The origin and development of Judaism is traced in the Old
Testament. Moses was not the founder of Judaism since YAHWEH
(normal rendition of the unpronounceable name for God) was
worshipped by the Hebrew nation long before Moses was born. [Among
a great many other Gods.] The god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is references
for god's reverence before Moses. The INFINITE and PERSONAL god of the Old
Testament revealed Himself [sic] to man from the very beginnings of
Genesis and progressively revealed more as time and dispensations
(periods of time where god acts toward mankind in specific patterns)
One of the central figures around which Judaism is built is
the covenant relationship established with Abraham (est 2,085
B.C.E.) The Lord [sic] singled out this man and covenanted that his
decendants would be a holy nation, set apart from the rest of
the world by god.
The chosen [sic] line ran from Abraham through Isaac to Jacob.
Then it continued through Jacob's 12 sons and their
decendants, the 12 tribes of Israel. During the time of
bondage in Egypt, the people of Israel grew from a small band
to a full nation. At the end of this time YAHWEH revealed
Himself [sic] to Israel in action through the EXODUS and in words
(COMMANDMENTS given to Moses at Mt. Sinai)
The PENTATUCH (or TORAH as Judaism refers to it), which was
written by Moses, remains THE primary document of Judaism.
The Old Testament outlines the early history of Israel in
detail; so we need not repeat it. The synopsis is thus. The
conquest of Canaan under Joshua, the period of the Judges, the
united monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon, and the divided
kingdoms of Israel (The Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes) and
Judah (the Southern Kingdom of 2 tribes). The Northern Kingdom
was overthrown by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E.; the Southern
Kingdom was destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C.E. The Babylonian
captivity (exile) lasted 70 years in accordance with god's
Sabbath for the Land, and many Jews returned to Palistine
afterwards. YAHWEH revealed much to the Israelites before,
during and after the exile through the prophets (the 39 Books
of the Old Testament are generally accepted by Judaism as
Many modern writers have speculated that early Jewish
religion was polytheistic, idolatrous and primitive; However,
there is no evidence that can support these theories.
[See Note (1).] These theories are built on anti-supernatural
evolutionary presuppositions rather than solid factual data.
Actually, the earliest books of the Old Testament reveal an
advanced ethical [See note (2).] monotheism without parallel in ancient
literature. From the very beginning the god of the Old Testament is seen
as a god of unlimited power, love, goodness, and justice. [See note (3).]
he [sic] is the infinite and personal Creator of all creation.
In god's covenant relationship with Israel, he [sic] made high
moral [See note (4).] demands, saying that blessing was dependent
on social and moral justice. YAHWEH constantly used the prophets to
bring reform in the political and personal lives of his [sic]
The sacrificial system was given to show that sin REQUIRED
atonement. Israel had to be a REDEEMED people in order to
enjoy fellowship with the HOLY god. In contrast, the Gods of
the other nations were immoral and indifferent. [See note (5).] The Old
Testament teaching is that ultimately god will bless all the
Nations of the earth through Israel. A MESSIAH, who is a
decendant of King David, will come to REDEEM mankind and to
reign as King over all the nations of the earth.
However; the Judaism of today is very different from Old
Testament Judaism. In the centuries following the Babylonian
exile, a number of important changes began to appear. Meeting
places known as Synagogues were instituted during the exile.
Even when the Temple was rebuilt in Ezra's time, the
synagogues continued to be the worship centers for most of the
Jews. When the Temple was destroyed by the Roman army in 70
C.E.., the synagogues became the official rallying points for
With the end of the temple came the end of the sacrificial
system. The synagogues substituted ritual, prayer, and the
study of the Law for the sacrifices. The Levitical priesthood
was replaced by teachers of the Law, many of whom were
Pharisees who had developed an elaborate oral tradition based
on the Mosaic Law. The Law was applied in a complex way to
every detail of life. External things like Sabbath observance,
food preparation, dietary rules and holy days were stressed.
These Pharisaic teachers came to be known as rabbis (teachers).
About 200 C.E., the oral rabbinic traditions were finally
written down. The result is known as the MISHNAH (repetition).
The Mishnah is placed ALMOST on par with the Mosaic Law. It is
so important that lengthy commentarues on the Mishnah, known
as the Gemaras, were also written. The Babylonian Gemara (C.E.
500) is longer and more popular than the Palestinian Gemara
(C.E. 200). The combination of the Mishna and the Babylonian
Gemara is known as the Palestinian Talmud. The Talmud fills
many volumes and contains Jewish folklore, traditions and
The Romans drove the Jews out of Palestine in C.E.. 135.
Judaism was able to survive this dispersion only because
JEWISH communities had already been established in many
countries. Each such community had at least one synagogue, and
each synagogue was directed by a rabbi. Any Jew could become a
rabbi if he acquired a good knowledge of the Law and was
accepted as such by the congregation. The rabbis applied the
Law and the talmudic teachings to the changing conditions of
With the temple, the priesthood, and the sacrificial system
gone, synagogue teachers stressed the idea that every Jew had
an immediate access to god. As a Jew he needed no conversion
or redemption. Instead, a Jew could reach salvation by
obedience to the Torah (The Law AND the rabbinic
interpretations of the Law). The rabbis broke the Law down
into 613 precepts - 365 negative precepts and 248 positive
precepts. Each of these precepts has been elaborated in
rabbinic teachings down to the FINEST details. The result is
that Jewish life can become a carefully controlled ritual from
the cradle to the grave.
In the 12th century, a Jewish philosopher named Maimonides
produced a creed which is generally regarded as the basis of
Orthodoxy. This creed emphasized the omnipotence, omniscience,
eternality, and oneness of god. God is an invisible spirit
Being. As the only Creator and Source of Life, he [sic] alone should
Maimonides held Moses to be the greatest of the prophets
and the Law to be the highest revelation. He also taught
rewards and punishments, the coming of the Messiah, and the
resurrection of the dead.
