Whereas the Hebrews provided an ethical religion for the West (in the form of Judaism and the idea of ethical monotheism), the Ancient Greeks provided an ethical philosophy. Both focused on the role of the individual (and not community responsibility), and both complemented each other (ethical irrationalism in the form of religion and ethical rationalism in the form of philosophy) when merged later in Christianity.  Not sure if that makes much sense.
The ancient Hebrews, who migrated from Mesopotamia to Palestine--the origins of the word "Hebrew" mean nomad or migrant--never achieved importance as a political state.  In fact, the people existed as an independent kingdom (and a rather small one at that) for only a very brief time in the tenth century bce.  The Hebrew development of an ethical, monotheistic religion, however, proved to be of lasting importance to the course of Western history, as Judaism proved to be the seedbed for the later emergence of Christianity and Islam.  Judaism, along with the other two monotheistic religions, helped to provide an ethical basis for civilization in the West.
In addition to the development of a religion based on ethical monotheism, which later became the basis of the Western religious experience, the Hebrews also succeeded in shifting the emphasis from the "community" to the "individual."  In the new religion, the "individual" himself was responsible for his behavior and his later judgment at the hands of God; it was not the community that had to worry about a collective sacrifice to appease the gods.

Some recommended online lectures and websites:
  • The Hebrews by Richard Hooker
  • The Akkadians, Egyptians and the Hebrews
  • For extra credit please suggest to your instructor a relevant website for this unit of the course.
    Send the title of the site, the url and a brief explanation why you find the information interesting and applicable to the material being studied in this unit.


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