokesman ("prophet") to the Pharaoh. Part of the Law (Torah) that Moses received from God at Sinai granted Aaron the priesthood for himself and his male descendants, and he became the first High Priest of the Israelites.Aaron died before the Israelites crossed the North Jordan river and he was buried on Mount Hor (Numbers 33:39; Deuteronomy 10:6 says he died and was buried at Moserah). Aaron is also mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible.African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem
The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (also known as The Black Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, the Black Hebrew Israelites, or simply the Black Hebrews or Black Israelites) is a spiritual group now mainly based in Dimona, Israel, whose members believe they are descended from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The community now numbers around 5,000. Their immigrant ancestors were African Americans, many from Chicago, Illinois, who migrated to Israel in the late 1960s.
Some of them consider themselves to be Jewish but when they began to emigrate to Israel, the religious officials and the state did not and they were asked to convert. In 2003, the remainder of the existing community (those who did not receive residency permits earlier) were granted official Israeli permanent residency and later were entitled to acquire Israeli citizenship by naturalization, which does not imply any Jewish status. Since 2004, members of the community (both men and women) have served in the Israel Defense Forces.Ancient Israelite cuisine
Ancient Israelite cuisine refers to the food eaten by the ancient Israelites during a period of over a thousand years, from the beginning of the Israelite presence in the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Iron Age until the Roman period. The dietary staples were bread, wine and olive oil, but also included legumes, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fish and meat. Religious beliefs, which prohibited the consumption of certain foods, shaped the Israelite diet. There was considerable continuity in the main components of the diet over time, despite the introduction of new foodstuffs at various stages. The food of ancient Israel was similar to that of other ancient Mediterranean diets.Assyrian captivity
The Assyrian captivity (or the Assyrian exile) is the period in the history of Ancient Israel and Judah during which several thousand Israelites of ancient Samaria were resettled as captives by Assyria. This is one of the many instances of forcible relocations implemented by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian monarchs, Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul) and Shalmaneser V. The later Assyrian rulers Sargon II and his son and successor, Sennacherib, were responsible for finishing the twenty-year demise of Israel's northern ten-tribe kingdom, although they did not overtake the Southern Kingdom. Jerusalem was besieged, but not taken. The tribes forcibly resettled by Assyria later became known as the Ten Lost Tribes.Balaam
Balaam /ˈbeɪlæm/ (Hebrew: בִּלְעָם, Standard Bilʻam Tiberian Bilʻām) is a diviner in the Torah (Old Testament), his story begins in Chapter 22 in the Book of Numbers (Numbers:22). Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not clearly identified. Though some sources may only describe the positive blessings he delivers upon the Israelites, he is reviled as a "wicked man" in both the Torah and the New Testament (2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11, Revelation 2:14). Balaam refused to speak what God did not speak and would not curse the Israelites, even though King Balak of Moab offered him money to do so (Numbers 22–24). But Balaam's error and the source of his wickedness came from sabotaging the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land. According to Revelation (Revelation 2:14), Balaam told King Balak how to get the Israelites to commit sin by enticing them with sexual immorality and food sacrificed to idols. The Israelites fell into transgression due to these traps and God sent a deadly plague to them as a result (Numbers 31:16).Black Hebrew Israelites
Black Hebrew Israelites (also called Black Hebrews, African Hebrew Israelites, and Hebrew Israelites) are groups of Black Americans who believe that they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of both Christianity and Judaism. With the exception of a small number of individuals who have formally converted to Judaism, they are not recognized as Jews by the greater Jewish community. Many choose to identify themselves as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than Jews in order to indicate their claimed historic connections.At the end of the 19th century, Frank Cherry and William Saunders Crowdy both claimed that African Americans are descendants of the Hebrews in the Bible; Cherry established the Church of the Living God, the Pillar Ground of Truth for All Nations in 1886 and Crowdy founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ in 1896.Consequently, Black Hebrew groups were founded in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from Kansas to New York City, by both African Americans and West Indian immigrants. In the mid-1980s, the number of Black Hebrews in the United States was between 25,000 and 40,000. In the 1990s, the Alliance of Black Jews (which is no longer operating) estimated that there were 200,000 African-American Jews; this estimate was based on a 1990 survey conducted by the Council of Jewish Federations. The exact number of Black Hebrews within that surveyed group remains unspecified.Book of Exodus
The Book of Exodus or Exodus is the second book of the Torah and the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) immediately following Genesis.
