The History of Israel: Timeline.

The history of Israel, and more specifically the story of the Jewish people is not for the faint hearted and it is very… very! long. I will do my best to create a timeline though I will admit I’m worried my attempt will be mediocre at best. There is so, so much to tell!

I will start with a graphic I found. This graphic made it a bit less overwhelming for me and gave me a clearer idea of everything I was looking at in text. I will use its divisions and add dates with facts. I will also take in account their history as told by their Hebrew Bible too. I will mention it as a bible based history so depending on your belief, you can accept it as true or not.

Here we go! This is the graphic I mentioned above:

Cr. travelingisrael. com

Ancient Israel

The Bronze Age, Canaanites. Jacob and the Twelve Tribes of Israel. 3000-1000 BCE

Hebrew Bible Based History

1500 BCE I will start this timeline of Israel’s history at the point when with a man called Jacob (son of Issac and twin of Esau), wrestled one of GOD’s angels or GOD through an angel and was named Israel.

Jacob married two women and had two concubines and his sons and grandsons created the 12 tribes of Israel. Here is a graphic with his wives, concubines and sons.

Genealogy of Jacob. Created by Pathfindermark, Wikimedia Commons

The oldest scripts that mention the Land of Israel were not found in the region, but rather in the empires that ruled the Middle East for centuries. The Canaanites were not one nation but different people who lived in city-states and paid taxes to Egypt.

1700 BCE Abraham, the first of the Hebrew patriarchs and a figure revered by the three great monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam settles in Canaan.

1532 BCE Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons becomes Viceroy of Egypt.

1523 BCE Jacob moves his family to Egypt.

1400 BCE Israelites are enslaved by the Egyptians. (3)

1393 BCE Moses is born.

1300 BCE Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt.

1273 BCE The Israelites arrive to the land that is modern day Israel today.

1258 BCE Land in the Canaan is appointed to the different tribes. This is a map:

Wikimedia Commons

Fact History

1209 BCE

The first record of the name Israel occurs in the Merneptah Stele erected for the Egyptan Pharaoh Merneptah (Son of Ramses II). It is an ethnic group more than an organized state.

The Merneptah Stele Cr. Olaf Tausch, Wikimedia Commons.

The Israelite period 1000–586 BCE

Hebrew Bible Based History

The Old Testament describes constant warfare between the Israelites and the Philistines whose capital was Gaza. The Phillistines were Greek refugee-settlers who inhabited the southern Levantine coast. The Bible states that King David founded a dynasty of kings and that his son Solomon built a temple. Both David and Solomon are widely referenced in Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts.

930 BCE Following the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into a northern Kingdom of Israel (the Galilee mountains area ) and a southern Kingdom of Judah (around Jerusalem). The Kingdom of Israel was formed by 10 tribes and the Kingdom of Judah was formed by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Map of Israel and Judea. Cr. Oldtidens. Wikimedia Commons

This is a video that shows what the Temple of Solomon or First Temple looked like:

732 BCE  the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III. The Philistine kingdom was also destroyed. The Assyrians sent most of the population of the northern Israelite kingdom into exile, thus creating the “Lost Tribes of Israel”. (1)

Fact History? Last year, archeologists in Israel found a huge piece of the fortress wall that surrounded the city of David. It was originally thought to have been completely destroyed. You can read about it HERE. Not sure this has been accepted by the larger international community yet.

Babylonian Period

Hebrew Bible based History:

In 586 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Judah. According to the Bible, he destroyed Solomon’s Temple and exiled the Jews to Babylon. The Phillistines were also driven into exile.

It is during this time that 10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel are lost or assimilated into other cultures.

Fact based History:

The defeat of Judah was recorded by the Babylonians in the Babylonian Chronicles. Babylonian and Biblical sources suggest that the Judean king, Jehoiachin, switched allegiances between the Egyptians and the Babylonians and that invasion was a punishment for allying with Babylon’s principal rival, Egypt. The exiled Jews may have been restricted to the elite.  (1)

Second Temple History

The Persian Empire

539 BCE

Cyrus II of the Persian Achaemenian dynasty followed up his triumph over Media by conquering Lydia and Babylonia, thus making himself ruler of the greatest empire thitherto known. In the administrative reforms implemented by Darius I (reigned 522–486 bce), Phoenicia, Palestine-Syria, and Cyprus constituted the fifth province (satrapy) of the Persian empire (Herodotus, The History, Book III, chapter 91). (4)

Cyrus issued a proclamation granting subjugated nations (including the people of Judah) religious freedom (for the original text see the Cyrus Cylinder). (1) This Cylinder is in the British Museum and was found by an expedition led by the museum in 1879.

