There is always something magical about the journey of the Hebrew bloodline forever seeking freedom and a homeland. The Hebrew alphabet is laced with symbols of light and codes that speak of the nature of reality. As with all ancient civilizations, we find a connection to gods in chariots who visited and guide. Today we connect with with UFO's and alien creators as humanity forever seeks its origins. How did it all begin and where is it all going?
Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia located on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are also adjacent.
With a population of about 7.28 million, the majority of whom are Jews, Israel is the world's only Jewish state. It is also home to Arabs Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans, as well as other religious and ethnic minority groups.
The modern state of Israel has its roots in the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), a concept central to Judaism for over 3000 years. After World War I, the League of Nations approved the British Mandate of Palestine with the intent of creating a "national home for the Jewish people."
In 1947, the United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.
On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel declared independence in accordance with the UN decision and this was followed by a war with the surrounding Arab states, which refused to accept the plan. The Israelis were subsequently victorious in a series of wars confirming their independence and expanding the borders of the Jewish state beyond those in the UN Partition Plan. Since then, Israel has been in conflict with many of the neighboring Arab countries, resulting in several major wars and decades of violence that continue to this day.
Since its foundation, Israel's boundaries and even the State's very right to exist have been subject to dispute, especially among its Arab neighbors. However, Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and efforts are being made to reach a permanent accord with the Palestinians.
Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system and universal suffrage. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel's legislative body. In terms of nominal gross domestic product, the nation's economy is estimated as being the 44th-largest in the world. Israel ranks high among Middle Eastern countries on the bases of human development, freedom of the press, and economic competitiveness. Jerusalem is the country's capital, seat of government, and largest city, while Israel's main financial center is Tel Aviv.
Jewish history began about 4,000 years ago (c. 17th century BCE) with the patriarchs - Abraham, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. Documents unearthed in Mesopotamia, dating back to 2000- 1500 BCE, corroborate aspects of their nomadic way of life as described in the Bible.
We study the Biblical account from the end of Abraham's life through the end of the Book of Genesis when all is well for the 12 tribes of Israel in Goshen, Egypt. This lesson covers the important events in the life of Isaac, then his son Jacob (who is renamed Israel by God), and finally Jacob's twelve sons, including Joseph who becomes the pharoah's chief steward or vizier.
Joseph prefigures Jesus as an unjustly accused righteous man who is sold for silver, saves his kinsmen, and rises to the throne. Joseph also serves as a type of the chief steward whom Jesus appoints over his kingdom: St. Peter (Cf. Matthew 16). God reveals important things to both Joseph and Peter. Pharaoh and King Jesus ask Joseph Peter, respectively, a question regarding this revelation.
Both give the revelation. This is followed by an acknowledgment that the revelation comes from God. Subsequently, Pharoah elevates Joseph to the level of vizier. Jesus elevates Peter to the level of vizier or prime minister. Pharoah gives Joseph his signet ring. Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom. Yes indeed.. Genesis speaks of the papacy through the use of typology.
The Book of Genesis relates how Abraham was summoned from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan to bring about the formation of a people with belief in the One God. When a famine spread through Canaan, Jacob (Israel), his twelve sons and their families settled in Egypt, where their descendants were reduced to slavery and pressed into forced labor.
After 400 years of bondage, the Israelites were led to freedom by Moses who, according to the biblical narrative, was chosen by God to take his people out of Egypt and back to the Land of Israel promised to their forefathers (c. 13th-12th centuries BCE). They wandered for 40 years in the Sinai desert, where they were forged into a nation and received the Torah (Pentateuch), which included the Ten Commandments and gave form and content to their monotheistic faith.
The exodus from Egypt (c.1300 BCE) left an indelible imprint on the national memory of the Jewish people and became a universal symbol of liberty and freedom. Every year Jews celebrate Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Succot (Feast of Tabernacles), commemorating events of that time.
During the next two centuries, the Israelites conquered most of the Land of Israel and relinquished their nomadic ways to become farmers and craftsmen; a degree of economic and social consolidation followed. Periods of relative peace alternated with times of war during which the people rallied behind leaders known as 'judges,' chosen for their political and military skills as well as for their leadership qualities. The weakness inherent in this tribal organization in face of a threat posed by the Philistines (sea-going people from Asia Minor who settled on the country's Mediterranean coast) generated the need for a ruler who would unite the tribes and make the position permanent, with succession carried on by inheritance.
In compiling the history of ancient Israel and Judah, there are many available sources, including the Jewish Tanakh (partially the Old Testament, it also consists of the book of the prophets, and the five books of Moses) and other Jewish texts such as the Talmud, the Ethiopian book of history known as the Kebra Nagast, the writings of historians such as Nicolaus of Damascus, Artapanas, Philo of Alexandria and Josephus, other writings, and archaeological evidence including Egyptian, Moabite, Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions.
