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The ultimate goal of all nature and history is an unending reign of cosmic intimacy with God, entailing universal justice and peace.
These theories, however, have been discarded by most scholars in the light of a more comprehensive knowledge of the ancient Middle East and the abandonment of a theory of gradual evolutionary development that was dominant at the beginning of the 20th century.
In nearly 4,000 years of historical development, the Jewish people and their religion have displayed a remarkable adaptability and continuity.
In their encounter with the great civilizations, from ancient to Western Christendom and modern secular culture, they have assimilated foreign elements and integrated them into their own social and religious systems, thus maintaining an unbroken religious and cultural tradition.
The conception of a messenger of God that underlies biblical prophecy was ) illuminates the Bible’s poetry, style, mythological allusions, and religious or cultic terms.
Egypt provides many analogues for Hebrew hymnody and wisdom literature.
From Canaan the Hebrew ancestors of the people of Israel (named after the patriarch Jacob, also called Israel) migrated to Egypt, where they lived in servitude; a few generations later they returned to occupy part of Canaan.
Israelite culture initially resembled that of its surroundings; it was neither wholly original nor wholly primitive.Although other ancient communities also perceived a divine presence in history, the understanding of the ancient proved to be the most lasting and influential.It is this particular claim—to have experienced God’s presence in human events—and its subsequent development that is the differentiating factor in Jewish thought.The Hebrews were seminomadic herdsmen and occasionally farmers.Their tribal structure resembled that of the West Semitic steppe dwellers known from the 18th-century-; their family customs and law have parallels in the Old Babylonian and Hurro-Semite law of the early and middle 2nd millennium.As the prophet ) expressed it: “You alone have I intimately known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).