Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in the Book of Exodus as containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. According to various texts within the Hebrew Bible, it contained Aaron's rod and a pot of manna. Hebrews 9:4 describes: "The ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in, a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron's rod which budded, the tablets of the covenant."The biblical account relates that one year after the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, the Ark was created according to the pattern given to Moses by God when the Israelites were encamped at the foot of biblical Mount Sinai. Thereafter, the gold-plated acacia chest was carried by its staves while en route by the Levites 2,000 cubits in advance of the people when on the march or before the Israelite army, the host of fighting men; when carried, the Ark was always hidden under a large veil made of skins and blue cloth, always concealed from the eyes of the priests and the Levites who carried it.
God was said to have spoken with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover. When at rest the tabernacle was set up and the holy Ark was placed in it under the veil of the covering, the staves of it crossing the middle side bars to hold it up off the ground. According to the Book of Exodus, God instructed Moses on Mount Sinai during his 40-day stay upon the mountain within the thick cloud and darkness where God was and he was shown the pattern for the tabernacle and furnishings of the Ark to be made of shittim wood to house the Tablets of Stone. Moses instructed Oholiab to construct the Ark.. In Deuteronomy, the Ark is said to have been built by Moses himself without reference of Bezalel or Oholiab; the Book of Exodus gives detailed instructions on. It is to be 21⁄2 cubits in length, 11⁄2 in breadth, 11⁄2 in height, it is to be gilded with gold, a crown or molding of gold is to be put around it. Four rings of gold are to be attached to its four corners, two on each side—and through these rings staves of shittim-wood overlaid with gold for carrying the Ark are to be inserted.
A golden lid, the kapporet, covered with 2 golden cherubim, is to be placed above the Ark. Missing from the account are instructions concerning the thickness of the mercy seat and details about the cherubim other than that the cover be beaten out the ends of the Ark and that they form the space where God will appear; the Ark is to be placed under the veil of the covering. The biblical account continues that, after its creation by Moses, the Ark was carried by the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the desert. Whenever the Israelites camped, the Ark was placed in a separate room in a sacred tent, called the Tabernacle; when the Israelites, led by Joshua toward the Promised Land, arrived at the banks of the Jordan river, the Ark was carried in the lead preceding the people and was the signal for their advance. During the crossing, the river grew dry as soon as the feet of the priests carrying the Ark touched its waters, remained so until the priests—with the Ark—left the river after the people had passed over.
As memorials, twelve stones were taken from the Jordan at the place. In the Battle of Jericho, the Ark was carried round the city once a day for seven days, preceded by the armed men and seven priests sounding seven trumpets of rams' horns. On the seventh day, the seven priests sounding the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the Ark compassed the city seven times and, with a great shout, Jericho's wall fell down flat and the people took the city. After the defeat at Ai, Joshua lamented before the Ark; when Joshua read the Law to the people between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, they stood on each side of the Ark. We next hear of the Ark in Bethel where it was being cared for by the priest Phineas the grandson of Aaron. According to this verse it was consulted by the people of Israel when they were planning to attack the Benjaminites at the battle of Gibeah. However, the Ark was kept at Shiloh, another religious centre some 16 km north of Bethel, at the time of the prophet Samuel's apprenticeship, where it was cared for by Hophni and Phinehas, two sons of Eli.
A few years the elders of Israel decided to take the Ark out onto the battlefield to assist them against the Philistines, after being defeated at the battle of Eben-Ezer. They were, however defeated with the loss of 30,000 men; the Ark was captured by the Philistines and Hophni and Phinehas were killed. The news of its capture was at once taken to Shiloh by a messenger "with his clothes rent, with earth upon his head." The old priest, fell dead when he heard it. The mother of the child Ichabod died at his birth; the Philistines took the Ark to several places in their country, at each place misfortune befell them. At Ashdod it was placed in the temple of Dagon; the next morning Dagon was found prostrate, bowed down, before it. The people of Ashdod were smitten with tumors; the affliction of boi
The Dura-Europos synagogue was an ancient synagogue uncovered at Dura-Europos, Syria, in 1932. The last phase of construction was dated by an Aramaic inscription to 244 CE, making it one of the oldest synagogues in the world, it was unique among the many ancient synagogues that have emerged from archaeological digs as the structure was preserved intact, it had extensive figurative wall-paintings, which came as a considerable surprise to scholars. These paintings are now displayed in the National Museum of Damascus. Dura-Europos was a small garrison and trading city on the river Euphrates, on the frontier between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Parthian and the Sassanid Empires of Persia, it changed hands at various points but was Roman from 165 CE. Before the final Persian destruction of the town in 256-257 CE, parts of the synagogue which abutted the main city wall were requisitioned and filled with sand as a defensive measure; the city was abandoned after its fall and never resettled, the lower walls of the rooms remained buried and intact until excavated.
