Outline of Judaism

This is a summary and overview of the religion over time: key concepts, figures, and events.

Let’s start the outline and tables.

Judaism in History: The Big Picture

Bible History




Patriarchs and


2000-1500 Abraham, Sarah honor one God, and God establishes covenant with them, confirmed by circumcision; Isaac, Rebecca; Jacob, Leah, Rachel; Joseph in Egypt; tetragrammaton = YHWH
Exodus and Law on Mt. Sinai 1500-1300 Israelites prosper in Egypt, so they’re oppressed; Moses rises up and leads them out; Passover now celebrated; he receives Torah on Mt. Sinai
Post-Sinai 1300-1000 Israel conquers or settles in Canaan; ruled by judges
Monarchy; Split; Conquests 1000-921; 721;


Saul, David, Solomon; First Temple built under Solomon; after Solomon, kingdom splits into N (Israel) and S (Judah w/ Jerusalem) in 921; Assyria conquers N in 722/21—“Ten Lost Tribes”; Neo-Babylonia conquers S (Judea) in 586; during entire era, prophets emerge to exhort people
Exile and Return 586-428 Ezra et al. return and rebuild Second Temple (515) and compile (≠ write) Scriptures; but many Jews stay in Diaspora (= “Dispersal” = exile); synagogues (= “assemblies”) appear for first time outside Israel; minyan = quorum = 10 men

Biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs

I. Abraham and Sarah

A. Promise of descendants

B. Special People and have their own land

C. “Founder” of Hebrews and Israel

D. Isaac and Ishmael

1. YHWH asks Abraham to (nearly) sacrifice Isaac


            15 After this, the word of the LORD [YHWH] came to Abram in a vision:

                        “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very               great reward.”

            2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

            4Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”  5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

            6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

            7He also said to him, “I am the LORD [YHWH], who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

            8But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

            9So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

            10Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11Then the birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

            12As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age . . . .

            17When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates . . . .”


            17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

            3Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you. You will be the father of many nations. 5No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6I will make you very fruitful; I will make many nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

            9Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants for the generations to come. 10This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep. Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised . . . . 13My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant . . . .

II. Isaac and Rebecca

A. Two sons

1. Jacob

2. Esau

III. Jacob and Rachel and Leah

A. Twelve sons

B. Of them, Joseph most prominent in Genesis

1. Second in command in Egypt

IV. Hebrew Patriarchal Religion

A. One God = El = Elohim

B. Sacrifice

C. Circumcision

1. Sign of covenant

D. Sabbath day


I. Slaves in Egypt

A. Famine sends Jacob and sons to Egypt, to Joseph

B. Hebrews prosper

C. Egyptians jealous

II. Moses

A. Renegade Hebrew (murder)

B. God appears in burning bush

Exodus 3:13-14:

            Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

            God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”


C. Ten plagues get Hebrews released

1. Lamb’s blood on doorpost spares Hebrews

D. Pharaoh pursues

1. Red Sea parted

E. Exodus is most important event in Hebrew history

Sinai and Law

Ten Commandments

# Commandment


1 No other gods Scripture reminds them God brought them out of Egypt, so don’t bow to any other gods
2 No graven images And don’t make any golden calf or any other idol, drawn image
3 Don’t take LORD’s name in vain Guard your speech; don’t cheapen God’s name
4 Keep Sabbath holy God rested on the seventh day, so should you; recover your strength and worship God
5 Don’t kill (really don’t “murder”) God sometimes commanded war for very specific purposes; Hebrew word here is “murder,” not “kill”
6 Honor father and mother This one is positive and produces harmony in society
7 Don’t commit adultery Not the Ten Suggestions
8 Don’t steal Clear enough
9 Don’t bear false witness A law court is envisioned here, but it can be expanded to other contexts
10 Don’t covet your neighbor’s property Be satisfied with what you have, and work honestly if you want more

