In 587 BCE the Temple and city of Jerusalem were destroyed and the leading citizens were taken into exile as captives. Instead, they developed the idea that their God had not been defeated, but planned the exile for their own long-term good, and remained with them. They could maintain their beliefs and practices in their own homes and small communities, even though most people and all the people in charge had different beliefs http://www.rksloans.com/title-loans-ri/ and practices. The might of the victorious civilization did not amount to the correctness of their ideas and behaviors. This may seem obvious today, but it was a radical innovation that allowed a people to transition from a nation to a religion . Generally, we use the term “Israel” to refer to the phase when they existed as a politically sovereign nation, and the term “Judaism” to refer to a religion or people. The point is that it is the same people and the same tradition, transformed but not broken. Across Jewish history there were many occasions similar to the Babylonian Exile in that the Jewish people developed a geographic and leadership center, but the center was lost or destroyed, and the people lived on.
The Jewish people claim descent from the Israelites both biologically and spiritually . Although it is theoretically possible to convert, the basic definition of a Jew today is someone born of a Jewish mother (paternity tends not to be as certain or inalienable as maternity). There are certain beliefs and practices that are expected, but beliefs and practices do not define being a Jew the way they generally do for other religions.
Christians also claim descent from Israel, but it is spiritual and not biological . It can be articulated in different ways, but the core Christian claim is that God once had a relationship with only one nation, and later made it possible for any and all nations to enter into a relationship with God, only now the condition was belief in God’s son Jesus, rather than birth descended from Jacob.
We call this the Babylonian Exile
Islam also recognizes the biblical Israelites as part of salvation history . The prophets of Israel are revered as true and holy prophets who t. The seal of the prophets of Islam, Muhammad, is considered descended from Abraham, the same family as Israel. Israel had its own prophets, but the prophet Muhammad is for all nations.
Most of what we know about the Israelites we know from the Jewish Bible . Even if we do not assume that the Bible is revealed by God or that its claims are true, reason alone establishes that it is a record of the literature and ideas of an ancient civilization. It tells us what questions they asked, and what meanings they found in their quests. It tells us how they viewed history, some of which can be confirmed by external evidence. The Bible was edited and interpreted for a long time, but careful examination of it tells us much about the Israelites.
They could have given up and assimilated to the culture that defeated them and now constituted the majority of people around them
Figure 2. Archaeologist MiYoung Im digging away dirt around a horned altar in the ancient Philistine city of Gath. Source Aren Maeir, gath.wordpress.
Most of what we know about the ancient context of the Bible we know from archaeology. Archaeology is the study of or discourse about ancient things. For the most part, it means digging up old objects (called artifacts). Dirt accumulates over time, so generally the further an archaeologist digs down the further back in time the artifacts come from. Being buried in dirt tends to preserve “hard” objects, although we are missing anything soft. We can read very ancient writings that were written on stone or clay, and under the right conditions fairly ancient writings on leather or papyrus. People would also write on wax tablets, but those do not last. We can see the outlines of their buildings, their pottery, their statues, their metal tools and weapons. We can learn about their lives and diets from their skeletons. Taken together, we can know many things about the ancient world by piecing together various hints from their literary and physical artifacts.