The Israelites (/ˈɪzrəlts, riə-/;[1][2] Hebrewבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵלBənēy Yīsrāʾēltransl. ’Children of Israel‘) were a group of Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan.[3][4][5][6]

The name of Israel first appears in the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt, dated to about 1200 BCE. Modern archaeology suggests that the Israelites branched out from the Canaanites through the development of Yahwism, a distinct monolatristic—and later monotheistic—religion centred on the national god Yahweh.[7][8][9][10][11] They spoke an archaic form of the Hebrew language, which was a regional variety of the Canaanite language, known today as Biblical Hebrew.[12] In the Iron Age, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged. The Kingdom of Israel, with its capital at Samaria, fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire around 720 BCE;[13] while the Kingdom of Judah, with its capital at Jerusalem, was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE.[14] Some of the Judean population was exiled to Babylon, but returned to Israel after Cyrus the Great conquered the region.[15][16]

According to the Bible, the Israelites are the descendants of Jacob, who was later renamed Israel. Following a severe drought in Canaan, Jacob and his twelve sons fled to Egypt, where they eventually formed the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Israelites were later led out of slavery in Egypt and subsequently brought back to Canaan by Moses; they eventually conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Most modern scholars agree that the Torah does not provide an authentic account of the Israelites’ origins, and instead view it as constituting their national myth. However, it is widely supposed that there may be a “historical core” to the narrative.[17][18][19] The Bible also portrays the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as the successors of an earlier United Kingdom of Israel, though the historicity of the latter is also disputed.[20][21]

Jews and Samaritans both trace their ancestry to the ancient Israelites.[22][23][24][25] Jews trace their ancestry to tribes that inhabited the Kingdom of Judah, including JudahBenjamin and partially Levi, while the Samaritans claim their lineage from the remaining members of EphraimManasseh, and Levi who were not deported in the Assyrian captivity after the fall of Israel. Other groups have also claimed affiliation with the Israelites.


The name Israel first appears in non-biblical sources c. 1209 BCE, in an inscription of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah. The inscription is very brief and says simply: “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not”. The inscription refers to a people, not to an individual or a nation state.[26]

The name Israel first appears in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 32:29 where it is given to Jacob by the angel with whom he has wrestled because he has “striven with God and with men, and ha[th] prevailed”.[27][28][29] The folk etymology given in the text derives Israel from yisra, “to prevail over” or “to struggle with”, and El (god). However, modern scholarship interprets El as the subject, “El rules/struggles”,[30][31][32] from sarar (שָׂרַר) ‘to rule’[33] (cognate with sar (שַׂר) ‘ruler’,[34] Akkadian šarru ‘ruler, king’[35]), which is likely cognate with the similar root sara (שׂרה) “fought, strove, contended”.[36][37]

In the Hebrew Bible, the term Israelites is used interchangeably with the term Twelve Tribes of Israel. Although related, the terms “Hebrews“, “Israelites”, and “Jews” are not interchangeable in all instances. “Israelites” (B’nei Yisrael) refers to the people whom the Hebrew Bible describes specifically as the direct descendants of any of the sons of the patriarch Jacob (later called Israel), and his descendants as a people are also collectively called “Israel”, including converts to their faith in worship of the national god of Israel, Yahweh. “Hebrews” (ʿIvrim), on the contrary, is used to denote the Israelites’ immediate forebears who dwelt in the land of Canaan, the Israelites themselves, and the Israelites’ ancient and modern descendants (including Jews and Samaritans). “Jews” (Yehudim) is used to denote the descendants of the Israelites who coalesced when the Tribe of Judah absorbed the remnants of the northern Israelite tribes.[38][39]

During the period of the divided monarchy, “Israelites” was only used to refer to the inhabitants of the northern Kingdom of Israel, and it is only extended to cover the people of the southern Kingdom of Judah in post-exilic usage.[40]

In literature of the Second Temple period, the term “Israel” was used as a timeless designation of the ethnos or to members of the united monarchy, the northern kingdom, or eschatological Israel. The term “Jew” was frequently used to refer to members of the contemporary ethnos, but it may also refer to a geographically restricted subs-group or to the descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah.[41]

Finally, in Judaism, the term “Israelite” is, broadly speaking, used to refer to a lay member of the Jewish ethnoreligious group, as opposed to the priestly orders of Kohanim and Levites. In texts of Jewish law such as the Mishnah and Gemara, the term יהודי (Yehudi), meaning Jew, is rarely used, and instead the ethnonym ישראלי (Yisraeli), or Israelite, is widely used to refer to Jews. Samaritans are not and never call themselves “Jews” יהודים (Yehudim), but commonly refer to themselves and to Jews collectively as Israelites, and they describe themselves as Israelite Samaritans.[42][43]

Biblical narrative

Mid-20th century mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel, from the Etz Yosef synagogue wall in Givat Mordechai, Jerusalem

The Israelite story begins with some of the culture heroes of the Jewish people, the patriarchs. The Torah traces the Israelites to the patriarch Jacob, grandson of Abraham, who was renamed Israel after a mysterious incident in which he wrestles all night with God or an angel in Canaan. Jacob’s twelve sons (in order of birth), ReubenSimeonLeviJudahDanNaphtaliGadAsherIssacharZebulunJoseph and Benjamin, become the ancestors of twelve tribes, with the exception of Joseph, whose two sons Manasseh and Ephraim, become tribal eponyms (Genesis 48).[44]