Depending on their interpretation, some writers see these sources as being in conflict. See The Bible and history for several views as to how the sources are best reconciled. This is a controversial subject, with important implications in the fields of religion, politics and diplomacy.
This article attempts to give a conservative scholarly view which would currently be supported by most historians. The precise dates and the precision by which they may be stated are subject to continuing discussion and challenge.
There are no biblical events whose precise year can be validated by external sources before the early 9th century BCE (The rise of Omri, King of Israel). Therefore all earlier dates are extrapolations.
Further, the Bible does not render itself very easily to these calculations: mostly it does not state any time period longer than a single life time and a historical line must be reconstructed by adding discrete quantities, a process that naturally introduces rounding errors. The accuracy in which dates are represented here reflects a maximalist view, namely one that believes in the historical accuracy of the core stories of the Bible.
Others, known as minimalists dispute that many of the events happened at all, making the dating of them moot: if the very existence of the united kingdom is in doubt, it is pointless to claim that it disintegrated in 922 BCE. However, many of the events from the 9th century onward do have corroborations; see for example Mesha Stele.
The Mousterian Neanderthals were the earliest inhabitants of the area known to archaeologists, and have been carbon-dated to c. 200,000 BCE. The first anatomically modern humans to live in the area were the Kebarans (conventionally c. 18,000 - 10,500 BCE, but recent paleoanthropological evidence suggests that Kebarans may have arrived as early as 75,000 BCE and shared the region with the Neanderthals for millennia before the latter died out).
They were followed by the Natufian culture (c. 10,500 BCE - 8500 BCE), the Yarmukians (c. 8500 - 4300 BCE) and the Ghassulians (carbon dated c. 4300 - 3300 BCE). (Note that not one of these names appears in any classical sources, and were all devised as conventions in recent times by archaeologists, to refer to the lowest strata of remains.)
The Semitic culture followed on from the Ghassulians. People became urbanized and lived in city-states, one of which was Jericho. The area's location at the center of routes linking three continents made it the meeting place for religious and cultural influences from Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor. It was also the natural battleground for the great powers of the region and subject to domination by adjacent empires, beginning with Egypt in the late 3rd millennium BCE.
Traditions regarding the early history found in later works such as the Kebra Nagast and commentaries of Rashi, Philo, and numerous others, (besides of course, the Tanakh) refer to the early inhabitants as the sons of Shem and also speak of an invasion by the people known as Canaanites descended from Ham. The Book of Jubilees states that the land was originally allotted to Shem and Arphaxad (ancestor of the Hebrews) when it was still vacant, but was wrongfully occupied by Canaan and his son Sidon. Jubilees makes this, then, the true justification for the later war to drive out the Canaanites.
The Kebra Nagast, however, speaks of the Canaanites invading existing cities of Shem and Ibn Ezra, similarly notes that they had seized land from earlier inhabitants. Rashi mentions that the Canaanites were seizing land from the sons of Shem in the days of Abraham.
The patriarchal period begins with Abraham. The Bible places the events surrounding Abraham (originally Abram) circa 1800 BCE, give or take 100 years. The account of his life is found in the Book of Genesis, beginning in Chapter 11, at the close of a genealogy of the sons of Shem (which includes among its members Eber, the eponym of the Hebrews).
His father Terah came from Ur Kasdim. His father moved his family, including his son Abram, from Ur Kasdim to the city of Haran.
Abram declared his belief in the One God, initiating the beginning of Judaism. Abraham married Sarai. He and his extended clan then moved to the land of Canaan. According the the Bible, God called Abram to go to "the land I will show you", and promised to bless him and make him (though hitherto childless) a great nation. Trusting this promise, Abram journeyed down to Shechem, then to a spot between Bethel and Ai. He then moved to the oaks of Mamre in Hebron.
The name Abraham was given to Abram (and the name Sarah to Sarai) at the same time as the covenant of circumcision (chapter 17), which is practiced in Judaism and Islam to this day. At this time Abraham was promised not only many descendants, but descendants through Sarah specifically, as well as the land where he was living, which was to belong to his descendants. The covenant was to be fulfilled through Isaac, though God promised that Ishmael would become a great nation as well.
Some modern historians dispute the historical accuracy of the patriarchal narratives in the Bible, and hold these events to be largely, or perhaps entirely, mythical. Others consider them to be largely historical, and presented in terms reflecting the understanding of the times.
