Samantha Fried 5/25/18
Mr. Medico Global Honors
History and Origin of Judaism
Throughout the course of history, the Jews remained a tiny odd nation and outsiders regarded the Jews as firmly dedicated to their unique practices and their odd beliefs. In the many great Empires in the Ancient World such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Rome that rose and fell. These ancient empires collapsed but Judaism has still influenced the life of millions. Religion of such impact endured constant persecution especially by the Christians (Cavendish 133). An aspect of the deep rooted history of antisemitism is the belief that Jews are the chosen people of God, born to carry out the responsibility of bringing the whole world to God’s service. Judaism opposes and rejects the Christian worship of Christ and the Trinity, which is the belief that son, father, and holy spirit are all God, as separations from monotheism (134). The rise and history of Judaism has greatly influence and shaped the world and other religions we know.
The first event in sacred history is God’s creation of the world. The first man and woman were named Adam and Eve. Abraham was the first Jew and all Jews after him are known as Abraham’s descendants. God appeared to Abraham who was living in Ur, a town in Mesopotamia. God told Abraham the God would create a great nation and he told Abraham to leave his country and go to the promised land, Canaan. Abraham did as God said and went to Canaan with his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot. According to the Bible, God chose Abraham to be the father of this nation. Abraham settled in Canaan around 1600 B.C.E. (Pasachoff,1). After settling in Canaan Abraham relocated his people to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan, although they later returned to this promised land. God promised Abraham bountiful offspring and even when Abraham was very old, his wife Sarah had another son who they named Isaac. After a few years God decided to to test Abraham’s obedience to God because God wanted to see Abraham’s willingness to do anything for God. God tested his obedience by ordering him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham went to sacrifice his son but when God saw how obedient he was God replaced his son with a ram to sacrifice. Isaac grew up and became a father of Jacob and Esau. Jews take their name, son of israel, from Jacob who later became known as Israel. Jacob had twelve sons. Each of his sons descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel. One son, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was reunited with his family when there was a famine and they came to Egypt. Joseph’s family settled in Egypt but after generations passed the Jews became enslaved (2). The history of Jews is recorded in the Hebrew Bible which has three sections. The first section is the Torah which are the five books of Moses. The second section is the Prophets, and the third section is the Writing’s (1).
One of the most remarkable and influential figures in Jewish history and religion is Moses. Moses led the Jews out of Egypt and gave them the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai. While the Jews were enslaved pharaohs ordered newborn hebrew males to be thrown into the river to drown because he was afraid that strong Jewish men would overthrow the pharaoh. The parents of one Hebrew newborn put their baby in a basket and sent him down the Nile so the the Pharaohs would not kill him. The pharaoh’s daughter found him in the basket, named him Moses, and raised him as her own. When he was an adult he fled to Midian (Pasachoff 4). When Moses grew up he felt extreme sympathy and empathy for his oppressed and mistreated people (Cavendish 136). One day he saw a burning bush and heard a voice calling him from that bush. God, also known as YHVH was summoning Moses (Pasachoff 4). God said that Moses was the ancestral God of Israel and the he was to lead his people out of Egypt to Canaan (Cavendish 136). God revealed and told Moses that he was always with his people and he would free the enslaved Hebrews with Moses as his messenger. After, Moses came back to Egypt he demanded that the the pharaoh had to free the Israelites. Only after the ten plagues, the pharaoh let the Israelites free. The Israelites started to leave fast but then the pharaoh changed his mind. The pharaoh sent troops to kill and stop them. God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross through, and Moses led his people across. When the troops came and chased them, God closed the sea and they drowned (Pasachoff,4). The Israelites roamed the Sinai desert for 40 years (5). The Jews carried with them an ark which was a portable wooden shrine which showed that God was always with the Hebrews (Cavendish 137). Moses climbed up to Mount Sinai to communicate with God. According to the Bible he returned with the 10 Commandments. (Pasachoff,5). The 10 Commandments contains concepts of Judaism as a monotheistic religion. According to the Bible God wrote the 10 Commandments on two stone tablets. In the first commandment Iod identifies by the name YHWH (7). Right after Moses died they reached Israel (5). The Ark was taken to Shiloh which became the center for Yahweh’s worship (Cavendish 137). The Israelites were the first religious group to develop the concept of monotheism (Pasachoff, 6).
King Saul united the tribes of Israel into a monarchy in order to defend against the Philistines. Saul spent most of his reign fighting Israel’s enemies. King Saul died fighting the Philistines in 1005 B.C.E. The Philistines were very brutal, the Philistines cut off King Saul’s head and hung his body on the wall of Beth-Shan (Pasachoff 17). The Philistines defeated the Israelites and expanded their power to the Israelites land. The Philistines took control over the ark of the covenant and they burned down the sanctuary in 1080 B.C.E. The Israelites were organized into tribes and the prophet Samuel noticed that the tribes would be no match against the strong and powerful Philistines. Saul became the king and war broke out against the Philistines. The Israelites gained control over Benjamin. To guarantee and secure Judah’s safety from raids by the Amalekites, Saul defeated their enemy and captured King Agag of Amalekites. War with Palestine continued and in one fight David used a sling to kill the huge Philistine Goliath. David commanded a division in the army and had many successes. David was chosen by God to be the next king (19).
David was the greatest ruler in Jewish history. David was a shepherd who was watching the Israelites fight the Philistines when he saw a giant goliath. The goliath told the Israelites to send one of their men to fight him but no one went. David volunteered but king Saul did not let him fight because he was too young. After a great deal of persuasion that David could beat the giant goliath, Saul agreed and covered David in armor although David took it off. The only thing that he took with him was five stones and a sling. David struck him in the forehead with a stone, took goliath’s sword and cut off the giant’s head. David conquered Jerusalem, made the capital Jerusalem, and Jerusalem became a political and religious center of Judaism (Pasachoff 20). The construction of the temple by David’s son, Solomon, made Jerusalem not only the religious and political center, but the spiritual center of Judaism. David’s victory over Goliath made him a very popular general in Saul’s army. David became the military leader and married Saul’s daughter. David reinforced and strengthened his power in the south and was proclaimed King of Judah in 1013 B.C.E. David had intentions to take over all of Israel (21). A civil war broke out between Ishbaal and David. The Philistines saw David and his military as very powerful and they became a threat which caused the Philistines to invade. After years of wars David captured the Philistine city Gath and David was able to confine and limit the power of the philistines to the coastal areas. Now that David was king of the whole country, he decided that he should switch the capital to somewhere else. This new capital could not favor Israel or Judah so that there was no argument. David determined that Jerusalem was the best spot because it was the land route between Israel and Judah. Jerusalem had a great location for trade although it was controlled by the Jebusites. David and his soldiers went through a water tunnel, entered the city, and opened it to the the Israeli troops. David ruled for 40 years and he built a kingdom that would last for five centuries (22). In 973 B.C.E. David had Solomon who became his successor (23).
