Ancient Israelites Essay

2210 words - 9 pages

Lesson 1
ESSENTIAL QUESTION How do religions develop?

The beliefs and early leaders of the ancient Israelites represent the foundations of Judaism.
What did the ancient Israelites believe?
You probably have heard of the religion of Judaism (JOO • dee • ih • zuhm). You may not know, however, that it is both an ancient and modern religion. Many ancient societies worshipped many deities, or gods. The worship of more than one god is called polytheism. A group of people in Southwest Asia known as the Israelites (IHZ • ree• ah • lites) were different. Unlike other cultures of the day, they worshipped only one God.
The Israelites believed that God sent prophets (PRAH • fehts), or messengers, to share God's word with the people. The prophets communicated to the Israelites that their God created and ruled the world. They argued that God is very powerful but also just and good. The prophets wanted the Israelites to understand that God expects goodness from his people.
The prophets also believed that every individual could connect personally to God through prayer, religious study, and good and just acts. The belief in one all-powerful, just, and personal God is called monotheism (MAH • nuh • thee • ih • zuhm). The practice of monotheism made Judaism unique among ancient religions.
The Hebrew Bible
The Israelites recorded their beliefs and history. These writings became known as the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (TAH • nahk). Through the Hebrew Bible, the beliefs and faith of the ancient Israelites lived on to become the religion of Judaism. The followers of Judaism are today known as Jews.
Although the original Israelite population was small, their influence was great. Judaism played an important part in the development of two other major monotheistic religions- Christianity and Islam. Christians call the Hebrew Bible the Old Testament. Christianity grew directly out of Judaism. Islam also accepted many of Judaism's beliefs and practices. Through the Hebrew Bible, Judaism influenced the values, ethics, and principles of many other societies.


ESSENTIAL QUESTION How do religions develop?

Around 1200 b.c. great changes took place in the Mediterranean region. Egypt's empire ended, and new peoples, including the Israelites, entered the region. The early Israelites depended on herding and trading to survive. According to the Hebrew Bible, Abraham and his family migrated from Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan (KAY • nuhn) along the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the countries of Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan occupy the land that was once Canaan.
According to Jewish belief, the ancestors of the ancient Israelites were a man named Abraham and his family. The Hebrew Bible gives this account of Abraham's family and the early history of the Israelites. The Hebrew Bible states that God told Abraham to journey to Canaan, which would belong to Abraham and his...

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