History of Israel
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe State of Israel (Hebrew: מדינת ישראל, Medinat Yisrael) was established on May 14, 1948 after nearly two thousand years of Jewish dispersal, and after 55 years of efforts to create a Jewish homeland through Zionism. The 62 years since Israeli independence have been marked by conflict with neighbouring Arab states and the Palestinian-Arabs. There have also been many negotiations, and peace has been achieved with Egypt and Jordan. Since the creation of the Jewish state, the proportion of the world's Jews who live in Israel has grown to about 40%.
 Introduction: Jewish History in Israel
Tribes of Israel
Evidence of a Jewish presence in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea dates back over 3,000 years, to the formation of the religion and people. The name "Jews" derives from their origin in the Kingdom of Judah, an area from which the Jewish people have been repeatedly dispersed and repopulated over their history.
 Iron AgeThe first record of the name Israel occurs in the Merneptah stele, erected for Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 BCE, "Israel is laid waste and his seed is not." (the Bible narratives are ascribed to the eras they depict by Bava Batra 14b ff. (Talmud) and early Church Fathers). This Israel, identified as a people, was located in the northern part of the central highlands. Surveys have identified more than 300 settlements in the regional highlands dating to Iron Age I (more and larger in the north), a minority having been occupied in prior periods, and new settlements in the fringe regions as well. Settlers were estimated at twenty thousand in the twelfth century and double that in the eleventh.Israelite sites are notably absent of pig bones, and some archeologists (cf. Finkelstein) interpret this as indicating distinct ethnic identity, but it could result from other factors Villages had a population up to 400, which lived by farming and herding and was largely self-sufficient. Economic interchange was prevalent. Writing was known and available for recording society ethos, even in small sites. In the territory of the future kingdom of Judah the archaeological evidence indicates a similar society of village-like centres, but with more limited resources and a far smaller population.
Later Israelite sites are distinguished from Canaanite ones via number and distribution of ceramics and by more agrarian settlement plans.Northwest Semitic dialects of the first millennium include a core group of Phoenician and a Canaanite dialect of Israelite, and a fringe group of Ammonite, Moabite, Edomite, and a Canaanite dialect of Judaean; the languages of the inscriptional evidence are of limited help due to not distinguishing between Israelite and Canaanite culture down to the tenth century.
The Hebrew Bible describes constant warfare with many tribes, including the Philistines, whose capital was Gaza, and a single temple in Jerusalem. Around 950 BCE, the kingdom split into a southern Kingdom of Judah and a northern Kingdom of Israel.
Biblical and Assyrian records describe how the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III around 720 BCE and its people sent into exile, becoming the Lost Tribes of Israel. The Samaritans claim to be descended from survivors of this destruction. The Philistine kingdom was also destroyed.
The Bible describes how a later Assyrian King, Sennacherib, tried and failed to conquer Judah (Assyrian records say he punished them and left). Assyria was eventually conquered by Babylon in 612 BCE.
 Babylonian, Persian and Greek ruleIn 586 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered the Kingdom of Judah and exiled the population to Babylon. According to the Bible, he also destroyed Solomon's Temple.
In 538 BCE Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon and issued a proclamation granting subjugated nations (including the people of Judah) their freedom. The Bible describes how 50,000 Judeans, led by Zerubabel returned and rebuilt the temple. A second group of 5000, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to Judea in 456 BCE. According to the Bible, non-Jews tried to prevent the return and wrote to Cyrus.
In 333 BCE Alexander the Great defeated Persia and conquered Judea and sometime thereafter, the first translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint) was begun in Alexandria. After Alexander's death, his generals fought over the territory he had conquered. Israel became the frontier between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt, eventually becoming part of the Seleucid Empire.
In the second century, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruler of the Seleucid Empire) tried to eradicate Judaism in favor of Hellenistic religion leading to the 174–135 BCE Maccabean Revolt led by Judas Maccabeus (celebrated as the Jewish festival of Hanukkah). The Books of the Maccabees documented the uprising and the end of Greek rule.
 Hasmonean kingdom: 2nd century BCE to 64 BCEThe Hasmonean dynasty of priest-kings ruled Israel with the Pharisees, Saducees and Essenes as the principal social movements. As part of their struggle against Hellenistic civilization, the Pharisees established what may have been the world's first national male (religious) education and literacy program, based around meeting houses. This led to Rabbinical Judaism. Justice was administered by the Sanhedrin, whose leader was known as the Nasi. The Nasi's religious authority gradually superseded that of the Temple's high priest (under the Hasmoneans this was the king).
In 125 BCE the Hasmonean King John Hyrcanus subjugated Edom and forcibly converted the population to Judaism. This is the only known case of forced conversion to Judaism.
 Roman rule
 Pagan Rome: 64 BCE to 324 CEIn 64 BCE the Roman general Pompey conquered Judea. The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem became the only religious structure in the Roman Republic/Roman Empire which did not contain an effigy of the emperor.
From 37 BCE to 6 CE the Herodian dynasty, Jewish-Roman client kings descended from Edomian converts, ruled Judea. Herod the Great enlarged the temple (see Herod's Temple), making it one of the largest religious structures in the world. Despite its fame, it was in this period that Rabbinical Judaism began to assume popular prominence over the Temple priesthood. After 6 CE most of the country became a province of Syria, under direct Roman rule.
In 66 CE the Jews broke free of Rome, naming their short-lived kingdom "Israel" (see also First Jewish Revolt coinage). The revolt failed, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Titus in the year 70. The events were described by the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, including the famous last stand at Massada.
During the Jewish revolt, the Christians, at this time a sub-sect of Judaism, removed themselves from the country. The rabbinical/Pharisee anti-temple movement led by Yochanan ben Zakai made peace with Rome and survived.
In 131 the Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and constructed a Temple for Jupiter on the site of the Jewish temple. He may have banned circumcision. Jews were banned from living in Jerusalem and the Roman province, until then known as Iudaea Province, was renamed Palaestina; no other revolt led to a province being renamed. The names "Palestine" (in English) and "Filistin" (in Arabic) derive from this renaming.
From 132 to 136 Simon Bar Kokhba led a Jewish revolt against Hadrian, renaming the country "Israel", (see Bar Kochba Revolt coinage). The Bar-Kochba revolt caused more trouble for the Romans then the more famous (and better documented) revolt of 70. The Christians refused to participate in the revolt and from this point the Jews regarded Christianity as a separate religion.
Although uncertain, it is widely thought that during the Bar Kokhba revolt a rabbinical assembly decided which books could be regarded as part of the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish apocrypha were left out.
After the revolt, the Romans reduced persecution of the Jews and a hereditary Rabbinical Patriarch (from the House of Hillel) represented the Jews in dealings with the Romans. The most famous of these was Judah haNasi. Jewish seminaries continued to produce scholars and the best of these became members of a Sanhedrin.  The Mishnah, a major Jewish religious text, was completed in this period.
Before Bar-Kochba an estimated 2/3 of the population of Gallilee and 1/3 of the coastal region were Jewish. The failure of the revolts, persecution and the economic crisis that affected the Roman empire in the third century led to Jewish migration from Israel to the more tolerant Persian Sassanid Empire, where a prosperous Jewish community existed in the area round Babylon.