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Judaism


    Judaism began with Abraham, who had felt uneasy about all the pagan gods and who decided to leave home and follow the call of one true god. The story of his leaving is contained in the Book of Genesis where god says, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and got to the land I will show you." Abraham's grandson Jacob (God named Israel) had twelve sons whose families became the twelve tribes of Israel. Later they became slaves to the Egyptians. Moses, who was to later receive God's Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, eventually led them out of Egypt. After wandering for 40 years in the desert, they were to the "Promised Land" of Canaan - not by Moses, however, as he had died, but by Joshua. They grew in strength as God had promised and after being ruled by leaders known as Judges, looked for a king to govern them.

    They were ruled by a succession of kings. David was the first. His son Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem, when he died there was a split in two between two rebellions. Jeroboam and ten of the twelve tribes established the Kingdom of Israel, and Rehoboam founded Judah.

    The Kingdom of Judah (Judaism takes its name from) outlived that of Israel. Judah was overrun by the Babylonians who destroyed the Temple. Fifty years later the Babylonians themselves were captured by the Persians, who gave permission for the Jews to return home. Some did so and they began to rebuild the Temple. Others stayed in Babylon until the reign of Ezra and Nehemiah, until they returned and put the law of the Torah and worship of God at the centre of their religious and political lives.

    The country came under roman control and the Jews were unable to handle not being able to worship their God and so mounted a rebellion. The Romans had already destroyed the temple and killed many of the inhabitants.

    The dispersal of the Jews outside Israel produced to two distinct regions: the Sephardi Jews of Spain and the Mediterranean who spoke in a mixture of old Spanish and Hebrew known as Ladino, and the Ashkenazi Jews who settled in central Europe and Germany and spoke in a mixture of German and Hebrew dialect known as Yiddish.

    According to the Biblical account, early Judaism is a story of promises, faith, devotion, persecution and wandering. God's early promises to the Jews formed the lasting core of their religion. There unwavering faith in God's plan for them and devotion to his Law held the Jews together through times, of peace, war, slavery and suffering.


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