The Abrahamic religions referred to collectively as Abrahamism, are a group of Semitic-originated religious communities of faith that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham. The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic, with the term deriving from the patriarch Abraham. Abrahamic religion spread globally through Christianity being adopted by the Roman Empire in the 4th century and Islam by the Islamic Empires from the 7th century. Today the Abrahamic religions are one of the major divisions in comparative religion; the major Abrahamic religions in chronological order of founding are Judaism in the 7th century BCE, Christianity in the 1st century CE, Islam in the 7th century CE. Christianity and Judaism are the Abrahamic religions with the greatest numbers of adherents. Abrahamic religions with fewer adherents include the faiths descended from Yazdânism, the Druze faith, Bábism, the Bahá'í Faith, Rastafari; as of 2005, estimates classified 54% of the world's population as adherents of an Abrahamic religion, about 32% as adherents of other religions, 16% as adherents of no organized religion.
Christianity claims 33% of the world's population, Islam has 21%, Judaism has 0.2% and the Bahá'í Faith represents around 0.1%. It was suggested by Louis Massignon that the phrase "Abrahamic religion" means that all these religions come from one spiritual source. Paul the Apostle referred to Abraham as the "father of us all". There is a Quranic term, millat Ibrahim,'religion of Ibrahim', indicating that Islam sees itself as standing in a tradition of religious practice from Abraham. Jewish tradition claims that the Jews are descended from Abraham, adherents of Judaism derive their spiritual identity from Abraham as the first of the three "fathers" or biblical Patriarchs: Abraham and Jacob. All the major Abrahamic religions claim a direct lineage to Abraham, although in Christianity this is understood in spiritual terms: Abraham is recorded in the Torah as the ancestor of the Israelites through his son Isaac, born to Sarah through a promise made in Genesis. Most Christians affirm the ancestral origin of the Jews in Abraham, but, as gentiles, they consider themselves as grafted into the family tree under the New Covenant: see significance of Abraham for Christians for details.
It is the Islamic tradition. Jewish tradition equates the descendants of Ishmael, with Arabs, while the descendants of Isaac by Jacob, later known as Israel, are the Israelites. Adam Dodds argues that the term "Abrahamic faiths", while helpful, can be considered misleading, as it conveys an unspecified historical and theological commonality, problematic on closer examination. While there is commonality among the religions, in large measure their shared ancestry is peripheral to their respective foundational beliefs and thus conceals crucial differences. For example, the common Christian beliefs of Incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus are not accepted by Judaism or Islam. There are key beliefs in both Islam and Judaism that are not shared by most of Christianity, key beliefs of Islam and the Bahá'í Faith not shared by Judaism; the appropriateness of grouping Judaism and Islam by the terms "Abrahamic religions" or "Abrahamic traditions" has been challenged. In 2012, Alan L. Berger, Professor of Judaic Studies at Florida Atlantic University, in his Preface to Trialogue and Terror: Judaism and Islam after 9/11 wrote that there are "commonalities", but "there are essential differences between the Abrahamic traditions" both "historical and theological".
Although "Judaism birthed both Christianity and Islam", the "three monotheistic faiths went their separate ways". The three faiths "understand the role of Abraham" in "differing ways", the relationships between Judaism and Christianity and between Judaism and Islam are "uneven"; the three traditions are "demographically unbalanced and ideologically diverse". In 2012, Aaron W. Hughes published a book about the category Abrahamic religions as an example of "abuses of history." He said that only the category "Abrahamic religions" has come into use and that it is a "vague referent." It is "largely a theological neologism" and "imprecise" term. Combining the Jewish and Muslim religions into this one category might serve the purpose of encouraging "interfaith trialogue", but it is not true to the "historical record". Abrahamic religions is "an ahistorical category". There are "certain family resemblances" among these three religions, but the "amorphous" term Abrahamic religions prevents an understanding of the "complex nature" of the interactions among them.
