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Ancient Mesopotamia and the Hebrew Bible

High level overview from Ancient Egypt to Babylon with reference to stories from the Old Testament.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] In the next few videos, we're gonna do a very high-level overview of ancient history. We're literally going to try to cover 3,000 years of history in a handful of videos. And we're going to focus on not all of the history in the world, and it's worth noting that there's going to be history in North and South America that we're not gonna talk about in this video, history in Africa or parts of Africa that we're not going to talk about in this video, parts of Europe, parts of the Far East, but we're gonna focus mainly on the Middle East. So, this yellow line, this is going to be the historical timeline for ancient Egypt. So, that is Egypt. We're talking about that area right over there. This green timeline right over here, you could view this as Judea. We could also include, we could include Judea, which is where modern-day Israel, Palestine. If we're talking about Lebanon, then we could include Phoenicia right over there. So, I'll just write Judea. Judea. That's a little hard to read. Judea. This blue and red and white line right over here, this will be Mesopotamia. So, this will be Mesopotamia. We talk a little bit about that in another video, the area between or around the Tigris and Euphrates River, mainly in modern-day Iraq, that region right over there. So, if we say this is Judea, this is Mesopotamia. And we will also touch a little bit later on Persia, which is that area there. The ancient Greece. We're gonna talk a little bit about Rome, about Carthage, and a little bit about the Indus Valley, the Indus Valley civilizations, which is in now modern-day Pakistan. So, with that geographic bearing, and this is a line for, I'll call this the Indus Valley. Or Indus Valley, or I could say India. And, obviously, India's much more than just the Indus Valley. And even this line over here, that's China, although I'm not gonna go much into that into this video. So, let's start about 5,000 years ago. And there were already people in all of the regions that I talk about, but where I'm really highlighting is where you start to have significant empires develop. And I'll start in Egypt, where you have the Pharaoh, you have King Menes. He's able to unify Upper and Lower Egypt. And it's a little counter-intuitive; Upper Egypt is actually south of Lower Egypt, and that's because the Nile River forms further South and then it flows northward. And so, he's able to unify Upper and Lower Egypt, Upper's off the map here, into the Egyptian civilization that we often associate with ancient Egypt. And it is a very, very, very long-lived civilization. And this is right at around the same time you have folks living in Mesopotamia, you have the Akkadians. We're going into deep history now, so we don't know exactly what was going on in the Indus Valley, but we believe that there were people there as well, and there were people many, many other places. But now, let's fast-forward. We're gonna go about 500 years. And we associate ancient Egypt with the pyramids, and, relatively speaking, the pyramids were built fairly early in the history of ancient Egypt. They were built about 2500 BCE, or so we're talking about 4,500-4,600 years ago was the time that, especially the most famous, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. But now, let's fast-forward even more. And in this narrative that I'm gonna talk about in this video, I'm going to introduce some characters from the Old Testament. And a lotta the stories from the Old Testament, they have bases in history, but some of them, the historical evidence isn't as clear. But I'm gonna include it because it's so much a part of Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Western, and not just Western culture that I think it gives us an interesting bearing and, frankly, a lotta the stories from the Old Testament are just really fascinating stories. So now, let's fast-forward to 1700 BCE. And even though that seems like a very, very long time ago, and it was, it's nice to get our bearings. Because in 1700 BCE, and we're gonna talk about Hammurabi, who lived in, who ruled over Babylon, the Babylonian Empire. So, Hammurabi right over here in Babylon, famous for the Code of Hammurabi. He codified a series of laws. We believe Abraham grew up at around the same time in Ur. And Abraham, we believe that he was coincident or maybe came a little bit after Hammurabi because a lotta the Old Testament seems to at least be inspired by some of what we see in Hammurabi's Code. And it's worth noting that even though this seems like a long time ago, around 1700 BCE, the time of Hammurabi, and it turns a little white here 'cause this is where the Babylonians become one of the dominant empires in Mesopotamia, even though it seems like a long time ago, it's worth noting that in the time of Hammurabi and in the time of Abraham, the pyramids were already close to, what, 700-800 years old. So, they already would've viewed the pyramids as a very, very old thing. But if we go with roughly the year 1700 for about the time of Abraham, he goes to what becomes Judea and his tribe becomes established there and then ends up, that's where I have this line going from Mesopotamia to Judea, and we kinda see the established Judea here. And once again, they're not the first people there. You had the Canaanites, you had the Phoenicians, you had many other folks in this region, but this is interesting because it relates to the Old Testament that many folks are familiar with. And then you have the Old, so this is around 1700. Let me write this. This is 1700 BCE. And once again, I'll put approximately. And then you go a few hundred years and there isn't a lot of historical basis here, but based on the Old Testament, the story of Joseph, Joseph going to Egypt and becoming the vizier for the Pharaoh and then his family coming, Joseph, who is Abraham's grandson, according to the Old Testament, that story happens around, and once again, this is not established well historically and I encourage you to look up and see if you can find evidence yourself of when folks think this is, but the best evidence, if this happened, the best evidence I've seen is it's around 1500 BCE, the story of Joseph and the migration of the Jewish people, or a significant chunk of the Jewish people, to Egypt, where they get enslaved. And that enslavement is from 1500, they get enslaved by the Pharaoh, 1500, to approximately 1200 BCE. And so, that story, you go all the way from Abraham through Joseph, this is in the Old Testament, this happens in Genesis, and then we get to the story of Moses, where he sets his people free, the story of Exodus and the Jews are able to go back to Jerusalem. Moses leads them, parts the Red Sea, according to the Old Testament, and there established the kingdom of Jerusalem where you have the famous kings, King Saul, then King David, then King Solomon; Solomon, who famous for building the first temple. And now, since I'm already close to the 10-minute mark, I'll leave you there, because we've already covered about 2,000 years of history (laughs) in about eight minutes. In the next video, we're gonna go from about 1,000 BCE to the Roman Empire and the birth of Jesus.