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Early Judaism, part 1

An overview of the stories of the Torah (first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament).

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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Richard Sanchez
    I understand that some of this information is debated by historians but is there archeological evidence of the Jewish people being enslaved by Egyptians for 500 years? if so, what were the political, moral justifications for Egyptians to enslave the Jews. I only ask because throughout history, it seems that the Jews have always been persecuted. I very sad fact.
    (35 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user Aislynn Kurdziel
      To expand on a previous reply talking about the morals of the Egyptians. The Bible states that the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews because a new Pharaoh came into power. This Pharaoh did not care about the previous Pharaoh's promises to Joseph and the Hebrews. At this point, the Hebrews' population had gotten quite large and the Pharaoh was becoming, basically, afraid of them. So he enslaved them in order to stop their power from becoming greater. ("Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country." Exodus 1:8-10 NIV) The law to kill all Hebrew boys that are born is then put into place in Exodus verse .

      Also, yes the Israelites/Hebrews/Jews have almost always been persecuted by someone. It is actually foretold in the Bible that they will always be persecuted because they are, as it is said in the Bible, God's people.

      Sorry if I ranted a bit. I like to talk about these things.
      (12 votes)
  • aqualine seed style avatar for user Fatima Saeed
    isn't it Ishmael that Abraham was ready to offer??
    (1 vote)
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    • female robot ada style avatar for user Faigie1836
      The koran writes that it was Ishmael. However, being that the koran was written a couple thousand years after the Torah (where the account originates and it was Isaac who was offered), it is safe to say that the Torah has the original and correct account. Muhammad changed it because most Muslims were descendants of Ishmael, and this would make them happier.
      (23 votes)
  • starky sapling style avatar for user Quentin
    I would have thought the idea that Moses is author of the first five books of the Bible can be easily settled by the fact that his death is narrated in Deuteronomy 34. Why do people still talk about his authorship of these books?
    (3 votes)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user mendelhoexter
      According to many classic Jewish commentaries, the entire Torah was actually dictated to Moses by God, and Moses wrote about his own death just before it actually happened, as per God's instruction. Some add that he wrote it with his tears (metaphorically). According to others, however, this part was written by Joshua.
      (11 votes)
  • leaf grey style avatar for user Levon Kocharyan
    I wonder what are the other books of the Old Testament, and are they somehow categorized?
    (3 votes)
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    • eggleston blue style avatar for user Panic! I Have a Test
      Estheryt123liu's answer wasn't quite right.

      The other books of the Old Testament are:
      Bresheit (AKA Genesis)
      Shmot (Exodus, this is the book mentioned in this lesson)
      Vayikra (Leviticus)
      Bamit-Bar (The book of Numbers)
      Dvarim (duteronomy)
      these books are categorized chronologically. This is only the Torah, or the Old Testament. Christians believe more in the Testament, therefore Esther's answer was invalid.
      (1 vote)
  • winston baby style avatar for user Ali Arshad
    What do u mean by biblical accounts ?
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user s b
    You have mentioned Palestine. Is it a country ? Where it is located ? For how long ? When was it invented?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Christian Fernandez Vega
    how did the religion of Judaism spread?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Veronica Hernandez
    how did the religion of Judaism spread?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Jeff Liu
    So how did the religion of Judaism spread?
    (3 votes)
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  • cacteye green style avatar for user Sniper
    Just wanted to say that Judaism does not believe that the Jews were enslaved for 400 years in Egypt; rather they were supposed to be, but G-D took them out early at 210 years.
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      In an article published in the Bulletin of the Divinity School of Harvard University, dated Winter, 2018, and written by Israel Knohl, the Yehezkel Kaufmann Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I found the following statement: "In summary, I believe the Israelites came to Egypt during the great famine, which began at the end of Ramses II’s reign, around 1225 BCE. They left at the beginning of Setnakhte’s reign, around 1186 BCE. This is a span of about 40 years."
      (1 vote)

