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Thus, the Jewish people are both entitled to special privileges and burdened with special responsibilities from God.As the prophet ) expressed it: “You alone have I intimately known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).The biblical authors believed that the divine presence is encountered primarily within history.God’s presence is also experienced within the natural realm, but the more immediate or intimate disclosure occurs in human actions.Judaism is the complex phenomenon of a total way of life for the Jewish people, comprising theology, law, and innumerable cultural traditions.The first section of this article treats the history of Judaism in the broadest and most complete sense, from the early ancestral beginnings of the Jewish people to contemporary times.In the 19th century, biblical scholars moved the decisive division back to the period of the Babylonian Exile and the restoration of the Jews to the kingdom of Judah (6th–5th century ); indeed, he attributed an important role in shaping the emergent religion to Persian imperialism.These theories, however, have been discarded by most scholars in the light of a more comprehensive knowledge of the ancient Middle East and the abandonment of a theory of gradual evolutionary development that was dominant at the beginning of the 20th century.
Even the chosen community failed in its obligation and had to be summoned back, time and again, to its responsibility by the prophets—the divinely called spokespersons who warned of retribution within history and argued and reargued the case for affirmative human response.
According to Judaic belief, this divine guidance is manifested through the history of the Jewish people, which will culminate in the messianic age.
Judaism, whether in its “normative” form or in its sectarian deviations, never completely departed from this basic ethical and historical monotheism. This formulation could be theologically reconciled with the assumption that Christianity had been preordained even before the creation of the world.
Furthermore, God—as person—had revealed in a particular encounter the pattern and structure of communal and individual life to this people.
Claiming sovereignty over the people because of his continuing action in history on their behalf, he had established a chosen community was thus a summons to the rest of humankind to recognize God’s presence, sovereignty, and purpose—the establishment of peace and well-being in the universe and in humankind.