Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade January 2002

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Over the years Jewish people have faced a lot of persecution. They struggled for years to find a homeland. The Old Testament, the first half of the Bible, tells of the beginnings of the Jews, of their wanderings and their establishment of a homeland. The Biblical word "˜Hebrew' refers to a group of wandering tribes that lived in the Middle East before1300 B.C. In those days, most people worshiped many gods. But the Hebrews believed that there was only one true God. The word "˜Jew' originally meant a member of the Hebrew tribe of Judah or a member of the Hebrew state, Judea.

Both the Old Testament and historical theory trace the ancestors of the Jews to the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia. About 2350 B.C., Abraham, a tribal chief who was told by God that he would be the "˜father of a multitude', made an agreement with God.

If Abraham and his descendants would worship only this God and follow his laws, God would lead them into "˜a land of milk and honey' and they would prosper in what is now Israel.

Isaac was the son of Abraham and Jacob was the son of Isaac. God spoke to Jacob telling him that he would become known as Israel and his descendants would be the children of Israel. Jacob's twelve sons and their descendants formed the twelve Hebrew tribes that became the Jewish people.

Promised Land Won and Lost Around 1700 B.C. some Hebrew tribes wandered to the borders of Egypt. There they prospered for over a 100 years. Then they were forced into slavery by Egyptians. According to the Bible, a Hebrew prophet named Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, and they became desert wanderers. During this period Moses received the Ten Commandments from...