The Paradoxes of Jewish History

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Ron Price

Mr RonPrice
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George Town Tasmania Australia

It is a stupendous paradox that a god does not only fail to protect his chosen people against its enemies but allows them to fail....yet is worshipped only the more ardently. This is unexampled in history and is only to be explained by the powerful prestige of a prophetic message.. -Max Weber, Ancient Judaism, The Free Press, Glencoe, 1952, p. 364.

It was the very instability and incoherence of Greek political institutions during the Mycenean and Dark Ages, 1600 to 800 BC, that led to a political evolution which was denied to other cultures. -Anthony Andrewes, Greek Society, Penguin, Melbourne, 1987, p.xxiii.

The process whereby its unsuspected benefits were to be manifested to the eyes of men was slow, painfully slow, and was characterized, as indeed the history of His Faith from its inception to the present day demonstrates, by a number of crises which at times threatened to arrest its unfoldment and blast all the hopes which its progress had engendered. -Shoghi Effendi, God Pases By, USA, 1957, p.111.

You came from the plains and the mountains

with nearby river civilizations to fertilise your soil.

Perhaps you went into Egypt back when

horse and chariot were first used in warfare1

and lived for half a millennium there.

Then your lands slipped out of Egyptian rule,

you left for Canaan and fought as an armed group

with the Philistines, Midianites,Moabites,

Ammonites, Aramaeans. And you fought

among yourselves in your tribal and family groups

until the United Monarchy under Saul, David

and Solomon(ca 1030-930 BC).

It had been a long journey.

Things fell apart again and tensions

with the nomadic Bedouins continued

a political and economic warfare.

Extended kinship groups and warriors

quibbled and quarrelled for land,

land has always been a problem.

Rural herdsmen and the settled,

urban population had sharp clashes

as did stock-breeders and peasants

in those lasting antagonisms.

Gradually agriculture replaced

peasantry, herdsmen and artisans.

Town life took the place of the country

and with the towns the urban landlords

and Kings replaced the power of chieftans.

It was not without a long struggle.

Under Solomon(971-932) this ancient

Jewish state began to take its part

on the world political stage

as a kind of oriental despotism

like Egypt with a central administration

and an all-powerful king.

For the next four hundred years(922-538)

Israel took part in a series

of political and military catastrophes

ending in the Babylonian captivity

and a diaspora--you’d get used to them.

During these long years

oracles of a classical prophecy

told of the terror of the Assyrians,

the time honoured ‘law’

of the confederate tribes,

the voice of doom, righteousness

and that distant utopian vision.

They made the moral precepts

of everyday life a duty

and the direction of society

intimately connected with a way of life

in a spirit on constant expectation

and the powerful prestige of a prophetic message.

And so it was that prophets, psalmists,

sages and priests inculcated the Torah

for generations, mostly without success

until the Judean theocratic state

in the fifth century BC

gave a definite direction to Jewish history

through that Torah.

A common, universal way of life emerged

in this Hebrew Commonwealth

as Greece emerged into its golden age

after its long and formative age,

for formative ages are long & tortuous.

Ron Price

26 July 1996

11800 BC
Well, it seems that you have made a declarative statement; i'm not sure where the dialogue is. Are you upset that the Jews rallied around the Torah? Do you want to discuss Historical Materialism and suggest, like Freud did, that Moses can never hurt us again? Perhaps you ought to examine the Order of Canaanites that started in the early parts of Modern Israel's history. They claimed to associate with the pre-monotheistic elements of ancient Hebrew culture; although my guess is that they are few in numbers these days and are difficult to locate.

All the Best,
Indeed, it's not really a welcome post, is it? Sent a PM to Ron.
In this my first posting at the Judaism Forum under "Religion, Faith and Theology," nearly eight weeks ago now, I was playing--as I often do--poetically with my knowledge and ignorance of Jewish history and comparing and contrasitng it with ancient Greek history utilizing one of the famous sociologist Max Weber's interesting perspectives. In some ways I was "declaring," in some ways exploring and, I hope, it was an appropriate first posting at this site. If my posting was not suitable, let me know Brian. I get more emails than I care to admit each day and some slip by me unanswered. Cheers!-Ron Price, Tasmania.
Hi Ron -

CR is actually a discussion forum, not a poetry forum. While I have nothing against poetry coming up occassionally from different members, the idea that any single member should consider it their right and purpose to simply paste their poems up on CR discussion boards, is not a practice that will be either encouraged or tolerated.

The previous half-a-dozen you posted have been removed, as will any such future pastings. Please do discontinue this practice, as otherwise you will lose your right to post here.
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