A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson

By Paul Johnson

A countrywide bestseller, this remarkable 4000 12 months survey covers not just Jewish heritage yet he influence of Jewish genius and mind's eye at the international. via the writer of Modern occasions: the realm From the Twenties to the Eighties.

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The Israelites thus attributed a far greater power and distance to God than any other religion of antiquity. God is the cause of all things, from earthquakes to political and military disasters. There is no other source of power, demons being God-activated; divinity is indivisible, unique, single. 111 It stands to reason, then, that to try to make an image of him is insulting. The Israelite ban on images, though not the oldest part of their religion, is very ancient and emerged soon after the cult of monotheism became established.

124 Just ISRAELITES / 43 before his death, Moses transferred the leadership to Joshua and ‘set him over the congregation’ at a solemn public ceremony. ’125 Thus Joshua began and to a great extent completed the conquest of Canaan. He may not have commanded all the Israelites, at any rate at the beginning. Nor did he conduct a full-scale invasion. Much of the settlement was a process of infiltration, or reinforcement of affiliated tribes who, as we have seen, already held such towns as Shechem. But there were numerous skirmishes and several spectacular sieges.

The Israelite tradition, already strongly entrenched, of equality, communal discussion, acrimonious debate and argument, made them hostile to the idea of a centralized state, with heavy taxes to pay for a standing army of professionals. They preferred tribal levies serving without pay. The Book of Judges, covering the first two centuries of the settlement, gives the impression that the Israelites had more leadership than in fact they were prepared to tolerate. The ‘judges’ were not national rulers, holding power in succession.

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