The people of Israel are the descendants of the patriarchs Abraham, Yitzhak and Jacob and the matriarchs Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, all of whom lived and were buried in the Land of Israel. The name Israel is derived from the name God gave to Jacob (Genesis 32:29). The descendants of Abraham officially became a nation about 1300 BCE after the exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses, when they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Jewish people entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses’s successor, Joshua around 1250 BCE.
After being led by a series of prophets, 1000-587 BCE is known as the period of the kings as it was the time in which the Jews were ruled over by a monarchy. The kings included King David who crowned Jerusalem as the capital city and King Solomon who built the first holy temple in Jerusalem.
In 587 BCE the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, destroyed the holy temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon. A series of foreign empires including the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, Islamic and Christian crusaders, Ottoman, and the British each took turns ruling the land.
While exiled from the Land of Israel, the Jewish people stayed loyal to their faith and culture and continued to pray for their return to their homeland of Israel. They prayed three times a day for the their holy temple to be rebuilt in the capital city of Jerusalem. After suffering massacres, pogroms, anti-Semitism and violence—culminating with the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were murdered, the Jewish people reestablished sovereignty over their ancient homeland with the creation of the modern State of Israel on May 14, 1948.
- Watch this YouTube video to hear 4,000 year history of Israel and Jerusalem in five minutes: