Judaism is the oldest religion of the Western world and has influenced Christianity and Islam. The Hebrews were the ancestors of the Jewish people. The Hebrews were different from others of their time because the Hebrews were monotheistic; they believed in one God. The Hebrews believed they had a special relationship with their God and were God’s chosen people.
The Hebrews have a written tradition called scripture. Hebrew scripture traces their ancestry to Abraham, who lived in the Mesopotamian city of Ur about 2200BCE. Scriptures says that God told Abraham to move his family to a promised land where his family would be God’s chosen people.
According to scripture, Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, established a nation called Israel on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. About 1300BCE, many Hebrews moved to Egypt to escape a famine. A famine is a great hunger. At first, the Hebrews were treated well in Egypt, but in time the Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians. According to scripture, God sent ten deadly plagues to Egypt when the Egyptians would not release the enslaved people. When the Hebrews did escape, scripture states that Moses, the leader of the Hebrews, parted the Red Sea for just enough time to allow the Hebrews to pass. Once the Hebrews reached the other side of the Red Sea, the waters returned, and the Egyptian army drowned. After their escape across the Red Sea about 1250BCE, God revealed Ten Commandments to Moses. The Ten Commandments are the model for both Jewish and Christian moral thought.
The Hebrews returned to Israel, where they were conquered by Babylon in 586BCE and exiled or forced from their home. The Hebrews returned to Israel, but the Romans forced the Hebrews once again in 66BCE. The Hebrews were then forced to live as minorities in many different lands in a period known as the Diaspora. The Diaspora ended with the creation of the modern nation of Israel in 1948.