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The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of Semitic-speaking tribes in the
ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗ ...
who, during the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age (Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostly appl ...
, inhabited a part of
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...
. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel appears in the
Merneptah Stele The Merneptah Stele, also known as the Israel Stele or the Victory Stele of Merneptah, is an inscription by Merneptah Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – May 2, 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty ...
of
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
, dated to about 1200 BCE. According to the modern archaeological account, the Israelites and their culture branched out of the Canaanite peoples and their cultures through the development of a distinct monolatristic—and later
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief that there is only one deity, an all-supreme being that is universally referred to as God.F. L. Cross, Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Monotheism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Ox ...
—religion centred on the national god
Yahweh Yahweh *''Yahwe'', was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. The origins of his worship reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age if not somewhat earlier, ...
.Mark Smith in "The Early History of God: Yahweh and Other Deities of Ancient Israel" states "Despite the long regnant model that the Canaanites and Israelites were people of fundamentally different culture, archaeological data now casts doubt on this view. The material culture of the region exhibits numerous common points between Israelites and Canaanites in the Iron I period (c. 1200–1000 BCE). The record would suggest that the Israelite culture largely overlapped with and derived from Canaanite culture... In short, Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in nature. Given the information available, one cannot maintain a radical cultural separation between Canaanites and Israelites for the Iron I period." (pp. 6–7). Smith, Mark (2002) "The Early History of God: Yahweh and Other Deities of Ancient Israel" (Eerdman's)Rendsberg, Gary (2008). "Israel without the Bible". In Frederick E. Greenspahn. The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. NYU Press, pp. 3–5 They spoke an archaic form of the
Hebrew language Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
, which was a regional variety of the
Canaanite language The Canaanite languages, or Canaanite dialects, are one of the three Genetic relationship (linguistics), subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages, the others being Aramaic language, Aramaic and Ugaritic language, Ugaritic, all originating in ...
, known today as
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an wikt:archaic, archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the ...
. According to the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, the Israelites are the descendants of
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Jacob in Islam, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel (name), Israel, is regarded as a Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch of the Israelites and is an important figure in Abrahamic religi ...
, who was later renamed
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
. Following a severe drought, Jacob and his twelve sons fled to Egypt, where they eventually formed the
Twelve Tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שִׁבְטֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Šīḇṭēy Yīsrāʾēl, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Hebrew Bible, Hebrew scriptures, the descendants of the biblical Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch ...
. The Israelites were later led out of slavery in Egypt and subsequently brought to Canaan by
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu (Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important Prop ...
; they eventually conquered Canaan under the leadership of
Joshua Joshua () or Yehoshua ( ''Yəhōšuaʿ'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Yŏhōšuaʿ,'' Literal translation, lit. 'Yahweh is salvation') ''Yēšūaʿ''; syr, ܝܫܘܥ ܒܪ ܢܘܢ ''Yəšūʿ bar Nōn''; el, Ἰησοῦς, ar , يُوشَع ...
. Modern scholars agree that the Bible does not provide an authentic account of the Israelites' origins, and instead view it as constituting their
national myth A national myth is an inspiring narrative or anecdote about a nation's past. Such Mythology, myths often serve as important national symbols and affirm a set of national Value (personal and cultural), values. A national myth may sometimes take the ...
. However, it is accepted that this narrative does have a "historical core" to it. A tribal period was followed by the rise of two Israelite kingdoms: Israel and Judah. The Bible portrays Israel and Judah as the successors of an earlier United Kingdom of Israel, although its historicity is disputed. The Kingdom of Israel, with its capital at
Samaria Samaria (; he, שֹׁמְרוֹן, translit=Šōmrōn, ar, السامرة, translit=as-Sāmirah) is the historic and Hebrew Bible, biblical name used for the central region of Palestine (region), Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and ...
, fell to the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
around 720 BCE; while the
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'', "Davidic line, House of David") was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the South ...
, with its capital at
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
, was destroyed by the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
in 586 BCE. Some of the Judean population was exiled to Babylon, but returned to Israel after
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 ), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the History of Iran, first Persian empire.#refachaemenids-EI, Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty ...
conquered the region. The
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
and the
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites. They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samarit ...
are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Jews claim lineage from the
Tribe of Judah According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridg ...
and the
Tribe of Benjamin According to the Torah, the Tribe of Benjamin () was one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The tribe was descended from Benjamin, the youngest son of the Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch Jacob (later given the name Israel) and his wife Rachel. In the ...
, and partially from the
Tribe of Levi According to the Bible, the Tribe of Levi is one of the tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שִׁבְטֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Šīḇṭēy Yīsrāʾēl, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Hebrew Bible, Hebrew ...
since the ten northern tribes were considered lost following the
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 from the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Israel were forcibly relocated by the Neo-Assyrian E ...
. The Samaritans claim descent from the
Tribe of Ephraim According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Ephraim ( he, אֶפְרַיִם, ''ʾEp̄rayīm,'' in Pausa, pausa: אֶפְרָיִם, ''ʾEp̄rāyīm'') was one of the tribes of Israel. The Tribe of Manasseh together with Ephraim formed the ''Hou ...
and the
Tribe of Manasseh According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh (; Hebrew: ''Ševet Mənašše,'' Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Šēḇeṭ Mănašše'') was one of the Israelites, Tribes of Israel. It is one of the ten lost tribes. Together with the Tribe ...
(two sons of
Joseph Joseph is a common male given name A given name (also known as a forename or first name) is the part of a personal name quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from the o ...
) as well as from the Tribe of Levi. Other groups have also claimed affiliation with the Israelites throughout history.


