Timeline Description: Judaism is a monotheistic religion and the oldest of the Abrahamic faiths. Although Jews trace their roots back to Abraham, Moses officially founded the religion in the Middle East more than 3500 years ago. Jews believe they have a covenant with God, for whom they try to maintain religious laws and teachings. The Jews have been persecuted throughout history, most notably during the Holocaust, during which six million Jews were murdered.
|1813 BC||Abraham is born(c. 1813 BCE).
Abraham is born around 1813 BCE. According to the first five books of the Bible, God chooses Abraham to be the father of Isaac, the founder of the Jewish people. This people will be special to God, as well as an example of holiness to others around the world.
|1713 BC||Abraham forms the first covenant with God(c. 1713 BCE).
Around 1713 BCE, Abraham circumcises himself, and this act symbolizes the covenant between God and all his descendants. Under this covenant, God promises to make Abraham the father of a great nation, and to give his descendants the land that later becomes Israel. This is the basis for male circumcision in the Jewish faith.
|1280||Moses leads the Jews on an exodus from Egypt(c. 1280 BCE).
For several hundred years, the Jews are enslaved in Egypt. Moses, a Jewish man raised as an Egyptian prince, is appointed God's prophet. Around 1280 BCE he leads his people out of enslavement on a journey to Canaan known as the Exodus. During this time, Moses presents the Israelites with the Ten Commandments and forms a new covenant with God, which lays the foundation for the Jewish religion.
|970 BC||King Solomon constructs the First Temple(c. 970 BCE).
King Solomon of Israel builds his crowning achievement, the First Temple, on Mount Moriah around 970 BCE. This temple houses the Ark of the Covenant, a holy relic that contains the Ten Commandments. Several hundred years later, the temple is destroyed by the Babylonians.
|920 BC||Israel splits into two kingdoms(c. 920 BCE).
When King Solomon dies around 920 BCE, northern tribes revolt, and the land of the Hebrews splits into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Israel in the north, and the kingdom of Judah in the south. They remain separate for over two hundred years, and the Hebrews begin to splinter into smaller groups.
|722 BC||The Assyrians conquer Israel and launch the Jewish diaspora(c. 722 BCE).
Around 722 BCE, the Assyrians conquer the kingdom of Israel and force the ten tribes to resettle in other parts of the empire, according to Assyrian custom. The scattering of the tribes is the beginning of the Jewish diaspora, or living away from Israel, which characterizes much of Jewish history. Later the Babylonians relocate the Judeans, as well.
|164 BC||The Maccabees regain control of Jerusalem and purify the Temple(164 BCE).
Alexander the Great's successors launch a campaign of Hellenization in Israel, and they erect a statue of Zeus in the second Temple of Jerusalem and outlaw Jewish observances. The Jews revolt, led by a group known as the Maccabees, and in 164 BCE they regain control of Jerusalem and purify the Temple. This event forms the basis of the celebration of Hannukah.
|66||The Jews revolt against Roman rule(66 CE).
In 66 CE the Jews launch the Great Revolt against their Roman rulers, which becomes one of the great tragedies of the Jewish tradition. The Jews rebel in response to years of cruelty by Roman rulers, and the revolt culminates in a siege of Jerusalem. In 70 the Romans breach the walls of Jerusalem, destroy the second Temple, and kill an estimated one million Jews as they reassert authority. A second revolt in 132 CE results in the Jews being banned from Jerusalem.
|200||The Mishna is compiled and codified(c. 200).
Because of these tragedies, Jewish academics focus on compiling and codifying the teachings of the Rabbis. Around 200, the Mishna, or a collection of rabbinic teachings, sayings, and interpretations, is compiled. Soon after the Talmud, an expansion of the Mishna teachings, is compiled in Palestine and later updated in Babylon.
|1096||Europeans massacre Jews in the First Crusade.
After enjoying a golden age in European cities, the Jews' fortune reverses. In 1096 members of the First Crusade, which attempts to purge Christian landmarks of heathens, massacre Jewish citizens of European cities. This launches centuries of pogroms against Jews in Europe.
|1698||Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov is born.
In 1698 Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov is born, and he goes on to found Hasidism, perhaps the single most important religious movement in Jewish history. Hasidism emphasizes that by paying close attention to the religious aspects of everything a person does, anyone can grow closer to God. However, it leads to divisions within Judaism.
|1839||Abraham Geiger promotes Reform Judaism in Europe.
Reform Judaism begins to emerge in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as a response to the major social and political changes happening in Europe. In 1839 Abraham Geiger joins a Breslau Jewish community and eventually becomes one of Reform Judaism's most staunch defenders. The movement attempts to help Jews find a balance between Jewish tradition and modern developments in wider society.
|August 29, 1897||The First Zionist Congress convenes.
Theodore Herzl convenes the First Zionist Congress on August 29, 1897, the first major interterritorial gathering of Jews to discuss the nascent Zionist movement. This movement seeks to establish a Jewish nation in Palestine, after centuries of Jews living away from Israel.
|September 15, 1935||The Nuremberg Laws begin to rescind Jewish rights in Germany.
Germany enacts the Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935, the first of many anti-Jewish statutes aiming to rescind Jewish rights. This marks the beginning of a longer period of Jewish persecution in Germany, culminating in the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s. During this period, over six million Jews are murdered systematically by the Nazis.
|May 14, 1948||The state of Israel is created.
Partially in response to the tragedies of the Holocaust, the state of Israel is created on May 14, 1948, when the United Nations partitions land between the Jews and the Arabs. The United States recognizes the new nation immediately, and unrestricted Jewish immigration is permitted to the new land. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews immigrate to Israel.