God made several covenant promises with Abraham, telling him that a great nation would come from him, as well as blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:1-8). The old Judeo-Arabic dialect of Lower Mesopotamia in cities such as Fallujah, Baghdad, Karbala, Basra and Ramadi, and to a lesser extent the dialect of Iraqi Christians, preserve features of the older medieval language of Iraq. In any event, the history of Judaism can be divided into the following major periods: biblical Judaism ( c. 20th-4th century bce ), Hellenistic Judaism (4th century bce -2nd century ce ), Rabbinic Judaism (2nd-18th century ce ), and modern Judaism ( c. 1750 to the present). [24] Judaism enjoyed a heightened dignity in the eyes of the world, not only because of the creation of the State of Israel but also because of Judaism’s close relations with other world religions. [24] [3], These works, especially Against Apion and Jewish Antiquities, are also defenses of Judaism against anti-Semitic attacks. [2] [19] Terms & Conditions  | Assyrian kings are attested from the late 25th century BC and dominated northern Mesopotamia and parts of eastern Anatolia and northeast Syria. [4], Largely owing to the discoveries at Qumrān, many scholars now regard primitive Christianity, with its apocalyptic and eschatological interests, as part of a broad spectrum of attitudes within Judaism itself, rather than as peripheral to Jewish development or to the norm set by Pharisaic Judaism. The most outstanding figure of the 18th-century Jewish Enlightenment was the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86), a devoted adherent of traditional Judaism who turned away from the historic Jewish preoccupation with the Talmud and its literature to the intellectual world of the European Enlightenment. In Mesopotamia, there were skilled craftsman of all kinds, people who could read and write, an elite cosmopolitan class, and of course an elaborate religious structure. In the fourth millennium BCE, when the first evidence for what is recognisably Mesopotamian religion can be seen with the invention in Mesopotamia of writing, the Sumerians appeared, although it is not known if they migrated into the area in pre historic times or whether they were some of the original i… [3] [11], Rabbinic Judaism, developed according to Pharisaic practice and centered on Torah and synagogue, became the primary expression of faith. Religion and humanity intersect in a variety of ways in Mesopotamian myth and epic. [20] The peoples of Mesopotamia originally consisted of two peoples, the Semitic Akkadians and the Sumerians. [3] [3] [2] [4] [26] [15] In the 3rd century CE another native Mesopotamian religion flourished, Manicheanism, which incorporated elements of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as local Mesopotamian elements. Tension between the xenophobic and xenophilic in postexilic Judaism was finally resolved some two centuries later with the development of a formality of religious conversion, whereby Gentiles who so wished could be taken into the Jewish community by a single, simple procedure. [24], These introductory essays cover most major aspects of Jewish studies from the Bible and its time up to modern Judaism. [2] The second day in the Hebrew tradition concerns the creation of the sky, while the Egyptian second day concerns creation of air. [8], Presumably, the book of Genesis has its roots in Mesopotamia from the early part of the second millennium BC. The fact that the Jewish community of Alexandria was preoccupied in the 1st century bce and the 1st century ce with obtaining rights as citizens--which certainly involved compromises with Judaism, including participation in pagan festivals and sacrifices--shows how far they were ready to deviate from earlier norms. It is only natural that anthropologists, historians and those who study religion to look for parallels between the earliest docoments of the Old Testament and the Sumerian/Babylonian/Akkadian religions in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamian religion finally declined with the spread of Iranian religions during the Achaemenid Empire and with the Christianization of Mesopotamia. While anyone can follow the Greek, Egyptian and Mesopotamian religions, Judaism was as much a culture and descent as it was a religion. [4], According to this theory the religions of the Near East were rooted in Babylonian astral science- including the Hebrew Bible and Judaism. Jewish identity was originally constructed out of an ongoing interaction with the cultures of the ancient near east—including Canaanite, Hittite, Babylonian, Hellenistic, and ultimately Christian. [18] Privacy Policy  | [6] Hebrew history, as told by the Hebrews, begins in Mesopotamia, in the cities of Ur in the south and Haran in the north. [2] The early Mesopotamian religions did not have a law to follow or a Holy Book to follow. [22] The economy was flourishing in Mesopotamia, so the Jewish population decline caused by conversions had been counterbalanced by an influx of Jewish immigrants, especially from the Land of Israel and North Africa, where the economic prospects were worsening. When the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to prevent the practice of Judaism, a revolt was led by the Maccabees (a Jewish family), winning Jewish independence in 128 B.C. [18], In early Mesopotamia, priests were the initial rulers as all authority came from the god. [22] A number of cultural and geographical elements of Mesopotamia appear in Hebrew Culture, such as the worship of Baal and Astarte; and the cities of Ur, Babylon, and Nineveh. [2] Jewish scholars compiled the Babylonian Talmud starting in 474 as the spiritual codex of Judaism, transferring Judaism into a spiritual and moral movement. The tradition of ancient Judaism, therefore, was based on the reality of the one people of God. - Definition & Meaning, The Four Noble Truths & the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment, UExcel Business Ethics: Study Guide & Test Prep, Principles of Business Ethics: Certificate Program, Introduction to Humanities: Help and Review, Philosophy 103: Ethics - Theory & Practice, English 103: Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, Environmental Science 101: Environment and Humanity, Biological and Biomedical [2] A small group of anti-Zionists remained a significant force in the 1930s and ’40s, but their central organization, the American Council for Judaism, represented the descendants of earlier German Jewish immigrants. Judaism, whether in its "normative" form or in its sectarian deviations, never completely departed from this basic ethical and historical monotheism. Religion in the Ancient World: Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people, one of the oldest surviving religions in history. Similarly to what had happened centuries earlier, a proportion of Jews in the Middle East and North Africa converted out of Judaism (this time to Islam), which partly explains the Jewish population decline and the smaller size of the Jewish communities in these regions in the two-and-a-half centuries after the Mongol invasions.Those who remained Jews continued to be engaged in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine. Sciences, Culinary Arts and Personal [10] [3] [18], Judaism endowed the Jews with a uniform code of law (the Talmud), which contained myriad rabbinicaldiscussions, debates, and rulings on economic, social, communal, and religious issues; and a set of institutions (courts and the rabbinical Responsa) that fostered contract enforcement, networking, and arbitrage across distant locations. Judaism believes in one god and one god only. [7] It was a common understanding throughout the ancient world that the temple, and thereby the city, was secure so long as the temple was well-maintained and deity was pleased with the people. Judaism, it was declared, had always been a developmental religion that conformed to the demands of the times. The people of Mesopotamia originally consisted of two groups, East Semitic Akkadian speakers (later divided into the Assyrians and Babylonians ) and the people of Sumer, who spoke a language isolate. This manifesto announced that Judaism was an evolutionary faith and no longer a national one, and it declared that the Mosaic and rabbinical laws regulating diet, purity, and dress were "entirely foreign to our present mental and spiritual state." [7] [20], It is well known that after 70 CE, Judaism became a religion focused on reading and studying the Torah by each member of the community. [3] They had nomadic camps which had 25-50 people in them. [2], Although plainer when compared with some of the learned literary creations of Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Egypt, the earliest biblical writings are so imbued with contemporary ancient Middle Eastern elements that the once-held assumption that Israelite religion began on a preliterate level must be rejected. Good, honest, open-minded scholars and students of religion will look for parallels and comparisons between Judaism and Mesopotamian religion. In religious or mythological cosmology, the seven heavens refer to seven levels or divisions of the Heavens ().The concept, also found in the ancient Mesopotamian religions, can be found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; a similar concept is also found in some Indian religions such as Hinduism. [3] Proselytes (converts) to Judaism, though not constituting a class, became increasingly numerous in Palestine and especially in the Diaspora (the Jews living beyond Palestine). [6], Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia between circa 3500 BC and 400 AD, after which they largely gave way to Syriac Christianity. [2] [3] This volume presents case studies of the phenomena that contributed to group identity in late antique Syria-Mesopotamia, in particular traditions reflecting interactions between Judaism and Christianity, among various Christian groups, and among other religious traditions of late antiquity (such as Zoroastrianism or 'paganism'). [25] 1. After the fall of Jerusalem, Babylon would become the focus of Judaism for more than a thousand years, and the place where Jews would acclimate themselves as a people without a land. Back 2,000 years ago, when our book starts, the occupational structure of the Jews was not peculiar at all: almost all Jews were illiterate farmers, exactly like the rest of the population in the locations in which the Jewish communities dwelled Eretz Israel, Mesopotamia, North Africa, Syria, the Balkans and southern Europe. Research numerous resources on the world history topics! [3] The Mesopotamian religion is no longer practiced, having ceased around the 6th century BCE. [3] With the height of power for the Judean and Israelite kingdoms in the 8th century BCE, Jerusalem became the site of the central temple for Judean and Israelite religion and, consequently, politics. As a result of the Holocaust, Judaism has become a non-European religion; its three major centres, which together include more than three-fourths of world Jewry, are Israel, the Slavic region of the former Soviet Union, and the United States. It has long been debated whether gnosticism originated in the apocalyptic strains of Judaism that were prevalent when the Temple was destroyed in 70. Nevertheless it is not true to say that there is absolutely nothing in common between Judaism and Mesopotamian religion. [11] In Mesopotamian religion, the city god of Girsu. A little over 1,000 years later, Christianity was born from within the Jewish tradition, and Islam developed from both Judaism and Christianity. This view was to percolate, with pitiless logic and simplicity, through Judaism into Christianity. [2] [3] In Egypt and Mesopotamia, … Judaism was now, for all intents and purposes, a Diaspora religion, even on its home soil. Question : How did Judaism differ from the religions of Mesopotamia and Egypt? In the Jerusalem temple, valuables were seized twice … [2] In the aftermath of the Mongol Conquest, the Jews in Mesopotamia, Persia, Syria, and Egypt found themselves no longer dwelling in the urban, commercially oriented economies of the Muslim caliphates, in which their literacy and skills had been highly valued. Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic, worshipping over 2,100 different deities, many of which were associated with a specific state within Mesopotamia, such as Sumer, Akkad, Assyria or Babylonia, or a specific Mesopotamian city, such as; ( Ashur ), Nineveh, Ur, Nippur, Arbela, Harran, Uruk, Ebla, Kish, Eridu, Isin, Larsa, Sippar, Gasur, Ekallatum, Til Barsip, Mari, Adab, Eshnunna and Babylon. [18] According to Scripture, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham (20th century? There was something else that made Jews' numbers dwindle: conversion to other religions with less demanding norms than the costly requirement of educating children that Judaism required. [3] [3], Ultimately the historical importance of this transplantation lay in Babylonia’s serving as the proving ground for the adaptability of Palestinian Judaism to a Diaspora situation. She was later identified with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and the Phoenician goddess Astarte, and was worshiped throughout western Asia for over 2,000 years. [13] To conclude that Judaism evolved from a nascent polytheism is speculation which is not justified by the Hebrew text of the Bible. Though the full number of gods and goddesses found in Mesopotamia is not known, K. Tallqvist, in his Akkadische Götterepitheta (1938) counted around two thousand four hundred that we now know about, most of which had Sumerian names. [14] The most conspicuous difference between Judaism and Mesopotamian religions is that the former believes in the existence of a single, all-powerful God,... Our experts can answer your tough homework and study questions. Between this period, that is, the origins in Mesopotamia and the creation of the new nation in Egypt, Hebrew history centered around Palestine. Judaism is a tradition grounded in the religious, ethical, and social laws as they are articulated in the Torah — the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Become a Study.com member to unlock this It may not be equally well known that Judaism was the only religion at that time (and for many subsequent centuries) that required families to send their children to school or the synagogue to learn to read and to study the Torah from the age of six or seven. These scholars set out to praise Judaism as one of the cofounders of the Western tradition; they argued that, because the Jews produced great culture whenever they were not excluded from European society, they would repeat such accomplishments under conditions of social and political equality. [2] These peoples were not originally one united nation, but members of various different city-states. As the world’s oldest religion, Mesopotamian beliefs influenced the monotheistic religions that came after, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. [3] [3] [14] More than 2,500 years ago, after the destruction of the Jewish temple of Judea, Jews were originally brought to the region between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, also known as Mesopotamia. Judaism | History, Beliefs, & Facts | Britannica.com, Ancient Mesopotamian religion - Wikipedia, Were the Jews Moneylenders Out of Necessity? [3] (source: Nielsen Book Data) 9780813367170 20160528 From Mesopotamia to Modernity is a one volume introduction to both Jewish history and literature from its earliest times up to the present. How is Judaism different from the religions of Mesopotamia? During the first millennium, Judaism was the only religion requiring all its male members to learn to read and to study its holy text. Between 750 and 900, almost all the Jews in Mesopotamia and Persia--nearly 75 percent of world Jewry--left agriculture and moved to the cities and towns of the newly established Abbasid Empire to engage in myriad skilled occupations. [8], Long after the ancient city of Babylon and the kingdom of Babylonia had ceased to exist, the Jews continued to use the name "Babel" to designate Mesopotamia, the "land of the two rivers." Because he was by origin an Idumaean, he was regarded by many Jews as a foreigner. At the beginning of the 21st century, it appeared that Judaism would have to contend with as many problems as the other major religions did, but it would face them with no less confidence--and with more confidence than it had felt at the start of the previous century. [3] | Evidence for Christianity, What was the Jewish religion before Judaism? Judaism after the year 70, required both children and adults to read and to study the Torah. Because historical circumstances made Babylonia the mediator of this tradition to all Jewish communities in the High Middle Ages (9th-12th centuries), the Babylonian version of Jewish religion became synonymous with normative Judaism and the measure of Judaic authenticity everywhere. The only schools mentioned are Sabbath schools intended for adults; this suggests that Jews were extremely eager to gain admittance for their children to Greek gymnasia, where quite obviously they would have had to make compromises with their Judaism. [4], The religious development of Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian culture in general was not particularly influenced by the movements of the various peoples into and throughout the area, particularly the south. Hebrews Culture Hebrews were nomads and lived a very simple life. Mesopotamia refers to the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, located in what is known today as the Middle East. 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