The time period that is associated with ancient Jewish history can be traced back to the peoples that had inhabited the fertile regions of the Middle East including the Tigris, Nile and Euphrates river valleys. According to scholars, this history refers directly to the Israelites who occupied an area known as Canaan that was located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Many religious documents refer to an exodus by Jacob and twelve of his sons during a period of extreme famine; this group thereafter settling in northern Egypt. While it was believed that a forty-year pilgrimage out of Egypt (and away from the captors of the Israelites) took place, modern archaeological evidence indicates that Iron Age Israel arose directly from within Canaan as opposed to a supposed Egyptian exodus.
More information about Israelites history
Still, the period of ancient Jewish history was marred by a number of conflicts. Perhaps one of the most pivotal was an era of Babylonian captivity that arose from the besieging of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. There were many deportations and countless Jews fled (some never returned). It was not until the fall of Babylon that the Jews reoccupied Jerusalem and (according to the Bible) a second Jewish temple was once again erected.