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Midterm

Chapter 3 Midterm Notes

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Department
Religion
Course
RLGA02H3
Professor
David Perley
Semester
Winter

Description
Chapter 3: Jewish Traditions A Ritual Initiation  Bar Mitzvah: ―Son of Commandments‖; title given to a 13 year old boy when he is initiated into adult ritual responsibilities  Saturday for Jews is day of rest called Sabbath o Day for prayer and public assembly in the synagogue (Jewish house for worship and community meeting  At Bar Mitzvah, teenager reads 2 selections in Hebrew bible: Pentateuch (5 books of Moses; first part of bible) and the Prophets  Idea that adulthood begins at 13 based on ancient concept of legal majority; nothing to do with attaining adult status in modern world o Ceremony signifies age of ritual and moral responsibility  Young person‘s presence may be counted towards the minyan (The quorum of ten necessary to begin and group prayer) and may to called to re aloud from the sacred scripture and recite the blessings that are part of every synagogue service  Scripture from which Bar Mitzvah reads in public for first time is the Torah o Torah can include both entire Hebrew bible and all commentaries in it, but here refers to 5 books of Moses o Torah in synagogues is written in ancient Hebrew, transcribed by hand onto a scroll o To read, candidates had to learn ancient script and how to chant it  Blessings recited by teenager express values of community; Bar gives thanks for scripture that served as guide to people of Israel  Congregation notes Jews have only one difference: Have been given special responsibility of studying and keeping Torah  ―Coming-of –age‖ may differ in each congregation o Some conduct service in their local language o May insist candidate prepare by studying Hebrew and learning traditional chants o May include essay writing, social action, and good works o May offer similar ceremonies to females  Family holds luncheon or dinner after Bar Mitzvah o May be as fancy as a wedding reception  Late eighteenth century, Jews achieved legal rights, gain an affluence, and take part in the intellectual life of European societies Defining Judaism  Judaism the smallest out of three traditions (Christianity and Islam)  Tradition is more commonly inherited than chosen; Judaism considered ―ethnic‖ religion  Many Jews say yes to ethnic identity but no to religion o See themselves as members of the community (food, artistic traditions etc.)  Jews number just under 14 million worldwide o Half in Israel  World population of Jews in early twenty-first century is almost one-third smaller than it was in 1939 o 1945, roughly 6 million European Jews had been put to death by the Nazis; Known as the Holocaust  Half of all Jews are unaffiliated with any synagogue  In USA and Canada, three major groupings: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox  Jew believe that God expects all human beings to follow same fundamental moral code, revealed in a covenant given to Noah after primeval flood and is accessible to the entire human race though reason  Jew understand themselves to be bound by subsequent covenant delivered through the prophet Moses at Mount Sinai o God took Israelite people out of Egypt and claimed them as his people o Responded that the Lord would be their god o Promise was confirmed at Mount Sinai where Hebrews were commanded to follow a number of special rules that set them apart from others  Jews think of themselves as God‘s people: Think they have been saved from slavery and elected to fulfill a special responsibility to serve as God‘s priests in the world Origins The Biblical Period  Liberal wing of Judaism accepts modern historical principles and reserves the right to question the historical accuracy of the biblical text. Distinguishing between myth, legend, and history  Earliest known references to Israel in secular historical records date from thirteenth century BCE Creation in Genesis  First 11 chapters describe the primeval history of the universe  In chapter 1, God creates heaven and earth  Before creation, everything was chaotic and primal waters covered the earth  God dived light from the darkness and created different things on each of the first six ―days‖ o Creation of humanity, female and males  Seventh day, God rested, setting pattern of a weekly Sabbath  Text describes the order of time as proceeding from evening to morning, Jews celebrate the Sabbath starting at sundown on Friday night and ending at sundown on Saturday  Chapter 2, God causes a mist to rise from the ground, out of which vegetation sprouts  Creates the primal man, Adam, and plants a garden in Eden, where he places the man before creating the animals and the woman, Eve  Modern biblical scholars take a different view of these textual inconsistencies o See them as clues to the composition of the text o Suggest that three interpretations of the chaos before creation came from different sources and contradiction was allowed to stand because the complier of the biblical text was reluctant to change any of them  First chapter is now ascribed to a priestly writer known as the P narrator  Second chapter believed to be part of an ancient Hebrew epic complied by the king‘s court and commonly designed JE  Genesis 1 offers a