Israel history timeline is a long and arduous road towards independence. It is one in which the series of events that transpired from Biblical events down to modern history had shaped its people into what they are now.
Before we dive into a more detailed analysis, let’s step back a bit and go through a brief overview of Israel.
Originally referred to as Eretz Yisrael, Israel is a country situated in the Western part of Asia. It shares a border with Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan on the northeast, north, west, and east sides. While some question the legality of Israel as a sovereign state, it is geographically organized into six central administrative districts (also known as mehozot) and fifteen sub-districts (also known as nafot) that further split into regional councils, municipalities, and cities.
These districts, cities, municipalities, and councils are home to over 9 million people. According to United Nations Population Data, this places Israel in the 100th spot of countries with the highest population.
The country prides itself on having the most number of trees worldwide. It is also number one in terms of publishing the highest number of scientific and academic articles annually.
In popular culture and travel, it has Red Star, the only underwater restaurant in the world.
The restaurant serves traditional Middle Eastern cocktails and meals, however, no other country has shaped the global political, economic, and religious landscape.
For a tiny country, Israel’s journey as a people has had a tremendous impact in the world than most countries. Starting from Abraham’s days to the days of Jacob, Israel’s history is such an influence bar none.
History of Israel | Timeline
In this article, we will divide the list of significant events in Israel in two ways:
- We will look into the origins of the people of Israel from a Biblical standpoint.
- We will discuss the post-Biblical events that shaped the history and creation of Israel.
– Biblical History of Israel
We can trace the Biblical history of Israel back to Abraham the Patriarch, as explained in the Book of Genesis, and from where Israel originated [the origination of Israel story]. In Genesis Chapter 12, Abram, 75, a man from the nomadic tribe of Ur, was called upon by the Jewish God to leave his land, family, and belongings and go to Canaan, the promised land.
In Chapter 17, Yahweh said that from now on, Abram would be called Abraham, which means “father of multitudes.” This pronouncement confused Abraham as he is very old. He told his wife Sarah about what Yahweh told him, and she laughed at God’s promise. Sarah was too old to bear and give birth to a child.
Even before Yahweh’s promised heir, Abraham bedded his Egyptian slave-girl Hagar who gave birth to Ishmael. [Scholars say Ishmael is the root from which the word Islam was based.]
In Genesis Chapter 21, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son whom Abraham named Isaac.
Many years have passed, and Isaac has grown into a man. He married Rebekah and gave birth to twin brothers Esau and Jacob. As it is common in old Jewish traditions, conflicts among kins are present. Jacob cheated Esau for his birthright, and the latter wanted to kill him. His father also wanted to marry him off to a Canaanite woman, and Jacob was against it. So, Jacob ran away from home and went to his uncle Laban. It is here where Jacob married two women who later on gave birth to 12 children.
After serving Laban for some years, he left and headed to Palestine. On his way, he encountered an angel of God. Jacob wrestled with the holy being, hoping to get the Holy High’s blessing. They wrestled until sundown, and when the angel realized Jacob would not give up, he broke one of Jacob’s ribs, blessed him, and called him “Israel,” which translates to “the one who wrestled with God.”
The name Israel stuck with Jacob and his 12 sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, and Joseph, are referred to as the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament. These 12 tribes later served as the foundation of the Kingdom of Israel.
One famous story among the 12 brothers is Joseph’s narrative, the 11th son of Jacob, being sold to Egypt. Joseph is the favorite of Jacob, and his brothers became jealous. Jacob has a gift of dream interpretation, and it came in handy during his stay in Egypt.
He interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream giving insight into what will happen to Egypt in the future. It was because of his dream interpretation that allowed the Pharaoh and the rest of Egypt to plan and stave off calamities. The Pharaoh rewarded Joseph. Such reward trickled down to Jacob’s other children when they suffered from famine and had to go to Egypt to beg for food and supplies.
Joseph welcomed his brothers openly and forgave them. It is at this point in which the tribes of Israel found a new home in Egypt.
However, when Joseph and Jacob died, their sons and lineage suffered from the succeeding Egyptian leadership’s hands. They were subjected to slave labor building Egyptian architecture for hundreds of years.
It was during this period that Israel’s history became even more interesting. Moses, whose name means “saved by the waters,” was the son of Amran and Jochebed, two Jewish slaves of the Egyptian empire. They saved Moses from the wrath of the Pharaoh, who ordered the killing of firstborn Jewish children. There was a prophecy when the eldest Jewish son would lead a slave revolt and overthrow the Egyptian leadership.
