10550 From Cyrus to Alexander: The History of Israel during the Persian Empire 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Ancient History of the Jewish People or in Bible

Prerequisites: 36 credits, including one course in Ancient History or in Ancient History of the Jewish People. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Author: Uriel Rappaport

The course deals with the history of the Jewish people during the Persian period, from the return to the province of Yehud (formerly Judah) until the conquest of the Land of Israel by Alexander the Great. This period represents a crossroads in the history of the Jewish people. For the first time, central events in the history of the Jewish people occurred simultaneously in Yehud and in the Diaspora, an extremely significant phenomenon in Jewish history, which continues to this day. A sharp change in the nation’s spiritual life also occurred during this period – prophecy dwindled and the Bible became the foundation for belief and the basis for the development of Judaism.

Students are acquainted with the central historical issues of the period, such as the proclamation of Cyrus, the activities of Ezra and Nehamia, the contribution of inscriptions and material finds to understanding the events, as well as problems of the Bible as a historical source.

Topics: The return to Yehud; The days of Ezra and Nehamia; The Land of Israel under Persian rule; The Jewish Diaspora in the Persian Empire.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.