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An Overview of Some Jewish History

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  • An Overview of Some Jewish History

    I am trying to set a big picture here. Any comments?
    ______________________________________________
    UNSUSPECTED BENEFITS

    It is a stupendous paradox that a god does not only fail to protect his chosen people against its enemies but allows them to fail....yet is worshipped only the more ardently. This is unexampled in history and is only to be explained by the powerful prestige of a prophetic message.. -Max Weber, Ancient Judaism, The Free Press, Glencoe, 1952, p. 364.

    It was the very instability and incoherence of Greek political institutions during the Mycenean and Dark Ages, 1600 to 800 BC, that led to a political evolution which was denied to other cultures. -Anthony Andrewes, Greek Society, Penguin, Melbourne, 1987, p.xxiii.

    The process whereby its unsuspected benefits were to be manifested to the eyes of men was slow, painfully slow, and was characterized, as indeed the history of His Faith from its inception to the present day demonstrates, by a number of crises which at times threatened to arrest its unfoldment and blast all the hopes which its progress had engendered. -Shoghi Effendi, God Pases By, USA, 1957, p.111.

    You came from the plains and the mountains
    with nearby river civilizations to fertilise your soil.
    Perhaps you went into Egypt back when
    horse and chariot were first used in warfare(1)
    and lived for half a millennium there.
    Then your lands slipped out of Egyptian rule,
    you left for Canaan and fought as an armed group
    with the Philistines, Midianites,Moabites,
    Ammonites, Aramaeans. And you fought
    among yourselves in your tribal and family groups
    until the United Monarchy under Saul, David
    and Solomon(ca 1030-930 BC).
    It had been a long journey.

    Things fell apart again and tensions
    with the nomadic Bedouins continued
    a political and economic warfare.
    Extended kinship groups and warriors
    quibbled and quarrelled for land,
    land has always been a problem.
    Rural herdsmen and the settled,
    urban population had sharp clashes
    as did stock-breeders and peasants
    in those lasting antagonisms.

    Gradually agriculture replaced
    peasantry, herdsmen and artisans.
    Town life took the place of the country
    and with the towns the urban landlords
    and Kings replaced the power of chieftans.
    It was not without a long struggle.

    Under Solomon(971-932) this ancient
    Jewish state began to take its part
    on the world political stage
    as a kind of oriental despotism
    like Egypt with a central administration
    and an all-powerful king.
    For the next four hundred years(922-538)
    Israel took part in a series
    of political and military catastrophes
    ending in the Babylonian captivity
    and a diaspora--you’d get used to them.

    During these long years
    oracles of a classical prophecy
    told of the terror of the Assyrians,
    the time honoured ‘law’
    of the confederate tribes,
    the voice of doom, righteousness
    and that distant utopian vision.

    They made the moral precepts
    of everyday life a duty
    and the direction of society
    intimately connected with a way of life
    in a spirit on constant expectation
    and the powerful prestige of a prophetic message.
    And so it was that prophets, psalmists,
    sages and priests inculcated the Torah
    for generations, mostly without success
    until the Judean theocratic state
    in the fifth century BC
    gave a definite direction to Jewish history
    through that Torah.

    A common, universal way of life emerged
    in this Hebrew Commonwealth
    as Greece emerged into its golden age
    after its long and formative age,
    for formative ages are long & tortuous.

    Ron Price
    26 July 1996

    (1) 1800 BC
    married and a teacher for over 35 years. Associated with the Baha'i Faith for 54 years.
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