The Fertile Crescent: Crossroads of the World

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The Ancient Middle East

The Fertile Crescent: Crossroads of the World

  • The _________________ Valley lies in the eastern end of the ___________ Crescent, an area that stretches in a large arc from the _________ Gulf to the _____________ Sea.

  • The Fertile Crescent received its name from the ___________ soil of the region and its crescent shape.

  • The Fertile Crescent has often been called the "___________of the ___________" because it commands the land routes to three continents:

    • ___________

    • ___________

    • ___________

  • Unlike Egypt, the Fertile Crescent has few natural ___________.

  • The Arabian and Syrian ___________offered less protection to early civilizations than the Libyan Desert did in ___________.

  • Because of its position, the region was frequently overrun by ___________.

  • Waves of ___________ peoples came down from the mountains north and west of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.

  • ___________ such as the Hittites swept into the Fertile Crescent from Asia Minor.

  • The ___________ of the people living in the Fertile Crescent made it difficult to unite the area under a single ___________.

  • Yet the constant contact among different peoples also led to an exchange of ________ that led to major ___________.

Land Between Two Rivers

  • The Greeks called the Tigris-Euphrates Valley "___________," meaning "land between two rivers."

  • Like the Nile in Egypt, the ___________and ___________ rivers dominated the lives of the people in Mesopotamia.

    • The two rivers flow from the rugged highlands of the ___________ Plateau to the ___________.

    • They run ___________ for over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers).

    • In the spring or early summer, melting snows from the mountains sometimes cause the rivers to ___________.

    • However, the ___________of the Tigris and Euphrates, unlike those of the Nile, are ___________.

      • In some years, the rivers do not rise above their ___________.

      • In others, ___________ floods cause enormous damage.

A Precarious Existence

  • In ancient times, many floods ___________ across lower Mesopotamia.

  • About 4000 B.C, a massive flood deposited a bed of clay ______ feet (2.4 meters) thick.

    • The flood ___________ farms, villages, and animals and drowned many people.

    • Only a few towns built on high ground ___________.

  • In addition to floods, lower Mesopotamia suffered summer ___________ and hot winds, which could turn fertile soil to dust, shrivel crops, and cause ___________.

  • Despite the danger of flooding, however, the rivers supported the development of an ___________ civilization.

The Development of an Advanced Civilization

  • Trade along the rivers made Mesopotamian cities ___________and ___________.

  • Silt left by floods made the soil ___________.

    • Good soil meant that the people living in Mesopotamia could rely on a ________ food supply in most years.

    • Year after year, silt created a ___________ at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

    • Like the Nile delta, the delta in lower Mesopotamia was a maze of ___________ and ___________.

    • To drain the swamps and channel the water to farmland, the people of Mesopotamia built an intricate network of ___________ and ___________.

    • The building and upkeep of such a complex ___________system required an elaborate, well-run ___________.

City-State Government

  • By 3000 BCE , the villages of lower Mesopotamia had grown into ___________ cities.

    • Tens of thousands of people lived in the chief ___________ cities of Ur, Erech, and Kish.

    • Each city was an independent ___________ with its own government and ruler.

    • In a city-state, a large town or city and the surrounding countryside cooperate for mutual ___________.

  • The government of a Sumerian city-state supervised the ___________ and _________ of dikes and canals in the surrounding farmlands.

    • It also constructed strong ___________ walls and stored food in case of ______.

  • When threatened by attack, farmers took ___________ behind the city walls.

  • Each city-state worshipped its own _________ or ___________ as well as other gods.

    • The people of the city-state believed they were wholly dependent on their city's god for ___________ and ___________.

    • The land and everything people ___________belonged to the god.

    • In fact, farmers turned over about two thirds of each harvest to the _________.

  • Because a disaster such as a flood or invasion could strike suddenly, people in Mesopotamia believed that their survival depended on keeping their gods ___________.

    • Priests alone knew how to please the gods, and they _________ with the gods for the people.

    • As a result, in the early city-states ___________ ruled in the name of the gods.

Sumerian City-States

  • As Sumerian city-states grew, they were constantly at _______ with each other.

