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A look at monotheism in the hebrew history

The belief in one God. The French writer Ernest Renan has propounded the theory that the monotheistic instinct was a Semitic trait, and that therefore the universal belief that it was characteristic of the Hebrews alone must be modified. But later research into Semitic origins has demonstrated the untenability of Renan's contention. Robertson Smith has summed up the matter with the statement that "what is often described as a natural tendency of Semitic religion toward ethical monotheism is in the main nothing more than a consequence of the alliance of religion with monarchy" "Rel.

The Hebrews alone of all the Semitic peoples reached the stage of pure monotheism, through the teachings of their prophets; however, it required centuries of development before every trace of idolatry disappeared even from among them, and before they stood forth as a "unique people on earth," worshipers of the one God and of Him alone.

  1. Yet within this atmosphere, Abram answers the call of God and it is because of this that he accepts and realises the reality of there being only one true God. The important thing to learn here is the uniqueness of the Covenant relationship between God and Abraham.
  2. In the post-exilic psalms and such other portions of the Bible as were produced during the second commonwealth—Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Daniel—the belief in the one God and in Him alone is positively assured. The modern view of the development of religious thought in Israel is that the conception of pure monotheism was reached through three channels—through the recognition of God in nature and in history, and through the belief in the ethical character or holiness of God.
  3. The blessings of God are passed on from one generation to another. According to the Bible, Abraham is humanity's last chance to establish a relationship with God.
  4. They acknowledge that Abraham was the first person to recognise and worship the one God. Many scholars believe these stories were written to explain to people why the world is like it is and why humans are like they are.
  5. And so, monotheism was born. The spread of Christianity with its doctrine of the divinity of its founder called forth a number of expressions from the Jewish sages touching the subject of the absolute unity of God; thus a commentary on the first commandment reads, "A king of flesh and blood has a father and a brother; but God says, 'With Me it is not so; "I am the first" because I have no father, and "I am the last" because I have no brother; and "besides me there is no God," because I have no son'" Ex.

Rise of the Belief. In Hebrew tradition the origin of the belief in the one God is connected with the religious awakening of the patriarch Abraham. Though the tradition contains without doubt the kernel of the truth, modern criticism holds that the Hebrew tribes were brought to a clear realization of the difference between their God and the gods of the surrounding nations through the work and teachings of Moses.

The acceptance of the pure monotheistic belief by the whole people was a slow process at best; how slow, many statements in the historical and prophetical books of the Bible prove amply. Throughout the period of the first commonwealth there was constant reversion to idolatry on the part of the people comp.

Forgetful of their obligation to worship Yhwh and Him alone, the people followed after the "ba'alim"; the "bamot" and the "asherot" dotted the land; frequently, too, the Israelites confounded the worship of Yhwh Monolatry. In the development of religious belief in Israel there are indications of a growth through various stages before the conception of absolute uncompromising monotheism was reached. Down to the eighth-century prophets, the religionof the people was monolatrous rather than monotheistic; they considered Yhwh to be the one God and their God, but not the one and only God.

He was not yet the God of all the nations and of the universe.

MONOTHEISM:

The existence of other gods was not definitively denied; even the second commandment does not disclaim the existence of other gods; it merely forbids Israel to bow down to them or serve them comp. There was, in truth there could be, no other God in Israel; but this, it is held, did not affect the reality of the gods of other nations; though, in comparison with the might and a look at monotheism in the hebrew history of Yhwhthey were weak and powerless.

A very early poem has the words, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? In a later psalm there is a reminiscence of this early state of thought—"there is none like unto thee among the gods" Ps. As among other Semitic peoples Smith, l. Thus when David was compelled by his enemies to flee he complained bitterly: The triple relationship of God, people, and land is forcibly expressed in as late a passage as the prayer of the Deuteronomist, "Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us" Deut.

In Israel, then, and in Israel's land Yhwh was sole God. Even this preparatory stage to universal monotheism was not reached until centuries after the occupation of the land; there was a syncretism of religious cults; the people were tolerant of the local a look at monotheism in the hebrew history Jeroboam was able to set up the calf-gods at Dan and Bethel without arousing a great outcry. Yhwh alone in the land, the land Yhwh's alone, the worship of no other god to be tolerated in the land—this was the program of the zealous prophet Elijah, and in his activity there was a decided step forward to the recognition of Yhwh alone as the God of Israel.

For Elijah it was Yhwh only or nothing; "How long halt ye between two opinions? Monolatry reaches its supreme expression in Elijah: From this attitude of Elijah it was but a step to pure monotheism; the belief is found in full flower in the speeches of the great eighth-century prophets; the genius of Amos and his successors carried the conception of the "oneness" of Yhwh to its uttermost limit, although even in their time the people did not reach this height of thought; it was only after the return from the Babylonian exile that the monotheistic belief was a positive possession of the people as well as of the great spirits to whom the truth was first vouchsafed.