Abraham's grandson Jacob was later renamed Israel, and according to the Biblical account, his twelve sons became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel
The narrative behind how the Israelites became slaves, or if they did at all, is still unclear. A few historians believe that this may have been due to the changing political conditions within Egypt. In 1600 BCE, Egypt was conquered by tribes, apparently Semitic, known as the Hyksos by the Egyptians. The Hyksos were later driven out by Kamose, the last king of the seventeenth dynasty. Between 1540-1070 BCE, Ahmose I founded the 18th Egyptian dynasty, and a new age for Egypt, the New Kingdom. Thutmose III established Egypt's empire in the western Near East. From then on, the chronology can only roughly be given in approximate dates for most events, until about the 7th century BCE.
1440 BCE The Egyptian reign of Amenhotep II, during which the first mention of the Habiru (possibly the Hebrews) is found in Egyptian texts. Recently discovered evidence indicates that the Habiru spoke Hurrian, the language of the Hurrians.
c.1400 First mention of the Shasu in Egyptian records, located just south of the Dead Sea. The Shasu contain a group with a Yahwistic name.
1300 BCE The Bible places the birth of Moses around this time.
1295 BCE Egypt's 19th dynasty began with the reign of Ramses I. Ramses II (1279-1213 BCE) filled the land with enormous monuments, and signed a treaty with the Hittites after losing the northern Levant to the Hittite Empire.
The Hebrews migrated into Canaan circa 1200 BCE, a time when the great powers of the region were neutralized by troubles of various kinds. In their initial attacks under Joshua, the Hebrews occupied most of Canaan, which they settled according to traditional family lines derived from the sons of Jacob and Joseph (the "tribes" of Israel). No formal government existed and the people were led by ad hoc leaders (the "judges" of the biblical Book of Judges) in times of crisis. Around this time, the name "Israel" is first mentioned in a contemporary archaeological source, the Merneptah Stele.
1200 BCE. The Hittite empire of Anatolia was conquered by allied tribes from the west. The northern, coastal Canaanites (called the Phoenicians by the Greeks) may have been temporarily displaced, but returned when the invading tribes showed no inclination to settle.
Circa 1185 BCE the Sea People, as they were called by the Egyptians, swept across Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. They invaded Egypt in Ramesses III's reign, but were repelled. Amongst them were a group called the P-r-s-t (first recorded by the ancient Egyptians as P-r/l-s-t) generally identified with the Philistines. They appear in the Medinet Habu inscription of Ramses III, where he describes his victory against the Sea Peoples. Nineteenth-century Bible scholars identified the land of the Philistines (Philistia or Peleshet in Hebrew meaning "invaders") with Palastu and Pilista in Assyrian inscriptions, according to Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897).
The name is used in the Bible to denote the coastal region inhabited by the Philistines. The five principal Philistine cities were Gaza, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and Ashkelon. Modern archaeology has suggested early cultural links with the Mycenean world in mainland Greece. Though the Philistines adopted local Canaanite culture and language before leaving any written texts, an Indo-European origin has been suggested for a handful of known Philistine words.
1140 BCE the Canaanite tribes tried to destroy the Israelite tribes of northern and central Canaan. According to the Bible, the Israelite response was led by Barak, and the Hebrew prophet Deborah. The Canaanites were defeated.
Increasing pressure from the Philistines and other neighboring tribes forced the Israelites to unite under one king. The notion of kingship was for a long time anathemetized, as it was seen as one man being put in a position of reverence and power that in their faith was reserved for the one true God. According to the Bible, it was Samuel, one of last of the judges, to whom the nation appealed for a king. Although he tried to dissuade them, they were resolute and Samuel anointed Saul ben Kish from the tribe of Benjamin as the first king of the Israelites in approximately 1020 BCE. It was his successor, David c.1006 BCE, who was responsible for consolidating the monarchy and creating the first Hebrew state.
David waged several, successful military campaigns, annexing Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, and parts of ancient Aram (roughly modern Syria) known as Aram-Zobah, and Aram-Damascus. Aram itself became a vassal state of Israel under David.Perhaps the most important event of David's reign was his capture of Jerusalem from the Canaanite Jebusites. By moving his capital from Hebron and making Jerusalem his capital, David ensured its lasting importance as a religious center.
David was succeeded by his son Solomon around 965 BCE. Solomon's reign was largely peaceful and the kingdom prospered, becoming an international power and a center of culture and trade. But maintaining his splendid court life and ambitious building projects, including the First Temple at Jerusalem, proved burdensome to his people. Some Hebrews were used as forced labor and territory was ceded to Tyre in return for supplying craftsmen and materials. He was criticized for tolerating the pagan religious practices of the many non-Hebrew wives he had acquired from diplomatic marriages.
However, on Solomon's death in c. 926 BCE tensions between the northern and southern tribes mounted. When Solomon successor Rehoboam dealt tactlessly with the economic complaints of the northern tribes the kingdom split in to halves: the kingdom of Israel in the north (including the cities of Shechem and Samaria), and the kingdom of Judah in the south (containing Jerusalem). Most of the non-Hebrew provinces fell away.
In 922 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel was divided. Judah, the southern Kingdom, had Jerusalem as its capital and was led by Rehoboam. It was populated by the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon (and some of tribe of Levi). Simeon and Judah later merged, and Simeon lost its separate identity.
Jeroboam led the revolt of the northern tribes, and established the Kingdom of Israel, consisting of nine tribes: Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Menasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad (and some of Levi), with Samaria as its capital.
Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BCE; Judah fell to the Babylonians a little over a century later, in 597 BCE.
In 722 BCE, the Assyrians, under Shalmaneser, and then under Sargon, conquered Israel (the northern Kingdom), destroyed its capital Samaria, and sent many of the Israelites into exile and captivity. The ruling class of the northern kingdom (perhaps a small portion of the overall population) were deported to other lands in the Assyrian empire and a new nobility was imported by the Assyrians.
729-687 BCE. Reign of king Hezekiah of Judah. He is noted in the Bible for initiating reforms that outlawed, or enforced Jewish laws against, idolatry (in this case, the worship of Ba'alim and/or Asherah, among other traditional Near Eastern divinities).
687-638 BCE. Reign of King Manasseh.
638-637 BCE. Reign of king Amon.
These two kings reversed Hezekiah's reforms and officially revived idolatry. According to later rabbinical accounts, Manasseh placed a grotesque, four-faced idol in the Holy of Holies.
637-607 BCE. The reign of king Josiah was accompanied by a religious reformation. According to the Bible, while repairs were made on the Temple, a 'Book of the Law' was discovered (possibly the book of Deuteronomy).
612 BCE. Nabopolassar of Babylonia attacked and destroyed the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh, regaining Babylonia's independence. The Assyrian empire was destroyed.
587 BCE. Babylon, under king Nebuchadnezzar II, seized Jerusalem. The First Temple was destroyed; the date was the 9th of Av, or Tisha B'Av.
586 BCE. Conquest of Judah (Southern Kingdom) by Babylon. Part of Judah's population, primarily the nobility, was exiled to Babylon.
722 & 586 BCE. The First Dispersion, or Diaspora. Jews were either taken as slaves in what is commonly referred to as the Babylonian captivity of Judah, or they fled to Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, or Persia.
559 BCE. Cyrus the Great became King of Persia.
539 BCE. The Babylonian Empire fell to Persia under Cyrus.
550-333 BCE. The Persian Empire ruled over much of Western Asia, including Israel.
537 BCE. Cyrus allowed Sheshbazzar, a prince from the tribe of Judah, to bring the Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Jews were allowed to return with the Temple vessels that the Babylonians had taken. Construction of the Second Temple began.
520-515 BCE. Under the spiritual leadership of the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Second Temple was completed. At this time the Holy Land is a subdistrict of a Persian satrapy (province).
444 BCE. The reformation of Israel was led by the Jewish scribes Nehemiah and Ezra. Ezra instituted synagogue and prayer services, and canonized the Torah by reading it publicly to the Great Assembly that he set up in Jerusalem. Ezra and Nehemiah flourished around this era. (This was the Classical period in Greece)
331 BCE. The Persian Empire was defeated by Alexander the Great. The Empire of Alexander the Great included Israel. However, it is said that he did not attack Jerusalem directly, after a delegation of Jews met him and assured him of their loyalty by showing him certain prophecies contained in their writings.
323 BCE. Alexander the Great died. In the power struggle after Alexander's death, the part of his empire that included Israel changed hands at least five times in just over twenty years. Babylonia and Syria were ruled by the Seleucids, and Egypt by the Ptolemies.
301 BCE. Ptolemy I Soter became the first Ptolemaic ruler of Israel.
250 BCE. The beginning of the Pharisees party (rabbinic, or modern, Jews), and other Jewish sects such as the Sadducees and Essenes.
198 BCE. Armies of the Seleucid King Antiochus III (Antiochus the Great) ousted Ptolemy V from Judea and Samaria.
180-142 BCE. The Maccabee Rebellion, Hanukkah and the Hasmonean Kingdom
In 63 BCE, Pompey conquered the region and made it a client kingdom of Rome. In 6 CE, Caesar Augustus made it a Roman province under a procurator.
In 66, the Great Jewish Revolt broke out, lasting until 73.
In 67, Vespasian and his forces landed in the north of Israel, where they received the submission of Jews from Ptolemais to Sepphoris. The Jewish garrison at Jodeptah was massacred after a two month siege. By the end of this year, Jewish resistance in the north had been crushed.