Post-Sinai Religious Institutions

I. Ark of Covenant

A. Box carrying relics of commandments

B. Placed in Solomon’s temple, eventually

C. Mystery as to its whereabouts today

II. Tent of Meeting

A. Temporary “temple”

III. Canaan and Invasion

A. God has given the land to Abraham

B. Hundreds of years of absence

C. Child sacrificers have remained

D. Land must be cleansed

E. Ruled by Judges

Hebrew Monarchy

I. David

A. First effective king

B. Saul is first chronologically

C. David captures Jerusalem

D. Israel prospers

II. Temple

A. David’s son Solomon builds it

B. Design resembles surrounding temples

C. Priests offer sacrifices

III. Prophetic Movement

A. Visionaries and Healers

B. Royal Prophets

1. Advisers to kings

2. Power often corrupts

C. Message

1. Justice and end of oppression

2. Fidelity to covenant

3. If people do not repent, God will scatter them

IV. Civil War

A. Eventually two countries in 921

1. North: Israel

2. South: Judah (→ Judaism)

V. Assyria

A. Fierce people in Mesopotamia

B. They exile Israel in 722 BCE

C. Ten lost tribes

Judaism in History: The Big Picture

Post-Bible History




Second Common-wealth 538-331 Cyrus (Persian) conquers Babylon and permits Jews to return and self-govern (under Persia); Alexander (Greece) conquers Israel in 331
Hellenistic (Greek) 331-63 Greek culture dominates; Maccabees revolt and purify Temple (168-165); Hanukah is now celebrated; Septuagint = Greek trans. of Hebrew Scriptures (abbrev. LXX) by 250 BCE
Roman 63 BCE to 70 CE (Rome really until 5th cent CE) Israel conquered by Romans in 63; Herod refurbishes Second Temple; Zealots revolt in 66 CE, and Romans defeat them and destroy Temple in 70 CE; Titus and Arch in Rome; Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-135
Rabbinic Judaism 70 CE



Rabbinic Judaism develops before destruction of Temple, but now it is more important than ever; canon of Scripture established in city of Yabneh (Yavneh) by 90-100 CE; Mishnah and Two Talmuds emerge; rabbis now lead Judaism permanently; synagogues more important than ever
Gaonic (textbook) 600/700-1000 Rabbis in Babylon open up academies (yeshivas); president called gaon (plural geonim); Saadiah ben Joseph (882-942) is most famous; Islam spreads after mid-600s; Jews live mostly in peace under Islam
Medieval 700-1500 (overlaps w/ previous period) Ashkenazim (Jews in Germany, Cent., E. Europe) and Sephardim (Jews in Spain, E. Mediterranean); mysticism and kabbalah; philosophy and Aristotle; Jews often persecuted in Europe
Early Modern c. 1500-1750 1520-23 printed Talmud produced in Venice; From 1648-56, 300-500k Jews killed in Poland; Sabbatai Zevi promoted as messiah (1660s); Baal Shem Tov (1699-1760) founds Hasidim
Modern c. 1750-present Jews experience relative peace due to Enlightenment; Orthodox, Reform, Conservative emerge; Holocaust (1939-1945); Nation of Israel (1948)
Caution: Other dates and era are possible!

Exile and Return of Judah: Second Commonwealth

I. Invasion by Babylonia

A. Exiles Judeans in 586 BCE

B. Exiles encounter Zoroastrians

C. Prophets expand message to include all peoples

II. Second Temple

A. Cyrus the Persian king (r. 539-530) liberates Jews from exile

B. Ezra and Nehemiah (6th century BCE)

1. Ezra compiles Scripture

2. Nehemiah rebuilds temple

C. Second Temple built in 6th century BCE (completed in 516 BCE)

Holy Scriptures

T N K = Tanak = Hebrew Bible = Canon


Books, Features

Torah “Teachings  /Instruction  / Law” First Five Books = Pentateuch = Torah; Trad. says given to Moses on Mt. Sinai:

(1) Genesis: Beginnings to Joseph

(2) Exodus: Leaving Egypt, Ten Plagues; Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai; ethics and ritual rules; how to build tabernacle

(3) Leviticus: Ethics and ritual rules

(4) Numbers: Journey through desert

(5) Deuteronomy: Moses reviews law before entry into promised land; Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (6:4).

