Founders of Faith
The main figures associated with the foundation of Judaism are those who appear in the Jewish Scriptures. Perhaps the most significant of these are:
– Adam and Eve
– Noah(although these three all predate the establishment of the Jewish people)
Adam and Eve: whether regarded as historical personages or mythical concepts Adam and Eve appear at the beginning of the Biblical accounts. The first Creation account in Genesis 1 says that Adam and Eve were made by G-d at the same time:
And G-d said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.” And G-d created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27).
The account in Genesis 2 suggests that at first G-d made a human being but, having being unable to find a partner for this human, created a female from the human’s ribs and at this point the original human becomes male. [This subtlety is lost in the translation from the Hebrew.]
The Lord G-d planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed … And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found. So the Lord G-d cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the Lord God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This one at last
Is bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh.
This one shall be called Woman,
For from man was she taken” (Genesis 2:8, 20-23).
The story of Eve being tempted by the serpent and taking the fruit from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil and eating with Adam is well-known. They are exiled from the Garden and lose their (presumed) immortality. Whilst Judaism sees this as the Fall it does not accept the later Christian interpretation of Original Sin arising from this event.
Noah: Noah is significant because he places his trust in G-d and accepts G-d’s commands to build the ark and fill it without question.
Abraham: Abraham is often known as the Father of Judaism. It was Abraham’s faith in G-d, having been brought up in the polytheistic society of Ur, that initially singles him out.
Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans for the land of Canaan; but when they had come as far as Haran, they settled there (Genesis 11:31).
Abram (later Abraham) made three Covenants with G-d. Genesis 12, 15 & 17). Perhaps the most significant is the Covenant of Circumcision in chapter 17:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous.”
Abram threw himself on his face; and God spoke to him further, “As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the father of a multitude of nations. And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and kings shall come forth from you. I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be God to you and to your offspring to come. I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God” (Genesis 17:1-8).
Moses: Known as the teacher of Judaism, Moses followed G-d’s commands and led the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness of Sinai. It was here that he received the Ten Commandments from G-d which form the Sinai Covenant. Although Moses frequently complains about the tasks G-d sets him, he nevertheless obeys all the commands he is given.
However, on an occasion when the Israelites had no water Moses and his brother Aaron spoke to G-d:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them (Numbers 20:7-12).
David: The story of David is found from 1 Samuel16 to 1 Kings 2. David was the youngest son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, and the second king of Israel. In the Tenakh he is the forerunner and ancestor of the Messiah. He was the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz and the youngest of eight brothers. He was brought up to be a shepherd.
When God rejected Saul as King of Israel, Samuel knew that David was to be his successor. Saul died and G-d sent David back to Judah where he was anointed King. Later, after defeating the supporters of Saul, David was anointed king over the twelve tribes of Israel in Hebron, from where he moved his capital to Jerusalem.
David was King in Jerusalem for 33 years. He was ‘a man after G-d’s own heart’ and brought the ark of the covenant back from Kiriath-jearim and placed it in a special tabernacle.
It was at this time of success that David fell in love with Bathsheba and had intercourse with her. He then had her husband Uriah murdered.
David was known as a musician and seventy-three of the psalms in the Bible are recorded as David’s.
Despite his sins of adultery and murder it is to David that Jews look back with pride and affection as the establisher of their kingdom, and as the image of the coming Messiah. Perhaps he is the dearer example because of his devotion to G-d’s service and yet his flawed character.