Judaism is the world's oldest monotheistic religion, with origins dating back to 2000 BC. It is based on belief in a single God and is a set of beliefs, ethical values, and attitudes derived from the customs and traditions of the Jewish people. Jews see Judaism as an expression of the covenant that God has made with them as a chosen people. Christianity and Islam have their roots in this religion.
This God made an everlasting covenant with the people of Israel, to whom he promised protection and help in exchange for obedience to the laws he established.
Abrahamic religions are religions that have their roots in the ancient accounts of the Jewish holy book, the Torah, about Abraham, the biblical patriarch.
An ethnic religion is a system of beliefs held by a particular ethnic group, developed within that group, and closely related to its traditions, culture, and the specifics of the area it inhabits.
Judaism evolved from Biblical Judaism (Yahwism), which took shape from the second century BC until 70 AD, when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. It then underwent a profound reorientation, after which it became the national religion of the Jews.
The Hebrews, recognizing Abraham as their ancestor, preserved the tradition of his journey from Mesopotamian Ur to Canaan and the covenant he made with God, who promised him many descendants and dominion over the land of Canaan. Circumcision became the symbol of this covenant.
Son of Isaac, grandson of Jacob (also known as Israel), and twelve great-grandsons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin), from whom the Twelve Tribes of Israel would be descended.
The account also speaks of the wilderness journey, the establishment of the priesthood (from the sons of Levi - the Levites), and the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua. It also speaks of the establishment of a unified Israelite monarchy.
During the reign of the second king, David, the Israelites conquered Jerusalem and established it as their national and religious capital.
Biblical Judaism developed around the 10th century BC, when Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem and placed the Ark of the Covenant there. The prophets played an important role in the continuation of Judaism, exhorting the Israelites to remain faithful to the covenant they had made with God.
Thanks to the prophets and the priests who preserved the tradition, the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians and the Babylonian captivity did not lead to the decline of Judaism, but to its transformation into a religion that was practiced regardless of the territory in which its followers lived.
Its followers fulfilled religious obligations such as circumcision, resting on the seventh day of the week or Sabbath, and observing strict dietary and ritual purity. They also held out hope for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel.
These groups were: Maccabees, and later Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Zelots, and others. There was also the final codification of the first two parts of the Hebrew Bible - the Torah and the historical and prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others). In addition to the written Torah, there was also its interpretation and development, called the Oral Torah - according to Jewish tradition, the two Torahs are one and come from Moses.
The codification of the oral tradition came through the writing down of the Mishnah (the oldest part of the Talmud).
The destruction of the Temple caused the dispersion of the Jews (Jewish Diaspora - Galut). Rabbis (who replaced the priests, the former "scribes"), experts and teachers of the Torah, established the canon of the Hebrew Bible and the rules of Judaism without the Temple.
Judaism in the Talmudic form was accepted as valid by virtually all Jews (the Talmud was not recognized by the Karaites). Rabbinic Judaism became the basis for all later branches of Judaism.
The rationalist approach is represented by Moses ben Maimon's The Guide for the Perplexed - a synthesis of Jewish thought and Aristotle's philosophy. Judaism's most important mystical work is the Sefer Jecira - an ancient Jewish treatise on the creation of the world that has been an inspiration to Jewish mystics.
Jewish mystics include Isaac Luria, who lived in the 16th century, and the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, in the 18th century. Messianic hopes were reflected in the Sabbatarian and Frankist movements, derived from the names of the "messiahs" Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank (about whom Olga Tokarczuk wrote "The Books of Jacob").
These "messiahs", however, made religious conversions, the former to Islam, the latter to Christianity.
These were the inhabitants of various Middle Eastern countries conquered or resettled by Neo-Assyrian Empire (an ancient Semitic state), including Babylonia. The non-Jewish settlers embraced Judaism, and after mingling with the Jews who remained in the area, they gave rise to a new ethnic group - the Samaritans.
Among the non-Jewish peoples who adhered to Judaism were the Arabs, who, until the advent of Muhammad, followed native cults, Christianity, and Judaism. The follower of Judaism was originally Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah. Judaism was also widely practiced in Ethiopia. Another group of adherents of Judaism are some of the Iranian-speaking Tatars living in the Caucasus, known as Mountain Jews.
Jewish law regulates the lives of its adherents in great detail. It is based on the Torah, which is interpreted in the Halachic portion of the Talmud.
Halacha deals with cultic and liturgical regulations, food regulations (kosher), and various aspects of daily life that apply to Orthodox Jews. Traditionally, there are said to be 613 commandments (mitzvot), consisting of 248 commandments and 365 prohibitions.
It is part of all Jewish communal prayers. It is a liturgical formula in Aramaic that praises God's name, expresses submission to His will, and calls for the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. Kaddish is often mistakenly referred to as a prayer for the dead.
It is a six-pointed star (hexagram) composed of two overlapping isosceles triangles (usually equilateral) that are rotated relative to each other.
The vertices of the Star of David, in the case of equilateral triangles, lie on a circle at points corresponding to the even hours on a clock face. In Jewish esoteric teachings, it is known by the traditional name of seal of Solomon.
It is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in Jewish religious art. It is considered a symbol of Judaism, and its image was used in the coat of arms of the State of Israel.
In Jewish tradition, the menorah was a sacred, golden, seven-branched candelabra placed in the First Tabernacle (Moses' tabernacle, the portable temple of the ancient Israelites) and later used in the Jerusalem Temple.
Wearing a kippah is not a requirement of the Torah, is not derived from the Bible or Talmud, and is a custom that originated in Middle Eastern culture, where a covered head is a sign of respect.
Wearing a yarmulke is absolutely required during prayer and Torah study.