The mothers of Jacob’s sons are:

Jacob and his sons are forced by famine to go down into Egypt, although Joseph was already there, as he had been sold into slavery while young. When they arrive they and their families are 70 in number, but within four generations they have increased to 600,000 men of fighting age, and the Pharaoh of Egypt, alarmed, first enslaves them and then orders the death of all male Hebrew children. A woman from the tribe of Levi hides her child, places him in a woven basket, and sends him down the Nile river. He is named Mosheh, or Moses, by the Egyptian woman who finds him. Being a Hebrew baby, they award a Hebrew woman the task of raising him, the mother of Moses volunteers, and the child and his mother are reunited.[45][46]

At the age of forty Moses kills an Egyptian, after he sees him beating a Hebrew to death, and escapes as a fugitive into the Sinai desert, where he is taken in by the Midianites and marries Zipporah, the daughter of the Midianite priest Jethro. When he is eighty years old, Moses is tending a herd of sheep in solitude on Mount Sinai when he sees a desert shrub that is burning but is not consumed. The God of Israel calls to Moses from the fire and reveals his name, Yahweh, and tells Moses that he is being sent to Pharaoh to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.[47]

Yahweh tells Moses that if Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrews go to say to Pharaoh “Thus says Yahweh: Israel is my son, my first-born and I have said to you: Let my son go, that he may serve me, and you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will slay your son, your first-born”. Moses returns to Egypt and tells Pharaoh that he must let the Hebrew slaves go free. Pharaoh refuses and Yahweh strikes the Egyptians with a series of horrific plagues, wonders, and catastrophes, after which Pharaoh relents and banishes the Hebrews from Egypt. Moses leads the Israelites out of bondage[48] toward the Red Sea, but Pharaoh changes his mind and arises to massacre the fleeing Hebrews. Pharaoh finds them by the sea shore and attempts to drive them into the ocean with his chariots and drown them.[49]

Map of the Holy LandPietro Vesconte, 1321, showing the allotments of the tribes of Israel. Described by Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld as “the first non-Ptolemaic map of a definite country”[50]

Yahweh causes the Red Sea to part and the Hebrews pass through on dry land into the Sinai. After the Israelites escape from the midst of the sea, Yahweh causes the ocean to close back in on the pursuing Egyptian army, drowning them. In the desert Yahweh feeds them with manna that accumulates on the ground with the morning dew. They are led by a column of cloud, which ignites at night and becomes a pillar of fire to illuminate the way, southward through the desert until they come to Mount Sinai. The twelve tribes of Israel encamp around the mountain, and on the third day Mount Sinai begins to smolder, then catches fire, and Yahweh speaks the Ten Commandments from the midst of the fire to all the Israelites, from the top of the mountain.[51]

Moses ascends Mount Sinai and fasts for forty days while he writes down the Torah as Yahweh dictates, beginning with Bereshith and the creation of the universe and earth.[52][53] He is shown the design of the Mishkan and the Ark of the Covenant, which Bezalel is given the task of building. Moses descends from the mountain forty days later with the Sefer Torah he wrote, and with two rectangular lapis lazuli[54] tablets, into which Yahweh had carved the Ten Commandments. In his absence, Aaron has constructed an image of Yahweh,[55] depicting him as a young golden calf, and has presented it to the Israelites, declaring “Behold O Israel, this is your god who brought you out of the land of Egypt”. Moses smashes the two tablets and grinds the golden calf into dust, then throws the dust into a stream of water flowing out of Mount Sinai, and forces the Israelites to drink from it.[56]

Moses ascends Mount Sinai for a second time and Yahweh passes before him and says: ‘Yahweh, Yahweh, a god of compassion, and showing favor, slow to anger, and great in kindness and in truth, who shows kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving wrongdoing and injustice and wickedness, but will by no means clear the guilty, causing the consequences of the parent’s wrongdoing to befall their children, and their children’s children, to the third and fourth generation’[57] Moses then fasts for another forty days while Yahweh carves the Ten Commandments into the second set of stone tablets. After the tablets are completed, light emanates from the face of Moses for the rest of his life, causing him to wear a veil so he does not frighten people.[58]

Moses descends Mount Sinai and the Israelites agree to be the chosen people of Yahweh and follow all the laws of the Torah. Moses prophesies if they forsake the Torah, Yahweh will exile them for the total number of years they did not observe the shmita.[59] Bezael constructs the Ark of the Covenant and the Mishkan, where the presence of Yahweh dwells on earth in the Holy of Holies, above the Ark of the Covenant, which houses the Ten Commandments. Moses sends spies to scout out the Land of Canaan, and the Israelites are commanded to go up and conquer the land, but they refuse, due to their fear of warfare and violence. In response, Yahweh condemns the entire generation, including Moses, who is condemned for striking the rock at Meribah, to exile and death in the Sinai desert.[60]

Before Moses dies he gives a speech to the Israelites where he paraphrases a summary of the mizwoth given to them by Yahweh, and recites a prophetic song called the Ha’azinu. Moses prophesies that if the Israelites disobey the Torah, Yahweh will cause a global exile in addition to the minor one prophesied earlier at Mount Sinai, but at the end of days Yahweh will gather them back to Israel from among the nations when they turn back to the Torah with zeal.[61] The events of the Israelite exodus and their sojourn in the Sinai are memorialized in the Jewish and Samaritan festivals of Passover and Sukkoth, and the giving of the Torah in the Jewish celebration of Shavuoth.[44][62]

