A  People  is  Born

3100 to 586 B.C.E.


Early Jewish history is the story of the development of a nation and religion. From the time of Abraham to the destruction of the First Temple this history includes the lives of the early Israelites, the enslavement in Egypt, the formation of a nation with the conquest of the land of Israel, and the exile into Babylon. 

Early Civilization
3000 BCE

Early settlements in the areas of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Evidence of village life includes domestication of animals, agriculture, and crafts. Cuneiform, an early form of writing, is developed by the Sumerians.


Great Pyramids and Sphinx
c. 2500

Great pyramids at El Giza, Egypt, built by the pharaohs of the 4th Dynasty (c. 2575-2465 BCE) as personal mortuary temples. 


The Patriarchs
c.2000- 1700

According to the Bible, Abraham is born in the city of Ur in southern Mesopotamia and brings his family to Canaan. Abraham's son Isaac remains in Canaan his entire life. During a famine, Issac's son Jacob moves to Egypt with his entire family and their posessions.


Exodus from Egypt
c. 1280

According to the Bible, Moses leads the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. An essential story for the Jewish people, the Exodus is commemorated through the festival of Passover. Shortly after the Exodus, the nation receives the Torah at Sinai. 


Settlement in Canaan; Judges
c. 1250 -1050

Conquest of Canaan and settlement of the land, divided among the twelve tribes of Israel. The nation is led by the biblical Judges, among them Deborah. 

Saul
c. 1020 - 1004

The Prophet and Judge Samuel annoints Saul as the first King of Israel. 

David
c. 1004 - 965

David rules over a united kingdom, conquers Jerusalem, and enlarges the empire of Israel. 


Solomon; The First Temple
c. 965 - 922

The kingdom of Israel flourishes under Solomon, David's son. Known for his wisdom, Solomon builds the First Temple. 


The Kingdom Divides
922 BCE

After Solomon's death (c. 922 BCE), the leaders of the northern tribes reject his son Rehoboam's claim of sovereignty and appoint Jeroboam as their king. The empire is divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.


Prophets Elijah, Amos, and Isaiah
c. 850 - 725

Isaiah son of Amoz, the greatest of the Hebrew prophets and the most politcal of all.


Northern Kingdom Falls
722 BCE

Assyria conquers the northern kingdom of Israel; the ten northern tribes are exiled. 


Judean Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel
  c. 627 - 580


Assyrian Empire Falls to Babylonians
612 BCE


Kingdom of Judah Falls; Destruction of the First Temple;
Exile to Babylon
586 BCE

Led by King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonians conquer the Kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem and the First Temple are destroyed and the people of Judah are exiled to Babylon.

HISTORY OF JEWS AND CIVILIZATION                                    TIMELINE

The Power of The Word

586 BCE - 72 CE


With the end of the Babylonian exile, Jews return to Israel and rebuild the Temple. Jewish communities continue to grow within Israel and across the Eastern Mediterranean. The Macabbean rebellion restores the Jewish monarchy, which rules over Judea until the Romans destroy Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The Jews are again sent into exile.


Death of Zedekiah- Last king of the House of David
561 BCE-  27 Adar

Zedekiah was the last king of the royal house of David to reign in the Holy Land. He ascended the throne in 597 BCE, after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia (to whom the Kingdom of Judah was then subject) exiled King Jeconiah (Zedekiah's nephew) to Babylonia . In 588 BCE Zedekiah rebelled against Babylonian rule, and Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem (in Tevet 10 of that year); in the summer of 586 BCE the walls of Jerusalem were penetrated, the city conquered, the (first) Holy Temple destroyed, and the people of Judah exiled to Babylonia. Zedekiah tried escaping through a tunnel leading out of the city, but was captured; his sons were killed in front of him, and then he was blinded. Zedekiah languished in the royal dungeon in Babylonia until Nebuchadnezzar's death in 561 BCE. Meroduch, Nebuchadnezzar's son and successor, freed him (and his nephew Jeconiah) on the 27th of Adar, but Zedikiah died that same day.


