Prof. Jae Jerkins
Jewish Identity: Covenant
• There is One, indivisible God (cf. )
• Jewish Concept of God: , not a person in history
• "You shall have besides Me." ()
• The Torah was given to the Jewish People for the sake of all mankind
• The people of Israel have and are His people
Believing vs Belonging
• Christians and Muslims can belong to any tribe
and are part of their religion so long as they “believe”
• Jews can believe all kinds of things but must “belong” to the Jewish People
• Like American citizenship, you are Jewish either by birth or by legal application
• Jewish by conversion: one can (bet din)
• Belonging to the Jewish people ultimately means
• "Your people shall be my people and your God my God." ()
The Land of Israel
• Israel has enjoyed self-rule 4 times, and has never been another country
• capital (Jerusalem) • currency (shekel) • ind. judiciary (sanhedrin)
• 1208 BCE: earliest evideence of the Land of ""
• 870 BCE: earliest evidence of the "" in Israel
Jews as Tribe (Judah, the Sons of Jacob)
• 720 BCE: Assyrians destroy Northern Kingdom of Israel (“Ten Lost Tribes”)
• 587 BCE: Babylonian Exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah
• 538 BCE: the remaining Israelite tribes return from Exile to Judah
• Benjamin (assimilated), , and Levi (priestly line)
• The remaining Hebrews of Judah are called "Jews"
Jewish History: Persia & Greece
The Persians & the (Second) Temple | 538 - 332 BCE
• Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, defeats the Babylonians
• King Cyrus grants the freedom to
• King Cyrus and the Persians also pay for the Second Temple to be built
• The many Jewish stories collected in Exile now make up the Torah, the chief scripture of the Jewish people,
The Greeks & Western Colonialism | 332 - 63 BCE
• After Alexander the Great, Israel faces (Greek Culture)
• In Egypt, the Hebrew Bible is trans. into Greek – this is called the
• leads a against the 'godless' Greeks
• The 'Rededication' () of the defiled Jewish Temple is celebrated
Jewish Identity: Land & Religion
Israel under Occupation (note: Jews never left the Land of Israel)
🇮🇱 Jerusalem • Babylon, 700mi (586 BCE) • Persian Babylon (538 BCE)
• Greeks, 1550mi (198 BCE) 🇮🇱 Jerusalem • Rome, 1400mi (37 BCE)
🇮🇱 Jerusalem • Rome (136) • Constantinople, 700mi (390) • Baghdad (636)
• Crusader Rome (1099) • Cairo, 300mi (1187) • Mamluk Cairo (1260)
• Istanbul, 700mi (1517) • WWI London, 2200mi (1920) 🇮🇱 Jerusalem (1948)
Jews as a Nation-State (Zionism)
• 1648: the general order of the world is maintained via laws of "nations"
• 1700s: Jewish culture flourishes in the of Ottoman Palestine
• 1800s: Jews in Israel from Ottoman land owners
• Zionism is the modern claim that the Jewish people share in the human right to national self–determination in their ancestral homeland
Jews as Religion (cf. Christians & Aryans)
• 1769: is the first to self-identify practicing “”
• Mendelssohn: Judaism is compatible with German Enlightenment values
• "Enlightened" Germans reconcieve of Jews as being a sub-human "race"
• 1879: Judenhass is replaced with the more sciencey "Antisemitism"
Jewish History: Rome & Christians
Roman Judea | 63 BCE - 66 CE
• Herod the Great the Jewish Temple to rival Rome itself
• Romans tax Israel heavily, occupying the land at the Persian border
• Mindful of their victory against the Greeks, several political movements begin
• Essenes (far-right): Spiritual recluses who reject the Temple and politics
• Sadducees (center-right): conservatives control the Temple
• Pharisees (center-left): Hellenized liberal egalitarians;
• Messianics (leftist): /Hellenized Jews seeking a Messiah
• Zealots (far-left): ‘Freedom Fighters’ who aim to
Destruction of the Temple in Israel
66: anti–taxation protests against Roman citizens precipitated plunder of Temple
• Jewish rebel factions unite and take control of Jerusalem
70: Titus commits Roman troops to a of Jerusalem
• This siege ends in the Destruction of the Temple
• Only (a retaining wall) of the Temple remains
• It is the holiest site in the world for Jews
132: The Bar Kokhba Revolt: 580,000 Jews are killed. Land renamed "Philistina"
136: The Temple Mount is covered by a monument to Zeus/Jupiter
Roman-Christian Antisemitism | 313 - 380
306: Jews cannot eat with, make deals with, or intermarry with Christians
313: Edict of Milan - Roman law officially tolerates Christianity
325: the Roman authority requires all Christians to agree on one orthodoxy
• Easter no longer connected to Passover
380: - all Roman citizens must profess Nicene Christianity
• Jews have no legal rights in Europe — now legally hunted as "outlaws"
Jewish Identity: Messiah
Simon bar Kochba: Messiah?