King Solomon was known for his wisdom. His main accomplishment was the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. During his reign there was successful development of the military and economic power of Judah and Israel (Pasachoff 24). King Solomon faced many revolts in the north and south. The union of the two kingdoms was still weak because the northern kingdom still resented being ruled from the southern kingdom. Solomon excluded the north from levies and military service, instead he had forced labor for the tribes exempting Judah. He divided Israel into twelve administrative units. Judah did not have to do this and they remained a special political unit (25). King Solomon built a royal palace in Jerusalem because he saw the strategic and vital location and importance of Jerusalem. Under King Solomon’s rule Judah and Israel prospered. Solomon controlled many trade routes which gave him a great deal of economic power (26).
After Solomon died the kingdom split apart because his son, King Rehoboam, could not stop the revolts from the northern kingdom of Israel (Pasachoff 26). The north seceded and Jeroboam was made King. The southern kingdom, Judah, was more stable because they had a larger area, more Israelite population, and Israel’s geography was targeted when surrounding kingdoms were expanding(27). The northern kingdom of Israel was torn by religious strife between the canaanite Baal and the God of Moses for its first one hundred years. The tension of worship between Baal and Yahweh did not end until the prophet, Elijah, arose. On Mount Carmel prophets of Baal put an offering on the altar to their God with prayers to bring fire down from heaven. Fire from heaven came down and destroyed Elijah’s offering and he ordered his people to seize 450 prophets of Baal. According to the Bible, Elijah went up to heaven in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire. During this time the Assyrians started expanding into Israel. A battle was fought at KarKar in 854 B.C.E. which held the Assyrians back (28). In the mid 8th century B.C.E. the power of the Assyrians increased. During this time Judah and Israel gained power and flourished under the reign of Jeroboam II in Israel and Azariah in Judah. Although with the Assyrians quick growth of power Israel could not protect themselves against them anymore and within twenty years the Assyrians took over two thirds of Israel’s territory. Thirty thousand Jews were forced to move to Assyria, and they absorbed into the Assyrian Empire. Many Assyrians were forced to relocate to Isreal because they wanted large numbers of Assyrians to mix with the local population. This brought an end to Israel as independent around 720 B.C.E. (29).
Hosea was ordered by YHVH to marry Gomer. Hosea was a prophet that brought a message to Israel of love for YHVH. Amos was a prophet who was against the unfair treatment of foreign nations and his prophecies were towards justice in his own land. Hosea and Amos’ views were influenced by Assyria. At this time Assyria held a threat over the nation and many in Israel were fearful. Amos prophesied in the northern kingdom who spoke mostly about how YHVH was interested in justice. He prophesied that if the people of israel did not turn to justice then the people of Israel would be killed and taken into exile (Pasachoff 30). Many historians say that this is based off of the fall of northern Israel with the Assyrians conquest. Hosea preached spiritual love. Hosea was more focused on the relationships of YHVH and Israel as husband and wife. He saw YHVH as the groom and Israel as the bride. Many people in Israel worshiped foreign gods and were considered to be becoming morally corrupt. Hosea warned that YHVH would punish Israel, it would be destroyed, and the people would be put into exile (31).
Isaiah was a prophet at the end of the reign of Uzziah of Judah in 735 B.C.E. His message was that there should be social justice and his vision was peace in his reign so that there would be no more war. He was very involved in politics and was very influential during the reign of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was able to gain the power and wealth in Judah and still be able to withstand the advances Assyria, even when King Sennacherib tried to siege Jerusalem. Isaiah began his prophecies in 734 B.C.E. He preached concerning political involvement with Assyria and Egypt. Isaiah warned that there would be deportations and a hatred toward the people of Judah. Isaiah imagined and idealized a time in the future when peace would triumph and there would no longer be war. He also preached about social justice. The vision of ultimate peace captured many peoples hopes and desires (Pasachoff 33). Isaiah saw that there was corruption and social inequality in Judah. He believed that if Gods demand of fairness and quality and to relieve the oppressed were not met then the country would not prosper, and if Gods requirements were not met, then God would punish Judah. Isaiah was affected by the political events especially about the Assyrian Empire because Judah became a vassal. Isaiah had seen the deportation of Israelites in the northern kingdom in 733 B.C.E. and more Israelites were deported after the destruction of Samaria in 722 B.C.E. Towards the end of Isaiah’s life a large percentage of the population were deported when the Assyrians attacked Judah. Isaiah viewed these deportations as YHVHs punishment for immoral and unjust behavior. Hezekiah became king in 727 B.C.E. and Judah was a subject of Assyria. The Assyrians kept expanding southward (34). Hezekiah’s resistance to the strength of the Assyrians gave Jerusalem a new spiritual position as the unconquerable city of David (36).
Isaiah prophesied the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Assyrian empire. It took one hundred years to come true. Isaiah died violently during Manasseh’s rule. Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, brought worship to foreign gods. Manasseh was succeeded by his sons Amos and then Josiah. Josiah went against the polytheism of Massennah and decided to purify his country of his fathers practices. While the temple was undergoing some renovations the book Deuteronomy was discovered (37). In the book of Deuteronomy it said that no Gods other than YHVH should be worshipped. It was constructed as a covenant, or promise, between the Jews and God. The Assyrian Empire began to collapse after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 B.C.E. and the Egyptian Empire’s power began to rise. Josiah tried to block the Egyptian forces but he was killed. Egypt gained control over Judah through the use of Josiah’s children. Josiah’s children had power but were controlled by Egypt. In 605 B.C.E. King Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians, and in 587 B.C.E. he invaded Judah and besieged Jerusalem (38). He burned down the temple and all the houses in Judah and transported most of the population especially the upper class (39).