ordered view of creation o Everything is arranged from according to the days of the week o Priestly Hierarchy  First is God, the creator, who creates means of his word  Second is Sabbath the period of rest built right into the universe  Third is humanity, male and female, created at the last moment before the Sabbath in the image and likeness of God  Earliest interpretations of the creation story within the bible itself take to mean that humanity should never worship created objects like the sun, moon, and the stars, that God created everything, and that there are not spate gods for the good and the bad The Primal Couple  ―Adam‖ is the Hebrew word for ―man‖ in sense of humanity o Has connotations similar to those of ―everyman‖ in English  Eve is derived from the word ―living‖  In Genesis 2, Adam and Eve stand naked without shame in peace and harmony o This childlike nakedness of the primal couple is contrasted with the shrewdness of the serpent who presents them with the temptation to become like God by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil  Genesis 3 shows how easily this state can be reversed  Adam is very unwary and trusting and peaks in very simple sentences  Eve is curious and evidently intelligent, speaking in complex sentences that show her thinking through problems  Couple do not lack understanding or intelligence before they eat the forbidden fruit; lack moral sense and sense to make moral distinctions  Eve is easily tempted by the serpent; eats the fruit and Adam follows her lead without protest even though both understand disobeying direct order from God o Shame and guilt they experience afterwards are two aspects of ―knowledge of good and evil‖ acquired by forbidden fruit  Eden story explains conditions of human life through narrative rather than philosophical argument o Pain and evil are the consequences of human disobedience and lack of moral discernment  Stories of why snakes crawl on the ground, women having pain during childbirth, why people have to work for a living and why we die o Call these stories ―etiological‖  Explain the causes and reasons behind our present circumstances  Christian interpretation sees their disobedience as the ―original sin‖ and insists that there is a deep and sinister relationship between sexuality, sin, death, and Satan  Positive benefit for humans is the moral captivity to choose the good and to keep God‘s laws The Israelite Narratives  Story of the flood was virtually universal in the mythologies of the ancient Near East o Hebrews adopted a theme that was probably familiar to all the people with whom they came in contact  In the dominant Mesopotamian account, gods cause the flood because were disturbed by the din of human life  In Hebrew version, motivation is moral: to punish the evil that humans have perpetrated and clear the way for a fresh start o God floods the earth allowing only Noah and the creatures on board to survive  When king of Babylon attempts to approach God‘s level by building a tower to heaven, God responds by confounding human language  Not until Genesis 12 is there any sign of hope that humanity can be redeemed o God chooses Abraham to serve as an example of a righteous life  Primeval history is a prologue to the major action of the Hebrew Bible  Word ―myth‖ has come to connote falsity, today people are more likely to apply it to the narratives of other cultures than to their own o True to Israelite culture, believed to have rejected any sort of mythology in favor of belief in the one God  Israelites maintain that there is only one God and that the forces of nature are under his control Abraham  Narratives of the patriarchs and matriarchs (tribal ancestors of the Hebrews) mark the transition from the imaginative paradigms of myth and allegory to the anecdotal detail of legend  Mesopotamian texts composed after 100 BCE suggest that the stories of the patriarchs do contain some historically accurate threads o Names of Abraham‘s ancestors resemble place names mentioned in northern Mesopotamian records between the nineteenth and twelfth centuries BCE  Abraham is told by God to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees (in southern Mesopotamia) and move first to Haran (northern Mesopotamia) and eventually to the land of Canaan  Hebrews of Abraham‘s time saw themselves as people newly born through the specific command of their God Covenant  Central organizing concept in the ancient Hebrews‘ religion  Theological term; means much the same thing that ―contract‖ does today  Purpose of life for those bound by the covenant is defined by the special contractual relationship into which first Abraham, then Jacob and Moses and the people of Israel, enter with god, since the covenant specifies exactly how God desires Abraham‘s descendants will have the land of Canaan for their own o Land is not a gift; both sides must live according to specific obligations  Abraham asks for some assurance that the divine promise will be fulfilled. God appears to him in a vision and instructs him to ―bring… a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon‖ o Abraham obeys, cuts animals in two, lays each half ―over against the other‖ o After sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces o On that day, Lord made covenant with Abraham saying ‗To your descendants I give this