the israelites and the roots of judaism reading · pdf filethe israelites and the roots of...

of 3/3
Name __________________________________________ Date ___________ Class _______ Period _____ Quaestio: ________________________________________________________________________________ The Israelites and the Roots of Judaism Directions: Read the article below, and as you read, answer the questions on a separate sheet of paper. Quaestio: How different were the Israelites from their neighbors? Disclaimer: Religion as History While Judaism is the first major world religion we are studying, this disclaimer applies to all the religions we cover in this course. As historians, we study religion in terms of (1) Beliefs and Practices, (2) Origin and Development, and (3) Influence on History. As historians, we neither affirm nor deny the existence of gods, miracles, or divine revelation because they are beyond the scope of historical inquiry. However, we study what people believed and believe because it helps us understand their perspective, as well as how those beliefs influenced their decision making and cultural development. 1. What aspects of religion do the screens study, and what aspects are off-limits? The Sources of Hebrew History While the religion of Judaism as it exists today did not fully develop until much later, the earliest beginnings of Jewish religion originated with a people called the Hebrews, pastoral nomads (herders) who settled in the Fertile Crescent between 2000 and 1500 BCE. The main source for the history of the Hebrews is the holy text of Judaism, the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh in Hebrew), a collection of religious texts compiled over many centuries and finished around 100 CE. The oldest and most important part of the Tanakh is called the Torah, which means “Law” or “Teaching.” In addition to moral teachings, the Torah also recorded traditional stories, such as the story of Creation and the story of Noah and the Great Flood (which shares many features with Mesopotamian flood myths). Historians do not generally take the Hebrew Bible as a primary source, as it was written later about past events. Also, as a religious text and not a work of history, it is highly subject to religious bias. However, outside the Bible, the historical sources about the Hebrews, are very limited, so sometimes the Bible is the only information we have. Historians today debate over how much of the Biblical story can be considered history. 2. What was the original lifestyle of the Hebrews, and where did they live? Monotheism One major characteristic that set the Hebrews apart from their neighbors in the Ancient Middle East was Monotheism, the belief in only One God. The name for God in Hebrew is Yahweh, which means “The Always Existing One.” However, even according to the Biblical story, the Hebrews and their descendants were not always monotheistic, often worshipping the gods of neighboring peoples. Also, there were examples of proto-monotheism in other parts of the Ancient World. In New Kingdom Egypt, the Pharaoh Akhenaten started the religion of Atenism, worship of only Aten, the Sun Disc, over all other gods. In Persia, the Prophet Zoroaster founded the religion of Zoroastrianism, which taught belief in supreme god of good, Ahura Mazda, though there was also a god of evil, Ahriman. 3. Were the Hebrews the only monotheists in the ancient world? Explain. Zoroaster

Post on 24-Mar-2018

223 views

Category:

Documents

5 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

  • Name__________________________________________Date___________Class_______Period_____

    Quaestio:________________________________________________________________________________

    The Israelites and the Roots of Judaism Directions:Readthearticlebelow,andasyouread,answerthequestionsonaseparatesheetofpaper.

    Quaestio:HowdifferentweretheIsraelitesfromtheirneighbors?

    Disclaimer: Religion as History WhileJudaismisthefirstmajorworldreligionwearestudying,thisdisclaimerappliestoallthereligionswecoverinthiscourse.Ashistorians,westudyreligionintermsof(1)BeliefsandPractices,(2)OriginandDevelopment,and(3)InfluenceonHistory.Ashistorians,weneitheraffirmnordenytheexistenceofgods,miracles,ordivinerevelationbecausetheyarebeyondthescopeofhistoricalinquiry.However,westudywhatpeoplebelievedandbelievebecauseithelpsusunderstandtheirperspective,aswellashowthosebeliefsinfluencedtheirdecisionmakingandculturaldevelopment.

    1. Whataspectsofreligiondothescreensstudy,andwhataspectsareoff-limits?

    The Sources of Hebrew History WhilethereligionofJudaismasitexiststodaydidnotfullydevelopuntilmuchlater,theearliestbeginningsofJewishreligionoriginatedwithapeoplecalledtheHebrews,pastoralnomads(herders)whosettledintheFertile

    Crescentbetween2000and1500BCE.ThemainsourceforthehistoryoftheHebrewsistheholytextofJudaism,theHebrewBible(TanakhinHebrew),acollectionofreligioustextscompiledovermanycenturiesandfinishedaround100CE.TheoldestandmostimportantpartoftheTanakhiscalledtheTorah,whichmeansLaworTeaching.Inadditiontomoralteachings,theTorahalsorecordedtraditionalstories,suchasthestoryofCreationandthestoryofNoahandtheGreatFlood(whichsharesmanyfeatureswithMesopotamianfloodmyths).HistoriansdonotgenerallytaketheHebrewBibleasaprimarysource,asitwaswrittenlateraboutpastevents.Also,asareligioustextandnotaworkofhistory,itishighlysubjecttoreligiousbias.However,outsidetheBible,thehistoricalsourcesabouttheHebrews,areverylimited,sosometimestheBibleistheonlyinformationwehave.HistorianstodaydebateoverhowmuchoftheBiblicalstorycanbeconsidered

    history.

    2. WhatwastheoriginallifestyleoftheHebrews,andwheredidtheylive?

    Monotheism OnemajorcharacteristicthatsettheHebrewsapartfromtheirneighborsintheAncientMiddleEastwasMonotheism,thebeliefinonlyOneGod.ThenameforGodinHebrewisYahweh,whichmeansTheAlwaysExistingOne.However,evenaccordingtotheBiblicalstory,theHebrewsandtheirdescendantswerenotalwaysmonotheistic,oftenworshippingthegodsofneighboringpeoples.Also,therewereexamplesofproto-monotheisminotherpartsoftheAncientWorld.InNewKingdomEgypt,thePharaohAkhenatenstartedthereligionofAtenism,worshipofonlyAten,theSunDisc,overallothergods.InPersia,theProphetZoroasterfoundedthereligionofZoroastrianism,whichtaughtbeliefinsupremegodofgood,AhuraMazda,thoughtherewasalsoagodofevil,Ahriman.