539 Persia Conquers Babylon


538 Return to Israel

Cyrus of Persia enacts a new policy which allows exiles, including Judeans, to return to their homeland. Some Jews return to Judea but many remain in Babylon, where there is a thriving Jewish community.


515 Second Temple Completed


450 Ezra and Nechemia

Ezra and Nechemia lead Jews back to Israel, rebuild Jerusalem and the Jewish community, and introduce religious practices such as regular public Torah readings.


400  Classical Prophecy Ends with Book of Malachi


399 Trial and Execution of Socrates


332 Alexander the Great Defeats Persia, Conquers Israel

Hellenistic culture is introduced to Israel; Jews retain distinct practices and beliefs in Israel and throughout the eastern Mediterranean.


323 Death of Alexander; Emergence of Ptolemaic and                                 Seleucid Control Over Israel


268 Rome Gains Control of Southern Italy


167 Hellinization of Israel

Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Seleucid ruler of Syrian, enforces Hellinization of Israel.


165 Maccabean Revolt

The Maccabees, the priestly family of the Hasmoneans, head the rebellion against the Seleucids and Hellenistic Jews. The festival of Hanukah celebrates the successful revolt and the rededication of the Temple.


164-63 Hasmoneans Rule Over Independent State of Judah


63 Rome Annexes Judea, End of Hasmonian Regime


44 Caesar Assassinated


37- 4  Herod the Great

Herod, appointed king of Judea by Rome, is known for his grand building projects including the renovation of the Second Temple, the fortification of Masada, and the port of Caesarea.


30 CE  Jesus Crucified


66  73 Jewish Revolt Against Rome


70  Destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple

Titus, son of the Roman Emporer Vespasian, destroys Jerusalem and the Second Temple. Jews are sold into slavery and sent into exile. The synagogue begins to play a central role in Jewish life.


73  Masada

Masada, the last fortress of the Jews, falls to the Romans. Everyone committed suicide before being captured



The Shaping of Tradition

72 CE - 732

With a majority of Jews in exile, Jewish communities develop across the Mediterranean area. Several revolts, including the Bar Kokhba rebellion, attempt to overthrow Roman control of Judea. After the destruction of the Second Temple the focus of Jewish life shifts towards the synagogue, rabbis, and texts such as the Mishnah and Talmud. Jews continue to maintain their distinct identities under the Roman and Muslim empires.


73 Sanhedrin Moves


During the Roman period, the Sanhedrin acts as the supreme religious, political, and judicial court in Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Sanhedrin reconvenes in Jabneh, south of Jaffa.


100 Four Gospels Completed


115 - 117 Jewish Revolts Against Roman Empire

Jewish revolts in Egypt, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, and North Africa against the Roman Empire fail.


132 - 135 Bar Kokhba Rebellion

Lead by Bar Kokhba and supported by important Rabbis, the rebellion inflicts serious damage against the Roman Empire, though ultimately fails. Many thousands of Jews are killed, including religious leaders such as Rabbi Akiva. Romans troops take over Jerusalem and expel the Jews. The center of Jewish life shifts to northern Israel, and the Sanhedrin moves to Galilee.


200 Mishnah Compiled

The Mishnah, the codification of the Oral Law (interpretation of the Torah), is compiled and edited by Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. The first great published rabbinic work, the Mishnah is a compilation of law, discussions, and debates which deal with all aspects of Jewish life.


212 Jews Granted Citizenship by Roman Empire


219 - 259 Jewish Academies in Babylon

Babylon emerges as a center of Jewish life. A major academy (yeshiva) is established at Sura in 219 and at Pumbedita in 259.


312 Emperor Constantine I adopts Christianity

Constantine adopted Christianity following his victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge. He claimed that before battle he saw a light cross in the sky with it the Greek words "Εν Τουτω Νικα" ( "In this, be victorious!", often known in Latin "in hoc signo vinces"). He ordered his soldiers to put Christian emblems on their shields and banners. Moral was lifted, motivation got strong, they won the battle and Christianity began spreading all over the Roman Empire, all over the world.

313 Edict of Milan Legalizes Christianity in Roman Empire


325 First Legal Restrictions on Jews

Anti-Jewish laws develop in the Roman Empire. Laws prohibit intermarriage between Christians and Jews, and possession of Christian slaves by Jews.