Nevi’im “Prophets” Prophet is not a soothsayer, fortune-teller, but an exhorter, sometimes predictor: “if this, then that”; Or, “These clear facts . . . therefore, these results”; Or “You have suffered enough for your sins; therefore, I will now redeem you and show you mercy”; Covenant enforcers

cause → effect

Early Prophets:                 Latter Prophets:

(1) Joshua                             Major:

(2) Judges                             (1) Isaiah

(3) Samuel (1, 2)                  (2) Jeremiah

(4) Kings (1, 2)                     (3) Ezekiel

Twelve Minor:

(1) Hosea; (2) Joel; (3) Amos; (4) Obadiah; (5) Jonah; (6) Micah; (7) Nahum; (8) Habakkuk (9) Zephaniah; (10) Haggai; (11) Zechariah; (12) Malachi



Wisdom lit, poetry, hymns, songs, love songs, history, religious philosophy; 12 books:

(1) Psalms: hymns, prayers, questions

(2) Proverbs: advice for living life

(3) Job: why do good people suffer?

Five scrolls:

(1) Song of Songs: Love songs; read at Passover

(2) Ruth: faith and commitment; read at Shavuot (harvest and Mt. Sinai)

(3) Lamentations: Read to commemorate destruction of Temples

(4) Ecclesiastes: Read at fall harvest Sukkot

(5) Esther: Loyalty; read at Purim


(1) Daniel: God is sovereign over nations

(2) Ezra: Return, Rebuild, Restore Nation

(3) Nehemiah: same

(4) Chronicles (1, 2): Reviews Hebrew history from beginnings to building Temple


*Canon (“Measuring Rod”) is most authoritative and unalterable texts; all others are interpretations of it

*Some Jewish scholars say “Torah” extends beyond first five books (Pentateuch) to include the entire Hebrew canon. Thus, Judaism is constantly evolving. However, in the strictest sense, “Torah” = Pentateuch and is unalterable.

Diaspora: Greco-Roman Period

I. Diaspora

A. Scattering of Jews all over known world

1. Voluntary and forced

B. Hellenistic culture competes for minds in Israel (331-63 BCE)

1. Septuagint = LXX (70) in 3rd century BCE = Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

2. Maccabees revolt and purify Temple (168-165 BCE)

II. Synagogue

A. “Synagogue” comes from “Assembly” in Greek

B. House of Prayer, Scripture Reading, and Teaching

C. Rabbi emerges

1. Rabbi = “My Teacher”

2. Rabbinical “Schools” emerge

3. How to apply the Torah

D. Synagogues and rabbis emerge, in part, from       Diaspora

III. Messianic Hope

A. Defeat and Diaspora fosters hope

B. Types of the Messiah

1. Political figure

2. Military figure

3. Spiritual figure

IV. Uprisings of 66 CE and 132

A. Zealots revolt against Romans

B. General Titus finally suppresses revolt in 70 CE

1. Temple is destroyed

C. In Jabneh (city) Rabbis settle on Canon of Scripture

1. Torah and Prophets affirmed

2. Some “Writings” debated

D. Bar Kokhba revolts again in 132-135 CE

1. Romans exile Jews from Jerusalem

Sacred, But Extra-Canonical Texts




Apocrypha “Hidden” Ca. 450 BCE to 1st/2nd cent. CE Books that did not make it into Hebrew canon, e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4 Maccabees; 1, 2 Enoch; Tobit, Judith, Susanna, etc. Canon must be in Hebrew and pre-exilic or exilic (Ezra, Nehemiah); but extra-canonical books have historical, social value
Midrash “Interpre-tation” Early centuries CE and ongoing Process of commentary on canon of Scripture, esp. on Pentateuch; rules of interpretation invented, sometimes stretched
Mishnah 200 BCE to 200 CE Finally collected by R. Judah ha-Nasi (the Prince) by 200; how to apply Pentateuch to daily life: e.g., What is work? How does one keep Sabbath? Six Orders (Divisions) with 63 tractates, in smaller units called mishnahs:

(1) Seeds: agriculture

(2) Festivals: Sabbath and festivals

(3) Women: marriage, divorce

(4) Damages: civil and criminal law

(5) Holy Things: sacrifices

(6) Purifications: ritual purity

Tosefta “Supplement” By c. 300 Comments on Mishnah, but has its own ideas; six times longer than M
Palestinian (or Jerusalem) Talmud “study” 200 CE to 425 CE **Mishnah + Gemara (“Completion”) = Talmud; this one written in Israel; comments and updates M opinions; mainly in Aramaic (offshoot of Heb.)
Babylonian Talmud 200 CE to 500/600 CE Mishnah + Gemara = Talmud; this one written in Babylon, more authoritative; halachah = legal discussion, opinion; (h)aggadah = history, folklore, sermons

*Extra-canonical means outside the Bible, strictly speaking; texts that interpret or add to the Bible

*Some Jewish scholars say “Torah” extends beyond the first five books (Pentateuch) and the Hebrew canon to include the “Oral Torah,” which has now been written down in these texts. Thus, Judaism is constantly evolving. However, in the strictest sense, “Torah” = Pentateuch and is unalterable.

            The Rabbis said: Let not Mashal (Parable) be lightly regarded, for by means of it a man can understand the words of Torah. It is like a king who has lost a pearl and finds it with the aid of a candle worth only a centime (pennies). Solomon clarified the Law by means of parables. R. Naham, R. Jose, R. Shila, and R. Hanina illustrated the idea thus: The wise king tied a rope at the entrance of a labyrinth-like palace, and was able to find his way out of it; he cut a path in a wild thicket of reeds; he fashioned a handle for a cask of fruit so that it could be lifted; he joined rope to rope, and was able to draw water from the deep well. Thus from word to word, from Mashal to Mashal, Solomon attained the uttermost secret of the Torah.

R. Aha b. R Yashia says: If a man eats of his own bread, his mind is at ease, but if he eats of his father’s, when he is grown, or even of his mother’s, or of his children’s bread, his heart is not contented; all the more so, if he eats of the bread of strangers.

            R. Hanan said: The mind is not contented unless one eats of the fruit of his own labor. Even the baker’s bread is unpalatable, though a man pay for it with money earned by his own labor.

            Rabbi Judah ben Ilai declared that a shopkeeper should not give to children-customers sweetmeats (candies) to attract patronage. The other Rabbis permit this, since the merchant does not prevent his competitor from doing likewise. He also declared that a shopkeeper should not cut prices. The others declared: The public owes him grateful remembrance, since this will prevent high prices on foodstuffs and will also work against the practice of holding goods back for a higher market. (Baba Metzia 4.12, Mishnah)

            Rabbi Judah said: Unless the children of Israel repent, they will not be delivered, and they do not repent except through tribulations, oppression, exile and lack of livelihood. The children of Israel will not undertake the Great Repentance until Elijah comes.

In the Age-to-Come there will be no death, no sorrow, and no tears.

So horrible did the common conception of the pre-Messianic sufferings become that some of the Rabbis even prayed that the Messiah might not appear in their day.

            Raba said: “If there are more than twenty-five children in a class for elementary instruction, an assistant should be appointed.

            “If there are fifty children in a class, two competent instructors should be in charge.”

            Rab Dimi said: “A teacher who teaches less than his fellow instructors should be dismissed. The other teachers will become more diligent both out of fear of dismissal and out of gratitude.

            “If a teacher is to be appointed, preference should be given to him who teaches thoroughly, not to him who teaches much material superficially, for an error once learned is difficult to unlearn.”

            The Persian king, Arteban, once visited the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus when the latter was in Syria. The Emperor introduced him to his friend, the Patriarch Rabbi Judah I.

            The king sent to Rabbi a priceless gem as a gift, and Rabbi presented to him in return a mezuzah (small cartridge containing Scripture, posted on door frame).

            When the king met Rabbi, he said: “I sent you a costly gift, but thou hast given in return a gift worth a small coin.”

            Rabbi replied: “The portion of the Torah inscribed upon it is of much worth than all valuables. Moreover, your gift must be kept safe by me, whereas my gift will keep you safe, as it is written, “When thou liest down, it shall watch over thee.’” (Prov. 6:22)

            R. Levi told this story:

            In a southern town, an evil innkeeper would persuade his patrons to dress before daylight, saying that he wished to accompany them on their way and thereby spare them travel in the heat of the day. Once on their journey, he would lead them to a band of brigands, who would rob them, and on returning to the inn, divide their spoils with the innkeeper.

            Once, R. Meir chanced to stay at the inn. The landlord coveted his [jack]ass and goods and tried to persuade him to leave before sunrise.

            R. Meir said: “I am awaiting my brother Kitob; he is to meet me here.”

            The innkeeper went out several times to see if Kitob had arrived.

            When daylight came, R. Meir ascended his donkey and prepared to depart.

            “Where is your brother Kitob?” he was asked by the disappointed partner of the thieves.

            “The light of day,” was the Rabbi’s response. “It is written: ‘And God saw the light, ki-tov: it was “good.”’”

            Papus ben Judah one day found Rabbi Akiba teaching the Torah in public, though this was prohibited by the Roman government.

            “Are you not afraid of the government?” inquired Papus.

            “I will tell you a parable,” replied the rabbi. “Once while walking beside the river, a fox saw some fishes darting distractedly to and fro in the stream. ‘From what, pray, are you fleeing?’ the fox inquired.

            “‘From the nets,’ they replied.

            “‘Why, then,’ rejoined the fox, ‘don’t you try the dry land with me, where surely you and I can live together?’

            “‘Surely,’ exclaimed the fishes, ‘you are not he of whom we have heard so much as the most cunning of animals. If we have cause to fear where it is natural for us to live [the water], how much more reason have we to do so where we needs must die [dry land]!’

            “Just so,” continued Akiba, “is it with us who study the Torah, in which it is written: ‘For that is thy life, and the length of thy days (Deut. 30:20); for if we suffer while we study the Torah [= water], how much more shall we suffer if we neglect it [= dry land]!”

            Emperor Hadrian, on his way out to war, rode past a garden where he observed a very old man planting a fig tree. He halted his horse and asked: “Why in your old age do you labor so zealously? Do you expect to eat the fruit of the tree you are planting?”

            The old man replied: “If it be the will of God, I shall eat of it; if not, my sons will enjoy it.”

            Three years later the Emperor passed the garden again. The same old man approached Hadrian with a basket of figs, and, handing it to him, said: “My master, be good enough to receive this gift. I am the man to whom you spoke three years ago.”

            The Emperor was touched and commanded that the basket be filled with gold pieces and given to the diligent old man.

            The wife of his neighbor chanced to be in the graybeard’s home when he returned with the gold. She heard his story and immediately commanded her husband to take the Emperor a large basket filled with varied fruits.

            “He loves the fruit of this region,” she said, “and he may, as a reward, fill your baskets with gold pieces.”

            The husband followed his wife’s commands, and, bringing the fruit to the Emperor, said, “Sire, I have heard that you are fond of fruit, and I have brought these for your enjoyment.”

            On hearing the whole story, the Emperor became incensed at the man’s impudence and gave orders to his soldiery to throw the fruit at his face. Bruised and half-blinded, the schemer returned to his home.

            “How did you fare?” asked his wife greedily.

            “I have fared excellently,” replied her husband. “Had I taken [lemons], I would have died from the blows.”

Judaism in the Medieval Age

Medi-eval = Middle Age

≠ Evil

I. Islam and Judaism

A. Jews in E. Mediterranean come under Islamic rule

1. Baghdad becomes center

B. Live in relative peace

C. Sporadic persecution under Abbasid dynasty

II. Karaites and Geonim

A. Karaites accept only Torah and festivals in there

1. Conservative interpretation of Scripture and canon

B. Geonim established Academies and carried on Rabbis’ teachings

C. Eventually Karaites lose battle

III. Judaism and Spain

A. Lived there since first cent. CE

B. Islam takes south and then most of Spain, and Jews live in comparative peace

C. Christians take it back (1492) and also persecute Jews

1. Convert, Leave, or Die

2. Conversos = “converts” but practice Judaism in secret

3. 1492 Queen Isabella expels them from Spain

D. Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides) (1135-1204)

1. Guide for the Perplexed synthesizes Aristotle with Judaism

2. He writes it in Egypt in Arabic

Maimonides’ Thirteen Fundamentals


I Believe That:


