RLG341H1 Lecture Notes - Immortal Sins, Essenes, Seleucid Empire
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January 21, 13
Jewish Life in Babylon
- 535 – return from exile in Babylon
- They were allowed to practice their religion
- Couldn't own property
- The synagogue – surrogate for the Temple - doesn't originate in
- Fasting and prayer took place (in private homes)
- Some issues with assimilation and acculturation (adopt some habits
of the dominate culture w/o sacrificing your worldview in general).
- Isolation/enclave culture – separatist culture (a sort of Amish of our
time type people).
- Ways in which Jews acculturated - Jews adopted Babylonian names,
took on the Babylonian calendar, etc.
- Cyrus allows them to go back to Israel – many Jews don't return –
they got comfortable.
- 520 – 515 – rebuilding of the temple
- Reformers of Jewish life – Ezra (religious reformer – ban on
interfaith marriage, restores public reading of Torah… called the
“Second Moses”) and Nehemiah (Political reformer) – 5thC BCE
- Busteney Oded – Babylonian scholar – 1) remarkable that Jews as a
group survived (others quickly assimilated) group survival. 2)
Disappearance of political sovereignty – Israel was wiped off
the face of the map – never any political sovereignty – always
under the rule of some empire.
- What helped the Jews survive – 1) Monotheism (very distinctive),
2) Covenant (usually if you lost then your god was defeated, but
they stuck to theirs), 3) Historical consciousness (public record of
themselves – The Torah – public books – No other religion has a
record of their history), 4) Genealogy (It’s about the group and not
the land – it’s portable – also keeping track of their ancestors) 5)
series of national festivals (Passover, etc…), 6) Traditions/Customs
of the fathers/ancestors – these rites mark a group as different – all
things are tied into each other. 7) Hebrew – preservation of the
historic language, 8) Contact with the land of Israel
- Story of Esther
- 323BCE – Alexander Converts Israel Selucid and Ptolomaic – 198
- Nebuchadnezzar is a rod of G-d’s anger
- Maccabees revolted.
- The Maccabees become Hellenized (Hellos – Ancient Greek anem
for Greece) – Hellenism was seen as a threat to Judaism – you can
easily convert to Hellenism – Jews tried to actively missionize
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