Jeremiah died in Egypt as an exile that he himself prophesied would come true for the Jews. Jeremiah began to teach at the thirteenth year into Josiah’s reign in 627 B.C.E. (Pasachoff 40). He warned that there would be destruction to the people of Judah but no one listened. The Babylonians captured Jerusalem in 597 B.C.E. His prophecies of destruction were carried out and his prophecies of return would turn out to be correct (42). When King Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah he forced captives to settle on the Cheper River. The Jews absorbed into the Babylonian culture. The prophet Ezekiel, who was one of the first wave of exiles, prophesied that they would be in exile for a while and that this exile would go on for a long time. In the middle of the 6th century B.C.E. a new power arose in the middle east, Persia (43). In the exile the Jews told stories about their ancestors, heard the words of the prophets, and studied the laws of Moses (After the Exile). Cyrus declared himself king of the Persian Empire after leading a successful revolt against the Medes. Cyrus had a strong enforced policy regarding religious tolerance. Cyrus made the decision at the beginning of his reign to restore the temple in Jerusalem. About 50,000 Jews returned over the next fifty years (Pasachoff, 44). The Jews of Babylon managed to maintain their religion through the exile and their religion adopted so that they didn’t need a central shrine (45).
Because of the Persian Kings’ beliefs on religious tolerance king Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Judah in the 6th century B.C.E. but unlike the reason for King Cyrus in the 5th century B.C.E. the Jews return was motivated by political and military considerations of the Persian Empire. The golden age of Greece was in the fifth century B.C.E. and by the end of the fourth century B.C.E Greece had conquered Judah (Pasachoff 46). In 458 B.C.E. the Persian king Artaxerxes sent a new wave of settlers from Babylon to Judah. This wave was led by Ezra. From the book of Ezra we learn that Ezra saw himself as the leader of the people of exile most likely because the Jewish peasant population hadn’t been transported to Babylon (47).
Judah settled into a quiet province in the Persian Empire with a constant steady growing population in the 4th century. Alexander the Great changed the face of Greece and the near-east. During the next three hundred years the Jews were affected by the influence of the Greeks. In 336 B.C.E. Alexander the Great assumed the throne of Macedonia in the northern region of Greece. Not only did did Alexander the Great conquer countries, he conquered cultures. The eastern Mediterranean and near east including Judah was affected by hellenism (Pasachoff 49) Alexander led his troops and conquered the Persian Empire and became the great king of Persia in 331 B.C.E. In 323 B.C.E. Alexander the Great died of a fever and many generals fought to control the empire. Three distinct kingdoms developed, the first was Egypt which was under Ptolemy, the second was the near east ruled by Seleucus and the third kingdom was Greece and Macedon. Greek rulers enforced greek language and culture to the conquered people. Jews who lived in Alexandria learned how to speak Greek. In the third century B.C.E. the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek for the Jewish population that only spoke Greek as their first language. Jewish cultures were greatly impacted by many Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato. Plato’s ideas brought Judaism to the form we know of this religion today. Judaism became a combination of semitic religion under the Egyptian influence, Persian Zoroastrianism and Greek philosophy. The Jews were able to survive the huge threat of assimilation into Greek culture (50). Under the hellenistic monarchies Judah was called Judea because of the different spelling in the greek language. Judea continued much of the same despite its rulers even though it had no independence, it had its own language, religion, and their partially self government. The influence of Greek culture brought a great danger or risk of loss of identity to the Jews, although the Jewish community in Greece managed to survive as a people and a religion (51).
By the second century B.C.E. Judea fell to the Seleucid Greek Empire (Pasachoff 52). The country split into two different groups each with a different belief. One group consisted of the hellenizers who were mostly made up of the upper class and look to the Seleucids as their rulers, and the other group were the anti hellenizers called Hasidim. The hasidim wanted to get rid of the hellenizing institutions and reinstate pure worship of the laws of Moses. Antiochus IV Epiphanes took throne in 175 B.C.E and he decided that he wanted to expand southward against Egypt. In 168 B.C.E. Antiochus led his army into Egypt and was about to capture Alexandria, but then the powerful and strong Romans warned Antiochus to end his seize and withdrawal, which he did. To strike against the Jewish population in 167 B.C.E. Antiochus passed a law forbidding the practice of the Jewish religion with a death penalty for anyone who circumcised their son or anyone who observed the sabbath. This death penalty for practicing their religion caused a revolt to break out which was led by Mattathias along with is sons and families known as the hasmoneans (53). Menelaus and the hellenizers were loyal to Antiochus and they planned to control the strike of the Hasidim, although this backfired because it made them furious and caused the hasidim population to join the revolt. Mattathias took over and ruled the country side and became the leader of the Hasidim. After Mattathias died fighting, his son Judah became the one in charge and took command, he brought the revolt to Jerusalem. Judah won at Mizpeh in north Jerusalem and Judah was also victorious against a seleucid army. Antiochus died and Judah used this opportunity to attack Jerusalem and take the city in 164 B.C.E. and Judah purified the temple. The Seleucids could not stand and allow this revolt, Antiochus V invaded Judah and besieged Jerusalem although he was unable to take control of the city. He was forced to sign a treaty that the law against the Jews were annulled. Judah Maccabee was left as the military leader. Peace lasted only until 162 B.C.E. when Demetrius I claimed the throne of Macedon and tried to take back Jerusalem. Judah was forced to depart and the Seleucids were left in charge. Another revolt was caused because of their brutal and harsh behavior. Judah mobilized and strengthened his army and then went to war. The Seleucid forces brought elephants into battle and the Jews were forced to flee again because they were not as prepared as the Seleucid army. Judah reassembled and reorganized and then within a year defeated the Seleucid army. In 161 B.C.E. Judah carried out a treaty of neutrality and mutual defense with Rome (54). This treaty gave Judea some claim to independence although demetrius disregarded this and sent another army into Judea in 160 B.C.E and Judah died fighting the Seleucids. Judah had turned the people of Judea into an effective fighting force (55).
