Ancient Jewish History (through 150 CE)
For the first two periods the history of the Jews is mainly that of the Fertile Crescent. It begins among those peoples which occupied the area lying between the Nile river on the one side and the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers on the other. Surrounded by ancient seats of culture in Egypt and Babylonia, by the deserts of Arabia, and by the highlands of Asia Minor, the land of Canaan (later known as Israel, then at various times Judah, Coele-Syria, Judea, Palestine, the Levant, and finally Israel again) was a meeting place of civilizations. The land was traversed by old-established trade routes and possessed important harbors on the Gulf of Akaba and on the Mediterranean coast, the latter exposing it to the influence of other cultures of the Fertile Crescent.