Essay on Judaism

This essay has a total of 2020 words and 9 pages.


Judaism





Judaism



Early History of Judaism

It has been argued that Judaism can be seen not only as a single religion, but as a group
of similar religions. It has also been pointed-out that through all the trials and
tribulations that Judaism has suffered through, that there have been common themes that
have proven omni-pervasive. Any institution with roots as ancient and varied as the
religion of the Jews is bound to have a few variations,

especially when most of its history takes place in the political and theological hot spot of the Middle East.
In this discussion, many facets of Judaism will be examined, primarily in the three
temporal subdivisions labeled the Tribal / Pre-Monarchy Period, the Divided Monarchy, and
the Hasmonean / Maccabean and Roman Era. Among all the time periods where the religion has
been split, these three seem to be the mostrepresentative of the forces responsible.

As for a common thread seen throughout all Judiasms, the area of focus here is the place
associated with the religion : Jerusalem. This topic will be covered in detail first, and
then the multiple Judaism arguments will be presented. In this way, it is possible to keep
a

common focus in mind when reading about all the other situations in which the religion has
found itself. A brief conclusion follows the discussion.


A Place to Call Home No other religion has ever been so attached to its birthplace as
Judaism. Perhaps this is because Jews have been exiled and restricted from this place for
most of their history. Jerusalem is not only home to Judaism, but to the Muslim and
Christian religions as well. Historically this has made it quite a busy place for the
various groups.

Jerusalem is where the temple of the Jews once stood; the only place on the whole Earth
where one could leave the confines of day to day life and get closer to God. In 586 BCE
when the temple was destroyed, no Jew would have denied Jerusalem as being the geographic
center of the religion. From that point on, the Jewish people have migrated around the
world, but not one of them forgets the fact that Jerusalem is where it all began. It is
truly a sacred place, and helps to define what Judaism means to many people; a common
thread to run through all the various splinters of the religion and help hold them
together.

Even today, as the Jewish people have their precious Jerusalem back (through the help of
other nations and their politics) there is great conflict and emotion surrounding it.
Other nations and people in the area feel that they should be in control of the renowned
city, and the Jews deny fervently any attempt to wrestle it from their occupation. It is
true that there is no temple in Jeruslaem today, nor are all the Jews in the world rushing
to get back there. But it is apparent that the city represents more to the religion of
Judaism than

a mere place to live and work. The city of Jerusalem is a spiritual epicenter, and
throughout Judaism’s long and varied history, this single fact has never changed.


Tribal / Pre-Monarchy
Judaism’s roots lie far back in the beginnings of recorded history. The religion did
not spring into existence exactly as it is known today, rather it was pushed and prodded
by various environmental factors along the way. One of the first major influences on the
religion was the Canaanite nation. Various theories exist as to how and when the people
that would later be called Jews entered into this civilization. But regardless of how they
ultimately got there, these pioneers of the new faith were subjected to many of the ideas
and prejudices of the time. Any new society that finds itself in an existing social
situation, can do no more than to try and integrate into that framework. And this is
exactly what the Jews did.

Early Judaism worshipped multiple gods. One of these gods was known as Ba’al, and
was generally thought-of as a ‘statue god’ with certain limitations on his
power. The other primary deity was called YHWH (or Yahweh) and enjoyed a much more
mysterious and illusive reputation. He was very numinous, and one was to have great
respect, but great fear for him at the same time. Ba’al was not ever really

feared, as his cycles (metaphorically seen as the seasons) were fairly well known, and not at all fear-inducing.
The fact that the early Jews and Canaanites had these two radically different
representations of a deity active in their culture, basically assured that there would be
splits in the faith. One group inevitably would focus on one of the gods, and another
would focus on another. In this way, the single religion could support multiple types of
worship, leading to multiple philosophies and patterns of behavior, which could then focus
more and more on their respective niche, widening the gap into a clear cut distinction
between religious groups.

This early time period was generally quite temporary and non-centralized, stemming from
the fact that technology was at a very low level, and people’s lifespan was fairly
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