Yahweh
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YAHWEH. The development of Judaism was closely connected to the social and economic evolution of the Hebrew people A group of Israelites adopted the desert god, YAHWEH, while they were lost in the Sinai peninsula after their escape from slavery in Egypt An austere, intolerant god.

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YAHWEH

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Yahweh

YAHWEH

  • The development of Judaism was closely connected to the social and economic evolution of the Hebrew people

  • A group of Israelites adopted the desert god, YAHWEH, while they were lost in the Sinai peninsula after their escape from slavery in Egypt

    • An austere, intolerant god


God of abraham

GOD OF ABRAHAM

  • Some Israelites had monotheistic tendencies ever since time of Abraham

    • Abraham allegedly had an agreement with the “God of Abraham” to worship only him in exchange for his special protection

      • He never saw this god as the only god

      • Just viewed as one of many that Abraham chose to worship


Reinterpretation by moses

REINTERPRETATION BY MOSES

  • YAHWEH was not one god of many whom the Israelites chose to worship

    • He was the only god

      • All-knowing, all-powerful, and universal

  • Made covenant with the Israelites

    • Embodied in the 10 Commandments

      • Promised to make them his “Chosen People” if they obeyed his commandments

      • Some dealt with religion but others dealt with everyday conduct

  • YAHWEH demanded ethical conduct from his followers

Arc of the Covenant


Culture clash

CULTURE CLASH

  • Israelites worship of their powerful, but simple, desert god clashed with their new surroundings in Palestine

    • Lush agriculture land inhabited by civilized people with their own polytheistic religion

  • Result was not just war between an invading tribe and a settled people

    • Also a serious cultural clash between a nomadic, semi-civilized desert people with their austere god and an established and prosperous urban people with a complex and elaborate religion centered on fertility

Baal


Civilizing process

CIVILIZING PROCESS

  • Long struggle with Canaanites left lasting impression on the culture and religion of Israelites

    • Absorbed several aspects of Canaanite religion

      • Turned several Canaanite fertility celebrations into their own religious festivals

    • Co-opted Canaanite language and alphabet

    • Original harshness of Israelite religion began to soften under influence of less harsh environment and advanced civilization of Canaanites


Political evolution

POLITICAL EVOLUTION

  • Religion of Israelites also transformed by creation of kingdom of Israel by David and Solomon

    • Replaced loose confederation of independent tribes united only by their claim to be descendants of Abraham with bureaucratic entity that levied taxes, made war, and enforced the law

  • David made Jerusalem his capital

    • Old Canaanite city

    • Did so without specific instructions from YAHWEH

  • Israelites moved away from old total dependence on YAHWEH and towards a growing reliance on the secular power of the state, with its armies, kings, and laws


David modifies the covenant

DAVID MODIFIES THE COVENANT

  • David realized that drift towards secular state might cause a serious division among his people

    • Also was religious himself and was uncomfortable with this development

    • He therefore transformed the Covenant

      • David became YAHWEH’s adopted son whose function was not only to make sure Israelites obeyed the Ten Commandments but also to rule them

      • Symbol of new covenant was transfer of the Arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem


Written tradition created

WRITTEN TRADITION CREATED

  • Religious tradition of the Israelites first put down in writing during reigns of David and Solomon

    • Had been a confusing mass of oral legends, songs, rituals, prayers, sayings, proverbs, and laws that differed from tribe to tribe

    • David wanted to construct a unified, comprehensive narrative

  • Books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Judges, and Samuel written under David and Solomon

    • First and Second Kings written much later

    • Deuteronomy and Leviticus already written down by time David was king

    • Created foundation for modern Bible


The prophets

THE PROPHETS

  • Tension remained between new idea that YAHWEH now operated through the middleman of the state and older belief that emphasized unconditional and total dependence on YAHWEH

    • Appearance of prophets was in response to growing centralization of religion with the growth of a hereditary castes of priests and their obsession with rules and rituals

      • Prophets claimed to convey messages that had come directly from YAHWEH and communicated them to the people directly through sermons and symbolic acts


Prophets come into their own

PROPHETS COME INTO THEIR OWN

  • Several minor prophets appeared during reigns of David and Solomon

    • But it was not until after the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom into Judah and Israel that the prophets really came into their own

      • Became moral and religious leaders of the people


Yahweh

AMOS

  • Lived in northern kingdom of Israel just before it was taken over by Assyrians

  • Claimed that Israel was on the verge of a great catastrophe

    • Caused by the Israelites failure to live up to the terms of the Covenant

      • Especially by only participating in religious rituals without grasping the true essence of their religion

  • Common theme for many prophets

    • Israelites were losing sight of the true meaning of their religion

      • Either by disobeying the commandments, worshipping other gods, or becoming obsessed with the formal, ritualistic aspects of their religion and forgetting its fundamental principles

      • Theme repeated by Hosea, Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, etc.


One more development

ONE MORE DEVELOPMENT

  • Destruction of Israel by Assyrian, the Babylonian Captivity, and conquest by the Persians appeared to have permanently destroyed the secular state of the Israelites

    • Israelites themselves now scattered

      • Some still in Palestine but others were in Babylonia and Egypt

      • Israelites no longer possessed a geographic unity

      • Danger was that they would be absorbed by local populations in the Middle East and lose their religion


Creating a sense of spiritual identity

CREATING A SENSE OF SPIRITUAL IDENTITY

  • To forestall this development, Israelite leaders and prophets began to stress Mosaic law and Israelite traditions

    • Hoping that this would bind Israelites together no matter where they lived

    • Composed books of Job, Proverbs, and Psalms and added story of Creation and Adam and Eve to Genesis

    • Provide Israelites with a strong sense of their special history

      • YAHWEH had always watched over them and that he always would, as long as they obeyed his law

Job


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