Grade 8 Jewish HIstory Through Maps

Welcome to the History of Israel through Maps! This class uses maps as a springboard for learning and discussion of the history of Israel. We’ve had 7 classes so far, and already closing in on the year (roughly) 70 A.D. Here’s a peek at what we’ve covered so far.

In week one, we traced the evolutions of humans through their migration out of Africa and the Agricultural Revolution, the shift from nomadic life to farming in the Fertile Crescent that took place in roughly 10,000 BCE. We considered the form and function of early writing systems with emphasis on cuneiform, trade routes and the polytheistic cultures of Mesopotamia.

Our second week took a closer look at the patriarchs of Judaism; we traced the migrations of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. In our third week, we explored the period known as the “Judges”, the Hebrew settlement of Canaan following the Exodus (roughly 1500 BCE to 1200 BCE). Week four concentrated on the reigns of Saul and David and the establishment of the national capital in Jerusalem circa 1000 BCE. We looked at maps and plans of the construction of the Temple during Solomon’s tenure and continued to keep an eye on developing trade routes in the Mediterranean and Near East. Religious and political divisions led to the period of the Divided Kingdom, our focus for Week five. We compared and contrasted the kingdoms of Judah and Israel through the lenses of geography, trade, military, and religious life. Considerable time was devoted in this class to learning about the Assyrian Empire and the events leading to the invasion of Israel. As Babylon was also making a comeback as a threat, we segued into class 7 where we examined the Babylonian Exile and its impact on the Jews, as well as the rise of Persia and the curious relationship between the monotheistic Persians and the Jews at that time. Class 7 concluded with the arrival and effect of Alexander the Great’s control of Jerusalem. Following Alexander’s death, his empire was divided among 3 of his men and led to the rise of the Seleucids. Our eighth class (this Saturday) will consider not only the rise of the Seleucids and what led to the Maccabean revolt over 2 decades, but also the subsequent rise and fall of the Hasmoneans.


I’ve enjoyed working with Elliot, Ellie, Leora, Robert, and Joe! They are a curious and spirited bunch and I’m impressed with the level of engagement with our material.