Where in the world did Judaism begin?
- Answer 2
Tradition states that Abraham founded Judaism. The Kuzari (Rabbi Judah HaLevi, 1075-1141) states that Abraham was gifted with high intelligence; and, as Maimonides (1135-1204) describes, Abraham didn't blindly accept the ubiquitous idolatry. The whole populace had been duped, but the young Abraham contemplated the matter relentlessly, finally arriving at the conclusion that there is One God and that this should be taught to others as well. This is what is meant by his "calling out in the name of the Lord" (Genesis ch.12). As a young man, he remonstrated with passersby in public, demonstrating to them the falsehood of their idols; and our tradition tells how he was threatened and endangered by Nimrod.
Subsequently, Terah relocated to Harran; and it is here that Abraham began to develop a circle of disciples (Rashi commentary, on Genesis 12:5). Later, God told Abraham in prophecy to move to the Holy Land, which is where he raised his family. He continued his contemplations, eventually arriving at the attitudes and forms of behavior which God later incorporated into the Torah given to Moses.
Moses achieved the highest level of prophecy (Deuteronomy ch.34) and was called upon by God (Exodus ch.3). He brought the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Exodus ch.12). He received the Torah from God (Exodus 24:12) and later recorded it in writing (Deuteronomy 31:24). He went up on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights (Deuteronomy ch.9-10) and brought down the Two Stone Tablets with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 31:18). He brought the Israelites into the covenant with God (Exodus ch.19 and ch.24), and he oversaw the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus ch.35-40). He was the humblest of men and the greatest of prophets (Numbers ch.12).
As the name implies, Judaism originated in Judah, a small Hebrew
enclave to the west of the Dead Sea. It had its origins in what is
now known to have been a polytheistic Hebrew religion substantially
shared with its northern neighbour, Israel. Tradition eventually
blotted out memory of the polytheistic past, but that past
re-emerges in the findings of archaeology and hermeneutic study of
the Hebrew scriptures.
Judaism, as we know it today, actually evolved over a period of centuries and also owes much to the scribes and prophets who lived in and near Babylon during the sixth-century-BCE Exile, when much of the Hebrew Bible was completed. This was also the period during which Judaism became firmly monotheistic, although it seems to have already become monolatrous even before the Exile.
The First Roman-Jewish War began in 66 CE as a result of swingeing taxes imposed by the Romans and the appropriation of money from the Jerusalem Temple. The inevitable result of the war was the destruction of the Temple and, with it, the inability to continue animal sacrifices as well as the disappearance of the Sadducee faction. The Pharisees evolved Judaism, to become the Rabbinic Judaism we know today. This was the beginning of modern Judaism.
Judaism was founded by Abraham in the Fertile Crescent.
Abraham (18th century BCE) was born in Ur (Mesopotamia; now Iraq), where he first repudiated idolatry. He then sojourned in Harran (Syria) for several years, and then lived most of his life in Canaan (Israel).
It was in Canaan that Abraham lived most of his life, made a covenant with God (Genesis ch.15), and raised a family to be the center of carrying on his traditions (Genesis 18:19).
Abraham's family carried on his teachings voluntarily. Judaism as a binding, permanent entity, was set forth between God and the Israelite nation descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at Mount Sinai in the time of Moses (Exodus ch.19, ch.24, and 34:27).All of the above places are in the ancient Fertile Crescent.
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