Early History of Judaism

Subject: Religion
Pages: 7
Words: 1880
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: College


Judaism can be defined as a kind of religion with sets of practices and die hard beliefs encompassed in the traditional Jewish Bible (Hebrew Bible). The ancient Israel Bible Talks about Hebrews. God via readings in the Hebrew bible promised Israelites Canaan. Judaism is a religion linked with Hebrews and Israel. This religion is so much attached to its birth place (Jerusalem) which has been home to ancient wars other religions including Muslim and other Christian religions. This made the city busy with different activities. People who follow this religion (Jews) see it as a form of expression their God build up with their ancestors.

The ancestors in question are the twelve tribes or the true sons of Jacob, who are also referred to as Israel. Judaism has a history of more than 300 years duration although its manifestation is still evident in to the present day. This religion has influences on many kinds of western cultures and ethics. The major sub groups of this religion are the Reform, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism which is distinguished mainly by the way they observe the Jewish laws. Judaism has been believed to encompass several religions which are glued together by some similarities. It is also true that the tests and tribulations this religion has been subjected to shows that there is a strong presence of Omni-pervasive themes.

This Jewish religion has a few variations since Judaism history is enclosed in ancient wars in Canaan, politics and theology in the Middle East. This paper is therefore going to focus on Judaism as a religion identify both the history and Biblical history of Judaism, talk about Abraham and the patriarchs, highlight on issues concerning slavery and the covenant taken by Moses, the conquest of Canaan, the united monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon, the Israel kingdom and the temple destruction and the situation in the middle ages. It will conclude by providing an insight on the whole issue comparing the past to the present day Judaism.


“In Judaism, history is looked upon as of extreme significance. While many ancient religions center on philosophies and mythical concepts, Judaism focuses on the Hebrew bible and its historical narrative. Followers of Judaism (Jews) have holidays connecting to those in the bible of traditions and historical events.” (Brown 54) In the information about the history of this religion, it is stated that it started with the creation of mankind. To be exact on the other hand Judaism has its origin in the Hebrews and specifically Abraham.

The exact point of origination is traced to Harran a small town in Mesopotamia which was the home of Abraham. Abraham then moved to Canaan (currently Israel and Lebanon) under the instructions of God. These people were mostly farmers and herders in Mesopotamia. Nearby cultures had some influences on the ancient Hebrews these were like the concept of the west Semites, Egyptian ways of learning, Canaanite ways of communications and the Babylon law. The above cultures believed in a many gods but one creator, they also followed their own rituals pertaining religion.

Biblical History

Traditionally Judaism and Jewish history encompasses years of narrative starting with creation up to the 4th century BCE. This is highlighted in the Tanakh (shows historical views of the ancient Israelites from creation to the last prophecy), which is called Biblical Judaism. It follows the traditional Jewish life occurrences of punishment and support from God. In Judaism God set up many covenants with his people. This was believed to put aside this people (Hebrews) as the people of God. The Tanakh states that when the people of God went astray, either a prophet was sent, punishment was given or invading soldiers were send by God himself to take them back to him. With this claim (human experience of the presence of God) which differentiates Judaism and other religions.

Abraham and Judaism

In the first book in the Bible there is the creation of the world and human beings. This book chronicles the first men turning away from their creator until there is the destruction of earth by floods. A covenant was made with the survivor of the floods showing that the earth will not be destroyed any other given time. The specifications of the Hebrew Bible taken in by Judaism history starts with Abraham. This religion distinguishes Abraham as its founder.

Though he is only called upon by God who is established I the covenant already, where God guarantees the Jews Canaan. Scholars have spotted major differences between Judaism in the time of Abraham, the patriarchs and Judaism at the time of Moses. Judaism during the patriarch time looked simpler mainly revolving around God and Abraham. During this particular time, this religion encompassed the making of sacrifices and other prayer rituals. Circumcising members was viewed as very important practice for its followers. The eschatology for the followers of Judaism was Canaan and the Israel community growing into a big nation.

Slavery, Moses and the covenant

In respect to the Hebrew Bible, there was famine in Israel which made the Hebrews to leave for the land of Egypt, while there they fell into slavery. God liberated them from slavery by inflicting Egyptians with diseases and plaques and also drowning their army to allow them to get away. While at Sinai, the Hebrew People were instituted as Gods people giving them provisions of a covenant. After this, God journeys them for forty years, before giving them the land they were promised (Canaan). At the centre of all those developments was Moses. Moses assumed and fulfilled all the roles of a leader that are heading religion, military, the legislation and politics. The sequencing of the events that took place is historically reliable, since disassociation of these events would erase the centrality of this religion as pieces of faith in later beliefs of their religion.

