Abraham's son Isaac had a son called Jacob. Jacob, who also became known as Israel, had 12 sons. All of Jacob's descendants, including his sons, became known as Israelites. Each son led a separate Israelite tribe.
When famine came to their land, many Israelites left there for Egypt, where food was available. The Israelites found not only food but also work during their early years in Egypt. Later, however, Egyptian rulers enslaved the Israelites.
In about 1225 B.C. Moses, a leader of the Israelites, led a revolt against the Egyptians. Many enslaved Israelites followed Moses from Egypt, across the Red Sea, through the desert, and back toward Canaan. This journey is known as the Exodus. The word exodus is sometimes used today to describe any large movement or migration of people. The story of the Exodus is retold by Jews around the world during the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The Exodus was filled with hardships and took many years. Moses and the Israelites often faced lack of water and food during the journey. The Israelites also had disagreements with each other.
The Bible says that during the Exodus God instructed Moses to climb a mountain in the Sinai desert. There God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, a set of laws for responsible behavior.
The Ten Commandments became an important part of Judaism the religion of the Jewish people and later of Christianity and Islam. Judaism teaches that God is just and that God's qualities must be imitated. In Judaism, a person's service to God is measured by how many good things he or she has done for other people.
The stories of Abraham, Moses, the Exodus, and the return to Canaan are in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The first five books are also sometimes called the Five Books of Moses. Jewish people refer to these five books as the Torah. Genesis, the first book of the Torah, tells of many of the important ideas introduced by the Israelites. For example, the Sabbath, a day of rest after a week of work, appears for the first time in the story of creation at the beginning of the book of Genesis.
What set of rules became an important part of three major religions?