Ancient Near Eastern Influence on Judaism

Topics: Canaan, God, Israelites Pages: 6 (1876 words) Published: January 24, 2009
I. Identify the Ancient Hebrew people and their religious belief system

II. Brief Overview of Ancient Near Eastern Religion.

III. Consequences of Ancient Near Eastern influence on the Hebrew people.

IV. Conclusion. 

I. Identify the Ancient Hebrews and their religious belief system:
The Ancient Hebrew people had their origins in Mesopotamia and Egypt. As a result they were strongly influenced by these not so foreign religious practices. It is because of this influence that we find God’s judgment and wrath being poured out on His chosen people time and time again. We will discuss some of the specifics later. First I would like to identify who the Ancient Hebrews were in the Ancient Near East, and what their belief system consisted of. As I began the initial research of this paper I first encountered an obstacle. This obstacle was identifying the Hebrew people among the different people groups located in and around Mesopotamia and Egypt. After much fruitless searching and many different theories and hypothesis, I have come to the conclusion that we simply have no way of knowing anything about the Hebrew people until we are introduced to Abraham in the Bible. The sole evidence for the existence of Abraham comes from the Hebrew narrative, but many Old Testament scholars now recognize him for his place in the beginnings of Hebrew History. It was interesting to discover that not all Semitic speaking people are of Hebrew descent. The Semitic speaking peoples of the ancient near east were descendants of Shem.The other people groups were descendants of Noah through his other two sons Ham and Japheth. How and why all the different cultures and languages of Mesopotamia and the world derive from one man Noah, requires exhaustive research that is not afforded in this research paper. However I do find it necessary to mention that through the research of this paper I have a new perspective on race. This new perspective is there is no such thing as different races. There are many different cultures, languages, and skin colors found throughout the world, but all humans descend from one source. Anyway, back to Abraham and the ancient Hebrew people. Here is a brief overview of what I have learned from the Biblical account. We learn that God called Abraham and promised that He would make a great nation out of His seed. He also tells Abraham to go to the land of Canaan which God had promised to Him and His descendants. He has a son named Isaac, who in turn has a son named Jacob. Jacob has 12 sons and one of these is named Joseph. Joseph is sold by His brothers into Egyptian slavery by his brothers. In his captivity in Egypt God shows him favor and causes Him to be appointed to positions of high authority over Egypt. There is a great famine in the land and his father Jacob and eleven brothers are forced to come to Egypt for food. They remain in Egypt and multiply and prosper greatly. After Joseph dies and a Pharaoh who was not familiar with Joseph comes to power, the Hebrew people are taken as captives. For this paper the important facts about this is to understand that while in Egyptian bondage(approx. 400-430 years), the Hebrew people adopted many of the Egyptians religious practices. The belief system and religious practices of Mesopotamia and Egypt were polytheistic in nature and will be discussed in more detail later. The difference in the Hebrew religion was that of One all Powerful Sovereign Creator God. Abraham and the Hebrew descendants were the first people group in Mesopotamia to claim a Monotheistic God. However because they originate from Mesopotamia and were influenced so heavily by polytheistic beliefs of the Ancient Near East, we find that Gods chosen people struggle with their faith and loyalty to Him and their attraction to other gods. To what extent and how far reaching this influence goes into the future History of Gods people will be discussed in more detail later. First I would...

Bibliography: Schultz, Samuel J. The Old Testament Speaks: Fifth Edition (HarperCollins Publisher, NY), 30.
Vriezen, TH. C. The Religion of Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press 1967), 12, 13.
Ringgren, Helmer. Israelite Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), 67
Wood, Leon. A Survey of Israel’s History (Michigan, Zondervan Publishing), 411
Lods, Adolphe The Prophets And The Rise Of Judaism (London: Routledge & Kegan)
Albright, William F. YAHWEH AND THE GODS OF CANAAN (NY Doubleday & Company, 1965)
Meek, Theophile J. Hebrew Origins (NY, Harper & Brothers, 1960)
Renckens, Henry THE RELIGION OF ISRAEL (NY Sheed & Ward, 1965)
New American Standard Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG publishers, 1995)
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