1 God Is Sole Creator Denies polytheism
2 Is Uniquely One, Incorporeal Denies Trinity; denies physical depictions in polytheism and common imagination of Jews in Middle Ages
3 Is Beyond All Conception and Form See 2nd Commandment that forbids graven images; also denies polytheism
4 Is The First and Last; eternal No other revelation after him; denies Islam and Christianity
5 Is the True God of Prayer and Worship Only God can be worshipped; no angels or “emanations” in Kabbalah
6 Words of Prophets Are True Supports prophecy in rest of Bible; Reform Judaism (later) says divine inspiration is difficult to decide
7 Moses Is True and First Prophet God spoke to him face-to-face, so his revelation is superior
8 Whole Torah Given to Moses Denies revelation in Christianity and Islam?
9 There Is No New Covenant Denies Christianity
10 Creator Is Omniscient All monotheistic religions believe this
11 There Are Rewards and Punishments for Keeping Commandments Islam believes this; Protestant Christians put a new twist on this one
12 In God’s Own Time, Messiah Will Come Many Jews seek a Messiah, but Reform Judaism does not
13 God Will Resurrect the Dead Reform Judaism prefers to believe soul lives on after death
Keys of Interpretation:

*This has made it in many confession w/i Judaism

*Some denominations dispute some beliefs e.g., Reform


IV. Persecution

A. Example

[When Philip II Augustus became king], a great multitude of Jews had been dwelling in France for a long time . . . [In Paris] they grew so rich that they claimed as their own almost half of the whole city, and they had Christians in their houses as menservants and maidservants, who were backsliders from the faith of Jesus Christ and judaized with the Jews . . . .

            And whereas the Lord had said . . . in Deuteronomy [23:19-20]: “Thou shall not lend upon usury to thy brother, but to the stranger,” the Jews . . . understood by “stranger” every Christian, and they took from the Christians their money at usury. And so heavily burdened in this wise were citizens and soldiers and peasants . . . that many of them were constrained to part with their possessions. Others were bound under oaths in houses of the Jews in Paris, held as if captive in prison.

            The most Christian King Philip hearing of these things . . . released all Christians of his kingdom from their debts to the Jews, and kept a fifth part of the whole amount for himself . . . . [Then in 1182, in the month of April . . . an edict went forth from . . . the king . . . that all the Jews of his kingdom should be prepared to go forth by the coming feast of St. John the Baptist. And the king gave them leave to sell each his movable goods before the time fixed.

            When faithless Jews heard this edict, some of them . . . converted to the Lord; to them the king, out of regard for the Christian religion . . . restored all their possessions . . . and gave them perpetual liberty. Others were blinded by their ancient error and persisted in their perfidy . . . . The infidel Jews, astonished and stupefied by the strength of mind of Philip the king and his constancy in the Lord, . . . prepared to sell all their household goods. The time was now at hand when the king ordered them to leave France . . . . Then did the Jews sell all their movable possessions in great haste, while their landed property reverted to the crown. Thus the Jews, having sold their goods and taken the price for the expenses of their journey, departed with their wives and children and all their households in the . . . year of the Lord 1182.

V. Kabbalah

A. Literally means “Tradition”

B. Mystical Judaism—deemphasized the rabbinic-legal interpretation of Scripture

C. Sefer Hazohar (= “Book of Splendor” or Zohar)

1. Likely composed by Moses de Leon (1250-1305) of Spain

2. Group moves to Galilee under Isaac Luria (1534-1572)

D. Persecution often leads to mysticism and hope for a Messiah

Excerpts from the Zohar

            R. Jose and R. Hiyya were discussing the birth of Ishmael. Said R. Hiyya: “It was a woeful day for Israel when Abraham begat Ishmael and circumcised him on his thirteenth birthday. For four hundred years the patron Angel of Ishmael shall say: ‘Edom was circumcised, and You gave him the rulership of the Holy Land. Should not Ishmael, too, rule over Palestine because he, also, was circumcised?’ And when his importunities annoy God, He shall keep Ishmael from grace above and grant him in reward the rulership of Palestine. And Ishmael shall keep Israel out of his land, and it shall be so until the reward for his circumcision shall have been paid in full. And then Ishmael will become entangled in a fierce was with some nations of Edom, and they will battle once on the sea, once on the dry land, and a third time near Jerusalem. And the Edomites shall govern the Ishamelites, but the Holy Land shall not be taken over entirely by Edom. And at that a great nation from the other end of the world will rise up against the evil Empire which has descended from the Roman Empire, and for three months will it battle against it. And all the nations of Edom, even those at the far ends of the world, will assemble together. And God will arise and will cause Ishmael again to be cut off from the Holy Land, and Israel will become powerful in his land once more.

