Comprendre l'identité Juive - partie II

Here is the second part on the theme: Understanding Jewish Identity!

By Jonathan Aikhenbaum, Jerusalem

- 930
Was there a religious reform in the kingdom of Israel?

When he becomes king of Israel, Jeroboam faces a delicate political situation. Jerusalem, symbol of unity and central place of worship, is under the sovereignty of the enemy kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam fears for the solidity and social cohesion of his kingdom if he remains dependent on Jerusalem.
He then initiates a profound religious reform which will leave its mark on the history of the kingdom of Israel until its disappearance. He restores two sanctuaries from the days of the Judges which had been closed (there is to be only one house of the Lord in the land of Israel, in Jerusalem). Israelites who can no longer go to the Temple in Jerusalem will go to Bet El and Dan, both in the territory of the Kingdom of Israel.
The second change introduced by Jeroboam is significant. In these two sanctuaries, he had golden calves installed. As at the time of the desert, the golden calf must not be the deity but an image that allows us to relate to it.
The establishment of a cult halfway between the pure monotheism of the kingdom of Judah and the idolatry of the neighboring kingdoms will increasingly detach the two kingdoms from each other and make their unification impossible. Politically motivated, religious reform was fatal. The kingdom of Israel will never return to the monotheism of the Torah, oscillating between the cult of Jeroboam and that of neighboring tribes.

Around -874 -853
How did the prophet Eli fight Baal in Carmel?

Eli is a prophet of stature who lived and worked at a time when the kingdom of Israel, which occupied the northern land of Israel, was sinking into nationwide idolatry, with the establishment of a cult and a clergy dedicated to the divinity of Baal.
To restore the cult of Israel, Eli intends to carry out a brilliant action. He summons the priests of Baal to a challenge at Mount Carmel. Each side must prepare a sacrifice and ask their deity to consume it. Eli knows the prohibition of the torah to sacrifice outside the temple but takes the initiative to transgress this prohibition in view of the gravity of the situation.
On Mount Carmel, Eli and the priests of Baal face each other. In front of the people running to attend the confrontation, each one prepared an altar with a bull. The priests of Baal begin to invoke their divinity, hoping for the consummation of their sacrifice and confirmation of the truth of their faith. They go so far as to slash their flesh but nothing helps.
Meanwhile, Eli has water put on his altar, to show that the God of Israel has no difficulty in the face of obstacles materials, unlike the so-called deity of Baal. He then calls on the name of the Lord, asking for the illustration of the truth of the faith of Israel. A fire then descends from heaven and consumes the sacrifice. Stigmatized by Eli, the crowd then puts the Baal priests to death. Idolatry worship was eradicated from Israel, for a short time.

Vers - 722
How was the kingdom of Israel destroyed?

Since the 8th century before the common era, Assyria has been engaged in a power politics that will ultimately cost the kingdom of Israel its independence. Several Assyrian incursions took place on the kingdom of Israel (and even on that of Judah).
In - 734, Tiglat-Pilézer, king of Assyria, launched his troops towards the south. They cross the Kingdom of Israel and occupy Gaza, Ashkelon, part of Egypt.Israel and Phenicia come together in a coalition against Assyria in which they want to involve the southern states: Ammon, Moab, Edom and Judah Judah refuses to participate in the coalition, Egypt itself remaining on its guard. Israel attacks Judea to force it out of its neutrality. This campaign, led by the King of Israel Peqah, caused many victims. Peqah takes 200,000 Judeans, men, women and children, into captivity. The prophet Oded protests against the treatment made by the Israelis to their Judean brothers. He manages to convince the soldiers to release them and send them home, fed and clothed. A courageous initiative in a fratricidal atmosphere...
To get rid of the grip of the Kingdom of Israel, the Judean King Ahaz appealed to Assyria itself, which invaded the Kingdom of Israel and completely subjugated it. King Pekah is replaced by Hosea. The Kingdom of Judah must pay a heavy price. The lack of brotherhood between the two kingdoms will directly precipitate the end of the kingdom of Israel.
In 722, Salmanasar V, the Assyrian ruler, dies and his son Sargon II succeeds him. He completes the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by taking its capital, Samaria. The Kingdom of Israel has ceased to exist.

As of 722
What are the ten lost tribes?

