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All About Judaism

The exodus story is the story of a people in exile, separated from their land, enslaved, and with little hope, who are chosen by a powerful God who is able to both free them and bring them to a new home.

This exemplifies the relationship betwen God and Israel. He cares for his people, intervenes on their behalf, is powerful enough to free them, and sets forth a path for them to follow that is ultimately for their good. He goes before them in the desert. He parts the Red Sea for them. He gives them manna in the wilderness. This is an efficacious God and a God who is in very personal, historical relationship with human beings.

There are also problems between God and the people, however. The covenant between them is not onesided. God has expectations of God's people, which are set forth in the Ten Commandments, and in many other stories and prophecies. The Ten Commandments are the law of Israel, from the great lawgiver. The story of the Ten Commandments is interesting, though, because even while Moses is on Mt. Sinai obtaining the revelation for the community, there are people down below constructing a golden calf to worship. The relationship is that tenuous on the human side. The people are seen as quickly forgetting what God has done for them and reverting to the religious beliefs of their neighbors.

This is not acceptable to the God of Israel, however. The relationship that JHWH demands from the people of Israel is an exclusive one in which they give their devotion, their purity, and their righteousness in exchange for his protection, love, and presence.

Huston Smith (1991) made the interesting point that Judaism distinguished between nature and history in its theology, separating the "is" from the "ought." The "ought" is the province of God, in which there is a vision of right relationship and right community. It is different from nature, which is the domain


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All About Judaism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:08, November 27, 2015, from
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