There are really three sets of articles here about the Jews and Judaism. First, there are the Bible stories. These articles tell the most important stories in simple words, using illustrations from the ancient and medieval worlds.
Genesis starts with Creation and Adam and Eve. Then Cain kills Abel, and God sends the Flood but saves Noah. Noah’s descendants built the Tower of Babel. After God destroys that, too, Abraham left Mesopotamia and moved to Israel.
Abraham’s son Isaac had a son Jacob, and Jacob’s son Joseph moved to Egypt, with many other Jews. But after a while the Jews were slaves in Egypt. Moses saved them, gave them the Ten Commandments, and brought them back to Israel.
Joshua conquered Israel from the Canaanites. Samson fought a Philistine invasion, and David killed the Philistine Goliath and became king of Israel. David’s son Solomon ruled after him, but then Israel split into two kingdoms.
Confirmed history of the Jews
So far these are all Bible stories, not history. But at this point, the Bible more or less joins up with history. So next, there’s the history articles. While many of the Bible stories have some truth to them, historians today know a lot more facts that were not available to the people who wrote the Bible.
Our history articles start with the Stone Age. The Jews lived quietly in Israel until the Egyptians conquered them in the New Kingdom. They formed their own kingdom after the New Kingdom collapsed at the end of the Bronze Age.
About 700 BC, Israel split into two kingdoms, and the Assyrians conquered Israel and scattered the Jews who lived there. In the 600s, the Babylonians conquered Judah and took many Jews to live in the Babylonian Captivity.
The Persians freed the Jews again in the 500s BC: the Bible stories of Esther and Daniel come from this time. After the Romans conquered Israel, the Jews tried to get free in the First Jewish Revolt, then the Second Jewish Revolt.
Who were the Persians?
Persia and the Jews
Daniel in the lion’s den
Esther saves her people
The First Jewish Revolt
Second Jewish Revolt
After that, the Romans made most of the Jews leave Israel. Now that they had no land to farm, many Jews became traders. In the Middle Ages, some Jews (like Rashi) lived in Europe, and others (like Maimonides) lived in the Islamic Empire.
The Jewish holidays
A third set of articles explain the major Jewish holidays, where they came from, and how they’re related to the holidays of other West Asian religions like Zoroastrianism and Christianity, and even to holidays in China!
What is Yom Kippur?
How about Sukkot?
Why do we have Hanukkah?
When is Purim?
When is Passover?
Find out what a rabbi is, what a synagogue is, and what the Talmud is. There’s articles about Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Purim, Passover, Sukkot, and Hanukkah, with some activities to go with them like making latkes and playing the dreidel game.
Bibliography and further reading about the history of Judaism: