The Biblical History of Judaism
Judaism is a religion with an excess of 13 million believers located mainly within the United States and Israel. Of all the religions practiced today, Judaism is one of the oldest. The roots of Judaism can be traced back over 3500 years to the Middle East with a lineage that descends from Abraham as a patriarch. With Abraham as a common ancestor, Judaism is considered one of the Abrahamic faiths alongside Christianity and Islam. The historical events within the Bible of Judaism’s past, all the way back to Abraham, have molded the beliefs and traditions practiced by Jewish adherents today.
Judaism is more than just a religion; it is a culture and can even be considered an ethnicity. The faith, beliefs, traditions, and even holidays recognized by the Jewish people all have a strong foundation in reconnecting with history and the ancestors of the past. Isaac Kalimi writes in Jewish Bible Theology: Perspectives and Case Studies, that The Bible is widely recognized as central to Judaism. It is to a book, the Book, that we owe our survival” (Kalimi 13). In order to even begin to understand Judaism, one must explore the biblical history of the religion. The natural starting point for this exploration would need to begin with Abraham.
Abraham is deemed the founder and one of three patriarchs of the Jewish faith. In Fundamental Theology, by Heinrich Fries, a detailed description of Abraham’s journey and faith is given. A summary of Fries explanation is that Abraham’s name was originally Abram. He was considered a “nomadic chief” from Mesopotamia. God spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his home and country. This was one of many tests Abraham faced. In the words of the Bible, Abraham was told by God to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing . . . By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves" (Gen 12:1–3). God had promised Abraham the land of Canaan (though at the time he did not know this was the Promised Land). On faith Abraham did as God had instructed him to do (Fries 63-66).
Abraham does go to Canaan with his wife Sarai (later referred to as Sarah), and his nephew Lot. According to Kalimi, “Abraham’s heroic obedience to the command did not yield the expected, immediate fulfillment of the divine promise: during the ritual of the ‘covenant between the pieces,’ he was informed that the promise would come true only 400 years later” (Kalimi 80). Abraham and Sarai’s time in Canaan is short-term and he never fully controls the land....