Religion in the Ancient Middle East

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Part 2: The Hebrews and Their One God

The Hebrews dared to be different. For them, their was only one god: Yahweh. They worshipped Yahweh as the all-powerful god. Yahweh was in charge of their lives and responsible for their safety. The Hebrews were Yahweh's "chosen people."

This was a fundamental difference between the Hebrews and their neighbors in the ancient Middle East. The Egyptians, Babylonians, and other neighbors of Canaan, Israel, and Judah were missing out on Yahweh's favor.

Another fundamental difference was the Hebrews' belief that Yahweh was a just god, a fair god. They didn't believe, as their neighbors did, that the gods of nature and cities didn't really care about their people. According to Hebrew tradition, Yahweh had made a Covenant (or agreement) with Abraham: If they would worship Yahweh as the one, true god, Yahweh would let them live in Canaan as long as they wanted.

And out of the belief that Yahweh was a just, fair god came the idea of the 10 Commandments, laws given to Moses to give to the Hebrew people as examples of how to live and be fair and true to each other, as Yahweh was fair and true to them.

Next page > The Persians and the Rest > Page 1, 2, 3

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