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Jewish Monotheism developed over a period of many centuries

by Robert Randle  
4/26/2011 / Bible Studies

Judaism has been praised as one of the world's most endearing major religions, principally for belief in the One true God and its teaching of monotheism. The thing is, however, that this concept did not happen overnight but rather evolved over nearly a millennia, and this was despite divine revelations, visions, dreams and the performance of miracles in their midst.

Exodus 15: 11a
Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?

Exodus 18: 11a
Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods.

Exodus 20: 3
You shall have no other gods before Me.

Deuteronomy 3: 24b
For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your great works and Your mighty deeds?

Deuteronomy 10: 17a
For the LORD your God is God of gods and LORD of lords, the great God.

Joshua 22: 22a
The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods.

1 Chronicles 16: 26a
For all the gods of the peoples are idols.

2 Chronicles 2: 5b
For our God is greater than all the gods.

Job 33: 4
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 38: 1, 4a
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

Psalms 96: 5
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

Psalms 136: 2
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever.

Isaiah 43: 10b
Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me.

Isaiah 45: 5a, 6b, 14b
I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God beside Me; that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is no other [also vs. 18b, 21b].

Jeremiah 32: 27a
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.

Hosea 3: 1
Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.

Jeremiah 7: 14
The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the wood, and the women knead dough to make cakes [raisin cakes??] for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.

Ezekiel 8: 14, 16
So He brought me to the north gate of the LORD'S house [Temple]; and to my dismay, women were there weeping for Tammuz. So He brought me to the inner court of the LORD'S house [Temple]; and there was a door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshipping the sun toward the east.

Ezekiel 13: 18a
Thus says the LORD God: "Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls!"

Hosea 13: 4
Yet I am the LORD your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no Savior besides Me.

COMMENTARY: Although the Bedouin Semitic patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received supernatural revelations from God, He was known to them mostly by the name El-Shaddai, or a derivative of the main root word El. When God sought to gather to Himself a particular people that would become a holy nation unto Him, the descendants of Joseph in Egyptian slavery were chosen. God led them out from the midst of Egypt with a mighty display of divine power through the leadership of Moses [Moshe] and while in the Wilderness of Sin, instructed the Israelites in His Law. There are two prominent themes that were stressed from that point in time and throughout their unique history, namely: (1) I am the LORD your God; (2) you shall not have any other gods before [alongside] Me. This injunction is repeated throughout the entire Jewish Bible [Tanakh], starting in Exodus, which was written around 1440 BC through the book of Zechariah, written around 475 BC.

In reading through the many passages of the Old Testament, one thing is increasingly apparent, and that is, the Israelites or Hebrews did believe in the LORD God [YHVH-El] as the Highest God, Father of the gods, the Mighty God, ruler of Heaven and Earth, but not necessarily as the "only" God. Through the mouth of such prophets as Job, David or Isaiah, and perhaps a few others, God's "oneness" and uniqueness was proclaimed. The Major Prophets like Daniel and Ezekiel both deal with the time of the Babylonian captivity and Jeremiah mentions events before this time and afterwards, when the captives return back to Judea. The Minor Prophets Haggai and Zechariah write about the rebuilding of the Second Temple back in Jerusalem during the reign of Darius the Mede. In reading Ezekiel's account which is dated between 593and 573 BC, the Israelites are still worshipping idols at this late date, and certainly would not be considered to be totally committed to the One True God of their forefathers.

Interestingly, the term "Jew" first appears in the Scriptures after the Israelites are led captive to Babylon [2 Kings 25: 1-25, 27] and there is no indication if it was used in a religious connotation or not. It was probably during their seventy years being led away in chains from the Promised Land that their social experiences including exposure to Babylonian culture, literature and writing that influenced these immigrants significantly and helped them form the basis of a monotheistic faith, the forerunner of modern "Judaism;" which had its early formation under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Joshua and Ezra. At no time prior to the return from Babylonian exile and leading back nearly 965 years or so to the Egyptian enslavement can it be proven with any degree of certainty that there was ever a concept or understanding of 'monotheism;' at least in the modern sense of the word.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
April 22, 2011

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