When the Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel, they completed their work of destruction through vast exchanges of populations. The Israelites were deported to distant provinces of the Assyrian kingdom while Aramaic and Kuthean settlers were invited to settle in Samaria. We then witnessed a double process of assimilation: on the territory of the kingdom of Israel and in the Assyrian provinces where the Israelites were settled. The kingdom of Israel had been practicing idolatry in a more or less organized way for centuries. As a result, assimilation was accelerated.
With the disappearance of the kingdom of Israel, the kingdom of Judah nonetheless brought together members of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, as well as other tribes who came to settle in Judean territory. Nevertheless, the disappearance of the northern tribes is experienced as a national drama in the history of Israel. The character of each tribe, defined by Jacob, disappears with them and it is the whole body of Israel that is incomplete, mutilated. Hence the prophecy that at the end of time the ten tribes will return from the four corners of the planet and with them the missing characters of the identity of Israel.

From -700
Who are the Samaritans?

The Samaritans descend from the Aramaeans and Kutheans settled by Sargon II in the territory of the conquered kingdom of Israel.
When they arrive in the land of Israel, some will be attacked by ferocious beasts and will see it as a sign on the need to serve the local deity. The Assyrians then bring them a deported Israelite priest, who teaches them the spiritual tradition of Bet El and Dan, that is to say that of Jeroboam, with the adoration of the calf. The mixture between this religion and their culture of origin will give their own specificity to these groups. With the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, they expand southward. The Samaritans still exist in small numbers and have their center in Shechem, Samaria.

-736 - - 716
Did the Judeans worship fire?

It was under the Judean king Ahaz, a contemporary and catalyst for the disappearance of the kingdom of Israel, that this cult first appeared in Jerusalem.
Ahaz brought idolatry to a level hitherto unequaled. The altars dedicated to Baal make their appearance in the very heart of the temple of Jerusalem, with the approval of the priests.
At the foot of the temple, in the valley of Hinnoam (Gehenna), Ahaz introduces the cult of Moloch Children are sacrificed to fire. The king himself sacrificed two of his own children during sinister ceremonies.
Also subject to Assyria and threatened with invasion, Ahaz did not hear the exhortations of his contemporary, the prophet Isaiah, and remained stubbornly attached to idolatry.

וַיִשְרֹף אֶת-בֵית 25ֹוָה וְאֶת-בֵית הַםֶלֶךְ וְאֵת כָל-בָתֵי יְרושָלַם וְאֶת-כָל-בֵית גָדוֹל שָרַף בָאֵש:
rois II, 25-9

How was the temple in Jerusalem destroyed?

Judah is torn between his vassalage to Egypt and Chaldea (Babylonia). Nebuchadnezzar carried out the deportation of 10,000 notables and the royal family, plundered the temple and the palaces and placed Sedecias on the throne in 597.
Sedecias then led a delegation which assured Nebuchadnezzar of their submission.The prophet Jeremiah sends members of this delegation a letter warning against nationalism and "false prophets". He also announces the imminence of exile and its limited duration: 70 years.
However, the temptation nationalism is strong in Judah. In -593, while Jeremiah still advocated submission to Chaldean power, the anti-Chaldean coalition that Egypt wanted to set up was on the way to success and the spirit in Jerusalem was one of exacerbated nationalism. “Prophets” challenge the people and encourage them in this direction. Jeremy takes one of them, Hanania Ben Azour, to task when he asserts that in the space of two years the yoke of Chaldea will be broken.
Nationalist hopes are too strong and in – 589 , Sédécias joins the coalition led by Pharaoh Apries. It includes Egypt, Phoenicia, Judah and Ammon.
To break his vassalage to Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah refuses to pay him his annual tribute. The Babylonian king responds by marching into Judea. The Egyptian army is slow to come to the aid of its ally, and the siege of Jerusalem begins on 10 Tevet (December – January). Jeremiah describes the people attempting a superficial return to the religion of Israel in response to the siege. The unblocking of the siege thanks to the Egyptian intervention brings to light the obsolescence of this popular movement, and idolatry returns with renewed force. Jérémie is arrested and put in prison. The Chaldeans soon return and again besiege Jerusalem. From the depths of his prison, Jeremiah continues to incite the people to surrender unconditionally. He is then the stake of a struggle between the nationalists for whom he is a dangerous defeatist, and those who believe in his prophecies. King Zedekiah himself will be influenced sometimes by some, sometimes by others, putting Jeremiah to death in a pit of mud for agitation, and then giving the order to save him when he is informed of the seriousness of the beating. death of the prophet.
But the Chaldeans are not idle and soon open a breach in the wall, rushing into the city: pillage, massacre, destruction. Jerusalem is sacked, King Zedekiah is deposed, his children murdered, his eyes are gouged out and he is taken captive. Others will follow and will form the second wave of deportation by Nebuchadnezzar.
The siege of Jerusalem ends in 586 with the destruction of the Temple in flames. The Kingdom of Judah experienced, within 136 years, the same fate as its northern neighbor.

