Basic Milestones of Hebrew History

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Who was the first Hebrew, according to Jewish biblical tradition?
Abraham
Approximately what date is assigned the time of Abraham?
1,800 BCE
In what region did Abraham originally live?
in the region of present-day Iraq
What is a covenant, in Hebraic terms? What the Hebrew covenant resemble?
A covenant in Hebraic terms is a profound self-giving, a sacred exchanges of persons, whereby two form an intimate relationship. In this way, the covenant that God is said to have made with Abraham, beginning the Hebrew people, was not merely a practical or business-like arrangement.
The Hebrew covenant resembles a marriage vow. The Hebrew understanding of covenant is that sacred exchange of persons, like a marriage vow.
What is Israel likened to in the Hebrew scriptures?
the Spouse of the Lord
Was the Hebrew covenant the God's first covenant, according to Genesis?
No. God had covenanted with creation on the "Seventh" day of creation, seven in Hebrew number symbolism means "covenant."
Also, God covenanted with Noah's family before the covenant with Abraham.
Do Jews believe that only Jews will have a place in "the world to come"-- that is, eternity with God? What is their view termed?
No. The view that good persons of all religions will enjoy eternity with God is termed "inclusivism."
What is the basis of Jewish inclusivism?
The Covenant God made with the whole human race, know as the Noahide Covenant, precedes the Covenant the Covenant made to the Hebrews.
What did the Noahide Covenant promise?
That God would save all people who believed in God's faithfulness, and who obeyed basic moral commands, such as abstinence from stealing, lying, and murder.
Abraham had a son with Hagar-- what was his name? Why?
Ishmael. Because Abraham and Sarah did not have a child sometime after God's had promised them one, and from whom a nation would be descended; Abraham and Sarah thought having a child through Hagar would fulfill God's promise.
Abraham and Sarah eventually had a son-- his name?
Isaac.
In what way does the Muslim account of the Patriarchs differ from that of Judaism and Christianity?
Where Judaism and Christian affirm the lineage as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Muslims affirm that Ishmael, not Isaac, was heir to Abraham's spiritual authority.
Isaac's wife gave birth to Jacob, and Jacob's wife to a number of children including Joseph. What happened to Joseph?
Betrayed by jealous brothers, he was taken into Egyptian captivity, though he and his people originally prospered there due to the favor shown him by the Pharaoh who appreciated Joseph's talent for prophesy.
How did the Hebrews come into slavery in Egypt?
The Egyptians grew jealous of the prosperity of the Hebrews in Egypt, and enslaved them.
Who was sent to free them?
Moses
In the same episode that God sent Moses back to Egypt, what else did God also do?
Appear to Moses as divine Light in a bush that does not burn. Also, God reveals most sacred Name.
What Name did God reveal to Moses as God's true Name?
Yahweh.
(A) What does Yahweh mean, in translation? Why are Jews forbidden to pronounce the Divine Name revealed to Moses?

(B) What significance do certain Jewish and Christian theologians attach to the name Yahweh?
(A) "I AM That I AM." It was forbidden for Jews to pronounce it because the Name is in the first person and is intrinsically reflexive: that is, the person who pronounces it is declaring himself God.

(B) They find is especially apt, because God is Being Itself, Existence Itself. So "I am that I am" is like saying, "I Exist because I Exist." God does not have a cause, God is not the effect of a cause. God simply IS.
How is the Hebrews' captivity in Egypt a first exile from them.
They were exiled from land of Promise, Israel.
What did God command the Hebrews to do on the evening before their liberation, led by Moses? What is this night termed?
To prepare a special meal, including a lamb which bones were not to be unbroken. This night is termed Passover.
Describe the event termed the "Passover."
To free the enslaved Hebrews from bondage in Egypt, the angel of death was said to passover the homes of the Hebrews, and only afflict the Egyptians. Because of this event, the Pharaoh freed the Hebrews.
Why did Moses not accept Pharaoh's offer to let the Hebrews worship in sight of the Egyptians.
Because Moses had been commanded by God to sacrifice the very cultic animals which the Egyptians worshipped-- such Hebrew worship would have caused a riot!
Why did God, according to some theologians, insist on the Hebrews' sacrificing cattle, sheep, and goats ?
These were animals worshipped as gods by other peoples-- it was a repudiation of such worship.
