Critical historical timeline of the Jewish people from the promised land to the nation of Israel today
Israelites of the Old Testament
Israel was the new name given by God to Jacob. He was the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, to whom a covenant was made. (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 32:22-32). Today, their descendants are called the Israelites, set apart from other nations as God’s chosen people.
Around c. 1350-1250 B.C., God raised Moses to lead the Israelites, enslaved in Egypt. To live and thrive, God gave them the “promised land” of Canaan (a Semitic-speaking area in Phoenicia). (Genesis 15:18-21).
However, their disobedience, unbelief, and rebellious hearts prevented them from fully experiencing God’s blessings. The first set of tablets, inscribed by God’s finger, was smashed by Moses. He was enraged when he saw the people worshipping a golden calf. God rewrote a new one (Exodus 31:18; 32:19; 34:1).
Despite God’s faithfulness and deliverance, they continued to complain. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. (Joshua 5:6)
Isaiah prophesied judgment and comfort for Israel. From verses 1 to 66, he wrote the “righteous judgment” against Israel and Judah, Jerusalem’s destruction, the nation’s restoration, and final judgment.
Ancient Canaan and Palestine
Palestine in the ancient world was part of a small region in (southern) Canaan where the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were located.
They were known as the “Canaanite Philistines,” who occupied a tiny part of it, according to author Joshua J. Mark. In the north were Phoenicians.
- The Israelites, among others, established themselves in the area much earlier. [Palestine]
- The name `Palestine’ does not appear in written records until 500 years after. [History of Herodotus]
- After Herodotus, the term `Palestine’ came to be used for the entire region, formerly Canaan.
- Israel occupies only a portion of what they call Palestine, yet they are being driven out. [Ancient History]
King Saul, David, Solomon, and after that
The Israelites clamored for a “human king,” so God gave them King Saul, who they thought looked perfect for the role. God replaced him with King David and his son King Solomon.
These were great leaders, but at the same time, they allowed themselves to be corrupted. Just before Solomon’s death, the united kingdom began to disintegrate.
932 BC: Ancient Israel divided
Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) was the fourth king of a united Israel. Despite advice from elders, he chose to listen to his friends, raised taxes, and placed an even heavier yoke on the people.
Civil rest followed, and the north (Samaria) claimed independence (1 Kings 12:12-17). Jeroboam (Solomon’s servant) was king of the north; Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) was king south.
- The northern kingdom (10 tribes) retained the name Israel under Jeroboam.
- The southern kingdom (2 tribes of Benjamin and Judah) retained the name Judah under Rehoboam.
722 BC: Assyrians destroy the northern kingdom
The northern kingdom had 19 kings, and all did evil in God’s eyes. In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered them. They were the cruelest people group known to man. God used them to discipline his people.
As many as 50 to 100,000 Israelites were exiled to Assyria, and Assyrians repopulated the northern kingdom with other (pagan) people groups.
As a result of the intermarriage, the Israelites of the north became impure, a mongrel in the eyes of God’s people, still preserved in the southern kingdom.
586 BC: Babylonians capture the southern kingdom
After the split, the worship center remained in Jerusalem (Judah) until the second Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. The southern kingdom became known as Judah.
The southern kingdom had 20 kings, with 7 “revival kings,” delaying God’s judgment until 586 BC. King Nebuchadnezzar captured the southern kingdom (Judah). [Chronology of Kings]
The line of Judah preserved
Although many were exiled to Babylon, they did not repopulate the southern kingdom as the Assyrians did in the north. As a result, the Jewish race was preserved (Tribe of Benjamin and Judah).
Israelites in Judah did not intermarry with the Babylonians. God raised Ezra, Nehemiah, to lead the return of God’s people to the south.
Today, the Babylonian and Assyrian people groups are in southern and northern (Ninevah) Iraq.
Diaspora of the Jewish people
The destruction of the second Temple (70 A.D.)
After the Romans destroyed the second Temple in 70 A.D., the Jewish people were (again) scattered and left their homeland seemingly for good.
However, the Jewish diaspora occurred in the past, particularly during the invasion of the Assyrians and Babylonians. The Jews maintained their culture and tradition through the centuries.
Day of the Pentecost
The most critical diaspora was after the death and resurrection of Jesus when the Holy Spirit came and poured out on the disciples in Jerusalem—traditionally known as the Pentecost (or the first day of Pentecost).