The short measure of time during which it was used ensured that it would have limited impact upon Judeo-Christian art. The excavations discovered important wall-paintings from places of worship of Christianity at the Dura-Europos church. In addiction, there were wall paintings edifying Mithraism, fragmentary Christian texts in Hebrew. In the Syrian Civil War, the site was occupied by ISIL, what was left there appears to have been destroyed; because of the paintings adorning the walls, the synagogue was at first mistaken for a Greek temple, though this was corrected by the vice-director of excavations Robert du Mesnil du Buisson in Les peintures de la synagogue de Doura-Europos. Mesnil made detailed comparisons of the friezes from the Dura synagogue with those of the mithraeum, the Christian baptistery, the temple of the Palmyrene gods; the synagogue contains a forecourt and house of assembly with painted walls depicting people and animals, a Torah shrine in the western wall facing Jerusalem.
The paintings cover the walls of the main "Assembly Room", using three levels of pictures over a dado frieze of symbols in most places, reaching a height of about 7 metres. The scenes depicted are drawn from the Hebrew Bible and include many narrative scenes, some single figure "portraits"—58 scenes in total representing about 60% of the original number, they include the Sacrifice of Isaac and other Genesis stories, Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law, Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, the visions of Ezekiel, many others. The Hand of God motif is used to represent divine approval in several paintings. Scholars cannot agree on the subjects of some scenes, because of damage, or the lack of comparative examples. Stylistically they are provincial versions of technique. Technically they are not tempera over plaster. Earlier parts of the building have decorative painting with no figures; some of the paintings have figures whose eyes have been scratched out those in Persian costume. Scholars think the paintings were used as an instructional display to educate and teach the history and laws of the religion.
Some think that this synagogue was painted in order to compete with the many other religions practiced in Dura Europos. The large-scale pictorial art in the synagogue came as a surprise to scholars, although they suspected that there was a tradition of Jewish narrative religious art at this period, which had all been lost, leaving only traces in Christian art; the discovery of the synagogue helps to dispel narrow interpretations of Judaism's historical prohibition of visual images. Located on the western wall of the synagogue, just left of the Torah niche, is a mural depicting the courtyard of Herod's Temple. In this particular work, Aaron is depicted standing just to the right of the temple door in the inner court of the temple surrounded by fellow priests, he is denoted by the inscription. Aaron's anachronistic appearance symbolizes the priesthood being passed down by his descendants. To the bottom left, there is a young priest leading a heifer. based upon the trajectory of the priest and the geography of the city of Jerusalem, where Herod's temple was located, it is presumed that he is leading the heifer up the Mount of Olives in order to sacrifice it for the atonement of the sin of the people.
The low masonry wall depicted in the mural allowed the priest in charge of the sacrifice to look into the temple itself, much taller, while performing the sacrifice itself. Just above the temple door, we see what appears to be a star but is in fact the lamp of queen Helene of Adiabene; the lamp reflected the rays of the sun by way of its superior polish. The lamp shone so much that in Bar-Kokhba coins, which depicted the courtyard of the same temple, the lamp is depicted as a star; the rays reflected off of the lantern are depicted as lines radiating from the lamp on the three borders of the temple's pediment. The two animals just to the left of Aaron, a bull and a ram, are atonement sacrifices for Aaron to be made on Yom Kippur; the synagogue of Dura-Europos offers negligible influence on Christian and Jewish artwork. The time that the Dura-Europos synagogue was active was not long as it was buried as part of the Roman defense against Sasanian troops
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" is one of the Ten Commandments, which are understood as moral imperatives by Jewish scholars, Catholic scholars, Post-Reformation scholars. Today, most cultures retain a distinction between lying in general versus perjury. In Jewish tradition, a distinction was made between lying in general and bearing false witness specifically. On the one hand, bearing false witness was always prohibited according to the decalogue's commandment against bearing false witness, yet on the other hand, lying in general was acknowledged to be, in certain circumstances "permissible or commendable" when it was a white lie, it was done while not under oath, it was not "harmful to someone else"; the book of Exodus describes the Ten Commandments as being spoken by God, inscribed on two stone tablets by the finger of God, broken by Moses, rewritten on replacement stones by the Lord. There are six things that the LORD dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, one who sows discord among brothers.