Moses was set adrift in the River Nile, and Bithya, the Pharaoh’s daughter, saved the child. She kept Moses as her own. Moses grew up as one of the princes of Egypt. He became a close and dear friend of Ramses II, the heir to the Egyptian throne.
Later, Moses discovered the truth about his background and left Egypt to be with his people. During this period, the God of Abraham talked to him in one of his treks to Mount Sinai. Yahweh told Moses that he would be instrumental in setting the Jewish people free from Egyptian slavery.
Below is a brief timeline of the Biblical history of ancient Israel:
- 1300 B.C. – Moses led Israel’s children out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and through the desert for 40 years before reaching the promised land.
- 1250 B.C. – Under Joshua’s leadership, they conquered and took over Canaan – the promised land.
- 1000 B.C. to 970 B.C. – The period of kings, most especially the first King of Israel, Saul, and King David’s history.
- 965 B.C. to 931 B.C. – This period took place after the death of King Solomon when Israel became a nation divided into two – Judah to the south and the Kingdom of Israel in the north
- 722 B.C. – Assyria attacked and conquered Israel, which later led to the exile of the ten tribes.
- 586 B.C. – King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon went after Judah. He conquered Judah and took many Israelites as slaves. They also destroyed the First Temple that Solomon built.
- 538 B.C. to 333 B.C. – The Persians, in turn, conquered Babylon and set the people of Israel free to return to their land. The surviving children of Israel got back home. They proceeded to build the Second Temple in the city of Jerusalem.
- 333 B.C. – Israel was recaptured again, this time by Alexander the Great of Greece. He captured them with the help of Egypt and Persia.
- 167 B.C. – The Maccabean revolt happened, setting the Israelites free from Alexander the Great’s bondage.
- 63 B.C. to 37 B.C. – The period between when Pompey of Rome conquered Israel and when Herod became the first King of Israel in the city of Rome.
- 20 A.D. to 30 A.D. – The start of Jesus’ story and his ministry, including his passion, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension.
– Post-Biblical History of Israel
- 60 A.D. to 73 A.D. – The Romans destroyed the second temple. It was in this period the Israelites rebelled against the Roman Empire but were defeated at Masada.
- 132 A.D. – The Israelites revolted against Rome the second time.
- 200 A.D. to 390 A.D. – The codification of the oral laws and traditions of the Israelites commenced and completed.
- 615 A.D. – Jerusalem, the city of the Israelites, was invaded and captured by the Persians.
- 629 A.D. to 1517 – This was the period when Jerusalem became the target of so many people. The city and its residents captured by the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim Force, Seljuk Turks, the Crusaders, Saladin of Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire.
– Israel History in Modern Days
- 1914 to 1918 – World War 1 began at this period while the Israelites were still under the Ottoman Empire’s rule. And by the end of World War 1 in 1918, Britain took over from the Ottoman Empire and began to rule what was now known as the Palestine Mandate (this consists of Israel, Jordan, and Palestine).
- 1922 –The Balfour Declaration’s approval, a statement drafted by the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, called for establishing a national home for Israelites in Palestine. The declaration aimed to secure the allegiance and support of the Jewish people during World War I. However, the idea of having the Jews own their homeland didn’t go down well with the Arabs. Palestinians opposed this move because they believe that once the Jews are allowed to make Palestine their home, they will subdue the Palestinian-Arabs.
- 1939 to 1945 – The start and end of World War II. It was during this period hundreds of thousands of Jews suffered and died in Nazi Germany concentration camps.
- 1947 – Palestine was partitioned into different Arab and Israeli states was recommended by the U.N., such that the United Nations would have control over Jerusalem.
- 1948 – Israel became the newest member of the United Nations after gaining independence from British rule. David Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister of the Independent Country of Israel.
– Post-Independence in Israel History
- 1948 to 1949 – Shortly after Israel’s independence, a joint army of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Arab, and Egypt attacked Israel. Israel won the war, leaving over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fleeing from Arab states. Israel went ahead to hold her first Israeli Assembly in 1949.
- 1954 – Moshe Sharett becomes the Prime Minister of Israel.
- 1956 to 1957 – A coalition of France, Israel, and Britain invaded Egypt in what was known as the Suez Crisis. This invasion was to put an end to the Palestinians’ attack on Israel via Gaza and Sinai. Another reason for the invasion was the Suez Canal re-opening so that Israelites would enjoy seamless shipping.
- 1963 – Levi Eshkol became the Prime Minister of Israel.
