The State of Israel, an independent nation in southwest Asia, is located between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the head of the Gulf of AQABA, an arm of the Red Sea. Israel was established on May 14, 1948, as a Jewish state. Israel is considered the Holy Land for Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The country has currently a population of 8.7 million inhabitants.
Freedom of religion and the inviolability of the holy places and centers of worship for all religions are guaranteed by law. For the Jewish population, supreme religious authority is vested in the Chief Rabbinate.
The country has currently a population of 8.7 million inhabitants Around. 1.8 million (20.8 per cent) are Palestinian citizens of Israel (including Muslims, Palestinian Christians, Circassians and Druze), compared to 6.4 million Jews (74.8 per cent), with a small proportion of ‘others’ (non-Palestinian Christians and members of other religions).
There are archaeological sites in Israel literally everywhere you turn, and it is no wonder when you consider how many rules the land has been under over the course of thousands of years. Sites like the Western Wall, the Belvoir Fortress, Qumran and Shivta are just a few archaeological sites among many found in Israel, all of which offer an exciting glimpse into history and tell a detailed story. And last but not least, the Dead Sea and the fortress of Masada are part of the must-see sites
The people of Israel (also called the “Jewish People”) trace their origin to Abraham, who established the belief that there is only one God, the creator of the universe). Abraham, his son Yitshak (Isaac), and grandson Jacob (Israel) are referred to as the patriarchs of the Israelites. All three patriarchs lived in the Land of Canaan, that later came to be known as the Land of Israel. The name Israel derives from the name given to Jacob (Genesis 32:29). His 12 sons were the kernels of 12 tribes that later developed into the Jewish nation. The name Jew derives from Yehuda (Judah) one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Reuben, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Yisachar, Zevulun, Yosef, Binyamin)(Exodus 1:1). So, the names Israel, Israeli or Jewish refer to people of the same origin.
The descendants of Abraham crystallized into a nation at about 1300 BCE after their Exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses (Moshe in Hebrew). Soon after the Exodus, Moses transmitted to the people of this newly emerging nation, the Torah, and the Ten Commandments (Exodus Chapter 20). After 40 years in the Sinai desert, Moses led them to the Land of Israel, that is cited in The Bible as the land promised by G-d to the descendants of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 17:8).
The first king, Saul (c.1020 BCE), bridged the period between loose tribal organization and the setting up of a full monarchy under his successor, David, whom Jesus was a descendent of.
Jesus Christ’s entire life and ministry took place in Israel. He has been born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth and being crucified and raised from the dead in Jerusalem.
Israel had to fight many enemies, and eventually after the exile by the Romans at 70 CE, the Jewish people migrated to Europe and North Africa. They began to return to the land that was Israel in the 1800’s and continued to do so leading to the establishment of the Jewish state in 1949.
The Israeli population is linguistically and culturally diverse. Hebrew is the country’s official language, and almost the entire population speaks it either as native speakers or proficiently as a second language. Its standard form, known as Modern Hebrew, is the main medium of life in Israel. Arabic is used mainly by Israel’s Arab minority which comprises about one-fifth of the population. Arabic has a special status under Israeli law.
Russian is spoken by about 20% of the Israeli population, mainly by the large immigrant population from the former Soviet Union, and English is a known foreign language by a significant proportion of the Israeli population as English is used widely in official logos and road signs alongside Hebrew and Arabic. In addition, the 19th edition of Ethnologue lists 36 languages and dialects spoken through Israel.
According to a 2011 Government Social Survey of Israelis over 20 years of age, 49% report Hebrew as their native language, Arabic 18%, Russian 15%, Yiddish 2%, French 2%, English 2%, 1.6% Spanish, and 10% other languages (including Romanian, German and Amharic, which were not offered as answers by the survey). This study also noted that 90% of Israeli Jews and over 60% of Israeli Arabs have a good understanding of Hebrew.