Lesson 2 – The Hebrews. Focus Questions: In what ways did the Hebrew view of God mark a revolutionary break with the Near Eastern thought? How did Hebrew religious thought promote the ideas of moral autonomy? What were the unique achievements of the Hebrew prophets?
Discuss each in context to anticipatory note taking
Review the Chronology (from text book – page 26)
Founders / Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Hebrews (Jews) originated in Mesoptamia and migrated to Canaan.
Semi-nomadic clans that roamed between Palestine, Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Hebrews (Jews) rejected Egyptian beliefs.
Hebrews believed in ONE God only = “Monotheism”
Hebrews believe that God (Yaweh) has concern for Humanity and Justice for all Humans.
Dignity for all Humans was a new concept.
Name: Torah = teaching or instruction
Also referred to as: Pentateuch/Tanak/Old Testament
Consists of Five Books: Geneis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Represents: Jewish written and oral tradition; Jewish Laws; Jewish Wisdom; Hopes; Legends; Literary Expressions.
The Scripture Emphasizes: the value of the human experience; human heroes; human strength; human faults; human capacity to do wrong/revenge; ethical conduct and the highest values.
Hebrew scripture tells of herdsmen and farmers who were looking for greener pastures and were captured by Egyptians and kept as slaves.
Some scholars say there is no evidence to support the Hebrews being slaves, and therefore there was no escape.
A leader arose among the Hebrews, named Moses, led an Exodus out of Egypt, spending 40 years wandering in the Sinai Desert, towards home, strengthened by the belief in One God.
(see map again)
Some scholars say that there is no way that the Pharaoh, at the height of Egyptian power, would have allowed thousands of slaves to escape.
Other scholars say that there is evidence of Asiatic slaves in Egypt, some of whom could have been Hebrews. Also, why would the Hebrews make such a point of remembering the shame of slavery if it was not true?
Hebrew literature describes an Exodus from Egypt, with Moses as the human leader, speaking for God. The famous quote, which is attributed to Moses, as he stood before the Pharaoh, is “Let my People Go”.
The 10 Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai, inscribed on stone tablets, are intended for the guidance of the ancient Hebrews. They form a small but vital part of the total of 623 laws in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Morals, Values and Principles
There will be a mid term exam question asking you to make a connection between the Hebrew 10 Commandments and Western Morals and Values.
Take 5 minutes now, to write in your notes, examples of how the 10 Commandments are reflected in modern Western morals and values.
You will use these notes to study from.
I will be walking around looking at your work.
(return to previous slide)
The U.S. is the most religiously diverse country in the world. Southern Ontario in Canada is regarded as the most religiously diverse region of any country in the world. Both nations share a legacy of religious freedom and religious tolerance. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted their Constitution as requiring a complete separation of church and state. Canadian culture largely separates church and state by tradition.
The Ten Commandments were created within an entirely different culture with very different expectations of its citizens. It was a theocracy where Religion and Government were One. Everyone was expected to follow the state religion. A person following a different religion or proselytizing (converting to a different faith) could find themselves sentenced to death.
The wandering Hebrews returned home and rejoined the 12 Tribes of Israel (1250 BCE).
Threatened by the Philistines (from near the Aegean Sea), the Hebrews United under the leadership of Saul (1024-1000) a charismatic leader, and later, his successor David (1000-961), a gifted warrior and poet, and then Solomon (961-922).
A defensive war resulted in Hebrew independence and freedom from the threat of the Philistines.
See the next two maps for the original geographical home of the Philistines, prior to their unsuccessful war to conquer the Hebrews.
As you will see later in the semester, the Romans destroyed the Hebrew (Jewish) State of Judea and killed or exiled most of its people. The Romans wanted to wipe away all remembrance of a connection between the Jews and their land, so they re-named all of it "Palestinia" in honour of the Philistines.
In later wars, the land was conquered by Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, and Turks. The Arabs and their Turkish masters cut down all the trees, destroying the ecology of the land.
It was not until the 1850’s when the Hebrews (Jews) began to return in large numbers and resettle the Land, a process which culminated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the British undertaking to prepare "the establishment in Palestine of a National Home" for the Jews.
Even today, we continue to hear television new stories of the war between the Palestinians and Jews.
In-class Exercise: In your notebook, describe an example from elsewhere in the world where history has repeated itself, resulting in suffering and the loss of human life.
Monotheism was a profound new way of thinking about God.
All other Near Eastern Gods:
Yaweh is: fully Sovereign (independent); timeless; created everything that exists; all powerful.
Yaweh created everything. There were not gods in the storm clouds, rivers, sun or moon.
The Hebrews did not fear nature, as predators with supernatural powers.
Hebrews worshipped only ONE God – Yaweh.
Yaweh gave humans freedom to choose between good and evil.
(personal/employment/legal relationships – consequences)
Faith led to a human being kinder, more righteous, loving and merciful.
The worst elements of human nature (greed, lust, rage, jealousy, etc.) could be overcome when Yaweh’s laws were followed.
Yaweh did not benefit from the adherence of his followers. The followers were the beneficiaries.
Benefits of knowing Yaweh: Adversity is minimized, humans have the power to change and improve ourselves.
Yaweh created the Heavens and the Earth and then the garden of Eden, giving Adam the job of managing the garden, where he lived with Eve. They were commanded to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve is questioned by the serpent (snake) as to why she does not eat from this tree. Eve tells the serpent that if she touches the fruit she will die. The serpent tells her that she will not die, but that she and her husband will become “as gods, knowing good and evil," and persuades Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Eve eats and gives the fruit to Adam, who also eats. Adam and Eve become aware of “good and evil,“ and become aware of their nakedness. God then finds them, confronts them, and judges them for disobeying.
God expels them (sends them away) from Eden to stop them from taking from the Tree of Life, placing Cherubims (Immortal Guards) with a flaming sword to guard against any future entry into the garden.
Hebrews – Israelites believe that for humans to grow, that we must face opposition, and debate alternative choices. The departure from the Garden of Eden (Paradise), demonstrated to Humans that we must think about choices, learn from our mistakes and evaluate, in advance of our decisions, the consequences of our actions.
If they obeyed His Laws, they would “be unto Me a kingdom of priests,, and a holy nation”
Justice is the central theme of Old Testament ethics.
Define Testament: To testify honestly from the heart and fulfill the agreement.
In return for liberation from slavery in Egypt, the Hebrews had to dedicate themselves to overcoming injustice and to care for the poor, the weak and the oppressed.
Question: Chosen for what purpose and Why?