Soon after, Jewish Christians fled the persecution in Jerusalem—bringing with them the Gospel that came with the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled them to “speak in tongues” (different languages).
The Gospel exploded from Antioch
In 70 A.D., many Jews and Christians escaped persecution by visiting neighboring countries. Some Christians, like Barnabas, went to Antioch.
The city of Antioch was the birthplace of Christianity as we know it today. Foreigners flocked to the port city for trade and business. The platform launched Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey to the rest of the known world.
Shepardic Jews from Spain (1492)
In 1492, Spain expelled the Shepardic immigrant Jews after conquering the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. The country was finally free from Muslim rule. The Alhambra Decree mandated that all Jews be expelled to rid the country of heretics.
Some Jews converted to Catholicism to remain in Spain, but most chose exile. Many died during the exodus to neighboring countries. Some refugees, who paid for passage to other countries, were thrown overboard by Spanish captains.
While the neighboring Ottoman Empire welcomed the influx of Spanish Jews, many other nations in Europe treated them as cruelly as the Spaniards—Portugal was a popular destination, and its rulers issued a similar decree five years later.
Modern historians believe around 40,000 Jews emigrated, hastily selling their properties. However, earlier estimates were about hundreds of thousands.
Many of the Shepardic Jews moved to non-Iberian territories. Thus, Jews were spread in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt today), Southern Europe (France, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia; and West Asia (Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran.)
Discrimination and antisemitism were yet to come for the scattered Jews.
1349: Massacre of Jews in Europe
When the Black plague in Europe killed millions of people, they blamed the Jews for spreading it. The Jews practiced hygiene and ate healthy food. Thus, they were less affected by the spread of the disease.
The Jews were accused of poisoning the public well. The hatred stemmed from their business ethics, wealth, and success. In 1349, 2,000 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg by Christians, 3,000 in Mainz and Cologne, 510 communities were destroyed, and their properties looted.
Mark Twain describes Israel as desolate
Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in 1867. He described Israel as nothing. It was utterly desolate, dry, and burnt. But when God says something, He fulfills it. The Prophet Isaiah (27:6) prophesized Jacob (Israel) to blossom and sprout. It will fill the whole world with fruit.
Today, Israel is the “fruit basket of Europe.” Among other things that have already been fulfilled, Israel continues to experience God’s divine protection.
1917: Balfour Declaration
In 1917, The Balfour Declaration of the British government supported the return of the Jews to their homeland. It resulted in displaced people living in the area known as Palestine.
However, very few Jews supported the return until WW2, when they had had enough of the antisemitism in Europe. The Holocaust was the unintended part of fulfilling the prophecy of the return of God’s people to Israel.
The Holocaust, unintended part of fulfilling A prophecy.
Wrong use of Palestine to describe ancient Philistines
The issue of “land grabbing’ Israel is misconstrued, even by secular historians and mainstream media who cleverly associate Palestine with ancient Philistia. They refuse to accept the Bible as a historical record and insist Israel has no place in the middle east.
- The British first used the word Palestine (or Palestinian) to refer to “Mandatory Palestine” in the early 20th century.
- Palestine was a territory of the former Ottoman Empire (1898–1914). It has no relationship with the Arabs. [Origins of Palestine]
- It is wrong to attribute Palestinians to describe the ancient Philistines (inhabitants of the northeast of Egypt).
- Palestine has NO connection ethnically, linguistically, or historically with Arabia.
- Philistines were Aegean people, and it is wrong to refer to them as today’s Palestinians. [Jewish Library]
Israel’s historical rights to be in Palestine, misconstrued by “left-liberals” today who are redefining history
- The Canaanites are descendants of Noah through his son Ham and grandson.
- Philistines, Jebusites, and others occupied Canaan, and the Israelites drove out around 1300 B.C. Joshua led it. The land was promised to the people of God.
- Palestine is a name label ascribed to the region that once belonged to the Israelites.
- Today, only a portion of original Israel is occupied by “modern Israel.”
The British first used the word Palestine in the early 20th century.
Where is the promised land today?
The promised land known as Canaan is situated in the territory of the southern Levant, which today encompasses the country Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon.
1948: A nation reborn
In 1948, the nation of Israel was reborn. Many Jews returned to their homeland, even if it was only a desolate portion. It ended the Jewish diaspora.