Overview

In the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
, the term ''Israelites'' is used interchangeably with the term ''
Twelve Tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שִׁבְטֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Šīḇṭēy Yīsrāʾēl, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Hebrew Bible, Hebrew scriptures, the descendants of the biblical Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch ...
''. Although related, the terms "
Hebrews The terms ''Hebrews'' (Hebrew language, Hebrew: / , Modern Hebrew, Modern: ' / ', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian: ' / '; ISO 259-3: ' / ') and ''Hebrew people'' are mostly considered synonymous with the ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Sem ...
", "Israelites", and "
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
" are not interchangeable in all instances. "Israelites" (''Yisraelim'') refers to the people whom the Hebrew Bible describes specifically as the direct descendants of any of the sons of the patriarch
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Jacob in Islam, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel (name), Israel, is regarded as a Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch of the Israelites and is an important figure in Abrahamic religi ...
(later called
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
), and his descendants as a people are also collectively called "Israel", including converts to their faith in worship of the national god of Israel,
Yahweh Yahweh *''Yahwe'', was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. The origins of his worship reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age if not somewhat earlier, ...
. "
Hebrews The terms ''Hebrews'' (Hebrew language, Hebrew: / , Modern Hebrew, Modern: ' / ', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian: ' / '; ISO 259-3: ' / ') and ''Hebrew people'' are mostly considered synonymous with the ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Sem ...
" (''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 Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites. They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samarit ...
). "Jews" (''Yehudim'') is used to denote the descendants of the Israelites who coalesced when the
Tribe of Judah According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridg ...
absorbed the remnants of the northern Israelite tribes. During the period of the divided monarchy, "Israelites" was only used to refer to the inhabitants of the
northern Kingdom of Israel The Kingdom of Israel (), or the Kingdom of Samaria, was an Israelite The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part ...
, and it is only extended to cover the people of the southern
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'', "Davidic line, House of David") was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the South ...
in post-exilic usage. Efforts to confirm the Israelites' biblical origins through archaeology, once widespread, have been largely abandoned as unproductive, with many scholars viewing the stories as inspiring
national myth A national myth is an inspiring narrative or anecdote about a nation's past. Such Mythology, myths often serve as important national symbols and affirm a set of national Value (personal and cultural), values. A national myth may sometimes take the ...
narratives with little historical value. Scholars posit that a small group of people of Egyptian origin may have joined the early Israelites, and then contributed their own Egyptian Exodus story to all of Israel. William G. Dever cautiously identifies this group with the
Tribe of Joseph The Tribe of Joseph is one of the Tribes of Israel in biblical tradition. Since Ephraim and Manasseh (often called the "two half-tribes of Joseph") together traditionally constituted the tribe of Joseph, it was often not listed as one of t ...
, while
Richard Elliott Friedman Richard Elliott Friedman (born May 5, 1946) is a biblical scholar and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia. Friedman was born in Rochester, New York. He attended the University of Miami (BA, 1968), the Jew ...
identifies it with the
Tribe of Levi According to the Bible, the Tribe of Levi is one of the tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שִׁבְטֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Šīḇṭēy Yīsrāʾēl, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Hebrew Bible, Hebrew ...
. Based on the archaeological evidence, according to the modern archaeological account, the Israelites and their culture did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the indigenous Canaanite peoples that long inhabited the Southern Levant,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
,
ancient Israel The history of ancient Israel and Judah begins in the Southern Levant during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. "Israel" as a people or tribal confederation (see Israelites) appears for the first time in the Merneptah Stele, an inscri ...
, and the Transjordan region through a gradual evolution of a distinct monolatristic (later
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief that there is only one deity, an all-supreme being that is universally referred to as God.F. L. Cross, Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Monotheism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Ox ...
) religion centered on
Yahweh Yahweh *''Yahwe'', was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. The origins of his worship reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age if not somewhat earlier, ...
. The outgrowth of Yahweh-centric monolatrism from Canaanite
polytheism Polytheism is the belief in multiple deity, deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon (religion), pantheon of Gender of God, gods and goddesses, along with their own religious sects and rituals. Polytheism is a type of theism. Within ...
started with
Yahwism Yahwism is the name given by modern scholars to the religion of History of ancient Israel and Judah, ancient Israel. Yahwism was essentially Polytheism, polytheistic, with a plethora of Deity, gods and Goddess, goddesses. Heading the pantheon ...
, the belief in the existence of the many gods and goddesses of the
Canaanite pantheon The Canaanite religion was the group of ancient Semitic religion Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term ''Semitic'' itself ...
but with the consistent worship of only Yahweh. Along with a number of cultic practices, this gave rise to a separate Israelite
ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, an ...
identity. The final transition of their Yahweh-based religion to monotheism and rejection of the existence of the other Canaanite gods set the Israelites apart from their fellow Canaanite brethren. The Israelites, however, continued to retain various cultural commonalities with other Canaanites, including use of one of the Canaanite dialects,
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
, which is today the only living descendant of that language group. According to the religious narrative of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
, the Israelites' origin is traced back to the biblical
patriarchs The highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church (above major archbishop and primate (bishop), primate), the Hussite Church, Church of the East, and some Independent Catholicism, Independent Catholic Chur ...
and matriarchs
Abraham Abraham, ; ar, , , name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common Hebrews, Hebrew patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the Covenant (biblical), special ...
and his wife
Sarah Sarah (born Sarai) is a Patriarchs (Bible)#Matriarchs, biblical matriarch and Prophet, prophetess, a major figure in Abrahamic religions. While different Abrahamic faiths portray her differently, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all depict her ...
, through their son
Isaac Isaac; grc, Ἰσαάκ, Isaák; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, Isḥāq; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs of the Israelites and an important figure in the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, a ...
and his wife
Rebecca Rebecca, ; Aramaic, Syriac: , ) from the Hebrew (lit., 'connection'), from Semitic root , 'to tie, couple or join', 'to secure', or 'to snare') () appears in the Hebrew Bible as the wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau. According to ...
, and their son
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Jacob in Islam, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel (name), Israel, is regarded as a Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch of the Israelites and is an important figure in Abrahamic religi ...
(who was later called
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
, whence they derive their name) with his wives
Leah Leah ''La'ya;'' from wikt:𒀖, (; ) appears in the Hebrew Bible as one of the two wives of the Biblical patriarch Jacob. Leah was Jacob's first wife, and the older sister of his second (and favored) wife Rachel. She is the mother of Jacob's ...
and
Rachel Rachel () was a Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is ...
and the handmaids Zilpa and
Bilhah Bilhah ( "unworried", Standard Hebrew: ''Bīlha'', Tiberian Hebrew: ''Bīlhā'') is a woman mentioned in the Book of Genesis.For the etymology, see describes her as Laban (Bible), Laban's handmaid, who was given to Rachel to be her handmaid on R ...
. Modern Jews and Samaritans can trace their ancestry to the Israelites. (855 KB), Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.The Samaritan Update
Retrieved 1 January 2017.
Modern Jews are named after and also descended from the southern Israelite
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'', "Davidic line, House of David") was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the South ...
, particularly the tribes of Judah,
Benjamin Benjamin ( he, ''Bīnyāmīn''; "Son of (the) right")blue letter bible: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h3225/kjv/wlc/0-1/ H3225 - yāmîn - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (kjv) was the last of the two sons of Jacob and Rachel (Jacob's thirt ...
,
Simeon Simeon () is a given name, from the Hebrew (Biblical Hebrew, Biblical ''Šimʿon'', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Šimʿôn''), usually transliterated as Shimon. In Greek it is written Συμεών, hence the Latinized spelling Symeon. Meani ...
and partially
Levi Levi (; ) was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third of the six sons of Jacob and Leah (Jacob's third son), and the founder of the Israelite The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaki ...
. Many Israelites took refuge in the Kingdom of Judah following the collapse of the Kingdom of Israel. Finally, in
Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots ...
, the term "Israelite" is, broadly speaking, used to refer to a lay member of the Jewish
ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group) is a grouping of people who are unified by a common Religion, religious and ethnic group, ethnic background. Furthermore, the term ethno-religious group, along with ethno-regional and Ethnolin ...
, as opposed to the priestly orders of
Kohanim Kohen ( he, , ''kōhēn'', , "priest", pl. , ''kōhănīm'', , "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest", used in reference to the Aaronic Priest#Judaism, priesthood, also called Aaronites or Aaronides. Levite, Levitical priests or ''kohanim' ...
and
Levites Levites (or Levi) (, he, ''Lǝvīyyīm'') are Jewish males who claim Patrilineality, patrilineal descent from the Tribe of Levi. The Tribe of Levi descended from Levi, the third son of Jacob (Bible), Jacob and Leah. The surname ''Halevi'', wh ...
. In texts of
Jewish law ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Judaism, Jewish religious laws which is derived from the Torah, written and Oral Tora ...
such as the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tor ...
and
Gemara The Gemara (also transliteration, transliterated Gemarah, or in Yiddish Gemo(r)re; from Aramaic , from the Semitic root wiktionary:גמר, ג-מ-ר ''gamar'', to finish or complete) is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis ...
, the term יהודי (''Yehudi''), meaning Jew, is rarely used, and instead the
ethnonym An ethnonym () is a name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms (whose name of the ethnic group has been created by another group of people) and autonyms, or endonyms (whose name is created and used ...
ישראלי (''Yisraeli''), or Israelite, is widely used to refer to Jews. Samaritans are not and never call themselves "Jews" יהודים (''Yehudim''), but commonly refer to themselves and to Jews collectively as Israelites, and they describe themselves as Israelite Samaritans.


