The Hebrew people are descendants of the patriarch Abraham (1900 B.C.E.)
who formed a special relationship--the Covenant with God. God
promised Abraham he and his descendents would be the chosen people and in
return Abraham agreed to be faithful to God's Law. Thus the faith of Judaism was born in
agreement between the Lord and Abraham. The faith has trancended
centuries and still holds firm in a few basic beliefs:
- there is only one God, whom each individual has direct and personal
- God is the ultimate authority.
- life is the gift of God and is holy.
- strong emphasis is placed on community, group worship and prayer.
- the Torah is a guide to corect living.
The primary emphasis of Judaism is on a detailed code of conduct. It
believed Judaism fully lived leads to a life of good deeds. A Jew's first duty is to live according to God's Law. The core of this Law lay in the Ten Commandments.
The ten commandments are revered by three of the worlds
The commandments are shared by Christians and also have influenced the
- I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
- Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow
down unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love M
and keep My commandments.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou
labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within
thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
- Honor thy father and mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servent, nor his maid-servent, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.
THE HEBREW BIBLE
Further detail of the Law as well as the early history of the Jewish people lay in the the
Torah. The Torah is the
first five books of the Hebrew Bible and is also called the Five Books of Moses because they were revealed to Moses on
Mount Sinai. This initial section of the Hebrew Bible was reinforced by the prophets, whose
great era came in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.E. The prophets reminded the people of the
Creator's love and the importance of the Law.
TRADITIONS OF JUDAISM
There are three main traditions of Judaism. Each places a
different emphasis on the Law
Orthodox Judaism refers to the historic Jewish faith that sets its base in the traditional customs of the religion.
It is a way of life that is expressed by practices, one that insists that tradition reflects God's will and is not subject to debate or
revision. Thus, the Orthodox Jew does not recognize the
possibility of accommodation to social change.
Reform Judaism arose in the early 19th century in order to modernize the faith. The Reform attempts to retain the essential elements of Judaism. It embraces the broad moral messages of the Jewish tradition and balances the fundamental
truths with modern viewpoints. Reform Jews do not adhere to the daily rituals of the other sects of Judaism.
Conservative Judaism came about through dissatisfaction with both Orthodox and Reform Judaism. It still holds a strong sense of tradition but allows accomodation to social realities.
Conservtive Jews attempt to observe the traditions of the faith as fully as possible.