    3. WeretheHebrewstheonlymonotheistsintheancientworld?Explain.

    Zoroaster

  • Traditional Narrative of Abraham and the Covenant AccordingtoJewishtradition,aHebrewmannamedAbraham,wholivedinSouthernMesopotamia,waschosenbyGodtobeaprophet,someonewhocommunicateswithGodandpreachesGodsmessagetoothers.GodinstructedAbrahamtoleavehishomeandmadeacovenant,oragreement,withAbraham:aslongasAbrahamobeyedGodscommands,GodwouldblesshimandhisdescendantsandgivethemthelandofCanaan,intheSouthernLevant,asanewhome.OutsidetheBible,thereisnohistoricalevidenceforAbrahamhimself,buttherearereferencesinSumerian,Akkadian,Hittite,andEgyptiantextsofapeoplecalledtheHabiru,whoareidentifiedasnomadsoftheFertileCrescentregion,sometimesdescribedasmigrantlaborers,rebels,oroutlaws.

    4. AccordingtoJewishtradition,whatisaprophet?

    Traditional Narrative of Israelites in Egypt AccordingtoJewishtradition,AbrahamsgrandsonJacobandhistwelvesonsmigratedtoNewKingdomEgypttoescapefamineinCanaan.JacobwasalsoknownbythenameIsrael,sohisdescendantswerecalledtheIsraelites.AstheirpopulationinEgyptgrew,thePharaohsawtheIsraelitesasathreatandenslavedthem.JewsbelievethatanewprophetnamedMoseswaschosentofreetheIsraelites.Asababy,Moseswassaidtohavebeenleftinabasketanddroppedintheriver(whichisverysimilartoastoryabouttheAkkadianrulerSargon).WithGodshelp,MosesledtheIsraelitesoutofEgypt,amigrationknownastheExodus,celebratedbyJewstodayduringtheholiday

    Passover.TheIsraelitesarethensaidtohavewanderedthedesertfor40yearsbeforereachingCanaan.Duringthistime,GodspoketoMosesandtaughthimtheTorah.ThisincludedtheTenCommandments,thefirstbeingthatnogodbeworshippedexceptYahweh.SomeoftheIsraelitesdisobeyedthecommandmentbyprayingtoanEgyptianbullgodinsteadofGod,buttheyrepentedfortheirsinsandGodforgavethem.TheholidayofYomKippur,theDayofAtonement,isbasedonthisstory.OutsidetheBible,thereisnodirectevidenceforMosesandtheExodusasdescribedintheBible,butmoregenerally,itisunderstoodthatthereweremanywavesofmigrationintoandout

    ofEgyptbyavariousgroupsfromtheLevant,knowncollectivelyastheHyksos,whoalsocameintoconflictwiththeEgyptians,soitisentirelypossiblethattheIsraeliteswereoneofthosegroups.

    5. WhyisMosessuchanimportantfigureinJudaism?Giveasmanyexamplesasyoucan.

    TraditionalNarrativeofKingdomandConquestAccordingtoJewishTradition,theIsraelitesmigratedtoCanaanandfoughtwithotherCanaanitestoconquertheland.TheyeventuallycreatedtheKingdomofIsraelinthe900sBCE.Thetwomostfamouskingsfromthetraditionwerealsoseenasprophets:David,whomadetheholycityofJerusalemhiscapital,andhissonSolomon,whobuilttheFirstTempleofJerusalem,wherepriestsmadesacrificestoYahweh.Thisisthefirstperiodforwhichhistorianshavesomesolidevidence,withrecordsofdiplomatic(government)andcommercial(trade)relationsbetweenIsraelandotherkingdomsintheregion.However,theshort-livedkingdom

  • dividedintothelargerNorthernKingdomofIsraelandthesmallerSouthernKingdomofJudah.ThepeopleofJudahwerelaterknownasJews,whichwasoriginallyawordfortheethnicityornationality,andonlylatercametobeusedtodescribethereligionoftheJewishpeople.Soon,thepowerfulAssyrianEmpireconqueredtheMiddleEast,andwhentheNorthernKingdomofIsraelfellundertheirrulein772BCE,theAssyrianskickedmanyoftheIsraelitesoutoftheland.In586BCE,theNeo-Babylonians(akaChaldeans)conqueredtheKingdomofJudah,destroyingtheHolyTempleandtakingthousandsofJewstoBabylontouprootthemfromtheirhistoryandpreventrebellions.About50yearslater,thePersiansunderKingCyrusconqueredtheregion,andbecauseoftheirreligioustolerance,theyallowedtheJewstoreturntoJudahandbeginrebuildingtheTemple.HistoriansbelievethattheTorahastaughtbyMosesisrecordedasthefirstfivebooksoftheHebrewBible,whichhistoriansbelievewaswrittendownduringthisperiod.

    6. WhatfactorscontributedtothedeclineoftheKingdomofIsrael?

    Summary Questions 7. Drawingonevidencefromtheentirereading,inwhatwaysweretheHebrews/Israelitessimilartotheir

    neighborsintheancientworld?Inwhatwaysweretheydifferent?8. Drawingonevidencefromtheentirereading,howmuchhistoricalevidenceexistsoutsidetheBibleto

    supporttheBiblicalstories?Explain.