• Simon leads a great revolt against the Roman occupation
• hailed as the Messiah (132 CE)
• Romans crush the Israelites, rename their colony "Philistina" (Palestine)
Why wasn't bar Kochba the Messiah?
• Bar Kochba dies before all obligations are met, his title of Messiah is revoked
• All Jews didn't with their
• Romans didn't and
• didn't break out. There are
So, was Jesus the Messiah?
• Jews: No. Jesus did not fulfill the prophetic list of the Messianic Age
• Christians: Yes, but Jesus will when he comes back (ie. the Second Coming)
• Jews: There's not a 'Messiah,' 'Son of God,' or 'Second Coming' in the Bible
• Christians: No, but we have those things in the New Testament
Jews & the Messianic Age
• What Jews have sought for centuries is not one person (ie. a "savior") to fix things but instead a Messianic Age for which we are all responsible to create
Jewish History: Christian Antisemitism
Crusades, Passion Plays, & Witches
• 1095: The Crusades -
• 1290: from England, 1394: France, 1421: Austria, etc.
• stoke hatred among Christians against Jews
• 1492: After Christian take over of , they face Spanish Inquisition
• : outcast widow, dark clothes, pointy hat, ,
• Christian narrative: A of Witches meet in secret ,
led by the Devil, to manipulate Christians. "Abracadabra!"
The Jewish Question
• As modern "nation-states" (1648) come to prominence, the idea of a national identity takes hold. Jews are again set apart as the "Other" who don't belong.
• 1938: Hitler’s leadership of Germany results in
• America and other countries and pass antisemitic laws
• "Travel Visas" invented in 1930s to keep Jews out of America
• Before this, there weren't "illegal immigrants" at Ellis Island
• The Final Solution to the “Jewish Question”
1945: The are liberated by the Allied forces
• Most European Jews have nowhere to return
• Many seek a new life with fellow Jews in the Land of Israel
• is observed in the State of Israel
Jewish Ethics: The Face of the Other
Adam & Creation
• The world is not made out of the violence of Titans but the words of God
• The is the Sabbath (rest/freedom), the final day of the week
• Adam is made in the . All of humanity is holy. Life is sacred.
Eve: We are all Ben-Adam
• God makes Eve from Adam — we are all "sons of Adam" (lit. humanity)
• We encounter God when we meet the
• But how do we encounter that Face?
• Cain kills and for him. God demands justice.
• You are your brother's keeper
• Torah: "You shall not oppress the stranger..." (Exo. 23:9)
• Prophets: "You shall allot inheritance for the stranger..." (Ezek. 47:22-23)
• Writings: "let your toil enrich the house of the other..." (Prov. 5:10)
• Gospels: "I was hungry and you gave me food..." (Matt. 25:35)
• Qur'an: "do good to... orphans, those in need... to strangers..." (al Nisa 4:36)
Jewish Ethics: Israel "Struggles"
The Struggle of the Patriarchs
• Noah by building an Ark while the rest of humanity dies
• Father Abraham binds his descendents to
• God threatens to destroy Sodom, to save the good ones
• Jacob "" and wins, thereafter God renames him "Israel"
Moses & the Exodus
• Moses is called by God to command Pharaoh: ""
• Moses and Israel recieve the at Mount Sinai
• Moses leads the 12 Tribes from Egypt to the
• On the way, the people fall back to idol worship. God threatens to destroy them, but — the righteous and the unrighteous
Jewish Ethics: Mitzvot
Ethics from the Talmud |
Dispute between two rabbinic sages breaks out
R. Eliezer says if he’s right, may the carob tree move 100 cubits (it does)
R. Eliezer says if he’s right, may the aqueduct flow backwards (it does)
R. Eliezer says if he’s right, may the walls of the room collapse (begin to)
R. Joshua argues, “what are your qualifications to intervene?”
God gave the Law at Mt. Sinai, but left it to Jews to interpret
The walls stopped, but did not straighten out, in deference to both rabbis
God responds, “my children have triumphed over me!”
Halakha (The Path or "Jewish Law")
• Jews stay connected (tzava) with God by performing good deeds (613 mitzvot)
• Mitzvot cover everything from war to what is
• Mitzvot — chiefly Repentance, Prayer, and Charity — repair our world
• Jews are called by God to be righteous and “”
• Tikkun Olam: Jews are called to "Repair the World"