From Yahweh to Zion
Jealous God, Chosen People, Promised Land...Clash of Civilizations
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Who is Yahweh? Where did he come from? How did this jealous, vengeful, exclusivist god shape the destiny of his chosen people? Can we trace a direct connection, through twenty-five centuries, linking the cult of Yahweh to contemporary Zionism? It all starts with the Old Testament, the ur-text for any serious inquiry into the Jewish question. That book - more correctly known as the Torah - does not simply recount the history of a people. It gives the children of Israel the keys to their divinely-ordained destiny. It was Jacob, son of Isaac, who returned from exile and took the name Israel: a name inherited by the whole Jewish people long before it designated a nation-state. That single name unites the patriarch, the people, and the promised land. The history of the Jewish people is intertwined with the history of humanity. What role did Jews play in the fall of Byzantium? How have they influenced the Christian church? What role did they play in the two terrible "European civil wars" of the first half of the twentieth century? Yahweh's people has always lived apart from the rest of humanity, endlessly reproducing the same Biblical schema: the Babylon captivity, the flight from Egypt, the Book of Esther. This psychological template for the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob unites them, alone against the world, from the vengeance holiday of Purim to the sacralized memory of the Holocaust. Even the creation of the modern nation-state of Israel has had no effect on the "invisible walls" of the "Jewish prison." This book is not just a scholarly inquiry into the history of an idea. It is also an appeal to our Jewish brothers and sisters to liberate themselves from a mythology that imprisons them in a schizophrenic relationship to the world. Alternately a chosen people and a cursed people, a people carrying a divine message and a people who kill the divine messengers, eternal guides to humanity and its eternal victims: To be born Jewish is to be born beneath the heavy weight of 2,500 years of history.
Sifting and Winnowing Books, 9780996143042, 494pp.
Publication Date: January 2, 2018