In 69, Vespasian seized the throne after a civil war. By 70, the Romans had occupied Jerusalem. Titus, son of the Roman Emperor, destroyed the Second Temple on the 9th of Av, ie. Tisha B'Av (656 years to the day after the destruction of the First Temple in 587 BCE). Over 100,000 Jews died during the siege, and nearly 100,000 were taken to Rome as slaves. Many Jews fled to Mesopotamia (Iraq), and to other countries around the Mediterranean.
After 70 the Romans, seeking to suppress the name "Judaea", reorganized it as part of the province of Syria-Palestine. The Latin name, Palaestina, was chosen in honour of the Philistines, who had occupied the coastline much earlier. From then on the region was known as Palestine.
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai escaped from Jerusalem. He obtained permission from the Roman general to establish a center of Jewish learning and the seat of the Sanhedrin in the outlying town of Yavneh. Judaism survived the destruction of Jerusalem through this new center. The Sanhedrin became the supreme religious, political and judicial body for Jews worldwide until 425 CE, when it was forcibly disbanded by the Roman government, by then officially dominated by the Christian Church.
In 73 the last Jewish resistance was crushed by Rome at the mountain fortress of Masada; the last defenders are thought to have committed suicide rather than be captured and sold into slavery.
200 BCE- 100 CE. At some point during this period the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament) was canonized.
Day by day, a cultural life was emerging which would become unique to the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. Art, music and dance developed gradually with the establishment of professional schools and studios. Galleries and halls were set up to provide venues for exhibitions and performances attended by a discriminating public. The opening of a new play, the appearance of a new book or a retrospective show by a local painter were immediately scrutinized by the press and became the subject of lively discussion in coffee shops and at social gatherings.
The Hebrew language was recognized as one of three official languages of the country, alongside English and Arabic, and was used on documents, coins and stamps, as well as for radio broadcasting. Publishing proliferated, and the country emerged as the world center of Hebrew literary activity. Theaters of various genres opened their doors to enthusiastic audiences, accompanied by first attempts to write original Hebrew plays.
Arab Opposition and British Restrictions
The Jewish national revival and the community's efforts to rebuild the country were strongly opposed by Arab nationalists. Their resentment erupted in periods of intense violence (1920, 1921, 1929, 1936-39) when Jewish transport was harassed, fields and forests set on fire, and unprovoked attacks launched against the Jewish population. Attempts to reach a dialogue with the Arabs, undertaken early in the Zionist endeavor, were ultimately unsuccessful, polarizing Zionism and Arab nationalism into a potentially explosive situation.
Recognizing the opposing aims of the two national movements, the British recommended (1937) dividing the country into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jewish leadership accepted the idea of partition and empowered the Jewish Agency to negotiate with the British government in an effort to reformulate some aspects of the proposal. The Arabs were uncompromisingly against any partition plan.
Britain's inability to reconcile the conflicting demands of the Jewish and Arab communities led the British government to request that the 'Question of Palestine' be placed on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly (April 1947). As a result, a special committee was constituted to draft proposals concerning the country's future. On 29 November 1947, the Assembly voted to adopt the committee's recommendation to partition the Land into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jewish community accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it.
Following the UN vote, local Arab militants, aided by irregular volunteers from Arab countries, launched violent attacks against the Jewish community in an effort to frustrate the partition resolution and prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. After a number of setbacks, the Jewish defense organizations routed most of the attacking forces, taking hold of the entire area which had been allocated for the Jewish state. On 14 May 1948 when the British Mandate came to an end, the Jewish population in the Land numbered some 650,000, comprising an organized community with well-developed political, social and economic institutions - in fact, a nation in every sense and a state in everything but name.
On 14 May, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed according to the UN partition plan (1947). Less than 24 hours later, the regular armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq invaded the country, forcing Israel to defend the sovereignty it had regained in its ancestral homeland. In what became known as Israel's War of Independence, the newly formed, poorly equipped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) repulsed the invaders in fierce intermittent fighting, which lasted some 15 months and claimed over 6,000 Israeli lives (nearly one percent of the country's Jewish population at the time).
During the first few months of 1949, direct negotiations were conducted under UN auspices between Israel and each of the invading countries (except Iraq which has refused to negotiate with Israel to date), resulting in armistice agreements which reflected the situation at the end of the fighting. Accordingly, the coastal plain, Galilee and the entire Negev were within Israel's sovereignty, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) came under Jordanian rule, the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian administration, and the city of Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan controlling the eastern part, including the Old City, and Israel the western sector.
The war over, Israel focused on building the state which the people had struggled so long and so hard to regain. The first 120-seat Knesset (parliament) went into session following national elections (25 January 1949) in which nearly 85 percent of all eligible voters cast their ballots. Two of the people who had led Israel to statehood became the country's leaders: David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency, was chosen as the first prime minister; and Chaim Weizmann, head of the World Zionist Organization, was elected by the Knesset as the first president.