The book tells how the Israelites leave slavery in Egypt through the strength of Yahweh, the god who has chosen Israel as his people. With the prophet Moses as their leader, they journey through the wilderness to biblical Mount Sinai, where Yahweh promises them the land of Canaan (the "Promised Land") in return for their faithfulness. Israel enters into a covenant with Yahweh who gives them their laws and instructions to build the Tabernacle, the means by which he will come from heaven and dwell with them and lead them in a holy war to possess the land, and then give them peace.
Traditionally ascribed to Moses himself, modern scholarship sees the book as initially a product of the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), from earlier written and oral traditions, with final revisions in the Persian post-exilic period (5th century BCE). Carol Meyers, in her commentary on Exodus suggests that it is arguably the most important book in the Bible, as it presents the defining features of Israel's identity: memories of a past marked by hardship and escape, a binding covenant with God, who chooses Israel, and the establishment of the life of the community and the guidelines for sustaining it.Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua (Hebrew: ספר יהושע Sefer Yehoshua) is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) and the first book of the Deuteronomistic history, the story of Israel from the conquest of Canaan to the Babylonian exile. It tells of the campaigns of the Israelites in central, southern and northern Canaan, the destruction of their enemies, and the division of the land among the Twelve Tribes, framed by two set-piece speeches, the first by God commanding the conquest of the land, and, at the end, the last by Joshua warning of the need for faithful observance of the Law (torah) revealed to Moses.Almost all scholars agree that the Book of Joshua holds little historical value for early Israel and most likely reflects a much later period. The earliest parts of the book are possibly chapters 2–11, the story of the conquest; these chapters were later incorporated into an early form of Joshua written late in the reign of king Josiah (reigned 640–609 BCE), but the book was not completed until after the fall of Jerusalem to the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, and possibly not until after the return from the Babylonian exile in 539 BCE.Book of Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus () is the third book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Most of its chapters (1–7, 11–27) consist of God's speeches to Moses, which God commands Moses to repeat to the Israelites. This takes place within the story of the Israelites' Exodus after they escaped Egypt and reached Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:1). The Book of Exodus narrates how Moses led the Israelites in building the Tabernacle (Exodus 35–40) with God's instructions (Exodus 25–31). Then in Leviticus, God tells the Israelites and their priests how to make offerings in the Tabernacle and how to conduct themselves while camped around the holy tent sanctuary. Leviticus takes place during the month or month-and-a-half between the completion of the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:17) and the Israelites' departure from Sinai (Numbers 1:1, 10:11).
The instructions of Leviticus emphasize ritual, legal and moral practices rather than beliefs. Nevertheless, they reflect the world view of the creation story in Genesis 1 that God wishes to live with humans. The book teaches that faithful performance of the sanctuary rituals can make that possible, so long as the people avoid sin and impurity whenever possible. The rituals, especially the sin and guilt offerings, provide the means to gain forgiveness for sins (Leviticus 4–5) and purification from impurities (Leviticus 11–16) so that God can continue to live in the Tabernacle in the midst of the people.Scholars generally agree that Leviticus developed over a long time and that it reached its present form in the Persian period (538–332 BC).Book of Numbers
The Book of Numbers (from Greek Ἀριθμοί, Arithmoi; Hebrew: בְּמִדְבַּר, Bəmiḏbar, "In the desert [of]") is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction (i.e., editing) of a Yahwistic source made some time in the early Persian period (5th century BCE). The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites.
Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary. The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land. The people are counted and preparations are made for resuming their march. The Israelites begin the journey, but they "murmur" at the hardships along the way, and about the authority of Moses and Aaron. For these acts, God destroys approximately 15,000 of them through various means. They arrive at the borders of Canaan and send spies into the land. Upon hearing the spies' fearful report concerning the conditions in Canaan, the Israelites refuse to take possession of it. God condemns them to death in the wilderness until a new generation can grow up and carry out the task. The book ends with the new generation of Israelites in the Plain of Moab ready for the crossing of the Jordan River.Numbers is the culmination of the story of Israel's exodus from oppression in Egypt and their journey to take possession of the land God promised their fathers. As such it draws to a conclusion the themes introduced in Genesis and played out in Exodus and Leviticus: God has promised the Israelites that they shall become a great (i.e. numerous) nation, that they will have a special relationship with Yahweh their god, and that they shall take possession of the land of Canaan. Numbers also demonstrates the importance of holiness, faithfulness and trust: despite God's presence and his priests, Israel lacks faith and the possession of the land is left to a new generation.British Israelism
British Israelism (also called Anglo-Israelism) is a pseudoarchaeological movement which holds the view that the people of the British Isles are "genetically, racially, and linguistically the direct descendants" of the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel. With roots in the 16th century, British Israelism was inspired by several 19th-century English writings such as John Wilson's 1840 Our Israelitish Origin. The movement never had a head organisation or a centralized structure. Various British Israelite organisations were set up throughout the British Empire as well as in America from the 1870s; a number of these organisations are active as of the early 21st century. In America, its ideas gave rise to the Christian Identity movement.