    • For example, ____ fought with _______ for control of the lower Euphrates.

  • This frequent warfare may have increased the power of ___________ leaders who could successfully ___________ their city-states.

  • Military leaders then gradually ___________ priests as rulers of the Sumerian city-states.

  • The Sumerians did not worship their rulers as ___________.

    • Instead, they believed their kings were the gods' ___________ on earth.

    • But because they ___________ directly with the gods and the people, Sumerian kings commanded absolute ___________.


  • Towering above each Sumerian city-state was the ___________ the home or temple of the god of the city.

    • ___________ -shaped, the ziggurat was often six to seven stories high.

    • The Sumerians believed that gods ___________ to earth using the ziggurat as a ladder.

  • Like the Egyptians, the Sumerians were ___________.

    • They ___________ other gods in addition to the god of their city-state.

    • Sumerians believed that a ___________ of gods and goddesses ruled the earth, deciding the ___________ of individuals and cities.

    • Each god had a specific ___________ or ___________ within this council.

Inanna and Dumuzi

  • Sumerians explained ___________ events as the results of ___________ by gods and goddesses.

    • For example, they believed that winter, the season of hunger and hardship, occurred when the god Dumuzi ______ and descended into the ___________.

    • Only when the goddess Inanna ___________ her husband Dumuzi from the underworld did spring arrive, bringing new ___________.

    • Every year, to ensure the return of the growing season, priests and priestesses ___________ the story of Inanna and Dumuzi.

Angry and Spiteful Gods

  • In Egypt, the favorable climate of the Nile Valley allowed the people to enjoy life and see their gods as ___________ forces.

  • By contrast, fear of natural ___________ and ___________ probably contributed to the Sumerians' gloomy outlook on life.

    • They believed that the gods ___________ them by sending floods or famine.

    • This gloomy outlook colored their belief about the ___________.

    • At death, they expected to descend forever into a dark ___________, a huge cave filled with nothing but dust and silence.

Written Language

  • The need for accurate ___________ led to the development of writing sometime after ___________ BCE

  • Sumerian writing began as ___________ and ___________.

  • Scribes gradually ___________ the system, using ___________ to represent sounds and syllables.

  • Sumerians used a ___________, or sharpened reed instrument, to make symbols on tablets of wet ___________.

  • They then ___________ the tablets to harden the clay.

  • Because the symbols were made up of wedge-like shapes, the writing was later called ___________ from the Latin word "cuneus," or ___________.

  • Traders and conquering armies helped ________ cuneiform across the Fertile Crescent.


  • As the Sumerian city-states grew, the need for ___________ increased.

    • Scribes wrote down ___________, ___________, and religious ___________.

    • As trade expanded, merchants hired scribes to record ___________ deals, ___________ holdings, and ___________.

    • To train scribes, priests set up ___________ in the temples.

      • Only ______, usually the sons of scribes, attended temple schools.

      • Students endured strict ___________ in order to earn a privileged position as a scribe.

      • Although no schools existed for girls, priestesses and the daughters of wealthy Sumerians probably learned to read and write from private ______.

The Sumerian Legacy

  • Sumerians were the first people known to use a ___________.

    • They either __________ it or borrowed the idea from earlier settlers in Mesopotamia.

    • Wheeled ___________ and the ___________, another Sumerian invention, enabled merchants to engage in long-distance ___________.

    • Sumerians also used wheels on ___________ ___________.

    • The use of wheeled vehicles ___________ slowly across the ancient world.

      • You will recall that the Hyksos used war chariots when they conquered ___________.

  • The Sumerians made many ___________ in farming.

    • They built complex ___________ systems to channel water through the sunbaked plains, planted trees to serve as ___________ breaks, and invented a ________.

  • They also developed an accurate 12-month ___________ to keep track of the ___________.


  • Like the Egyptians, the Sumerians used ___________ and ___________ to survey land and reestablish ___________ lines after floods swept away boundary markers.

    • The Sumerian system of arithmetic was based on the number ____, which led to such present-day measurements as the 60-second ___________, the 60-minute ___________, and the 360° ___________.