Map of the twelve tribes of Israel (before the move of Dan to the north), based on the Book of Joshua
Model of the Tabernacle constructed under the auspices of Moses, in Timna ParkIsrael

Forty years after the Exodus, following the death of the generation of Moses, a new generation, led by Joshua, enters Canaan and takes possession of the land in accordance with the promise made to Abraham by Yahweh. The land is allocated to the tribes by lottery. Eventually, the Israelites ask for a king, and Yahweh gives them SaulDavid, the youngest (divinely favored) son of Jesse of Bethlehem would succeed Saul. Under David, the Israelites establish the united monarchy, and under David’s son Solomon they construct the First Temple in Jerusalem, using the 400-year-old materials of the Tabernacle, where Yahweh continues to tabernacle himself among them. On the death of Solomon and reign of his son, Rehoboam, the kingdom is divided in two.[63]

In the biblical narrative, the kings of the northern Kingdom of Israel are uniformly bad, permitting the worship of other gods and failing to enforce the worship of Yahweh alone, and so Yahweh eventually allows them to be conquered and dispersed among the peoples of the earth; and strangers rule over their remnant in the northern land. In Judah some kings are good and enforce the worship of Yahweh alone, but many are bad and permit other gods, even in the Holy Temple itself, and at length Yahweh allows Judah to fall to her enemies, the people taken into captivity in Babylon, the land left empty and desolate, and the Holy Temple itself destroyed.[44][64]

Yet despite these events, Yahweh does not forget his people but sends Cyrus, king of Persia to deliver them from bondage. The Israelites are allowed to return to Judah and Benjamin, the Holy Temple is rebuilt, the priestly orders restored, and the service of sacrifice resumed. Through the offices of the sage Ezra, Israel is constituted as a holy nation, bound by the Torah and holding itself apart from all other peoples.[44][65]

Historical Israelites

Efforts to confirm the Israelites’ biblical origins through archaeology, once widespread, have been largely abandoned as unproductive,[19] with many scholars viewing the stories as inspiring national myth narratives with little historical value. Scholars posit that a small group of people of Egyptian origin may have joined the early Israelites, and then contributed their own Egyptian Exodus story to all of Israel.[a] William G. Dever cautiously identifies this group with the Tribe of Joseph, while Richard Elliott Friedman identifies it with the Tribe of Levi.[67][68]

Based on the archaeological evidence, according to the modern archaeological account, the Israelites and their culture did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the indigenous Canaanite peoples that long inhabited the Southern LevantSyriaancient Israel, and the Transjordan region[69][70][71] through a gradual evolution of a distinct monolatristic (later monotheistic) religion centered on Yahweh. The outgrowth of Yahweh-centric monolatrism from Canaanite polytheism started with Yahwism, the belief in the existence of the many gods and goddesses of the Canaanite pantheon but with the consistent worship of Yahweh as the primary deity. Yahwism was also influenced in part by Zoroastrianism while in the Babylonian exile, leading to a monotheistic practice. Along with a number of cultic practices, this gave rise to a separate Israelite ethnic group identity. The final transition of their Yahweh-based religion to monotheism and rejection of the existence of the other Canaanite gods set the Israelites apart from their fellow Canaanite brethren.[69][7][8] The Israelites, however, continued to retain various cultural commonalities with other Canaanites, including use of one of the Canaanite dialectsHebrew, which is today the only living descendant of that language group.[72] Merneptah‘s Karnak reliefs also show Israelites having similar attire and hairstyles as the Canaanites, compared to other groups like the Shasu.[73][74][75]

According to the religious narrative of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites’ origin is traced back to the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham and his wife Sarah, through their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and their son Jacob (who was later called Israel, whence they derive their name) with his wives Leah and Rachel and the handmaids Zilpa and Bilhah. Both modern Jews and Samaritans trace their ancestry to the ancient Israelites.[76][77][78][79][80][81][excessive citations] Modern Jews are named after and also descended from the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah,[69][76][82][83][84][85][86][87][excessive citations] particularly the tribes of JudahBenjaminSimeon and partially Levi. Many Israelites took refuge in the Kingdom of Judah following the collapse of the Kingdom of Israel.[88]

Earliest appearance

The name Israel first appears c. 1209 BCE, at the end of the Late Bronze Age and the very beginning of the period archaeologists and historians call Iron Age I, on the Merneptah Stele raised by the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah. As distinct from the cities named (AsqalunaGezerYenoam) which are written with a toponymic marker, Israel is written hieroglyphically with a demonymic determinative indicating that the reference is to a human group, variously located in central Palestine[89] or the highlands of Samaria.[90]

Three Egyptologists have suggested that the name Israel appears in a topographical relief that either dates to the period of the Nineteenth Dynasty (perhaps during the reign of Ramesses II) or even earlier during the Eighteenth Dynasty.[91] This reading remains controversial.[92][93]


Ramesses III prisoner tiles depicting precursors of the Israelites in Canaan: Canaanites from city-states and a Shasu leader.[94][95][96]

