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History of Israel

"Remember days long gone by. Ponder the years of each generation. Ask your father and let him tell you, and your grandfather, who will explain it." Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 32:7

The birthplace of the Jewish people is the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel). There, a significant part of the nation's long history was enacted, of which the first thousand years are recorded in the Bible; there, its cultural, religious and national identity was formed; and there, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken through the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile. During the many years of dispersion, the Jewish people never severed nor forgot its bond with the Land of Israel. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost two thousand years earlier, was renewed.

(BCE - Before the Common Era)

17th-6th C. BCE


c. 17th century The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob - patriarchs of the Jewish People and bearers of a belief in one God - settle in the Land of Israel.
Famine forces Israelites to migrate to Egypt.

c. 13th centuryExodus from Egypt: Moses leads Israelites from Egypt, followed by 40 years of wandering in the desert.
The Torah, including the Ten Commandments, received at Mount Sinai.

13th-12th centuries

Israelites settle the Land of Israel

c. 1020Jewish Monarchy established; Saul, first king.

c. 1000Jerusalem made capital of David's kingdom.

c. 960First Temple, the national and spiritual center of the Jewish People, built in Jerusalem by King Solomon.

c. 930Divided kingdom: Judah and Israel

722-720Israel crushed by Assyrians; 10 tribes exiled (Ten Lost Tribes).

586Judah conquered by Babylonia; Jerusalem and First Temple destroyed; most Jews exiled to Babylonia.



538-515Many Jews return from Babylonia; Temple rebuilt.

332Land conquered by Alexander the Great; Hellenistic rule.

166-160Maccabean (Hasmonean) revolt against restrictions on practice of Judaism and desecration of the Temple

142-129Jewish autonomy under Hasmoneans.

129-63Jewish independence under Hasmonean monarchy.

63Jerusalem captured by Roman general, Pompey.

63 BCE-313 CE


(CE - The Common Era)

37 BCE - 4 CEHerod, Roman vassal king, rules the Land of Israel; Temple in Jerusalem refurbished

66Jewish revolt against the Romans

70Destruction of Jerusalem and Second Temple.

73Last stand of Jews at Masada.

132-135Bar Kokhba uprising against Rome.

c. 210Codification of Jewish oral law (Mishnah) completed.



c. 390Commentary on the Mishnah (Jerusalem Talmud) completed.

614Persian invasion




On site of First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, Dome of the Rock built


1291-1516MAMLUK RULE


1564Code of Jewish law (Shulhan Arukh) published.

1860First neighborhood, Mishkenot Sha'ananim, built outside Jerusalem's walls.

1882-1903First Aliya (large-scale immigration), mainly from Russia.

1897First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland; Zionist Organization founded.

1904-14 Second Aliya, mainly from Russia and Poland.

1909First kibbutz, Degania, and first modern all-Jewish city, Tel Aviv, founded.

1917400 years of Ottoman rule ended by British conquest; British Foreign Minister Balfour pledges support for establishment of a "Jewish national home in Palestine".


1919-23 Third Aliya, mainly from Russia

1920Histadrut (Jewish labor federation) and Haganah (Jewish defense organization) founded. Vaad Leumi (National Council) set up by Jewish community (yishuv) to conduct its affairs.

1921First moshav, Nahalal, founded.

1922Britain granted Mandate for Palestine (Land of Israel) by League of Nations; Transjordan (later Jordan) set up on three-fourths of Palestine, leaving one-fourth of Palestine for the Jewish national home.
Jewish Agency representing Jewish community vis-a-vis Mandate authorities set up.

1924Technion, first institute of technology, founded in Haifa.

1924-32Fourth Aliya, mainly from Poland.

1925Hebrew University of Jerusalem opened on Mt. Scopus.

1929Hebron Jews massacred by Arab militants.

1931Etzel, Jewish underground organization, founded.

1933-39Fifth Aliya, mainly from Germany.

1936-39Anti-Jewish riots instigated by Arab militants.

1939Jewish immigration severely limited by British White Paper.

1939-45World War II; Holocaust in Europe.

1941Lehi underground movement formed; Palmach, strike force of Haganah, set up.

1944Jewish Brigade formed as part of British forces.

1947UN proposes the establishment of Arab and Jewish states in the Land.


1948End of British Mandate (14 May)
State of Israel proclaimed (14 May).
Israel invaded by five Arab states (15 May)
War of Independence (May 1948-July 1949)
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) established

1949Armistice agreements signed with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon. Jerusalem divided under Israeli and Jordanian rule.

1948-52Mass immigration from Europe and Arab countries.

1956Sinai Campaign

1967Six-Day War, Jerusalem reunited.

1968-70Egypt's War of Attrition against Israel

1973Yom Kippur War

1975Israel becomes an associate member of the European Common Market.

1981Israel Air Force destroys Iraqi nuclear reactor just before it is to become operative.

1982Israel's three-stage withdrawal from Sinai completed.
Operation Peace for Galilee removes PLO terrorists from Lebanon.

1984Operation Moses, immigration of Jews from Ethiopia.

1985Free Trade Agreement signed with United States.

1987Widespread violence (intifada) starts in Israeli-administered areas.

1989Start of mass immigration of Jews from former Soviet Union.

1991Israel attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during Gulf war.
Operation Solomon, airlift of Jews from Ethiopia.

1996Fundamentalist Arab terrorism against Israel escalates.
Operation Grapes of Wrath, retaliation for Hizbullah terrorists' attacks on northern Israel.
1998Israel celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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