Sumerian Architecture

  • Sumerian architecture influenced the civilizations of Mesopotamia for more than a ___________ years.

    • The Sumerians were the first to use ___________, ___________, ___________, and ___________ walks.

    • Because stone was scarce, Sumerian builders used bricks made of sunbaked ____.

    • Later peoples built temples that rose in a series of terraces to heights of _____ or ___________ stories like the Sumerian ziggurat.

  • The Egyptians may have adopted the idea of ___________ from the Sumerians.

The Fall of the Sumerians

  • About 2500 B.C, ___________ conquered the city-states of Sumer.

    • Sumerian civilization ceased to exist about ___________ BCE, but its ___________ and ___________ left a lasting mark on the newcomers.

The First Empire

  • As older Sumerian city-states declined, __________, a city to the north, rose to power.

    • About 2350 BCE, Sargon, an Akkadian soldier, founded the first ___________ in recorded history.

    • With an empire reaching from ___________ Mesopotamia to the ___________ Sea, ___________ proclaimed himself "Lord of the Four Quarters of the World," a title used by many later ___________.

    • A talented ruler, Sargon repaired and extended the ___________ control and ___________ systems of Mesopotamia.

    • He also sent his armies to protect ___________ caravans.

The Akkadians

  • The Akkadians ___________ many things from Sumerian civilization.

    • Although the Akkadian ___________ differed from the Sumerian, the conquerors adopted ___________ for writing.

    • Scribes translated Sumerian ___________, ___________, and ___________ works into Akkadian.

    • As a result, the Akkadians ___________ Sumerian ___________ beliefs and ideas about ___________ and ___________.

    • Later Akkadian rulers lacked Sargon's abilities, and civil ________ resumed.

      • For a brief time, ___________, ruler of Ur, reunited the citystates.

      • About 2050 B.C, Ur-Nammu compiled the first known ___________.

      • This code summarized Sumerian ideas of ___________, emphasizing the king's duty to protect the people and to correct any existing ________.

The Amorites and the Rise of Babylon

  • About 2000 B.C, groups of ___________ peoples invaded Mesopotamia, attacking the rich river valley cities.

  • One group, the _________, built the small village of _________ on the Euphrates River.

  • Slowly, the small village rose from ___________ into a magnificent ___________ boasting of a giant ___________ dedicated to the chief Babylonian god, Marduk.

  • By 1700 B.C, the king of Babylon, ___________ had carved out an empire in Mesopotamia.

The Code of Hammurabi

  • ___________ was one of the great rulers of ancient times. He was an outstanding ___________, an excellent ___________, and a patron of the ___________.

  • In hundreds of surviving ___________, he shows concern for details such as ________ blocked river channels, ___________ dishonest officials, ___________ the calendar, and ___________ the gods.

  • However, he is best known for drawing up a uniform ___________.

  • Hammurabi appointed a ___________ to revise existing ___________ and to create one set of laws for the whole ___________.

  • His purpose, he declared, was:

" to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, and to further the welfare of the people."
An Eye For An Eye”

  • Although the resulting system of laws relied on earlier law codes, the ___________ of Hammurabi was the first effort by an empire to ___________ all its laws.

  • The code contained _______ laws arranged under headings such as ___________, ___________, ___________, ___________ and personal ___________.

  • The basic principle behind Hammurabi's Code was "_________________ and a _________________."

    • A man who blinded another was punished by losing an ___________.

    • If a house collapsed and killed the owner, the builder was put to ___________.

The Legacy of Hammurabi’s Code

  • Despite the ___________ of most punishments, Hammurabi's Code was an important ___________ to civilization.

    • It distinguished between ___________ and ___________ offenses, and it established the state as the ___________ that would enforce the law.

    • It also tried to guarantee ___________ ___________.

    • The ___________ was supposed to fit the ___________.

  • Hammurabi had the laws carved on a stone ___________, which was placed for everyone to see.

  • Atop the column sat ___________, the sun god and god of ___________, handing the laws to Hammurabi.

  • The god's ___________ reminded Babylonians that by breaking a law they not only offended the ___________ but also the ___________.