Several theories exist proposing the origins of the Israelites in raiding groups, infiltrating nomads or emerging from indigenous Canaanites driven from the wealthier urban areas by poverty to seek their fortunes in the highland.[97] Various, ethnically distinct groups of itinerant nomads such as the Habiru and Shasu recorded in Egyptian texts as active in Edom and Canaan could have been related to the later Israelites, which does not exclude the possibility that the majority may have had their origins in Canaan proper. The name Yahweh, the god of the later Israelites, may indicate connections with the region of Mount Seir in Edom.[89]

The Mount Ebal structure, seen by many archeologists as an early Israelite cultic site

The prevailing academic opinion today is that the Israelites were a mixture of peoples predominantly indigenous to Canaan, although an Egyptian matrix of peoples may also have played a role in their ethnogenesis (giving birth to the saga of The Exodus),[98][99][100] with an ethnic composition similar to that in Ammon, Edom and Moab,[99] and including Habiru and Shasu.[101] The Israelites as a group had both ethnic and religious elements.[102] In the ancient Near East religion was tribal, and so was the religion of the Israelites; religion in this context was as much related to ethnicity as it was to spirituality.[103] For the Israelites, Yahweh was their national god, with whom they believed they had a special covenant.[104] The distinct ethnic identity of Israelites was strengthened by conflicts with other peoples such as the Philistines.[105]

The origins of the god Yahweh are currently uncertain, since the early Israelites seemed to worship the Canaanite god El as their national deity, only to later replace it with Yahweh. It has been speculated by some scholars that the cult of Yahweh may have been brought into Israel by a group of Canaanite slaves fleeing from Egypt, who later merged with the Israelites.[68][106][107][108][109][excessive citations]

Over the next two hundred years (the period of Iron Age I) the number of highland villages increased from 25 to over 300[70] and the settled population doubled to 40,000.[citation needed]

Monarchic period

United Monarchy

According to the Hebrew Bible, the various tribes of Israel united in the 10th century BCE and formed the United Kingdom of Israel, under the leadership of Saul, who was later overthrown by David; after the death of David, his son Solomon ascended to the throne and reigned until his death, after which the Kingdom split into the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.

Part of the gift-bearing Israelite delegation of King Jehu, Black Obelisk, 841–840 BCE.[110]

The historicity of the United Monarchy is heavily debated among archaeologists and biblical scholars: biblical maximalists and centrists (Kenneth KitchenWilliam G. DeverAmihai MazarBaruch Halpern and others) believe that the biblical account can be considered as more or less accurate, biblical minimalists (Israel FinkelsteinZe’ev HerzogThomas L. Thompson and others) believe that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah developed as separate states and there was never a United Monarchy. The debate has not yet been resolved, although recent archaeological discoveries by Israeli archaeologists Eilat Mazar and Yosef Garfinkel seem to support the existence of a united monarchy.[20] From 850 BCE onwards a series of inscriptions are evidence of a kingdom which its neighbors refer to as the “House of David.”[111][112]

Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Historians and archaeologists agree that a Kingdom of Israel existed by ca. 900 BCE[113]: 169–195 [114] and that a Kingdom of Judah existed by ca. 700 BCE. The political power of Judah was concentrated within the tribe of Judah, Israel was dominated by the tribe of Ephraim and the House of Joseph; the region of Galilee was associated with the tribe of Naphtali, the most eminent tribe of northern Israel.[115][116]

The Kingdom of Israel was destroyed around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[117]

The Kingdom of Judah later became a client state of first the Neo-Assyrian Empire and then the Neo-Babylonian Empire. A revolt against the latter led to its destruction by King Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BCE. According to the Hebrew Bible, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple and exiled the Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.[118][119]

“To Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah” – royal seal found at the Ophel excavations in Jerusalem

Later history

Following the fall of Babylon to the Persian Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, the Jews who had been deported in the aftermath of the Babylonian conquest of Judah were eventually allowed to return following a proclamation by the Persian king Cyrus the Great that was issued after the fall of Babylon to the Achaemenid Empire. The returned Jewish population in Judah were allowed to self-rule under Persian governance. Construction of the Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple.[120][121]

Around the same era, the Samaritans emerged as an ethnic and religious community in the region of Samaria. With their temple on Mount Gerizim, they continued to thrive for centuries.[122] Many Jewish authorities contest their lineage, deeming them to have been conquered foreigners who were settled in Samaria by the Assyrians, as was the typical Assyrian policy to obliterate national identities. Most scholars believe the Samaritans are a blend of Israelites with other nationalities whom the Assyrians had resettled in the area.[123]

The terms Jews and Samaritans largely replaced the title “Children of Israel”[124] as the commonly used ethnonym for each respective community. The Greek term Ioudaios (Jew) was an exonym originally referring to members of the Tribe of Judah, and by extension the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah and the Judean region, and was later adopted as a self-designation by people in the Jewish diaspora who identified themselves as loyal to the God of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem.[125][126][127][128] The Samaritans’ ethnonym is derived either from Guardians/Keepers/Watchers [of the Law/Torah], or after the region of Samaria.[129]