The Cyrus Cylinder. Front view. Cr. Prioryman, Wikimedia Commons.

Hebrew Bible History

According to the bible 50,000 Judeans, led by Zerubabel, returned to Judah and rebuilt the temple.

516 BCE The Second Temple is built in Jerusalem.

A second group of 5,000, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to Judah in 456 BCE although non-Jews wrote to Cyrus to try to prevent their return.

Fact History

Modern scholars believe that the final Hebrew versions of the Torah and Books of Kingsdate from this period, that the returning Israelites adopted an Aramaic script (also known as the Ashuri alphabet), which they brought back from Babylon; this is the current Hebrew script. The Hebrew calendar closely resembles the Babylonian calendar and probably dates from this period. (1)

Modern Hebrew Alphabet. Cr. amazon. com

The Torah is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.[1] In that sense, Torah means the same as Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses. It is also known as the Hebrew Bible .

The Torah. Cr. Willy Horsh, Wikipedia Commons

Hellenistic Period 332 BC -176 BC

322 BCE The Greeks conquer all of Egypt and Persia led by Alexander the Great.

Until then all the influences on Israel were from Egypt and lands of the area of Mesopotamia: Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, etc. The Hellenistic period marks the beginning of the influence of European power in the Middle East, which was to come to a peak in the Roman Era. (2).

Judah became the frontier between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt, eventually becoming part of the Seleucid Empire in 200 BCE at the battle of Panium (fought near Banias on the Golan Heights). The first translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Septuagint was made in 3rd Century BCE Alexandria, during the rule of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, for the Library of Alexandria.

Hasmonean Dynasty, Kingdom of Judea

140-37 BCE The Hasmonean dynasty was a ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity, from c. 140 BCE to 37 BCE. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE the dynasty ruled Judea semi-autonomously from the Seleucid Empire, and from roughly 110 BCE, with the empire disintegrating, Judea gained further autonomy and expanded into the neighboring regions of Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea. Some modern scholars regard the Hasmonean realm as an independent Israel. The Hasmonean rulers took the Greek title basileus (“king” or “emperor”).

This period of history is very brutal and very complex. To read more about this period go HERE. It will tell you the story of Judah the Maccabee and and how his victory is celebrated during the holiday Chanukah or Hanukah. Interestingly enough, this period of Jewish history was left out from the Torah, but included in the Christian Bible or New Testament.

This is a diagram of all the kings from this period:

Cr. Marshall46, Wikimedia Commons

63 BCE Forces of the Roman Republic conquered the Hasmonean kingdom.

Roman Era 37BCE-133 CE

37 BCE  Herod the Great, a Roman displaced the last reigning Hasmonean client-rulers. He refurbishes the Second Temple. After Herod the rule of the land falls onto military Roman prefects, or military governors, the best known of whom is Pontius Pilate.

7–2 BCE– Birth of Jesus

66 CE Relations between the prefects and the Jews deteriorates until the Jews rebel.

70 CE The Second Temple is destroyed.

74 CE The Romans defeated the rebels in Masada.

Jesus and his disciples formed Christianity. Judaism changes from a religion based on the temple to a religion based on prayers as the Codification of Jewish Oral Law (Mishna) is completed.

133 CE The last revolt Bar Kokhba takes place and after this ends in tragedy with the death of Rabbi Akiba. Judaism is banned and the Romans change the name of Judea to Syria-Palaestina in order to destroy the tie between the Jews and Judea. The center of Jewish life moved to the Galilee.

Byzantine Era 313 CE

This period is also Roman, the difference is that Christianity becomes the religion of the Romans when the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great declares that Christianity is an acceptable religion in 313 CE.

