"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jewish Culture in the Days of Christ

Off and on throughout the last few weeks I've been reading this book, Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ by Alfred Edersheim. It's my dad's. Occasionally I would record a few notes of interest and I thought I'd copy them now from the first six chapters. Some of the things shared made me think of the Arab/Muslim culture of today. See if you agree.

The chapter on "Jews and Gentiles in 'the Land'" was especially interesting as the author described the attitudes of the Jews towards the foreigners among them and then how these foreigners looked with amused contempt on the conquered "especially when the latter presume[d] to look down upon them and hate them." (pg. 28) Jesus coming to break down this wall, not making Gentiles into Jews, but "of both alike children of one Heavenly Father" was "the most unexpected and unprepared-for revelation." (pg. 29) Loved that!

From page 5 I learned these thoughts on Palestine by the Rabbis -- "The very air of Palestine makes one wise," "to live in Palestine was equal to the observance of all the commandments," "He that hath his permanent abode in Palestine ... is sure of the life to come" (Talmud). Even in the third and fourth centuries of our era they still taught, "He that dwelleth in Palestine is without sin." Ummm, no wonder the Jews want it, huh?

The pages talking about the taxation system (pgs. 52+) and publicans (tax collectors working for the occupiers) was interesting. Makes you see further why the tax collectors were not well-liked.

Speaking of Jewish towns and villages -- "On every side there was evidence that religion here was not merely a creed, nor a set of observances, but that it pervaded every relationship, and dominated every phase of life." (p.86) Reminds me of how Muslims often say Islam is a way of life. Many Christians believe similarly.

Jewish people would greet each other either with "an acknowledgment of the God of Israel, or a brotherly wish of peace" (pg. 89) Salam 'alaykom, anyone?

Page 99 was interesting because it talked how a dutiful son was "bound to feed his father, to give him drink, to clothe him, to protect him, to lead him in, and to conduct him out, and to wash his face, his hands, and his feet." It says, "such things as undutifulness, or want of loving consideration for parents, would have wakened a thrill of horror in Jewish society." No need for nursing homes in that culture.

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