Monday, October 15, 2007

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewish History and Culture, Part II

Book report, continued.  So far, it's more history.  

We learn a little more about the Creation of Earth, and how the choices that God made while he did that tell us about how we should live.
Some favored tidbits from this section:
"Why was one man created first, rather than many?  So that no person in the course of history would be able to say to anyone else, 'my ancestry is greater than yours'."
The book also points out that God tends to improve on his prior we can infer that when God made man, it was good, but when he made woman, that was a little better.

Next comes some more about Abraham, the man who discovered monotheism.  The book recounts some stories from Jewish tradition about how Abraham came to the conclusion that idols were, well, idle, and that a multitude of gods just created supernatural conflict, but that there had to be something greater, because nothing comes from nothingness.  He determined that there had to be one God.

Our next Jewish hero is Moses.  He was born in Egypt, at a time when pharoh wanted all firstborn Hebrew boys to be killed.  His mom put him into an ark, and with a prayer, set him afloat on the Nile.  Pharoh's daughter found him, and adopted him as her own.  He was, therefore, not raised with the Hebrew traditions.  Eventually, he finds out his real background, kills an Egyptian, and flees Egypt.  He then learns the traditions, and is chosen by God to free the Hebrews from Egypt.  He does, and they wander the desert for 40 years.  This was a punishment, because it really only took about 2 weeks to get from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Moses wasn't allowed to enter the Promised Land, due to some sin he committed.  Instead, he was allowed to see it from a nearby mountain peak, and then God himself took Moses' soul and buried his body in an undisclosed location (so as to avoid pilgrimages and shrines).

After Moses came Joshua.  He fought the battle of Jericho.  Moses chose Joshua as his successor, which is interesting, since Joshua was not related to him in any way, and Moses had 2 sons who would have made more traditional choices.

Next comes the period of the Judges, to be continued in Part III.

No comments: