Dr. Thomas Woods
Western Civilization I
9 September 2016
A Biblical Account of Judaism from the Beginning of Time to 70 AD
The religion of Judaism was derived from the creation of Adam. Hebrews followed one God, the creator of the universe. People of the Hebrew religion were often mistreated by anti-believers all around the world. Judaism in the Bible was around for hundreds of years, and is still around today.
Adam was the first man that ever existed. God said his loneliness was “not good,” so God created Eve. Sin entered the world through man’s disobedience. Adam and Eve were told not to pick from a certain tree in the Garden of Eden, but Eve was persuaded by the serpent (Satan) to pick from the tree. She convinced Adam to pick from the tree as well. God punished them both with death.
Eve bore two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel both brought offerings to God, but He only accepted Abel’s. Cain was consumed with anger, and killed his brother. After Cain died, God was angry because the first murder occurred. God was angry because people have become evil, so God flooded the Earth for forty days. However, He spared one man called Noah whose heart was pure, and was a believer. God told Noah to build an ark and take on board his family and two of every species on Earth.
Noah and his wife bore Abraham. Abraham was born in the metropolitan city of Ur. When Abraham came of the right age, he received a divine calling from God to leave home and travel west to Canaan. God gave Abraham his divine promise to make him and his future generations rulers of Canaan. Abraham and his wife soon bore Isaac.
Hebrews believed that the best way to honor God was to sacrifice their most valuable possessions. For mortals, the most precious gift they could offer was blood, so Hebrews often sacrificed the blood of any living thing. God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to kill his son as a sacrifice. Abraham did what he was told, and he attempted to kill Isaac. However, God didn’t want Isaac to suffer, so God sent an angel to stop him, and Isaac was spared.
Later on in Isaac’s life, he married Rebekah, and they bore Esau and Jacob. Esau was the oldest son, which caused Jacob to become jealous. Jacob wanted the rights that only the firstborn children are blessed with. Jacob was struggling with the decision to trick Esau into selling his rights for a bowl of pottage, a thick vegetable soup. Jacob finally made the decision to trick his brother. Isaac, who was blind and dying, was preparing to give the rights to Esau, but Rebekah told Jacob to deceive his father. When Esau heard about what his brother did, he announced his plan to kill Jacob. Rebekah told Jacob to flee, and he obeyed.
Jacob fled to a man called Laban, his uncle, to hide from his brother. Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel, and he married them both. After marrying Leah and Rachel, he finally decided to leave for his homeland. However, Jacob was still concerned about his brother’s wrath. Jacob eventually faced his fears and his noble side came out. Jacob and Esau made peace and parted ways. From that moment on, Jacob was called Israel.
Benjamin and Joseph, the two youngest out of twelve, were born to Israel and Rachel in a town near Bethlehem. Rachel died in childbirth, and she left Jacob with twelve sons. Jacob particularly loved and spoiled Joseph, which led his brothers to jealousy. His brothers sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt.
Joseph was sold to the captain of the pharaoh’s guard. Joseph became a trusted servant, but was soon thrown into prison after a false accusation made against him. Joseph soon came to the Pharaoh’s attention for peculiar dreams. Joseph told the pharaoh that he had the ability to interpret dreams. Just like Joseph, the pharaoh had been having peculiar dreams. He soon told Joseph that a famine was coming. The pharaoh was right. Joseph’s brothers had been struck by the famine, and in reaction to the famine, they fled to Egypt. Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. After Joseph’s death, the Jews found things very difficult. In result, the Egyptians disliked foreigners, and eventually enslaved Jews. Jews were becoming scarce, and all Jews were eventually killed.
The story of Moses all started when his mother, Yocheved, in order to protect her son from the pharaoh’s army, put Moses in a basket. She sent him down the Nile River hoping that his older brother and sister Aaron and Miriam would soon find him. But the plan didn’t work out as hoped. The Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the basket, and took him in for herself.
When Moses grew older, he often visited the Hebrew slaves. One visit, Moses found an Egyptian beating on a Hebrew. Moses’ immediate reaction was to kill the Egyptian.
