Historical Timeline: JUDAISM


2000-1250 BCE          Nomadic tribesmen (ancestors of Jews) migrate from Mesopotamia to settle the land of Canaan (later called Israel) where they formed a patriarchal society of tribal lineages. According to the Bible, this migration and settlement was based on a divine call and promise to Abraham—a promise of national blessing and bounty for Abraham and his descendents if they remain faithful to the One God (the first moment that God enters human history). With this call, the first covenant was established between God and the descendents of Abraham.


1250-1050 BCE          Exodus from bondage in Egypt. As the displaced Israelites are wandering in the desert, Moses is called to ascend Mount Sinai, where God reveals to him the Torah (first five books of the Bible). This is the second moment that God enters human history, thus Jews consider themselves doubly chosen. With the revelation of the Torah, the covenant between God and the people of Israel is reaffirmed and extended.


1050-587/6 BCE         Rise and establishment of monarchy under David (ca. 1013-973); First Temple built by Solomon, son of David. Institutionalization of ancient Isrealite religion. In 587/6 the Jerusalem Temple and Judea are destroyed by the Babylonians.


539-70 CE                   Restoration of ancient institutions and leadership; Temple rebuilt (515).  Emergence of classical Judaism centered on the law (revelation) and its interpretation (traditions).


                                    Rise of Greek power and dominance of Palestine and Syria (Alexander of Macedon conquers Persian Empire in 332). Development of different groups of Jews (Essenes around the Dead Sea) and beginning of Hellenized Jewish philosophy.


                                    Emergence of Pharisees as dominant religious movement and its consolidation of the ideals of scholarship and piety.


                                    Rise of Roman rule; conquest of Palestine in 63 BCE.


70-700 CE                   Development of rabbinic Judaism


                                    Fall of second Temple to Romans in 70 CE.

                                    Bible canonized (ca. 622)

                                    Compilation of Mishnah (Rabbi Judah the Price)

                                    Development of Talmud


700-1750 CE               Jewish life spreads from Middle East to Europe and US

Persecutions of Jews, as in Rhineland (1040) and England (1190), and exile from England (1291), France (1309), Spain (1492), Portugal (1496).


1759-present               Development of new patterns of Jewish life in response to Enlightenment and modernity


                                    New reform movements develop such as Hasidism (18th century), Reform and Conservative Schools.


                                    Revival of Jewish nationalism in the Zionist movement (founded 1897) and first resettlements in Palestine.


                                    Murder of six million Jews in Nazi death camps of World War II


                                    State of Israel founded in 1948