The modern view of the development of religious thought in Israel is that the conception of pure monotheism was reached through three channels—through the recognition of God in nature and in history, and through the belief in the ethical character or holiness of God.

When Yhwh was recognized as the Creator of heaven and earth and all that in them is comp. The great conceptions of the Prophets that Yhwh punishes wrong-doing not only in Israel but in other nations Amos i.

But the conception of the holiness of Yhwh Isa. As long as Yhwh was looked upon as only the national God, it was a question of the supremacy of the strongest as between Him and the national gods of other peoples.

But when God was presented primarily in His ethical character and worshiped as the God of holiness, there was no longer any measure of comparison. If Yhwh was the holy God, then the other gods were not.

The doctrine of absolute monotheism is preached in the most emphatic manner by Jeremiah x.

  1. At the beginning of Genesis chapter 12, God asked Abram to leave his home and country and he makes Abram three promises. Yhwh , though in a peculiar sense the God of Israel, is still the God of all the world.
  2. They will have to leave their homeland and they don't even know who this God is!
  3. This is a polytheistic age, an age when people believed in and worshipped many gods. There are no signs or miracles; he has no scriptures or traditions on which to draw, so Abram has to place his trust in this nameless God.
  4. A similar expression is used in explanation of Ecclus. They acknowledge that Abraham was the first person to recognise and worship the one God.

Yhwhthough in a peculiar sense the God of Israel, is still the God of all the world. This prophet's standpoint is uncompromising: In the post-exilic psalms and such other portions of the Bible as were produced during the second commonwealth—Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Daniel—the belief in the one God and in Him alone is positively assured. Not only in Palestine was monotheism now the sure possession of the Jewish people, but it may be said that the Judaism of the Diaspora is conscious of itself as the bearer of the monotheistic doctrine and as being therein distinguished from all its surroundings comp.

In proof of this latter statement many passages can be cited from the apocryphal and the pseudepigraphical writings. The spread of Christianity with its doctrine of the divinity of its founder called forth a number of expressions from the Jewish sages touching the subject of the absolute unity of God; thus a commentary on the first commandment reads, "A king of flesh and blood has a father and a brother; but God says, 'With Me it is not so; "I am the first" because I have no father, and "I am the last" because I have no brother; and "besides me there is no God," because I have no son'" Ex.

A similar expression is used in explanation of Ecclus.

  • As a result of his obedience, God changes his name to Abraham, meaning 'father of the people';
  • As among other Semitic peoples Smith, l;
  • There are no signs or miracles; he has no scriptures or traditions on which to draw, so Abram has to place his trust in this nameless God.

There can be little doubt that such a saying as "Whoever draws out the pronunciation of the word 'one' [in the Shema'], his days and years will be lengthened" is of similar import Ber.

As long as a man refused allegiance to other gods he was looked upon as a Jew; "whoever denies the existence of other gods is called a Jew" Meg. The unity of God was a revealed truth for the Jew; there was no need of proofs to establish it; it was the leading tenet of the faith; nor is any attempt at such proof found until the time of the medieval Jewish philosophers, who, in building up their systems of religious philosophy, devoted considerable space to the consideration of the attributes of God, especially of His unity.

  • The acceptance of the pure monotheistic belief by the whole people was a slow process at best; how slow, many statements in the historical and prophetical books of the Bible prove amply;
  • A very early poem has the words, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?
  • There was, in truth there could be, no other God in Israel; but this, it is held, did not affect the reality of the gods of other nations; though, in comparison with the might and glory of Yhwh , they were weak and powerless;
  • In the Jewish tradition called Midrash a Hebrew word which means 'interpretation' and relates to the way readings or biblical verses are understood , there are a number of stories about Abraham smashing his father's idols when he realises that there can be only one God of heaven and earth.

Proofs for the unity are given at length by Saadia "Emunot we-De'ot," i. The belief in the unity was formulated by Maimonides as the second of the thirteen articles of the faith known as the Maimonidean Creed: His unity is unending".

  • Abraham's life Map of the locations in Abraham's story The story of Abraham and his descendents is found in the book of Genesis;
  • Abraham's life Map of the locations in Abraham's story The story of Abraham and his descendents is found in the book of Genesis;
  • I will make you a great nation And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you, And whoever curses you I will curse; And all the peoples of the earth Will be blessed through you Genesis 12:

The profession of the unity is the climax of the devotion of the greatest of the holy days, the Day of Atonement. At death it is the last word to fall from the Jew's lips and from the lips of the bystanders. This has been Judaism's great contribution to the religious thought of mankind, and still constitutes the burden of its Messianic ideal, the coming of the day when all over the world "God shall be One and His name One" comp.