Praise be to Allah.
The Jews did not originate in Egypt; rather they originated in Palestine, but Egypt was one of the significant stages in the history of the Jews. That is because the Jewish religion began at the time of the Prophet of Allah Ya‘qoob (peace be upon him), who was born and lived in the holy land, and was granted the honour of Prophethood there. Allah blessed him with many children, and part of his story is what Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, tells us of in detail in Soorah Yoosuf, when the brothers of Yoosuf (peace be upon him) plotted against their brother. The story led to him becoming a governor in Egypt, and ended with Ya‘qoob (peace be upon him) and his sons coming to Egypt and settling there under the auspices of Yoosuf (peace be upon him), as Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, tells us (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then, when they entered unto Yoosuf (Joseph), he betook his parents to himself and said: ‘Enter Egypt, if Allah wills, in security’”
They did not leave Egypt until they left with the Prophet of Allah Moosa, and after wandering in the wilderness for forty years, until they entered the holy land of Palestine, where they were ruled by Sulaymaan (peace be upon him) and where they had a glorious history.
The Muslims and Jews do not differ concerning this general history. In fact the Torah – as it exists in the print editions today – clearly states the connection of Ya‘qoob (Jacob – peace be upon him) – also known as Israa’eel or Israel – to the land of Kan‘aan (Canaan), the land of Palestine, as it says in the Torah:
“And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan”
We referred to a number of historical books that deal with the history of the Jews or the Children of Israel, and we found that they are unanimously agreed on this historical summary, despite the fact that these books based their information on so many sources. But this overview is proven and confirmed.
Al-‘Arab wa’l-Yahood fi’t-Tareekh by Dr Ahmad as-Soosah, Dar al-‘Arabi
Al-‘Arab wa’-s-Saamiyyoon wa’l-‘Ibraaniyyoon wa Bani Israa’eel wa’l-Yahood by Dr Ahmad Dawood, Dar al-Mustaqbal
Tareekh Filasteen al-Qadeem by Zafar Islam Khan, Dar an-Naqqaash
We will quote here a medium-length overview of Jewish history, by Dr Mahmoud Qadah, who said:
Our history begins with Israa’eel (Israel) – namely Ya‘qoob ibn Is-haaq ibn Ibraaheem al-Khaleel (Jacob son of Isaac son of Abraham the Close Friend of Allah – peace be upon them all) – who grew up and lived in the land of the Canaanites (Palestine), who had twelve sons from four wives, as follows:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun – their mother was Leah
Joseph (Yoosuf – peace be upon him) and Benjamin (Binyameen) – their mother was Rachel (Raaheel)
Dan and Naphtali – their mother was Bilhah, the handmaid of Rachel
Gad and Asher – their mother was Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah
The twelve sons were the origin of the Israelite tribes.
Then comes the famous story of Joseph (Yoosuf – peace be upon him) with his brothers and their father Jacob (Ya‘qoob – peace be upon him), and how Israel (Jacob) and his sons moved to live in the land of Egypt, where they were honoured and respected under the auspices of Joseph (peace be upon him).
After the deaths of Jacob and Joseph (peace be upon them), with the passage of time and the succession of kings, the situation of the Children of Israel in Egypt changed from one of honour and respect to one of humiliation and ignominy, because the Pharaoh of Egypt persecuted and enslaved the Israelites. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when We rescued you from Firauns (Pharaoh) people, who were afflicting you with the worst torment, killing your sons and letting your women live. And in that was a great trial from your Lord”
Then Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, sent Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them), the two sons of Amram son of Kohath son of Levi son of Jacob (‘Imraan ibn Qahaat ibn Laawi ibn Ya‘qoob – peace be upon him) to Pharaoh and his people, supported with miracles, to call them to believe in Allah alone, and to stop persecuting the Children of Israel. But Pharaoh and his people rejected the message, disobeyed Allah and disbelieved in Him and his signs. So Allah commanded His Messenger Moses to depart from Egypt with the Children of Israel. Pharaoh pursued them with his troops, and Allah drowned them in the sea, but He delivered Moses and his people into the land of Sinai.
