Worldwide, there are around 15 million Jews, which is no more than 0.2% of the world population. Yet, in the context of the religious history, particularly that of Abrahamic faiths, Judaism becomes extremely important as it is believed to be the starting point of monotheism.
The story of Judaism begins with Abraham, who is believed to have lived around 2000 BC in Mesopotamia. God spoke to him in his dream and asked him to travel with his family towards west. Canaan (present day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel), the place he would finally find. God had promise that he would find a mighty nation if Abraham followed his wishes. Which Abraham did.
That did not turn out to be the case. Most of the Abraham’s descendents, Hebrews, had to leave Canaan and travel to Egypt, because of the shortage of food and water.
Things turned uglier for Hebrews in Egypt as they were turned into slaves by Egypt’s ruler Pharaoh who feared the growing population of Hebrews could be a danger to him.
The arrival of Moses (he was adopted by Egyptian princess; around 1300 BC) brought some hope. This time, God spoke to him and asked him to lead Hebrews out of Egypt. Which he did. It was during this journey, in the Sinai mountain, Moses would receive the ten commandments of God, which is also known as The Old Testament. Hebrews would call the God – Yahweh.
Once they reached, Canaan, Hebrews fought to take control of the land, which became Israel. After many years, Israel would split into two parts. One remained Israel. The other was called Judah, and those people became Jews. The empires kept growing and falling with the passage of time, until this day, when we have Israel (home to around 6.5 million) and Palestine conflict.
Books on Judaism: