HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







Outlines Of Jewish History -Rev. Francis E. Gigot D.D.

1. Object of Jewish History. The history of the Jews, like that of all nations, is the narrative of the past events connected with a particular people. Its object is to represent to the modern eye, in a vivid and accurate manner, the several phases of the actual existence of the Jewish nation. For this purpose, it narrates the facts supplied by every available source of information, illustrates the manners and customs of the Jews, describes the countries which they have successively occupied, and taking notice of every development in their literary, commercial, political and religious life, it sets forth a faithful picture of the origin, growth and decline of Jewish civilization.

Jewish history is not, however, simply the picture of the civilization which the Jews attained in the various periods of their national existence, it is also the history of the true Religion from Abraham to the coming of our Lord. From beginning to end, Israel’s history is most intimately bound up with Divine Revelation. A Divine covenant with Abraham, “the Father” of the Jews, marks the very beginning of the chosen people, and the various stages of this Divine covenant are intimately connected with the social and political changes of the Jewish nation. Israel is ever God’s “peculiar people,” and its judges and kings, its priests and prophets, are but the visible representatives of Jehovah, the Almighty King of the Jews. National prosperity or public calamities are meted out to the theocratic nation according to its faithfulness or unfaithfulness in keeping alive the pure worship of the true God. In fine, under God’s special guidance, the principal personages and leading events of Jewish history foreshadow the corresponding personages and events of the Christian dispensation. From all this it follows that Jewish history is essentially identical with Sacred history.

2. Importance of Jewish History. The religious importance of the history of the Jews has ever been felt in the Church of God. The Fathers of the early centuries, and the ecclesiastical writers of all ages, ever considered the facts which it records and the predictions which it contains as the real preparation and the sure basis of Christianity. They read the history of Israel with the religious respect which man owes to the Word of God, and they delighted in drawing from the inspired records of the Jews the instructions, encouragements, warnings, promises, etc., which they needed for their own spiritual welfare or for the good of those intrusted to their care. In point of fact, to the Christian mind, the main importance of Jewish history will ever consist in that religious character which makes of it the authentic record of God’s dealings with the children of men.

Viewed from another, viz., from a historical, standpoint, Jewish history has also a special importance. “It is the most complete history of the Oriental world in our possession, and is not confined to one people, but is full of references to many and great Eastern nations. It is the beaten track through Oriental times, to which and from which numerous pathways lead. Taking it as a starting-point, and making it our own, we shall have little difficulty in increasing our knowledge of the contemporaneous history of the surrounding peoples” (IRA M. PRICE, Syllabus of Old Testament History, third edition, p. 2).

A thorough acquaintance with Jewish history presents another precious advantage: it enables us to grasp the exact meaning of the Sacred Scriptures, particularly of the Old Testament. It makes us conversant, for instance, with those Eastern manners and customs which are so constantly referred to, but so seldom explained in the Sacred Scriptures, and it thereby furnishes us with a key for the right interpretation of countless passages of the Inspired volume. For the prophetical writings in particular, Jewish history has a special exegetical importance. The exhortations, threats and predictions of the prophets are usually suggested by, and naturally connected with, the events and conditions of the time when they were uttered, and, in consequence, only a man really conversant with Jewish history has the true data by which these important portions of Holy Writ can be rightly interpreted.

Finally, the study of Jewish history has acquired during this century a great apologetical importance. On the one hand, there is hardly a book of Holy Writ whose authority has not been assailed on historical grounds by some of the ablest scholars of the Rationalistic school, and their objections naturally demand to be met with genuine historical knowledge. On the other hand, as a careful study of Jewish history shows that many of these objections, once apparently so formidable, have lost their force, chiefly in face of the recent discoveries in Bible lands, the apologist of the present day may justly feel that the objections which have not yet been fully disposed of, will sooner or later meet with a similar fate.

3. Sources of Jewish History. The Sacred Books of the Old Testament are the first source of Jewish History. They all, in their several degrees, supply materials for the narrative of the events connected with the chosen people. Those among them which are called Historical because they detail directly and almost exclusively the events of one or several periods of Israel’s existence, stand naturally the first as sacred sources of Jewish history. Next come the Prophetical writings with their numerous references to past or present events, and with their vivid descriptions of the moral, social, political and religious condition of the time. Lastly, the Didactic works of the Old Testament contain also precious indications about the customs and civilization of the Jews, and at times they furnish detailed information about some great personages or leading events of the Jewish nation.

Outside these authentic sources of Jewish history, useful materials may be gathered from secondary sources of information, such as ancient History and Geography, Archaæology and Ethnography. By means of the ancient history of the greatest countries of antiquity, such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Phenicia, Syria, Medo-Persia, and especially of their condition when Israel comes in contact with them, many facts of Jewish history are better realized, because viewed in the light of the actual circumstances which influenced their production. In like manner a fair acquaintance with the Geography and scenery of these great countries is very desirable to render more living and more interesting the events of Jewish history which occurred in these ancient regions. Archæology, or the science of the domestic, social, political, and religious antiquities of the nations which surrounded or conquered Israel, may furnish at times the best illustrations of the antiquities of the Jews, either by way of resemblance or by way of contrast. Finally, ancient and modern Ethnography, or description of the customs and manners of the various nations, especially in the form of books of Eastern travel, can be of the greatest use, because of the unchanging character of Oriental life, even in its minutest details.

4. Division of Jewish History. The history of the Jews from Abraham to Our Lord may be divided into four great periods of about equal duration, and corresponding to the most important political changes undergone by the Jewish nation:

(1) The Patriarchal age, from the call of Abraham to Moses.

(2) The Tribal period, from Moses to the institution of the monarchy.

(3) The Royal period, from the institution of the monarchy to the Babylonian captivity.

(4) The period of the Restoration, from the Babylonian captivity to Our Lord.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com