Furthermore, the three religions do not share the same story of Abraham. For these and other reasons, Hughes argued that the term should not be used, at least in academic circles. One of Judaism's primary texts is the Tanakh, an account of the Israelites' relationship with God from their earliest history until the building of the Second Temple. Abraham is hailed as the father of the Jewish people. One of his great-grandsons was Judah, from whom the religion gets its name; the Israelites were a number of tribes who lived in the Ki
New Age is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis as a result of its eclectic structure. Although analytically considered to be religious, those involved in it prefer the designation of spiritual or Mind, Body and use the term "New Age" themselves. Many scholars of the subject refer to it as the New Age movement, although others contest this term and suggest that it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist; as a form of Western esotericism, the New Age drew upon a number of older esoteric traditions, in particular those that emerged from the occultist current that developed in the eighteenth century. Such prominent occult influences include the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, as well as the ideas of Spiritualism, New Thought, Theosophy and the European Lebensreform movement. A number of mid-twentieth century influences, such as the UFO religions of the 1950s, the Counterculture of the 1960s, the Human Potential Movement exerted a strong influence on the early development of the New Age.
The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement that it developed in the 1970s, at which time it was centred in the United Kingdom. It expanded and grew in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular within the United States. By the start of the 21st century, the term "New Age" was rejected within this milieu, with some scholars arguing that the New Age phenomenon had ended. Despite its eclectic nature, a number of beliefs found within the New Age have been identified. Theologically, the New Age adopts a belief in a holistic form of divinity that imbues all of the universe, including human beings themselves. There is thus a strong emphasis on the spiritual authority of the self; this is accompanied by a common belief in a wide variety of semi-divine non-human entities, such as angels and masters, with whom humans can communicate through the form of channeling. Viewing human history as being divided into a series of distinct ages, a common New Age belief is that whereas once humanity lived in an age of great technological advancement and spiritual wisdom, it has entered a period of spiritual degeneracy, which will be remedied through the establishment of a coming Age of Aquarius, from which the milieu gets its name.
There is a strong focus on healing using forms of alternative medicine, an emphasis on a New Age approach to science that seeks to unite science and spirituality. Centred in Western countries, those involved in the New Age have been from middle and upper-middle-class backgrounds; the degree to which New Agers are involved in the milieu varied from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who embraced and dedicated their lives to it. The New Age has generated criticism from established Christian organisations as well as modern Pagan and indigenous communities. From the 1990s onward, the New Age became the subject of research by academic scholars of religious studies; the New Age phenomenon has proved difficult to define, with much scholarly disagreement as to its scope. The scholars Steven J. Sutcliffe and Ingvild Sælid Gilhus have suggested that it remains "among the most disputed of categories in the study of religion"; the scholar of religion Paul Heelas characterised the New Age as "an eclectic hotch-potch of beliefs and ways of life" that can be identified as a singular phenomenon through their use of "the same lingua franca to do with the human condition and how it can be transformed."
The historian of religion Olav Hammer termed it "a common denominator for a variety of quite divergent contemporary popular practices and beliefs" that have emerged since the late 1970s and are "largely united by historical links, a shared discourse and an air de famille". According to Hammer, this New Age was a "fluid and fuzzy cultic milieu"; the sociologist of religion Michael York described the New Age as "an umbrella term that includes a great variety of groups and identities" that are united by their "expectation of a major and universal change being founded on the individual and collective development of human potential."The scholar of religion Wouter Hanegraaff adopted a different approach by asserting that "New Age" was "a label attached indiscriminately to whatever seems to fit it" and that as a result it "means different things to different people". He thus argued against the idea that the New Age could be considered "a unified ideology or Weltanschauung", although he believed that it could be considered a "more or less unified'movement'."
Other scholars have suggested. The scholar of religion George D. Chryssides called it "a counter-cultural Zeitgeist", while the sociologist of religion Steven Bruce suggested that New Age was a milieu. There is no central authority within the New Age phenomenon that can determine what counts as New Age and what does not. Many of those groups and individuals who could analytically be categorised as part of the New Age reject the term "New Age" in reference to themselves; some express active hostility to the term. Rather than terming themselves "New Agers", those involved in this milieu describe themselves as spiritual "seekers", some self-identify as a member of a different religious group, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism. In 2003 Sutcliffe observed that the use of the term "New Age" was "op
Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages; the conversion of the ruler was followed by the compulsory baptism of his subjects. Some were evangelization by monks or priests, organic growth within an partly Christianized society, or by campaigns against paganism such as the conversion of pagan temples into Christian churches or the condemnation of pagan gods and practices. A strategy for Christianization was Interpretatio Christiana – the practice of converting native pagan practices and culture, pagan religious imagery, pagan sites and the pagan calendar to Christian uses, due to the Christian efforts at proselytism based on the Great Commission. Reformatting native religious and cultural activities and beliefs into a Christianized form was sanctioned. In essence, it was intended that the traditions and practices still existed, but that the reasoning behind them was altered.