On 11 May, 1949, Israel took its seat as the 59th member of the United Nations. In accordance with the concept of the 'ingathering of the exiles' which lies at the heart of Israel's raison d'etre, the gates of the country were thrown open, affirming the right of every Jew to come to the country and, upon entry, to acquire citizenship. In the first four months of independence, some 50,000 newcomers, mainly Holocaust survivors, reached Israel's shores. By the end of 1951, a total of 687,000 men, women and children had arrived, over 300,000 of them refugees from Arab lands, thus doubling the Jewish population.
The economic strain caused by the War of Independence and the need to provide for a rapidly growing population required austerity at home and financial aid from abroad. Assistance extended by the United States government, loans from American banks, contributions of diaspora Jews and postwar German reparations were used to build housing, mechanize agriculture, establish a merchant fleet and a national airline, exploit available minerals, develop industries and expand roads, telecommunications and electricity networks.
Towards the end of the first decade, the output of industry doubled as did the number of employed persons, with industrial exports increasing four-fold. Vast expansion of areas under cultivation had brought about self-sufficiency in the supply of all basic food products except meat and grains, while some 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) of mostly barren land were afforested and trees were planted along almost 500 miles (800 km.) of highway.
The educational system, which had been developed by the Jewish community in the pre-state period and now included the Arab sector, was greatly expanded. School attendance became free and compulsory for all children aged 5-14 (since 1978 it has been mandatory to age 16 and free to age 18). Cultural and artistic activity flourished, blending Middle Eastern, North African and Western elements, as Jews arriving from all parts of the world brought with them the unique traditions of their own communities as well as aspects of the culture prevailing in the countries where they had lived for generations.
When Israel celebrated its 10th anniversary, the population numbered over two million.
The years of state-building were overshadowed by serious security problems. The 1948 armistice agreements had not only failed to pave the way to permanent peace, but were also constantly violated. In contradiction to the UN Security Council resolution of 1 September 1951, Israeli and Israel-bound shipping was prevented from passing through the Suez Canal; the blockade of the Straits of Tiran was tightened; incursions into Israel of terrorist squads from neighboring Arab countries for murder and sabotage occurred with increasing frequency; and the Sinai peninsula was gradually converted into a huge Egyptian military base.
Upon the signing of a tripartate military alliance by Egypt, Syria and Jordan (October 1956), the imminent threat to Israel's existence was intensified. In the course of an eight-day campaign, the IDF captured the Gaza Strip and the entire Sinai peninsula, halting 10 miles (16 km.) east of the Suez Canal. A United Nations decision to station a UN Emergency Force (UNEF) along the Egypt-Israel border and Egyptian assurances of free navigation in the Gulf of Eilat led Israel to agree to withdraw in stages (November 1956 - March 1957) from the areas taken a few weeks earlier. Consequently, the Straits of Tiran were opened, enabling the development of trade with Asian and East African countries as well as oil imports from the Persian Gulf.
During Israel's second decade (1958- 68), exports doubled, and the GNP increased some 10 percent annually. While some previously imported items such as paper, tires, radios and refrigerators were now being manufactured locally, the most rapid growth took place in the newly-established branches of metals, machinery, chemicals and electronics. Since the domestic market for home-grown food was fast approaching the saturation point, the agricultural sector began to grow a larger variety of crops for the food processing industry as well as fresh produce for export. A second deep-water port was built on the Mediterranean coast at Ashdod, in addition to the existing one at Haifa, to handle the increased volume of trade.
In Jerusalem, a permanent home for the Knesset was built, and facilities for the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University were constructed on alternate sites to replace the original buildings on Mount Scopus, which had to be abandoned after the War of Independence. At the same time, the Israel Museum was established with the aim of collecting, conserving, studying and exhibiting the cultural and artistic treasures of the Jewish people.
Israel's foreign relations expanded steadily, as close ties were developed with the United States, British Commonwealth countries, most western European states, nearly all the countries of Latin America and Africa, and some in Asia. Extensive programs of international cooperation were initiated, as hundreds of Israeli physicians, engineers, teachers, agronomists, irrigation experts and youth organizers shared their know-how and experience with people in other developing countries. In 1965 ambassadors were exchanged with the Federal Republic of Germany, a move which had been delayed until then because of the Jewish people's bitter memories of the crimes committed against them during the Nazi regime (1933-45). Vehement opposition and public debate preceded normalization of relations between the two countries.