357 CE  Palestine is divided into the provinces Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Salutaris.

361–363 CE  Roman emperor Julian the Apostate orders Alypius of Antioch to rebuild the Jewish Temple. An earthquake with its epicenter in the Galilee rocks Palestine. The earthquake results in, among other things, a halt in the construction of the Jewish Temple, mainly because it ruins the early stages of the construction. Ultimately the plan to rebuild the Temple is scrapped after the death of emperor Julian in June 363.

This is the Madaba Mosaic Map. It is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George in Madaba, Jordan. It contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem. It dates to the sixth century CE. According to some accounts it is very accurate.

Jerusalem in the Madaba Map. Cr. Wikimedia Commons, Unknown Author
Cr. Dmitry Chulov
Mosaic map photo at Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, Madaba, Jordan based on the Madaba Map. Cr. Bernard Gagnon, Wikipedia Common

555/6 CE  Uprising by Samaritans and Jews centered around Caesarea.

571 CE Muhammad, founder of Islam, is born in Mecca

The Arab Caliphate or Muslim period

638-1099 CE

638 CE  Jerusalem falls to the armies of Rashidun caliphUmar Ibn el-Khatab. Jews are permitted to return to the city after 568 years of Roman and Byzantine rule.

687–691 CE  The Dome of the Rock is built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem at the site where, according to Islam, Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Crusaders Period 1099-1291 CE

1095 CE  Pope Urban II launches the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont. Its principal objectives are Catholic reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and the freeing of Eastern Christians from Islamic rule.

The Crusader period, sometimes referred to as the medieval period, as it was the only time when the Western-type societal organization was transplanted to the region, lasted from 1099 when the Crusaders captured Jerusalem, to 1291 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem’s last major possession in the Holy Land, Acre, was overrun by the Mamluks. In part of that period, almost every part of the territory changed hands repeatedly between the Crusaders and the Ayyubids.

Unknown Artist, Wikimedia Commons

The Ayyubids were a dynasty that ruled Egypt, Syria-Palestine, parts of northern Mesopotamia (the Jazira) and Yemen between 1169 and 1260. Their rise to power began with two Kurdish brothers (Ayyub and Shirkuh), who migrated to Iraq c. 1130.

the Ayyubid were known for their openness to other cultures: although they fought the Crusaders, they gave refuge to Jews fleeing persecution (for example, the Jewish Maimonides was Saladin’s physician. Under the Ayyubid’s rule, Egypt was the heart of the Muslim world, and the last Ayyubid ruler was a woman (Shagarat Ad-Durr – the first female to rule over Egypt since Cleopatra). (7)

1290 CE All Jewish people were expelled from England (5)

1291 CE Fall of Acre: Al-Ashraf Khalil of Egypt captures Acre, thus exterminating the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (the final Catholic landholding remaining from the Crusades), and ending the Ninth Crusade.

The Mamluk period 1291-1517 CE

The Mamluks were non-Muslim slave-soldiers who were forced to convert to Islam. Over the years they came to understand the power they had and therefore decided to murder their masters and start their own Muslim dynasty based in Egypt.

1306 CE All Jewish people were spelled from France.

1492 CE All Jewish people were spelled from Spain and Sicily.

The Ottoman Empire 1517-1917

The Ottoman Sultans encouraged the Jewish people fleeing the inquisition in Catholic Europe to settle in the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman the Magnificent’s personal physician was Moses Hamon, an inquisition survivor. Jewish businesswomen dominated communication between the Harem and the outside world.

1535-1538 CE Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520 – 1566) built the current city walls of Jerusalem; Jerusalem had been without walls since the early 13th century. The construction followed the historical outline of the city, but left out a key section of the City of David (today part of Silwan) and what is now known as Mount Zion.

The walls of Jerusaelm Cr. Oleg Moro, Wikimedia Commons

1566–1574 In 1558 Selim II, successor to Suleiman, whose wife Nurbanu Sultan was Jewish, gave control of Tiberias to Doña Gracia Mendes Nasi, one of the richest women in Europe and an escapee from the inquisition. She encouraged Jewish refugees to settle in the area and established a Hebrew printing press. Safed became a centre for study of the Kabbalah. Doña Nasi’s nephew, Joseph Nasi, was made governor of Tiberias and he encouraged Jewish settlement from Italy.

Possible Portrait of Doña Gracia Mendes Nasi by Bronzino. Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish population was concentrated in Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias, known in Jewish tradition as the Four Holy Cities.