The command against false testimony is seen as a natural consequence of the command to “love your neighbor as yourself”. This moral prescription flows from the command for holy people to bear witness to their deity. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of covenant with God. You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit; the Hebrew Bible contains a number of prohibitions against false witness, spreading false reports, etc. For a person who had a charge brought against them and were brought before a religious prosecution, the charge was considered as established only on the evidence of two or three sworn witnesses.
In cases where false testimony was suspected, the religious judges were to make a thorough investigation, if false testimony were proven, the false witness was to receive the punishment he had intended to bring on the person falsely accused. For example, since murder was a capital crime, giving false testimony in a murder case was subject to the death penalty; those eager to receive or listen to false testimony were subject to punishment. False witness is among the six things God hates, king Solomon says. False testimony is among the things that defile a person, Jesus says; the witness who hid what he had seen or what he knew bore his iniquity. The lying witness is a deceitful man, he is like a sword, or a sharp arrow. ″A false witness will not go unpunished.″ king Solomon says. ″ A false witness will perish ″. Some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, of those from Cilicia and Asia came upon Stephen and seized him and brought him before the council and set up false witnesses against him.
These false witnesses said: "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and the customs that Moses delivered to us." And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw. Many testified falsely against Jesus. At last two witnesses said they had heard Him saying He would destroy that temple and in three days built another, not made with hands, yet about this their testimony did not agree. The narrative in 1 Kings 21 describes a case of false testimony. King Ahab of Israel tried to convince Naboth the Jezreelite to sell him the vineyard Naboth owned adjacent to the king's palace. Ahab wanted the land to use as a vegetable garden, but Naboth refused to sell or trade the property to Ahab saying, “The LORD forbid that I should give up to you what I have inherited from my fathers!” Ahab's wife Jezebel conspired to obtain the vineyard by writing letters in Ahab's name to the elders and nobles in Naboth's town instructing them to have two scoundrels bear false witness claiming that Naboth has cursed both God and the king.
After Naboth was subsequently stoned to death, Ahab seized possession of Naboth's vineyard. The text describes the LORD as angry with Ahab, the prophet Elijah pronounces judgment on both Ahab and Jezebel; the narrative in 2 Samuel 1 contains a narrative, interpreted as false testimony. The 1 Samuel narrative had described Saul as killing himself by falling on his own sword after having been wounded by the Phil
Ten Commandments in Catholic theology
The Ten Commandments are a series of religious and moral imperatives that are recognized as a moral foundation in several of the Abrahamic religions, including Catholicism. As described in the Old Testament books Exodus and Deuteronomy, the Commandments form part of a covenant offered by God to the Israelites to free them from the spiritual slavery of sin. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church—the official exposition of the Catholic Church's Christian beliefs—the Commandments are considered essential for spiritual good health and growth, serve as the basis for Catholic social teaching. A review of the Commandments is one of the most common types of examination of conscience used by Catholics before receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation known as the sacrament of Penance; the Commandments appear in the earliest Church writings. The Church had no official standards for religious instruction until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215; the perceived lack of instruction in them by some dioceses was the basis of one of the criticisms launched against the Church by Protestant reformers.
Afterward, the first Church-wide catechism in 1566 provided "thorough discussions of each commandment", but gave greater emphasis to the seven sacraments. The most recent Catechism devotes a large section to interpret each of the commandments. Church teaching of the Commandments is based on the Old and New Testaments and the writings of the early Church Fathers. In the New Testament, Jesus acknowledged their validity and instructed his disciples to go further, demanding a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees. Summarized by Jesus into two "Great Commandments" that teach love of God and love of neighbor, they instruct individuals on their relationships with both; the first three commandments require reverence and respect for God's name, observation of the Lord's Day and prohibit the worship of other gods. The others deal with the relationships such as that between parent and child; the Old Testament refers to ten individual commandments though there are more than ten imperative sentences in the two relevant texts: Exodus 20:1–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21.
The Old Testament does not make clear. The division traditionally used by the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches was first derived by the Latin Church Father Augustine of Hippo who modified the original order in his book Questions on Exodus. Other Christian communities, such as the Orthodox Church and many Protestant churches, use the formulation standardized by the Greek Fathers of the Christian East; the two forms have different numbering, but maintain the same substance despite some Protestant claims to the contrary. Rabbinic Jewish numbering is more aligned with the Eastern Church tradition, considering the text against covetousness as a single proscription, but differs from Christian denominations in that it considers what many Christians call a prologue to be the entire first commandment; the Ten Commandments are recognized as a moral foundation by Judaism and Islam. They first appear in the Book of Exodus, according to which Moses, acting under the orders of God, freed the Israelites from physical slavery in Egypt.