Etymology

The name ''Israel'' first appears in non-biblical sources c. 1209 BCE, in an inscription of the Egyptian pharaoh
Merneptah Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – May 2, 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years, from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on May 2, ...
. The inscription is very brief and says simply: "Israel is laid waste and his seed is not". The inscription refers to a
people A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pr ...
, not to an individual or a
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or society. A nation is thus the co ...
. Three
Egyptologists This is a partial list of Egyptologists. An Egyptologist is any archaeologist, historian, linguistics, linguist, or art historian who specializes in Egyptology, the scientific study of Ancient Egypt and its antiquities. Demotists are Egyptologists ...
have suggested that the name ''Israel'' appears in a topographical relief that either dates to the period of the
Nineteenth Dynasty The Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XIX), also known as the Ramessid dynasty, is classified as the second Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom of Egypt, New Kingdom period, lasting from 1292 BC to 1189 BC. The 19th Dynasty and ...
(perhaps during the reign of
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, wikt:rꜥ-ms-sw, rꜥ-ms-sw ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', , meaning "Ra is the one who bore him"; ), commonly known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Along with Thutmose III he is oft ...
) or even earlier during the Eighteenth Dynasty. This reading remains controversial. The name ''
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
'' first appears in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
in Genesis 32:29 where it is given to Jacob by the angel with whom he has wrestled because he has "striven with God and with men, and ha hprevailed.".Scherman, Rabbi Nosson (editor), ''The Chumash'', The Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications, LTD, 2006, pp. 176–77Kaplan, Aryeh, "Jewish Meditation", Schocken Books, New York, 1985, p. 125 The
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more famili ...
given in the text derives Israel from ''yisra,'' "to prevail over" or "to struggle with", and '' El'' (god). However, modern scholarship interprets ''El'' as the subject, "El rules/struggles", from ''sarar'' (שָׂרַר) 'to rule' (cognate with ''sar'' (שַׂר) 'ruler', Akkadian ''šarru'' 'ruler, king'), which is likely cognate with the similar root ''sara'' (שׂרה) "fought, strove, contended".