330 Christian Construction in Jerusalem

Helena, mother of Emporer Constantine, begins Christian construction in Jerusalem.


400 Jerusalem Talmud Completed

The Talmud is the interpretation and elaboration on the Mishnah. It includes aggadah (narratives) and halakhah (law).


425 Sanhedrin Ceases to Function


476 City of Rome Falls; End of Western Empire


500 Baylonian Talmud Completed

More extensive than the Jerusalem Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud is known for its intellectual sharpness and ingenuity. It is the authorative compilation of Oral Law.


622 Muhammad Flees from Mecca to Medina;
       Year One of Islam


638 Muslim Conquest of Israel

Under Muslim rule, Jews are permitted to return to Jerusalem.


650 Majority of World Jewry Lives Under Muslim Rule


711 Muslims Conquest of Spain

Muslim invasion of Spain leads to Jewish settlements in newly conquered areas. Jews become involved in trade and administration in the new Muslim kingdom. The northen kingdom of Asturias remained unconquered.


The Crucible of Europe

732 C.E. - 1492


Jewish communities develop under Muslim rule. The Golden Age of Spain produces a rich culture of Jewish poetry and philosophy. Jews settle in northern and western Europe. Religious persecution leads to the expulsions of Jews from areas in Europe and also Spain.

733  Muslim Attacks on France Fail 

750 Abbasid Dynasty Rises to Power in Baghdad

760 Karaism Founded

The Jewish sect the Karaites develops in opposition to the talmudic-rabbinical tradition. Its religious precepts are derived directly from the Bible and are based on the literal meaning of the text.

800 Charlemagne Crowned Holy Roman Emperor;
First  Charters for Jews in Northern Europe

900 Golden Age of Jews in Spain

With the beginning of the Golden Age, Jewish life shifts towards Spain. Through the 1100s, Jews flourish as traders, merchants, doctors, poets, and philosophers within Muslim society. Sephardim are descendants of Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal.

1050 Yiddish Language Develops

Yiddish is used among the Ashkenazim, Jews living in Northern Europe. Written in Hebrew letters, the basic grammar and vocabulary of Yiddish is German, along with French, Italian, and Hebrew influences. 


1085  Toledo Conquered

Toledo shifts from Muslim to Christian control. The situation remains largely the same for Jews, who continue to be prominent members of the city. 

1096  First Crusaders Massacre Jews in Rhineland


1105  Rashi

Death of Rashi, acronym of Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (1040-1105), France. Leading commentator on the Bible and Talmud. 


1141  Judah Halevi

Death of Judah Halevi (1075-1141), originally from Spain, emigrated to Israel. Poet and Philosopher. 


1144  Blood Libel in Norwich, England

1200-1225  Franciscan and Dominican Orders Founded

1204  Maimonides

Death of Maimonides, also known as Rambam, acronym of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204), Spain. Rabbinic authority, codifier of Jewish law, rationalist philosopher, and royal physician, Maimonides is the most illustrious figure of medieval Judaism. 


1215 Magna Carta, England; Jews of Europe Forced to Wear Special Badge

1267 Ramban Synagogue was founded. It's the oldest active Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem founded by Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, also known as Nahmanides.

1290  Jews Expelled from England

With an increase in violence, economic restrictions, and Church hostility, Jews are expelled from areas in Western Europe. Some Jews move east towards Poland, Lithuania, and Russia.

1306  Jews Expelled from France

1321  Death of Dante (1265-1321)

1348 Black Death; Persecution of Jews

1391  Forced Conversions of Jews in Spain

Civil unrest effects Jews in Spain, Jewish prosperity is resented. Jewish property is destroyed and Jews are given the choice of embracing Christianity or death. Many Jews become conversos, forced converts to Catholicism. 


1453  Jews Expelled from Cologne

1460  Printing Invented in Europe

1481  Spanish Inquisition Established

The Inquisition is established to investigate and combat heresy, and to root out conversos who continue to practice Judaism. 

1492  Expulsion of Jews from Spain


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