By Paul Johnson
A countrywide bestseller, this excellent 4000 12 months survey covers not just Jewish historical past yet he influence of Jewish genius and mind's eye at the global. by way of the writer of Modern occasions: the area From the Twenties to the Eighties.
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Additional resources for A History of the Jews
So he ‘made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length’, hid it ‘under his raiment’ and got the local Israelites to contribute to a gift, by which he obtained admission to the sheikh. Eblon was ‘a very fat man’, who was ‘sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone’. Ehud took out his home-made weapon, thrust it into the sheikh’s belly ‘and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out’. ’137 Not only poor, left-handed men, but even women rose to heroism and so to command.
Yet it is important to note that Moses, though an outsize figure, was in no sense a superhuman one. Jewish writers and sages, fighting against the strong tendency in antiquity to deify founder-figures, often 28 / A HISTORY OF THE JEWS went out of their way to stress the human weaknesses and failings of Moses. But there was no need; it is all in the record. Perhaps the most convincing aspect of the Biblical presentation is the way in which it shows Moses as hesitant and uncertain almost to the point of cowardice, mistaken, wrong-headed, foolish, irritable and, what is still more remarkable, bitterly conscious of his shortcomings.
Granted the concept of a sole, omnipotent God, the Israelites rightly deduced that he could not be, as the pagan gods were, part of the world, or even the whole; he was not one of the forces which sustained the universe, or even all of them. His dimensions were infinitely greater: the entire universe was his mere creation. The Israelites thus attributed a far greater power and distance to God than any other religion of antiquity. God is the cause of all things, from earthquakes to political and military disasters.