The history of the people of Israel

The history of the people of Israel, or rather the history of the Hebrews, is all the better known because the Jewish people, though few in number (about ten million Jews in the world at the beginning of this third millennium) are important by virtue of the constant influence they have had on the world’s history.

This people had their origins in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (whom God re-baptized “Israel”) as the Bible recounts in the books of the First Covenant (called the “Old Testament” by Christians).

Into this people was born Jesus, the Christ, a descendant of King David, whose virgin birth was announced by the angel Gabriel to Mary, a young Hebrew girl(1) from Nazareth in Galilee. The historical existence of Jesus, the Christ, is also mentioned by certain historians of the Roman Empire (among whom the Jew Flavius Josephus and the Roman Suetonius), as well as by historians of the Persian Empire.

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(1) At the time of Jesus, a distinction was made between the Judaeans (or “Jews”), who lived in the area around Jerusalem, and the Hebrews, who lived in the other areas of Palestine, especially Galilee. The Virgin Mary, a Galilean, is therefore Hebrew. It was only later that the name “Jews” was applied to all the Hebrews of Palestine. This is why, when Saint Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Palestine (and those of the Diaspora), he gave it the title “Letter to the Hebrews.”