Introduction to Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli continued . . .

A Map in Time

As a map helps one see the course of a river, a time line may help delineate some major turning points in Jewish history before we start our journey, which begins 2,000 years before the common era (B.C.E., often known as B.C.) and extends into the common era (C.E., often known as A.D.).

2000-1280 B.C.E. The Patriarchs, slavery in Egypt
ca. 1280 B.C.E. Exodus from Egypt
1020-1004 B.C.E. King Saul, first king of Israel
1004-965 B.C.E. King David
965-928 B.C.E. King Solomon; First Temple constructed
928 B.C.E. Divided kingdoms: Judea (South) and Israel (North)
928-722 B.C.E. Prophecies of Elijah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah
722 B.C.E. Israel conquered by Assyria and Israelites deported
627-585 B.C.E. Prophecies of Jeremiah
621 B.C.E. King Josiah's reforms begin
586 B.C.E. Destruction of the First Temple; Jerusalem destroyed; Jews exiled to Babylonia
593-571 B.C.E. Prophecies of Ezekiel
6th c. B.C.E. Torah canonized in Babylonian exile
538 B.C.E. Jews return to Israel
520-515 B.C.E. Second Temple built
4th c. B.C.E. Prophets section of Tanach canonized
164 B.C.E. End of successful revolt against Syrians
70 C.E. End of revolt against Rome; Second Temple destroyed; Sanhedrin established in Yavneh
132-135 C.E. Bar Kokhba revolt
135 C.E. Betar falls, revolt ends
2nd c. C.E. Writings section of Tanach canonized
200 C.E. Mishnah redacted
220 C.E. Tosefta redacted
312 C.E. Rome becomes a Christian empire
ca. 350 C.E. Halakhic midrashim are redacted
368 C.E. Julian killed; Judaism loses its favorable standing in the Roman Empire
ca. 400 C.E. Yerushalmi and aggadic midrash collections redacted
ca. 500 C.E. Bavli redacted

Part of a fuller understanding of Jewish history rests in simply appreciating how the location of the land of Israel, on a bridge between Africa and Asia, shaped the fate of the Jewish people. The "superpowers" of the periods with which we are concerned were Egypt, to Israel's southwest; Assyria and Babylonia, to Israel's northeast; and, later, Rome and Greece, to the northwest. As the great powers battled each other through the centuries, they necessarily had to traverse the land bridge on which Israel was located. Thus, the history of the land of Israel is something like that of the Baltic states, caught between Germany and Russia. As the balance of power would swing between those superpowers, conquering armies would march through the countries separating them, sometimes forcing local residents to adopt the culture of the conqueror. Likewise, Jewish history is a story of great powers, wars, invasions, revolts, and exiles.

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