1648–1657 Brutal murders of Jewish and Polish People occurred during the Khmelnytsky Uprising in present-day Ukraine. Modern historians give estimates of the scale of the murders by Khmelnytsky’s Cossacks ranging between 40,000 and 100,000 men, women and children.

1799  Napoleon briefly occupied the country and planned a proclamation inviting Jews to create a state. The proclamation was shelved following his defeat at Acre.

1839  Moses Montefiore met with Muhammed Pasha in Egypt and signed an agreement to establish 100–200 Jewish villages in the Damascus Eyalet of Ottoman Syria, but in 1840 the Egyptians withdrew before the deal was implemented, returning the area to Ottoman governorship. (1)

Birth of Zionism

During the 19th century, Jewish people in Western Europe were increasingly granted citizenship and equality before the law; however, in Eastern Europe, they faced growing persecution and legal restrictions, including widespread pogroms in which thousands were murdered, raped or lost their property. Half the world’s Jewish people lived in the Russian Empire, where they were severely persecuted and restricted to living in the Pale of Settlement.

The Pale of Settlement was a western region of the Russian Empire with varying borders that existed from 1791 to 1917 in which permanent residency by the Jewish was allowed and beyond which Jewish residency, permanent or temporary, was mostly forbidden. 

Map showing the percentage of Jews in the Pale of Settlement and Congress Poland, Cr. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1905)
Herman Rosenthal; J.G. Lipman; Vasili Rosenthal.

National groups in the Empire, such as the Poles, Lithuanians and Ukrainians were agitating for independence and often regarded the Jews as undesirable aliens. The Jewish people were usually the only non-Christian minority and spoke a distinct language (Yiddish). An independent Jewish national movement first began to emerge in the Russian Empire and the millions of Jewish People who were fleeing the country (mostly to United States) carried the seeds of this nationalism wherever they went.

A teacher in the Pale of Settlement. “A melamed (teacher) in 19th century Podolia. Usually, the traditional Jewish kheyder was a single class school, consisting of 10 to 15 children. Only Bible and Talmud were studied.” http://www.friends-partners. org/partners/beyond-the-pale/en Cr. Wikimedia Commons

World Wars (1914-1945)

1914 World War I begins. During World War I, most Jews supported the Germans because they were fighting the Russians who were regarded as the Jews’ main enemy.

1917 The Ottoman Empire is defeated by the British.

1917 The Balfour Declaration takes place:  it was public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the declaration was published in the press on 9 November 1917. (1)

The British Mandate

The Mandate for Palestine was a League of Nations mandate for British administration of the territories of Palestine and Transjordan, both of which had been conceded by the Ottoman Empire following the end of World War I in 1918. The mandate was assigned to Britain by the San Remo conference in April 1920, after France’s concession in the 1918 Clemenceau–Lloyd George Agreement of the previously-agreed “international administration” of Palestine under the Sykes–Picot Agreement. Transjordan was added to the mandate after the Arab Kingdom in Damascus was toppled by the French in the Franco-Syrian War. Civil administration began in Palestine and Transjordan in July 1920 and April 1921, respectively, and the mandate was in force from 29 September 1923 to 15 May 1948 and to 25 May 1946 respectively.

In this period there is a lot of non negotiations going on… both sides pushing their agendas and no agreements. This is an example of what the other side was doing:

1921–22 Palestinian-Arab attempted involvement

The drafting was carried out with no input from any Arabs, despite the fact that their disagreement with the Balfour Declaration was well known. Palestinian political opposition began to organise in 1919 in the form of the Palestine Arab Congress, which formed from the local Muslim-Christian Associations. In March 1921, new British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill came to the region to form British policy on the ground at the Cairo Conference. The leader of the Palestine congress, Musa al-Husayni, had tried to present the views of the Executive Committee in Cairo and (later) Jerusalem but was rebuffed both times.

In the summer of 1921, the 4th Palestine Arab Congress sent a delegation led by Musa al-Husayni to London to negotiate on behalf of the Muslim and Christian population. On the way, the delegation held meetings with Pope Benedict XV and diplomats from the League of Nations in Geneva (where they also met Balfour, who was non-committal). In London, they had three meetings with Winston Churchill in which they called for reconsideration of the Balfour Declaration, revocation of the Jewish National Home policy, an end to Jewish immigration and that Palestine should not be severed from its neighbors. All their demands were rejected. (1)

Increase of Jewish Immigration.

