A member of the Jewish faith or ethnicity. According to their own tradition, the Jews are said to have escaped from slavery in Egypt. According to both Roman (notably Tacitus) and Egyptian (notably Manetho) historians of antiquity, however, the Jews descended from Egyptian lepers (referring both to those actually suffering from leprosy as well as troublesome elements in society) that were expelled from Egypt to live in the desert, much like the British sent their fringe elements to the colonies. The Jewish people are said to have formed much of their culture in reaction to the Egyptians and as a result of the peculiarities surrounding their banishment. Some traditions they continued from Egypt, such as the burial of the dead and the belief in the importance of the physical body for resurrection. Other times they intentionally developed traditions in opposition to the Egyptians—in part as a result of their resenting their banishment. Tacitus points to their sacrificing of oxen, which the Egyptians associated with the god Apis, as well as of rams, a symbol associated with Amun. As for traditions resulting as peculiarities from the banishment, he suggests that their refraining from swine related to their having been plagued by leprosy (as pigs are prone to this in the desert), their frequent fasts to their wandering without food, and their unleavened bread to their hurried acquisition of corn. Perhaps more significant examples of traditions formed opposite to those of the Egyptians and in accordance with the material conditions of their time of wandering would be commands against graven images and the worship of multiple deities. Their refraining from the use of material images or symbolism may be a result of the fact that they 1) in their poverty resented and could not compete with the Egyptians and so inverted the value to feel themselves justified and 2) in their sickness could not stand to associate divinity with anything a part of the material or temporal world. Another example is their obsession with the idea that God has only one form and face and their taking as antithetical any conception of divinity other than their own tribal deity—as opposed to the Egyptian belief that Amun-Ra, the formless all-powerful creator behind the universe, had many manifestations. Judaism may have started out an Egyptian-lite religion, the elaborate pantheon of the Egyptians being too complicated for the new and wandering tribe and the need for a return to the essential and basic having taken hold. The line from the Bible “Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me” (Hosea 13:4) may have a completely different meaning than that usually assumed. Yet this is not the complete story, as it fails to take into consideration the influence of the Levantine pantheon on the formation of the Jewish tribal deity. An Egyptian inscription from 1390-1352 BCE mentions the “Shasu of Yhw”, the Shasu being a nomadic people from the Levant region and Yhw being their (or one of their) god(s). See YHWH
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There are many proud Jews--a beautiful people with a rich cultural heritage who have survived many hard times.