Judaism rejects the doctrine [sic] of original sin, saying that
sin is an act, not a state. Thus, man has the ability to live
according to the Law. If he fails, he only needs to come to
god in repentance. With this view of sin, Judaism has
eliminated the need for a saviour. Many Jews do not anticipate
the coming of a personal messiah at all, but a messianic age.
Those Jews who do expect a messiah usually think of Him [sic] as a
political and social deliverer, not a saviour from sins.
One of the most important facets of Judaism is the series
of festivals and holy days in every year. Rosh Hashanah is the
new year marked by 10 days of penitence and solemnity. The
10th day of penitence is the Day of Atonement, when Jews
acknowledge their sins and pray for forgiveness. Also
important are the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth or Booths),
Passover (Commeration of the Exodus from Egypt), the Feast of
Weeks (Shabuoth or Pentecost), Hanukkah (Festival of Light),
and Purim. These special days commerate the joys and sorrows
of Jewish history and serve as the main link to the past. They
illustrate Judaism's concept of history as the meaningful
product of god's activity.
Today Judaism is divided into three main branches.
ORTHODOX, REFORM (not reformED) and CONSERVATIVE. Within
ORHODOXY, there is also a movement known as the Hasidic
Movement. Orthodox Judaism has changed little in the last 20
centuries. It follows the talmudic teachings and precepts
about Sabbath observance, kosher dietary rules and religious
One reason for the absence of change over the centuries is
the introspective tendency in Judaism. Atrocities and
oppression have dogged the Jews in many countries, and this
has forced them to maintain cultural and religious isolation.
In the last century; However, Jewish people have shown
increasing desire to adapt themselves to modern society. This
is especially true in America, where they have been given more
freedom and respect than in most countries. This has led to
the rise of REFORM Judaism, the talmudic practices and
precepts have been put aside. REFORM synagogues are usually
called temples, and the Sabbath observance in many cases has
been changed to Sunday. REFORM Judaism has spiritual doctrines
such as the coming of the messiah and the resurrection of the
body. All that remains is an ethical system based on a
The third branch of Judaism is CONSERVATIVE. This is an
intermediate position between the Orthodox and Reform
extremes. CONSERVATIVE Judaism retains the feasts and many of
the Jewish traditions in an attempt to hold to the essentials
of Judaism. At the same time it cautiously reinterprets the
Law in order to make it relevant for modern thought and
culture. CONSERVATIVE Jews are very progressive and active in
the intellectual community.
Judaism also has its mystical and esoteric school of
thought known as the CABALA (other spellings: CABBALA,
CABBALAH or KABBALAH). Practitioners of this PANTHEISTIC [sic]
system seek a mystical experience of oneness with the cosmic
Judaism, then, covers a wide range of beliefs and
practices. There is nothing one must believe in order to be a
Jew. In fact, there is a rapidly increasing secularization of
Jews today. More and more of the Jewish population is moving
away from all forms of Jewish religious practices. This has
led to confusion in defining what makes a person Jewish. The
Biblical teaching is that the Jews are a race of people,
decendants of Abraham through Jacob.
BIBLICAL [sic] EVALUATION
Judaism essentially denies the sin NATURE and minimizes
man's need for redemption. Repentance (Turning BACK to god) is
ALL that is needed when one fails to live according to the
Most expressions of Judaism are built upon culture and
traditions. Practice is usually emphasized MORE THAN BELIEF.
It is an ETHICAL system and a WAY OF LIFE with a transcendent
god in the background.
The ONLY and KEY issue is THE PERSON and WORK of JESUS of
NAZERETH, who claimed [sic] to be the messiah and whose life
fulfilled many messianic prophecies. Christians can use many
Old Testament messianic text to support the New Testament
claims about Jesus BEING THE CHRIST [sic]. The Old Testament tells
where [a] messiah would be born, when he would be cut off, and how
and WHY he [sic] would die. Concentrate on Isiah 53.
Note that the first Christians were Jews. JESUS WAS A JEW.
Most of the New Testament was written by Jews. Christianity
has erroneously been pictured as a GENTILE religion. Jews
often think that to be "converted" to Christianity, they must
give up their Jewishness and become Gentiles. The New
Testament; However, teaches that the great divide is between
non-Christian and Christian (as attested by the comments on
this BBS) - not Jew and Gentile. There are gentile Christians
and there are Hebrew Christians. A Jew does not have to
abandon his or her heritage to become Christian.
When we deal with Jews, FOCUS on the meaning of Jesus'
sacrificial death and the FACT [sic] of his RESURRECTION. The Old
Testament makes it clear that god has chosen blood to be the
means for the forgiveness of sins (Leviticus 16 and 17).
Isaiah 53 tells us the messiah HAD TO DIE to provide
ONCE-FOR-ALL blood sacrifice for sin.
Rabbinic teaching has traditionally held that there must be
two messiahs: messiah, the Son of Joseph (a suffering saviour
who would die), and messiah, the Son of David (A victorious
King who would establish the messianic kingdom on earth). The
New Testament resolves this Old Testament paradox by combining
the two Messiahs into one Person who comes two times.
Christians acknowledge the FACT [sic] that Christ came once to
be, as John the Baptist stated, "the Lamb of God that takest
away the sins of the World." We also KNOW that the FACTS [sic] of
the RESURRECTION stand on their OWN HISTORIC MERIT regardless
of anyone's belief in them [sic]. This being true [sic] - Christians are
to witness to all "living creatures" [sic] and this certainly
includes the Jewish People.
Computers For Christ - San Jose 3/25/82
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