A Samaritan elder participates in Passover prayer services held on Mount Gerizim

A 2004 study (by Shen et al.) comparing Samaritans to several Jewish populations (including Ashkenazi JewsIraqi JewsLibyan JewsMoroccan Jews, and Yemenite Jews, as well as Israeli Druze and Palestinians) found that “the principal components analysis suggested a common ancestry of Samaritan and Jewish patrilineages. Most of the former may be traced back to a common ancestor in what is today identified as the paternally inherited Israelite high priesthood (Cohanim), with a common ancestor projected to the time of the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel.”[79]

See also


  1. ^ “While there is a consensus among scholars that the Exodus did not take place in the manner described in the Bible, surprisingly most scholars agree that the narrative has a historical core, and that some of the highland settlers came, one way or another, from Egypt…” “Archaeology does not really contribute to the debate over the historicity or even historical background of the Exodus itself, but if there was indeed such a group, it contributed the Exodus story to that of all Israel. While I agree that it is most likely that there was such a group, I must stress that this is based on an overall understanding of the development of collective memory and of the authorship of the texts (and their editorial process). Archaeology, unfortunately, cannot directly contribute (yet?) to the study of this specific group of Israel’s ancestors.”[66]


  1. ^ “Israelite”Lexico UK English DictionaryOxford University Press. Archived from the original on 23 November 2021.
  2. ^ “Israelite” Dictionary.
  3. ^ Finkelstein, Israel. “Ethnicity and origin of the Iron I settlers in the Highlands of Canaan: Can the real Israel stand up?.” The Biblical archaeologist 59.4 (1996): 198–212.
  4. ^ Finkelstein, Israel. The archaeology of the Israelite settlement. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1988.
  5. ^ Finkelstein, Israel, and Nadav Na’aman, eds. From nomadism to monarchy: archaeological and historical aspects of early Israel. Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1994.
  6. ^ Finkelstein, Israel. “The archaeology of the United Monarchy: an alternative view.” Levant 28.1 (1996): 177–87.
  7. Jump up to:a b Mark Smith in “The Early History of God: Yahweh and Other Deities of Ancient Israel” states “Despite the long regnant model that the Canaanites and Israelites were people of fundamentally different culture, archaeological data now casts doubt on this view. The material culture of the region exhibits numerous common points between Israelites and Canaanites in the Iron I period (c. 1200–1000 BCE). The record would suggest that the Israelite culture largely overlapped with and derived from Canaanite culture… In short, Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in nature. Given the information available, one cannot maintain a radical cultural separation between Canaanites and Israelites for the Iron I period.” (pp. 6–7). Smith, Mark (2002) “The Early History of God: Yahweh and Other Deities of Ancient Israel” (Eerdman’s)
  8. Jump up to:a b Rendsberg, Gary (2008). “Israel without the Bible”. In Frederick E. Greenspahn. The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. NYU Press, pp. 3–5
  9. ^ Gnuse, Robert Karl (1997). No Other Gods: Emergent Monotheism in Israel. England: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd. pp. 28, 31. ISBN 1-85075-657-0.
  10. ^ Haran, Menahem (1996). מקדש, מקרא ומנורה. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 978-1-57506-003-3It is also clear that there were polytheistic Yahwists in ancient Israel who worshiped YHWH along with other deities
  11. ^ Collins, Steven; Holden, Joseph M. (18 February 2020). The Harvest Handbook of Bible Lands: A Panoramic Survey of the History, Geography, and Culture of the Scriptures. Harvest House Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7369-7542-1At its inception, early Yahwism had animistic and polytheistic elements
  12. ^ Steiner, Richard C. (1997), “Ancient Hebrew”, in Hetzron, Robert (ed.), The Semitic Languages, Routledge, pp. 145–173, ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7
  13. ^ Broshi, Maguen (2001). Bread, Wine, Walls and Scrolls. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-84127-201-6Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  14. ^ Faust, Avraham (29 August 2012). Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period. Society of Biblical Literature. p. 1. doi:10.2307/j.ctt5vjz28ISBN 978-1-58983-641-9.
  15. ^ Jonathan Stökl, Caroline Waerzegger (2015). Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. pp. 7–11, 30, 226.
  16. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 3 (2nd ed.). p. 27.
  17. ^ Faust 2015, p.476: “While there is a consensus among scholars that the Exodus did not take place in the manner described in the Bible, surprisingly most scholars agree that the narrative has a historical core, and that some of the highland settlers came, one way or another, from Egypt..”.
  18. ^ Redmount 2001, p. 61: “A few authorities have concluded that the core events of the Exodus saga are entirely literary fabrications. But most biblical scholars still subscribe to some variation of the Documentary Hypothesis, and support the basic historicity of the biblical narrative.”