During these times there were various waved of massive Jewish Immigration to to Palestine from Europe and Asia.  Between the years 1929 and 1939, these region saw the arrival of 225,000 to 300,000 Jews. The Fifth Aliyah, or fifth immigration wave, began after the comeback from the 1927 economic crisis in Mandatory Palestine and the 1929 Palestine riots.This wave of immigration began as a pioneering one, but with the onset of racial persecution in Nazi Germany attained the character of a mass migration between 1933 and 1939, with at least 55,000 Jews from Central Europe immigrating to Palestine or residing there as semi-permanent residents.

1939 World War II begins. During the war, 6 million Jewish people were killed by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in the Holocaust.

Cr. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

You can learn a lot about the Holocaust HERE. And see a very moving video HERE.

1945 World War II ends.

State of Israel (1948–present)

1949 Immediately following the declaration of the new state, both superpower leaders, US President Harry S. Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, recognized the new state. The Arab League members Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq refused to accept the UN partition plan and proclaimed the right of self-determination for the Arabs across the whole of Palestine. The Arab states marched their forces into what had, until the previous day, been the British Mandate for Palestine, starting the first Arab–Israeli War.

Israel held its first elections. The Socialist-Zionist Mapai and Mapan parties won the most seats (46 and 19 respectively). Mapai’s leader, David Ben-Gurion, was appointed Prime Minister.

David Ben-Gurion First Prime Minister of Israel. Cr.
Israeli GPO photographer, Wikimedia Commons

1948-1958 The population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million.

1949 Israel becomes a member of the United nations.

1950 The Israeli legislature the Knesset passed the Law of Return, which granted all Jews the right to migrate to and settle in Israel and obtain citizenship.

1967 The Six-Day War is fought between Israel and Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. It takes control of the formerly Egyptian Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Jordanian West Bank and East Jerusalem.

1969 Golda Meir is the First Woman elected Prime Minister of Israel.

Golda Meir. Cr. Biography. com

1973 A Boeing 727-200 serving as Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 from Tripoli to Cairo was shot down over the Sinai Peninsula by a Israeli fighter aircraft killing over 100 passengers and crew.

1973 Yom Kippur War: Egyptian and Syrian forces simultaneously attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, respectively, on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The United States airlifts tanks, artillery, ammunition and supplies to Israel in an operation called Nickel Grass. Israel, Egypt and Syria agreed to a ceasefire. Israel remained in control of new territory north of the Golan Heights and west of the Suez Canal in the south.

1980 The Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, asserting that Jerusalem was and would remain the undivided capital of Israel.

1991 The operation Solomon takes place: An airlift began which would transport some fourteen thousand Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel over a thirty-six-hour period. You can see a video with some of the people who experienced this HERE.

Cr. Tweeter

2002 Construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier began. is a separation barrier in the West Bank or along the Green Line. The barrier is a contentious element of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel describes the wall as a necessary security barrier against terrorism; Palestinians call it a racial segregation or apartheid wall.At a total length of 708 kilometres (440 mi) upon completion, the route traced by the barrier is more than double the length of the Green Line, with 15% of the barrier’s length running along the Green Line or inside Israel, while the remaining 85% is inside the West Bank going up to 18 kilometers (11 mi) from the West Bank border, isolating about 9% of the land and 25,000 Palestinians from the rest of West Bank.

The construction of Israel’s security fence put an immediate and dramatic end to the Palestinian campaign of suicide bombing. By 2009, only 15 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorism, compared with 452 murdered in 2002, the year before construction began. 

arts of the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Cr. European Press photo Agency

2008 Gaza War: Israel began conducting a series of airstrikes on assets of the Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket fire on the western Negev.

2021 On 30 April 2021, a deadly crowd crush occurred in Meron, Israel, during the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer, at which it was estimated that 100,000 people were in attendance. Forty-five men and boys at the event were killed, and about 150 were injured, dozens of them critically, making it the deadliest civil disaster in the history of the State of Israel.

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Travelingisrael. com

(3) Ducksters. com

(4) Encyclopedia Britannica



(7) History of the Middle East

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