The origin and development of Judaism is traced in the Old

Testament. Moses was not the founder of Judaism since YAHWEH

(normal rendition of the unpronounceable name for God) was

worshipped by the Hebrew nation long before Moses was born. God

of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is references for God's reverence

before Moses. The INFINITE and PERSONAL God of the Old

Testament revealed Himself to man from the very beginnings of

Genesis and progressively revealed more as time and

dispensations (periods of time where God acts toward mankind

in specific patterns) occured.

One of the central figures around which Judaism is built is

the covenant relationship established with Abraham (est 2085

B.C.) The Lord singled out this man and covenanted that his

decendants would be a holy nation, set apart from the rest of

the world to God.

The chosen line ran from Abraham through Isaac to Jacob.

Then it continued through Jacob's 12 sons and their

decendants, the 12 tribes of Israel. During the time of

bondage in Egypt, the people of Israel grew from a small band

to a full nation. At the end of this time YAHWEH revealed

Himself to Israel in action through the EXODUS and in words

(COMMANDMENTS given to Moses at Mt. Sinai)

The PENTATUCH (or TORAH as Judaism refers to it), which was

written by Moses, remains THE primary document of Judaism.

The Old Testament outlines the early history of Israel in

detail; so we need not repeat it. The synopsis is thus. The

conquest of Canaan under Joshua, the period of the Judges, the

united monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon, and the divided

kingdoms of Israel (The Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes) and

Judah (the Southern Kingdom of 2 tribes). The Northern Kingdom

was overthrown by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.; the Southern

Kingdom was destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C. The Babylonian

captivity (exile) lasted 70 years in accordance with God's

Sabbath for the Land, and many Jews returned to Palistine

afterwards. YAHWEH revealed much to the Israelites before,

during and after the exile through the prophets (the 39 Books

of the Old Testament are generally accepted by Judaism as


Many modern writers have speculated that early Jewish

religion was polytheistic, idolatrous and primitive; However,

there is no evidence that can support these theories. These

theories are built on anti-supernatural evolutionary

presuppositions rather than solid factual data. Actually, the

earliest books of the Old Testament reveal an advanced ethical

monotheism without parallel in ancient literature. From the

very beginning the God of the Old Testament is seen as a God

of unlimited power, love, goodness, and justice. He is the

infinite and personal Creator of all creation.

In God's covenant relationship with Israel, He made high

moral demands, saying that blessing was dependent on social

and moral justice. YAHWEH constantly used the prophets to

bring reform in the political and personal lives of His


The sacrificial system was given to show that sin REQUIRED

atonement. Israel had to be a REDEEMED people in order to

enjoy fellowship with the HOLY God. In contrast, the gods of

the other nations were immoral and indifferent. The Old

Testament teaching is that ultimately God will bless all the

Nations of the earth through Israel. A MESSIAH, who is a

decendant of King David, will come to REDEEM mankind and to

reign as King over all the nations of the earth.

However; the Judaism of today is very different from Old

Testament Judaism. In the centuries following the Babylonian

exile, a number of important changes began to appear. Meeting

places known as Synagogues were instituted during the exile.

Even when the Temple was rebuilt in Ezra's time, the

synagogues continued to be the worship centers for most of the

Jews. When the Temple was destroyed by the Roman army in 70

A.D., the synagogues became the official rallying points for


With the end of the temple came the end of the sacrificial

system. The synagogues substituted ritual, prayer, and the

study of the Law for the sacrifices. The Levitical priesthood

was replaced by teachers of the Law, many of whom were

Pharisees who had developed an elaborate oral tradition based

on the Mosaic Law. The Law was applied in a complex way to

every detail of life. External things like Sabbath observance,

food preparation, dietary rules and holy days were stressed.

These Pharisaic teachers came to be known as rabbis


About 200 A.D., the oral rabbinic traditions were finally

written down. The result is known as the MISHNAH (repetition).

The Mishnah is placed ALMOST on par with the Mosaic Law. It is

so important that lengthy commentarues on the Mishnah, known

as the Gemaras, were also written. The Babylonian Gemara (A.D.

500) is longer and more popular than the Palestinian Gemara

(A.D. 200). The combination of the Mishna and the Babylonian

Gemara is known as the Palestinian Talmud. The Talmud fills

many volumes and contains Jewish folklore, traditions and

scholarly teachings.

The Romans drove the Jews out of Palestine in A.D. 135.

Judaism was able to survive this dispersion only because

JEWISH communities had already been established in many

countries. Each such community had at least one synagogue, and

each synagogue was directed by a rabbi. Any Jew could become a

rabbi if he acquired a good knowledge of the Law and was

accepted as such by the congregation. The rabbis applied the

Law and the talmudic teachings to the changing conditions of

daily life.

With the temple, the priesthood, and the sacrificial system

gone, synagogue teachers stressed the idea that every Jew had

an immediate access to God. As a Jew he needed no conversion

or redemption. Instead, a Jew could reach salvation by

obedience to the Torah (The Law AND the rabbinic

interpretations of the Law). The rabbis broke the Law down

into 613 precepts - 365 negative precepts and 248 positive

precepts. each of these precepts has been elaborated in

rabbinic teachings down to the FINEST details. The result is

that Jewish life can become a carefully controlled ritual from

the cradle to the grave.

In the 12th century, a Jewish philosopher named Maimonides

produced a creed which is generally regarded as the basis of

Orthodoxy. This creed emphasized the omnipotence, omniscience,

eternality, and oneness of God. God is an invisible spirit

Being. As the only Creator and Source of Life, He alone should

be worshipped.

