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Knowing about and understanding the past (how we got here) can help us to influence the future. The article Outline of a Secular Narrative of Jewish History By Robert Wolfe, also in my blog, is a relatively brief and very secular version of the 3.500+ year history of the Jews.

Is it accurate and complete? Probably not! However, it seems to me to be a good place for me to start to learn more from those here. So I urge you all to tell us here if your information or assessment is different, or to just ask related questions.

I am aware that a secular discussion like this may offend those of deep faith. I hope that it does not. If it does offend, then I will delete this discusion. Eyal can delete it unilaterally. I will delete it if three or more people ask me do so publicly or privately.

Here is my brief summary of what I see as the essence of the original article:

The key to a durable secular narrative of Jewish history is a correct understanding of the origins of the Hebrews. The main reason for the power and appeal of the religious narrative is that it answers the question: why is the history of the Jewish People so unusual or even unique? Why have two religions, Christianity and Islam, that dominate a large part of the world, been derived from Judaism? Why have the Jewish People been so persecuted and oppressed?...

As some Biblical scholars have recognized, at least in part, there exists a mass of evidence unearthed in the past century showing that the Hebrews were members of a social class called "Habiru" or "Apiru"...

A realistic summary of Hebrew origins would run somewhat as follows. Following the defeat of the Canaanite rebellion against Egyptian rule in the 14th century BCE, some Habiru were carried away to Egypt as slaves, while others remained as armed bands in Canaan. ... The Habiru tribes accepted the myth of common descent from Abraham as a basis for their new identity as a band of brothers. They adopted laws and rituals reflecting their origin as runaway slaves, and these laws and rituals set them apart from other nations whose culture was more dominated by wealth and privilege...

Jewish history begins at the point towards the end of the 11th century BCE when the Hebrew tribes united behind the leadership of the tribe of Judah and accepted the institution of a monarchy headed by King David. The word "Jewish" is derived from the word "Yehudah", meaning "Judah" in Hebrew. ...

A brief summary of the main phases of Jewish history from the time of David to the present would look as follows:

  1. The era of the monarchy of Judah ...
  2. The period of foreign rule ...
  3. The Messianic era ...
  4. The era of the expansion of the Middle Eastern Diaspora ...
  5. The Judeo-Islamic period ...
  6. The era of segregation and persecution ...
  7. The era of revival and stabilization ...
  8. The modern era ...

There remains the question of what lessons can be learned from a secular narrative of Jewish history. The following points stand out:

  1. The main cause of both the persecution which the Jewish People has suffered and the powerful influence on world history which we have exerted is the radical strand in Jewish tradition deriving from the origin of the Hebrews as runaway slaves. ...
  2. Assimilation of the Jewish Messianic ideal into world culture was greatly facilitated by the presence of the conservative, monarchical strand in Jewish tradition, most clearly symbolized by the Jewish concept of God. ...
  3. For the past three thousand years, the driving force of Jewish history has been the effort to preserve or reconstitute a Jewish state on the territory of the land of Israel. This effort led to the formation of the Jewish People as a religious community, to a long series of wars and Messianic movements, to the rabbinic ideology of Kabbalah and eventually to the emergence of modern Zionism and the birth of the secular, democratic state of Israel ...

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I'm not sure where this is coming from when a simple Google search uncovers so many sources for non-Biblical archeological evidence of ancient Israel. This site, for example, takes Israeli history back, archeologically, to 1500BC. Where in the world would such a silly suggestion have come from? There are oodles of sources.

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