Beginning of the Iron Age

  • After Hammurabi's death, ____________ and ____________ weakened the Babylonian Empire.

  • In _______ BCE , it fell to invaders from the east.

  • About _________ BCE, another group of invaders, the ____________, moved into the Fertile Crescent from Asia Minor.

  • The ____________established by the Hittites eventually reached as far as the northern ____________Valley.

  • Hittite rulers adopted Babylonian ____________ and ideas about ____________ and ____________, which they carried back into Asia Minor.

The Hittites

  • The Hittites owed their ____________ success to careful ____________, ___________, _____________, and superior ____________.

  • Expert ____________, they were among the first people to use __________ for spears and battle axes.

    • Iron weapons gave the Hittites an ____________ over enemies armed with softer ____________ spears.

    • The Hittites carefully guarded the secret of ____________.

    • Even so, the new ____________ spread to other peoples.

    • By ______ BCE, iron was being used in place of bronze, ushering in the ____________.

  • The Hittites soon lost their ____________ advantage.

  • About the same time, a new onslaught of ____________ swept into Asia Minor and the Fertile Crescent, ____________ the Hittite Empire and the sophisticated ____________ civilizations of Mesopotamia.

The Assyrians

  • Among the peoples who invaded the Fertile Crescent after 1200 BCE, the most ____________ and ____________ were the Assyrians

    • The Assyrians were hardy ____________ who settled in the Tigris Valley, where they built a city state named after their chief god, ____________

    • Beginning about ________ B.C, the Assyrians conquered people after people until they had an empire that included the entire ____________ ____________ as well as ____________.

The Assyrians did not Mess Around…

  • The mighty Assyrian Empire depended on a highly ____________ army.

  • ____________ weapons, an excellent ____________, and iron-tipped ____________ rams carried the Assyrians from one victory to the next.

  • Once a city was conquered, the Assyrians showed no ____________.

"I cut off their heads and like heaps of grain, I piled them up,“ boasted one Assyrian ruler.

" I skinned alive all the chief men. Their young men and maidens I burned in the fire," wrote another.

  • When the Assyrians captured Babylon, about _________ B.C, they ____________ and ____________ prisoners, ____________ women and children, and reduced the city to ____________.

The Assyrian Empire

  • Assyrian government was as ____________ and ____________ as the Assyrian army.

  • The empire was divided into ____________, each ruled by a governor responsible to the king, who had ____________ power.

  • The Assyrians built roads to ____________ the movement of their army from the ____________ to the ____________.

  • They ____________ groups of troublesome people to remote parts of the empire, where they could not organize ____________.

  • One side effect of these forced ____________ was an exchange of ____________ among the conquered peoples of the Fertile Crescent.

The World’s First Library

  • With ____________ and ____________ collected from conquered peoples, the Assyrians built a capital at Nineveh

  • The Assyrian king Assurbanipal built a great ____________ at Nineveh.

  • In it, he stored a vast collection of over ____________ clay tablets written in the cuneiform of ____________ and ____________.

  • Although the Assyrians were despised as brutal conquerors, they made a lasting ____________ to civilization by ____________ and ____________ these invaluable records in the world's first ____________.

"I am Assurbanipal, King of the Universe, King of Assyria. I seized a fierce lion of the plain by his ears. I pierced his body with my lance.“ Thus, the ruthless Assyrian leader celebrated his hunting skill The lion hunt shown here was one of a series of sculptures that decorated Assurbanipals palace at Nineoeh.

Revival of Babylon

  • In ______ B.C, oppressed peoples within the Assyrian Empire joined the Medes and Chaldeans to capture and destroy Nine-veh.

  • The victors ____________ up the Assyrian Empire.

  • The Medes ____________ the highlands north of Mesopotamia, and the Chaldeans established an ____________ in Mesopotamia proper.

  • During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldeans extended their empire over the _______________.


  • Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt Babylon as a symbol of his ____________.

  • Massive ____________ surrounded the ____________ and the outlying ____________, protecting the food supply during a siege.

  • Nebuchadnezzar's ____________ palace, decorated with blue glazed bricks, was rivaled in splendor by the famous hanging gardens of ____________.