  19. Jump up to:a b Dever, William (2001). What Did the Biblical Writers Know, and When Did They Know It?. Eerdmans. pp. 98–99. ISBN 3-927120-37-5After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible “historical figures” […] archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus has similarly been discarded as a fruitless pursuit.
  20. Jump up to:a b Thomas, Zachary (22 April 2016). “Debating the United Monarchy: Let’s See How Far We’ve Come”Biblical Theology Bulletin46 (2): 59–69. doi:10.1177/0146107916639208ISSN 0146-1079S2CID 147053561.
  21. ^ Lipschits, Oded (2014). “The history of Israel in the biblical period”. In Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc Zvi (eds.). The Jewish Study Bible (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 2107–2119. ISBN 978-0-19-997846-5Archived from the original on 9 April 2023. Retrieved 16 May 2022As this essay will show, however, the premonarchic period long ago became a literary description of the mythological roots, the early beginnings of the nation and the way to describe the right of Israel on its land. The archeological evidence also does not support the existence of a united monarchy under David and Solomon as described in the Bible, so the rubric of “united monarchy” is best abandoned, although it remains useful for discussing how the Bible views the Israelite past. […] Although the kingdom of Judah is mentioned in some ancient inscriptions, they never suggest that it was part of a unit comprised of Israel and Judah. There are no extrabiblical indications of a united monarchy called “Israel.”
  22. ^ Adams, Hannah (1840). The history of the Jews : from the destruction of Jerusalem to the present time. Sold at the London Society House and by Duncan and Malcom, and Wertheim. OCLC 894671497.
  23. ^ Brenner, Michael (2010). A short history of the Jews. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14351-4OCLC 463855870.
  24. ^ Ostrer, Harry (2012). Legacy : a Genetic History of the Jewish People. Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 978-1-280-87519-9OCLC 798209542.
  25. ^ Kartveit, Magnar (1 January 2014). “Review of Knoppers, Gary N., Jews and Samaritans: The Origins and History of Their Early Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013)”Journal of Hebrew Scriptures14doi:10.5508/jhs.2014.v14.r25ISSN 1203-1542.
  26. ^ Frederick E. Greenspahn (2008). The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. NYU Press. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-0-8147-3187-1Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  27. ^ Genesis 32:29
  28. ^ Scherman, Rabbi Nosson (editor), The Chumash, The Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications, LTD, 2006, pp. 176–77
  29. ^ Kaplan, Aryeh, “Jewish Meditation”, Schocken Books, New York, 1985, p. 125
  30. ^ Hamilton, Victor (1995). The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 334. ISBN 0-8028-2521-4.
  31. ^ Wenham, Gordon (1994). Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 2, Genesis 16-50. Dallas, Texas: Word Books. pp. 296–97.
  32. ^ Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc (2004). The Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh TranslationOxford University Press. p. 68.
  33. ^ “Klein Dictionary, שׂרר”www.sefaria.orgArchived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  34. ^ “Klein Dictionary, שַׂר”www.sefaria.orgArchived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  35. ^ “Search Entry”www.assyrianlanguages.orgArchived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  36. ^ “Klein Dictionary, שׂרה”www.sefaria.orgArchived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  37. ^ Even-Shoshan, Avraham. Even-Shoshan Dictionary. pp. entry שׂרה.
  38. ^ Borschel-Dan, Amanda. “Jerusalem welcomed Jewish refugees 2,700 years ago, new finds show”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 14 September 2023.
  39. ^ Finkelstein, Israel (2015). “Migration of Israelites into Judah after 720 BCE: An Answer and an Update”Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft127 (2). doi:10.1515/zaw-2015-0011S2CID 171178702. Retrieved 14 September 2023.
  40. ^ Robert L.Cate, “Israelite”, in Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard, Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, Mercer University Press, 1990 p. 420.
  41. ^ Van Maaren, John (23 May 2022), “The Ethnic Boundary Making Model: Preliminary Marks”, The Boundaries of Jewishness in the Southern Levant 200 BCE–132 CE, De Gruyter, p. 5
  42. ^ Yesaahq ben ‘Aamraam. Samaritan Exegesis: A Compilation Of Writings From The Samaritans. 2013. ISBN 1-4827-7081-4.Benyamim Tsedaka, at 1:24 Archived 25 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ John Bowman. Samaritan Documents Relating to Their History, Religion and Life (Pittsburgh Original Texts and Translations Series No. 2). 1977. ISBN 0-915138-27-1
  44. Jump up to:a b c d e The Jews in the time of Jesus: an introduction p. 18 Archived 26 March 2023 at the Wayback Machine Stephen M. Wylen, Paulist Press, 1996, 215 pages, pp. 18–20
  45. ^ Bereshith, Genesis