After this incident, he fled to the desert to spend some time as a shepherd. One day, he saw a burning bush that was not consumed by the flame. Moses heard God tell him to return to Egypt and free his people. Moses listened, and he went straight to the Pharaoh to demand the release of the Hebrews. This only led the Pharaoh to increase the work of the Hebrew slaves. Some people blamed the increase of work on Moses. In reaction to the decision, God gave Moses powers to plague Egypt. Moses willed several plagues into existence, like a swarm of lotus, and turned every river turn into blood. The Pharaoh would not cower, which caused Moses to create a plague that the pharaoh would regret—the death of every firstborn Egyptian son. This included the pharaoh’s own son. The pharaoh had no choice but to let the Hebrews go.
Moses led the Hebrews on a journey to the Promised Land, the land that God gave to Abraham. This journey was called the Exodus. Eventually, the pharaoh changed his mind and tried to chase after them. When Moses got to the Red Sea, he parted the waters to let the Hebrews through. But when the pharaoh and his men tried to walk through this risen water, Moses made the water fall back down, and drowned the pharaoh and his men.
Moses soon leads the group to the Promised Land. Moses went back up the mountain where he saw the burning bush, Mt. Sinai, and came down with the Law. The main part of the Law was contained in the Ten Commandments, which listed the duties to God and to others. Moses goes down Mt. Sinai only to see the Hebrews worshiping a golden calf. Moses threw the tablet of the Law in anger. The Law was written out again, but this time the tablet was kept in the Ark of the Covenant for safekeeping. Moses eventually died, and he yielded his leadership to Joshua, a Hebrew general. During Joshua’s leadership, the population of prophets grew.
Most people think that the word “prophet” means someone that is a fortune-teller. In a way, they are fortune-tellers, but they are much more than that. They can warn people about what might happen in the future. Amos is the first prophet whose writings we have. One of Amos’s famous phrases is, “Emphasis on elaborate ceremony, at the expense of justice and good deeds; these things must go together. People must give up their idolatry, and the oppression of the poor.” According to Dr. Woods, Hosea, the prophet who came after Amos, “believed that outward ceremony was insufficient; and interior conversion of heart was necessary.” Prophets were known to be very wise. The wisdom of prophets was very rare, though most people were evil and conquered many nations.
In 722 BC, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and made part of their empire. The southern kingdom of Judah was still independent from Assyria then, but the kingdom of Judah was never as prosperous as Israel; however, they also had advantages. Jerusalem was next-door to Judah, which had a line of kings that were descended from David.
The last king of Judah was Josiah. Babylon grew stronger, which finally led to Josiah’s kingdom to be conquered. Judah was overtaken by Babylonians, who were under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, in 586 BC. Jerusalem was also conquered, and all prisoners were brought to Babylon. This was called the Babylonian Captivity.
Although the Hebrews were held captive in Babylon, they were not treated badly. If the Hebrews paid their taxes and obeyed the law, they were allowed to be self-governed. This grew confidence in the Hebrews that they would one day return to their normal lives.
In 538 BC, the Persians conquered Babylon. Many Hebrew were allowed to go back to Jerusalem, and they set about the rebuilding of their kingdom. Nehemiah helped rebuild the fortification walls of Jerusalem, and they were completed in 516 BC.
During the Hellenistic period, the Jews lived under Persian rule until Alexander the Great defeated the Persians. But then after Alexander’s death, his vast territory was divided. In 198 BC, Judaea passes into the control of Syria. Syria demanded that the Jews adopt the Greek customs and culture. This led to a revolt in Judaea. Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian ruler, directly hit at the Jewish religion, the source of unity and strength. He restricted the Jews from having religious ceremonies, and made efforts into making them take part in non-Jewish rituals. The Temple was defiled, and the books of the Law were destroyed. This made the Jews furious, and under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, the Jews restored and rededicated the Temple and it’s altar. Sadly, Judas Maccabeus died in a subsequent battle. Even after the death of Maccabeus, the Syrians could not regain control over the Jews. Syria eventually became a Roman province in 133 BC.
A man named Pompey subdued Jerusalem, and put it directly under Roman control in 63 AD. Roman officials grew more oppressive, and rebellion broke out. Titus, the emperor’s son, attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Jews fled to the Temple for refuge, and Rome burned down the Temple and the rest of the city.
The Biblical Account of history is crucial to know. Hebrews were treated poorly. They were starved, thirsty, enslaved, and beat up on; but that didn’t change their belief, in fact, it made them stronger. By putting their faith in God, they were able to overcome almost everything that was thrown their way.