Talking about Tradition: What Happened When, and How Did It Shape Our History?

Sofer Torah Writing

The People’s Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present by James Trager is truly an amazing 1,206-page book (which is unfortunately out of print). The book, published in 1979, details everything imaginable from 3 million BC through 1991 just before it was reprinted. Technology, religions, customs, literature, architecture, population, exploration and science are just some of the areas covered. The book expands what we learn from the Bible by explaining what else was going on worldwide during these times. Here are some excerpts:

3 million B.C.E. – An upright-walking ape-man, with a female counterpart, appears on the Earth. (Do we really know what Adam and Eve looked like? Maybe it was like the fossils found in Ethiopia, or maybe a later species.)

75,000 B.C.E- Neanderthal man can hunt, and has speech unlike other animals.

38,000 B.C.E. – Homo Sapiens emerge from Neanderthal man. They will split into 6 major divisions: Negroids, Mongoloids, Caucasoids, Australoids, Amerindians and Polynesians.

13,600 B.C.E. – A great flood covers much of the earth after a sudden rise in sea levels from a glacier melt. (Tsunami?)

9000 B.C.E. – The New Stone Age begins in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

7700 B.C.E. – The “Fertile Crescent” from the Persian Gulf to the Tigris-Euphrates River to the Eastern Mediterranean and then north to Nile Valley is mostly desert (and our Biblical lands)

7200 B.C.E. – Population in Middle-East will continue to increase in next 2 millennia and permanent camps are set up. (Small tribes grow as families increase as the Bible mentions.)

7000 B.C.E. – The Jordanian town of Jericho, which is 840 feet above sea level, has a population of about 2500. The city will be walled to protect it from attack.

3760 B.C.E. – This is the year of Creation according to Hebrew Calendar that will be used from 15th century CE. (Maybe our ancient ancestors needed Trager’s book to clarify our chronology!)

3500 B.C.E. – Sumerian society in Tigres-Euphrates areas is the beggining of human civilization. Tribespeople are ruled by priests (as mentioned in the Bible).

3000 B.C.E. – “Gilgamesh” in Sumerian cuneiform is first known written legend.

2980 B.C.E. – Egyptian dynasties of next centuries build pyramids and increase sea trade by building large ships. Forced servitude for 100,000 laborers helps with these achievements. (Were our ancestors among these?)

2000 B.C.E. – Decimal notation appears in Babylonia; Sumer is no longer a dominant power.

1950 B.C.E. – Babylon’s sixth king, Hammurabi, conquers all of Mesopotamia and composes a code of Laws.

1900 B.C.E. – Stonehenge is erected sometime in the next 3 centuries by Bronze Age Britons, possibly a way to chart course of the sun, moon and planets.

1849 B.C.E. – Egypt’s Sesostris III dies after a 38-year reign where he has invaded Palestine and Syria to maintain Egyptian trade routes. (Egypt’s leaders never serve very long. They either die naturally, in battle, or are murdered by family members who claim the throne.)

1700 B.C.E. – Judaism is founded by Abraham, a prince of Ur in Mesopotamia, who moves to Canaan and attracts many followers in the Middle East.

1650 B.C.E. – The Jewish people founded by Abraham has carried on through his son Isaac, grandson Jacob and Jacob’s 12 sons who will become tribes of Israel.

1500 B.C.E. – Geometry helps Egyptians survey land boundaries.

1300 B.C.E. – A canal completed by slaves in Egypt will connect the Nile to the Red Sea. (I wonder who the slaves were.)

1275 B.C.E. – The Israelites will begin their 40-year migration after 3 centuries of Egyptian oppression. The prophet Moses and his brother Aaron lead tribesmen out of Egypt towards Dead Sea in Canaan on a round-a-bout journey that will go through the Sinai, Kadesh, Aelana and Petra. These wandering Jews will survive at one time on “manna” (and Hashem’s blessings).

1237 B.C.E. – Rameses II of Egypt dies. He used forced labor to build the stone cities of Pithom and Rameses (and possibly the Pyramids, Nile canal and so much more).

1200 B.C.E. – Jews living in Lower Egypt are expelled.

1170 B.C.E. – The first recorded labor strike occurs in Egypt when payroll is delayed and workers revolt (no longer Jewish slaves who get beaten if they refuse to work).

1,141 B.C.E. – Israelite forces lose thousands while fighting the Philistines.
-Israelites’ Ark of the Covenant is carried to Ashdod by the Philistines, and a plague breaks out among them. They return the Ark to Joshua, the Bethshemite, in order to end the plague but when 70 Bethshemite’s look into the Ark, they too die and the plague spreads to Israel. (The Ark holds the tablets Moses received from G-d and are holy. Only those worthy can look upon them.)

1025 B.C.E. The Prophet Samuel will appoint Saul as king of Hebron. He will rule until 1012 BC.

1012 B.C.E. – The Battle of the Mount of Gilboa ends in defeat for Saul and his son Jonathan. The Philistines win. David, a friend of Jonathan’s, becomes king.

1005 B.C.E. – Jerusalem falls to King David, breaking the power of the Philistines and defeating the Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites (who are no longer civilizations).