            God is the Lord of the Covenant, the Torah is the Book of the Covenant, and the circumcised is the Son of the Covenant.

            The upper waters are the Torah of Scripture; the lower waters the Torah of tradition. [cf. evaporation and then rain]

            The bread of man may win him the merit of yet other bread, namely, the Bread of Paradise.

            Before they sinned, Adam and Eve were clothed in garments of Or [Light, spelled with an aleph]; afterwards, they were clothed with garments of ‘Or [skin, spelled with an ‘Ayin], the skin of the snake.

            R. Isaac and R. Jose met a man with a child on one arm and a pail on the other. After receiving food from them, the man said: Why does God request us to offer Him his food (Num. 28:2)? Because it’s God’s rule that a man must evoke below the favor he anticipates receiving from above. And if sacrifice drew down sustenance from above, how much the more will the proffer of food to one in need awaken the same favor from God?

            The Rabbis marveled at the learned beggar, and R. Jose remarked: Truly they were wise who taught us to despise not man. In two ways have we profited: we have earned a mitzvah [good deed], and we have learned a beautiful lesson.

            A Rabbi asked: Why were the blessings that Esau received fulfilled, and those of Jacob unfulfilled? He replied: in the present age Esau receives blessings in this world, and Jacob in the Upper World. But in the Messianic Age, Jacob will receive blessings both below and above, and Esau will be the loser in both worlds.

            Abraham brought blessing to the world, Isaac justice, and Jacob mercy, thereby completing all the Lord wished the world to possess.

            Upon three things the world rests: on Torah, on sacrifice, and on benevolence. Jacob stands for Torah, Isaac for sacrifice, and Abraham for benevolence.

            When David said: Am I not Hasid [pious]? A little frog came to him and declared: I am an even greater Hasid, for I praise my Maker the whole night long, but you do this only half the night.

            God had the same reason for giving Palestine to Canaan before it came into the rightful hands of Israel that He had for giving Bathsheba in marriage to Uriah the Hittite before she became the wife of David, her rightful mate.

When can penitence atone for a man’s sin? If his conscience still troubles him regarding it. If a man’s conscience ceases to trouble him, penitence will not avail.

            The judge who acquits the guilty on technicalities, even though these be according to the law, is deemed wicked by the Heavenly Tribunal.

            The ladder of Heaven has only three steps: Israel, Torah, and God.

Judaism and Early Modern World

I. New Home in E. Europe

A. 500k in Poland by 1600

1. Many were tax collectors and landlords

2. 1648-1656: Peasant rebellion leads to pogroms (= state-sponsored persecution or state-look-the-other-way)

a. 300-500k Jews killed

B. Reformation largely kind to Jews

1. But Martin Luther in old age expresses vitriol (acid) = anger

C. Catholics carry out Inquisition (from Medieval Age)

1. Fourth Lateran Council (1215) decreed Jews must wear yellow badges

D. Jews segregated into Ghettoes throughout Europe

E. Shabbatai Zevi (1626-1676)

1. Claimed to be Messiah

2. Enters Turkey in 1665 and arrested: convert to Islam or die

3. He converts and disappoints Jews worldwide

F. Baal Shem Tov (Master of Good Name) (1698-1759)

1. Israel ben Eliezer

2. God found not in study but in simple, heartfelt faith

3. Followers known as Hasidim = “Pious Ones”

4. Intellectual Rabbis shun them (embarrassed)

Judaism in Modern World

I. Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1781)

