Lecture notes, Judaism


Judaism—main influence actually through Islam and Christianity.  In 1998, 14 million Jews, but 1.94 billion Christians (1 billion Roman Catholics).  Living faith—not a theoretical discussion today, so the controversy level rises.


“God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”—Patriarchs.


1.    Monotheism:  Shema—Deut. 6:4-5; Isa 40:15-26; 43:10-12; 44:6,8.

2.    Covenant:  Ex. 19:3-8; 24:3-8;  Origin of nationalism also.  “Is this your final answer?”  Cursings/blessings—sign on dotted line.  Free will—Deut. 30:15-19-20.  Chosen people idea:  Lev. 26:12; Ex. 19:15.  Burden & benefits from this status.

3.    Graven Images:  Prohibition not absolute:  Angels made:  Ex. 25:17+; Ark of covenant, v. 22;  I Kings 6:23+, v. 29.  Vs. Amish interpretation.  Not a total prohibition on all religious art actually.  Implications for art—if prohibit it, make statues or pictures of anything then?

Destroy Idols:  Ex. 20:4-5; Deut. 27:15;  Why does this exist?—Deut. 4:15

Taliban issue:  Buddhas blown up; Would Moses have approved?  Deut. 34:13-17  Why?  Deut. 12:3.

Iconoclasm:  Byzantine Empire, Puritan England.

4.    Sacred name—Yahweh/Jehovah—YHWH or YHVH.  Ex. 3:13-15.  Burning bush

incident.  Personal covenant name of God—intervening God who visits His people, always existed.  Ex. 6:2-4.  “Eternal” or “Ever-Living” best single-word translations in English, but connotations make God sound remote.  “He causes to be,” “He exists,” “He who is,” even “Was—is—will continue to be.”

Lev. 24:6, 11:  Ambiguity in the word (“nachav”) “blaspheme.”  Declare distinctly or blaspheme.

Garden/hedge analogy concerning the written/oral law’s relationship.  Overkill on Gossip article by Jew in Imprimus:  Don’t say anything positive about neighbor either.  Overkill on this law since wanted to be safe also.

After Ezra & Nehemiah, 450 b.c.,--Ave. people prohibited, then priests, then high priest only on day of atonement.  Simon (300-270 b.c. last).


Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai)

Isaac & Ishmael:  Who’s the legitimate heir?  Bible vs. Quran.

Isaac & Rebekah

Esau & Jacob

Jacob:  Married Leah when tricked by Laban, uncle;  Preferred Rachel, but she was initially childless.  Bilhah, maid, given to Jacob as wife by Rachel.  Zilpah, maid, given to Jacob as wife by Leah.  Sisterly jealously in a polygamous relationship:  Story surrounding the birth of Issachar, Gen. 30:14-18.

Jacob renamed “Israel.”  Perseverer with God.

12 sons:  Two most important, Judah (4th by Leah) and Joseph (1st by Rachel).  Scepter & Birthright blessing issue.  Reuben, affair with Bilhah, cost him preeminence.




Northern vs. southern Kingdom:  Jer. 3:6-12.

Analogy of adulterous wife=Israel.

Obelisk of Shalmaneser III of Assyria, Jehu bows down.

Messianic kingdom:  Isa. 61:1-3, 35:5-6.  UN statue based on Isa. 2:1-4.  Isa. 11:1-9, 9:6;  Isa. 65:17-23.  Isa. 13:1+ punishment first.

Unity of Isaiah:  6:11-13 a prediction, yet by “first Isaiah” about Judah’s devastation in 587 b.c.  “Prophecy after fulfillment,” a priori bias.


Prophets vs. own nation:  OT very critical of chosen people:  Ironic?  Much more so than even Greeks of selves.  Burdens of being chosen! 

Four basic charges:  1.  Idolatry.  2.  Neglect, oppression of poor, weak in community  3.  Sexual sin, promiscuity.  4.  Crimes of violence  5.  hypocrisy.  Isa. 1:13+, Amos 5:21+, Isa. 23:13.

Isa. 1:1+  Summary indictment.  Jer. 11:1+  Basic theme.  Eze. 23:1+, 16:1+ Marriage analogy.  Jer. 10:1+  detailed attack on idolatry.  Eze. 14:1+  Attack on idolatry.  Jer. 19:5-6, 32:35:  human sacrifice condemned.  Jer. 22:13+, 34:1+, oppression of the poor.  Isa. 10:1+, Amos 5:   Jer. 23:9+; Jer. 9:1+ vs. lying, adultery.


