A Brief Prophetic History of Israel

by Deborah Horscroft

Below is a brief historical outline from Abraham to Jesus to help put our People of the Old Testament Bible studies into context.

The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the fathers of the nation that came to be known as Israel. Jacob (renamed Israel) had 12 sons and his descendents became the 12 tribes of Israel. They settled in Egypt around 1876 BC.

Moses and the Law: Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt around 1446BC. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the generation who had rebelled against God and worshipped the golden calf had all died (other than the faithful Joshua and Caleb). Moses gave the people God’s law but did not enter the Promised Land. Joshua led the people into Canaan.

The Judges: For 480 years God’s people were ruled by Judges. Samuel was the last.

The Golden Age of Israel: Kings Saul, David and Solomon reigned over the united kingdom of Israel from 1050-930BC. Psalms and Proverbs were written during this period.

The Divided Kingdom: The Kingdom split into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah), which maintained the dynastic line of David and contained the holy city of Jerusalem. Elijah, Jonah and Amos were prophets of this period.

The Fall of the Northern Kingdom 722BC: The Assyrians conquered Israel. Isaiah and Hosea were prophets during this period.

The Fall of Jerusalem 586BC: The people of Judah were taken into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah was the prophet of God’s judgement. Daniel and Ezekiel were written during the exile.

The Restoration 538BC: When Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered Babylon the Jewish exiles returned under Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Esther and Zechariah were also written during this period.

Between the Testaments 432BC-5BC: After the last group of exiles had returned under Nehemiah and the last prophet, Malachi, had spoken, there was a time of scriptural silence until…

The Birth of Jesus the Christ 5 BC: Now under the rule of the Great Roman Empire, Israel awaited the promised Messiah, born in Bethlehem in the line of Judah.

This very sketchy history, including all the dates, was gleaned from the very useful notes in the Zondervan NIV Study Bible, especially the historical timeline.