Judaism began 3,000 years ago in a period when every nation worshipped its own deity. The Hebrew Bible reflects the development that took place from a limited view of God as a tribal deity to the view that the God of Abraham is the God of all nations. As the Hebrews experienced various exiles and enslavements, the Hebraism of priests and animal sacrifice evolved into rabbinic Judaism.

The Hebrew Bible was written down over a period of 1,000 years, from about 1500 BCE to 150 BCE. To place the writing of the Bible in historical perspective, here are some things that were taking place around the time that the first books were written:

Mycenaean civilization was beginning in Greece

Minoan civilization was developing on Crete

Pharaohs of the 18th dynasty were ruling in Egypt

The Hindu Vedas were being composed in India

The Babylonian, Hittite, and Assyrian empires were great powers

Indo-European tribes were spreading across Central Asia into Europe and India

Note: The traditional notations BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, “year of the Lord”) are now more frequently expressed in historical writing as BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).

The Jewish belief in a “Messiah,” an anointed leader who would come to lead the Jews against their enemies and restore their previous glories, paved the way for Christianity.