What is the Shekinah?
The Light of God
What is very early Presence of the Shekinah?
The Light in the "burning bush, that was not consumed by the Fire" which Moses saw.
What the next appearance of the Shekinah in the Book of Exodus?
The Shekinah appears as the "Pillar of Fire" protecting the Hebrews from the Pharaoh's army, as Moses leads them away from bondage.
In the desert away from Egypt, Moses goes up Mt. Sinai and receives the Ten Commandments. God's Presence on the mountain to Moses, and God's giving of the Law to Israel on Mt. Sinai is commemorated in what Jewish holiday?
Pentecost.
But a great apostasy has taken place while Moses is upon the mountain. Defina "apostasy." Describe this incident. What is one consequence of this apostasy?
Apostasy is radically parting from one's religion. The first Hebrew apostasy was creation of the Golden Calf, and so a reversion to the Egyptian polytheistic religion. One consequence of this apostasy is that a generation of Hebrews who
will pass away until the Hebrews enter the Land of Promise, as this early generation still had the mindset of slaves.
Moses is commanded to put the Ten Commandments in a Ark he is to build. What appeared above the Ark containing the 10 Commandments?
The Shekinah, the mystic Light of God.
What a result of the second apostasy?
God's covenant with the Hebrews was altered, and the Hebrews were commanded to keep themselves apart from other people (to avoid the situation at Moab). This would be the root of the "Pharisees," the strict Jewish teachers in the first century BCE, who made it a point to separate themselves from non-Jews, the Gentiles. Indeed, Pharisees means "separate."
After settling the land of Israel, the Hebrews have a series of Kings-- the second King is David. What are three promises or commands, that come to David?
Eventually from his "house" will come the Messiah-- this is a prophesy.
David is told that a Temple for the Lord should be built.
David is also told that Israel should be a Light to the nations-- that is to say, a beacon of monotheism and justice to all peoples (This same vision of Israel as international teacher, a "light to the nations," was later articulated through the prophet Isaiah (42:6):
"I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.")
What major sins do David commit? What is the famous phrase that prophet spoke to him, to reveal his sin?
He commits treachery against Uriah, sending him to the front lines of battle and taking his wife, Bathsheba.
The prophet Nathan reveals to David that God is aware of David's sin in the striking parable of a rich man who steals a poor man's lamb, to slay and serve it to guests-- an analogy to David's taking Uriah's wife. Nathan striking, accusing words to David: "You are the man!" 2 Samuel 12:17
Describe an act of faith found in David, involving the Ark?
David danced before the Ark of the Covenant, as it was brought up to the capitol city, Jerusalem.
Who accedes to the throne after David and builds the Temple?
King Solomon.
What astonishing sight occurred when the Ark was installed in the inner room of the Temple.
The Shekinah that was above the Ark flooded the Temple with so much Divine Light that the priests ran out of the Temple.
What made the Temple holy?
The Presence of God as the Shekinah, which dwelt above the ark which was installed in the Temple.
Though Solomon in his youth was dedicated to God and wisdom, three major failures attended his reign.
God commanded King Solomon not marry women who worshipped other gods; not to over-tax his people; not to built up armies.
After the death of King Solomon, a series of weak and even immoral Hebrew kings arise to rule land-- with an evil consequence. What is that consequence?
The consequence is that on the unified Promised Land now divides into two parts: Israel (ten tribes) and Judah (two tribes).
In the north of the land, the King revives the idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, and the worship of Baal. God sends prophets to the north to bring the people back to obedience to the commands of Torah. Elijah is one of them. What are two notable incidents in the life of Elijah?
1) The prophet Elijah calls the Israelites back to the worship of Yahweh, challenging the priests of Baal to contest-- the priests of Baal fail to ignite the wood through their prayers are energetic and full of violence (they cut or "tattoo" themselves,ritually), while Yahweh ignites the wood.
2) Elijah experiences God in a silent breeze. Here is the story:
The Story of Elijah and the Silent Breeze
" [The Lord said]: 'Go and stand on the mount before the Lord.' For the Lord was passing by: a great and strong wind came rending mountains and shattering rocks before him, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after
the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire....."
"......but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a silent breeze."
