RLGA02 Midterm Review - Terms & Importance
Maccabean Revolt – During the period of the Seleucids’ ruling in Judea, a general revolt broke
out, led by resistance fighters called Maccabees ‘hammer’ (nickname of their ruler, Judah).
Their objective was to expel the Seleucids for crushing the Judeans’ religion.
Babylonian Exile – The deportation of Jewish leaders from Jerusalem to Mesopotamia by the
conquering Babylonians in 586 BCE; disrupting local Israelite political, ritual, and agricultural
institutions (Temple is razed), it marked the transition from Israelite religion to Judaism.
Passover – The major spring festival of agricultural rebirth and renewal, given a historical
dimension by association with the hasty departure of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses’
YHWH – God’s personal name in Hebrew or can be written as Yahweh. Originally have meant
“he who causes to be”. ‘Adonay’ ‘G-d’ It is considered blasphemous to pronounce the name
Midrash – Commentary on scripture.
Torah – A word meaning ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’; applied most specifically to the Law of Moses
(the Pentaeuch) but may also refer to the entire scripture, including commentaries, and even the
entire spiritual thrust of Jewish religion.
Rashi – Rashi wrote the definitive commentaries on the Babylonian Talmud and the Bible
Sadducees – represented the upper stratum of Judean society—the aristocracy that embraced
Hellenization. The upper class both politically and occupationally, they were also the party of
the priestly establishment and the custodians of the Temple, in charge of its operations. They
insisted on a narrow, literal interpretation of the law.
Zaddik – “Righteous person”. A title conveying the Hasidic ideal for a teacher or spiritual leader
Ghettos – During the Napoleonic period when the ideals of French Revolution spread
throughout Europe, Jews were living in the Ghettos, isolated from the mainstream society. It is
where they were viewed as foreigners due to their non-Christian beliefs and Middle-Eastern
origins in a Renaissance Christian environment. As a result, they were placed under strict
regulations throughout many European cities.
Sabbath (Saturday) – The seventh day of the week, observed by Jews since ancient times as a
day of rest from ordinary activity.
Documentary hypothesis – The theory (1894) that the Pentateuch was not written by one
person (Moses) but compiled over a long period of time from multiple sources.
Hellenistic Judaism – When Alexander the Great conquers Persian Empire. Greek becomes the
language of trade; style for dress, architecture, even Bible translated into Greek (Septuagint).
Judea was under the control of Ptolemies and then rule passed onto Seleucids in 198 BCE. Seleucids dedicated the Temple to place of worship cult of Zeus, raided it of its riches and
suspended the local Torah constitution.
Hellenistic influences on Judaism as it becomes more individualistic, and encouraging of
opposing truths—no single orthodoxy. Hellenistic Judaism comprised of a variety of sects. In
North America, there are two major groups—Sadducees and Pharisees, representing the upper
and middle classes. They faced challenges from two smaller, more radical sects—the Essenes
and the Zealots.
Diaspora – ‘Dispersal’, the Jewish world outside the land of ancient Israel; it began with the
Babylonian Exile, from which not all Jews returned.
Second Commonwealth – The post-exilic community. Not all Jews returned to Persian-
controlled Judah. The Second Temple was built; greater bureaucratic roles for priestly roles.
The Torah became the foundation document of the nation in the period of the second
commonwealth in somewhat the same way that the collected body of British law came to serve
as Britain’s constitution
Mishnah – The Hebrew summary of the oral law—inherited from Pharisaism and ascribed to
Moses—arranged by topic; edited by Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi before 220 CE, it has an authority
paralleling that of the written Torah.
Logos – ‘Word’; a kind of divine intelligence thought to mediate between God and humanity and
carry out God’s intentions on earth
Jewish Enlightenment – a movement among European Jews in the 18 -19 centuries that
advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society,
and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history.
Pharisees – represented the middle classes, landowners, skilled workers and many were
professional scribes serving the aristocratic Sadducees. From time to time they also held power
in the Temple, but they were more at home in the synagogues of Judea.
Kabbalah – The medieval Jewish mystical tradition; its central test is a commentary on scripture
called the Zohar, compiled by Moses ben Shemtov of Leon (d. 1305) but attributed to Rabbi
Shimon bar Yohai, a famous second century rabbinic mystic and wonder-worker.
Reform Judaism – The belief of that Jewish life should parallel that of modern Europe. There is
a Jewish Enlightenment which advocates in adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better
integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew
language, and Jewish history. The movement sought to minimize the temptation of converting
to Christianity by creating a new, more modern kind of Jewish religious life, such as vernacular
sermons, western dress, prayers. Later on, it was taken to North America to continue to
modernize and imbibe the intellectual assumptions of the time. Conservative Judaism – takes a intermediate position between Reform and Orthodoxy. Hebrew
is still used in prayer, but some reforms fol