Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews from Earliest Times to the Present Day

Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews from Earliest Times to the Present Day

Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews from Earliest Times to the Present Day

Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews from Earliest Times to the Present Day

Excerpt

Far to the east of us, pinched between Africa and Asia, lies a vast and barren region called the Arabian Desert. It is a cruel, forbidding place: an endless sheet of dry rock that by day is scorchingly hot, like a lead roof under the rays of the sun, and by night is piercingly cold. Here and there across the plain are reaches of hard-packed gravel, or of drifting sand that can be swept up blindingly by the winds. And only at long intervals are hidden thin springs of water that soak the soil and relieve the grayness with a touch of green.

Four thousand years ago--even as in our day-- countless tribes of wild shepherds roved hungrily across that dry waste. They were constantly moving about, swarming with their bedraggled flocks of sheep and goats from one oasis to another as the springs dried up or the grass was nibbled away. They had no homes save their goatskin tents; they had no possessions save the stone weapons in their hands, the rags on their backs, and the tribal flocks and herds. The only law they knew was the word of the Patriarch, the Old Man of the Tribe. They had no knowledge of reading or writing, and probably they could not count above ten.

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