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Subsequently, Hebrews referred to themselves as "God's chosen people." After Abraham, the Hebrews were led by Abraham's son Isaac, then by Isaac's son Jacob.
Jacob, also known as "Israel" ("Champion of God"), was the father of 12 sons, who became leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel.
For hundreds of years these tribes lived in Canaan and comprised all of Hebrew civilization.
By about 1700 , Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt (the Exodus) into the Sinai Desert, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.
Although Jews comprise less than three percent of the American population, Jews have generally had a disproportionately larger representation in American government, business, academia, and entertainment.
American Jews have suffered their share of setbacks and have had to combat anti-Semitism during the early twentieth century.
Between the ninth and fifteenth centuries Sephardic Jews made significant cultural and literary contributions to Spain while it was under Islamic rule.
In 135 the Romans officially banned Judaism, which marked the beginning of the diaspora, or the dispersal of Jews.
Forced out of Palestine, Jews in exile concentrated less on establishing a unified homeland and more on maintaining Judaism through biblical scholarship and community life.
For 40 years the Israelites lived in the desert, obeying God's commandments.
After Moses, Joshua led the Israelites back into Canaan, now called Palestine, representing the "Promised Land." There the people were ruled by benevolent Judges and later by Kings until social tensions after the death of King Solomon caused the Israelites to break apart.
On the whole, however, Jews have enjoyed greater acceptance in America than in any other country and have figured prominently in American culture and politics.