May 11, 2007

The Real History Of Judaism

I'm in the final round for a JIB (Jewish & Israeli Blog Award) in the category of Best Jewish Skepticism Blog. Thanks again to everyone who voted for me, and thanks in advance to those who vote for me in the final round. Vote Bacon! GO HERE TO VOTE FOR ME Thanks again. And thanks to Tikkunger for nominating me in the first place.

I'm Bacon Eating Atheist Jew and NOT Jewish Atheist, who we can refer to as Sandy Koufax (a Lefty Jew). You can vote for him in the best Left Wing blog category. I did.

Dov Bear is kicking the crap out me right now. He puts a lot of secret code on his blog, so it is hard to really understand. But he is pretty good at soliciting votes, I'll give him that.

I'm not really a Skeptic. A Skeptic actually thinks there is a possibility that the Bible is non fictional and that God exists. I'm past the Skeptic phase. I'm a Bible Mega-minimalist. Here is a short video which sort of explains my stance (but I'm way more extreme):

You can go through life assuming most of the beliefs that you were taught as a child and throughout your early adulthood, are complete fact. But you'd be shocked to find that many "truths" you believe are completely improbable. Noah's Ark is an easy one to completely refute. But so is the Exodus. I used to assume that the Exodus was partly true, at least, until I started looking for evidence. The same is true for a historical Jesus. I was sincerely surprised when I found there was no evidence for either. I'm open to new evidence to, I don't need either to not be historical in order to be an atheist. It doesn't help me one way or the other. I just like facts and reality.

This brings me to the real history of Judaism. I was lucky to find a documentary on Youtube about the book, The Bible Unearthed. I may not have to buy the book after watching the entire 10 video clips this morning. It was absolutely fascinating and informative stuff. Everyone should watch these clips (remember, the New Testament is pretty dependent on the Old Testament being true).


Oral tradition means squat to me. "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn," and "Play it again, Sam," are perfect examples that even with today's media, the masses screw up famous movie lines, even in a very short time frame. In today's day and age, we can rely on archaeological evidence, ancient writings and dating techniques to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

The biggest revelation from the video was the fact that Hebrews (an ethnicity) were Polytheistic at least up until 7th to 8th Century BC and the Old Testament was not started until the 7th Century with the "Book of Deuteronomy." There is plenty of evidence to back this up. Also enlightening was the fact that when the Exodus was supposed to happen, Canaan was governed and occupied by Egyptians.

That would mean that with regards to both Abraham and Moses, for whom there is absolutely no supporting secular evidence of, that there is no reason whatsoever to believe the stories of either are true. If either Abraham or Moses existed and had chats with God, the idea of monotheism for the Hebrews would have become a dominant belief system. Not to mention, the claim that there were hundreds of thousands of witnesses for the Exodus, and they told their kids who told their kids yadda yadda yadda. If there were witnesses to plagues and the parting of the sea, not only would monotheism have become an immediate gimme for the Hebrews, but it would have become one for the Egyptians too.

This also has implications with respect to, the probably non existent, Solomon's Temple. In the video, it is explained that there is possible evidence that David existed, but he didn't rule over a very large empire. A large empire in the region didn't exist. But the idea of a Temple to worship an invisible God was an impossibility. Now there could have been a Temple that existed where worshiping idols and celestial objects was common place, and it most likely wouldn't have been very large. That is why even with "oral history" it hasn't been found.

Evidence points to the people of Canaan and Judea worshiping idols right through to the 600's BC and even past that. Motivation to unite the Hebrews in 7th Century BC by Josiah, most likely led to the story of the Exodus and the attempting banning of idol worship, as well as inventing a more dramatic history for the people who lived in the region.

The reality is that the region went through many different regime changes. Egyptians, Hebrews, etc. ruled the land at various times. In 587, the Babylonians defeated the Jews (many were finally monotheistic by then, and many Jews were exiled to Babylon.

The Jews came back 50 years later, and this time they actually had developed a real religious history of sorts and their monotheism gained steam and support. Again, in order to unify the people of the region, God was given more defined wants, and Ezra wrote them down and presented them to the people. It was at this time that Judaism officially became a religion.

The video makes a great point that at this time, individualism and the foundations of today's Western world goals and mindset was born thanks to the Jews of 5th and 6th Century. BC and the Torah.

Here is part one of the 10 part series of videos (9 minutes each, except the last one is less than 3 minutes):

Again, for the entire series of videos go here.

And if you haven't voted for yet for the JIB Award, GO HERE AND VOTE, SCIENCE DAMMIT!


  1. 'Holy' crap! My girlfriend is reading the book now, and I was going to read it after her. We didn't even know there was a documentary. Thanks! This is awesome!

    The best thing in the book so far was that the camel was not domesticated until after the time of Abraham, where camels played a big part. I never even considered anachronisms in the bible.

  2. I had no idea that the book was turned into a documentary. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Beaj, thanks for the link to The Bible Unearthed. I got so involved in watching it I forgot to post a comment.

  4. Thanks for the support. :-) Sorry I couldn't vote for you in the finals.

  5. I still recommend warmly to read "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong. All the evidence you're seeking regarding the origins of the three monotheisms and how YHWH was concocted from a pantheon and was later adopted as God and later as Allah... it's all there.

    Told you so!