Hopes for another decade of relative tranquillity were dashed with the escalation of Arab terrorist raids across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, persistent Syrian artillery bombardment of agricultural settlements in northern Galilee and massive military build-ups by the neighboring Arab states. When Egypt again moved large numbers of troops into the Sinai desert (May 1967), ordered the UN peacekeeping forces (deployed since 1957) out of the area, reimposed the blockade of the Straits of Tiran and entered into a military alliance with Jordan, Israel found itself faced by hostile Arab armies on all fronts. As Egypt had violated the arrangements agreed upon following the 1956 Sinai Campaign, Israel invoked its inherent right of self-defense, launching a preemptive strike (5 June 1967) against Egypt in the south, followed by a counterattack against Jordan in the east and the routing of Syrian forces entrenched on the Golan Heights in the north.
At the end of six days of fighting, previous cease-fire lines were replaced by new ones, with Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights under Israel's control. As a result, the northern villages were freed from 19 years of recurrent Syrian shelling; the passage of Israeli and Israel-bound shipping through the Straits of Tiran was ensured; and Jerusalem, which had been divided under Israeli and Jordanian rule since 1949, was reunified under Israel's authority.
The war over, Israel's diplomatic challenge was to translate its military gains into a permanent peace based on UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for "acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." However, the Arab position, as formulated at the Khartoum Summit (August 1967) called for "no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no recognition of Israel." In September 1968, Egypt initiated a 'war of attrition,' with sporadic, static actions along the banks of the Suez Canal, which escalated into full-scale, localized fighting, causing heavy casualties on both sides. Hostilities ended in 1970 when Egypt and Israel accepted a renewed cease-fire along the Suez Canal.
Three years of relative calm along the borders were shattered on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the holiest day of the Jewish year, when Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise assault against Israel (6 October 1973), with the Egyptian army crossing the Suez Canal and Syrian troops penetrating the Golan Heights. During the next three weeks, the Israel Defense Forces turned the tide of battle and repulsed the attackers, crossing the Suez Canal into Egypt and advancing to within 20 miles (32 km.) of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Two years of difficult negotiations between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Syria resulted in disengagement agreements, according to which Israel withdrew from parts of the territories captured during the war.
While the 1973 war cost Israel a year's GNP, by the second half of 1974 the economy had recovered. Foreign investments grew considerably and, with Israel becoming an associate member of the European Common Market (1975), new potential outlets opened up for Israeli goods. Tourism began to increase and the annual number of visitors passed the one million mark. The 1977 Knesset elections brought the Likud bloc, a coalition of liberal and centrist parties, to power, ending almost 30 years of Labor party dominance. Upon taking office, the new prime minister, Menachem Begin, reiterated the commitment of all previous prime ministers to strive for permanent peace in the region and called upon the Arab leaders to come to the negotiating table.
The cycle of Arab rejections of Israel's appeals for peace was broken with the visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem (November 1977), followed by negotiations between Egypt and Israel under American auspices. The resulting Camp David Accords (September 1978) contained a framework for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a detailed proposal for self-government for the Palestinians. On 26 March 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in Washington, DC, bringing the 30-year state of war between them to an end. In accordance with the terms of the treaty, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula, exchanging former cease-fire lines and armistice agreements for mutually recognized international boundaries.
Some of the African states which had severed ties with Israel as a result of Arab pressure during the 1973 oil crisis, restored contacts in the 1980s, giving renewed momentum to economic relations, as well as reestablishing formal diplomatic ties.
The international boundary line with Lebanon has never been challenged by either side. However, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) redeployed itself in southern Lebanon after being expelled from Jordan (1970) and perpetrated repeated terrorist actions against the towns and villages of northern Israel (Galilee), which caused many casualties and much damage, the Israel Defense Forces crossed the border into Lebanon (1982). "Operation Peace for Galilee" resulted in removing the bulk of the PLO's organizational and military infrastructure from the area. Since then, Israel has maintained a small security zone in southern Lebanon adjacent to its northern border to safeguard its population in Galilee against continued attacks by hostile elements.
[17th century] The Patriarchs
[13th century] Exodus from Egypt
[13th-12th centuries] Israelite settlement of Land of Israel
 Monarchy established: Saul, first king.
 Jerusalem made capital of David's kingdom.
 First Temple, the national and spiritual center of the Jewish people, built in Jerusalem by King Solomon.
 Kingdom divided in two: Judah and Israel
[722-720] Israel crushed by Assyrians; 10 tribes exiled (the "Ten Lost Tribes").
 Judah conquered by Babylonia; Jerusalem and First Temple destroyed; Jews exiled to Babylonia.
[538-142] Persian and Hellenistic periods
[538-515] First Return from Babylon; Temple rebuilt.
[mid-5th century] Second Return: Ezra and Nehemiah
 Land conquered by Alexander the Great; Hellenistic rule
[166-160] Maccabean (Hasmonean) Revolt
[142-129] Jewish autonomy under Hasmonean dynasty.
[129-63] Jewish independence in Hasmonean kingdom.
 Pompey at head of Roman army takes Jerusalem.