וַיְהִי בִשְלֹשִים שָנָה ברְבִיעִי בַחֲמִשָה לַחֹדֶש ַאֲנִי בְתוֹךְ-staff sol עַל -נְהַר נִפְתְח נִפְתְח נִפְתְחו הַשָמַיִם וָאֶרְאֶה מַרְאוֹת אֱלֹהִים:
1 vs1

Who is Ezekiel?

Ezekiel was a prophet who exercised from - 592 in Chaldea, among the first Judeans exiled by Nebuchadnezzar. He prophesied in Tel Aviv, one of the colonies where the deportees of 597 settled. of Judah against Chaldea can succeed and will restore their independence. Very nationalist elements, they push Sédécias to one-upmanship against Chaldea. Ezekiel tries to bring them back to reality on the disproportion of the existing forces and especially on the fact that the strength of Israel rests on a non-existent resource at this time: the credit that God brings to men who walk in his ways. The situation just before the disaster pushes the deportees to defeatism and fatalism. Ezekiel protests against this and develops in his prophecies the theme of individual responsibility on which rests the future of the nation.

כֹה-אָמַר כוֹרֶש מֶלֶךְ פָרַס פָרַס פָרַס-מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ נָתַן נָתַןי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי הַשָמַיִם וְהוא עָלַ עָלַ עָלַ 19 :
“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: The Eternal, God of heaven, has put all the kingdoms of the earth into my hands, and it is he who has given me the mission to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judea. If there be any among you who belong to his people, may his God be with him and may he go up...”

How did the first exiles return?

As in Jacob's dream, empires rise and fall: after Assyria, which put an end to the kingdom of Israel, it is Babylonia's turn to experience this fate. In – 539, the Persian Cyrus became master of Chaldea and all the provinces attached to it, including the territories of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
Cyrus issued an edict allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple there. Cyrus' policy is marked by great tolerance, doubtless also coupled with a strong sense of political realism, which makes him understand that his footing on his immense empire will be better assured if he is the champion of national specificities, the defender of the rights of minorities.
Cyrus integrates the local pantheons of the peoples who are under his tutelage, a common practice in antiquity. Thus, the edict for the reconstruction of the Temple is presented by Cyrus as a choice emanating from the God of Israel himself.
Cyrus grants the Jews more than a simple permission to return to the country and to rebuild the house of God: he gives them all the treasure of the Temple which had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar, and he finances from the royal treasury all that this enterprise will cost.
Beginning – 537, a group of about 49,000 people (men , women and children), is ready to return to Judea. At their head two men: Joshua the Cohen. grandson of Yeotzadak, the last High Priest of the Temple assassinated during its destruction. It is he who will ensure the priesthood. Zerubbabel, the grandson of Yoyakin, the young king deported in 597, is from the family of David. His role is to be Peha, provincial governor.
The group arrives in Judea. These are the first Olim (uprights) of the period after the First Temple.Although all the land of Israel is open to them, they will mainly settle in the former territory of the Kingdom of Judah
End – 537, they erect an altar on the site of the Temple and carry out the daily sacrifices, then celebrate the festival of Sukot.
The first stone is then laid for the reconstruction of the Temple. The following problems caused the work to be blocked for 16 years, only to resume in 520.

From -580
אִיש יְהודִי הָיָה בְשושַן הַבִירָה ושְמוֹ מָרְדֳכַיָאִיר בֶן-בֶןי בֶן-קִיש אִיש יְמִינִי
there was in the capital a man and his name is bordéchai, son of Yaïr, son of Yaïr, son of Yaïr, son of Yaïr, son of Yaïr, Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin.

What is a Jew?

The term Jew appears in the books that form the chronological closure of the Bible, from Jeremiah to Zechariah via Esther. The scroll of Esther, in particular, mentions about Mordecai that "a Jewish man lived in the capital Susa and his name was Mordecai, son of Yair, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin". This detail immediately rules out the possibility that a Jew is simply a descendant of the tribe of Judah.
The characteristic of Mordecai is that he no longer lives in Judea but in exile. A Jew is an inhabitant of the kingdom of Judah living in Persian exile, regardless of the tribe from which he is otherwise descended. It is a political definition and not an ethnic one. In other words, the Jew is the expatriate of the kingdom of Judah.
The mention of the term Jew in relation to the story of Esther is particularly significant. The scroll of Esther is the book that makes the transition between the period of the Bible and that of Judaism. The difference between these two worlds is essentially based on the presence and absence of prophecy. With Esther (Aramaic name which also has the Hebrew meaning of: I will hide), God veils his face, the prophecy disappears. The “word is exiled” at the same time as the people. Cut off from his land and from the eternal word, it is essentially through study and commemoration over time that the Jew will perpetuate Hebrew civilization.

By Jonathan Aikhenbaum, Jerusalem

Histoire & religion

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