  46. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 1 and 2
  47. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 3 and 4
  48. ^ “English translation of the papyrus. A translation also in R. B. Parkinson, The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems. Oxford World’s Classics, 1999″. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  49. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 5 through 15
  50. ^ Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1889). Facsimile-atlas to the Early History of Cartography: With Reproductions of the Most Important Maps Printed in the XV and XVI Centuries. Kraus. pp. 51, 64.
  51. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 15, 19, and 20
  52. ^ Bereshith; Genesis 1
  53. ^ The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth by Gerald L. Schroeder PhD (9 May 2002)
  54. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 24
  55. ^ Tehillim; Psalms 106, 19–20
  56. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 21 through 32
  57. ^ Shemoth; Exodus, 34, 6–7
  58. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 34
  59. ^ Wayiqra; Leviticus 26
  60. ^ Shemoth; Exodus 35 through 40, Wayiqra; Leviticus, Bamidhbar; Numbers, Devariam; Deuteronomy
  61. ^ Devariam; Deuteronomy 28 and 29 and 30
  62. ^ Devariam; Deuteronomy
  63. ^ Yehoshua; Joshua, Shoftim; Judges, Shmuel; Samuel, Melakhim; Kings
  64. ^ Melakhim; Kings, Divrei HaYamim; Chronicles
  65. ^ Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah
  66. ^ Faust 2015, p. 476.
  67. ^ Dever 2003, p. 231.
  68. Jump up to:a b Friedman, Richard Elliott (12 September 2017). The Exodus. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-256526-6Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  69. Jump up to:a b c Tubb 1998, pp. 13–14.
  70. Jump up to:a b McNutt 1999, p. 47.
  71. ^ K. L. Noll, Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction, Archived 1 July 2023 at the Wayback Machine A&C Black, 2001 p. 164: “It would seem that, in the eyes of Merneptah’s artisans, Israel was a Canaanite group indistinguishable from all other Canaanite groups.” “It is likely that Merneptah’s Israel was a group of Canaanites located in the Jezreel Valley.”
  72. ^ Moore Cross, Frank (1997). Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in History of the Religion of Israel (in eg). Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0674091760.
  73. ^ Yurco, Frank J. (1986). “Merenptah’s Canaanite Campaign”Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt23: 195, 207. doi:10.2307/40001099JSTOR 40001099.
  74. ^ Hasel, Michael G. (2003). Nakhai, Beth Alpert (ed.). “Merenptah’s Inscription and Reliefs and the Origin of Israel (The Near East in the Southwest: Essays in Honor of William G. Dever)”Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research. 58: 27–36. ISBN 0897570650JSTOR 3768554.
  75. ^ Stager, Lawrence E. (2001). “Forging an Identity: The Emergence of Ancient Israel”. In Coogan, Michael (ed.). The Oxford History of the Biblical World. Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0195087070.
  76. Jump up to:a b Ostrer, Harry (19 April 2012). Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-970205-3Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  77. ^ Eisenberg, Ronald (2013). Dictionary of Jewish Terms: A Guide to the Language of Judaism. Schreiber Publishing (published 23 November 2013). p. 431.
  78. ^ Gubkin, Liora (2007). You Shall Tell Your Children: Holocaust Memory in American Passover Ritual. Rutgers University Press (published 31 December 2007). p. 190. ISBN 978-0-8135-4193-8.
  79. Jump up to:a b “Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation” (PDF)Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2010. (855 KB), Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.
  80. ^ Yohanan Aharoni, Michael Avi-Yonah, Anson F. Rainey, Ze’ev SafraiThe Macmillan Bible Atlas, 3rd Edition, Macmillan Publishing: New York, 1993, p. 115. A posthumous publication of the work of Israeli archaeologist Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, in collaboration with Anson F. Rainey and Ze’ev Safrai.
  81. ^ The Samaritan Update Archived 14 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  82. ^ Ann E. Killebrew, Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity. An Archaeological Study of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines and Early Israel 1300–1100 B.C.E. (Archaeology and Biblical Studies) Archived 17 January 2023 at the Wayback MachineSociety of Biblical Literature, 2005
  83. ^ Schama, Simon (18 March 2014). The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC–1492 AD. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-233944-7Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  84. ^ * “In the broader sense of the term, a Jew is any person belonging to the worldwide group that constitutes, through descent or conversion, a continuation of the ancient Jewish people, who were themselves the descendants of the Hebrews of the Old Testament.”
    • “The Jewish people as a whole, initially called Hebrews (ʿIvrim), were known as Israelites (Yisreʾelim) from the time of their entrance into the Holy Land to the end of the Babylonian Exile (538 BC).”