    • According to legend, Nebuchadnezzar designed the gardens for his ____________, who despised the flat plains of Mesopotamia and longed for the mountains of her Median homeland.

    • The many terraces filled with exotic ____________ and ____________ amazed travelers, who returned home awed by this ____________ of the ancient world.


  • Like earlier peoples of Mesopotamia, the Chaldeans advanced the study of ____________ and ____________, largely because of their interest in ____________.

  • They believed that the ____________ of the stars and planets and the movement of comets determined the ____________ of individuals and empires.

  • By ____________ the paths of planets, stars, and comets, Chaldean priests acquired a vast store of ____________ about eclipses and the movement of heavenly bodies.

  • They also accurately ____________ the length of a ____________ to within a few minutes.

  • Priests, who used their knowledge of the stars to predict the ____________, occupied a privileged position in Chaldean society.

The Death of Nebuchadnezzar

  • After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldean Empire, like those before it, suffered ____________.

  • In 539 B.C., Babylon fell to invading ____________.

  • Unlike the Assyrians, the Persians left the city ____________, and it remained a flourishing center of ____________ and ____________.

The Persians

  • The Persians rapidly became a powerful ____________ in the ancient Middle East.

  • In ________ B.C, Cyrus king of Persia, led a successful revolt against the Medes.

  • Within _____ years, he had conquered the Fertile Crescent and Asia Minor.

    • His successors added ____________, northern ____________, and ____________ to the Persian Empire

    • Cyrus was a remarkable ____________ leader and a wise ____________.

      • He treated conquered peoples with ____________, allowed them some ____________, and respected their ____________ and ____________.

Government within the Persian Empire

  • Cyrus's son-in-law, Darius completed the task of ____________ the vast Persian Empire.

    • Copying the Assyrian model, he divided the empire into 20 ____________, or ____________.

    • Each satrapy was ruled by a ____________, or satrap, who collected ____________ and administered uniform ____________.

    • As a check on the satrap, Darius sent royal ____________, called "the Eyes and Ears of the King," into every province.

  • To ensure rapid communication, the Persians improved the Assyrian ____________ system.

  • The main ____________, the Great Royal Road, stretched from Asia Minor to Susa, one of the four capitals of the empire.

  • Relay ____________ with fresh horses were set up along the Great Royal Road so that royal ____________ could cover 1,600 miles (2,560 kilometers) in ______ days.

The Fall of The Persian Empire

  • The efficient ____________ and ____________ system, as well as ____________ and the policy of ____________, helped draw the empire together.

    • Yet Persian power did not go unchallenged

    • Darius and his heirs failed to conquer ____________.

    • In 331 B.C, a weakened Persian Empire fell to the armies of ____________ the Great.

Religion Within the Persian Empire

  • Although the early Persians believed in many gods, by the time of Darius they had adopted a new religion named after its founder, ____________

    • According to Zoroaster, who lived about 600 B.C, the world was a battleground for the forces of ____________ and ____________.

      • Every individual made a ____________ in his or her lifetime to join Ahura Mazda, god of goodness, wisdom, and truth, or to follow Ahriman, the evil spirit.

      • Zoroaster predicted that at the end of the world Ahura Mazda would win the final ____________.

      • Those who had lived moral lives would be rewarded with ____________ life in ____________.

      • Those who had followed Ahriman would be ____________ to eternal ____________.

Zend Avesta

  • The sacred ____________ of Zoroastrians was the Zend Avesta

  • This collection of ____________ and religious ____________ contained several ideas that influenced later peoples of the Fertile Crescent.

    • For example, Zoroastrians emphasized ____________, or ____________, conduct.

    • They also believed in a final day of ____________ and in the role of the individual in determining his or her ____________.

    • Later, ____________ and ____________ stressed similar concepts.

The Contributions of Smaller States

  • While the great empires of the ancient Middle East were expanding through conquest, several small, ____________ states were also making lasting contributions.

  • Between 1200 B.C. and 500 B.C, the ____________, ____________, and ____________ made advances in the areas of writing, trade, and religion.