The people of Moses (peace be upon him), the Children of Israel – with whom he departed from Egypt – had lived in a state of servitude, humiliation and idolatry for many years. Their beliefs had become corrupted, their souls had been tainted with evil, and their resolve have weakened. Their stubbornness, laziness, fatalism, carelessness and disobedience to the command of Allah and His Messenger became obvious… Despite the many signs and miracles that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, bestowed upon the people of Moses, they showed an attitude of stubbornness and arrogance, and refused to believe unless they saw Allah with their own eyes. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when you said: ‘O Moosa (Moses)! We shall never believe in you till we see Allah plainly.’ But you were seized with a thunderbolt (lightning) while you were looking.
Then We raised you up after your death, so that you might be grateful”
“The people of the Scripture (Jews) ask you to cause a book to descend upon them from heaven. Indeed they asked Moosa (Moses) for even greater than that, when they said: ‘Show us Allah in public,’ but they were struck with thunder clap and lightning for their wickedness. Then they worshipped the calf even after clear proofs, evidences, and signs had come to them. (Even) so We forgave them. And We gave Moosa (Moses) a clear proof of authority”
After these miracles and clear signs that Allah bestowed upon the Children of Israel, when Moses (peace be upon him) went to meet his Lord and receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, and they thought that he was taking too long to return to them, they reverted to what they were familiar with of idolatry in Egypt, and they took the calf for worship.
They continued to be impatient lazy, demanding, stubborn and rebellious, until they said what Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, tells us about in the Holy Qur’an, where He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when you said, ‘O Moosa (Moses)! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Foom (wheat or garlic), its lentils and its onions.’ He said, ‘Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!’ And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the Wrath of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins)”
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, instructed them to enter the holy land (Bayt al-Maqdis – Jerusalem – and the land of goodness) and promised them victory, and Moses asked his people to do that. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when Moosa (Moses) said to his people: ‘O my people! Remember the Favour of Allah to you, when He made Prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the Alameen (mankind and jinns, in the past).
‘O my people! Enter the holy land (Palestine) which Allah has assigned to you, and turn not back (in flight) for then you will be returned as losers.’
They said: ‘O Moosa (Moses)! In it (this holy land) are a people of great strength, and we shall never enter it, till they leave it; when they leave, then we will enter.’
Two men of those who feared (Allah and) on whom Allah had bestowed His Grace (they were Yoosha (Joshua) and Kalab (Caleb)) said: ‘Assault them through the gate, for when you are in, victory will be yours, and put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed.’
They said: ‘O Moosa (Moses)! We shall never enter it as long as they are there. So go you and your Lord and fight you two, we are sitting right here.’
He (Moosa (Moses)) said: ‘O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother, so separate us from the people who are the Fasiqoon (rebellious and disobedient to Allah)!’
(Allah) said: ‘Therefore it (this holy land) is forbidden to them for forty years; in distraction they will wander through the land. So be not sorrowful over the people who are the Fasiqoon (rebellious and disobedient to Allah).’”
Therefore Allah decreed that they should wander in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years, constantly travelling and not finding their way out of it, until that disobedient, careless generation that had left Egypt with Moses died, from whom he had encountered indescribable offence and disobedience. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says, describing the offence they caused to Moses (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when Moosa (Moses) said to his people: ‘O my people! Why do you hurt me while you know certainly that I am the Messenger of Allah to you?’ So when they turned away (from the Path of Allah), Allah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path). And Allah guides not the people who are Fasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah)”
Aaron died, followed by Moses (peace be upon them both) in the wilderness, and Allah brought forth among the Children of Israel Yoosha‘ ibn Noon (Joshua son of Nun), the servant of Moses (peace be upon them both), as a Prophet and successor to Moses (peace be upon him).
When their sojourn in the wilderness ended, Joshua (peace be upon him) brought the Children of Israel out to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), which they besieged and Allah granted them the conquest thereof. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, commanded them, when they entered the holy land (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when We said: ‘Enter this town (Jerusalem) and eat bountifully therein with pleasure and delight wherever you wish, and enter the gate in prostration (or bowing with humility) and say: Forgive us, and We shall forgive you your sins and shall increase (reward) for the good-doers.’
But those who did wrong changed the word from that which had been told to them for another, so We sent upon the wrong-doers Rijzan (a punishment) from the heaven because of their rebelling against Allah’s Obedience.”
After they entered the holy land, Joshua (peace be upon him) began to complete the conquest thereof, and he divided the conquered lands among the twelve Israelite tribes.
After the death of Joshua (peace be upon him), leadership of the Children of Israel was taken over by their judges.
End quote from Majallat al-Jaami‘ah al-Islamiyyah (issue no. 107, p. 246-253)
And Allah knows best.