Judaism and the World: The Holy and the Profane

Judaism has influenced the world through the Hebrew Bible and the history of the Jews. The Bible provides the record of divine revelation, later claimed by Christians and Muslims, while Jewish history tells the unique story of a small people who survived the loss of both sovereignty and country, held together nonetheless by beliefs and rules derived from the Bible. Thus, the approach of Judaism to international relations may be traced through the Bible’s injunctions on such topics as war and peace, treaties, kingship, and prophecy. But insofar as the Jews as a sovereign nation affected international relations, the scope is much more limited. The biblical state of Israel, its subsequent division into two kingdoms, conquest by Babylon, brief resurrection under the Hasmoneans, and final subjugation by Rome spanned more than a thousand years. Nearly two thousand more years passed before a new state of Israel was born. This modem state, but fifty years old, has had a dramatic career-but as a democracy, not a theocracy.

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