land‖  Flaming torch, signifying presence of God, passes between the pieces of the animals to signify that God has sworn a solemn oath  Ceremony is believed to reflect the treaty-making practices of the ancient Near East  God‘s providence is expressed in the form of a treaty between two greats chiefs: Abraham (ancestor of all the people of Israel) and Yahweh (the God who promises to oversee the destiny of his descendants, provided they conform to the model of behaviour laid out in the covenant)  Theme of obedience to God‘s will later emphasized in Genesis 22; God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering o Binds son, prepares fire, and grasping his knife when at the last moment an angel intervenes, telling to spare the boy and sacrifice animal instead  All great cultures of the Near East at the time of the Hebrews attributed their legal systems to various gods o Babylonian king Hammurabi was said to have been selected by the god of wisdom to establish his famous code of law  Two other patriarchs—Abraham‘s son Isaac and Isaac‘s son Jacob—are similarly portrayed as making covenants with God, as is Moses, centuries later, at Sinai o These accounts of the legendary early leaders parallel the ceremonial covenant-making of the part-legendary, part-historical Hebrew kings David, Solomon, and Josiah and the scribe Ezra  Each great figures in biblical history renews the covenant between himself, his people, and his God  Nature of the rewards promised in the return for faithful adherence to the covenant reflect the values and perspectives of Hebrew society at the time when these narratives were written  Ultimate rewards are offspring and a homeland; Abraham also assured a long life and peaceful death Moses and the Exodus  Narratives of the patriarchs as national ancestor in Genesis are followed by the dramatic account of Moses as leader and lawgiver in Exodus  Stories of patriarchs are situated in a period of migration from Mesopotamia into the land of Canaan, the Moses narratives place him at the head of a migration from he other center of ancient Near Eastern civilization  These two migrations may have overlapped, some of Hebrew ancestors coming from the direction of Mesopotamia  In bible, the two migrations are described as occurring in strict chronological and historical sequence  Descendants are first sent to Egypt and then, after 400 years of oppression, are led home by Moses  The compliers emphasized the linearity of Hebrew thought and its dogged historicism, in which God is seen as the author of every consecutive event The Devine Name  Chapter 3 of Exodus relates an encounter that Moses has with God during a visit to the wilderness before his people‘s escape from Egypt  Moses has a vision of God as a flame in a bush that burns without being consumed  God identifies himself as the God of the patriarchal lineage – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and gives his personal name, represented in Hebrew by the four letters YHWH o Scholars write this as ―Yahweh‖  Yahweh may originally have meant something like ‗he who causes to be‘ o Not unusual for gods in the ancient Near East to be named after their primary features  Over centuries, partly because of commandment not to take God‘s name in vain, it came considered blasphemous to pronounce the name at all o Judaism also forbade any tampering with the Hebrew scriptural text, in which sequence YHWH appear frequently o Jews reading aloud had to substitute with the word adonay where YHWH was written  Name Jehovah is variation on the same theme, formed by combining the four Hebrew consonants YHWH with the vowels from the word adonay  Jehovah only used in Christian circles; gained currency in in the sixteenth century when protestants with limited knowledge of Hebrew began turning to ancient biblical texts in their campaign against the abuses they perceived in the instructional church of Roe  Some branches of Judaism today, not all four constants are written; represented by double y or h with an apostrophe The Exodus  When story begins, Hebrews are in Egypt working on construction projects in the eastern part of the Nile Delta o Work amounts to slave labor; God tells Moses to request the Hebrews‘ release from the Egyptian pharaoh o Pharaoh refuses, God sends plagues on the Egyptians but spares the Hebrews, enabling them to escape  They cross the Red Sea which swamps their pursuers, and reach the barren Sinai Peninsula  All Jewish people would come to identify with the exodus story; understood as a metaphor of the transition from slavery to freedom as a people under God‘s special providence, with a destiny and a purpose o Commemorate their participation in the event during the Passover festival  Moses meets God at Mount Sinai and receives the ten commandments as the core of Israel‘s law, written on stone tables ‗with the finger of God‘  Ten commandments are stipulations of a covenant  In covenantal renewal ceremony that is described in Deuteronomy (means second law) there is a communal oath taking: all the people, not just the leaders, swear to obey its terms  Moses‘ brother Aaron becomes the archetypal priest  In absence of permanent Temple, Hebrew worship is instituted in an elaborate tent called the Tabernacle o Chest called Ark of the Covenant kept inside which serves as God‘s invisible