"When Elijah heard it [the Silence], he brought his face into his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave." 1 Kings 19:8-19
What is the significance of Elijah hearing God in the silence? What kind of experience?
It was a mystical experience. It was a mystical experience of God who can be experienced when the ego is silenced, and the soul goes out to the Mystery of God which is beyond words: God as the Great Silence.
Did the ten tribes to north repent as the result of Elijah's preaching? What happened?
The Ten Tribes did not repent and were conquered by the Assyrians, who exiled these tribes to unknown parts: hence, they are termed "the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." This is another exile of the Israelites from their homeland.
The Assyrian conquerers not only exiled the Ten Tribes, but also inter-married with Hebrews in the north. What were these known as?
The Samaritans.
Judah in the south, similarly turned away from Torah, and was warned by Hebrew prophets such as Jeremiah, who cried against her idolatry and hardness of heart. These prophets warned that Judah would be conquered by her neighbor Babylon, if Judah did not turn back to Torah. Specifically, Jeremiah accused the King of Judah of idolatry and evil. What is "speaking truth to power" in this way, termed?
"prophetic critique."
During this time, what Hebrew prophet declares that God will make a "new covenant" with Israel? What is the heart of this covenant?
Jeremiah. The heart of this covenant is the internalization of the Law during the time of the Messiah's rule on earth, so that people will naturally live God's Law during the Messianic Age. "I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts. I will be their God,
and they will be my people."
Jeremiah 31:33
The people of Judah, however, fail to heed the call to return to the Lord which Jeremiah and other prophets call for. What happens because of this?
The Babylonians march into Judah, destroy the Temple, and take captive many Hebrews, bringing them back to Babylon. This is yet another exile of Jews from their homeland .
What is exile known in Hebrew history?
the Babylonian Captivity
The exile of the Jews in Babylon had several consequences for Judaism-- for example, new places of worship were founded, as the Temple had been destroyed. What were these called?
Synagogues.
During the Babylonian Captivity, a prophet arises among the Jews -- Daniel-- whose wisdom and for talent for seeing the future are appreciated by the Babylonian king. Describe the distinctive vision Daniel was given, regarding the Messiah. What specific term did Daniel apply to the Messiah?
Daniel saw a Messianic-like figure coming in a "cloud of glory" that rule the nations justly. He spoke of the Messiah as the "son of man."
Here is the passage:
"I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him." And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13
The Hebrews are eventually freed from captivity in Babylon, to return to Judah and to rebuild the Temple. But they are soon conquered again-- Alexander the Great's Greek empire was expanding, the Hebrews were conquered by
agents of Alexander the Great. The conquerors set out to destroy Judaism, and its monotheism. What is this attempt to impose Greek culture termed?
Hellenization.
Outraged by the Greeks, the Jews revolt against the Hellenists. Who led the rebellion? Are they successful? What holiday is linked to this episode of Hebrew history?
"Maccabee brothers" lead a revolt to take back Judah. They retake the Temple, and the oil lamps in the Temple burn miraculously beyond natural period of time. This became known as Hanukkah: the Festival of Lights.
What is the large significance of the Maccabee win? What was at stake?
The very survival of monotheism was at stake in this battle.
After a season of freedom, the Jews are set upon by another conquering empire: the Roman Empire. To ensure Roman influence on the Jews, who do the Romans set up as a "puppet king."
Herod. ("the Great")
Though Herod was quite murderous, what was one of his positive accomplishments?
He rebuilt and beautified the Temple.
Who are the Jewish priests of the Temple?
The Sadducees.
Who are the strict teachers of Jewish Law at this time?
The Pharisees.
Though the Jews flourish economically under Herod, they are are enormously oppressed by the Romans, and many yearn of the Messiah to deliver them. Other Jews take matter into their own hands and, like the Maccabees, try to throw off Roman rule of Judah. The result?
In 70 CE, a party of the Jews called the Zealots, emulating the Maccabees, lead a revolt again the Romans...but the Romans crush the revolt, and destroy the Temple, and exile the Jews from the Land of Promise (this dispersion of the Jews to other lands is known as the Jewish "diaspora")
When, then, was the Temple destroyed?
70 CE.
What party of Jews led the revolt?
The Zealots
The Romans drive all Jews out of Judah, and they come to inhabit many nations. What is the presence of Jews outside of Judah known as?
The diaspora.