According to Church teaching, God offered a covenant—which included the Ten Commandments—to free them from the "spiritual slavery" of sin. Some historians have described this as "the central event in the history of ancient Israel"; the coming of Jesus is seen by the Catholic Church as the fulfillment of the old testament and jews, who were chosen, according to Peter Kreeft, to "show the true God to the world". Jesus acknowledged the Commandments and instructed his followers to go further, requiring, in Kreeft's words, "more, not less: a'righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees'". Explaining Church teaching, Kreeft states, "The Commandments are to the moral order what the creation story in Genesis 1 is to the natural order, they are God's order conquering chaos. They are not man's ideas about God, but God's ideas about man." The Church teaches that Jesus freed people from keeping "the burdensome Jewish law with its 613 distinct regulations not from the obligation to keep the Ten Commandments", because the Ten "were written'with the finger of God', unlike written by Moses".
This teaching was reaffirmed at the Second Vatican Council. Although it is uncertain what role the Ten Commandments played in early Christian worship, evidence suggests they were recited during some services and used in Christian education. For example, the Commandments are included in one of the earliest Christian writings, known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles or the Didache. Scholars contend that the Commandments were regarded by the early Church as a summary of God's law; the Protestant scholar Klaus Bockmuehl believes that the Church replaced the Commandments with lists of virtues and vices, such as the seven deadly sins, from 400–1200. Other scholars contend that throughout Church history the Commandments have been used as an examination of conscience and that many theologians have written about them. While evidence exists that the Commandments were part of catechesis in monasteries and other venues, there was no official Church position to promote specific methods of religious instruction during the Middle Ages
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Christian churches. One of the few pre-colonial Christian churches in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a membership of between 45 and 50 million people, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia, it is a founding member of the World Council of Churches. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is in communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, having gained autocephaly in 1959; the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the first half of the 4th century until 1959, when it was granted its own patriarch by Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. As one of the oldest Christian churches and a non-Chalcedonian church, it is not in communion with the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Ethiopia is the second country following only Armenia, to have proclaimed Christianity as state religion. Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one".
This word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one unified nature of Christ. The Oriental Orthodox churches adhere to a Miaphysitic Christological view followed by Cyril of Alexandria, the leading protagonist in the Christological debates of the 4th and 5th centuries, who advocated "mia physis tou theou logou sesarkōmenē", or "one nature of the Word of God incarnate" and a "union according to hypostasis", or hypostatic union; the distinction of this stance was that the incarnate Christ has one nature, but that one nature is of the two natures and human, retains all the characteristics of both after the union. Miaphysitism holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ and humanity are united in one nature without separation, without confusion, without alteration and without mixing where Christ is consubstantial with God the Father. Around 500 bishops within the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem refused to accept the dyophysitism doctrine decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, an incident that resulted in the first major split in the main body of the Christian Church.
The Oriental Orthodox churches, which today include the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are referred to as "Non-Chalcedonian", sometimes incorrectly by outsiders as "monophysite". Monophysitism is a theology adopted by a 5th-century presbyter and archimandrite in Constantinople known as Eutyches and claims that Christ has "one single nature" where his divinity absorbed his humanity resulting in a "simple" mathematical "one" nature to which the Oriental Orthodox churches object. According to these, both natures in Christ are preserved after the union in "mia physis"—one nature. Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one" or "unified"; this word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one single unified nature of Christ. This is in contrast to the "two Natures of Christ" belief, held by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Oriental Orthodoxy is known as "non-Chalcedonian", sometimes by outsiders as "monophysite". However, these Churches themselves describe their Christology as miaphysite. Many traditions claim that Christian teachings were introduced to the region after Pentecost. John Chrysostom speaks of the "Ethiopians present in Jerusalem" as being able to understand the preaching of Saint Peter in Acts, 2:38. Possible missions of some of the Apostles in the lands now called Ethiopia is reported as early as the 4th century. Socrates of Constantinople includes Ethiopia in his list as one of the regions preached by Matthew the Apostle, where a specific mention of "Ethiopia south of the Caspian Sea" can be confirmed in some traditions such as the Roman Catholic Church among others. Ethiopian Church tradition tells that Bartholomew accompanied Matthew in a mission which lasted for at least three months. Paintings depicting these missions are available in the Church of St. Matthew found in the Province of Pisa, in northern Italy portrayed by Francesco Trevisan and Marco Benefial.
