The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama part 2

· Judaism

The part 2 of his series can be seen in iplayer:

Schama opens part 2 by looking at the beautifully illustrated Jewish Bible written in 1476 by Moses Isabaraya. Disappointingly for me, Shama did not examine the origins of the Jewish Bible nor the origins of its concepts  nor discuss the historicity of it. Nevertheless, I did observe the use of the halo in some of the figures in that Bible. [The halo used by Jews and Christians to depict holiness clearly indicates a tradition adopted from a much more ancient civilisation. This, of course, is not touched upon.]

Schama describes the betrayal  persecution of the Jews in Medina by the Prophet Muhammad and the final genocide of the last of the Jews there setting the precedence of Jews by Muslim since the 7th century. [This narrative of Muhammad’s betrayal of the Jews in Medina is in accordance with the narratives in the Quran.]

Schama then describes the persecution and expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Royal decree. However, I was not aware of the severity of the British persecution of the Jews in England.

Schama said  the Jews were the first people to introduce the concept of ONE GOD, and later followed by Christians and Muslims.  [This fact is of course inaccurate. The concept of a monotheistic God was conceived by the Egyptians 3000 years before the Christian Era and adopted by the Jews and Christians into their doctrines.]

[The Torah was written around 1280 BC but some claim it was written even earlier in 1440 BC. But this is still much later than the first concept of monotheism in Egypt.]

Schama made no attempts to examine the reasons for the continuous persecution of the Jewish people and their faith even if much of the know medieval history of the persecution the Jews has been documented and can be verified. He explains that the Jews simply want to stay and retain their Jewish identity but that cannot explain the reasons that that has caused so much resentment in the world. He admits that in addition to the Torah, the Jewish rabbis have included the Oral Laws written and compiled by the rabbis to define Jewishness in the form of the Mishnah (Palestinian-375 AD and Babylonian-500 AD) [These add-ons, the Mishnah and the Gemara, are similar with the Islamic Sharia Laws based on the Quran. Perhaps it is the exclusivity of the Mishnah and the Gemara that has kept Jews apart from the rest of the world that has caused this resentment. The exclusivity of the Sharia laws certainly has caused most of the resentment in the world today, dividing people into them and us.]

[NB: Sometimes I wish it were possible for some historians to tell history without bias. Schama is obviously telling this Jewish History as a practicing Judaist.]


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