The existence of syncretism in Christian tradition has long been recognized by scholars. Since the 16th century and till modern days, significant scholarship was devoted to deconstruction of interpretatio christiana, i.e. tracing the roots of some Christian practices and traditions to paganism. Early works of this type have tended to be downplayed and dismissed as a form of Protestant apologetics aimed at "purification" of Christianity; the Council of Jerusalem, according to Acts 15, agreed that lack of circumcision could not be a basis for excluding Gentile believers from membership in the Jesus community. Rather, they instructed new believers to avoid "pollution of idols, things strangled, blood", expecting them to hear Moses read on the Sabbath days; these clarifications were put into writing, distributed by messengers present at the Council, were received as an encouragement to the growth of these gentiles' trust in the God of Israel as revealed in the Gospel. The Apostolic Decree thus helped to establish nascent Christianity as a unique alternative among the forms of Judaism for prospective Proselytes.
The Twelve Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers initiated the process of transforming the Jewish sect into a diaspora of communities composed of both Jews and gentiles, united by their trust in Jesus. The Armenian and Ethiopian churches are the only instances of imposition of Christianity by sovereign rulers predating the council of Nicaea; the initial conversion of the Roman Empire occurred in urban areas of Europe, where the first conversions were sometimes among members of the Jewish population. Conversions happened among the Grecian-Roman-Celtic populations over centuries initially among its urban population, with rural conversions taking place some time later; the term "pagan" is from Latin and means "villager, civilian." It is derived from this historical transition. The root of that word is present in today's word "paisan" or "paisano"; the Christianization of the Roman Empire is divided into two phases and after the year 312, which marked the momentous conversion of Constantine. By this date, Christianity had converted a significant but unknown proportion of at least the urban population of the empire including a small number of the elite classes.
Constantine ended the intermittent persecution of Christianity with the Edict of Milan, in fact a quote from a letter of the emperor Licinius by Eusebius, which granted tolerance to all religions, but mentions Christianity. Under Constantine's successors, Christianization of Roman society proceeded by fits and starts, as John Curran documented in detail. Constantine's sons did not close the temples. Although all state temples in all cities were ordered shut in 356, there is evidence that traditional sacrifices continued. Under Julian, the temples were state religious sacrifices performed once more; when Gratian, emperor 376-383, declined the office and title of Pontifex Maximus, his act brought an end to the state religion due to the position's authority and ties within the Imperial administration. Again, this process ended state official practices but not private religious devotion; as Christianity spread, many of the ancient pagan temples were defiled, destroyed, or converted into Christian sites by such figures as Martin of Tours, in the East by militant monks.
However, many temples remained open until Theodosius I's edict of Thessalonica in 381 banned haruspices and other pagan religious practices. From 389 to 393 he issued a series of decrees which led to the banning of pagan religious rites, the confiscation of their property and endowments; the Olympic Games were banned in 392 because of their association with the old religion. Further laws were passed against remaining pagan practices over the course of the following years; the effectiveness of these laws empire-wide is debatable. Christianization of the central Balkans is documented at the end of the 4th century, where Nicetas the Bishop of Remesiana brought the gospel to "those mountain wolves"
History of Hinduism
History of Hinduism denotes a wide variety of related religious traditions native to the Indian subcontinent. Its history overlaps or coincides with the development of religion in Indian subcontinent since the Iron Age, with some of its traditions tracing back to prehistoric religions such as those of the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization, it has thus been called the "oldest religion" in the world. Scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no single founder; the history of Hinduism is divided into periods of development. The first period is the pre-Vedic period, which includes the Indus Valley Civilisation and local pre-historic religions, ending at about 1750 BCE; this period was followed in northern India by the Vedic period, which saw the introduction of the historical Vedic religion with the Indo-Aryan migrations, starting somewhere between 1900 BCE to 1400 BCE. The subsequent period, between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions", a formative period for Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Epic and Early Puranic period, from c. 200 BCE to 500 CE, saw the classical "Golden Age" of Hinduism, which coincides with the Gupta Empire. In this period the six branches of Hindu philosophy evolved, namely Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mīmāṃsā, Vedanta. Monotheistic sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism developed during this same period through the Bhakti movement; the period from 650 to 1100 CE forms the late Classical period or early Middle Ages, in which classical Puranic Hinduism is established, Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, which incorporated Buddhist thought into Vedanta, marking a shift from realistic to idealistic thought. Hinduism under both Hindu and Islamic rulers from c. 1200 to 1750 CE, saw the increasing prominence of the Bhakti movement, which remains influential today. The colonial period saw the emergence of various Hindu reform movements inspired by western movements, such as Unitarianism and Theosophy; the Partition of India in 1947 was along religious lines, with the Republic of India emerging with a Hindu majority.
