Saturday, October 13, 2007

Conversion Class

Today's class focused on setting a framework for our studies in Jewish history.

We learned a bit about the geography, so we could place where the ancient places were within a modern context.  I can't do justice to that here.
We also started learning a timeline of sorts; we mostly learned a geneology today.

Jewish history starts with Abraham, some 4000 years ago.  He was born in Ur, Babylonia, which was probably in present-day Iraq.  He eventually settled in Canaan, which would be in Israel today.

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob (who was later re-named Israel).

Jacob had 11 sons, who became the patriarchs of the 12 tribes (well...sort of).  The sons were Shimein, Levi, Reuben, Dan, Judah, Benjamin, Gad, Naphtali, Issacher, Zebulin, and Asher.  Joseph had two sons, Ephraim, and Menasseh, who both had land.  This would make 13 tribes, and you can't have 13 of anything.  And so it became that there is no tribe of "Joseph".  The Levites did not own land, because they served religiously.

After that, there is little record of who did what.  Not until Moses comes along, in about 1300-1250 BCE.  Then the Hebrews are led out of Egypt and make their way back to Canaan.

After Moses comes Joshua.  He fought the battle of Jericho.

Then, for a while, the Hebrews have no strong leader.  They're ruled by the Judges, who unite 
the people against an enemy (usually the Philistines), and then everybody goes back on their merry ways.  These guys (and a girl) were charismatic leaders whom the community sought out.

Saul becomes the first united king of the Hebrew people.  He's incredibly popular, and powerful.  He started out as one of the Judges, but after the battle was won, the people anointed him king.  He eventually goes a little crazy.

Enter David.  He fights Goliath, is very popular, and is seen as an ideal king.  He becomes the leader of the tribe of Judah and captures Jerusalem.  He becomes king of the Hebrews.

Succeeding David as king comes his son, Solomon.  He builds the first Temple, and becomes the last ruler of the united monarchy.  The nation divides, because Solomon enslaves the Israelites in order to build the Temple, and they eventually decide that they have had enough and rebel.

That's as far as we got, which brings us to about 920 BCE.

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