How can a nation whose people had been scattered, a country non-existent for 2,500 years, be reborn. No people group throughout history has accomplished what the Israelites did.
- No Jews would intentionally return to a desolate land, but the Holocaust was enough reason to realize they would never be safe until they returned to their promised land.
- Scattered, the Jews were able to resurrect their dead Hebrew language and become a strong, unified nation.
- Israel was desolate in 1948 but today is a thriving city where the desert blooms.
The Hebrew language
The Jews were scattered in many countries, connected through their tradition. Their native Hebrew was no longer a common language shortly after 70 A.D.
Thus, the ‘Masoretic Hebrew’ reintroduced in 1915 had been a “dead language” for 1,700 years. Today, more than a million people speak the Hebrew language of the Bible.
The British Mandate, Zionist Movement, and Partition of the “Promised Land” left a small portion of the new nation of Israel
The Zionist Movement is a religious and political effort that brought the Jews back to their homeland in the Middle East region. The State of Israel was established in 1948 when 33 countries voted in favor of U.N. Resolution 181.
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine recommended a partition of the Mandate for Palestine at the end of the British Mandate.
The Mandate for Palestine was a League of Nations mandate (before becoming the United Nations) for British territories conceded by the Ottoman Empire following WW I in 1918.
Antisemitism after the Holocaust of WW2
Between 1941 to 1945, six million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis. After the U.N. partitioned Palestine (as the British called them), Jews returned to claim a portion of their land but faced new persecution.
Their neighboring Muslim countries saw it as an invasion of their land. Hours after Ben Gurion declared Israel a nation on May 14, 1948, the Arab nations surrounded them.
The Israelites won many wars against neighboring countries with no army and resources, which swore to destroy them.
1967: Six days of war
The Six-Day War between June 5-10, 1967, was between Israel and the Arab coalition of Jordan, Syria, UAR, and Egypt. The war enabled Israel to regain some ancient territories in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
- Sinai Peninsula (Part of Egypt from its First Ancient Dynasty, returned to Eygpt in 1979, 1989)
- Gaza Strip (Mentioned as the place where Samson was imprisoned and died)
- West Bank of the Jordan River. (Where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist)
- Old City of Jerusalem (Remains of the temples of the Jewish people, their ancient city)
- Golan Heights. (Biblical city found in Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 20:8)
The Third Temple of Jerusalem
The first Temple was built by King Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Herod, with Nehemiah in 20 BCE, restored it. In 70 CE, Roman legions destroyed the Second Temple during the siege of Jerusalem.
Although a third temple was built, it was smaller, much like a sub-temple. Hence, the future and modern Temple should be considered the fourth Temple.
Now that Israel is restored as a nation, they plan to rebuild the Temple and bring back Old Testament practices, such as animal sacrifice.
Israelites of the New Testament
When Jesus came, died, and was resurrected, the guarantee of salvation was sealed through the Holy Spirit (the Gospel) unto everyone who believes, even the gentiles (non-Israelites). Although Israel still waits for the “glamorous” Messiah, the Bible says that whoever believes in Jesus is saved. We become God’s children through Christ. (Galatians 3:26)
The Abrahamic Covenant
In Romans 9,10, and 11, the “unbelieving Israel” (who refuse to believe in Jesus the Messiah) continue to enjoy a unique relationship with God (Abrahamic covenant).
God’s eternal promise to the Israelites
Paul referred to the generation down the line as the “unbelieving Israel.” Despite many of them turning their back, they remain to be “God’s beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28).
Their calling is “irrevocable,” and those who mistreat or despise her could be removed from the olive tree of salvation.
The “unbelieving Israel” is “beloved for the sake of the fathers,” has not been rejected
The future of the Israelites
According to John Macarthur, the church (body of Christ remains distinct from Israel. The future glory of God’s chosen is yet to be revealed. Prophecies are yet to be fulfilled, and God will take extraordinary measures to preserve them during the Great Tribulation.
The 144,000 people of God
In literal interpretation, the 144,000 are the “Sealed Jews” protected from the Antichrist’s wrath during the tribulation period. This group of people will evangelize the world during this period, leading the salvation of millions referenced in Revelation 7:9.
The salvation of the Jews
The “First Covenant seals the unique relationship of the Jews with God,” and Jesus’ promise of eternal life through the “New Covenant” ensures the salvation of anyone who believes in the finished work of Jesus.