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Title: Mesopotamia%20and%20Judaism%20Theme:%20Order%20Through%20Law

Mesopotamia and Judaism Theme Order Through Law
  • Lsn 16

Part 1 Mesopotamia
  • Babylon, Code of Hammurabi, cuneiform, Epic of
    Gilgamesch, lex talionis, metallurgy, temple
    communities, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, wheel

  • Greek for land between the rivers
  • Tigris and Euphrates
  • Modern-day Iraq

Social Hierarchy
Social Hierarchy
  • Kings and nobles originally won their positions
    by community election based on valor and success
    as warriors
  • Soon royal status become hereditary
  • Nobles were mostly members of the royal family
  • Closely allied with the ruling elites were
    priests and priestesses, many who were younger
    relatives of the rulers
  • Lived in temple communities

Social Hierarchy
  • Free commoners worked mostly as peasant
    cultivators in the countryside on land owned by
    their families, although some worked in cities
  • Dependent clients usually worked on agricultural
    estates owned by others
  • Both free commoners and dependent clients paid
    taxes to support the ruling classes, military,
    and temple communities

Social Hierarchy
  • Slaves came from
  • Prisoners of war
  • Convicted criminals
  • Heavily indebted individuals who sold themselves
    into slavery to satisfy their obligations
  • Patriarchal society
  • Authority over public and private affairs vested
    in adult men
  • Law recognized men as heads of households and had
    disproportionate punishments for men and women

Religion and Education
Religion and Education
  • Polytheism
  • The ancient Mesopotamians worshipped hundreds of
    gods, each with his/her own name and sphere of
  • Every city had its own patron god or goddess, and
    there were also deities connected with various
    professions such as scribes and builders.
  • Individual people also had their own personal god
    who protected them and interceded for them with
    the great deities.  

Enki, god of water
Religion and Education
  • Kings often portrayed as offspring of gods or
    gods themselves
  • Priests intervened with the gods to ensure good
    fortune for their communities
  • In exchange, priests and priestesses lived in
    temple communities and received offerings of
    food, drink, and clothing from the city
  • Temples also generated income and work

  • Ziggurats were huge stepped structures with a
    temple on top
  • Built in honor of the citys god (other gods
    might have smaller temples)
  • Intended to reach nearer to the heavens

Tower of Babel
Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Classic example of Mesopotamian literature
  • Began in the Sumerian city-states, but the entire
    epic represents the work of compilers during the
    days of the Babylonian empire
  • Originally written on 12 clay tablets in
    cuneiform script
  • Recounts experiences of Gilgamesh and Enkidu
  • Gilgamesh was the legendary king of Uruk, ca.
    3000 B.C., and Enkidu was a wild-man, raised by
    animals that became the friend of Gilgamesh after
    they fought.

Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Principle vehicle for Mesopotamian reflection on
    moral issues
  • Friendship
  • Relations between humans and the gods
  • The meaning of life and death
  • Taught there is no afterlife
  • Death is dark, dank, and inert

Code of Hammurabi
  • Hammurabi (King of Babylonian Empire from 1792 to
    1750 B.C.) maintained control of empire by a code
    of law
  • Claimed the gods had chosen him to promote the
    welfare of the people, to cause justice to
    prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and
    evil, so that the strong might not oppress the
    weak, to rise like the sun over the people, and
    to light up the land.

Code of Hammurabi
  • High standards of behavior and stern punishments
    for violators
  • Death penalty for murder, theft, fraud, false
    accusations, sheltering of runaway slaves,
    failure to obey royal orders, adultery, and
  • Civil laws regulating prices, wages, commercial
    dealings, marital relationships, and the
    conditions of slavery

Code of Hammurabi
  • Relied on lex talionis the law of retaliation
  • Offenders suffered punishments resembling their
  • If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye
    shall be put out. An eye for an eye (196)
  • If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be
    broken. (197)
  • If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his
    teeth shall be knocked out. A tooth for a tooth

Part 2 Judaism
  • Abraham, Canaan, covenant, diaspora, Joshua,
    Kingdom of David, Kingdom of Solomon, Moses,
    Passover, Talmud, Temple, Ten Commandments,
    Torah, Yahweh, Yom Kippur

  • Originally from the Sumerian city of Ur
  • Migrated to Palestine around 1850 B.C. on Gods
    command (Genesis 121)
  • God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis
  • I will establish my covenant as an everlasting
    covenant between me and you and your descendants
    after you for the generations to come, to be your
    God and the God of your descendants after you.
    The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an
    alien, I will give as an everlasting possession
    to you and your descendants after you and I will
    be their God.
  • It is from this passage that modern Jews claim
    Israel belongs to them

  • Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt to
    Canaan, the land God had promised them (Exodus
    12 31)
  • Along the way, God gave Moses the Ten
    Commandments (Exodus 20 1-17)

Statue of Moses by Michelangelo
Ten Commandments
  • I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  • II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven
  • III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord
    thy God in vain.
  • IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  • V. Honor thy father and thy mother.
  • VI. Thou shalt not kill.
  • VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  • VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
  • IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against
    thy neighbor.
  • X. Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy

  • The God of the Abraham and Moses was Yahweh
  • The only god all others were false imposters
  • A personal god who expected the Israelites to
    worship him alone and to observe high moral and
    ethical standards

  • Between 1000 and 400 B.C., Israelite religious
    leaders compiled Yahwehs teachings into the
  • What Christians call the Old Testament
  • Yahweh would punish or reward both the
    individuals and the community based on how well
    they observed his commandments
  • Many would see the exile imposed by the New
    Babylonian Empire in 586 B.C. as an example of
    Yahwehs punishment

