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The Jews: A History by John Efron

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By John Efron

The Jews: A History, second edition, explores the spiritual, cultural, social, and fiscal variety of the Jewish humans and their religion. the most recent version comprises new learn and contains a broader spectrum of individuals - moms, young ones, employees, scholars, artists, and radicals - whose views drastically extend the tale of Jewish existence.

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Example text

After the biblical period, its descendants, the Jews, would find themselves ruled by other foreigners: Persians, Greeks, Romans, Muslims, and others. Biblical texts such as Jeremiah proved an important asset in coming to terms with foreign domination, endorsing the decision to submit to foreign rule as a religiously acceptable one and developing ways for Judah to continue its relationship with God outside of Canaan. The Early History of God Both the Bible and extrabiblical evidence show that religious life in Israel and Judah, while it had some distinguishing features, resembled that of surrounding cultures.

What we call religion in this context was largely about sustaining a relationship with these gods despite the barriers that separated them from humans—seeking their favor and protection, inducing them into revealing themselves, understanding their intentions, caring for their needs, avoiding their anger, seeking their forgiveness. One of the major institutions of ancient Near Eastern culture, the temple, was designed as a setting for divine–human interaction, and the stories that we now think of as myths were attempts to understand the gods and their relationship to humans.

Prophetic texts like the book of Amos, reflecting the situation in Israel in the mid-eighth century BCE, protest against the selfindulgence of the rich and their exploitation of the poor, or as Amos might have put it, of “buying the needy for a pair of sandals” (Amos 8:6). By the time the monarchy came to an end in Israel in the eighth century BCE, and in Judah in the sixth century BCE, there may have been subjects happy to see it go. Indeed, the editor who produced the account of the monarchy now found in the Bible, the narrative that runs from the book of Joshua through 2 Kings known by scholars as the Deuteronomistic History, was himself a sharp critic of the monarchy, blaming the misfortunes of his people on the wickedness of its kings and suggesting through his account that Israel should never have sought a king to begin with.

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