There were four aspects that lead to the hasmonean state as independent. The first aspect was that Rome was expanding its empire into the northeast. Although the Romans beat the Seleucids at Magnosia in 189 B.C.E they didn’t follow up their conquest by seizing a vast territory that maintained a sphere of influence and they didn’t allow the Seleucids to defeat Egypt. The second aspect was that the Seleucid empire broke up into warring and conflicting factions. This gave Judah an opportunity to establish independence. The third aspect was that there was twenty-five years of exceptional leadership of the Maccabees and the fourth aspect was that the growing population of Judea allowed the Maccabees to compete and fight against large armies (Pasachoff 56). Jonathan succeeded Judah as the leader of Jewish forces in 160 B.C.E. The throne was fought over by Alexander Balas and Demetrias I. Balas offered to make Jonathan high priest which made Jonathan was the religious leader of Judea. From 152 until 137 B.C.E. a hasmonean held office as high priest. Jonathan managed to choose the right side in civil wars. He established the hasmonean dynasty over Judea. Simon succeeded his brother and fought against Tryphon and antiochus VI. Simon allied with Demetrius II, as a result Demetrius II thought that Judea was bound to become an independent kingdom and which in fact did happen in 142 B.C.E. Simon renewed the treaty with Rome and also made other treaties with Sparta and other cities by the Mediterranean (57). In 140 B.C.E. Simon had been made highest priest and supreme commander by the great assembly and he was the leader of the people. These offices were declared hereditary until a true prophet would arise and become the foundation of the Hasmonean Dynasty. Hasmoneans continued to be in charge until the roman general took Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E. Judea was now under Roman rule. In 37 B.C.E. the Romans captured and beheaded Antigonus which ended the Hasmonean Dynasty (58).
King Herod acted like many oriental dictators who had absolute rule. King Herod mercilessly murdered all of his enemies and potential rivals, especially his own family (Pasachoff 59). In 37 B.C.E. Herod conquered Jerusalem (Davies 41). Herod the Great claimed himself to be the King of Judea and he brought an end to the Hasmonean Dynasty. Even though Herod the Great was jewish, he was disliked by many of the Jews in Judea because of Herod the Great’s harsh and cruel rule. The Talmud reveals him as a bloodthirsty ruthless tyrant although, to the jews of the diaspora, he was a popular king and the Romans thought of him as an effective and capable leader. Herod was definitely one of the greatest builder in the history of Judea. He enlarged and rebuilt the temple of Jerusalem, founded multiple new cities, and launched a massive building project. Under Herod the Great’s rule, peace and prosperity was established in Judea (Pasachoff 60). Herod created bronze coins (Davies 41). He demoted the importance of the role of high priest so that he would have more power, and filled the office with jews from the diaspora. Herod tried to incorporate Roman and hellenized elements. His impressive building projects are remembered and are considered remarkable. Herod the great rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. Although the overall economy benefited from trade, commerce, and vast building programs, the population was heavily taxed to pay for the monuments. The Jews of the Diaspora considered herod as a hero because he often took their side and used his influence with rome on their behalf. Herod the Great encouraged many diaspora Jews to migrate to Jerusalem (Pasachoff 61). Herod died in 4 B.C.E. By 6 C.E. Judea became a roman province because his power relied on his relations with Rome (62).
There were many aspects that contributed to the Diaspora of Jews. People settled by choice or were force far from their native land. The jews were one of the few groups that were capable to maintain their specific identity. Large Jewish communities developed on greek islands. Jews were found in Rome as early as the second century B.C.E. The first Jews most likely came as slaves. During the Roman Empire the Jewish population increased. From Rome, Jews spread south to Pompeii, Sicily, and north Italy (Pasachoff 68). From italy Jews moved to other provinces such as Gaul, Spain, and Germany. Since the Roman Empire had a large amount of Jews they developed a religious policy that tolerate Judaism. The Roman Empire was able to expand, although absorbing conquered people didn’t mean replacing their native culture with Roman culture but rather the roman empire granted the conquered people citizen rights and toleration of their religions. In Judea Jews were allowed to self government their region. The diaspora spread from spain to India and to southern Egypt, which created a strong, powerful Jewish religion and ethnic group. The result of the diaspora was that the Jewish community no longer depended on a national homeland for its survival (69).
Jesus was the founder of Christianity. Jesus was a Jew who lived in the early part of the first century C.E. in Judea. Jesus was believed by is followers to be in the line of prophets. Jesus died without providing any of his claims, but he did have a large influential impact on his followers. His followers proclaimed him as the messiah, son of god, and they started a new sect of Judaism which became a separate religion because the Jews rejected Jesus as a messiah and the Jew considered Jesus a false messiah and a false prophet (Pasachoff 70). In the first century B.C.E. and first century C.E. the Jewish concept of the messiah was well known and was always talked about. The messiah was believed to be an earthly ruler of the line of David who would restore political rule of Israel and extend Jewish political rule all across the nation.The Jews didn’t consider him a messiah for many reasons but the main reason was that Jesus didn’t seek world rule. His followers declared him the messiah but when he died they were left in a dilemma and were embarrassed (71). The messiah was supposed to restore the rule of the line of David. The answer was for Jesus to be reborn and come again to restore the kingdom of David. Many of Jesus’ firm believers said that Jesus would go from a man to a god. Jesus believed that the spirit of the law was more important than the letter of the law (72). Jesus was executed and it is said that three days later the tomb was empty. Jesus’ followers claimed that he had risen from the dead and was proclaimed to be the spiritual messiah (73).