Maimonides held Moses to be the greatest of the prophets

and the Law to be the highest revelation. He also taught

rewards and punishments, the coming of the Messiah, and the

resurrection of the dead.

Judaism rejects the doctrine of original sin, saying that

sin is an act, not a state. Thus, man has the ability to live

according to the Law. If he fails, he only needs to come to

God in repentance. With this view of sin, Judaism has

eliminated the need for a Saviour. many Jews do not anticipate

the coming of a personal Messiah at all, but a messianic age.

Those Jews who do expect a Messiah usually think of Him as a

political and social deliverer, not a Saviour from sins.

One of the most important facets of Judaism is the series

of festivals and holy days in every year. Rosh Hashanah is the

new year marked by 10 days of penitence and solemnity. The

10th day of penitence is the Day of Atonement, when Jews

acknowledge their sins and pray for forgiveness. Also

important are the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth or Booths),

Passover (Commeration of the Exodus from Egypt), the Feast of

Weeks (Shabuoth or Pentecost), Hanukkah (Festival of Light),

and Purim. These special days commerate the joys and sorrows

of Jewish history and serve as the main link to the past. They

illustrate Judaism's concept of history as the meaningful

product of God's activity.

Today Judaism is divided into three main branches.


ORHODOXY, there is also a movement known as the Hasidic

Movement. Orthodox Judaism has changed little in the last 20

centuries. It follows the talmudic teachings and precepts

about Sabbath observance, kosher dietary rules and religious


One reason for the absence of change over the centuries is

the introspective tendency in Judaism. Atrocities and

oppression have dogged the Jews in many countries, and this

has forced them to maintain cultural and religious isolation.

In the last century; However, Jewish people have shown

increasing desire to adapt themselves to modern society. This

is especially true in America, where they have been given more

freedom and respect than in most countries. This has led to

the rise of REFORM Judaism, the talmudic practices and

precepts have been put aside. REFORM synagogues are usually

called temples, and the Sabbath observance in many cases has

been changed to Sunday. REFORM Judaism has spiritual doctrines

such as the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the

body. All that remains is an ethical system based on a

monotheistic philosophy.

The third branch of Judaism is CONSERVATIVE. This is an

intermediate position between the Orthodox and Reform

extremes. CONSERVATIVE Judaism retains the feasts and many of

the Jewish traditions in an attempt to hold to the essentials

of Judaism. At the same time it cautiously reinterprets the

Law in order to make it relevant for modern thought and

culture. CONSERVATIVE Jews are very progressive and active in

the intellectual community.

Judaism also has its mystical and esoteric school of

thought known as the CABALA (other spellings: CABBALA,

CABBALAH or KABBALAH). Practitioners of this PANTHEISTIC

system seek a mystical experience of oneness with the cosmic


Judaism, then, covers a wide range of beliefs and

practices. there is nothing one must believe in order to be a

Jew. In fact, there is a rapidly increasing secularization of

Jews today. More and more of the Jewish population is moving

away from all forms of Jewish religious practices. This has

led to confusion in defining what makes a person Jewish. The

Biblical teaching is that the Jews are a race of people,

decendants of Abraham through Jacob.


Judaism essentially denies the sin NATURE and minimizes

man's need for redemption. Repentance (Turning BACK to God) is

ALL that is needed when one fails to live according to the


Most expressions of Judaism are built upon culture and

traditions. Practice is usually emphasized MORE THAN BELIEF.

It is an ETHICAL system and a WAY OF LIFE with a transcendent

God in the background.

The ONLY and KEY issue is THE PERSON and WORK of JESUS of

NAZERETH, who claimed to be the Messiah and whose life

fulfilled many messianic prophecies. Christians can use many

Old Testament messianic text to support the New Testament

claims about Jesus BEING THE CHRIST. The Old Testament tells

where MEssiah would be born, when he would be cut off, and how

and WHY He would die. Concentrate on Isiah 53.

Note that the first Christians were Jews. JESUS WAS A JEW.

Most of the New Testament was written by Jews. Christianity

has erroneously been pictured as a GENTILE religion. Jews

often think that to be "converted" to Christianity, they must

give up their Jewishness and become Gentiles. The New

Testament; However, teaches that the great divide is between

non-Christian and Christian (as attested by the comments on

this BBS) - not Jew and Gentile. There are gentile Christians

and there are Hebrew Christians. A Jew does not have to

abandon his or her heritage to become Christian.

When we deal with Jews, FOCUS on the meaning of Jesus'

sacrificial death and the FACT of His RESURRECTION. The Old

Testament makes it clear that God has chosen blood to be the

means for the forgiveness of sins (Leviticus 16 and 17).

Isaiah 53 tells us the Messiah HAD TO DIE to provide

ONCE-FOR-ALL blood sacrifice for sin.

Rabbinic teaching has traditionally held that there must be

two messiahs: Messiah, the Son of Joseph (a suffering Saviour

who would die), and Messiah, the Son of David (A victorious

King who would establish the messianic kingdom on earth). The

New Testament resolves this Old Testament paradox by combining

the two Messiahs into one Person who comes two times.

Christians acknowledge the FACT that Christ came once to

be, as John the Baptist stated, "the Lamb of God that takest

away the sins of the World." We also KNOW that the FACTS of

the RESURRECTION stand on their OWN HISTORIC MERIT regardless

of anyone's belief in them. This being true - Christians are

to witness to all "living creatures" and this certainly

includes the Jewish People.

Computers For Christ - San Jose 3/25/82

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