Video transcript

- [Sal] What I'm going to do in this video is give a very high-level history of some of the significant events in Judaism. I will use the word, history, loosely, because historians aren't able to really find a lot of evidence for some of what I'm going to talk about before the First Millennium BCE. These stories we get from the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, often referred to as the Torah, also the first five books of the Old Testament, also we get them from the Muslim Koran. But there isn't a lot of historical evidence for them. And so, many historians view it more along the lines of legend, but there are many people who view these as historic facts and have attempted to place them on a historic timeline. What I'm gonna do in this video is I'm going to attempt to fit onto this historic timeline where some of the people who believe it did happen, when they believed it happened. Keep in mind that there's not a lot of strong archeological evidence, historical record here, and these accounts were written several hundred years after when they were purported to occur. So let's start in the beginning. Let's start in the Book of Genesis, in the Torah, in the Hebrew Bible, and the Old Testament. I'm not gonna go into detail on the Book of Genesis. It starts, of course, with the monotheistic God creating the heavens and Earth. And then we have the stories of Adam and Eve, and then, several generations later, the story of the Great Flood of Noah. And then Noah's son, Shem, and I talk about Shem because this is where the word Semitic comes from. You might have heard people refer to Jewish people as Semitic; but also, Arab people are referred to as Semitic; because, according to Biblical accounts, they are both viewed as descendants of Abraham, who is a descendant of Shem. So they are viewed as Semitic. The first real significant patriarch of the Hebrew Bible is considered Abraham, who I just mentioned. It has Abraham moving from the City of Ur. There's debate on which Ur that is. It might be the ancient Sumerian city in lower Mesopotamia. Or, some people believe that it was an Ur in upper Mesopotamia. But regardless of which account you take... Once again, Abraham is considered by many historians as a legendary figure. So there's not clear evidence that he existed in a historical sense. But if you take the accounts in the Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible, he would have gone with his family from Ur, and eventually migrated to Canaan, which is in, near, or around modern-day Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, that general area. So it's either from this Ur or that Ur. And Abraham is considered the first of the three significant patriarchs for the Jewish people; the other two are Isaac and Jacob. Once again, I could do a whole series of videos on the stories of Abraham. But Abraham's first son is Ishmael, who he has with the servant of his wife Sarah after they determine that they're not able to, or they don't think that they're able to, have children. According to Biblical accounts, Ishmael is viewed as the progenitor, as the patriarch of the Arab people. But later in life, Abraham, and at this point he is roughly 100 years old, and his wife Sarah, according to Biblical accounts, is in her 90s, they have Isaac, who is considered a significant patriarch in Judaism. This is a painting by Rembrandt of the famous Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but then he gets stopped at the last minute. But it's viewed as a sign of his willingness to his faith in God and his willingness to follow God. Isaac's son is Jacob, and Jacob is later named by God as Israel. And so, this is where the word, Israelites, come from, and even the modern state of Israel. Now, one of Jacob's son is Joseph. Once again, this is according to Biblical accounts. There isn't a lot of historical evidence here. But it's a fascinating story, the story of Joseph, how he is sold by his brothers into slavery, and taken from Canaan to Egypt. But Joseph, once again, fascinating story, is eventually able to rise through the ranks, become the vizier of Egypt, and later, his family, including Jacob, come to Egypt when there is a famine in Canaan. And that is the explanation for the Biblical settlement of a significant fraction of the Israelites in Egypt. But then they are enslaved. According to Biblical accounts, they are enslaved for 400 years, over 400 years, and that's what you see in this green line right over here. They stay enslaved in Egypt until we get to Moses, who's considered the most significant of the prophets in the Jewish tradition, and one of the very most significant prophets amongst Christians and Muslims. So let's get to Moses. Moses' story, once again, one of these famous stories, how the pharaoh is feeling threatened by the growing population of the Jewish people, who, remember, are enslaved. And so, as the story goes, he orders all newborn Hebrew Jewish boys to be killed, but Moses' mother hides Moses, and he puts him on a basket in the Nile, and the pharaoh's daughter discovers him, and raises Moses. And so, he's able to get an education and is part of the royal court of the pharaoh. But later in life, he sees a slavemaster that's abusing a Jewish person to death, and then he kills the slavemaster. And so, he's afraid for his life, and so he runs away, fearing the penalty for killing the slavemaster, and he goes to Mount Sinai, or Mount Horeb, and this is where we think the Biblical mount, this is where the current Mount Sinai, Mount Horeb, is, and that's where we think the Biblical one might have been. That's where we have the story of the burning bush, where he is commanded by God. The angel of the Lord is speaking through this bush, and telling Moses: "Go back, and you need "to free the Jewish people from enslavement." And so, he does go back, and he is able to liberate them. Once again, this is a very famous story. The pharaoh's armies follow him. He parts the Red Sea. The pharaoh's army is eventually destroyed. He takes the Jewish people back to Mount Sinai, Mount Horeb. These are sometimes viewed as two different mountains, sometimes the same mountains, different sides of the same mountains. We are not exactly sure. But most people view them as the same mountain. It was at Mount Sinai, Mount Horeb, where now Moses is able to receive the famous Ten Commandments, and he's able to receive the Jewish laws. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the authorship of these is ascribed to Moses. Once again, historians really debate that, but this is according to Biblical accounts. Now, once he receives this word of God, he then takes the Jewish people, they set up a tabernacle, they go through the desert for 40 years, and he brings them to the promised land, and before entering, Moses dies. But he, essentially, is able to resettle the Jewish people back in Canaan.