A. German Jew who wins respect among gentile intellectuals

B. Encourages Jews to leave Ghettoes

C. Considered father of either Modern Orthodox or Reform Judaism (mostly 2nd one)

II. Reform

A. French Revolution ends many prohibitions

B. Jews enter mainstream modern world

C. Convention in 1843

1. Continuation of development of religious life and rules and tradition

2. Talmud has no authority for modern Jews

3. Jews seek no Messiah and have no homeland except their birthplace

III. Zionism

A. Dreyfus case in 1890s in France

1. Anti-Semitism

2. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) covers the case

3. Dreyfus guilty, railroaded

B. Herzl says Jews must seek homeland

1. 1909: Tel Aviv founded

2. 1920: 50k Jews in Israel / Palestine

3. 1928: 100k

4. 1931: 175k

5. 1933: 220k

C. Balfour Declaration (1917)

1. “Britain views with favor homeland for Jews”

2. Limits 15k immigrants per year in 1939

IV. Holocaust (1942-1945)

A. 6 million lost

B. Enough said

V. State of Israel (1948)

A. UN partitions Israel into Jewish and Arab Sectors

B. Israel attacked by Arab states, but survives (1948-49)

C. 1967, 1973 Two Wars: Arabs v. Israel

Major Denominations




1 Orthodox *Largest group; seeks to preserve trad. Jewish culture; follows Bible, Talmud; favors Heb. in services; tends to gender segregation in services; Hasidim, e.g., are conservative wing of Orthodox
2 Reform Centered in US and W. Europe; stresses universality; upholds trad. Jewish values; inter-faith dialogue; values modernity; seeks to update ancient faith; favors vernacular in services; *ordains women as rabbis
3 Conservative Sabata Morais reacts against extremes in #1 & 2; intellectual center in Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC; scholarly study of Bible; favors vernacular in worship
4 Reconstructionism Grows out of Conservatism under Mordecai Kaplan; Judaism more than religion—entire culture that must be lived; not many adherents
5 Fundamentalist Hostile to non-Jews; most active in Israel’s settlement movement; missionary activity

Festivals and Holy Days




1 Sabbath (Shabbat) Most important regular one; Fri. at sundown to Sat. at sundown, plus hour; no work
2 Passover (Pesach) Commemorates Exodus from Egypt and Death Angel “passing over” houses; Seder meal Mar.-Apr.
3 Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) Celebration fifty days after Passover, commemorating Mt. Sinai and Law; May-June
4 New Year (Rosh Hashanah) Commemorates first day of creation; Jewish New Year; season of penitence; Sept-Oct.
5 *Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) Follows Rosh Hashanah; day of abstaining from work, food, or drink; special day in synagogue praying for forgiveness of sins
6 Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot(h)) Sukkah = tent or temp. dwelling; five days after Yom Kippur; commemorates wandering in desert living in makeshift tents;
7 Feast of Dedication (Chanukah) Commemorates purifying Temple by Maccabees in 165 BCE; oil remaining in Temple lasted 8 days; menorah is special candelabrum; pop. in America, not Israel; Nov-Dec
8 Feast of Lots (Purim) Commemorates victory over enemies plotting to exterminate Israel in Esther; Feb.-Mar.
9 Son/Daughter of Commandment (Bar / Bat Mitzvah) Rite of passage for 12-13-year-old boys/girls; memorize passages in Heb. of Bible; have special service for them to recite it


I. Torah

A. Meaning: Instruction, teaching, law

B. Torah can either be restricted to Pentateuch or expanded to interpretation of Pentateuch by scholars or rabbis, e.g., in Talmud

C. Observant Jew seeks to keep Torah to please God and to be righteous (or pure) and to uphold tradition

D. Judaism constantly evolving in interp. of Torah


1. This is Judaism’s greatest contribution to world: Ethical = laws and rules for right conduct; monotheism = One God (mon- = only, alone; the- = God)

Christian Reaction and Reply

I have written extensively on the Tanak (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament). Here are some posts:

Ten Commandments: God’s Great Compromise with Humanity’s Big Failure

Messianic Prophecies

How Jesus Christ Fulfills the Law: Matthew 5:17-19

Do Christians Have to ‘Keep’ the Ten Commandments?

What Does the New Covenant Retain from the Old?

One Decisive Difference Between Sinai Covenant and New Covenant

Many Jews are converting to Yeshua ha Meshiach. Freedom of religion is a blessing.


Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions












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