900 B.C.E. – Avshalom, third (and favorite) son of David, kills his half-brother, Amnon, for raping his sister Tamar. David banishes Avshalom from the kingdom.

978 B.C.E. – Avshalom regains David’s favor through David’s nephew, Joab, but then on advice of advisor, Ahithopel, starts a rebellion. Joab stops the rebellion and kills Avshalom.

961 B.C.E. – Judea’s King David dies and is succeeded by his son, Solomon, who will reign until 922. Solomon is David’s son by his second wife, Batsheva.
-Solomon executes Joab for killing his brother Abshalom.
-Solomon makes alliances with Egypt’s ruling priests and with Phoenician King Hiram.
-Solomon’s fleet sails the Red Sea trading Judean products at Tyre, Sidon and in Africa and Arabia where he starts to mine gold.
-The Great Temple of Jerusalem, to hold the sacred Ark, goes up on the Jebusite stronghold captured by David.
-Solomon will build a new royal palace and city wall around Jerusalem. He will introduce taxation to finance his projects.

950 B.C.E. – The household of Judea’s King Solomon is said to have 700 wives and 300 concubines. They consume 10 oxen daily with the meat of harts and gazelles too. (This is not our most shining moment in history.)

933 B.C.E. – King Solomon dies. His son, Rehoboam, succeeds but falls to the 10 northern tribes who refuse taxation. Jeroboam becomes King of Israel.

926 B.C.E. – Palestine is invaded by Egypt’s Pharaoh, Sheshonk, who pillages Jerusalem and other Judean cities.

721 B.C.E. – The Kingdom of Israel falls to Sargon II, who will deport 27,000 people from Israel’s northern tribes to Central Asia. Those “10 lost tribes of Israel” will disappear (until quite recently, actually).

621 B.C.E. – The Book of Deuteronomy, Devarim, compiled by Israelite scribes, is among the 5 Books of Moses. The laws of Moses impose dietary restrictions, the laws of kashrut, which Jews still follow.

612 B.C.E. – Nineveh falls to the Medes and Chaldeans. The Assyrian Empire is another that will disappear from history.

587 B.C.E. – Jerusalem falls to Babylonia’s Nebuchadnezzar II, and he takes many Jews off to exile in Babylonia.

586 B.C.E. – Nebuchadnezzar II and his forces destroy the Great Temple in Jerusalem.

562 B.C.E. – Nebuchadnezzar II dies, but his evil son, Melchizedek, takes over.

560 B.C.E. – Melchizekek is killed and Johoiachim, King of Judah, is released after 36 years.

585 B.C.E. – Cyrus destroys Babylon and permits Jews to return to Jerusalem after 49 years. (During their exile, the Babylonian Talmud was written).

516 B.C.E. – The Second Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem 70 years after destruction.

5th Century B.C. is a time for Greek dominance in battle, architecture, literature and science that continues into the next century.

312 B.C.E. – The Battle of Gaza sees Ptolemy and Seleucus triumph over Antigonus.

168 B.C.E. – Syria’s Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes outlaws Judaism and forces Hellenization by erecting idols in the Great Temple.

167 B.C.E. – Jewish Priest Mattathias of Modiin defies Antiochus, who outlaws Jewish practices, by escaping to mountains outside Lydda with his 5 sons to prepare for a revolt. He dies but his son, Judah, leads his people.

165 B.C.E. – Judah Maccabee and his brothers retake Jerusalem. They cleanse the Temple of Idols and restore Jewish practice. They find just enough oil to last one day but miraculously it lasts 8. The Festival of Chanukah is one of triumph and dedication.

160 B.C.E. – The new Governor of Judah, as well as Judah Maccabee, are killed. Judah’s brothers, Simon and Jonathan, will succeed him.

143 B.C.E. – Jonathan Maccabee is killed at Bet Shean.

142 B.C.E. – Simon Maccabee gains Judea independence from Syrian rule. Simon sends an embassy to Rome and begins using coins as money.

134 B.C.E. – Simon Maccabee is savagely murdered along with 300 of his followers by his son-in-law, the governor of Jericho. His surviving son, John Hyrcanus, will rule Judea until 104 BC, extending the kingdom to Samaria, Idumaea and lands east of the Jordan.

104 B.C.E. – John Hyrcanus dies and is briefly succeeded by his son, Aristobulus I, who will complete the conquest of the Galilee.

64 B.C.E. – Jerusalem falls to Pompei as the Romans rulers take control of lands across seas.

54 B.C.E. – Roman Consul Crassus pilfers Jerusalem’s Temple.

45 B.C.E. – Caesar introduces a new “Julian” calendar of 365.25 days, in which the first day is January 1.

37 B.C.E. – Herod the Great of Judea begins a 33-year reign, 2 years after he is made king by Marc Antony, Octavius and the Roman Senate.

20 B.C.E. – Herod the Great, a convert to Judaism, begins to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

7 B.C.E. – Jesus is born in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem, to a Jewish carpenter and his wife – who claims she was a virgin when she conceived her first born.

4 B.C.E. – Herod dies at 69 after a 33-year reign where he secured many benefits for Jews. His son succeeds him.

Happy New Year! The next 2015 years of history will follow. We’re hoping they will be filled with good news. Check it out in Kosher OC.

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