What influence did Judaism have on the rise of democratic ideas?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a number of possible ways to answer this.  Among them are such points as:

  • The idea of equality.  Some thinkers argue that Judaism emphasized the worth of the individual because all people are children of God.  By doing so, they say, Judaism helped to promote the democratic idea that all people are valuable and equal.
  • The idea of written law.  In the Jewish Bible, God essentially makes a deal with the Hebrews.  He gives them the 10 Commandments and agrees to treat them well if they obey these laws.  That is similar to creating a constitution or other set of written laws.  Democracies have written laws rather than allowing rulers to simply do what they want.
  • Finally, Judaism has always been concerned with ethical actions towards the poor and weak.  It teaches that people should protect the weak and care for the poor. This is, arguably, a democratic idea.

In these ways, one can argue, Jewish ideals are in line with democratic ideals and Judaism helped democratic ideas to arise in the world.

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