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‘Apocalyptic’ refers to a genre of Jewish literature that developed in the later prophetic books
and flourished in the Hellenistic era. All of apocalyptic literature is eschatological meaning it
deals with the doctrine of events at the end of the age. The literature was written in coded
symbolic visions which (interpreted) often expected a final battle to end unrighteousness of the
present. The apocalyptic literature is significant in Judaism and is exemplified by the role the
Messiah (anointed one) plays as he will lead and reward the righteous for their faith in God. It is
also exemplified by the Essene sect who believed that the events of the time were moving toward
an apocalyptic battle in which they would be led by a Righteous Teacher (Messiah) and battle
children of darkness.
Diaspora means “dispersal” and specifically refers to the Jewish communities outside of the land
of ancient Israel. It began with the Babylonian Exile, from which not all Jews returned. This is
significant because the Diaspora allowed Hebrews or Israelites to be known as Jews who are
followers of Judaism. Through the Diasporas the Jewish culture evolved as synagogues were born
and external philosophies (Greek) or customs became blended with the Jewish tradition. A well
known figure that represents the attitudes in the ancient Diaspora would be Philo the philosopher
whose ideas seem to reflect a modern exegesis of Jewish literature.
Exile refers to the deportation of Jewish leadership from Jerusalem to Mesopotamia by the
conquering Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Exile is significant because of the events or groups
that transpired after it. The Exile caused the Diaspora to grow significantly larger – these groups
eventually blended external philosophies and culture into their Jewish tradition. Solomon’s
temple was razed this caused an emphasis to rise on congregational life rather than temple
worship and eventually caused the synagogue to be born. The Aramaic language gradually
replaced Hebrew and gave Hebrew a “ritual” role. This Exile also led to ideas about messianism
and apocalyptic literature.
EXODUS refers to the migration of Hebrews from Egypt under the leadership of Moses (1250
BCE), understood in later Hebrew thought as the birth of the Israelite nation. Essentially, the
Hebrews are slaves to an Egyptian pharaoh and God frees them by sending a plague upon the
Egyptian people. The Jewish community identify this event as a metaphor of their people going
from slavery to becoming a people with destiny and a purpose. They celebrate this during the
Passover Festival. This is also significant because a Covenant was formed between Moses and
God at Mt. Sinai where if the 10 commandments were followed the Promised Land would be
provided to the chosen people. These 10 commandments made up the core of Israel’s law.
Kosher is a designation for food that is ritually acceptable, implying that all rabbinic regulations
regarding animal slaughter and the like have been observed in its preparation. It is important to
note that many animals do not even qualify to ever be Kosher such as pigs or creatures that prey
on others. The animal must be killed so that they die immediately with minimal pain and then the
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