The central tenets of British Israelism have been refuted by evidence from modern archaeological, ethnological, genetic, and linguistic research.Crossing the Red Sea
The Crossing of the Red Sea (Hebrew: קריעת ים סוף Kriat Yam Suph – Crossing of the Red Sea or Sea of Reeds) is part of the biblical narrative of the Exodus, the escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus. Moses holds out his staff and the Red Sea is parted by God. The Israelites walk on the dry ground and cross the sea, followed by the Egyptian army. Once the Israelites have safely crossed Moses lifts his arms again, the sea closes, and the Egyptians are drowned.Gilgal
Gilgal (Hebrew: גִּלְגָּל Gilgāl; Koine Greek: Γαλγαλατοκαι Δωδεκαλίθων "Galgalatokai of the Twelve Stones") is the name of one or more places in the Hebrew Bible. Gilgal is mentioned 39 times, in particular in the Book of Joshua, as the place where the Israelites camped after crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:19 - 5:12). The Hebrew term Gilgal most likely means "circle of stones". Its name appears in Koine Greek on the Madaba Map.Hebrews
Hebrews (Hebrew: עברים or עבריים, Tiberian ʿIḇrîm, ʿIḇriyyîm; Modern Hebrew ʿIvrim, ʿIvriyyim; ISO 259-3 ʕibrim, ʕibriyim) is a term appearing 34 times within 32 verses of the Hebrew Bible. While the term was not an ethnonym, it is mostly taken as synonymous with the Semitic-speaking Israelites, especially in the pre-monarchic period when they were still nomadic. However, in some instances it may also be used in a wider sense, referring to the Phoenicians, or to other ancient groups, such as the group known as Shasu of Yhw on the eve of the Bronze Age collapse.By the time of the Roman Empire, Greek Hebraios could refer to the Jews in general, as Strong's Hebrew Dictionary puts it, "any of the Jewish Nation", and at other times more specifically to the Jews living in Judea. In early Christianity, the Greek term Ἑβραῖος refers to Jewish Christians as opposed to the gentile Christians and Judaizers (Acts 6:1 among others). Ἰουδαία is the province where the Temple was located.
In Armenian, Italian, Modern Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, and a few other modern languages, there is a pejorative connotation associated with the word corresponding to the word Jew; because of that, in each of these languages, the primary word used is that which corresponds to "Hebrew". The translation of "Hebrew" is used also in the Kurdish language and was once used also in French.
With the revival of the Hebrew language and the emergence of the Hebrew Yishuv, the term has been applied to the Jewish people of this re-emerging society in Israel or anything associated with it.Moses
Moses () was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person.According to the Hebrew Bible, he was adopted by an Egyptian princess, and later in life became the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the Torah, or acquisition of the Torah from Heaven is traditionally attributed. Also called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew (מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, lit. "Moses our Teacher"), he is the most important prophet in Judaism. He is also an important prophet in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and a number of other Abrahamic religions.
According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in a time when his people, the Israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in numbers and the Egyptian Pharaoh was worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt's enemies. Moses' Hebrew mother, Jochebed, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh's daughter (identified as Queen Bithia in the Midrash), the child was adopted as a foundling from the Nile river and grew up with the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slavemaster (because the slavemaster was smiting a Hebrew), Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which he regarded as the Mountain of God).
God sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses said that he could not speak eloquently, so God allowed Aaron, his brother, to become his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.
Jerome gives 1592 BCE, and James Ussher 1571 BCE as Moses' birth year. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses was called "the man of God".Moses in Islam
Mûsâ ibn 'Imran (Arabic: ٰمُوسَى, translit. Mūsā) known as Moses in the Bible, considered a prophet and messenger in Islam, is the most frequently mentioned individual in the Quran, his name being mentioned 136 times. The Quran states that Musa was sent by Allah to the Pharaoh of Egypt and his establishments and the Israelites for guidance and warning. Musa is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual, and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other prophet. According to Islam, all Muslims must have faith in every prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul) which includes Musa and his brother Aaron (Harun). The Quran states:
And mention in the Book, Moses. Indeed, he was chosen, and he was a messenger and a prophet. And We called him from the side of the mount at [his] right and brought him near, confiding [to him]. And We gave him out of Our mercy his brother Aaron as a prophet.
