444 B.C. The core beliefs of Judaism are founded in the laws that were revealed to the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai. The belief in one God who controls history and guarantees that virtue is rewarded and wickedness is punished established Judaism as a monotheistic religion, and separated it from the polytheistic religions of the ancient world.
Scholars and believers dispute whether Moses himself or later writers recorded the Jewish law into the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah. But after six centuries of written compilations and several more of oral traditions, a temple scribe named Ezra was given the authority in 444 B.C. to proclaim the Torah the official law of Judaa vassal state of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire.
In the centuries before Ezra's proclamation, the Israelites, as the Hebrews came to be known, suffered military defeats and forced diasporas and enslavement. Throughout, they maintained a sense of faith and community in large part due to the teachings of Moses and a series of later prophets whose teachings appear in later parts of the Hebrew Bible.
The canonization of the Torah began centuries of interpretation and reinterpretation of every word it contained. It would go on to profoundly influence the morals and values of countless Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.