Did widespread observance of Jewish law begin only after about 150 BC?

Yonatan Adler, an Israeli professor of archeology, presents archeological evidence of Torah-observance in ancient Israel. His conclusion is there is copious evidence of observance from the first century AD, but there is no evidence of widespread observance of the laws of the Torah before about 150 BC.

Examples of archeologic evidence of Torah observance include:

Stone cups that are not subject to ritual impurity rules that apply to vessels of pottery or wood
Pools for ritual immersions
Synagogue buildings
Removal of images of humans and animals from coins
Absence of the bones for non-kosher meat

All these things are common in Israel in the first century AD but appear to be absent before the mid-second century BC. While the text of the Hebrew Bible may be far older, there is no evidence that the Jewish laws were actually implemented until much later. The period when Jewish observance first appears corresponds to the beginning of Hasmonean dynasty and times recorded in 1 and 2 Maccabees.

My observation is that the oldest evidence of a synagogue (from the Greek word for “assembly”) comes from inscriptions in Egypt from the 3rd century BC. That is also about the time of the translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek.

Did the introduction of synagogues from Greek-speaking communities actually drive the development of Judaism in Israel?

1 Like

Moses was born 1500 BC. God chose him to lead the Hebrew children. Because of their lawlessness, God allowed them to wander in the wilderness of Judea 40 years with Moses as their leader to lead them to the promised land. Mt Sinai was on the way to the promised land where they were going. Mt Sinai was where God gave Moses the Jewish law - called the law of Moses. God spoke the 10 commandments but the other laws, - many of them, He wrote with His finger on tablets of stone … Moses didn’t get to go into the promised land because he disobeyed God. It was Moses’ brother Aaron that led the Hebrew children into the promised land.

After Moses died, they had judges to settle disputes - religious and civil. The Law of Moses governed the Jews, both religion - worship of God, and civil - dealing with each other in the community.

That law was only given for the Hebrew children - Jews. Judaism wasn’t meant to spread, it was not for Gentiles ----- everybody else on earth. They were allowed only to associate with their fellow Jews.

Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed and rebuilt twice, but the last time it was destroyed in the 1st century, the Jews were scattered and it was not rebuilt. I guess a lot of evidence of their observations was destroyed.

The synagogs were places were the law was discussed. They studied the law and kept that in their daily life, but their worship and sacrifice was only once a year at Jerusalem. Jews from every Jewish nation gathered there in Jerusalem every year to sacrifice animals and to worship God.

The Hebrew OT Scripture was translated into Greek because of the Greek speaking Jews scattered at that time.

I’m sure you already know a lot of what I wrote here, but maybe it will help another who happens to read it.

I have this book you might like, “The New complete works of Josephus” translated by William Whiston, commentary by Paul L. Maier.

He was Jew, that was captured by the Romans during the war, and they let him live because he was an historian. He was an eyewitness in the first century to some of the destruction of Jerusalem — AD 70 and he writes about what other eyewitnesses saw.

He writes about from the Creation to Jesus and the Apostles and the destruction of Jerusalem in the 1st Century. His writings are interesting, but Inspired of God? I can’t say they are.

ETA: Jewish Antiquities

1 Like