[63 BCE-313 CE] Roman rule
[37 BCE - 4 CE] King Herod
 Jewish revolt against Rome
 Destruction of Jerusalem and Second Temple.
 Last stand of Jews at Masada.
[132-135] Bar Kokhba uprising against Rome.
 Mishnah completed (codification of Oral Law).
[313-636] Byzantine rule
 Completion of Jerusalem Talmud (commentary on the Mishnah).
 Persian invasion
[636-1099] Arab rule
[1099-1291] Crusader domination; Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
[1291-1516] Mamluk rule
[1517-1917] Ottoman rule
 Publication of Shulhan Arukh (code of Jewish law).
 First neighborhood, Mishkenot Sha'ananim, built outside Jerusalem's walls.
[1882-1903] First Aliya (large-scale immigration) from Russia.
 First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland; Zionist Organization founded.
[1904-14] Second Aliya, mainly from Russia and Poland.
 Degania, first kibbutz, and Tel Aviv, first modern all-Jewish city, founded.
 British end 400 years of Ottoman rule; Balfour Declaration pledges British support for establishment of a "Jewish national home in Palestine".
[1918-48] British rule
[1919-23] Third Aliya, mainly from Russia
 Histadrut (Jewish labor federation), and Haganah, (Jewish defense organization) founded. Arabs mount anti-Jewish riots. Jewish community sets up National Council (Vaad Leumi) to conduct its affairs.
 First moshav, Nahalal, founded
 Britain granted Mandate for Palestine (Land of Israel) by League of Nations and charged with facilitating "Jewish immigration and settlement on the Land". British set up Transjordan east of the Jordan River; Jews barred from settling there Jewish Agency set up to represent Jewish community vis-a-vis Mandate authorities.
 Technion-Israel Institute of Technology opens.
[1924-32] Fourth Aliya, mainly from Poland.
 Hebrew University of Jerusalem opens on Mt.Scopus.
 Hebron Jews massacred by Arab militants.
 Etzel, Jewish underground organization, founded.
[1933-39] Fifth Aliya, mainly from Germany.
[1936-39] Arab militants launch anti-Jewish riots.
 Peel Commission proposes division of country into Jewish and Arab states.
 British White Paper limits Jewish immigration.
[1939-45] World War 11; Holocaust in Europe.
 Lehi underground movement formed, split from Etzel; Palmach, strike force of Haganah, set up.
 Jewish Brigade formed as part of British forces.
 UN proposes the establishment of Arab and Jewish states in the Land.
 British Mandate ends (14 May).
State of Israel proclaimed (14 May).
Israel invaded by five Arab states (15 May).
War of Independence (May 1948-July 1949)
Israel Defense Forces formed.
 Armistice agreements signed with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon.
First Knesset elected.
Israel admitted to United Nations as 59th member.
[1948-52] Mass immigration from Europe and Arab countries.
 Law of Return
 Sinai Campaign
 Adolf Eichmann tried and executed in Israel for his part in the Holocaust.
 National Water Carrier, bringing water from north to semi-arid south, completed.
 Six-Day War, Jerusalem reunited
[1968-70] War of Attrition
 Yom Kippur War
 Israel becomes associate member of European Common Market.
 Likud comes to power, ending 30 years of Labor rule.
Egyptian President Sadat visits Jerusalem.
 Camp David Accords signed.
 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty signed.
 Memorandum of Understanding signed with United States
Iraq's nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel Air Force.
 Israel's withdrawal from Sinai completed.
Operation Peace for Galilee launched by Israel to put an end to PLO attacks from Lebanon.
 National unity government formed.
 Free Trade Zone Agreement signed with U.S.
 Widespread violent riots (intifada) break out in the areas administered by Israel since 1967.
 Space satellite, Ofek 1, launched.
 Four-point peace initiative proposed by Israel.
Mass immigration of Soviet Jews begins.
 Iraq attacks Israel with ground-to-ground missiles during Gulf war.
Under American and Soviet auspices, Middle East peace conference convenes in Madrid.
 Diplomatic relations established with China and India.
New Government, headed by Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor party.
 Witnessed by the U.S. and Russia, Israel and the PLO sign a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements for the Palestinians, as a first step towards resolving the dispute between them.
 Israel and the PLO sign an agreement for the implementation of self-government for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area (Cairo, 4 May)
Full diplomatic relations with the Holy See (15 June)
King Hussein of Jordan and Prime Minister Rabin declare an end to the state of war between the two countries (Washington, 28 July)
Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers Judea and Samria to the Palestinians, in the fields of education and culture, health, social welfare, tourism and taxation. (29 August).
Agreements with Morocco and Tunisia to establish interest offices, as a step towards diplomatic relations (Sep-Oct)
Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty signed (26 October)
Rabin, Peres, Arafat awarded Nobel Peace Prize
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