  6. Bacon:

    You sure this isn't atheist agitprop on your part? One of these archaeologists looks suspiciously like you (lol)...

    I'm gonna link to these vids.

  7. Well that was fascinating - I've just watched all ten clips of the doc back to back. It certainly goes a long way in promoting common sense over superstition.
    I didn't know there's a book either. I'll amazon it now. Cheers!

  8. "The biggest revelation from the video was the fact that Hebrews (an ethnicity)..."

    It's been awhile since I read the book (in 2004) but my recollection is that it never says the Hebrews were an ethnicity. There was Hebrew culture (broadly defined) in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel and that's all that Finkelstein says about the matter.

    I haven't seen these videos because having an ancient computer & a slow connection, it's difficult with all the stopping & starting. Do they say that the Hebrews were defined ethnically in the 8th century BCE?

  9. Diana, not exactly. It does say that there were a people that were identified as Israelites and Hebrews and that they did live in the Palestine area from at least 900 BC and probably longer.
    Sure, they probably came from all over, but by the time a monotheistic God was followed, the Hebrews (soon to be recognized as Jews) were a distinct people with at least a few hundred years of history and possibly more.
    By ethnicity, I mean culturally more than I mean racial. For example, the video points out that eating Pork was forbidden around 900 BC by the people....and speculated it was so that the people would be distinctive from the pork eaters....but it could also have to do with observation that pig meat went bad quickly in the desert. Probably a combo.

  10. BEAJ,

    I'm only speaking about the book, not the videos, so when you say "it" you must be speaking about the videos because you indicate you did not read the book. I recommend it highly. Are these videos an official product of the authors? Or some indie project?

    "By ethnicity, I mean culturally more than I mean racial."


    But I don't think that most people do.

    Judah & Judea are two entirely different entities. The first was the little kingdom that went under in 586 BCE; the second was the colony. The Persians (successors to the Babylonians) introduced the idea of ethnicity (race) into Judaism because they looked at land and ethnicity as inseparable. It was under the Persians that a Jew was a person who could trace ancestry to Judea. (See Amy Dockser Marcus' THE VIEW FROM NEBO for a good easy description of this.)

    There was no more a Hebrew "race" or "ethnicity" than there was a Moabite or a Jebusite "ethnicity."

  11. "The video makes a great point that at this time, individualism and the foundations of today's Western world goals and mindset was born thanks to the Jews of 5th and 6th Century. BC and the Torah."

    This could not possibly be from the book. The book makes no such ludicrous and grandiose claims.

  12. Diana, I think the documentary is pretty much based on the book, but it is an indie project by the looks of it. Here is the History Channel page.

    It is pretty clear that Jews are of many races, so race is the wrong word to describe Jews. Ethnicity to me means culture coupled with the "my mother was a Jew and her mother was a Jew, etc." and many Jews trace back to the Jews of the Palestine region of 500-1000 BC.

    My point again is that many of the Jews of 600-450 BC, the first official monotheistic Jews who followed the Torah, traced back to the people who lived in the area 900-1000 BC.

    In those 3-500 years, the people most likely shared the same type of racial characteristic by 450 BC.

  13. This indie project strikes me as fluff.

    By the way, Judaism was patrilineal until the 3rd century CE. Read Shaye Cohen's THE BEGINNINGS OF JEWISHNESS.

    I don't understand why an atheist would abide by a description that's defended by a rabbinical elite, no better than any other bunch of clerics.

  14. Diana, there is a Jewish culture, most of my family are believers, though secular ones, and Jew haters include me because almost all of them hate Jews by ethnicity and not religion.
    Hitler would have murdered me in a second. Did he ask any Jews if they believed in God or not?

  15. BEAJ,

    I thought you ran a blog that was dedicated to rational thought. I was mistaken. I would suggest that you shouldn't respond to rational argument with emotional rejoinders about Hitler, but I doubt you'd listen.

    Rock on.

  16. Diana, at first I thought you were sincere. Now, you are reminding me of a troll.

    I guess you need to walk in the shoes of a Jew to understand my statement, and emotion is a part of being a human and it has everything to do with reality regardless. Sorry, I'm not a Vulcan.

    And the statement about Hitler was not emotional, but based on fact and logic.

    Even in Canada throughout the 20's-at least the 50's, Jews were kept out of many universities and clubs and there were signs, No Jews or Dogs allowed. All this was based on ethnicity and not whether a Jew believed in God or not.

    My neighbours consider to be Jewish, because I have a Jewish sounding name and I don't put up Christmas lights, etc. Perception is reality. If another Hitler comes along anywhere, Jews will be persecuted in that region based on ethnicity, not what they believe.

    Yes, anti-semitism helps identify me as being a Jew. Again, that is not an emotional statement but a factual one.

    If you believe anti-semtism doesn't exist in the West I suggest you read a few of the posts on my other blog, Judeophobe Watch.

    Rock On too.

  17. There was nothing fluffy about this documentary. The (approx.) 90 min format doesn't lend itself to a great deal of depth but the makers really did make the best of the time they had available.

  18. This video is far from being true. You have to explore all sides. I was a big time evolutionist and atheist. Now I see that everything I was thought was inaccurate. I am willing to take on anyone on a constructive debate proving that the events of the bible did take place and the existence of God.

  19. Go ahead, and prove Noah's Ark happened and the Exodus happened. Make my day. This should be fun.