Good morning, everybody. I’m Clark, and today we look at the next part of my “Understanding Religions” series. We will learn about Judaism major beliefs, including its beginnings since the time of Abraham himself as well as its position on the planet today. This is not a well-known religion where I stay, but rest assured it is an interesting one.
Here’s part 5 of the series if you missed it.
Jews’ Core Beliefs
Judaism is the religion of Jewish people, who believe in the one God who revealed Himself through ancient prophets. They believe that there is an agreement between God and all humankind, in which He promises a long and prosperous life if they follow His laws.
Most Jewish people believe their Messiah will one day come, but hasn’t yet thus far.
The Jewish sacred text is the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible. The Torah is the first five books of the Tanakh, and it contains all God’s laws to be followed in daily life.
The Ten Commandments are part of the Torah, and they are as follow:
- “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.”
- “You shall not recognize other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.”
- “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Don’t misuse God’s name.)
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant, your animal or your stranger within your gates.” (The Sabbath day is Saturday.)
- “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
- “You shall not murder.”
- “You shall not commit adultery.”
- “You shall not steal.”
- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Do not tell lies about other people.)
- “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Don’t be envious of the possessions of others.)
The religion of Abraham
Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic (one God) religion. It began about 4000 years ago in the Middle East. At that time, many people there worship multiple gods. According to lore, God first revealed himself to Abraham of the Hebrew people.
Abraham promoted the idea that there is only one God and became known as the father of Judaism.
Abraham was told by God to leave his home and country to found a new nation in an undesignated land (Canaan). Despite Abraham and his wife Sarah being old and childless, God made Abraham three promises – a relationship with God, numerous descendants, and the Promised Land.
Abraham placed his trust in God, and at 75 years of age proceeded with his wife, his nephew Lot and other companions to the land of Canaan. At 100 years of age he had a son with Sarah. Their son is named Isaac, and their grandson is Jacob/Israel (whose descendants became known as Israelites).
There are three large Jewish denominations – Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. Orthodox Jews are those who believe that all the laws and practices in the Torah must be obeyed unless unfeasible. Conservative Jews believe that the ancient laws and practices have to be translated for modern life. Reform Jews also believe that, plus they allow men and women to sit together in services, and they allow both Hebrew and the local language to be spoken in services.
Jews worship in synagogues, and their spiritual leaders are called rabbis.
There are about 10-20 million Jews in the world today. About half of them live in the United States, about one quarter live in Israel, and the rest are scattered all over the world. Anyone whose mother is Jewish is a Jew.
The symbol of Judaism is the Star of David.
This is it for part 6. I hope you’re enjoying reading about each different religion (and please share if you do!) Subscribe to my emails, and come back often to my website. Leave any questions or comments that you may have in the comment box below, and you’ll find me more than ready to have a discussion with you. Thanks a lot!
Part 7: Sikhism