Paul was the founder of the normative Christianity. He was born a Jew and his hebrew name was Saul. He hated persecutions and the new sect of Christianity, but in 35 C.E. Paul claimed to see Jesus in a vision. Paul converted from a hater of Christians to a Christian (Pasachoff, 74). Christians adopted the Jewish Bible which is known as the Old Testament. Christians considered it prehistory and the New Testament is the story of Jesus Christ. The unique concept of monotheism was taken up by the Christians. The first Christians considered themselves as Jews, they worshipped in the temple of Jerusalem and obeyed the Laws of Moses although they believed that Jesus had come as a spiritual messiah and they believed that Jesus would return. James, Jesus’ brother, was the leader of the early church at Jerusalem. The early church was the missionary vision. It wasn’t the beliefs and practices of Jewish-Christians under James and Peter that became standardized Christianity but rather the part that depended on the teachings of Paul (75). The Jewish Christians faded away and the Gentile Christians became normative Christianity which spread all throughout the Roman Empire until it became the Roman Empire’s official religion in the 4th century C.E. (76). Paul made Judaism the foundation for Gentile Christianity. Christianity would become the new covenant (77).
The Jewish revolt was sparked by money being taken from the temple treasury by the procurator Florus in 66 C.E. After sixty years as a Roman province Judea revoled. A riot broke out and Florus allowed his troops to steal goods from the upper market. The Jews took control of Temple Hill, cutting the connections between the Temple Mountain and the Antonia Fortress. Florus fled the city. The causes of the Jewish war was when Judea became a Roman province in 6 C.E. the population welcomed the change of rule from Herod and his men. The Romans decided to chose Caesarea over Jerusalem as their administrative center and the Romans taxed Judea with a tax for the land that they owned (Pasachoff 82). By the time of Pontius Pilate, governed from 26-36 C.E., the connections began to fall apart because the development of the idea that Jews should not be subject to any king because they were servants of god, and they took money from the temple treasury to improve the water supply which offended the Jews. The real trouble and problems began with Caligula, who ruled from 37-41 C.E. He ordered a golden statue of himself to be put in the temple at Jerusalem, which he ordered the Roman government of Syria to enforce this with to legions, which caused the population to be outraged, but Herod Agrippa was a friend of Caligula and persuaded him to revoke this policy. Agrippa was appointed the king of Palestine which included Judea. Judea temporarily ceased to be a province and then they became a kingdom. Herod Agrippa was sensitive delicate with religious issues although his rule was very short and then Judea became a Roman province again. Over the next 22 years disputes between Jews and non-Jews continued (83). A group of extremist freedom fighters appeared. They were encouraged because they thought that a messiah of the line of David would appear as well. They attacked the Jews that didn’t cooperate with them and oppressed the countryside. The major driving force of the revolt was the Zealots, which were a group that had the foundation of their philosophy as the idea of freedom and boundless love of liberty and that only God was their master. In 66 C.E. Judea broke out into a full revolt in Rome. Gallus, the roman governor of Syria, marched into Judea with the 12 legions. After a success at the outskirts of the city he ordered for his troops to go back because he lacked enough forces to take the city ( 84). The Roman Emperor Nero saw danger in the revolt. He sent general Vespasian with an army of 60,000 soldiers. The Jews were no match, all they could do was hold out in their fortress. In 67 C.E. Vespasian took control over the fortress of Jotapata in Galilee. In 70 C.E. Jerusalem fell and the revolt was over (85).
The roman general Titus had 4 legions under his command for the taking control over the city of Jerusalem (Pasachoff 86). On the anniversary of the destruction of the first temple by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. the Jews were forced to barricade themselves into the temple which was then burned up into flames. The Romans slaughtered the Jewish people throughout the city. The temple was the center of the religious life of the state and the political center was at Jerusalem and the Temple was the center of Jerusalem (87). This caused Jerusalem to become transformed into a spiritual center (88).
Masada continued to hold out against the Romans and serve as a place of refuge for another three years after the Jewish War. In 72 C.E. Roman Governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the 10th legion. He brought with him thousands of Jewish prisoners of war as slaves. In 73 C.E. the assault began, Masada was attacked with battering rams, catapults, and fire. Only seven people survived. All of the Jews were devastated and crushed about what happened (Pasachoff 91).
During the siege of Jerusalem Yohanan Ben Zakkai chose to abandon the city. The Romans captured him and took him to Yavneh, where he was then imprisoned. Yohanan Ben Zakkai persuaded the Roman authorities to let him teach there. Judaism’s adaptation to a religious system was led by Yohanan Ben Zakkai (Pasachoff 92). Yohanan Ben Zakkai replaced the religious authority of the temple at his school at Yavneh. The great thinkers and intellectuals at Yavneh were responsible for laying the foundation of rabbinic Judaism which would become mainstream Jewish life from 70 C.E. to present day. There were many achievements in Yavneh. One achievement was the adaption of a temple based religion to a religion that functioned without a temple. Another achievement was the development, combination, and strengthening of Jewish law called Halakhah. In addition the consolidation of various Jewish sects into one normative group. Another achievement was that at Yavneh they didn’t have all the sacred texts to refer to, which caused the great thinkers at Yavneh to create substitute prayers (93).
The Jews of Babylon helped to create a long prosperous history from the 6th century BCE to the 15th century CE and more. For most of this time period Babylon was the largest, best educated and most influential of the diaspora communities. After the Bar Kokhba revolt from 132-135 CE the community grew in size and influence and then the Babylonian Talmud was created. For the most part the Jews of Babylon had religious tolerance and were the most flourishing and steady of all Jewish communities, except for certain periods during the rule of the Sassanids (Pasachoff 105). The Talmud is a collection of oral discussions on the Mishnah and Jewish Law. Two Talmuds exist, the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud appeared as the basis of the study for Jewish scholars and rabbis from the middle ages to the 18th century and for Orthodox Jews it remains the foundation of their intellectual efforts. The Mishna comprises a codification of the oral law that had grown through the work of scholars called tanna’im. After the Mishnah was finished rabbis continued to write about the Law, this was codified into two documents called the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud. The study of Jewish law increased rapidly after the Mishnah was codified (108). The scholars used the Mishna as their basis and discussed the topics raise in it. The two Talmuds are similar in organization and design but the Babylonian Talmud is much more extensive (109). The Mishnah was written in hebrew but the two talmuds are written in Aramaic however the Jerusalem Talmud is written in western aramaic and the Babylonian Talmud is written in eastern aramaic (110). The Babylonian Talmud became the more accepted version because of its extensive historical content, the Jewish community in Palestine began to decrease although the Babylonian community continued to grow and flourish. The Talmuds inspired Jews to become literate, educated, and scholars (110).
