This chapter begins with the question of what really happened, to ask whether the biblical account of Israel’s history corresponds to the past as reconstructed by historians and archaeologists. It introduces ancient Israelite history as reconstructed by biblical scholars, and explains the genesis of the ancient Israelites within the context of what is known about history from other ancient Near Eastern sources and archaeological excavation. To better understand the history of ancient Israel, it is extremely helpful to know something about the political, social, and cultural context in which it emerged, including the various peoples with whom it interacted. From the beginning of the third millennium until Alexander the Great, ancient Egyptian history is divided into Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, with three “intermediate periods,” when Egypt experienced political division and economic decentralization. Many people assume that the Bible endorses a prudish attitude toward sex, forbidding it outside of heterosexual marriage.