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Cultures that Practiced It

The Hebrews practiced Judaism.

Nuts and Bolts

Judaism holds that God selected a group of people, the Hebrews, and made himself known to them. If they followed his laws, worshipped him, and were faithful, he would preserve them for all time. This group became the Jews, and Judaism became the first of the great monotheistic faiths.

Judaism is not centered on many of the concepts typically associated with a religion, although a belief in an afterlife, a set of traditions and doctrines, philosophy, and personal salvation are part of its makeup. At the center of Judaism is the awareness of a unique relationship with God.

Jews believe that they were created by God and live in a world created by a personal, sovereign God who created the world for humans to live in and enjoy and exercise free will. The destiny of the world is paradise, reached by human beings with divine help. The task of human beings is to honor and serve God by following the Laws of Moses, as contained in the Torah (the Jewish Bible, made up of the first five books of the Old Testament), to promote the ethics of the prophets, and maintain the identity of the people. Judaism, therefore, is both a religious practice and a societal custom.

Broader Impact

Judaism was the first of the major monotheistic faiths; as such, it spawned the other two major monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam.

Compare Them: Confucianism, Hinduism, and Judaism

At first glance, these three belief systems seem very different from one another. After all, Confucianism isn’t a religion; Hinduism is polytheistic; and Judaism is monotheistic. But they are similar in that they are all closely tied to the culture in which they are practiced, and therefore are not part of the sweeping, evangelical movements that seek to convert the rest of the world. Each not only arose out of a specific culture, but was used to sustain that culture by providing guidelines and moral authority.

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