Mohammed the prophets ideas were influenced by Judaism. Muhammed developed the monotheistic religion of Islam in the 7th century C.E. (Pasachoff 111). At the beginning he tried to use Judaism as his basis but he was later rejected by the Jews and turned against them whipping or sending into exile Jewish tribes in Mecca and Medina. Islam spread quickly and by the 8th century most of the Jewish population lived under this new religion where many people were constantly converting. When Muhammad was a child he often meditated and had visions in which he was told by God to recite verses. He preached monotheism and final judgement. A group in Medina agreed to accept him as prophet and follow him. Many of the tribes that settled in Medina and Mecca were Jewish so at first Mohammad tried to win over the Jews and his followers although he was opposed by the Jewish tribes. He began the steps to create a new religion (111). Muhammed quickly gained control of the country. Under Muhammad’s successors Islam spread out from Arabia to the world (112).
The Karaites are a Jewish belief that began in the 8th century CE. They believed that the Torah is unsurpassable but that each person is able to interpret it. Although the Talmud and oral law are rejected and not considered binding, both influence the karait philosophy. They are recognized as Jews and are free to go there under the law of free return (Pasachoff 114). Karaism was founded by Anan Ben David. Its chief principle was denial of the Talmud and oral law. He believed that each person could rely on his interpretation (115). Many aspects contributed to karaism including the religious major changes caused in Babylon by the appearance of Islam, and the socioeconomic conditions of Babylon Jews (115). By early 12th century it had spread throughout Babylon, Palestine, and Egypt (116).
From the 8th century to the 13th century most of the population lived under Muslim rule. Although second class citizens the Jews were able to enjoyed great prosperity and freedom. Muslim policy tended to encourage Jews to move from farming to the cities. Arab culture influenced the Jews and they adopted Arabic as their first language. Muslims allowed Jews to live in Muslim countries, to have religious freedom, and in return pay taxes (Pasachoff 117). Since agricultural taxes for Jews were particularly heavy, Jews tended to move into the cities (118). Jews were greatly impacted and affected by islamic culture and civilization. The Jewish masses used Arabic as their primary language. Islam came to influence the religious philosophy and practices of Jews with attention on ritual repetition of prayers (118).
Jews first settled in Rome in the second century BC..E. (Pasachoff 120). They made up a significant portion of the population of the Roman Empire, about 10%. When the Roman Empire became christianized in the 4th century C.E. Jews were tolerated but discriminated against. With the renaissance they participated in the prosperity of Italy and the cultural and intellectual advancements of that era. By the 1st century B.C.E. there were nearly 50,000 Jews in Rome and 12 synagogues have been uncovered there from the Roman Empire period (120). There were about 7 million Jews in the Roman Empire in the 1st century CE. By the early 13th century C.E. the Jewish population dropped from 8 million to 2 million. The Jewish revolt of 70 C.E. and the Bar Kokhba revolt had devastated the Jewish population (120). Once the Roman Empire had become Christian in the 4th century C.E. Jews were tolerated because of a religious principle that they must be preserved so they can turn to christ. At the end of the 6th century Gregory I began to establish its religious and political power over Italy. Gregory I strongly believe that Jews had to be converted because of persuasion not by violence. He began a policy of protecting Jews in Rome, and many other places (121).
The Jews were a part of Spain from at least the 3rd century CE until their removal in 1492. They lived under Christian rule in various places and times were under Muslim rule. The Spanish Christians treated the Jews with cruelty, viciously, and were misleading until they expelled them from their country (Pasachoff 124). Spain was a major center of Jewish life for 500 years (125). The major philosophers and poets of medieval jews came from there. Spain succeeded Babylon as the major intellectual and religious center of Jewish life in the late middle ages. The history of the Jews in Spain can be separated into three sections; The Early Christian period, the Muslim period, and the reconquest period. Anti Jewish law making began almost immediately after Spain became Christian. The Spanish Christian kings often forced Jews to convert. To try to force Jews to become Christians or go into exile, King Recceswinth who reigned from 649-672 prohibited circumcision and observance of the sabbath (125). Throughout the 7th century Jews were in constant persecution, forced baptism, and conversion although a small Jewish population preserved (126). In the 8th century alleviation came when the Muslims conquered Spain. In the 11th century the Christians reconquered Spain from the Muslims which took 400 years until 1492 (127). When the Christians first retook Spain the Jews were tolerated because of economic and political reasons. They formed an critical middle class and paid their taxes. In many cases, often the taxes for Jews were high. By the 13th century a strong anti Jewish response arose which contributed to the persecution and banishment of Jews from Spain (127).
During Judah Halevi’s lifetime the Iberian Peninsula was a battle ground because Christians wanted to regain the land that they lost to the Muslims. The Jews suffered by the ruling of both Christians and Muslims. Judah Halevi had developed theories such as Zionism and Judaism in his writings. Halevi’s poems view Israel as the only place where a jew can feel rooted (Pasachoff 128). He believed that a jews life in spain may look luxurious but in fact it is a life of bondage to empty temptations. His poems argue that there is no physical security for jews in other lands called home. I wrote how only in israel can the jewish people realize their spiritual potential (129).
Moses Maimonides was one of the greatest Jewish intellectuals. Moses Maimonides is known for two major religious writings. The first is his code of Jewish law called the Mishneh Torah and the other was The Guide for the Perplexed. He also wrote influential treatises in his professional field of medicine. For many years the Maimonides family were wanderers unable to live openly as Jews. To help other Jews practice their religion under harsh and difficult conditions he undertook the task of summarizing all Jewish law (Pasachoff 131) . It’s classification was according to subject matter and his designation of a single ruling. Moses Maimonides believed strongly that god had no body (132). It was him who advanced the still controversial idea that the worship laws were given to enhance human health. He was a controversial figure in his lifetime and in the centuries following (133).
