It is an important fact that political history is recorded in the Bible never for its own sake, but only in so far as it influences, or is produced by, religious development. There are two sources from which we draw our knowledge of Hebrew history, namely, native and foreign. The first consists chiefly of the Old Testament itself, a Jewish writer named Josephus, and the ruins and inscriptions in Palestine. The most important foreign source is the cuneiform writing of Mesopotamia. The whole Hebrew Biblical history may be divided into five distinct periods, each marked by various characteristics. The adoption of monotheism was one of the most noteworthy of these.
What marked Hebrew from other history was first, Israel's divine guidance, and second, the strange discrepancies, most noticeable in the absence of great warriors, of commerce, art, and philosophy, and of any intercourse between Israel and the other nations. On the other hand the Hebrews had the consciousness of a high mission and were pre-eminent in religion. They originated the belief of monotheism and all their great men were religious prophets and teachers. Without Hebrew history we should not have Christianity.