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Israel’s Relationship with Other Nations Analysis Essay (Critical Writing)

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Introduction

The Bible, in general, deals mainly with a number of relationships which include the relationships between God and man, man and man, and the others and the Israelites’ relation between other nations and peoples is a major topic of the biblical authors. Therefore, it is very significant to note that one of the main issues that many biblical authors address is the question of Israel’s relationship with other peoples, other nations, non-Israelites. The ultimate aim of the Old Testament has been to.present the Israelites as the chosen people of God and for this the biblical authors have been very cautious to present the nation as distinct from other nations, peoples and non-Israelites.

In fact, this intention of the biblical authors is clear from the narrative style of the story of the Israelites. They are presented as a nation chosen through the great fathers like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, leading them from the land of slavery to the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses. Thus, in the biblical text from Genesis, through Exodus and the other books of the Torah, the Nevi’im, the Kethuvim, the intention of the biblical authors in preparing the Israelites a chosen people separate from the other nations and peoples is very evident. The relation of the Israelites with the other nations, peoples, non-Israelites can be comprehended in this background.

Main text

The history of Israel as a nation, as opposed to the other nations and peoples, starts with the account of selection of the patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph and from them the 12 tribes of Israel descend. The author of Genesis, whoever it be, had been particularly focused on presenting their relation with other nations and peoples as distinct and separate. They were presented as formed and developed as a chosen people with every attention and care from the side of God who chose them. “The stories of the patriarchs as recorded in the OT, originated as oral traditions, passed down by customs and ceremonies accompanied by narratives across centuries. Many scholars think these traditions do not reflect an accurate historical account, but rather reflect the faith and historical effects of the patriarchs on the clans and tribes which eventually became the nation of Israel. The traditions were meant to foster national unity and belief.” (Bible Basics: Brief History of Israel (BC)). Thus, the representation of the relation of the Israelites with the non-Israelites also had been based on this need for national unity and belief which make this nation a distinct nation particularly guided by the choice of God.

An evaluation of the laws of the Israel would clearly demonstrate how these chosen people had been particularly designed as the people of God and tell how they were related to the neighboring peoples. These laws were basically similar to those of the other peoples but there were factors that made these laws specifically designed for a particular nation. The narration and the presentation of these laws by the biblical authors also illustrate their specific intention of making the relationship of the Israelites with other nations very distinct and clearly differentiated.

“Many laws in the Pentateuch, or Torah, the first five books, were not different from those of surrounding nations. However, some unique commandments were given, without specific rewards and punishments; most important were the Ten Commandments, which have a high ethical content. The Torah (Law) was a complete religious and civil law for the whole nation. It prescribed sacrifices and festivals similar to those of other nations, but the emphasis was on morality. Yahweh was a God of justice. All sin and injustice was an offense against him; and repentance could bring forgiveness.” (Bible, General Information). Thus, it is clear that the biblical authors wanted Israelites to have the general background of the other peoples and, at the same time, designed them to be a specifically chosen people.

It is also significant to note that even God is represented by the authors as interfering in their relationships with other nations. Thus, this specific intention of the author of the Books of Torah may serve to understand the promise of God who vowed that the Israelites will be made His own people as against the Gentiles. It is also notable that God intervenes on behalf of the Chosen nation when they have clashed with the other nations. In the Book of Exodus, throughout the process of creating the Chosen nation providing them with the Promise Land, this intervention of God can be identified. Thus, we find God fighting wars for the Israelites and defeating other nations and peoples for them. All these are very intentionally narrated by the author of the Five Books of Torah and in this background the relation of the Israelites with other non-Israelites becomes clear.

Similar account of the Israel’s relation with other peoples can be traced in the Books of the Nevi’im and the Ketuvim as well. Thus, the prophetic books deal with the specially chosen people as distinct from the non-Israelites. “The prophets saw history as an interaction between the living God and his people, and its outcome depended on their obedience. Israel was destined to be a light to the nations, but it always had a special place in God’s purpose and love, and the Hebrews always struggled with the two concepts of God’s impartial justice and his love toward Israel… The great prophets of the 8th century BC were Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. They proclaimed God’s holiness and his judgment on the idol worship and moral abuses of the Hebrew kingdoms, and called the people back to loyalty to the covenant. Jeremiah, the greatest prophet of the 7th century BC, was unique in recording his inner spiritual struggles and in promising a new covenant. Like Isaiah, he opposed military alliances with foreign nations and resistance to the Babylonian invasion… The most significant prophets during the period of Babylonian exile were the Ezekiel and the unknown authors of chapters 40 – 55 and 56 – 66 of Isaiah, who encouraged the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and promised a glorious national life.” (Bible, General Information).

Conclusion

Therefore, it is clear that the biblical authors designed the relationship of the Israelites with the other nations and peoples as highlighting the Israelites as a recognized group and any kind of relation of the Israelites with the Gentiles would not affect their status of being a God-chosen people. This same intention of the authors of the Books of Kethuvim also helps us recognize the relationship of the Israelites with the other nations and peoples. To conclude, though the Israelites fail at times to be the chosen people of God, the design of the biblical authors has been to present them as a particular nation, called and separated from the other peoples, nations, and non-Israelites.

Works Cited

Bible Basics: Brief History of Israel (BC). Net Ministries. 1996-2006. Web.

2007. Web.

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