When did Judaism become monotheistic?

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A: Jewish tradition says that monotheism began with Abraham, around 1800 BCE. However, even the Bible does not credit Abraham with monotheism.

It is almost universally believed that the religion of Israel and Judah was at all times monotheistic, although the people seemed remarkably willing to backslide to polytheism. However, the archaeological evidence is that the religion of the Hebrew people was actually polytheistic. Keel and Uehlinger (Gods, Goddesses and Images of God in Ancient Israel) describe hundreds of artefacts found in Israel and Judah throughout the entire monarchical period, showing that polytheism was ubiquitous in the region throughout the period. Mark S. Smith (The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel) says that according to the available evidence, Israelite religion in its earliest form did not contrast markedly with the religions of its Levantine neighbours in either number or configuration of deities.

Monolatry can be part of a progression from polytheism to monotheism, because monolatrists believe that while many gods exist, these gods can exert their power only on those who worship them. The official religion of Judah probably became monolatrous around the seventh century BCE, although the people themselves remained polytheistic until the Babylonian Exile. The Bible indicates that King Josiah introduced reforms that implemented monotheism in the seventh century BCE, but the scholarly consensus seems to be that if Josiah did introduce these reforms they were at best only partly successful.

If not already monotheistic by the time of the Babylonian Exile, the Jews were progressing in that direction. When the Persians overthrew the Babylonian Empire, the Jews came into contact with another monotheistic religion, Zoroastrianism. The works of Second Isaiah, which now form part of the Book of Isaiah, demonstrate the gratitude felt by the Jews towards King Cyrus of Persia when he permitted them to return to Jerusalem. It is very likely that this experience cemented monotheism into Jewish culture.

Some scholars believe there remained pockets of polytheistic belief for some centuries after the Return from Exile, but the religious authorities did everything possible to eliminate these heresies. Interestingly, the veneration or worship of Lady Wisdom seems to have been freely allowed right up to the end of the first century CE, yet this is not seen as conflicting with the notion of monotheism. Some scholars see Wisdom as a substitute for the goddess Asherah, while B. Lang (Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs: An Israelite Goddess Redefined) says that she was the pre-Exilic goddess of wisdom.

Jews have always worshiped the One God. God wrecked the Egyptian idols (Exodus 12:12) and warned against idolatry (Exodus 22:19). Abraham worshiped "the Lord God of Heaven and Earth" (Genesis 14:22 and 24:3) and complained about the Philistines' lack of fear of God (Genesis 20:11). Jacob confiscated the idolatrous images taken from Shechem (Genesis 35:2) and got rid of them (Genesis 35:4); and refrained from invoking the gods of Nahor (Genesis 31:53). Rachel pilfered Laban's statue-images (Genesis 31:19) in order to prevent him from idolatry (Rashi commentary, ibid.). Joseph placed his hope in the God of the Forefathers (Genesis 50:24). Moses characterized the Golden Calf as "a great sin" (Exodus 32:21, 30) and punished the worshipers (Exodus ch.32). During the rest of his lifetime and that of Joshua (Judges 2:7), no incidents of Jewish idolatry were reported.
Shortly before he died, Moses warned the people that he suspected that they would eventually succumb to the lure of the idols (Deuteronomy 29:17). Joshua gave a similar warning (Joshua ch. 24).
These warnings came true. Many of the Israelites went astray after the foreign gods (Judges 2:11). However, the Jews never invented their own idol. It was always the baneful influence of other peoples. And there were times when the entire Jewish nation repented (Judges 2:1-4) and prayed to God (Judges 3:9, 3:15, 6:6, 10:10).
Because of the idol-worship that did happen, images of idols have been found in Israel too. Images of God aren't found because it is forbidden to represent Him through imagery (Deuteronomy 4:15-16).
It should be noted that idolatry was never universal among the Jews. The tradition of the One God was handed down in every generation, whether by the few or the many; and it is those who handed down the tradition whose beliefs we Jews continue today. Deborah ascribed victory to God (Judges 4:14), Gideon tore down the idolatrous altar (Judges 6:25-27);Samson prayed to God (Judges 16:28), as did Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11) and Samuel (ibid. 12:18); Eli blessed in the name of God (1 Samuel 2:20), Saul built an altar to God (1 Samuel 14:35); Jonathan ascribed victory to God (1 Samuel 14:12), as did David (1 Samuel 17:46); and Solomon built the Temple for God (1 Kings 8:20). A number of the kings "did what was right in God's eyes": Asa (1 Kings 15:11), Yehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43), Yehoash (2 Kings 12:3), Amatziah (2 Kings 14:3), Azariah (2 Kings 15:3), Yotam (2 Kings 15:34), Hizkiah (2 Kings 18:3), and Josiah (2 Kings 22:2).
And, of course, the Prophets, who spoke in the name of God and warned against idolatry: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and so on.
The sages of the Talmud, who ridiculed idolatry (Megillah 25b), were simply continuing in the tradition of the Prophets whose verses are quoted in that context (ibid.).
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