Phoenicians: Carriers of Civilization

  • The Phoenicians built small ____________ along the eastern Mediterranean coast, in the area of present-day Lebanon.

  • They thrived on profits from ____________.

    • To cities around the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians brought ____________ from cedar trees and a rare purple ____________ made from a tiny sea snail.

      • Because Phoenician purple cloth was very expensive and was worn mostly by ____________, the color purple came to be associated with royalty.

Phoenician Colonies

  • From the bustling port cities of Tyre and Sidon, Phoenician ____________ crisscrossed the Mediterranean.

  • Beginning about 1200 B.C, they founded a network of ____________ from Cyprus to Gibraltar.

  • About 814 B.C, they settled Carthage in northern Africa.

  • Carthage dominated trade in the western Mediterranean until 146 B.C, when it was destroyed by the ____________

Carriers of Civilization

  • The Phoenicians earned the name " ____________ ____________ " for their role in spreading the ____________ of the ancient world.

    • Through ____________ and ____________, they introduced the achievements of Mesopotamia and Egypt to the less-advanced peoples of the western Mediterranean.

  • They also made their own contribution by improving the ____________.

    • The Phoenician alphabet contained _______ symbols, each of which represented a single ____________.

    • Unlike cuneiform and the Egyptian system of writing, the new alphabet was fairly ____________ to learn

The Origins of the Alphabet

  • Phoenician ____________ and ____________ spread the use of their alphabet.

  • About 800 B.C, the Greeks adopted it and added symbols for ____________ sounds.

  • Later, the Romans adapted the Greek alphabet, and they passed the resulting written language on to the ____________ world.

The very word "alphabet" comes from "aleph" and "beth," the first two symbols of the Phoenician alphabet.

The Lydians: Influential Traders

  • Like the Phoenicians, the Lydians left their mark on history through ____________ rather than ____________.

  • From their capital, Sardis, the Lydians dominated trade in Asia Minor.

  • The most significant contribution of the Lydians was the introduction of coined ____________ as a medium of exchange in trade.

    • Earlier, people had relied on the ____________ system, exchanging one set of goods for another.

    • The barter system limited trade because two people could trade with one another only if each had a ____________ the other one wanted.

      • The use of ____________ eliminated that problem.

    • Furthermore, coins could be ____________ and ____________ for later use, and they allowed merchants to establish a system of set ____________.

    • An economic system based on money rather than barter is called a ____________ ____________.

The Spread of Money

  • Through _____________ with the Greeks and Persians, Lydian merchants spread the idea of using coined money.

  • Lydian _________________ were imprinted with the king's image as a guarantee that they were the correct ____________ and ____________.

  • Wherever coinage came into use, a more ______________ economic system developed

The Hebrews

  • South of Phoenicia was _____________, another crossroads for nomadic herders and conquering armies.

  • Among the many peoples who migrated into the _____________ River valley of Palestine after 2000 B.C. were the _____________.

  • Although the Hebrews ruled a small _____________ for a relatively brief period, their _____________ beliefs profoundly affected later civilizations in the ________ world.

Early History

  • The Hebrews believed that ________ was the moving force behind everything that happened to them.

  • To show God's role in history, they preserved their early history in a sacred text, known today as the ______________________.

  • According to the Old Testament, God gave Canaan, or Palestine, to the ____________.

  • About 1800 B.C, drought and famine forced some Hebrews to ____________ to Egypt, where the pharaohs eventually ____________ them.

  • The Old Testament book of Exodus records how a courageous man named ____________ forced the pharaoh to free the Hebrews.


  • The Hebrews considered Moses one of their most important ____________ and their chief law giver.

  • After leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, Moses gave them the Ten ____________, a set of religious and moral ____________.

    • The Hebrews believed that God had revealed the laws to Moses and had thereby made a ____________, or binding agreement, with them.

    • According to that covenant, God would protect the Hebrews as the " ____________ ____________ " if they obeyed the commandments

  • _____________ to God's laws bound the Hebrews together as they ____________ from Egypt, across the Sinai, into Palestine.

  • Hardened by life in the desert, they ____________ the Philistines and other peoples for control of the Jordan River valley.