During the 20th century, due to the Indian diaspora, Hindu minorities have formed in all continents, with the largest communities in absolute numbers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Western scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions. Among its roots are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age northern India itself the product of "a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations", but the Sramana or renouncer traditions of northeast India, mesolithic and neolithic cultures of India, such as the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Dravidian traditions, the local traditions and tribal religions. After the Vedic period, between 500-200 BCE and c. 300 CE, at the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period, the "Hindu synthesis" emerged, which incorporated śramaṇic and Buddhist influences and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the smriti literature. This synthesis emerged under the pressure of the success of Jainism.
During the Gupta reign the first Puranas were written, which were used to disseminate "mainstream religious ideology amongst pre-literate and tribal groups undergoing acculturation." The resulting Puranic Hinduism differed markedly from the earlier Brahmanism of the Dharmaśāstras and the smritis. Hinduism co-existed for several centuries with Buddhism, to gain the upper hand at all levels in the 8th century. From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia, it was aided by the settlement of Brahmins on land granted by local rulers, the incorporation and assimilation of popular non-Vedic gods, the process of Sanskritization, in which "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms". This process of assimilation explains the wide diversity of local cultures in India "half shrouded in a taddered cloak of conceptual unity." James Mill, in his The History of British India, distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu and British civilisations.
This periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical and modern periods", although this periodization has received criticism. Romila Thapar notes that the division of Hindu-Muslim-British periods of Indian history gives too much weight to "ruling dynasties and foreign invasions," neglecting the social-economic history which showed a strong continuity; the division in Ancient-Medieval-Modern overlooks the fact that the Muslim-conquests took place between the eight and the fourteenth century, while the south was never conquered. According to Thapar, a periodisation could be based on "significant social and economic changes," which are not related to a change of ruling powers. Smart and Michaels seem to follow Mill's periodisation, while Flood and Muesse follow the "ancient, classical and modern periods" periodisation. An elaborate periodisation may be as follows: Indus Valley Civilisation; the earliest prehistoric religion in India tha
East Asian religions
In the study of comparative religion, the East Asian religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Chinese religion overall, which further includes Ancestral Worship, Chinese folk religion, Taoism and so-called popular salvationist organisations, as well as elements drawn from Mahayana Buddhism that form the core of Chinese Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism at large; the group includes Japanese Shintoism and Korean Sindoism, which have received influences from Chinese religions throughout the centuries. Chinese salvationist religions have influenced the rise of Korean and Japanese new religions—for instance Jeungsanism, Tenriism. All these religious traditions, more or less, share core Chinese concepts of spirituality and world order, including Tao 道 and Tian 天. Early Chinese philosophies defined the Tao and advocated cultivating the de, "virtue", which arises from the knowledge of such Tao. Syncretism is a common feature of East Asian religions making it difficult to recognise individual faiths.
Further complications arise from the inconsistent use of many terms. "Tao religion" is used for Taoism itself, as well as being used for many Tao-based new religious movements. The term "Far Eastern religion" may be used to refer only to faiths incorporating the concept of Tao, may include Ch'an and Japanese Buddhism, may inclusively refer to all Asian religions; the Tao may be defined as the flow of reality, of the universe, or the force behind the natural order. Believed to be the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered, the Tao is associated with nature, due to a belief that nature demonstrates the Tao. Similar to the negative theology of Western scholars, the Tao is compared to, it is considered to be the source of both existence and non-existence. The Tao is associated with a "virtue" of being, the de or te; this is considered the active expression of Tao. Those religions closer to Taoism explain de as "integrity" or "wholeness", while those faiths closer to Confucianism express this concept as "morality" or "sound character".
Taoism consists of a wide variety of religious and ritual orders. There are hermeneutic difficulties in the categorisation of Taoist schools and movements. Taoism does not fall under an umbrella or a definition of an organised religion like the Abrahamic traditions, nor can it purely be studied as a variant of Chinese folk religion, as much of the traditional religion is outside of the tenets and core teachings of Taoism. Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done. In general, Taoist propriety and ethics place an emphasis on the unity of the universe, the unity of the material world and the spiritual world, the unity of the past and future, as well as on the Three Jewels of the Tao. Taoist theology focuses on doctrines of wu wei, spontaneity and emptiness. Traditional Chinese Taoist schools accept polytheism, but there are differences in the composition of their pantheon.
