Judaism started about 4,000 year ago in the Middle East. The following information is a short explanation concerning Judaism beliefs, which includes:
- Who are the Jewish People?
- History of Judaism
- The Sacred Texts of Judaism Beliefs
- The Main Teaching of Judaism Beliefs
WHO ARE THE JEWISH PEOPLE?
To understand about who the Jewish people are, it is important to understand the difference between the names: Hebrew, Israelite and Jew.
The word “Hebrew” (Hebrew: “Ivri”) is mentioned first in the Torah to describe Abraham (OT Genesis 14:13). This word is probably derived from the name of one of Abraham’s ancestors called Eber (OT Genesis 10:21). Eber was a descendant of Shem, a descendant of Noah, a descendant of Adam. All the descendants of Abraham are referred to as the Hebrews.
The word “Israel” (Hebrew: “Yisra’el”) is mentioned first in the Torah to describe another name for Jacob, son of Isaac son of Abraham (OT Genesis 32:28). The descendants of Jacob are referred to as Israelites.
The word “Jew” (Hebrew: ”Yehudi”) is derived from the name Judah which is mentioned first in the Torah to describe one of Jacob’s twelve sons (Book of Bereshit/Genesis 29:35). The descendants of Judah are referred to as Jews.
In other words, (originally) every Jew is also considered as Israelites and also a Hebrew, but not all Hebrews and/or Israelites are Jewish. See the following chart for clarification:
Today, however, the word “Jew” is used to describe all the descendants of Abraham and Jacob/Israel and the religion “Judaism” is used to refer to their beliefs. Technically, this is incorrect but since this is a common usage today even within the Jewish community, this term is also used throughout this site.
It is also important to note, that today any person whose mother is a Jew or anyone who has converted to Judaism is also called a Jew.
At present, ca. 14 million Jewish people live all over the world. Around 50% of them live in the United States, 25% in Israel and the rest are still scattered around the world.
HISTORY OF JUDAISM
Judaism begins at ca. 4,000 years ago. There are 3 people considered as the fathers of Judaism beliefs: i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – they were grandfather, father and son. Abraham was originally from Ur (somewhere in the Middle East, most likely somewhere around modern Iraq – the exact location is still a matter of debate). Abraham was chosen by God (Hebrew: YHVH) to promote the central idea of the Judaism beliefs: that there is one God. This was at the time when most people in the Middle East worshipped many gods. God told Abraham that his children would be as plentiful as the stars and would live in a land of their own – the Promised Land.
Where is the Promised Land?
The land was described in terms of territory from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates river; from the desert of Lebanon, and from the Euphrates river to the Great Sea on the west; from the Nile river to Lebanon and everything from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates river (OT Exodus 23:31, Genesis 15:18 and Joshua 1:4). Or using today’s names: all the land modern Israel currently possesses, all the land of the Palestinians, Jordan and also some parts of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. So at the moment Israel only possesses a fraction of the land God has promised.
One of the main topics in Judaism is the possession of the Promised Land with the Temple in Jerusalem. So here is the short history of Jerusalem and the Temple (all BCE dates are estimation dates, based on biblehub.com/timeline ):
Abraham entered Jerusalem and met King Melchizedek, King of Salem. Later, he built an altar and almost sacrificed Isaac in Mt. Moria (the same location as the 1st Temple of Jerusalem).
The Israelites moved to Egypt after Joseph (a son of Jacob, grandson of Abraham) became a ruler in Egypt.
The Israelites became slaves under the new king of Egypt.
The exodus – the Israelites departed from Egypt under the leadership of Moses.
The Israelites under the leadership of Joshua took over the Promised Land.
King David (from the tribe of Judah) contemplated to build the 1st Temple of Jerusalem.
The 1st Temple of Jerusalem or Temple of Solomon was built by Solomon (son of King David).
Death of Solomon, Kingdom of Israel split into 2 kingdoms: Judah and Israel.
Kingdom of Israel fell under the captivity of Assyria (a part of modern Iraq).
The Kingdom of Judah fell under the captivity of Babylon (also a part of modern Iraq). The 1st Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians.
The 2nd Temple of Jerusalem was rebuilt.
The 2nd Temple was destroyed by the Romans.
The siege of Jerusalem by the Muslims, then the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built on the southern side of the Mount facing Mecca and Dome of the Rock in the location or close to the area where the Jewish Holy Temple (or the 3rd Temple) is supposed to be rebuilt.
THE SACRED TEXTS OF JUDAISM BELIEFS
The main sacred texts of Judaism beliefs is the Tanakh or Mikra. It sometimes referred to as the Hebrew Bible, and it is more or less equivalent to the Old Testament (a big part of the Bible of the Christian beliefs). The Tanakh consists of three subdivisions:
- Torah (teaching – 5 books of Moses)
- Nevi’im (prophets)
- Khetuvim (writings)
Tanakh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the above subdivisions (TaNaKh). The Tanakh is divided into 24 books, while the Christian’s Old Testament is divided into 39 books (Protestant) or 46 books (Catholic) although the content remains more or less the same.
The Talmud is the oral law or legal commentary on the Torah. It has 2 components: Mishnah (ca. 200 CE) and Gemara (ca. 500 CE).
THE MAIN TEACHING OF JUDAISM BELIEFS
The main teaching of Judaism beliefs is written in the Torah and commonly known as the Ten Commandments, and they are:
- Commandment to worship no other God but God (Hebrew: YVHV).
- Prohibition to make images to worship.
- Prohibition to misuse the name of God.
- Commandment to observe the Sabbath Day (Saturday).
- Commandment to honor and respect the parents.
- Prohibition to murder.
- Prohibition to commit adultery.
- Prohibition to steal.
- Prohibition to lie and accuse anyone falsely.
- Prohibition to envy other’s possessions.
For a complete religious comparison studies between the five major religions in the world, world mythologies/legends, forbidden archaeology, ancient alien theories and their relations with modern scientific data to retrace the true pre-history of humanity, read: MythoReligio Series books.