- 1967 – A six-day war happened between Israel and some Arab nations: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. Israel also won this war, and she won control over Sinai, Gaza, West Bank, and Golan Heights.
- 1969 – This was the year that Israel had its first female Prime Minister, in the person of Golda Meir.
- 1972 – The year of the infamous “Black September” in which Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the Munich Olympics in Germany and murdered nine Israeli athletes.
- 1973 – On the Holy day of Yom Kippur in October of that year, Syria and Egypt came together to invade Israel. Although Israel won the war, and she suffered a significant loss too.
- 1979 – This was when Egypt and Israel signed a treaty in the United States of America, particularly at Camp David.
- 1980 to 1991 – Between the duration of these years, the Shekel replaced the Israeli Lira as its official currency. Also, during this period, the Gulf war happened. During the war, 42 Scud missiles were fired at Israel by Iraq for no good reason. Fortunately for Iraq, Israel didn’t respond to the shooting. Hence she wasn’t dragged into the war.
- 2009 – Israel elected another Prime Minister, whose name was Benjamin Netanyahu. In that same year, it was discovered that Israel has massive deposits of offshore natural gas.
- 2010 – The relationship between Turkey and Israel threatens to break finally as 9 Turkish activists (Pro-Palestinian) were killed while Israelis tried to remove the Gaza blockade.
- 2010 – The Palestinian Authority and Israel resume direct peace talks, encourage an excellent social, and most importantly, a good economic relationship between both nations. The talks didn’t end well at that time.
- 2013 – This year saw the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, bringing on secular and centrist parties into government in place of religious Israel groups. In that same year, Palestinian Authority and Israel continued their peace talks for a few months. They finally agreed to pump water from the Red Sea into the Dead Sea in December of that year. This decision was taken to make sure that the Dead Sea doesn’t run out of water.
- 2015 – An Israeli couple was murdered in a car in West Bank by alleged Palestinian Arabs. It seems that the Dead Sea/Red Sea was the only agreement that the Palestinian Arabs want to have with the Israelis. The agreement didn’t cover meaningless killings and car rammings. Israel experienced a lot of car-rammings and killings in that year.
- 2016 – Concerning Turkey and Israel’s clash in 2010, both nations reached a consensus and normalized their relationship.
- 2017 – After securing the West Bank for over 20 years, the Israeli Parliament passes the law that legalized the building of twelve Jewish settlements on the West Bank. In the same year, work started on the West Bank.
- 2017 – President Donald Trump announced Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. He instructed that the American Embassy be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But this announcement and recognition of Jerusalem didn’t bode well with the Arab world.
- 2018 – The American Embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this year. This led to fights and protests in which over 58 Palestinians were killed, and over 2,700 were injured. In the same year, the Israeli Parliament passed a law that characterized the country majorly as a Jewish state. It made the Hebrew Language the Official Israel language.
- 2019 – The United States of America legalized the Israeli settlements on West Bank. In the same year, President Donald Trump also recognized Israel’s rule over Golan Heights; Golan Heights was one of Israel’s lands forcefully collected from Syria during the 6-day war in the year 1967. But it happened that contrary to what President Trump said, the international community didn’t recognize Israel’s rule over Golan Heights. In the same year, President Benjamin Netanyahu was accused and formally charged with fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. He was required to give up the ministerial portfolios under his management. He was left alone with his position as the Prime Minister of Israel.
- 2020 – Israel established a diplomatic relationship with the United Arab Emirates. This makes the UAE the first nation amongst the Gulf states to ever agree with Israel. Following suit, Bahrain also established an agreement with Israel to normalize their relationship. The reason for this was to boost stability, prosperity, and security between both nations and their regions.
Before we round off this article, here is a brief recap of what we discussed in the article;
- Israel is an Independent State that features 15 sub-districts and six administrative districts.
- Israel has the only underwater restaurant in the world.
- Israel’s origin and history date as far back as the Biblical Abraham’s days who birthed Isaac. Isaac also birthed Esau and Jacob.
- Jacob was renamed Israel by God, and his 12 children became the 12 tribes of Israel.
- The history timeline of Israel starts from when the children of Israel left Egypt through Moses’ leadership.
- And from there on to date, Israel’s history features many battles and conflicts with its surrounding nations.
- Israel became an Independent State in the year 1948 and has been established as a nation in the United Nations.
What started as a peaceful journey – beginning from Abraham’s journey – was marred by struggles, invasions, and conflicts. From the time the people of Israel left Egypt for the promised land to this day, Israel’s history is a narrative worth telling and studying.