Biblical narrative

The Israelite story begins with some of the
culture hero A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group (Culture, cultural, Ethnic group, ethnic, Religion, religious, etc.) who changes the world through invention or Discovery (observation), discovery. Although many culture heroes help with ...
es of the Jewish people, the patriarchs. The
Torah The Torah (; hbo, ''Tōrā'', "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers a ...
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 Simeon () is a given name, from the Hebrew (Biblical Hebrew, Biblical ''Šimʿon'', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Šimʿôn''), usually transliterated as Shimon. In Greek it is written Συμεών, hence the Latinized spelling Symeon. Meani ...
,
Levi Levi (; ) was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third of the six sons of Jacob and Leah (Jacob's third son), and the founder of the Israelite The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaki ...
, Judah, Dan,
Naphtali According to the Book of Genesis, Naphtali (; ) was the last of the two sons of Jacob and Bilhah (Jacob's sixth son). He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Naphtali. Some biblical commentators have suggested that the name ''Naphtali'' ma ...
, Gad,
Asher Asher ( he, אָשֵׁר ''’Āšēr''), in the Book of Genesis, was the last of the two sons of Jacob and Zilpah (Jacob's eighth son) and the founder of the Israelites, Israelite Tribe of Asher. Name The text of the Torah states that the name ...
,
Issachar Issachar () was, according to the Book of Genesis, the fifth of the six sons of Jacob and Leah (Jacob's ninth son), and the founder of the Israelite The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-spea ...
,
Zebulun Zebulun (; also ''Zebulon'', ''Zabulon'', or ''Zaboules'') was, according to the Books of Book of Genesis, Genesis and Book of Numbers, Numbers,Genesis 46:14 the last of the six sons of Jacob and Leah (Jacob's tenth son), and the founder of the ...
,
Joseph Joseph is a common male given name A given name (also known as a forename or first name) is the part of a personal name quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from the o ...
and
Benjamin Benjamin ( he, ''Bīnyāmīn''; "Son of (the) right")blue letter bible: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h3225/kjv/wlc/0-1/ H3225 - yāmîn - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (kjv) was the last of the two sons of Jacob and Rachel (Jacob's thirt ...
, become the ancestors of twelve tribes, with the exception of Joseph, whose two sons Manasseh and
Ephraim Ephraim (; he, ''ʾEp̄rayīm'', in Pausa, pausa: ''ʾEp̄rāyīm'') was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph (Genesis), Joseph ben Jacob and Asenath. Asenath was an Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh g ...
, become tribal
eponym An eponym is a person, a place, or a thing after whom or which someone or something is, or is believed to be, named. The adjectives which are derived from the word eponym include ''eponymous'' and ''eponymic''. Usage of the word The term ''epon ...
s ().''The Jews in the time of Jesus: an introduction'' p. 18
Stephen M. Wylen, Paulist Press, 1996, 215 pages, pp. 18–20
The mothers of Jacob's sons are: *
Leah Leah ''La'ya;'' from wikt:𒀖, (; ) appears in the Hebrew Bible as one of the two wives of the Biblical patriarch Jacob. Leah was Jacob's first wife, and the older sister of his second (and favored) wife Rachel. She is the mother of Jacob's ...
: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun *
Rachel Rachel () was a Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is ...
: Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), Benjamin *
Bilhah Bilhah ( "unworried", Standard Hebrew: ''Bīlha'', Tiberian Hebrew: ''Bīlhā'') is a woman mentioned in the Book of Genesis.For the etymology, see describes her as Laban (Bible), Laban's handmaid, who was given to Rachel to be her handmaid on R ...
(Rachel's maid): Dan, Naphtali *
Zilpah In the Book of Genesis, Zilpah ( he, ''Zīlpā'', meaning uncertain) was Leah's handmaid, presumed The Bible and slavery, slave,In Context whom Leah gave to Jacob like a wife to bear him children (). Zilpah gave birth to two sons, whom Leah clai ...
(Leah's maid): Gad, Asher () Jacob and his sons are forced by famine to go down into
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
, 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 The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin language, Nobiin: Áman Dawū is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa. It flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is the longest river in Africa and has historically been considered ...
river. He is named Mosheh, or
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu (Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important Prop ...
, by the Egyptian woman who finds 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 Zipporah, or Tzipora (; he, צִפּוֹרָה, ''Ṣīppōrā'', "bird"),, ''Sepphōra''; ar, صفورة, ''Ṣaffūrah'' is mentioned in the Book of Exodus as the wife of Moses, and the daughter of Jethro (biblical figure), Reuel/Jethro, the p ...
, 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 Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Se ...
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, 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 The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر - بحر القلزم, translit=Modern: al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar, Medieval: Baḥr al-Qulzum; or ; Coptic language, Coptic: ⲫⲓⲟⲙ ⲛ̀ϩⲁϩ ''Phiom Enhah'' or ⲫⲓⲟⲙ ⲛ̀ϣⲁⲣⲓ ''P ...
, 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. In the
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to denudation. About one ...
Yahweh feeds them with
manna Manna ( he, מָן, mān, ; ar, اَلْمَنُّ; sometimes or archaically spelled mana) is, according to the Bible, an edible substance which God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the 40-year period follow ...
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 The Ten Commandments (Biblical Hebrew עשרת הדברים \ עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים, ''aséret ha-dvarím'', lit. The Decalogue, The Ten Words, cf. Mishnaic Hebrew עשרת הדיברות \ עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְ ...
from the midst of the fire to all the Israelites, from the top of the mountain. Moses ascends
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Se ...
