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Old March 21st, 2012, 03:49 PM   #1

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Where did the Jews originate?

So the first time I hear about the jews in history is in the stories about Moses. But where did those Jews come from? Were they normal Egyptians who just turned to Jewish faith?

And when was the first mention of Jews in history?
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Old March 21st, 2012, 04:00 PM   #2

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Depends on whether you want to take the Jews' word on it.

The Tanakh has their ultimate ancestor being Avraham, who would have been a Sumerian or Akkadian by modern terminology. His descendants left Sumer (from the vicinity of Ur) and alternated between living in Canaan and Egypt. Their last stay in Egypt consisted of 400+ years of slavery, until the time of Moshe.

Most historians who are skeptical of the Biblical version theorize they were just a bunch of nomadic shepherds and raiders out of what is now northwestern Saudi Arabia, who may or may not have had a stay in Egypt.

There have been some (IMO, unimpressive) attempts to link them with the Hyksos.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 04:08 PM   #3

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Ok, so the Jewish faith was born in the same way as many nature religions?
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Old March 21st, 2012, 04:46 PM   #4

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Old March 21st, 2012, 08:56 PM   #5

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Well the Jews were a nation before entering Egypt, so they had to be from one specific place and had a common language and cultural identity. Perhaps an understanding of the path the Jews took to get to Egypt would help.

The Jews went to Egypt through the land of Canaan, a region roughly extending from Suez to Sidon, with the Jordan river valley as the eastern border.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 06:11 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by Mandate of Heaven View Post
Habiru or Apiru, were a group of communities, nomad and semi-nomad, moving between Sumer to Egypt. They are actually good candidates for the origin of the Jews before of the migration to the land of the Nile.

It's "Israel" to appear in history before of the term "Jew", indicating that a community was there, enough important to be mentioned by a Pharaoh among his successes during a campaign [see the famous Merneptah stela, V year of his kingdom, around 1220 BCE]. Note that "Israel" was already in Canaan.

From where did they come?

From Egypt? - Traditional version.
From Canaan? - Some archaeologists tend to prefer this version.

Actually from that region [Canaan - Egypt], this is my opinion.

When "Israel" migrated west to KmT [Egypt] they left "relative" populations in Canaan, other Semitic groups [this could be valid also for Hyksos], so that when they went back to Canaan they rejoined local communities.

And the first origin?

Now, a part the tradition [which indicates Sumer], archaeology can say only that the Semitic Habiru were present in a wide region in Middle East, from Sumer to Egypt.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 08:00 AM   #7

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The question is first, what do you mean with "Jews". Do you ask for the religion or asking for the origins of Hebrews or of Juda and Israel?
Ysrir is mentioned on the merenptah stele from circa 1200. Israel itselfs appeared again under the house of Omri in the inscriptions.
The problem with Ysrir is, that it is not sure whether this means Israel or exactly the people Israel or not e.g. the people in the Jezreel valley or somebody else.
The apiru appear in the sources for the first time in Mesopotamia in the 19th century. But the term is not used for an ethnic group, but for nomads, robbers, slaves. Mitanni sources locate them in Canaan in the 15th century.
Egyptian sources locate them as well west of Egypt and connects them often with the shasu. Canaanite sources mentio the Apiru as well. as it seems are they looting people from the desert regions outside Canaan.

The shasu are often connected with the apiru. There exist the shasu from Edom, ʒśw n jdwm, and the shasu Yhw, from the 14th and 13th century. Both is close to JHW and Juda.

Hebrews appear in the Exodus. But new research has shown, that the pentateuch was written between 700 and 400. So it is questionable, in how far the Hebrews of the bible are really the apiru of the inscriptions.

The Jews are usually descriped as henotheists or monotheists. We can't be sure about this. A hethite source mentioned Hapiri gods in the 14th century. Besides JHW/JHWH appears El and Astarte/Aschera seemed to be worshiped as well. Perhaps the original israelite pantheon was not very different from those of the neighbours. When the jews became henotheistic/monotheistic is not clear. A major step was probably made unde Joshija in the 7th century. Another important step was the babylonian exile. perhaps here finally JHWH became the only god to be worshiped.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 09:34 AM   #8

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Wasnt there 12 tribes of Israel? are the jews your talking about from only one of these tribes? and what of the other 11, or is this all later on in history?
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 02:42 PM   #9

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Originally Posted by bartieboy View Post
Ok, so the Jewish faith was born in the same way as many nature religions?
Yes, Yahweh, the original jewish god as he was originally concepted was a typical warrior nomad god. What is interesting is that this tradition was well preserved even when the Jews themselves became more urbanised.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 03:13 PM   #10

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This thread may be enlightening to those posting here.

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