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A Biblical History of the Jews

Stories of the Tanach

A history of the Jewish people as detailed in the books of the Tanach (Jewish Bible), beginning with the book of Joshua.

Joshua
Audio | 58:04
Joshua
A biblical history of the Jews
The first in a series on biblical Jewish history, this class details major events in the period of time after Moses’ passing, when the Jewish people are led by Moses’ successor, Joshua. Topics include: The transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua, the battle of Jericho, the division of the land and the passing of Joshua.
The Judges
Audio | 42:39
The Judges
A biblical history of the Jews
After the passing of Joshua, the Jewish people were led by a series of “shoftim” (literally, “judges”). The book of Judges chronicles the events that transpired during their leadership. Major events in this period of history include Ehud’s assassination of Eglon; the heroism of the female judge, Deborah; the tragedy of Jephthah’s daughter; Samson’s war against the Philistines; and the Concubine at Givah incident.
Samuel the Prophet
Audio | 38:28
Samuel the Prophet
A biblical history of the Jews
Following the passing of Samson, the Jewish people were led by a high priest named Eli, who ministered in the sanctuary in Shiloh. After Eli’s death, the prophet Samuel becomes the leader of the Jewish people, until he anoints Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul’s reign does not last, however, as G‑d decrees that the crown will be taken from him for having allowed the Amalekite king Agag to live.
King Saul
Audio | 37:10
King Saul
A biblical history of the Jews
G‑d tells the prophet Samuel that the kingship must be removed from King Saul and given to a previously unknown shepherd named David, the son of Jesse. In this class we learn of the tragic and final chapter of Saul’s life, in which he becomes obsessed with preserving his kingdom and killing David.
King David: Early Reign
A biblical history of the Jews
Even after the death of Saul, King David’s leadership is contested. In this class we learn of the many domestic and foreign conflicts that David overcame in the beginning of his rule, as well as the conquest of the future site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
King David: The Later Years
A biblical history of the Jews
The events of King David’s later years, starting with the famous story of his relationship with Bathsheba. We also learn of the rebellion of his son Absalom. The class ends with the anointing of David’s 12-year-old son Solomon as his successor.
King Solomon
Audio | 35:48
King Solomon
A biblical history of the Jews
King Solomon, wisest of all men, succeeds his father as king at the young age of twelve. King Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem, and reigns over Israel in an age of exceptional prosperity and peace.
The Splitting of the Kingdom
A biblical history of the Jews
After the death of Solomon, ten of the twelve tribes refuse to accept his son Rehoboam as their king. Jeroboam leads a revolt, and establishes his capital in Shechem. The kingdom then splits off into two entities, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. We learn about some of the corrupt leaders of the Kingdom of Israel, including King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.
The Kings of Israel
Audio | 44:20
The Kings of Israel
A biblical history of the Jews
In the previous lesson we learned about the Kingdom of Israel and its early kings, most of whom were wicked. In this lesson, we learn about the remainder of the kings of Israel until the fall of the kingdom. Included in this period of history are several stories about the prophet Elijah, who fought to restore the people’s morality and faith during a time of general corruption.
Kings of Judah, Part I
A biblical history of the Jews
After the split of the monarchy, the descendants of King Solomon rule over the Kingdom of Judah in the south. In this lesson we learn about the reigns of the kings from Rehoboam through Joash.
Kings of Judah, Part II
A biblical history of the Jews
Concluding our lessons on the Jewish kings, this lesson covers the last kings of Judah from the reign of Hezekiah until the final king, Zedekiah, in whose time the First Temple was destroyed.
The Babylonian Exile
A biblical history of the Jews
After the destruction of the First Temple, the Jewish people spent seventy years in exile in Babylon. This class covers the great leaders of the Jewish people during that era, including Zerubabbel, the exilarch; Mordechai; and the final prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Ezra and the Second Temple
A biblical history of the Jews
After the seventy-year exile in Babylon, many of the Jewish people return to their homeland under the leadership of Ezra.
The Greeks
Audio | 26:05
The Greeks
A biblical history of the Jews
Toward the end of the Second Temple Era, the influence of Hellenistic values became a threat to Jewish existence.
The Hasmoneans
Audio | 1:14:49
The Hasmoneans
A biblical history of the Jews
The Hasmoneans form a band of guerilla fighters called the Maccabees to defeat the wave of Hellenistic assimilation. After their miraculous victory, however, new troubles arose that would ultimately lead to the destruction of the Second Temple.
Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Rise of Rome
A biblical history of the Jews
After the Hasmonean victory in the times of Chanukah, there was a period of in-fighting within the Hasmonean dynasty. Much of this conflict broke along ideological lines of Pharisees and Sadducees. Ultimately, this gave rise to the rule of the usurper Herod.
Destruction of the Second Temple
A biblical history of the Jews
This class continues to describe the reign of the Herodian kings and the events leading to the fall of the Holy Temple to the Roman Emperor, Titus.
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