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 The Ark of the Covenant,; Geʽez, Ge'ez: also known as the Ark of the Testimony or the Ark of God, is an alleged artifact believed to be the most sacred relic of the Israelites, which is described as a wooden Chest (furniture), chest, covere ...
, which Bezalel is given the task of building. Moses descends from the mountain forty days later with the
Sefer Torah A ( he, סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה; "Book of Torah"; plural: ) or Torah scroll is a handwritten copy of the Torah, meaning the five books of Moses (the first books of the Hebrew Bible). The Torah scroll is mainly used in the ritual of Tora ...
he wrote, and with two rectangular
lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli (; ), or lapis for short, is a deep-blue metamorphic rock used as a Gemstone, semi-precious stone that has been prized since ancient history, antiquity for its intense color. As early as the 7th millennium BC, lapis lazuli was mine ...
tablets, into which Yahweh had carved the Ten Commandments. In his absence,
Aaron According to Abrahamic religions, Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Ancient Greek, Greek (Septuagint): wikt:Ἀαρών, Ἀαρών; often called Aaron the priest ()., group="note" ( or ; ''’Ahărōn'') was a prophet, a high p ...
has constructed an image of Yahweh, depicting him as a young
golden calf According to the Bible, the golden calf (עֵגֶל הַזָּהָב '' ‘ēgel hazzāhāv'') was an idol (a cult image) made by the Israelites when Moses went up to Mount Sinai (bible), Mount Sinai. In Hebrew language, Hebrew, the incident is ...
, 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 the 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 Exile is primarily penal expulsion from one's native country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a la ...
them for the total number of years they did not observe the
shmita The sabbath year (shmita; he, שמיטה, literally "release"), also called the sabbatical year or ''shǝvi'it'' (, literally "seventh"), or "Sabbath of The Land", is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah ...
. Bezael constructs the Ark of the Covenant and the Mishkan, where the presence of Yahweh dwells on earth in the
Holy of Holies The Holy of Holies (Hebrew language, Hebrew: ''Qōḏeš haqQŏḏāšīm'' or ''Kodesh HaKodashim''; also הַדְּבִיר ''haDəḇīr'', 'the Sanctuary') is a term in the Hebrew Bible that refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, w ...
, 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 Exile is primarily penal expulsion from one's native country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a la ...
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 Passover, also called Pesach (; ), is a major Jewish holidays, Jewish holiday that celebrates the The Exodus, Biblical story of the Israelites escape from slavery in Ancient Egypt, Egypt, which occurs on the 15th day of the Hebrew calendar, He ...
and Sukkoth, and the giving of the Torah in the Jewish celebration of Shavuoth. Forty years after
the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew language, Hebrew: יציאת מצרים, ''Yeẓi’at Miẓrayim'': ) is the founding myth of the Israelites whose narrative is spread over four books of the Torah (or Pentateuch, corresponding to the first five books of the ...
, following the death of the generation of Moses, a new generation, led by
Joshua Joshua () or Yehoshua ( ''Yəhōšuaʿ'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Yŏhōšuaʿ,'' Literal translation, lit. 'Yahweh is salvation') ''Yēšūaʿ''; syr, ܝܫܘܥ ܒܪ ܢܘܢ ''Yəšūʿ bar Nōn''; el, Ἰησοῦς, ar , يُوشَع ...
, enters Canaan and takes possession of the land in accordance with the promise made to Abraham by Yahweh. The land is allocated to the tribes by
lottery A lottery is a form of gambling that involves the drawing of numbers at random for a prize. Some governments outlaw lotteries, while others endorse it to the extent of organizing a national or state lottery. It is common to find some degree of ...
. Eventually, the Israelites ask for a king, and Yahweh gives them
Saul Saul (; he, , ; , ; ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Kingdom of Israel. His reign, traditionally placed in the late 11th century BCE, supposedly marked the transition of ...
.
David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
, the youngest (divinely favored) son of Jesse of
Bethlehem Bethlehem (; ar, بيت لحم ; he, בֵּית לֶחֶם '' '') is a city in the central West Bank, Palestine, about south of Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical ...
would succeed
Saul Saul (; he, , ; , ; ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Kingdom of Israel. His reign, traditionally placed in the late 11th century BCE, supposedly marked the transition of ...
. Under David, the Israelites establish the
united monarchy The United Monarchy () in the Hebrew Bible refers to History of ancient Israel and Judah, Israel and Judah under the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon. It is traditionally dated to have lasted between and . According to the biblical account, ...
, and under David's son
Solomon Solomon (; , ),, ; ar, سُلَيْمَان, ', , ; el, Σολομών, ; la, Salomon also called Jedidiah (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , Modern Hebrew, Modern: , Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Yăḏīḏăyāh'', "beloved of Yahweh, Yah"), ...
they construct the
First Temple Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple (, , ), was the Temple in Jerusalem between the 10th century BC and . According to the Hebrew Bible, it was commissioned by Solomon in the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Kingdom of ...
in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
, using the 400-year-old materials of the Tabernacle, where Yahweh continues to tabernacle himself among them. On the death of Solomon and reign of his son,
Rehoboam Rehoboam (; , ; , ; la, Roboam, ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
, the kingdom is divided in two. In the biblical narrative, the kings of the northern Kingdom of Israel 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 ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
, 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 Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe ('' sofer'') and priest ('' kohen''). In Greco-Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical lang ...
, Israel is constituted as a holy nation, bound by the Torah and holding itself apart from all other peoples.


Historical Israelites


Earliest appearance

The name Israel first appears c. 1209 BCE, at the end of the
Late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing in some areas, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second prin ...
and the very beginning of the period archaeologists and historians call Iron Age I, on the Merneptah Stele raised by the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah. As distinct from the cities named (
Ashkelon Ashkelon or Ashqelon (; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , , ; Philistine language, Philistine: ), also known as Ascalon (; Ancient Greek: , ; Arabic: , ), is a coastal city in the Southern District (Israel), Southern District of Israel on the Medite ...
,
Gezer Gezer, or Tel Gezer ( he, גֶּזֶר), in ar, تل الجزر – Tell Jezar or Tell el-Jezari is an archaeological site in the foothills of the Judaean Mountains at the border of the Shfela region roughly midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ...
, Yenoam) which are written with a toponymic marker, Israel is written
hieroglyph A hieroglyph (Ancient Greek, Greek for "sacred carvings") was a Character (symbol), character of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient Egyptian writing system. logogram, Logographic scripts that are pictographic in form in a way reminiscent of ancien ...
ically with a
demonym A demonym (; ) or gentilic () is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place. Demonyms are usually derived from the name of the place (hamlet, village, town, city, region, province, ...
ic
determinative A determinative, also known as a taxogram or semagram, is an ideogram used to mark semantics, semantic categories of words in logographic scripts which helps to disambiguate interpretation. They have no direct counterpart in spoken language, thoug ...
indicating that the reference is to a human group, variously located in central Palestine or the highlands of
Samaria Samaria (; he, שֹׁמְרוֹן, translit=Šōmrōn, ar, السامرة, translit=as-Sāmirah) is the historic and Hebrew Bible, biblical name used for the central region of Palestine (region), Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and ...
.


Origins

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 Habiru (sometimes written as Hapiru, and more accurately as ʿApiru, meaning "dusty, dirty"; Sumerian language, Sumerian: 𒊓𒄤, ''sagaz''; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒄩𒁉𒊒, ''ḫabiru'' or ''ʿaperu'') is a term used in 2nd-millenni ...
and
Shasu The Shasu ( from Egyptian ''šꜣsw'', probably pronounced ''Shaswe'') were Semitic-speaking cattle nomads in the Southern Levant from the late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 ...
recorded in Egyptian texts as active in
Edom Edom (; Edomite: ; he, אֱדוֹם , lit.: "red"; Akkadian: , ; Ancient Egyptian: ) was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan, located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah to the west, and the Arabian Desert The Arabian Dese ...
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 Mount Seir ( he, הַר-שֵׂעִיר, ''Har Sēʿīr'') is the ancient and Hebrew Bible, biblical name for a mountainous region stretching between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in the northwestern region of Edom and southeast of the Kingdom ...
in Edom.K. van der Toor
''Family Religion in Babylonia, Ugarit and Israel: Continuity and Changes in the Forms of Religious Life''
BRILL 1996 pp. 181, 282.
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 (giving birth to the saga of
The Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew language, Hebrew: יציאת מצרים, ''Yeẓi’at Miẓrayim'': ) is the founding myth of the Israelites whose narrative is spread over four books of the Torah (or Pentateuch, corresponding to the first five books of the ...
), with an ethnic composition similar to that in
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torren ...
, Edom and
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'abâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'bâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an a ...
,Norman Gottwald
''Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 BCE''
A&C Black, 1999 p. 433, cf. 455–56
and including Habiru and Shasu.Stefan Paas
''Creation and Judgement: Creation Texts in Some Eighth Century Prophets''
Brill, 2003 pp. 110–21, 144.
The Israelites as a group had both ethnic and religious elements. In the ancient Near East religion was tribal, and so was the religion of the Israelites; religion in this context was as much related to ethnicity as it was to spirituality. For the Israelites, Yahweh was their national god, with whom they believed they had a special covenant. The distinct ethnic identity of Israelites was strengthened by conflicts with other peoples such as the Philistines. The origins of the god Yahweh are currently uncertain, since the early Israelites seemed to worship the Caanaanite god El as their national deity, only to later replace it with Yahweh. It has been speculated by some scholars that the cult of Yahweh may have been brought into Israel by a group of Caananite slaves fleeing from Egypt, who later merged with the Israelites. 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.


