Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Questions about Israel?

I'm reading a Western Civ book and am on the topic of Israel. What I'm confused about is the time-line for certain events and the culture itself.

So, the Hebrews are descended from Abraham (Is this a known fact, or is this more the stance of their Biblical agenda?) They were led from Egypt by Moses to Palestine where they set up camp. (Again, fact or fiction?)

Saul was the first King followed by David and then Solomon, his son.

Now, after Solomon's death the Kingdom split between a north and a south. The north was completely destroyed and its people amalgamated to the culture of its conquerors. Judah was destroyed but the Jews came back.

Now, what was the culture of the Northern Tribes of the Kingdom of Israel? Were they Jewish? If so, then why was the southern kingdom called Judah specifically? Where does that name originate from?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    First of all, you have to separate out the Biblical account from the historical facts. While the Bible is the closest thing we have to a historical record of the area during that early time period, it is not independently verifiable, and as it is only a particular ethnic group's story, with an agenda to promote (as you mentioned), it would be unwise to treat it as a purely factual account. On the other hand, while there is some contradictory evidence suggesting the events never happened, there is no contradictory evidence proving it did not. So the entire Biblical account should be treated with a grain of salt, but it would be wrong to dismiss it altogether. The example of the Egyptian exodus is an important one - on the one hand, there is no evidence. On the other hand, we know that when Egyptian dynasties changed, records were willfully destroyed to make it appear that the new rulers were the eternal power. If a large slave revolt took place and the Pharaoh was deposed, of course the new leader would take pains to erase the record of the event, to prevent another mutiny. So it's not enough to say 'it didn't happen,' nor can you prove it did and treat it as fact. All you can say is 'we don't have enough evidence to prove it either way.'

    What we know is that the Israelites/Hebrews/Jews are all the same people, who claim in the Bible to be descended from Abraham and taken by Moses from Egypt to the land that is now Israel. Just as we know that modern day Arabs claim descent from Abraham through his son Ishmael, and follow their own biblical (qur'anic?) path to the lands where they now live. Calling it fiction or simply a 'Biblical agenda' is not a fair assessment - all cultures have their own creation myths, and once they stretch back to a time prior to the historical record, they may be imperfect but they're all we have to go on.

    When it comes to the monarchies, the stories in the Bible are certainly more reliable historically than the earlier sections, though still imperfect. Archaeological evidence has turned up verifying some of the later kings named, including coins stamped with their names. Saul, David, and Solomon are farther in the past and harder to prove, but every year more excavations take place, and it is possible that someday at least Solomon's existence will be proven, as the remnants of his rebuilt Temple still exist. But without that proof, skepticism makes sense.

    We do know that the nation of Israel was divided into twelve allied kingdoms, roughly on tribal lines - the Tribes are eleven of the sons of Jacob, and two of Joseph's (Joseph did not have a tribe to himself but split his patrimony between his two sons, and the Tribe of Levi were priests and did not have land - they lived throughout the twelve regions). After Solomon, the land was split into Judah (the largest individual tribe-land) and Israel (made up of the other nation-states, therefore called Israel after their forefather Jacob - whose other name was Israel - because calling themselves Reuven-Simeon-Naftali-Issachar-Asher-Dan -Zebulun-Gad-Benjamin-Ephraim-Menasseh would take too long to say), and soon after that the lands of Israel were conquered and destroyed, and the people scattered - these are what are known as the 'Lost Tribes' of Israel. All that remained were the tribe of Judah and those members of the Tribe of Levi who lived among them.

    All of the tribes were Jewish, in terms of culture and religion, as all of them followed the Torah laws believed to be given by G-d to Moses at Sinai. They were already divided into tribes before they arrived into Egypt, as the tribes simply denoted which of Jacob's (Israel's) sons they descended from. But they were not called "Jews" yet, only Hebrews or Israelites. The words "Jew" and "Jewish" are fairly modern terms, derived from the name of the tribe of Judah, and given to the Jewish people by outsiders rather than self-designated. But it seems to have stuck.

  • m i
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    "Hebrews descended from Abraham" - religious myth, meaning, no one really knows for sure but if you believe the bible is the literal truth then you think you know. Presumably, the tribes who lived in whatever the land was called during the time the

    "Led from Egypt by Moses" - again, religious myth, in this case unsupported by other historical records. Moses probably didn't exist.

    There are some archaeological evidence for the biblical kings David and Solomon, or so I've heard. The people of that period weren't monotheists, so calling them Jewish is arguable. They were conquered, more than once, by Assyrians, Persians and Greeks. The split is dubious, there may never have been two kingdoms. Undoubtedly, many of the people adjusted to the conquerors, if you call that amalgamation, or you could say the conquerors amalgamated with the existing population. At some point, the "cult of Yahweh" was started which was more monotheistic, the bible was written - it appears to include oral tradition from some of the conquering groups such as Assyrians so who knows who where the "Jews" really came from?

    Anyway, according to my history book, by 100 BCE Jews had split into 3 sects who regarded each other as unclean. By then, the religion was fully established as a religion, and busy proselytizing all over the Middle East, so there were Jewish colonies in Persia and the Arabian penninsula. Also there were non-Jewish semitic peoples living in Palestine as well as other peoples of other religions such as Greeks (Palestine was under Greek/Alexandrian for a couple of hundred years, then after a period of independence the Romans took over). As far as I know, the north wasn't completely destroyed, there were Jews living there during the time of Jesus, who is, after all, called Jesus of Nazereth.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    At the time Moses lead the Hebrews, the land was called Canaan.

    The term "Jews" and "Jewish" originates from "Judah" (which was the dominant tribe of that area), but at the time of the two kingdoms these terms did not exist, and they were considered parts of the same nation.

  • 1 decade ago

    I believe that Judah is one of the sons of Jacob. The twelve tribes of Israel are all named after Jacobs sons. Abraham, Issac and Jacob, who is renamed Israel. The bible, the first five books are history books for the israelites. The reason they split is due to the Law. It is all there in the torah

    Source(s): Genesis
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    All of Israel was Jewish. The southern kingdom was called Judah because of it's ruler Judah, another son of David.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, if Egyptian slave patterns are anything to go by, then the story of Moses has some major fiction put into it.

    Basically, Egyptians would never allow so many Hebrews serve in that one particular area. That would lead to a greater possibility of revolting.

  • 4 years ago

    Arabs are Semites. I am not against Arabs. Are the Jews who came out of Europe are they semitic? Who has segregated the Ethiopian Jews and kicked them out of Israel? No ! The real anti Semite are those who came out of Europe and settled into Palistiene and now call themselves the real jew. The real semitic jews have been in that area of the world for thousands of years. THEY BELONG THERE. Now the European Jews has put them through apartied so who is the real anti Semite?

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