  • About 1025 B.C, the Hebrews organized the kingdom of ____________ in Palestine.

The Kingdom of Israel

  • During the reigns of _____________ and _____________, from about 1000 to 930 B.C, the kingdom of _____________ flourished.

  • A successful _____________ and skillful _____________, David decisively defeated the _____________ and forged _____________ with other peoples to make the Hebrews supreme in Palestine.

  • David's son _____________ transformed the city of _____________ into a magnificent _____________.

  • In the center of Jerusalem, he built a massive______ that symbolized the Hebrew faith.

King Soloman

  • Solomon's lavish spending required heavy ________, which caused popular ________.

  • After Solomon died, in ______ BCE, violent disagreements _________ the kingdom into two separate states:

    • _____________ in the north

    • _____________ in the south.

  • Powerful _____________ soon threatened the _____________ kingdoms.

    • In 722 B.C, the _____________ conquered Israel and _____________ thousands of Hebrews to distant corners of their empire.

    • In 586 B.C, _____________ seized _____________, destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, and sent the Hebrews as slaves to _____________.

  • The _____________ later freed the Hebrews from _____________.

  • Some of the Hebrews returned to _____________ and rebuilt their temple.

  • However, Israel no longer existed as an _____________ state.

  • The _________, then the ___________, and later the ___________ ruled Palestine.

  • Although they no longer had their own state, the Hebrews ___________ their religious ideas and _______ traditions because of the ______ they believed they had with God.

  • Many of these ideas would _____________ two other religions that later rose in the Middle East— _____________ and _____________.

An Ethical World View

  • Unlike other peoples of the ancient Middle East, the Hebrews were monotheistic.

  • They believed in one all-powerful God, called Yahweh.

  • But their view of God changed over time. To the early Hebrews, God was a fierce, vengeful figure who inflicted harsh punishments if angered.

  • Later, the Hebrews came to see God as wise and forgiving.

Hebrew Law

  • The Hebrews developed an ethical world view—that is, they believed that people and their rulers should lead moral lives.

  • This view grew out of the moral and religious laws recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament, which are called the Torah.

  • Among the most important laws of the Torah are the Ten Commandments, which forbid lying, cheating, stealing, and murder.

  • The commandments also counsel men and women to be just, love their neighbors, and obey their parents.

No one was Above the Law

  • According to the Hebrews, no one was above God's law, not even a king.

  • A Hebrew king was not considered a god or the earthly representative of gods as kings were in other cultures of the ancient Middle East.

  • Hebrew laws, as expressed in the Torah, have been compared to Hammurabi's Code since both law codes contained the principle of "an eye for an eye."

  • However, Hammurabi's laws, which set the death penalty for many minor offenses, were more severe.

  • Hebrew law generally held human life in greater respect, leaving the ultimate judgment and punishment to God.

  • Furthermore, while slavery was an accepted practice in the ancient world, Hebrew law demanded that slaves be treated with kindness.

Men and Women

  • Women had few rights under Hebrew law, but respect for women was taught in the commandment:

"honor thy father and thy mother.“

  • In addition, the Hebrews honored certain outstanding women, such as the prophet Deborah, who, according to the Old Testament, led the Hebrews to a victory against their enemies in Palestine.


  • Prophets contributed to the Hebrews' ethical world view.

  • The Hebrews believed that the prophets were messengers God sent to reveal His will.

  • Prophets scolded the Hebrews for wickedness, laziness, and worshipping other gods.

  • The prophet Isaiah for example, called on the king and people of Judah to:

"cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, relieve theoppressed, judge [look after] the fatherless, plead for the widow."

  • Out of the teachings of the prophets, the Hebrews developed strong traditions that stressed respect for the individual, concern for the poor, and obedience to God's laws.

The First Ethical World View

  • Some Hebrew beliefs were similar to the beliefs of other peoples in the ancient Middle East.

  • Like the Zoroastrians, for example, they believed that individuals had to make a choice between good and evil.

  • However, the Hebrews were the first people to develop an ethical world view, which included the basic principles of belief in one God and concern for individuals.

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