On the popular level, Taoism presents the Jade Emperor as the head deity. Professionalised Taoism presents Laozi and the Three Pure Ones at the top of the pantheon. Worship of nature deities and ancestors is common in popular Taoism, while professional Taoists put an emphasis on internal alchemy; the Tao is never an object of worship, being treated more like the Indian concept of atman. Confucianism is a complex system of moral, social and religious thought, influential in the history of East Asia, it is associated with legalism, but rejects legalism for ritualism. It endorses meritocracy as the ideal of nobility. Confucianism includes a complicated system governing duties and etiquette in relationships. Confucian ethics focus on familial duty and humaneness. Confucianism recognises the existence of ancestral spirits and deities, advocating paying them proper respect. Confucian thought is notable as the framework upon. Neo-Confucianism was developed in reaction to Chan Buddhism, it was formulated during the Song dynasty, but its roots may be traced to scholars of the Tang dynasty.
It draw Buddhist religious concepts and Taoist yin yang theory, as well as the Yijing, placed them within the framework of classic Confucianism. Despite Neo-Confucianism's incorporation of elements of Buddhism and Taoism, its apologists still decried both faiths. Neo-Confucianism was an endorsed faith for over five centuries influencing all of East Asia. New Confucianism is a modernist Confucianism, which accommodates modern science and democratic ideals, while remaining conservative in preserving traditional Neo-Confucianist positions; the influence of New Confucianism prompted since Deng Xiaoping became the leader of China in 1978 and helped cultural exchanges between China and Taiwan. Shintoism is the ethnic religion of Japan. Shinto means "Way of the Gods". Shinto practitioners affirm tradition, nature and ritual observation as core values. Taoist influence is significant in their beliefs about self-mastery. Ritual cleanliness is a central part of Shinto life. Shrines hav
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records during the Hellenistic period and the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dated 1213–1203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian captivity and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian captivity. Jews were widespread throughout the Roman Empire, this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant; the Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula.
During that time, Jews were accepted in society and Jewish religious and economic life blossomed. During the Classical Ottoman period, the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western Europe. During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. Jews began in the 18th century to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. During the 1870s and 1880s the Jewish population in Europe began to more discuss emigration back to Israel and the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in its national homeland; the Zionist movement was founded in 1897. Meanwhile, the Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of science and the economy. Among those considered the most famous were scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
A large number of Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish. In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, the Jewish situation became more severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, a fear of an upcoming war led many Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. In 1939 World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied all of Europe, including Poland—where millions of Jews were living at that time—and France. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in political Europe, inclusive of European North Africa; this genocide, in which six million Jews were methodically exterminated, is known as The Holocaust or Shoah. In Poland, three million Jews were killed in gas chambers in all concentration camps combined, with one million at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone.
In 1945 the Jewish resistance organizations in Palestine unified and established the Jewish Resistance Movement, which attacked the British authorities. David Ben-Gurion proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel. Afterwards all neighbouring Arab states attacked, yet the newly formed IDF resisted. In 1949 the war ended and the state of Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world. Today, Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of over 8 million people, of whom about 6 million are Jewish; the largest Jewish communities are in Israel and the United States, with major communities in France, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany. For statistics related to modern Jewish demographics see Jewish population; the history of the Jews and Judaism can be divided into five periods: ancient Israel before Judaism, from the beginnings to 586 BCE.
The history of the early Jews, their neighbors, centers on the Fertile Crescent and east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It begins among those people who occupied the area lying between Mesopotamia. Surrounded by ancient seats of culture in Egypt and Babylonia, by the deserts of Arabia, by the highlands of Asia Minor, the land of Canaan was a meeting place of civilizations. According to the Hebrew Bible, Jews descend from the ancient people of Israel who settled in the land of Canaan between the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River; the Hebrew Bible refers to the "Children of Israel" as Israelite descendants of a common ancestor Jacob. It suggests that the nomadic travels of the Hebrews centered on Hebron in the first centuries of the second millennium BCE, leading to the establishment of the Cave of the Patriarchs as their burial site in Hebron; the Children of Israel, in this account, consisted of twelve tribes, each descended from one of Jacob's twelve sons, Shimon, Yehuda, Zevulun, Dan