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Archive for the ‘judaism’ Category

250px-Decalogue_parchment_by_Jekuthiel_Sofer_1768.jpgThe Ten Commandments (1200 BC), also called the Decalogue, are the first ten laws given by God to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai. More than 600 other laws followed, but these first ten were written into stone and are seen as the heart of the moral law for both Christians and Jews.

In my endless passion for top tens, here are the Ten Commandments as Augustine knew them (I use his numbering and a translation of the Old Testament that he knew, the Septuagint):

  1. I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods beside me. Thou shalt not make to thyself an idol, nor likeness of anything, whatever things are in the heaven above, and whatever are in the earth beneath, and whatever are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them; for I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, recompensing the sins of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation to them that hate me, and bestowing mercy on them that love me to thousands of them, and on them that keep my commandments.
  2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord thy God will not acquit him that takes his name in vain.
  3. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt labour, and shalt perform all thy work. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; on it thou shalt do no work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy servant nor thy maidservant, thine ox nor thine ass, nor any cattle of thine, nor the stranger that sojourns with thee. For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, and the sea and all things in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
  4. Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the good land, which the Lord thy God gives to thee.
  5. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  6. Thou shalt not steal.
  7. Thou shalt not kill.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife;
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; nor his field, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor whatever belongs to thy neighbour.

Jesus Christ put all this more simply as two commandments (see Matthew 22:37-40):

  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.
  2. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The first one covers one’s duty to God, the first three commandments.

The second one, also known as the Golden Rule, covers one’s duty to man, the other seven commandments.

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God

The God of Abraham (by -1363) is worshipped by half of mankind: he is the god of the Jews, Christians and Muslims; he is the god of the Bible and the Koran.

He first appears in Egyptian records by -1363 as YHW. He is also known as YHWH, Yahweh, Jehovah, Elah, Allah, the Lord, the Holy Trinity, God Almighty and the Demiurge. I will call him by his common English name, God.

Jews, Christians and Muslims say he is the only god, the one who created the world. Other gods are demons or made up.

God talks to us through prophets, angels, holy books and prayer. He tells us what is right and wrong. At the end of the world on Judgement Day he will judge us, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is beyond human thought and word.

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same god? Historically, yes. Theologically, it depends who you ask.

Christians say that God has three Persons: he is one God yet somehow he is also God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. This is called the Holy Trinity. They see Jesus Christ as God made flesh.

Gnostics call him the Demiurge, which means Creator. But they mean that in a bad way: they see this world as a prison of matter that our spirits have fallen into. He is hardly God Almighty.

Even though he was the god of a people with an unhappy history, he has conquered the gods of the Roman Empire, the gods of the  Greek philosophers, the 360 gods of Mecca, the gods of the Aztecs and countless others.

Three things set him apart from other gods:

  1. Like a wife, he is jealous. He wants us to worship him alone. Even though he started out as a god of the Jews, a people who never built an empire, he says he is god of all men, of the whole universe! Other gods are happy being the god of rain or war or whatever and sharing men’s worship with other gods. Not this one.
  2. Like a hard father, he is severely moral. Unlike other gods he does not use his power to do whatever he wishes. He always acts justly and morally and demands the same of us. But with justice comes mercy:
  3. Like a friend, he listens to us and shows mercy. He is not some nameplate in the sky, he is the “living God”. He hears us and cares about us. But like a good father he will punish us out of love and yet pardon us when that is wisest.

Because he is so wise, he is often pictured as an old man with a long white beard, as Michelangelo did in the Sistine Chapel (pictured above). But of course he is beyond anything we can picture. Muslims and Jews and some Christians say it is wrong to even try to make a picture of him.

– Abagond, 2007, 2015.

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Judaism

Judaism (1200 BC – ) is the religion of the Jews, delivered from God through Moses over three thousand years ago. Not all Jews believe in it, but it is the religion that has set them apart as a separate people.

The Jewish faith does not have many believers – fewer than one person in 400 – but half the world believes in a religion that grew out of it. So it is important to understand no matter who you are or what you believe.

The holy book of Judaism is the Torah. Jews worship on the Sabbath in a synagogue and their ministers are called rabbis. The Sabbath goes from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Believing Jews do not work on the Sabbath, do not eat certain things, like pork, and circumcise their boys soon after birth.

The Torah is made up of the the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Jewish understanding of these books is given in the Talmud, the comments and teachings on the Torah by rabbis down through the ages.

Jews regard the other books of what Protestants call the Old Testament – books like Psalms, Isaiah and Job – as holy, but they are read mainly to understand the Torah.

The heart of Jewish moral teaching is the Ten Commandments of Moses.

Jews believe in one God and many of the same things as Christians and Muslims:

  • God:
    • is the only one and true god.
    • knows everything – even the future and what you will do. He knows what you are thinking. He cannot be fooled.
    • can do anything
    • created the world and all that is in it as something separate from himself.
    • is everywhere – but not as a world soul (pantheism)
    • created time itself – so there is no such thing as “before God”. He lives beyond time: he is eternal.
    • is beyond the imagination or words of man.
    • loves and cares about every single person – even those who turn against him. That means our prayers matter to him. Like a good parent, he will gives us not what we want but what we need.
    • has taught us what do through holy men called prophets. Their words have been put down in holy books. The differences between Jews, Christians and Muslims come largely from which books and which prophets they follow or do not follow.
  • Between God and man are the angels. Satan was an angel who turned against God. The angels who followed him became demons. Satan is always trying to get us to turn against God.
  • The Messiah will come to bring world peace and justice.
  • After the Messiah comes the Judgement Day. God will raise the dead and then judge each person according to his actions, good and evil. The good will go to heaven to be with God to be rewarded, the evil will go to hell to be with Satan to be punished.

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