Civilization and the Jews - Part 1: A People Is Born, Part 2: Th (1984)

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Synopsis by Mike Cummings

This outstanding documentary presents the history of the Jews throughout recorded history. In Part I (3500 B.C. to 600 B.C.), narrator Abba Eban, a scholar and a onetime Israeli foreign minister (1966-1974), lays the foundation for the nine-hour public-television series, explaining how the Jews evolved from early Middle Eastern civilizations to establish themselves as a dynamic people with a monotheistic religion and culture that would influence all generations to come. After throwing off the yoke of Egyptian slavery, Jews under Moses migrate to the Promised Land, eventually forming a nation. Overcoming the iron swords of the Philistines, Israel thrives under David, then Solomon, before wars sunder the nation and disperse the Jews to other lands. Eban points out in Part II (700 B.C. to 200 B.C.) that they maintain their identity as a people--thanks in large part to the laws they share in common, embodied in the Torah--even while living under Babylonian and Persian rule and even as Alexander the Great spreads the Greek culture and language to all parts of the known world. After the Maccabees win back Jersusalem for the Jews, they reestablish themselves in Judah only to be conquered later by the Romans.