  • Rabbi means teacher or master
  • They are Jewish religious officials trained in
    Jewish law, ritual, and tradition
  • The synagogue is the Jewish place of assembly for
    prayer and study
  • It is not required for a synagogue to have a
    rabbi, but if it does, he is appointed by the lay

  • An authoritative record of rabbinic discussions
    on Jewish laws, Jewish ethics, customs, legends
    and stories
  • Fundamental source of legislation, customs, case
    histories and moral exhortations
  • For example, the Torah does not prohibit
    pronouncing the name of God, but the Talmud does
    (Talmud, Sanhedrin 90a)

  • Joshua succeeded Moses as the one who will lead
    the Israelites into the Promised Land
  • A series of battles occurred between the invading
    Israelites and the native Canaanites
  • Jericho (Joshua 513627)
  • Ai and Bethel (Joshua 81-29)
  • Against an alliance of southern cities (Joshua
  • Against an alliance of northern cities (Joshua

Conquest of Canaan
  • Formative event in Israels history
  • Now the Israelites could describe themselves as
    the inhabitants of the land God had promised to
    their forefathers.
  • Israel is now a land, not just a people
  • But this event will also set up continuing
    conflict between the Jews who claim the land is
    given them by God and the Palestinians who are
    displaced from it

  • Kingdom of David (1000-970 B.C.)
  • Extended the kingdom by war
  • Made Jerusalem the political capital
  • Drew up plans for the Temple
  • Kingdom of Solomon (970-930 B.C.)
  • Asserted federal power over tribal power
  • Divided the country into 12 taxable units
  • Preserved the kingdom by peace (David had
    extended it by war)

  • Under King Solomon, the Jews built an elaborate
    temple in their new capital of Jerusalem
  • Housed the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten
  • Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D.
  • In 638 A.D., Muslim invaders captured Jerusalem
    and eventually built two mosques on the site of
    the old Jewish temple, including the Dome of the

Jerusalem A Divided City
  • The Dome of the Rock is the holiest Islamic
    shrine in Jerusalem.
  • It stands over the rock from which Muslims
    believe Muhammad rose to heaven.
  • For Jews, the shrine stands on the traditional
    location of the first Jewish temple, the Temple
    of Solomon.
  • Jews believe the site to be where Abraham
    prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac.

  • After King Solomon, tribal tensions led to a
    division of the larger kingdom into Israel in the
    north and Judah in the south
  • Eventually both Israel and Judah came under
    foreign domination
  • As a result of these various conquests, the
    Jewish people were displaced from their homeland
  • Babylonian, Archaemenid, Alexandrian, Seleucid,
    and Roman regimes all ruled over the Jewish

  • All these regimes embraced many different ethnic
    and religious groups and mostly tolerated the
    cultural preferences of their subjects so long as
    the communities paid their taxes and refrained
    from rebellion
  • However they sometimes created state cults which
    honored their emperors as gods
  • This created a problem for the monotheistic Jews

18th Century icon of Shadraeh, Meshaeh, and
Abed-nego in the furnace (Daniel 38-12) and
Daniel in the lions den (Daniel 610-13)
Major Jewish Holy Days
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • First of the year
  • Begins the Days of Awe which are a time of
    introspection culminating in Yom Kippur
  • Yom Kippur
  • Day of Atonement for sins man commits against

Major World Religions Source About, Inc
  • Religion Members
  • Christianity 2 Billion
  • Islam 1.2 Billion 
  • Hinduism 785 Million 
  • Buddhism 360 Million 
  • Judaism 17 Million 
  • Sikhism 16 Million
  • Bahai 5 Million
  • Confucianism 5 Million
  • Jainism 4 Million
  • Shintoism 3 Million
  • Wicca .7 Million
  • Zoroastrianism .2 Million

Divisions of Judaism Today
  • Orthodox
  • Jewish law comes from God and cannot be changed
  • Torah is the fundamental text
  • Conservative
  • Accepts the binding nature of Jewish law but
    believes that the law can change
  • Use the Talmud along with the Torah
  • Reformed
  • Most liberal (i. e., open to change)
  • The process of reinterpretation of the Torah to
    the language of today is ongoing, and that every
    Jew has a stake and a role in that restatement
    and extension.

Ideas Unifying Judaism
  • One people (Abraham is their forefather)
  • The Chosen People (holy people)
  • Covenant relationship (Promised Land)
  • Temple/synagogue
  • Torah and Talmud

Jewish Concept of the Messiah
  • Hebrew word is moshiach (annointed)
  • The moshiach will be chosen by God to put an end
    to all evil in the world, rebuild the Temple,
    bring the exiles back to Israel, and usher in the
    world to come.
  • I believe with perfect faith in the coming of
    the moshiach, and though he may tarry, still I
    await him every day. (Principle 12 of Rambams
    13 Principles of Faith)
  • Rambam is Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, one of the
    greatest medieval Jewish scholars

  • Olam Ha-Ba is Hebrew for the World to Come and
    also the term used to refer to the spiritual
  • When the moshiach comes to initiate the perfect
    world of peace and prosperity, the righteous dead
    will be brought back to life and given the
    opportunity to experience the perfected world
    that their righteousness helped to create. The
    wicked dead will not be resurrected.
  • Jews prepare for the Olam Ha-Ba through study of
    the Torah and good deeds

  • Christianity