presence  When Moses discovers that Aaron has capitulated to popular sentiment and erected a statue of a golden calf for the people to worship, Moses proclaims God‘s denunciation of such idolatry The Israelite Kings  Israelites proceed from nomadic to settled life in the land of Canaan under Moses‘ successors, beginning with Joshua o Book recounts some spectacular victories over the Canaanites  At first Israelites are able to gain only a few positions in the hill country for themselves and for a time they are tempted to emulate the Canaanites in their worship of a fertility god named Ba‘al  Yahweh denounces the Canaanite religious practices of ritual prostitution and child sacrifice, demands that Israelites repudiate them, promising Hebrews progeny and long life with they obey his covenant  Greatest threat in Israelites face, comes from Philistines, who arrive on the coastal plain at about the same time as the Israelites emerge from the desert and become their principle rivals  Israelites lived as a loose tribal confederation informally ruled by chieftains known as shofetim (judges)  No official process for electing or appointing the judges: leadership was charismatic, meaning that it depended entirely on popular acceptance  The accounts in the book of judges describe them as chosen by God to save the Israelites from the threats of foreign domination  Two generations coming after 1000 BCE, Israelite society experienced a shift to a centralized monarchy o Created to deal with the threats posed by the Canaanites and especially the Philistines  Story narrated in 1 and 2 Samuel, God chooses first Saul, then David, and finally David‘s successors to be kings because the Israelites need relief from the Philistine menace o First God is reluctant to appoint a king, but both the people and the times seem to demand one o God Chooses David  David, youngest son of Jesse, as an inexperienced youth fit only to look after the sheep  God strengthens David‘s hand to the point that he is able to defeat the Philistine‘s champion, Goliath, and unify the northern and southern tribes as a single Israelite people  David captures Jerusalem from the Jubusites and makes it his capital  David‘s successor is Solomon, his favorite wife  Solomon takes on many construction projects including a lavish Temple to Yahweh on the hill called Zion, a rock-outcrop ridge on the hillside of Jerusalem o Use of constrict labor have the effect of alienating the ten northern tribes  Solomon‘s death, 921 BCE, kingdom breaks up  Northern tribes follow a usurper named Jeroboam  Northern kingdom contuse for two centuries until they are overrun and dispersed by Assyrian invaders in 722 BCE, after they become known as the ―ten lost tribes‖  Southern tribes continue until 586 BCE, when the city was invaded by Babylon and its leaders were sent into exile The Five Books of Moses  Idea of a family connection to Jacob originated among the ten Hebrew tribes in the northern kingdom, and Jacob‘s alternative name, Israel, became the name of the people  Idea of a family connection to Abraham, who lived in south Jerusalem, served to bond the reaming two Hebrew tribes in the southern kingdom of Judah  When each region unified under David came to understand the other‘s stories as part of its own heritage  David, founder of the Jerusalem dynasty, was idealized for his military shrewdness o Depicted as talented in music so that the hymm collection of the Jerusalem temple came to be attributed to him  Solomon is portrayed as the paragon of wisdom, and the biblical collection of Proverbs is attributed to him  Solomon‘s son Rehoboam made the decision to impose the Jerusalem government‘s policies on the northern tribes, which led them to secede under Jeroboam o Breach was never healed  After northern tribes were dispersed by the Assyrians in 722 BCE, the southern kingdom continued as a state for another century and a half until conquered by Babylonians in 586 BCE  Priestly writers were responsible for editing the books into the form we know today  All editorial voices (northern, southern, even priestly) put their individual stamps on the biblical account of the transmission of the law at Sinai o Event defining the Israelite people, today it still gives the Jewish religion its special character  For orthodox community. It was at Sinai that the entire corpus of the five books was given, from the story of creation of the farewell address of Moses before he dies at threshold of the promised land  Ten commandments emphasize human social responsibilities, as does the Book of the Covenant, the extended law code that immediately follows the commandments  Priestly narrators, interested in the ritual and liturgical aspects of the covenant ceremony, portray Moses as an intermediary between God and the people Modern Theories of the Composition of the Bible  Julius Wellhausens‘s (German scholar) theory, known as Documentary Hypothesis, has been vehemently criticized by traditional Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, who reject its humanizing assumptions  Nineteenth-century Bible scholars imagined individual people writing specific documents at specific times o Now know that each source represents the perspective of a particular oral tradition, later written down by a group of scribes working under the auspices of a particular