Inquisition came to Aragonn in 1233. The first efforts of the inquisitions were to convert the jews through persuasion and education. This attempt to proselytize the jews did not work because the jews stood firm on their religion. By the 13th century the Jewish population had grown to about 150,000. In the early 13th century monastic orders became the center of antisemitism and a process began that ended in expulsion. The religious orders such as encouraging forced baptism and persecution gained increasing influence over the rulers of spain who became very anti semitic. Nahmanides was one of the greatest biblical commentators and talmudic scholars in Jewish history. As the religious leader of the jewish community in spain Nahmanides was the jewish representative in a debate with the catholic church at barcelona in 1263. Although standing alone, he successfully beat the church leaders. This victory led to Nahmanides exile, the intensification of efforts to convert Jews, and the burning of the Talmud and other jewish books (Pasachoff 134).
The zohar is the classical text of the kabbalah which is the esoteric and mystical teachings of Judaism. The Zohar and the Kabbalah are attempts to understand the inner life of God (Pasachoff 137). The aim of the zohar is to satisfy the yearning of many Jews for a way to feel closer to god and to make the jews feel like they had an important role in the world. The Zohar teaches that one way for human beings to experience as intimate a personal relationship with god is to perform the ten commandments. In the Zohar, it is said that performing the commandments arouses god causing divine mercy to flow down upon the entire people. By describing the commandments, God, and the mystic beliefs, the Zohar made Judaism more inviting and many felt that philosophic interpretations sapped jewish life of all vitality (138).
Jews came to england with the norman conquest in the 11th century. Jews settled in mostly york and london. Many turned to money lending, banking and financial activities. Jews became prosperous and contributed to the economic life of england. With the coronation of Richard the Lionheart in 1189, conditions for jews began to deteriorate (Pasachoff 139). In march 1190 the people of york massacred the Jews. Anti semitic preists urged on the mob and aroused them to distroy all Jews (144).Throughout the 13th century there was a systematic confiscation of Jewish property (139). By the end of the 13th century Jews had been impoverished by years of heavy taxation. (144). In 1275 Edward I prohibited usury which took away the only real source of jewish income. Over the next 15 years the amount of Jews persecuted was constantly increasing. In 1279 the death penalty was imposed on Jews who blasphemed against christianity. In 1280 they were forced to listen to sermons by the dominicans to convert them to christianity. In 1281 they were deprived of right such as holding public office, hiring christians, eating with christians, and building synagogues. On July 18th, 1290 the Jews were forced out of England taking with them only property they could carry. Their houses and land were confiscated by the crown. The entire jewish population left their place of birth and went into exile in france and Flanders. Jews were forbidden to settle in England for almost 400 years until they were readmitted in 1655 (144).
Rabbi Shlomo Ben Isaac, called Rashi was one of Judaism’s greatest teachers and scholars. His works on the talmud and torah have become standard commentaries to this day. Rashi is the most responsible for making the talmud accessible to non specialists. His commentary on the Torah in 1475 became the first book printed in hebrew. It proved to be a great influence that in the past 900 years over one hundred commentaries have been written on his commentaries. Rashi interpreted many passages of the Torah which modern development of semitic linguistics and the decipherment of other semitic languages can confirmed (Pasachoff 142). Rashi is able to explain difficult material clearly in his commentaries. Rashis writings on the bible and the talmud have taught Jews for the past 900 years (144).
The religious fervor of the catholic church in spain from the 13th century onward led to systematic persecutions to rid the country of non catholics. While under this pressure many Jews adopted christianity in name only, although secretly remained Jewish. These Jews called marranos were also soon persecutes, tortured, and killed (Pasachoff 145). In 1391 about 50,000 jews were massacred. In 1415 king ferdinand I forbade Jews from studying the talmud, increasing the size of existing synagogues, marrying christians, or disinheriting any of their children that might become baptized. Jews were barred from public office, and all Jews over the age of twelve had to listen to a christian sermon delivered in their synagogue three times per year. Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Argon united their 2 kingdoms and took away the jews right of Jurisdiction in their own communities. In 1483 the Jews of andalusia were forced to move to new locations. They had to wear badges and were segregated in jewish sections (146). In a final effort to ensure that the country was catholic, all non catholics, especially Jews and Muslims, were expelled in 1492 (145). 250,000 Jews of spain were put into exile. About 100,000 went to portugal but were expelled there in 1496. The rest went to north africa or turkey (146). At the time of the expulsion, Jews had lived in spain for over 1,000 years, had produced a great culture, lived in prosperity, and contributed to much of the economic, cultural, and intellectual life of Spain. The expulsion of 1492 was a disaster for spain. This contributed to spain’s decline by eliminating much of its middle class and educated elite (147).
The Marranos were Jews who converted to Christianity in spain or portugal in the 14th and 15th century. Many Marranos continued to practice Judaism in secret. Those who did became targets for the spanish inquisition which burned them as heretics. Tens of thousands of marronas escaped from spanish lands an settled in muslim countries that gave them religious freedom (Pasachoff 148). According to the church law marranos that still practiced Judaism were under the authority of the inquisition. All marranos became targets of the inquisition because so many off the marranos were heretics and were Jewish in secret. Marranos regularly left Spain and Portugal and came out as Jews in their new land in the 16th and 17th century. Spanish and portuguese authorities prohibited Marranos from emigrating but many left in secret. Marranos often fled to muslim countries which were enemies of the christians and of spain. The most frequent choice of were the jews relocated to was Morocco and Turkey because there was already large Jewish communities from the expulsion from spain in 1492. Holland allowed the Marranos in at the end of the 16th century. Marranos openly practiced Judaism there and where they combined with the existing Jewish community and made amsterdam one of the leading Jewish centers in the 17th century (149).