    Jew Archived 23 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine at Encyclopædia Britannica Archived 26 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine

  85. ^ Brenner, Michael (13 June 2010). A Short History of the Jews. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14351-4.
  86. ^ Scheindlin, Raymond P. (1998). A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513941-9.
  87. ^ Diamond, Jared (1993). “Who are the Jews?” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2010. Natural History 102:11 (November 1993): 12–19.
  88. ^ “Israelite Refugees Found High Office in Kingdom of Judah, Seals Found in Jerusalem Show”HaaretzArchived from the original on 16 October 2022. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  89. Jump up to:a b K. van der Toorn,Family Religion in Babylonia, Ugarit and Israel: Continuity and Changes in the Forms of Religious Life, BRILL 1996 pp. 181, 282.
  90. ^ Grabbe 2008, p. 75.
  91. ^ van der Veern, Peter et al. “Israel in Canaan (Long) Before Pharaoh Merenptah? A Fresh Look at Berlin Statue Pedestal Relief 21687”, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, pp. 15–25
  92. ^ Thomas Romer, The Invention of God, Harvard, 2015, pg. 75
  93. ^ Meindert Dijkstra, “Canaan in the Transition from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age from an Egyptian Perspective”, in (ed. Lester Grabbe) The Land of Canaan in the Late Bronze Age, Bloomsbury, 2017, pg. 62, n. 17
  94. ^ “Shasu or Habiru: Who Were the Early Israelites?”The BAS Library. 24 August 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2022. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  95. ^ “Israelites as Canaanites”www.fsmitha.comArchived from the original on 3 January 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  96. ^ “Inside, Outside: Where Did the Early Israelites Come From?”The BAS Library. 24 August 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2022. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  97. ^ Killebrew, Ann E. (2020). “Early Israel’s Origins, Settlement, and Ethnogenesis”. In Kelle, Brad E.; Strawn, Brent A. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of the Historical Books of the Hebrew Bible. Oxford University Press. pp. 79–93. ISBN 978-0-19-026116-0Archived from the original on 31 March 2023. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  98. ^ Alan Mittleman, “Judaism: Covenant, Pluralism and Piety”, in Bryan S. Turner (ed.) The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, John Wiley & Sons, 2010 pp. 340–63, 346.
  99. Jump up to:a b Norman Gottwald, Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 BCE, A&C Black, 1999 p. 433, cf. 455–56
  100. ^ Richard A. GabrielThe Military History of Ancient Israel. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 p. 63: The ethnically mixed character of the Israelites is reflected even more clearly in the foreign names of the group’s leadership. Moses himself, of course, has an Egyptian name. But so do Hophni, Phinehas, Hur, and Merari, the son of Levi.
  101. ^ Stefan Paas, Creation and Judgement: Creation Texts in Some Eighth Century Prophets. Brill, 2003 pp. 110–21, 144.
  102. ^ Gitelman, Zvi: Jewish Identities in Postcommunist Russia and Ukraine, p. 60. Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  103. ^ Firestone, Reuven (12 June 2019). “Why Jews Don’t Proselytize”Renovatio | The Journal of Zaytuna CollegeArchived from the original on 1 April 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  104. ^ Hämeen-Anttila, Jaakko: Mare nostrum, p. 86. Otava, 2006.
  105. ^ Faust, Avraham (2015). “The Emergence of Iron Age Israel: On Origins and Habitus”. In Thomas E. Levy; Thomas Schneider; William H.C. Propp (eds.). Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture, and Geoscience. Springer. pp. 467–482. ISBN 978-3-319-04768-3Archived from the original on 21 October 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  106. ^ Lemaire, André (2007). The Birth of Monotheism. Rise and disappearance of Yahwism. Biblical Archeology Society. ISBN 978-1-880317-99-0.
  107. ^ Knohl, Israel (2008). Where are we from?Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir.
  108. ^ Römer, Thomas (2015). The invention of GodHarvard University PressASIN B01985ZGGA.
  109. ^ Hess, Richard S. (2007). Israelite Religions : An Archaeological and Biblical SurveyBaker Publishing GroupASIN B01LZOH0CL.
  110. ^ Delitzsch, Friedrich; McCormack, Joseph; Carruth, William Herbert; Robinson, Lydia Gillingham (1906). Babel and Bible;. Chicago, The Open court publishing company. p. 78.
  111. ^ Joffe 2002, p. 450.
  112. ^ “Divided Kingdom, United Critics”Biblical Archaeology Society. 2 July 2014. Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  113. ^ Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001). The Bible unearthed : archaeology’s new vision of ancient Israel and the origin of its stories (1st Touchstone ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-86912-4.
  114. ^ Wright, Jacob L. (July 2014). “David, King of Judah (Not Israel)”The Bible and Interpretation. Archived from the original on 1 March 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  115. ^ Sefer Devariam Pereq לד, ב; Deuteronomy 34, 2, Sefer Yehoshua Pereq כ, ז; Joshua 20, 7, Sefer Yehoshua Pereq כא, לב; Joshua 21, 32, Sefer Melakhim Beth Pereq טו, כט; Second Kings 15, 29, Sefer Devrei Ha Yamim Aleph Pereq ו, סא; First Chronicles 6, 76
  116. ^ See File:12 Tribes of Israel Map.svg
  117. ^ Broshi, Maguen (2001). Bread, Wine, Walls and Scrolls. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-84127-201-6Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  118. ^ “British Museum – Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian Chronicle (605–594 BCE)”. Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  119. ^ “ABC 5 (Jerusalem Chronicle) – Livius” Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  120. ^ Sicker, Martin (2001). Between Rome and Jerusalem: 300 Years of Roman-Judaean Relations. Praeger Publishers. p. 2ISBN 0-275-97140-6.
  121. ^ Zank, Michael. “Center of the Persian Satrapy of Judah (539–323)”. Boston University. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2007.
  122. ^ Israel, Finkelstein (2013). The forgotten kingdom : the archaeology and history of Northern Israel. Society of Biblical Literature. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-58983-910-6OCLC 949151323Archived from the original on 9 April 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  123. ^ Shen, Peidong; Lavi, Tal; Kivisild, Toomas; Chou, Vivian; Sengun, Deniz; Gefel, Dov; Shpirer, Issac; Woolf, Eilon; Hillel, Jossi; Feldman, Marcus W.; Oefner, Peter J. (2004). “Reconstruction of patrilineages and matrilineages of Samaritans and other Israeli populations from Y-Chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sequence Variation”Human Mutation24 (3): 248–260. doi:10.1002/humu.20077ISSN 1059-7794PMID 15300852S2CID 1571356Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  124. ^ Settings of silver: an introduction to Judaism, Stephen M. Wylen, Paulist Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8091-3960-X, p. 59
  125. ^ Caroline Johnson Hodge,If Sons, Then Heirs: A Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul, Oxford University Press, 2007 pp. 52–55.
  126. ^ Markus Cromhout,Jesus and Identity: Reconstructing Judean Ethnicity in Q, James Clarke & Co, 2015 pp. 121ff.
  127. ^ Daniel Lynwood Smith,Into the World of the New Testament: Greco-Roman and Jewish Texts and Contexts, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015 p. 124.
  128. ^ Stephen Sharot,Comparative Perspectives on Judaisms and Jewish Identities, Wayne State University Press 2011 p. 146.
  129. ^ David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).



Toponymytoponymics, or toponomastics is the study of toponyms, including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a proper name of any geographical feature, and full scope of the term also includes proper names of all cosmographical features.

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