According to reports, on the eve of Independence Day this year, the population of Israel is approximately 9.7 million, with 7.1 million Jewish, constituting the majority of the total population. At the same time, other ethnic and religious groups also have a place in Israeli society. This coexistence of multiculturalism and diverse religions is an important feature of Israeli society, bringing different cultures, traditions, and perspectives, making Israel a vibrant and diverse community.

First, let me introduce the historical background of the Jewish people so that everyone can better appreciate the charm of this country. According to the modern tradition of the Hebrew calendar, counting from the creation, this year’s Rosh Hashanah will enter the year 5784. The history of the Jewish people is mainly recorded in the Bible, forming the basis of Jewish identity and religious understanding. The Bible consists of the Torah (the five books of Moses), historical books, prophetic books, and wisdom literature. It intricately details the origin of the Jewish people, the promises, and prophecies, many of which have come true in subsequent generations. Additionally, Josephus’s “Antiquities of the Jews” continues the history of the Jewish people beyond the Bible.

Starting from the book of Genesis, the Bible describes the creation of the world, the first humans (Adam and Eve), and their descendants. It narrates the Noahic flood during the time of Noah and the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, leading to diverse languages among humans. The interpretation of the Great Flood varies due to cultural and religious traditions, making the story highly influential in human culture.

After the Tower of Babel incident, humans began to scatter across the globe, forming different ethnic and linguistic groups. The Bible directly records the post-Jewish history from this point onward. Especially starting with Abraham, God made a covenant with him, promising that his descendants would become numerous nations and be the ancestors of the Jewish people. His son Isaac and grandson Jacob are also regarded as ancestors of the Jewish people.

Jacob had twelve sons, and Joseph, one of his sons, was sold by his brothers to Egypt. After facing various trials, Joseph became the vizier of Egypt. When famine struck, Jacob’s sons went to Egypt to buy food. However, as they did not recognize Joseph, he revealed his identity in subsequent encounters, leading to a reunion with his family. From then on, Jacob’s family moved to Egypt and received generous hospitality from the Pharaoh. Jacob spent his later years in Egypt, renamed Israel, and his sons became the twelve tribes of Israel.

As time passed, Jacob’s descendants multiplied in Egypt. A new Pharaoh, unfamiliar with Joseph, feared the strength of the Israelites and began to oppress them. The Israelites eventually became slaves in Egypt for 400 years.

God, through Moses, brought ten plagues upon Egypt, compelling Pharaoh to agree to release the Israelites. Subsequently, Moses led around two million Israelites out of Egypt. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and guided the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years. After Moses declared God’s law to the Israelites on the plains of Moab and passed away on Mount Nebo, Joshua began leading the Israelites across the Jordan River into Canaan.

During the period of the Judges, when there was no centralized rule by kings, the Israelites were led by judges, leaders, and judges. This era was characterized by a cycle of faithfulness to God followed by a pattern of turning away from God. Later, the Israelites sought God to establish a king for them. Samuel, serving as a prophet and judge, anointed Saul as the first king. Saul’s disobedience led God to reject him as king, and David was anointed as the second king of Israel. David, an outstanding king and the author of many Psalms in the Bible, established Jerusalem as the capital during his reign, laying the foundation for the kingdom of Israel. His son Solomon became the third king of Israel and built the Temple in Jerusalem, becoming the center of Judaism.

Unfortunately, after King Solomon, Israel split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah due to the kingdom’s division. Various sins led to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity of Israel and Judah, with the destruction of the First Temple by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Until 538 BCE, Persian King Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jewish exiles from Babylon to return and settle in Jerusalem. Ezra proclaimed and explained the law, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and Zerubbabel and Joshua constructed the Temple. This period of rebuilding aimed to restore Jewish religious and social life.

In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Jerusalem, and it remained under Greek influence until the Roman conquest in 63 BCE. During the reign of Antiochus IV in the 2nd century BCE, an attempt to Hellenize the Jews and the prohibition of Jewish religious activities led to the Jewish rebellion. The Hasmonean family, hereditary priests, led the Jews in resistance and established the Hasmonean dynasty as an independent kingdom in Israel, reestablishing the authority of Judaism. Internal conflicts within the Hasmonean dynasty and Roman General Pompey’s intervention eventually made the dynasty a Roman client state. In 37 BCE, Herod the Great occupied and consolidated Jerusalem, initiating large construction projects, expanding the Temple Mount, and rebuilding the Temple.

The First Jewish-Roman War from 66-73 CE marked the conflict between the Jewish rebels and the Roman Empire. The tension escalated, leading to full-scale war. After a prolonged siege, Roman General Titus breached the walls of Jerusalem in 70 CE. When Roman forces occupied the city, the Temple was attacked, and Roman soldiers set it on fire, resulting in its destruction. With the destruction of the holy city and Temple, many Jews began to disperse abroad.

Until the failed Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 CE, the consequences of the rebellion were catastrophic for the Jews. In 135 CE, Emperor Hadrian led the Roman Empire in military actions to suppress the rebellion. Generals like Julius Severus were dispatched to quell the uprising. Most of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jewish casualties were severe. Jews were either imprisoned or sold into slavery, lands were confiscated, and strict measures were imposed on the Jewish community by the Roman authorities, prohibiting public prayers/gatherings except on the day of the Temple’s destruction. The land of the Jews was renamed “Palestine”.

From this era until the establishment of Israel in 1948, the land of the Jews underwent numerous changes and transitions of power. From the Byzantine period in the 4th century, through control by the Eastern Roman Empire, the Arab Muslim era in the 7th century, the Crusaders in the 11th century, the Mamluks defeating the Crusaders at the end of the 13th century, to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. From the late 19th-century rise of the Zionist movement, Jews gradually immigrated back to Israel.

After World War I, British forces recaptured Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British government expressed support for the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. Jews experienced the systematic genocide of six million during the Holocaust by Nazi Germany in World War II. The crucial moment for the establishment of Israel came with the United Nations vote on November 29, 1947. Jewish leaders accepted the UN partition plan, and Israel was declared a state on May 14, 1948. David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency, announced the establishment of the new nation.