Ancient Levant
Biblical Sodom: Bab Edh-Dhra,  Tomb,  (c)
The Bible


1. World Faiths. SA Nigosian. Victoria College. Toronto, 1994.
2. The British Museum.
3. Ancient World to 300 AD. Alexander ed. University of Michigan.
4. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions.
5. The Encyclopedia of Judaism. Wigoder ed. Jerusalem Publication House, 1989.

Judaism as a religion of history, as opposed to one of nature or contemplation.


Passover – Deliverance of bondage in Egypt

Purim – Esther’s triumph over Hamam

Hanukkah – Purification of the Temple after desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes


Anciet Israelistes were a Semitic group of nomads in the North Arabic Desert.

2nd Millenium BCE:          Patriarch Abraham. 500 years of freedom.

13th Century BCE:            Moses leads his people out of slavery under the Pharaohs in Egypt. They cultivated land in Canaan (modern Israel) between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. This land also known as Palestine.

During the reign of Rameses II (1304-1287) key cities in the Levant such as Beth Shan in the north and Gaza in the South were strenghtened while others were allowed to decline resulting in homelessness. Many migrated to the Judean Hill where they established small farming communities. These dispossessed Canannites were known to the Egyptians as Hapiru (Hebrews), and they became the basis of what was to become Israel. 2

12th Century BCE:  The Philistines, a sea people from the Aegean Islands (Crete?) invaded Levant on their way to Egypt. 300 years of battle between (1) the native Canannite inhabitants, (2) the Jewish? People and (3) the Philistine immigrants until David united the various groups.

In the eighth year of Rameses III (1198-1166) the Egyptian Empire was invaded by league of peoples of Aegean or southern Anatoli origin known as the Sea People. One of the six groups these peoples consisted of were called the Peleset or Philistines. Two battles: one fought in Canaan, one in the Delta. Rameses claimed victory but these people ended up on the Canannite coast and developed a distinctive local culture reflecting Aegean background. see more  2

1150 BCE                The Egyptians had withdrawn from Canaan leaving a tense and unstable situation: Canaanite cities in the lowlands, Israelites (Canannite pastoralists) living in the more barren hill country, and the Philistines in the coastal plain. Israelites expand into Canaanite territory over next 100 years. Philistines attempt to expand eastward into Israelite hill country, but the tribes of Israelites unite first under Saul, then David. 2

1000 BCE                 David captures Jerusalem and proclaimed king of Israelite nation. Later he defeats the Philistines and expands his territory. However they retain their coastal strip. Things florish under David’s son Solomon’s rule. Trade expands.

The Temple is built By 30,000 Israelites. And 150,000 Canannites. It was dedicated for 14 days. Solomon dies in 928 BC and the ‘United Monarchy’ splits into two kingdoms: Judah in the south with Jerusalem as the capital and Israel in the north with Samaria as the capital. 2

King David reigns (1000-961) first Judah for 7 years in Hebron, then conquers (unites) Canaan and rules Israel and Judah from Jerusalem for 33 years. King Solomon (961-922) Books of Samuel. Then Hebrew kinddom split. Prophet Amos. 3

Ninth and Eighth Century BCE          Assyrians expanding their territory, and their armies advance into Syria, Pheonicia, Israel and Judah. Local kings must pay high tributes. In 722 BC Samaria falls to the Assyrians. 2

701 BCE                Sennacherib attacks Judah. Book of Judah.

612 BCE                Nabopolassar of Babylon overthrows the Assyrians and takes control of their lands including Judah. 2

597 BCE                  Nabopolassar’s son Nebuchadnezzar raids Judah after a rebellion. Another revolt ten years later and Neb responds by destroying Jerusalem. 2

586 BCE                   The temple is destroyed by Nebuchadnezzer. The temple is rebuilt after return from exile under leadership of Zerubbabel.

1st Century CE     The temple is enlarged by King Herod.

70 CE             The temple is destroyed by the Romans.


See The Hebrew Bible

There are 613 biblical commandments.

Noachide Laws – all non Jews have to observe, ordained after the flood: One God, blasphemy, murder, theft, sexual immorality, eating limbs, courts of law.


Religious obligations of a Jew pertaining to ALL behavior. This is rabbinic literature.


Oral Law. First compiled by Judah-ha Nasi in SIX Orders in the beginning of the 3rd Century CE. (sedarim)

Zeraim (seeds), Mo’ed (festivals), Nashim (women), Nezikin (damages), Kodashim (holy things), Tohorot (purities)


Based on Sedarim. It is a body of teaching, commentary and discussion of the Jewish amoraim on the Mishnah.

Amoraim – scholars who interpreted he mishnah in Palestine and Babylonia btw 200 CE and 500 CE.

Tanna (pl. Tannaim) – Jewish Sage 1,2 Cent CE 

Sanhedrin – if existed, a Roman Period in Erez Israel: political, religious, judiciary body


2ND Century desire for more intimate connection between worshiper and …

End of 12th century movement: Kabbalah

Proceeded in ancient times by Hekhalot and Merkauah mysticism.

Middle ages: Ashkenazi Hasidic Mysteries.

(Haside Ashkenaz)

Earliest Kabbalistic sources: Sefer h-bahir and works of R. Issac the Blind


1. Ancient
2. European schools 12 and 13th cent
3. Spain 13-15th cent (to the expulsion from Spain in 1492) Appearance of Zohar, author R. Moses de Leon.
4. 16-18th cent: New centers in Italy, Turkey and Safed
5. Emergence of Hasidic Movement founded by R. Israel Baal Shem Tou: this breaks off into Tsaddikim and Mitnaggedim.

SEFIROT – 1-10 dimensions of the universe.