7. Assimilation and Resistance: Judah and Israel

Video - Heritage: Civilization and the Jews,

Volume 1: A People is Born (3500 B.C. to 6th Century B.C.



I. Important role of the Jewish people in the development of Western Civilization 

A. Who are the Jews?

    - not a race, not only followers of a common religion, but a people

    - a people who share a common history and tradition

    - a small group of only about 40 million (less than 1% of the worldís




B. Contribution to Western Civilization

    - the idea that there is only one god (Yahweh) > monotheism

    - the idea that this god is a universal god > the god of all people



C. The Bible

    - a record of a peopleís memory first composed 2500 years ago

    - Torah > first five books of the Bible

    - before the development of archeology, the main source for ancient history



II. Mesopotamia

    - Birthplace of Adam, the first human being (about 3800 B.C.E)

    - Ur > a city of Sumer and ancestral home of Abraham

    - Sumerians were polytheistic > subject to their godsí whims



III. Canaan

    - Comprised of trade cities on the Mediterranean coast and inland


    - Tribes of nomadic traders (future Israelites) settled among the Canaanites



IV. Egypt

    - During a period of drought, the tribes moved from Canaan to the Nile delta,

        and stayed > among them was Jacobís family

    - Ramses II (ruled 1279- ca. 1224 B.C.E.) enslaved the Israelite to carry out

        his massive building program

    - Military campaigns in Canaan - "Israel is laid waste." - about 1220 B.C.E.



V. The Exodus

    - Under the leadership of Moses, the Israelites gained their freedom

        (commemorated by the Passover)

    - First reference to Yahweh > the personal god of the Israelites

    - The Ten Commandment > the law of god received on Mount Sinai

    - The Covenant > the Israelites accepted godís law

    - Rather than be subject to the whim of their god, the relationship between

        the Israelites and their god was based on law



VI. Kingdom of Israel

    A. Palestine

        - The Twelve tribes of Israel settled in Palestine and were joined by

            Canaanites fleeing the conquering sea people, the Philistines

            (source of the term Hebrew)

        - by conversion and conquest the Hebrew religion spread

        - Israel comprised a federation of small communities linked by the

            Covenant and led, when needed, by temporary leaders


    B. The Kingdom

        - threatened by the Philistines who could now produce iron weapons, the

            Israelites chose a king, King Saul (ruled about 1,000 B.C.E.)

        - Israel transformed into a unified nation, a kingdom

        - David, the second king, undertook the building of the city of Jerusalem

        - the Kingdom grew into an Empire > the Israelites now ruled subject

            people, were tolerant of other religions in their midst, and social and

            economic inequities increased

        - introduction of forced labor and military conscription


    C. Division of the Kingdom

        - King Solomon (ruled ca. 960-930 B.C.E.) built a royal palace and

            a temple in Jerusalem; his strong rule was resented

        - after Solomonís death the ten northern tribes separated and founded the

            Kingdom of Israel, while the southern two tribes established the

            Kingdom of Judah

        - corruption, rank and privilege ruled society


    D. The Prophets

        - called for social justice and opposed imperial policies and foreign


        - as caretakers of the religion opposed tolerance of other gods and

            called for justice


VII. The Babylonian Captivity

    A. Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians about 605 B.C.E. and

            the Kingdom of Judah was made into a dependency of Assyria


    B. Babylonians conquered the Assyrians, overran the Kingdom of Judah and

            destroyed the temple of Jerusalem


    C. 10,000 leading families sent into exile in Babylonia (lasted from 586 to

             539 B.C.E.)


VII. Yahweh - a universal god

    - the Hebrews saw the destruction of their Kingdom as divine punishment for

            their breaking of the Covenant

    - but if this was so, this meant that Yahweh had power over people other

            than the Jews

    - thus, there must then be only one god for all people



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