Musa is considered to be a prophetic predecessor to Muhammad. The tale of Musa is generally seen as a spiritual parallel to the life of Muhammad, and Muslims consider many aspects of their lives to be shared. Islamic literature also describes a parallel between their believers and the incidents which occurred in their lifetimes. The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is considered similar to the (migration) from Mecca made by the followers of Muhammad.Musa is also very important in Islam for having been given the revelation of the Torah, which is considered to be one of the true revealed scriptures in Muslim theology, and Muslims generally hold that much of the Torah is confirmed and repeated in the Qur'an. Moreover, according to Islamic tradition, Musa was one of the many prophets Muhammad met in the event of the Mi'raj, when he ascended through the seven heavens. During the Mi'raj, Musa is said to have urged Muhammad to ask Allah to reduce the number of required daily prayers until only the five obligatory prayers remained. Musa is further revered in Islamic literature, which expands upon the incidents of his life and the miracles attributed to him in the Qur'an and hadith, such as his direct conversation with Allah.Plagues of Egypt
As recounted In the Biblical book of Exodus, the Plagues of Egypt (Hebrew: מכות מצרים, Makot Mitzrayim) are ten mythical calamities inflicted on Egypt by Yahweh, the god of Israel, in order to force Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to depart from slavery:
gnats (or lice or mosquitoes or other small insects)
flies (or swarms of insects; some have "wild beasts")
pestilence of livestock
death of the firstborn (of Egypt).The plagues are "signs and marvels" given by the God of Israel to answer Pharaoh's taunt that he does not know Yahweh: "The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord." The many popular-level attempts to find natural explanations for the plagues (e.g., a volcanic eruption to explain the "darkness" plague) have been dismissed by biblical scholars. There is no indication that the Israelites ever lived in Ancient Egypt, and there is an almost universal consensus is that the Exodus story is best understood as myth.Promised Land
The Promised Land (Hebrew: הארץ המובטחת, translit.: ha'aretz hamuvtakhat; Arabic: أرض الميعاد, translit.: ard al-mi'ad; also known as "The Land of Milk and Honey") is the land which, according to the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), was promised and subsequently given by God to Abraham and his descendants, and in modern contexts an image and idea related both to the restored Homeland for the Jewish people and to salvation and liberation is more generally understood.
The promise was first made to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21), then confirmed to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3), and then to Isaac's son Jacob (Genesis 28:13), Abraham's grandson. The Promised Land was described in terms of the territory from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates river (Exodus 23:31). A smaller area of former Canaanite land and land east of the Jordan River was conquered and occupied by their descendants, the Israelites, after Moses led the Exodus out of Egypt (Numbers 34:1-12), and this occupation was interpreted as God's fulfilment of the promise (Deuteronomy 1:8). Moses anticipated that God might subsequently give the Israelites land reflecting the boundaries of God's original promise, if they were obedient to the covenant (Deuteronomy 19:8-9).
The concept of the Promised Land is the central tenet of Zionism, whose discourse suggests that modern Jews descend from the Israelites and Maccabees through whom they inherit the right to re-establish their "national homeland". Palestinians also claim partial descent from the Israelites and Maccabees, as well as all the other peoples who have lived in the region.The imagery of the "Promised Land" was invoked in African-American spirituals as heaven or paradise and as an escape from slavery, which can often only be reached by death. The imagery and term have also been used in popular culture (see Promised Land (disambiguation)), sermons and in speeches, such as the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" (1968) speech by Martin Luther King Jr.:
"I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."The Exodus
The Exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites. Spread over the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, it tells of the enslavement that befell the children of Israel in Egypt, their liberation through the hand of Yahweh and the revelations at Sinai, and their wanderings in the wilderness up to borders of Canaan, the land their God has given them. Its message is that Israel was delivered from slavery by Yahweh and therefore belongs to him through the Mosaic covenant, the terms of which are that Yahweh will protect his chosen people for all time, so long as they will keep his laws and worship only him. The narrative and its laws remain central to Judaism, recounted daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated in festivals such as Passover, as well as serving as an inspiration and model for non-Jewish groups from early Protestants fleeing persecution in Europe to African-Americans striving for freedom and civil rights.Scholars are broadly agreed that the Exodus story was composed in the 5th century BCE. The traditions behind it can be traced in the writings of the 8th-century BCE prophets, but it has no historical basis. Instead, archaeology suggests a native Canaanite origin for ancient Israel.
The Biblical and Historical Israelites