institution in the society and that in their editorial oral traditions were included in their editorial efforts, a process that continued over several generations  Hypothetical author or school associated with the use of the name Yahweh is called the Yahwist o Material of this source is identified by the letter J (name ―Yahweh‖ is spelled with J in German) the language of the scholars who first put forward the hypothesis  The Yahwist, who emphasized southern localities and role of Abraham, is thought to have worked in the southern kingdom of Judea, probably beginning before the division of the kingdoms in the late tenth century BCE  Second source is called E, or the Elohist, for its use of the generic term ―Elohim‖ to refer to God  In many places, the two stands, J and E, have been woven together to create a great Hebrew epic known as JE, which can be recognized by its use of the term ―the LORD god‖ to speak of divinity o Garden of Eden story beginning in Genesis 2 is a good example of JE, whereas Genesis 1 represents a priestly prologue to the whole story  According to 2 kings 22: 8, a copy of the book of the law was found during the reign of Josiah, in 621 BCE, in the course of repairs to the Temple in Jerusalem o On authority of that book, altars elsewhere in the kingdom were supposed and worship was centralized at the Jerusalem Temple for the first time o Since the earliest known reference to the restriction of worship was to a single location comes in Deuteronomy 12: 13, it is assumed that the book that was found was Deuteronomy and that it, the D source, was a new production  Deuteronomy is a sermon by Moses which would place its composition some 600 years earlier o Vocabulary and concerns are those of Josiah‘s day, when the prophet Jeremiah was active  Moses speaks of himself as a prophet in Deuteronomy 18: 15, he suggests a set of role expectations characteristic of the prophetic movement as it is thought to have existed in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE but not earlier o Central to the D source is a rewards-and-punishments theology of national morality  In some ways the most striking aspect of the Documentary Hypothesis is its suggest ion that P, the priestly source, was a late contribution to the body of writings that make up the Pentateuch o Is another voice that had been developing independently in the society o In present form, it is thought to come from 586-539 BCE, the period after the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed and the Judean leadership sent into exile by the Babylonians, for it contains numerous descriptions and measurements of the Temple stood, there would have been no need for these details, but with the Temple in ruins, P offers a literary blueprint for its restoration Israelite Society  When interpreters says that the Bible restricts marriage to one woman and one man, they seem to forget that the patriarchs and many Israelites took several wives and concubines, as late as the time of Jesus  Few basic respects in which the biblical accounts probably do reflect social reality, since the details are details are consistent across the centuries o Marriage: was the most universal among Hebrews; men were allowed several wives if they could afford to support them; and children were highly prized  Offspring are referred to again and again as rewards for faithful observance of the covenant with Yahweh o Tilling the land and securing it from harm were men‘s responsibilities, while raising children and running the household were women‘s  Relationship between Abraham and Sarah is depicted as cooperative and very direct  Sarah is able to affect many decisions within the household  David is portrayed as indulging his wives even in highly charged political atmosphere of his old age, when the succession to his throne was paramount in all his children‘s minds o Characters represent the elite of their society, and the power that women at that level enjoyed was conferred on them by their husband (or father, or son) to provide for her depended entirely on the protection provided by Yahweh‘s laws  Women often play a part in the exposition of important themes o Example: the military victory of the judge Deborah over the Canaanite's helps to illustrate God‘s control over history  He chooses the least likely characters as champions—Women, left-handers, lowly shepherds, inexperienced youths— precisely in order to show that it is he who determines victory and defeat o Deborah‘s gender thus functions exactly as the young David‘s weakness does, to demonstrate God‘s power  When a special birth is to be announced, the prospective mother is said to be barren  Since failure to bear children would undermine the covenant, God intervenes directly to prepare the mother‘s womb so that she can deliver the child who will benefit the people  Israelites legal system: Hebrews put more emphasis on fairness than their more civilized neighbors o Incarceration was a frequent punishment among the Israelites o Large number of Hebrew laws allow for penalties of monetary compensation rather than bodily mutation o Restitution frequently substituted for crimes that in neighboring countries punished by death  In most Mesopotamian nations, an aristocrat could make restitution for the death of a commoner, but a commoner would suffer