Baal:  god of storm & rain.  Why would farmers/peasants worship such a god?


Babylonian Captivity:  After Jerusalem taken 3 times by Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar (604 b.c., 597 b.c., 587/6 b.c.).  70 years in exile.  Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10.  Jeconiah taken into exile, 597 b.c.

Ezra 2:1+; 1:5—return of exiles, thanks to Cyrus of Persia as influenced by Jehovah.

525 b.c., first group under Zerubbabel;  Ezra, 458 b.c.; Nehemiah, c. 444 b.c., Cupbearer to Artaxerxes;  Temple rebuilt by 515 b.c.


Ezra:  systematized Judaism—scribe.  End of idolatry as a major internal Jewish problem:  Had learned lesson!


Antiochus IV Eppiphanes (R. 175-65 b.c.)  I Maccabees 1:  Attacked Judaism in the name of Hellenization, ultimately failed.  Scrolls of OT to be destroyed, pagan altars set up, those observing law to be executed.  Women having sons circumcised to be executed, with babies hung from necks. 

Judas’ Rededication:  “festival of lights,” 8 days.

Hasmonanaean family vs. Selucids, win independence.

Rome in 161 b.c., signed treat to aid them vs. Seleucids, renewed in 134 b.c.  Pompey, 64 b.c., arrives, sides with John Hyrcanus vs. brother, Aristobulus.  After taking temple area, Pompey inspected it—surprised that no statue of God in Holy of Holies.  Ends independent kingship among Jews.


Herod the Great (37-4 b.c.):  Cruel, yet valuable to Rome for keeping Jews in line.  God diplomat and soldier.  Puppet king of Rome—not Jewish but Idumean.  Rebuilt the Temple (46 year project).  Initially rather careful of Jewish national feelings, but became increasingly suspicious of Jews wanting to revolt.  Killed wife, Mariame I, then two sons by him, Alexander and Aristobulus.  Had had 10 marriages, 15 children, succession struggle, two children Tetrarchs, one to be the king (Archelaus).  Built fortresses, central bureaucracy, many good buildings, kept Romans from entering the Temple.  Date of Jesus’ birth was the same as the year of Herod’s death.


Jewish revolts:  66-70 A.D., Romans distracted by own civil war, delays retaliation.  132-35 Bar Kocheba, wipes out Roman legion caught by surprise.  Under Trajan, 115 A.D.—Cyrene, 220,000 Greeks killed, Cyprus, 240,000; Egypt, many more; sawed many apart.  Undermines Trajan’s war vs. Parthia.


Roman toleration policy (why Greeks, Syrians resented Jews):  Didn’t have to worship gods of Rome, emperors, didn’t have to go into Roman army.  But Jews zealous, wanted independence again, dreamed of conquering Messiah getting rid of Romans.

Hadrian attacks Jewish law—law vs. circumcision helped promote 132 A.D. revolt.

Imported gentiles, sought assimilation, built a shrine for Jupiter Capitolinus where old Temple had been in Jerusalem, where Dome of the Rock is today.  No Jew allowed into “Jerusalem,” under penalty of death.

Tacitus:  estimated 600,000 Jewish dead from the A.D. 70 revolt.  Dio Cassius—580,000 Jews killed in 2nd revolt.  “All of Judea became almost a desert.”  Vespasian (r. 69-79 A.D.) high priesthood and Sanhedrin abolished.  Hadrian outlawed Sabbath observance—cause of gentile Christians switching to Sunday.  Special tax put on Jews to pay for pagan temple in Jerusalem, replacement for old Temple tax.  Only Jews had to pay it!


Lack of tolerance problem, combined with zealousness, vs. pagans’ “Live and let live” approach, mutually exclusive nature of truth idea passed on to Christians and Muslims.


Pharisees, Saduccees, Essenes—1st century A.D. sects of Judaism.  Multiple “Judaisms.”


Talmud—allows Judaism to adapt to new circumstances by creating a legal system open to amendment.


Mishnah—oral law written down c. 70-200 A.D, at Jamnia by Jonanan ben Zakkai.  New seat of learning for students & teachers of the Law.  Canon clearly set out to exclude NT and apocrypha. 

Halakah vs. Haggai:  Freedom in exhortation, interpretation of law in latter.  Former rigid, strict laws regulating behavior, not to change.  Mishnah mostly made up of. 


Talmud:  “Learning.”


Midrash:  “To seek, explore, or interpret”—commentary on OT.