8.33 Judaism

Meanwhile in the Levant, in the 9th century BC the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerge, with their growing understanding and worship of Yahweh, which translates as something like The One Who Makes That Which Has Been Made.

Following the Babylonian captivity of the 6th century BC, between 5th century BC and 70 CE the Israelite religion developed in various schools of thought, and the Hebrew Scriptures including the Torah were canonized. These scriptures reflected growing understanding of teachings of One Creator whose characteristics surpassed the characteristics of the pantheon of gods worshiped in the Levant.

The Torah lays out what are traditionally regarded as 613 commandments that the Hebrews were to observe. These covered both Positive Commandments (to act or perform), and Negative Commandments (to abstain). Many teachers argue that in reality there are far more, or even an infinite number of commandments, which result from the proper application of the underlying Principles to an infinite number of situations in Reality.

Ideas developed include:

  • the Knowledge, Love, and Worship of One Perfect God,
  • emulation or imitation of God’s ways,
  • love and do not hate one another,
  • do not oppress or exploit the weak,
  • do not bear grudges or take revenge,
  • learn and teach the law,
  • not to make or worship idols,
  • repent and confess wrongdoing,
  • regular prayer,
  • circumcision,
  • sabbath restrictions,
  • fasting,
  • resting,
  • ritual,
  • restrictions on sexual relations,
  • dietary restrictions,
  • restrictions on the treatment of animals,
  • to keep oaths and vows,
  • restrictions on dealing with the dead,
  • leaving gleanings and edges of the fields for the poor,
  • to tithe for the poor,
  • to give charity to the poor,
  • bringing first fruits to the temple,
  • to rest the land in the 7th year,
  • to release all loans during the 7th year,
  • to celebrate a great Jubilee in the 49th year (7 cycles of 7),
  • extensive instructions on temple and ceremony,
  • animal sacrifices, t
  • he establishment of courts of justice,
  • individual responsibility for accurate weights and measures,
  • not to steal, kidnap, covet, scheme, envy, murder,
  • not to kill a criminal before he stands trial,
  • not to stand idly by if a life is in danger,
  • to make guard rails around flat roofs,
  • not to overcharge or underpay,
  • not to insult or harm with words,
  • not to oppressively work servants and slaves,
  • pay wages on the day they are earned,
  • not to lend or borrow with interest,
  • not to intermediate in or guarantee a loan,
  • not to respect the great man at trial,
  • not to pervert justice,
  • to judge righteously,
  • anyone who knows evidence must testify,
  • honor your father and mother,
  • the king must not have too many wives or too much wealth…
  • ...and many more.

The Jewish tradition was pivotal in shaping the religions of Christianity, Islam and the empires who propagated them, and thereby life and society for billions of people.

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