List the key tenets of Judaism. Categorize aspects of the faith into "beliefs" and "practices." How do these compare to those of the other traditions that we have discussed so far? And then....Speculate: what would the advantage be for early Israelites to create and follow a monotheistic, messianic, law-based tradition rather than one of the other religions practiced in the region at the time? Frame your answer in terms of a response to the conditions of the times. Be specific.

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The key tenet of Judaism and what separated it from other beliefs and religions in the ancient world is the belief in monotheism: that there is one G-d. In fact, the first of the Ten Commandments is “I am the Lord you’re G-d.” Moreover, unlike in other traditions, the G-d of Judaism was present in the lives of the forefathers, interacting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was not until many generations later that G-d became transcendent. This interaction and the handing down of the commandments enabled the Jewish forefathers to create a system of rules and laws by which to live a just and righteous life. This also meant that people could live together more easily, as they knew what kind of behavior was expected and people who violated the laws would be punished.

Eventually, the laws were codified into a system of practices and rules that guide how a person should live and treat others. Not only are there the Ten Commandments, but 613 commandments, or laws, or mitzvot, that instruct people not to kill and how to give to the poor, for example.

Moreover, G-d could also sometimes punish people who strayed too far from the laws, as we see in the Old Testament’s story of Sodom and Gomorrah. G-d charged Abraham to find ten righteous people, or else the cities would be destroyed. Abraham could not that many people who obeyed G-d’s commandments.

Another feature that distinguished Judaism from other practices in the Ancient World was the treatment of the stranger. The stranger was to be treated with respect; the Jews themselves were often strangers in a strange land, as we read in the book of Exodus. The laws were implemented into practice and created a framework for how people treated one another, which was a big departure from other systems in the Ancient World.

It is also important to remember that the Ancient World was characterized largely by nomadic tribes that often were aggressive and at war with one another. By creating and following a monotheistic, law-based tradition, early Israelites had a foundational, systematic way to behave that included how to take care of others who were not as fortunate. Overall, these laws helped create a community.

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