The earliest account of an Ethiopian converted to the faith in the New Testament books is a royal official baptized by Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven deacons: Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian; this man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure. The passage continues by describing ho
Torah has a range of meanings. It can most mean the first five books of the 24 books of the Tanakh, it is printed with the rabbinic commentaries, it can mean the continued narrative from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh, it can mean the totality of Jewish teaching and practice, whether derived from biblical texts or rabbinic writings. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws. In rabbinic literature the word Torah denotes both the Oral Torah; the Oral Torah consists of interpretations and amplifications which according to rabbinic tradition have been handed down from generation to generation and are now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash. According to rabbinic tradition, all of the teachings found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God through the prophet Moses, some at Mount Sinai and others at the Tabernacle, all the teachings were written down by Moses, which resulted in the Torah that exists today.
According to the Midrash, the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, was used as the blueprint for Creation. The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian captivity, based on earlier written sources and oral traditions, that it was completed during the period of Achaemenid rule. Traditionally, the words of the Torah are written on a scroll by a scribe in Hebrew. A Torah portion is read publicly at least once every three days in the presence of a congregation. Reading the Torah publicly is one of the bases of Jewish communal life; the word "Torah" in Hebrew is derived from the root ירה, which in the hif'il conjugation means'to guide' or'to teach'. The meaning of the word is therefore "teaching", "doctrine", or "instruction"; the Alexandrian Jews who translated the Septuagint used the Greek word nomos, meaning norm, doctrine, "law". Greek and Latin Bibles began the custom of calling the Pentateuch The Law. Other translational contexts in the English language include custom, guidance, or system.
The term "Torah" is used in the general sense to include both Rabbinic Judaism's written law and Oral Law, serving to encompass the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash and more, the inaccurate rendering of "Torah" as "Law" may be an obstacle to understanding the ideal, summed up in the term talmud torah. The earliest name for the first part of the Bible seems to have been "The Torah of Moses"; this title, however, is found neither in the Torah itself, nor in the works of the pre-Exilic literary prophets. It appears in Joshua and Kings. In contrast, there is every likelihood that its use in the post-Exilic works was intended to be comprehensive. Other early titles were "The Book of Moses" and "The Book of the Torah", which seems to be a contraction of a fuller name, "The Book of the Torah of God". Christian scholars refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the'Pentateuch', a term first used in the Hellenistic Judaism of Alexandria.
The Torah starts from the beginning of God's creating the world, through the beginnings of the people of Israel, their descent into Egypt, the giving of the Torah at biblical Mount Sinai. It ends with the death of Moses, just before the people of Israel cross to the promised land of Canaan. Interspersed in the narrative are the specific teachings given explicitly or implicitly embedded in the narrative. In Hebrew, the five books of the Torah are identified by the incipits in each book, it is divisible into the Primeval history and the Ancestral history. The primeval history sets out the author's concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world, good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, saving only the righteous Noah to reestablish the relationship between man and God; the Ancestral history tells of the prehistory of Israel, God's chosen people
Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text, it encompasses the religion and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, theological positions, forms of organization; the Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, supplemental oral tradition represented by texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world. Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah; this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period.
Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin and unalterable, that they should be followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Special courts enforced Jewish law. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.
The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years. Judaism has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions; the Hebrews and Israelites were referred to as "Jews" in books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism's texts and values influenced Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and the Baha'i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law. Hebraism was just as important a factor in the ancient era development of Western civilization as Hellenism, Judaism, as the background of Christianity, has shaped Western ideals and morality since Early Christianity. Jews are an ethnoreligious group including those born Jewish, in addition to converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3 million, or 0.2% of the total world population. About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, other minority groups spread throughout Latin America, Asia and Australia.
Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as solitary. Judaism thus begins with ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one and is concerned with the actions of mankind. According to the Tanakh, God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God, he commanded the Jewish people to love one another. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, the substance of Judaism. Thus, although there is an esoteric tradition in Judaism, Rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin has characterized normative Judaism as "normal mysticism", because it involves everyday personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews; this is played out through the observance of the Halakha and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.
The ordinary, everyday things and occurrences we have, constitute occasions for the experience of God. Such things as one's daily sustenance, the day itself, are felt as manifestations of God's loving-kindness, calling for the Berakhot. Kedushah, nothing else than the imitation of God, is concerned with daily conduct, with being gracious and merciful, with keeping oneself from defilement by idolatry and the shedding of blood; the Birkat Ha-Mitzwot evokes the consciousness of holiness at a rabbinic rite, but the objects employed in the majority of these rites are non-holy and of general character, while the several holy objects are non-theurgic. And not only do ordinary things and occurrences bring with them the experience of God. Everything that happens to a man evokes that exp