Monarchic period


United Monarchy

According to the Hebrew Bible, the various tribes of Israel united in the 10th century BCE and formed the United Kingdom of Israel, under the leadership of
Saul Saul (; he, , ; , ; ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Kingdom of Israel. His reign, traditionally placed in the late 11th century BCE, supposedly marked the transition of ...
, who was later overthrown by
David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
; after the death of David, his son
Solomon Solomon (; , ),, ; ar, سُلَيْمَان, ', , ; el, Σολομών, ; la, Salomon also called Jedidiah (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , Modern Hebrew, Modern: , Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Yăḏīḏăyāh'', "beloved of Yahweh, Yah"), ...
ascended to the throne and reigned until his death, after which the Kingdom split into the Kingdom of Israel and the
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'', "Davidic line, House of David") was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the South ...
. The historicity of the United Monarchy is heavily debated among archaeologists and biblical scholars: biblical maximalists and centrists (
Kenneth Kitchen Kenneth Anderson Kitchen (born 1932) is a British biblical scholar, Ancient Near Eastern historian, and Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus ''Emeritus'' (; female: ''emerita'') is an adjective used to designate a retired chair, profess ...
, William G. Dever,
Amihai Mazar Amihai "Ami" Mazar ( he, עמיחי מזר; born November 19, 1942) is an Israeli archaeology, archaeologist. Born in Haifa, Israel (then the Mandatory Palestine, British Mandate of Palestine), he has been since 1994 a professor at the Institute ...
, Baruch Halpern and others) believe that the biblical account can be considered as more or less accurate, biblical minimalists (
Israel Finkelstein Israel Finkelstein ( he, ישראל פינקלשטיין, born March 29, 1949) is an Israeli archaeologist, professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University and the head of the School of Archaeology and Maritime Cultures at the University of Haifa. ...
,
Ze'ev Herzog Ze’ev Herzog ( he, זאב הרצוג; born 1941) is an Israelis, Israeli archeologist, professor of archaeology at The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University specializing in social archaeology, History ...
, Thomas L. Thompson and others) believe that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah developed as separate states and there was never a United Monarchy. The debate has not yet been resolved, although recent archaeological discoveries by Israeli archaeologists
Eilat Mazar Eilat Mazar ( he, אילת מזר; 10 September 195625 May 2021) was an Israeli archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological rec ...
and
Yosef Garfinkel Yosef Garfinkel (hebrew: יוסף גרפינקל; born 1956) is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is Professor of Prehistory, Prehistoric Archaeology and of Archaeology of the Biblical Period at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Biograp ...
seem to support the existence of a united monarchy. From 850 BCE onwards a series of inscriptions are evidence of a kingdom which its neighbors refer to as the " House of David."


Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Historians and archaeologists agree that a Kingdom of Israel existed by 900 BCE and that a
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'', "Davidic line, House of David") was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the South ...
existed by 700 BCE. The political power of Judah was concentrated within the
tribe of Judah According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridg ...
, Israel was dominated by the
tribe of Ephraim According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Ephraim ( he, אֶפְרַיִם, ''ʾEp̄rayīm,'' in Pausa, pausa: אֶפְרָיִם, ''ʾEp̄rāyīm'') was one of the tribes of Israel. The Tribe of Manasseh together with Ephraim formed the ''Hou ...
and the
House of Joseph The Tribe of Joseph is one of the Tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שִׁבְטֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Šīḇṭēy Yīsrāʾēl, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Hebrew Bible, Hebrew scriptures, the d ...
; the region of
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, hagGālīl; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galile ...
was associated with the
tribe of Naphtali The Tribe of Naphtali () was one of the northernmost of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is one of the ten lost tribes. Biblical narratives In the biblical account, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, Joshua al ...
, the most eminent tribe of northern Israel. The Kingdom of Israel was destroyed around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
. The Kingdom of Judah later became a
client state A client state, in international relations, is a State (polity), state that is economically, politically, and/or militarily subordinate to another more powerful state (called the "controlling state"). A client state may variously be described as ...
of first the Neo-Assyrian Empire and then the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
. A revolt against the latter led to its destruction by King
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
in 586 BCE. According to the Hebrew Bible, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed
Solomon's Temple Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple (, , ), was the Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem, or alternatively the Holy Temple (; , ), refers to the two now-destroyed religious structures that served as the central places ...
and exiled the Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded in the
Babylonian Chronicles The Babylonian Chronicles are a series of clay tablet, tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography. The Babylonian Chronicles were written in Babylonian c ...
.