Canaan conquest

Occupation of Canaan was characterized miraculous events as stated in Joshua. Some of this were, the falling off the walls of Jericho at a shout and the sun standing still. This rivaled the ones found in the book of Exodus. Occupation of Canaan still proved more complex than illustrated in the book of Joshua. This involved the incorporation of signing treaties and military actions.

After this conquest the people of Israel were headed by judges, this is the time when they started falling out of Judaism and started worshiping idols. This is supported by archeological studies carried out in Palestine.

The kingdom under Kings

In the maintenance of Canaan, it was essential for authorities to come together with armies to ward off adversaries. Two views of prospective monarchism sprung up. These were rejecting of God’s kingship and defending methods that are God-given. The initial view is characterized by Samuel putting to the throne the first king. Saul was put to the throne in 1020 BCE after winning a war with the Ammonite people. His reign had a lot of disagreement with Samuel who had authority over the king. Then David succeeds Saul, combining religion and politics. King David successor was Solomon, during which Hebrew kingdom got its highest magnificence.

After the Kingdom of Solomon, Israel divided in two. These were Israel and Judah which were conquered by Syria and Babylon respectively. The people occupying of Judea were send away to Babylon returning later under Nehemiah. This was after the conquest of the Babylon kingdom. At this particular point the Israelites had already started breaking up forming up other religious faction including Pharisees.

Destruction of the temple and Israel kingdom

After the defeat of the Persians, the kingdom of Seleucid was founded. The relationship between Jews in respect to Judaism deteriorated with the king of Seleucid imposing decrees ban on some sites and traditions of the Judaism religion. As a result orthodox Jews rebelled under the family of Hasmon, which later resulted to the forming of an independent kingdom for the Jews (165 BC to 63 BC). This gave birth to Judea which was ruled by Romans. The Jews tried to revolt against the Romans who were denying them the right to their religion. The Romans then destroyed their worshiping places and religious objects.

Still there was minimal practice of Judaism and the number of Jews found in Judea was significant. This was until the 2nd century when there was a revolt that resulted in the barring of Israelites from accessing Jerusalem. With these came different kinds of developments that included armed revolts, renewed focus in preservation of traditional types of worship in the new situations and the integration of Jews with the Greeks (zealot, Pharisees and Sadducees respectively).

With these development rabbinical Judaism also cropped up. This was realized after the destruction of the second temple destruction together with the pharisaic movement in 70 CE. Rabbis heading the Judaism religion began interpreting Judaism concepts without their temple together with the exiled people. This religion was dominant for seventeen centuries creating medieval philosophy.

Whilst the Roman Empire extending its inglorious continuity by the use of war, the warring neighbors become stronger defeating it and therefore relaxing some laws on Judaism. Judaism continued to be the major religion for the Jews who were not troubled while worshiping.

Middle Ages and the present day

“It is in the 19th century that the followers of this religion were able to come together and settled all regulations in the canonical regulations which the Judaism church authorities put down for their believers and people of other religions.” (George 25) Intercourse with believers of Judaism was forbidden creating a gap which can’t be bridged between these adherents. Judaism otherwise has found itself compelling to make other citizens believers in the religion since Judaism put into effect Biblical prohibition against its people. The people who believed in Judaism also got happiness in their societies only. Their intellectuality was from their own kind of literature in which there was devotion among members with all their might.

The condition of Judaism worldwide depended and still is depended on the host country’s conditions, these keep transforming. In the countries like Italy for example, followers of Judaism passed through hard times when wars were waged on them by Heruli. In Europe anti-Semitism was widespread especially in 1920 through to 1930 although there is its history goes back to many centuries. “Hitler also highlighted war of a fanatical nature on these people from 1924 in a book (Mein Kampf). This was disregarded at first but was later accepted upon his elevation to authority. He led anti-Semitism campaigns which triggered the German holocaust.” (Rosh 198)


Therefore as shown in this paper Judaism is a religion encompassed by Jews mainly in the country (Israel)? This religion was imposed on the ancient Jews (Hebrews) by their ancestors who used the old Hebrew Bible to provide the laws and regulations governing this religion. This religion which has passed through many trials and tribulations imposed to it by its hatters. It also seems to contradict with other religions since it looks like it is only worshiped by people who understand Hebrew.

Works cited

Brown, Amos. History of Judaism: Washington DC: Davidson and Sons Publishers. 1985. Print.

George, Robinson. Essential Judaism1st Edition: Kampala: East African Publishers. 1992. Print

Rosh, Armana. German Holocaust: New York W.H Freeman and Company Publishers. 2002. Print.