Jewish Civilization Time Periods Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1408 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

¶ … Jewish civilization [...] time periods of the first settlements in Israel (Canaan) and the period of Israelite kingdoms, and describe how Jewish identity changed between these two periods. The founding of Israel and the period of the Israelite kingdoms are two of the earliest periods of Jewish history, and yet they differ greatly. Governing, religious practices, and Jewish identity all changed during these periods. Most importantly, the Jews experienced expulsion from their lands and religious persecution because of their faith, practices that would haunt them throughout their history.

Early Israel, (called Canaan), was settled by a variety of peoples until the wandering Jews took the lands for their own. They had wandered in the desert for at least a generation after leaving Egypt. Biblical tales indicate they invaded Canaan and some of its cities, while scholars believe the areas may have been empty. They settled in Jerusalem and beyond, and created a complex and interesting civilization. They settled the area by family or tribe, and the lines were derived from the sons of Joseph and Jacob, with twelve lines established and settled in Canaan. These "tribes" of Israel were governed by a set of "judges" rather than formal leaders or kings. They were violent people who pushed the Canaanites out of their cities and resettled them themselves.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Jewish Civilization Time Periods of the First Assignment

They were literally creating their social and religious conditions as they settled the land. Moses had led them to the edge of the Promised Land, but he died before they gained access to it. Instead of following strict patrilineal lines, leadership of the people went to Joshua, the most qualified, which is an interesting and thoughtful aspect of their civilization. They chose the person who was strongest and most qualified to lead, rather than basing leadership strictly on familial or tribal lines. They also resisted leadership by a powerful king or lord, but relied on leadership from "judges" (from the Book of Judges), who essentially expected the Jews to know and understand right from wrong, and live according to the tenets of the Torah. In effect, they were creating the identity and spirituality that would guide them throughout their long history. By following the Torah, building their cities, and creating their leadership, they were creating their identity and what it meant to be Jewish. Ultimately, during this time, it meant, "the ultimate goal of every Jew is to use his free will to work out what is wrong and right, using the Torah as a guide" (Spiro). During this time, a majority of the people were dedicated to Torah, and understood the difference between right and wrong. As another set of scholars note, "Thus the Israelites were expected to adhere to specific standards of behavior; they were specifically enjoined from copying the customs of surrounding nations and were held accountable for creating a just society" (Edelheit, and Edelheit 4). This tradition of accountability and divergence from traditional cultures has beleaguered the Jews throughout their history, but they are some of their proudest accomplishments as well.

In addition, the Jewish experience extended power to women, much more than in many other societies. For example, one of the Judges who led the people down the right path was Deborah, who was also one of the top battle commanders of the people. The earliest Jews respected people for their knowledge and abilities, rather than their gender or family ties. This pattern of power and gender equality has changed through the ages, but indicates initially, Jewish women were an integral part of the Jewish experience. Flux and change is also a pattern, and that is quite evident in the next stage of Jewish history - the period of the Israelite kingdoms.

The Jews seemed content with judicial rule and no central authority figure like a king until near the end of Judge Samuel's life, when God commanded him to find a king for his people. A Rabbi historian notes, "And they the people said [to Samuel] 'Behold, you have grown old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now set up for us a king to judge us like all the nations. And the thing was displeasing in the eyes of Samuel...'" (1 Samuel, 8:5-7) (Spiro). Thus,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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