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Unsuspected Benefits

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  • Unsuspected Benefits

    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.

    The following quotation is from Anthony Andrewes, a classical scholar and historian in his book Greek Society:1 "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." This quotation aroused my interest in Jewish political institutions.

    "The return of the Jewish people to full participation in history through the reestablished Jewish commonwealth of Israel," writes Daniel J. Elazar in the journal Jewish Political Thought, "made it imperative that Jews everywhere reconsider the political teachings of Judaism......The crises of the past few years have generated renewed interest on the part of committed Jews in the character of Israel as a Jewish state, the various diaspora Jewries as communities in the historical tradition of their antecedents, and in the Jewish people as a corporate entity.

    As a consequence, the modern Jewish search for roots and meaning has been intensified.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1 Anthony Andrewes, Greek Society, Penguin, Melbourne, 1987, p. xxiii; and 2 D.J. Elazar, "The Jewish Political Tradition as the Basis for Jewish Civic Education: Pirkei Avot as an Example", Jewish Centre for Public Affairs: Jewish Political Thought.

    "The process whereby its unsuspected benefits were to be manifested to the eyes of men was slow, painfully slow," writes Shoghi Effendi speaking of the life-long exile of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, "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 Passes 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, and has,
    been a long, long, journey that's for sure.

    Things fell apart again and tensions with the
    nomadic Bedouins continued a political and
    economic warfare. Extended kinship groups
    and warriors quibbled & quarrelled for land;
    land has always been a problem of criticality.

    Rural herdsmen and the settled, urban
    population had sharp clashes, as did
    stock-breeders and peasants in those
    long lasting historical antagonisms.

    Gradually......agriculture replaced
    peasantry, herdsmen and artisans.
    Town life took the place of country
    and with the towns the urban landlords
    and Kings replaced those old chieftans.
    It was not without a long struggle; it
    always seems to have been a 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: so it seems to me.

    For the next four hundred years(922-538)
    Israel took part in a series of long
    political and military catastrophes
    ending in the Babylonian captivity
    and a diaspora: you got used to them.

    During those long years oracles
    of a classical prophecy told of
    the terror of the Assyrians,
    the time honoured ‘law’ of
    the confederate tribes, and 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 of constant expectation
    and the powerful prestige of a
    prophetic, a historical 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
    5th 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: history seems to confirm.

    (1)1800 BC

    Ron Price
    26/7/'96 to 23/3/'14.
    Last edited by RonPrice; 03-30-2014, 11:54 PM. Reason: To add some words
    Married for 47 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 15, and a Baha'i for 55(in 2014)