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Identify the ancient Israelites, or Hebrews, and trace their migrations from Mesopotamia to the land called Canaan, and explain the role of Abraham and Moses in their history.

This page provides an overview of the ancient history of Israel, the Hebrew migration to Canaan, and the roles of Abraham and Moses.

Topics include:
Ancient Israelites
Migration of the People of Israel
  • Deborah (Female Judge, Military Strategist, Poet, Prophet)

Focus Questions

  • How is the history of the Israelites traced back to their migration from Mesopotamia to Canaan?

  • What were the roles of Abraham and Moses?

Ancient Israelites

Israelites were the descendants of Jacob . Abraham migrated from Mesopotamia to Canaan and became the patriarch of the Israelites; Moses later led the Hebrews, enslaved by the Pharaoh, out of Egypt and back to Israel.

external image 500px-12_Tribes_of_Israel_Map.svg.png
Israelite or Hebrew:
a. Member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Each of the tribes occupied a separate territory which was set up to serve the Holy Temple (one of the crowning achievements of King Solomon.
b. Descended from the twelve sons of the Biblical Jacob, later known as Israel.
c. His twelve male children were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Gad, Naphtali, Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin.
View: 12 Sons of Jacob Song


Click here for lecture regarding the significance of Abraham to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Judah by Michelangelo (1511-1512)
Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Judah by Michelangelo (1511-1512)

His most important influence was his impact on all religion, began the belief in one God (Monotheism), and led the way for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

a. His life is narrated in the book of Genesis .
b. Considered to be the founding patriarch of the Israelites.
c. According to the Bible, Genesis 12-24 God brought Abraham from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan, the land promised to him by God.
d. God promised him that through his offspring, nations of the world would come to be blessed.
e. God called Abraham to go to “the land I will show you” and promised to bless him and make him a great nation.
f. He went to Canaan. At the great tree of Moreh at Shechem he received a promise that the land would be given unto his descendants
g. Great scrutiny has arisen over the conflict between Jews and Muslims exist because of the conflict that resulted from Abraham, Isaac and

womens history.jpgRead more about Abraham's wife Sarah here.

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Map of Abraham's journey. Click here to view the full slideshow detailing the journey of Abraham from Ur in Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan.

Multimedia.pngClick here for a video from the History Channel which depicts Abraham in their series, The Bible.


Link here for a video about Moses

Moses holding up the Ten Commandments

a. Biblical Hebrew Religious leader, leader, and prophet.
b. Considered to be the transcriber of the Torah.
c. Commanded by God to deliver the Hebrews from slavery.
d. Led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt through the Red Sea into Canaan when ten plagues were unleashed upon Egypt.
e. Moses led Hebrews to Mt. Sinai, where he made a covenant (number 5) with God. Hebrews would become God's chosen people if they agreed to accept him as their one, true God. (click here for a review of each covenant)
f. The story of Moses is primarily told in the book of Exodus
g. Moses also had a sister, named Miriam, she is believed to have sung a victory song after Pharaohs army drowned in the Red Sea

Moses's two key historical achievements:
1) Leading the Hebrews out of Egypt to freedom
2) Receiving the Ten Commandments after creating a covenant with God

Click here for more information from NOVA about the effects Moses still has.

womens history.jpgClick here to read an article about Moses's wife, Zipporah and her significance.

Migration of the People of Israel

Click here for an interactive map displaying the migration.

a. First settled in Canaan after being led out of Ur by Abraham.

b. Due to famine, many people moved to Egypt where they eventually become enslaved.

c. Moses led nearly 3 million Israelites out of Egypt.
d. The Pharoah was in pursuit of the Israelites with a large army.

e. God divided the water so Moses and the Israelites could pass safely through.

f. When the Egyptian army attempted to follow, God permitted the waters push back together and drown them.

g. Moses led the Hebrews to Mt. Sinai, where a covenant was made with God (Yahweh). God said the Hebrews are his chosen people and promises them the Promised Land, Canaan, that is "flowing with milk and honey."

Female_Rose.pngThe Role of Women in the Migration:


In the battle called "Armageddon" in 1125 B.C., as referred to in the New Testament, owed much of the victory to Deborah, a prophetess.

God bade Deborah to accompany her war leaders and stir them to victory. For this reason she is known as the Hebrew Joan of Arc

The role of Deborah and other Israel women, represents the absence of inferiority in early Israel.

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngInteractive Timeline of Ancient Israel

Summary: The history of the Israelites is traced back to their migration from Mesopotamia to Canaan from the information provided via the bible. The two individuals who made the journey to the land of Israel possible and began the history of the Israelites were Abraham and Moses. Had it not been for Abraham being the founding patriarch for the Israelites and God speaking to him the land of Israel would have never been promised to the Israelites.

Timeline of Ancient Israel (1300 BC - 135 AD)

c. 1300-1200 BC: The Israelites enter the land of Canaan: the age of the Judges starts
c. 1050-1010: The Israelites establish a kingdom, first under Saul (c.1050-1010) and then under David (c.1010-970)
c. 970: David's son Solomon becomes king. He builds the Temple in Jerusalem
c. 931: After Solomon's death, Israel divides into two kingdoms: Judah in the south, Israel in the north
722: The northern kingdom of Israel is dstroyed by the Assyrians
c. 620: A major religious revival takes place in the southern kingdom of Judah
597-582: Judah and Jerusalem are destroyed in a series of invasions by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The leading men of Judah are taken into exile in Babylon
538: The Persian king Cyrus allows the exiles back, and encourages them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem
164: The Jews revolt against the Seleucid kings under the leadership of the Maccabbees brothers
63: The Romans conquer Judaea and soon install the family of Herod the Great as rulers of Judaea
66-73 and 132-5 AD: Two great Jewish rebellions against the Romans end in the destruction of the Temple (70) and the expulsion of the Jews from near Jerusalem (135)

Multimedia.png10,000 Year Old Ancient Settlement Unearthed in lsrael from YouTube

Canaan and Ancient Israel from the University of Pennsylvania Museum explains the people of Canaan & Ancient Israel through material items left behind rather than the Old Testament

Works Cited:
[1] (2007). Moses. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved 27 March 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses.
[2] (2007). Abraham. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved 27 March 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham.
[3] (2007). History of Ancient Israel and Judah. In Wikipedia i> [Web]. Retrieved 27 March 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ancient_Israel_and_Judah.
[4] (2007). Israelite. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved 27 March 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israelites.
[5] (2007). Passage of Red Sea. In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved 27 March 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passage_of_Red_Sea.
[6] (2007). www.pbs.org/wnet/heritage/episode1/documents/documents_7.html
[7] (2007). www.history-world.org/Hebrews.html
[8] (2007). www.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/asbook06.html
[9] (2011). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miriam
[10] The History of Israel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHbJV7SjCm8
[11] The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, "Canaan & Ancient Israel." Accessed January 30, 2014. http://www.penn.museum/sites/Canaan/index.html .
[12] History World, "The Kingdom of the Hebrews." Accessed January 31, 2014. http://history-world.org/Hebrews.htm
[13] http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/Book-of-Judges/a/012511-CW-Deborah.htm.
[14] http://www.timemaps.com/civilization/ancient-israel#overview