Later history

Following the
fall of Babylon The Fall of Babylon denotes the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BCE. Nabonidus (Nabû-na'id, 556–539 BCE), son of the Assyrian priestess Addagoppe of Harran, Adda-Guppi, came to the thr ...
to the Persian Achaemenid Empire under
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 ), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the History of Iran, first Persian empire.#refachaemenids-EI, Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty ...
in 539 BCE, the Jews who had been deported in the aftermath of the Babylonian conquest of Judah were eventually allowed to return following a proclamation by the Persian king
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 ), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the History of Iran, first Persian empire.#refachaemenids-EI, Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty ...
that was issued after the
fall of Babylon The Fall of Babylon denotes the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BCE. Nabonidus (Nabû-na'id, 556–539 BCE), son of the Assyrian priestess Addagoppe of Harran, Adda-Guppi, came to the thr ...
to the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
. The returned Jewish population in Judah were allowed to self-rule under Persian governance. Construction of the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, , ), later known as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem between and 70 CE. It replaced Solomon's Temple, which had been built at the same location in the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Kin ...
was completed in 516 BCE, during the reign of
Darius the Great Darius I ( peo, wiktionary:𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; grc-gre, Δαρεῖος ; – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was a List of monarchs of Persia, Persian ruler who served as the third King o ...
, 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple. Around the same era, the
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites. They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samarit ...
emerged as an ethnic and religious community in the region of
Samaria Samaria (; he, שֹׁמְרוֹן, translit=Šōmrōn, ar, السامرة, translit=as-Sāmirah) is the historic and Hebrew Bible, biblical name used for the central region of Palestine (region), Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and ...
. With their temple on
Mount Gerizim Mount Gerizim (; Samaritan Hebrew: ''ʾĀ̊rgā̊rīzēm''; Hebrew: ''Har Gərīzīm''; ar, جَبَل جَرِزِيم ''Jabal Jarizīm'' or جَبَلُ ٱلطُّورِ ''Jabal at-Ṭūr'') is one of two mountains in the immediate vicinit ...
, they continued to thrive for centuries. Many Jewish authorities contest their lineage, deeming them to have been conquered foreigners who were settled in the
Land of Israel The Land of Israel () is the traditional Jewish name for an area of the Southern Levant. Related biblical, religious and historical English terms include the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the Holy Land, and Palestine (region), Palesti ...
by the Assyrians, as was the typical Assyrian policy to obliterate national identities. Most scholars believe the Samaritans are a blend of Israelites with other nationalities whom the Assyrians had resettled in the area. The terms ''Jews'' and ''Samaritans'' largely replaced the title "Children of Israel" as the commonly used ethnonym for each respective community. The Greek term ''
Ioudaios ''Ioudaios'' ( grc, Ἰουδαῖος; pl. ''Ioudaioi''). is an Ancient Greek ethnonym An ethnonym () is a name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms (whose name of the ethnic group has been c ...
'' ( Jew) was an
exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, ''native'' name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, grou ...
originally referring to members of the
Tribe of Judah According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridg ...
, and by extension the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah and the
Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Yəhūda'', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Yehūḏā''; el, Ἰουδαία, ; la, Iūdaea) is an ancient, historic, Biblical Hebrew, contemporaneous L ...
n region, and was later adopted as a self-designation by people in the
Jewish diaspora The Jewish diaspora ( he, תְּפוּצָה, təfūṣā) or exile (Hebrew: ; Yiddish: ) is the dispersion of Israelites or Jews out of their ancient ancestral homeland (the Land of Israel) and their subsequent settlement in other parts of th ...
who identified themselves as loyal to the God of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritans'
ethnonym An ethnonym () is a name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms (whose name of the ethnic group has been created by another group of people) and autonyms, or endonyms (whose name is created and used ...
is derived either from ''Guardians/Keepers/Watchers f the Law/Torah', or after the region of Samaria.David Noel Freedman, ''The Anchor Bible Dictionary'', 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).


Genetics

A 2004 study (by Shen et al.) comparing Samaritans to several Jewish populations (including
Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( ; he, יְהוּדֵי אַשְׁכְּנַז, translit=Yehudei Ashkenaz, ; yi, אַשכּנזישע ייִדן, Ashkenazishe Yidn), also known as Ashkenazic Jews or ''Ashkenazim'',, Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation: , singu ...
,
Iraqi Jews The history of the Jews in Iraq ( he, יְהוּדִים בָּבְלִים, ', ; ar, اليهود العراقيون, ) is documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BC. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and mos ...
, Libyan Jews,
Moroccan Jews Moroccan Jews ( ar, اليهود المغاربة, al-Yahūd al-Maghāriba he, יהודים מרוקאים, Yehudim Maroka'im) are Jews who live in or are from Morocco. Moroccan Jews constitute an ancient community dating to Roman times. Jews b ...
, and
Yemenite Jews Yemenite Jews or Yemeni Jews or Teimanim (from ''Yehudei Teman''; ar, اليهود اليمنيون) are those Jews who live, or once lived, in Yemen, and their descendants maintaining their customs. Between June 1949 and September 1950, the ...
, as well as Israeli
Druze The Druze (; ar, دَرْزِيٌّ, ' or ', , ') are an Arabic-speaking Western esotericism, esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to the Druze faith, an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheistic, Syncretic religio ...
and
Palestinians Palestinians ( ar, الفلسطينيون, ; he, פָלַסְטִינִים, ) or Palestinian people ( ar, الشعب الفلسطيني, label=none, ), also referred to as Palestinian Arabs ( ar, الفلسطينيين العرب, label=non ...
) found that "the principal components analysis suggested a common ancestry of Samaritan and Jewish patrilineages. Most of the former may be traced back to a common ancestor in what is today identified as the paternally inherited Israelite high priesthood (Cohanim), with a common ancestor projected to the time of the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel."


See also

*
Biblical archaeology Biblical archaeology is an academic school and a subset of Biblical studies and Levantine archaeology. Biblical archaeology studies archaeological sites from the Ancient Near East and especially the Holy Land (also known as Palestine (region), ...
*
Groups claiming affiliation with Israelites Several groups claim they Lineal descendant, descend from the ancient Israelites. The issue has been especially relevant since the establishment of the State of Israel and an individual or a group's request to immigrate to Israel under its Law of ...
* Lachish relief *
Masoretic Text The Masoretic Text (MT or 𝕸; he, נֻסָּח הַמָּסוֹרָה, Nūssāḥ Hammāsōrā, Literal translation, lit. 'Text of the Tradition') is the authoritative Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic, Aramaic text of the 24 b ...
*
Samaritan Pentateuch The Samaritan Torah (Samaritan Hebrew: , ''Tōrāʾ''), also called the Samaritan Pentateuch, is a text of the Torah written in the Samaritan script and used as Religious text, sacred scripture by the Samaritans. It dates back to one of the an ...
* Tribal allotments of Israel *
Who is a Jew? "Who is a Jew?" ( he, מיהו יהודי ) is a basic question about Jewish identity and considerations of Jewish self-identification. The question pertains to ideas about Jewish personhood, which have Jewish culture, cultural, Jewish ethnic ...
* Yom HaAliyah


Notes


References


Bibliography

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