Date: ______________________ Period _____
At the time of Abraham, people in Mesopotamia worshipped thousands of gods. People in Egypt worshiped many nature gods. The Egyptians also worshiped the sun and spirits and even their own kings. This belief in many gods and goddesses is called polytheism.
The ancient Israelites introduced a new idea. The Israelites or Hebrews came to believe that there was only one true God. The Israelites believed that their God was all-powerful, all-knowing and was present everywhere. The Israelites saw themselves as the chosen people of their God.
This belief in one God is called monotheism.
How does polytheism differ from monotheism? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Who came to believe in one God? How did these people view God? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Central to the religion of the ancient Israelites was the belief that they had entered into a special relationship with their God, Yahweh. This relationship was called a covenant. According to this covenant, the Israelites were to follow all the rules and regulations in the Torah (or first five books of the Bible). In return, their God promised to protect them, increase their population, and give them the land of Canaan as their homeland forever.
What is a covenant and what was the covenant between the Hebrews and their God? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The story of how the Israelites developed as a people is found in the first five books of the Bible or Torah. The Torah contains the basic laws of the Jewish religion and traces the history of the Israelites through the 1200s B.C.
What is the Torah? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
According to the Bible, many Hebrews had gone down into Egypt because there was a famine in Canaan and they had no food. Instead of returning home to Canaan, they stayed in Egypt for a long time. The number of Hebrews living in Egypt grew very large.
This upset the Pharaoh who became afraid that the Hebrews would become powerful enough to upset his rule. To prevent this, he made the Hebrews (also called Israelites) into slaves.
Why did the Hebrews migrate to Egypt? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What happened to the Hebrews in Egypt? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Treatment of laborers in Egypt was cruel during the time of the Israelites' bondage. After more than 400 years of slavery, in the early 1200's B.C., Moses was born.
Although an Israelite, Moses was raised in the Pharaoh’s household. This Pharaoh was probably Ramses II. According to the Torah, God asked Moses to ask the Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. Pharaoh refused.
Who was Moses and why did he ask Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
God gave Moses miraculous powers, including the ability to cause outbreaks of disease and destruction called plagues. Each time a plague happened, Pharaoh promised to let the Israelites go, but each time he changed his mind.
Finally, according to the Torah, a plague came in which the first-born child of all the Egyptians died - even Pharaoh’s son. After this terrible plague, Pharaoh finally let the Israelites leave Egypt.
Although Pharaoh initially refused to let the Israelites leave, he was eventually persuaded to let them go. Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The ancient Israelites adapted to their environment as all successful civilizations must do to survive. Where there was only grass and rocks, shepherds tended their flocks of sheep and goats.
Where there was a body of water filled with fish, they worked as fishermen. While the men worked as shepherds or fishermen, the women did most of the household work including grinding grain, making garments and making cheese and butter. The women gathered water from wells.
Describe how the ancient Israelites adapted to their environment. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________