History of Judaism – REL 134

REL/134 -History of Judaism

Throughout the history of Judaism there have been many important biblical kings, prophets, and priests who impacted key events that have shaped the religion. One such person was King David, who ruled Israel for forty years.

He conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Israelite kingdom, which was a key event in Jewish history. King David was a fierce warrior but he also had many other accomplishments, including penning many Psalms that are very beautiful and have endured for over two thousand years.

His bloodline is recognized as providing the only legitimate Jewish royal heirs and is believed to reach an end only with the coming of the Messiah and the end of time. He set the precedence for a God ordained monarchy, which is later mimicked throughout history by medieval Europe and many others (Spiro, 2007).

King David

Despite his military achievements and bloodshed while a warrior, King David’s primary concern is to have a close relationship with God. After capturing Jerusalem he purchases Mount Mariah because of its spiritual importance from Aravnah, the Jebusite.

Mount Mariah is where Abraham sensed God’s presence and is where he went to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. King David brings two Jewish holy objects to Mount Mariah, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. When he falters, King David is humble enough to recognize his shortcomings and does what he can to repent in the eyes of God.

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One example is when he spends the night with Bathsheba, who is the wife of one of his generals that is away at war. King David impregnates Bathsheba and then marries her after sending her husband to the front lines to die in battle. The prophet Nathan informs him of his injustice and predicts the death of their baby, which King David realizes is God’s divine punishment.

He takes responsibility for his actions and after repenting for many years, Bathsheba ultimately gives birth to a healthy child named Solomon who becomes the golden child (Spiro, 2007).

Establishment of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is perhaps the most sought-after location in history, having fallen 36 times over the last three millennia. It wasn’t until 440 years after the Jewish people first occupied Israel that King David and his army finally overtook Jerusalem.

Prior to this, Jerusalem was an extremely fortified City-state occupied by the Jebusite people who were a Canaanite tribe. This is a key event in the history of Judaism. King David is aided by the fact that Egypt and Assyria are not as strong as they were before he begins his reign.

He is a brilliant military tactician and exposes the only weakness of the city, which is the water system that allows his warriors to gain access inside the walls. Typically a capital during ancient times was located near an ocean, great rivers, or a major trade route that is required for successful commerce.

King David selects Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because Judaism recognizes it as the best place on earth to communicate with God (Spiro, 2007).

Psalms and Symbols

Psalms are an important ritual within the religion of Judaism. In pursuit of a close relationship with God, King David writes several psalms including psalm 23 that starts with the well-known verse – the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.

He is also credited with many other important text including Psalm 27 and Psalm 121 that according to Spiro (2007), begins “I lift my eyes to the mountains from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.” He attempts to further cement his connection with God by building a temple on Mount Mariah.

However God does not allow him because a temple is a symbol of peace and King David has a violent past concerning Israel’s enemies. He was promised that his son Solomon would build the temple (Spiro, 2007).

According to Molloy (2012), “Recent archeological evidence seems to confirm the historical existence of David and his son Solomon, who constructed the temple envisioned by David.” Animal sacrifices and other offerings were common offerings to Yahweh at the temple, along with prayers and hymns (Molloy, 2012).

References

Molloy, M. (2012). Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change, 6th Edition by McGraw-Hill Education

Spiro, R. K. (2007). A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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