The Hebrews & The Kushites

Preserving the Teachings of Judaism

It was hard for Jewish people to pray because during the Jewish Diaspora they did not have access to a synagogue

After losing control of their homeland, their holy city, and the Great Temple that was the heart of their faith, the Jews faced a great struggle to preserve their religion.  The were dispersed among many un-Jewish lands, so they were not able to practice Judaism by praying or reading sacred texts.  With the help of some people like Yohanan ben Zaccai, they were able to keep Judaism alive.




The Capital of Meroë


Ancient iron tools made by the Kushites’ ironworkers.

After the Egyptians invaded Kush again their old capital, Napata, was destroyed.  The capital of Meroë sat between the Red Sea and the Nile River.  It was safely out of Egypt’s reach.  Meroë’s location helped Kush remain a very important center for trade.  Traders used the Nile, the Red Sea, and overland routes to transport goods.  Kush traded with many lands, near and far.

Meroë was a large and wealthy city.  It became the center of Kushite civilization.  The city thrived as a great center of industry as well as culture.  It became especially known for iron.  They also had many forests that could be used to make charcoal.  Because the Assyrians had defeated them with the advantage of iron weapons, the Kushites were determined to make iron weapons.  Meroë had a very rich supply of iron deposits.

The charcoal was used to heat the iron deposits.  Once the hot iron was separated from the rock, it was cooled in the Nile’s waters.  Ironworkers in Kush were very experienced.  They crafted many weapons that helped them to win battles.  Also, they made tools to make farming easier such as the hoe and the ax.

Meroë helped Kush to become a very advanced civilization.





The Story of Hanukkah

The Maccabees fighting the Greeks.

The Maccabees, the Jew’s army, were at war with the Greeks.  The Maccabees were helplessly outnumbered.  The Greeks burned down the holy Temple.  After they defeated the Greeks they had to stay in the temple before help came. The Jews needed to create warmth for themselves so they lit a candle to stay warm. The oil for the candle to only last one night but the candle lasted eight nights.  Without that candle the Jews would have died.  They couldn’t pray while they were freezing, so that is why that candle was so much to the Jews’ life.  That is the miracle and story of Hanukkah




Rabbi Yohanan ben Zaccai

Rabbi Yohanan ben Zaccai reading the Hebrew bible to children

One rabbi who helped to preserve Judaism was Yohanan ben Zaccai.  When the revolt against Rome began, he was very feared for the future of Judaism.  He was woried tht the rabbis would die in battle, and the temple was destroyed, Judaism may not survive.  Yohanan begged the Jews to surrender to Rome, but they refused.  Yohanan decided to approach the Romans for help.  Yohanan escaped Jerusalem in a coffin.  He met a Roman general named Vespasian, and got permission to open a Jewish school, with the help of other rabbis in the town of Yavneh.

When Jerusalem fell, Yavneh became the center of ancient Jewish learning.  At their school, Yohanan and other rabbis taught new rabbis.  Teachers came from many different places to study at Yavneh.  Then the returned to their community and taught their people.  In this way, the rabbis at Yavneh made sure that the Jewish people still had leaders to guide them and give them the education they deserved.



Rule by the Babylonians

This is Babylon’s Empire

Babylon rule lasted from  597-538 B.C.E.  The Jews  were exiled to lived in Babylon for 1/2 a century.  Jewish Prophets like Ezekiel came to inspire the people to keep there faith.  The Babylonians called the Jews Judaeans as they had come form Judah.  King Naebuchadnezzar II was the Babylonian king.  The Babylonians feared the Jews and their army so they decided to conquer them.


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The Jewish Diaspora

A map of the Jewish Diaspora

Jewish diaspora: 931-538  It began in 586 C.E. The diaspora speaks of the scattering of the jews form there homeland.  70 C.E. Rome defeats Israel and the Jewish people were sent away.  They migrated north and settled throughout  Southeast Asia.  They also moved to Egypt  and northern Africa.  Jew as they migrated throughout the Roman empire they tried to keep there culture.  Those who did return to Jerusalem found their land dominated by foreign rulers.

Overall, the Jewish diaspora is the dispersing of the Jewish people.





Rule by the Romans

The Roman Government trying to rule the Jewish people

After 80 years of being free from the Greeks, the Jews lived in Judea.  Then in 63 B.C.E. they fell under Roman rule.  The Romans were building a vast empire, so they were quick to act against any sign of rebellion.  More than 50,000 Jews were killed by the Romans.  Romans did allow the Jews to practice their own religion and govern a little bit.  In 22 B.C.E. The Romans appointed Herod to be their king.

King Herod decided to expand the Second Temple.  It took 46 years to complete.  In 66 C.E. The Romans rose up against the Jews.  The Jews fought back hard bug were outnumbered.  Many Jews watched in horror as the Second Temple was destroyed.  All that was left of the temple was its Western wall.


In 135 C.E. the Jews revolted again.  The Romans began the final exile of the Jews.  they were not allowed to enter Jerusalem ever.  Though some Jews still stayed in Jerusalem many were sent to other parts of the Roman Empire.







Rule by the Greeks

Above you see Greeks trying to get the Jews to bow down to Zeus

After the Persians, came the Greeks.  The Greeks were very harsh and cruel.  One Greek ruler even tried to get the Jews to worship idols of Greek gods in the Second Temple.  In 168 B.C.E. the Jews rebelled against the Greeks and started a war that lasted more than 20 years.  In 164 B.C.E. they drove the Greeks from Jerusalem and its Temple.  Jews today celebrate Hanukkah to honor this victory.




Rule by the Persians

The Persian Empire.

Persian rule begins with Cyrus, the Persian king,  the great defeat of Babylon.  Cyrus ended the exile of the Jews.  Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Judea and build the Temple, later called the Second Temple.  The Persians also allowed the Jews to practice Judaism.  For nearly 400 years, the Jewish  people were ruled by foreigners.  The Persians had nothing against the Jews.  Cyrus was just trying to create a lasting empire without affecting the Jews religion or custom.  The Persians basically had the same ideas as Alexander the Great.  After the Persians came the Greeks.






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Kush Returns to its African Roots

This is a statue of a lion god that the Kushites would worship, instead of the Egyptian gods.

After its separation from Egypt, Kush returned to its African roots.  Their artwork, clothing, and buildings no longer mocked Egyptian styles.  They stopped worshiping Egyptian gods and started worshiping an African Lion God.  Also, made their own language called Meroitic.  They also made their own temples, art, and jewelry.  Kushite art and architecture flourished.  Artisans made beautiful pottery, cloth, and gold and silver jewelry.  Rulers built grand palaces, temples, and pyramids.  Kush also had kandakes, or queen mothers.  They were considered goddesses, and co-ruled with their sons or husband.  Kandakes were a big part of the Africanization of Kush.


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