In any event, the history of Judaism can be divided into the following major periods: The Bible depicts the family of the Hebrew patriarchs в AbrahamIsaacand Jacob all early 2nd millennium bce вas having its chief seat in the northern Mesopotamian town of Harranwhich then belonged to the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni. From there Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew people, is said to have migrated to Canaan comprising roughly the region of modern Israel and Lebanonwhich was a vortex of west Asian, Egyptian, and east Mediterranean cultures throughout the biblical period and later ages.
From Canaan the Hebrew ancestors of the people of Israel named after the patriarch Jacob, also called Israel migrated to Egypt, where they lived in servitude; a few generations later they returned to occupy part of Canaan. Israelite culture initially resembled that of its surroundings; it was neither wholly original nor wholly primitive.
The Hebrews were seminomadic herdsmen and occasionally farmers. Their tribal structure resembled that of the West Semitic steppe dwellers known from the 18th-century- bce tablets excavated at the north-central Mesopotamian city of Mari ; their family customs and law have parallels in the Old Babylonian and Hurro-Semite law of the early and middle 2nd millennium.
The conception of a messenger of God that underlies biblical prophecy was Amorite West Semitic and also found in the tablets at Mari. Mesopotamian religious and cultural conceptions are reflected in biblical cosmogony, primeval history including the Flood story in Genesis 6: Egypt provides many analogues for Hebrew hymnody and wisdom literature.
All the cultures among which the patriarchs lived had cosmic gods who fashioned the world and preserved its order, all had a developed ethical system expressed in law and black dating in dallas admonitionsand all had elaborate religious rites and myths.
Although plainer when compared with some of the learned literary creations of Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Egypt, the earliest biblical writings are so imbued with contemporary ancient Middle Eastern elements that the once-held assumption that Israelite religion began on a preliterate level must be rejected.
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