The first major Jewish settlements in Germany took place in the 10th century. Jews prospered in the city of worms and other trading cities. Jews were merchants and ran the money lending and commerce of the country. Local rulers protected them as a major economic tax base despite the anti semitic banings of the population. With the rise of guilds the Jews came under increasing pressure. From 1298-1348 there was the a bad persecution of hundreds of thousands of Jews which were massacred (Pasachoff 152). By the 14th century, despite the disruption of a large percentage of the Jewish population, Jews began again to rebuild. There was a widespread persecution in Germany although Jews managed to survive and prospered. Germany consisted of many quasi independent towns and cities and so when Jews were persecuted in one area they moved to another area. Much of the banking and finance of the economy relied on the Jews. In 1348 the black death swept across Europe and the bubonic plague followed (153). Public baths had been closed around 1000 C.E. during the late middle ages and christians didn’t bathe at all. Jews regularly ritually washed and bathed. When the rats and fleas brought the black death Jews had better hygiene causing them to suffer less severely than their neighbors. When the townspeople saw this their anti semitic beliefs raged and they accused the Jews of poisoning their wells to spread the plague. The guilds were hostile to the Jews and often became the leaders of persecutions. The massacre of 1348 and 1349 were organized and led by town councils. 60 large communities and 150 small communities were destroyed. The destruction of jews only stopped when the rulers saw that their revenues and tax rates were destroyed. By the 15th century the conditions of Jews began to improve (154).
Hebrew printing paralleled the development of printing in europe. It caused the same explosion in learning in the religious sphere and ensured the preservation of Hebrew religious works. Hebrew printing grew faster than secular printing because of the great demand of hebrew books by Jews. Jews wanted books and were able to pay for them. The center of hebrew printing presses was in Italy in the 16th century and it moved to amsterdam in the 17th century. Jews wanted to spread the word of God, but also make money from it simultaneously. Jews as a whole were richer than the general public because many were involved in banking, trading, and commerce (Pasachoff 155). Printing revolutionized Jewish cultural and religious life. The talmud was more accessible, this allowed more individuals to study the talmud and other Jewish writings. The printing of prayer books reinforced existing trends and spread Jewish literacy. The first hebrew books were published in 1469 and throughout the next thirty years more than 22 hebrew printing presses sprang up in italy and Spain (156).
Martin Luther was one of the founders of the protestantism and began his career as a friend of the Jews although he ended up demanding the Jews to be persecuted and for their expulsion. Luther was an augustinian monk who revolted from the catholic church and founded lutheranism which became the dominant religion in Germany. Martin Luther saw that he was starting a new movement and saw the Jews as potentially converts although the Jews refused to follow him and his beliefs. I 1523 he published Jesus Christ was a Jew by Birth which presented arguments to persuade the Jews to convert and at the same time called for a kindly treatment of the Jews (Pasachoff 158). When the Jews refused to convert all the anger and hatred that he had directed at the Catholic church was then turned and directed at the Jews. he influenced many German towns to drive out their Jews in the 1540s. Even though Luther became anti semitic she loved the Hebrew Bible and encouraged the study of it (159). Luther and lutheranism set a basis for much of the antisemitism followed, but the development of protestants positively influence the Jews because the catholics and protestants turned their anger on each other instead of onto the Jews (160).
Jews first settled in Amsterdam and the netherlands in the early 16th century. The earliest immigrants were the marranos who sought freedom from the inquisitions and economic opportunities (Pasachoff 161). The marranos were granted the right to settle in the netherlands in 1536. Amsterdam was becoming a center for trade and commerce and the economic opportunities were another reason for Jews to immigrate. In the 17th century Jews were engaged in modern capitalist activities. Jews invested in foreign trade, and became very active in the stock exchange. Jews played an important role in the prosperity of Amsterdam (163).
When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 many of the Jews settled in Italy where they found refuges along with the Jewish community that had existed since Roman times. One of the most prominent of these refuges was Isaac Abrabanel. Since italy was separated into many state with no uniform policy of persecution, when one of the states decided to persecute its Jews the Jews simply went to a different area of Italy (Pasachoff 164). Abrabanel’s works about the Talmud bible and philosophies are still consulted to this day. He was the first Jewish philosopher to introduce the new renaissance ideas of humanism into Judaism. Abrabanel emphasized prophecy, history, and politics. His writings led to a strong messiahic movement among the Jews in to 16th and 17th century (166).
The first Jewish community in North America was formed in New Amsterdam, now New York, with the arrival in 1654 of a small number of refugees fleeing the inquisition in Brazil (Pasachoff 178). Because of the inquisitions jews were forbidden by law to live in spanish or portuguese territories. In the first half of the 16th cent both marranos and jewish traders are known to have done business in parts of the new world which was claimed in the name of ferdinand and isabella. Marranos and Jews found the new world an appealing place to settle because of economic reasons and the inquisition was less active there (178). By 1654 the jewish population of dutch brazil had decline from 1,000 to 600 because the Portuguese retook Recife. This led to the founding of jewish communities in the new world. A small group of refugees made their way to new amsterdam and a few followed them. Governor Peter Stuyvesant wanted to turn the Jews away. His arguments were seconded by new amsterdam merchants and also by a local official of the Dutch Reformed Church. Together with others in the Amsterdam Jewish community they persuaded the dutch west india company to ignore Stuyvesant and his supporters in New Amsterdam. Their argument included the fact that the Jews and dutch had a common enemy of spain and portugal. The company ruled that refugees were able to be granted permission to live, travel, and trade throughout the dutch world and were allowed a burial ground but not a synagogue. Confrontations between Stuyvesant and the New Amsterdam jews over granting rights continued over the next decade. The jews overcome these challenges by using to tactics. The first tactic was a series of petitions to the Dutch West India Company which securred for them “burgher rights” to conduct retail, wholesale trade, the right to engage in fur trade, and the right to hold property. The second tactic was a court action which won them the right to serve in the military to defend the settlement rather than paying a special tax. Even with these victories for religious tolerance New Amsterdam never became a thriving Jewish center. New Amsterdam remained an outpost a place where transients conducted business and then left (179). Competition from Britain, north and south of New Amsterdam, began to seem too great to overcome and the Dutch West India Company became less interested and their investment in the Jews declined. This symbolic end of Jewish New Amsterdam foreshadows the demise of the dutch colony itself (Pasachoff 180).
Judaism spread throughout the world and has influenced many cultures and religions. Adam and Eve was the first event in sacred history. The Jews face many challenges such as discrimination, persecution, and expulsion. There were many influential leaders, scholars, and philosophers that impacted the Jewish history. Moses received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai which created certain laws for this monotheistic religion. The Jews spread throughout the world and came to New Amsterdam which was known as the new world. Judaism has had a major influence on many people’s lives and will continue to shape the world.