capital punishment for the crime  Hebrew law made capital punishment for adultery on the part of wife because violation of the marriage vow represented an offence against the deity before whom it was sworn  Slavery somewhat less offensive in Hebrew society than elsewhere in some respects o Israelites forbidden to enslave their debtors for more than a fixed term; could be enslaved to work off value of debt o When debt was discharged, at puberty of young female slave, or next sabbatical year (when the fields lay fallow), Hebrew slaves had to be set free The Prophets  Hebrew prophecy appears to have grown out of ancient Near Eastern traditions of spirit possession o Such experiences are described as ―ecstatic‖ because they involve a kind of psychological displacement, so that practitioners ―stand outside‖ the bounds of normal awareness and conduct  How prophets received message is unknown. Possible they actively sought to induce visions; however, they present themselves as the intermediaries used by God to communicate with his people, and the words they deliver are understood to be God‘s not their own  Prophetic writings surviving from the period between ninth an fifth centuries BCE are notable for their rational clarity, their social criticism and their poetic intensity  Literary prophets appear in variety of contexts, sometimes speaking from within the administration of the monarchy and sometimes as social critics standing outside it o Message they deliver is always the same: that the people aren‘t living up to God‘s covenant and that they will soon be punished if they do not change their ways  Writings of prophets refer to the concept of the covenant not in the narrow technical language of treaties, but in the broader language of metaphor o Prophet Amos delivers the words of Yahweh: ―You only have I known of all the families on earth. Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities‖  Word ―know‖ in this context has specific meaning in ancient Hebrew referring to recognition of a covenant obligation  In eyes of prophets, marriage contracts are also covenants; have stipulations and are enforced by an oath  Accusations of seduction and adultery in Hosea gain their force by describing the covenant between Israel and Yahweh as a troubled marriage o Prophet present Israel as a wayward wife of Yahweh, who will win her back and even forgive her adultery o Metaphorically, prophets are describing the people‘s worship of the Canaanite fertility gods with the term ―adultery‖  If the people give up their sinful relationship with the Canaanite's‘ goddesses and gods, their sexual rituals of fertility and they abhorred child sacrifice, Yahweh will reconcile with them The Babylonian Exile  In 586 BCE the Judean kingdom fell; Solomon‘s temple was razed, to lie in ruins for three generations; and the Hebrews‘ leaders were sent into exile in Babylon  The exile marks the transitioning the Hebrew tradition from the national cult of an ancient kingdom to the religious heritage of a widely dispersed people  Heritage was no longer that of a national state but of a subject or minority population o Jews dispersed abroad, life was now more urban than agricultural, so that many of the old agriculturally based laws and rituals needed to be rethought  In absence of temple, focus shifted away from formal worship never regained its former importance even after the temple was rebuilt  Longing for restoration of Yahweh‘s sovereignty expressed itself in a variety of ways, including visions of a deliverer king (messianism) or a cosmic battle followed by judgment at the end of the age (apocalypticism)  Destruction of the Temple brought on a crisis of confidence. Problem was not that Yahweh‘s dominion was limited to the region of Judah, for he was also lord of all creation but he had been worshipped in a single place for so long  When Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon in 538 BCE, he was seen by the Israelites living there as part od God‘s plan o In own statements Cyrus did not present himself as the bringer of a new order to the world, but as a restorer of the ancient regimes destroyed by the Babylonians, and hence the champion of all the old gods o Allowed the traditional priests of Babylonia‘s god Marduk to practice their own religion o Allowed Jews to go back to Judea to re-establish their Temple  Cyrus decision to return to Jerusalem was in keeping with his policy of patronizing the priesthoods and cults of the old order  Writer of Isaiah 45 was so impressed with Cyrus‘s rise to power that he calls him the ―messiah‖, designated by Yahweh to serve as the instrument through which Israel‘s destiny will be fulfilled The Second Commonwealth  Not all Jews wanted to return to Judah under the new Persian regime o Many artisans and aristocrats were prospering in Babylon and chose to stay there, forming the nucleus of a community that would play a major role in the composition of the Babylonian Talmud in the early centuries of the common era  A postexilic author of later chapters in Isaiah declares the theme of homecoming; maintains that God is on the verge of repeating all his past deliverances  Second temple was completed in 515 BCE  Mysterious disappearance of Davidic king stimulated legends about the future king
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