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A question regarding Monolatry

Monolatry

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#1 infinitelycurious

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:50 AM

It's my understanding that early Jews accepted the existence of other gods (e. "the Gods of the Egyptians", "Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord" etc...).

If this is the case, I would like to know if the God of Abraham was believed to have created ALL of mankind out of clay, or if the stories in Genesis would only have pertained to the Jewish people.

In other words... did early Jews believe that (for example) the Egyptians were NOT created by their God (the God of Abraham), but that they were instead created by their own (Egyptian) God/s? (perhaps, Khnum or some other god)?

#2 LoveToLaugh

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 03:30 PM

I'm not completely understanding the question. Since Abraham 'discovered' God, The Children of Israel only accepted one God as the Creator and Sustainer of the world. All nations have a family tree that leads back up to Adam., the first man created by God. So I don't think the Jews ever believed that other gods created other nations.
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

#3 usuario

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 04:27 PM

If you view Judaism as the one true religion that Moses brought down to the Jewish people from Mount Sinai, then the God of Israel is the Creator of All and there is no other God, all others being fake idols or creations by humans.

Now however if you are a secular scholar studying religion who views ancient (pre-Rabbinic) Judaism as just another Bronze Age Canaanite religion, then you could argue that there was a stage in Judaism when its doctrine was that different nations had different Gods and that Judaism simply argued for the Israelites to stay true to their God. Of course since this is an Orthodox Jewish forum then this idea is absolute hogwash, but I'm just letting you know.

#4 infinitelycurious

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 06:50 PM

So the orthodox view is that Judaism has always been a Monotheism?

#5 LoveToLaugh

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:16 PM

So the orthodox view is that Judaism has always been a Monotheism?

Yes I believe so. Officially the Jewish nation didn't take place until Har Sinai and the giving of the Torah so things and beliefs that took place beforehand were not always consistant with only one God. But Abraham is probably the father of Monotheism and the righteous ones from him until the giving of the Torah only believed in Monotheism.
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

#6 paganyid

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:03 PM

There are hybrid views between strict orthodoxy and history/academics. I'm comfortable with thinking that Abraham did not "discover" monotheism because history suggests as such. Also I believe there are multivarious views within orthodoxy on what "other gods" means exactly though no argument about strict monotheism. I have never felt comfortable with what I know on the topic. I have not felt consistency on the rabbis part but I have not been given direction on how to investigate these inconsistencies. But I'm not a good and honest believer, having been spoiled by a liberal humanist education, so rabbinical sources (even the greats) can seem apologetic, unsatisfactory, and sometimes outright silly. I guess I will go to my grave an ignorant disbeliever.

#7 Rentsy

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 01:48 AM

It is possible that the full doctrine of pure monotheism - to the exclusion of the existance of other Gods - was not fully understood, and that rather than engage in a philosophical re-education of every man, woman, and child, the Torah itself was designed to teach the Jews away from the culture of Egypt (with many Gods) and accustom them to the service of the One True God.

The verse you quote: "Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord" - מי כמוך באלים, השם - is spontanious praise offered by the Jewish people, who seven days prior had been slaves in Egypt. It is not unreasonable that their honest and heartfult praise might still contain traces of Egyptian culture that this "early" stage in the game. My first point was that the education of the Jewish people as a whole was not accomplished at any one point in time, or by philosophical education. Indeed, there seem to have been many people quite confused by the entire concept, as evidenced by the Golden Calf. We do not feel it, but at the time, One God to the exclusion of all others was a radical thesis that took quite some time to be understood by the entire Jewish people. I would hazard that by the end of the 40 years in the desert, judging by the language of Dueteronomy, that these lessons were learned by the new generation that was born in the Desert, and that the understanding of what it meant to have "One God" were by that time well-understood by the entire people.
רמב"ם הלכות תשובה פרק העשירי, הלכה ב

העובד מאהבה - עוסק בתורה ובמצוות והולך במתיבות החוכמה לא מפני דבר בעולם, לא מפני יראת הרעה ולא כדי לירש הטובה, אלא עושה האמת מפני שהוא אמת

הלכה ג

אהבה גדולה יתרה רבה עזה עד מאד, עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת השם ... וכל שיר השירים משל הוא לענין זה

#8 infinitelycurious

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:15 AM

Thank you all for your replies. It's unfortunate that there is no consensus as to what early Jews actually believed regarding the issue of Monotheism/Monolatry. There seems to only be "interpretations". I didn't realize that there was such diversity in the views held within Judaism on the subject. I (a secular American) have always been equally interested and confused regarding what early peoples (Jews and others) TRULY believed. I try my best to read the earliest extant writings so that I can get as close to that truth as I can. I feel that time can often 'cloud' things.

I began this dicussion at another forum, if anyone is interested (http://chabadtalk.co...ed=1#post171496).

Godol Hador - I feel as you do. It seems very plausible to me that Monotheism 'evolved' in a sense, over time, as people began to understand things in new ways.

Again, thank you all for your replies.




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