Friday, February 23, 2018

Judaism-A Religion and a Nationality? How Come?

Nadene Goldfoot
Abram, later called Abraham
Here he is traveling from Ur (city in today's Iraq) to Canaan
with family; 
painting by Jozsef Molnar. 

Judaism started with the concept of one G-d.  Our ancestor, Abraham, started it all by realizing it  and teaching it to his family.  People of his days believed in many gods and made idols of their gods. This happened about 4,000 years ago in the 2nd millennium BCE (before the common era;  aka-BC to other people).
Abraham was born almost 4,000 years ago in the year of 1948 BCE or thereabouts.  His took for his wife, Sarah, who was his niece.  He wanted children and she wasn't getting pregnant, so he finally took her handmaiden, Hagar, an Egyptian princess.  She had Ishmael.  Finally Sarah was pregnant and had Isaac, a change of life baby.  Hagar had changed and Ishmael was mean to Isaac, so Sarah demanded that they leave the compound.  Here begins our story with Jacob, Abraham's grandson from Isaac.

Abraham had a son, Isaac, and his wife was Rebecca.   Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.   Jacob, the younger twin,  took 4 wives and then became the father of 12 sons and 1 daughter.

Jacob had married 2 sisters, Leah and Rachel, who were daughters of Laban. Laban was the brother of Rebecca.   Leah had 6 boys and a girl, Dinah, and Rachel had 2 boys.  He then had taken the handmaiden of each wife , Bilhah and Zilpah and each had 2 boys.  Abraham had 12 sons which started the 12 tribes of Israel.  They were called "Israel" because Jacob had gone through a transition of learning with a struggle with an angel  who  then changed his name to Israel.  So when we hear the name of Israel-it goes back to the Jacob that we knew.

Leah was the mother of:               Her handmaiden, Zilpah, was the mother of:
1. Reuben                                                         1. Gad
2. Simeon                                                         2. Asher
3. Levi
4. Judah
5. Issachar
6. Zebulun
7. Dinah

Rachel was the mother of:            Her handmaiden, Bilhah, was the mother of:
1. Joseph                                                          1. Dan
2. Benjamin                                                      2. Naphtali

The 12 sons of Israel had families but they all stayed together, and by the time they numbered 70, the weather had changed and they were in a terrible drought.  It was so bad that they decided to go into Egypt to find food and water.

It was so nice there that they stayed and grew in numbers to the point that they frightened the Egyptians with their numbers.  They were shepherds and raised sheep.  The Egyptians reacted by taking them all as slaves and used them to build storage cities and such.  It was a terrible life as a slave compared to the free one they had as shepherds.  From the time of entrance into Egypt to leaving, 400 years had gone by.  Finally an 80 year old Prince of Egypt who had been of the tribe of Judah but adopted by Egypt's princess, Moses, returned from the desert and had the power from G-d and his former position of power to rescue all 600,000 of the 12 Tribes of Israel and other slaves being held and take them back from whence they had come from:  Canaan.

Moses imparted all he learned from G-d as the Ten Commandments and 613 other rules to follow which they all followed.  This became their religion.

Their history continues on, and by 722-721 BCE, the Assyrians ( a huge force-like China and Russia together) attacked their country and took away the people of the northern part of Israel  where 10 of the 12 tribes were living.  Left were about half of the tribe of Benjamin and the tribe of Judah which was southernmost. The land then was called Judah after King Solomon died.)  The Benjaminites and Judah joined together at this point which was important for safety for almost 200 years later the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar attacked and took most away to Babylon. (Babylonia had inherited the Assyrian holdings).   They were another powerhouse.

When left alone, Judah and the Benjaminites followed their religion as they had done before.  Because the people practicing this were Judeans for the most part, the religion became known as Judaism and the people following it were called the Jews.

No one knew what had happened to the 10 tribes who were taken away.  It was presumed they were killed or were taken very very far away.

Jews remained different from all other peoples who continued to believe in Pantheons of gods.  They had created their own culture around their one G-d religion.  They didn't mix in very well with others as their religion didn't let them mix so much that they would assimilate and therefore forget their religious ideas.  Others found they didn't want to mix with these strangers who believe in just one 
G-d, either.

So the Jews had very few intermarriages with others.  They took spouses from their own kind.  They became an endogamous society, something Muslims have also been doing with even closer relations.  Jews did not marry siblings as the Egyptians did.

Therefore, Judaism is a religion and it is nationalism as Israel, our one and only Jewish state, was created as a haven for Jews, who have been treated as the pariah of society by other nations simply because Jews would not convert to the religion of lands they lived in-having become stateless by 70 CE (Common Era-aka AD-Anno Domini which is Latin).  It was the Romans who burned down the Temple in Jerusalem and the whole city) when they had overcome the Israelites.

Jews were stopped by Christianity from proselytizing so never did practice that except in the beginning,  They were proselytized by Christians, of course, and didn't like it at all, so agreed that they didn't want to do to others what they didn't want to happen to themselves.  They felt that others would learn from them by seeing them doing good deeds.  The religion stresses behavior towards others of fairness, something this world wasn't seeing much of.

Judaism has evolved with the era it finds itself in.  It has many branches today of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, much like politics has developed and evolved into the Left and Right attitudes.  DNA shows that we have been pretty much a closed society, sharing segments of DNA of our 23 chromosomes with other Jews or people with Jewish heritage that no longer practice.  They've assimilated, with a history of either being forced or of their own choosing.

 It is the oldest religion still in practice.  We are a small group today, 0.02% of the world population.  Our religion is still as powerful with great meaning as it was in its birth with Moses.  We all have Abraham to thank for being so strong-minded as to stick to his guns in that there was but one G-d.  It was the beginning of turning the world around in its attitude towards life and each other.  Moses developed that with his connection with the One G-d.

Israel has taken in the scattered Jews who have been living in countries all over the world.  We are even finding Lost Tribal members, still practicing Judaism and they have been returning to their ancient land.  To accommodate such a scattered group, Hebrew, the original language, is the spoken and written language of Israel.  Everyone had to learn to speak it again, though it has lasted in the written form and in prayers said in the synagogue.

Family Tree from Abraham for 4 generations

Descendants of Abram-Abraham

[3] Abram-Abraham b: in Ur of the Chalees d: in Hebron
.. +Sarai-Sarah d: in Hebron
. Isaac b: in Negev
..... +Rebekah b: in Aram
..... [2] Jacob-Israel d: in Goshen, E. Egypt age 147
......... +Leah b: in Aram
......... Reuben
......... Simeon
......... Levi
............. +Milkah
......... [1] Judah
............. +Daughter of Shua
......... *2nd Wife of [1] Judah:
............. +Canaanite Woman
......... *3rd Wife of [1] Judah:
............. +Tamar
......... Issachar
......... Zebulun
......... Dinah
..... *2nd Wife of [2] Jacob-Israel:
......... +Rachel
......... Joseph b: in Canaan, 18th-16th centuries BCE? Hyksos period (2500-1587 BCE) d: in age 110
............. +Asenath b: in Egypt
......... Benjamin
..... *Friend of [2] Jacob-Israel:
......... +Bilhah
......... Dan
......... Naphtali
..... *Friend of [2] Jacob-Israel:
......... +Zilpah
......... Gad
......... Asher
..... Esau
......... Mahalath
*2nd Wife of [3] Abram-Abraham:
.. +Hagar
. Ishmael
..... Basemath
......... Reuel
..... Kedar
*3rd Wife of [3] Abram-Abraham:
.. +Keturah

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