Throughout history, mankind, regardless of geographical location, has pondered on one of the most un-answerable questions, or most answered depending upon the belief system. What started the universe, and where does man come from? Hinduism and Judaism are two of the religions that have formed over time to offer a greater understanding of how our current realm of existence might have begun. Both are rather different from each other, but within the history and theology of both of these religions one can find many similarities, just as we can throughout all of the cultures that have formed throughout history.
After all, humans are still at the core just that, humans. This essay will compare and contrast the religions and give a clearer understanding of the two. The evaluation of these religions will analyze and discuss not only the different leaders or founders, but also will discuss where each religion originates, sacred texts of said religion, and the priestly class. Looking at these two religions may allow for a grander appreciation for both the culture and belief system of each religion, along with the realization that it may be possible for two differentiating religions to be not so different after all. Judaism is not only one of the first well documented religions, but also the oldest monotheistic religion. When a religion is classified as monotheistic, this means that there is only one true God within the doctrine. Jews believe that God is one, omnipotent being who reveals himself to human beings. The foundation on which Judaism is built upon is the original covenant made between Abraham and God.
This is noted to of occurred around 1900 BCE. God called Abraham to leave Ur, his home, and travel to Canaan, not yet known as today’s modernly deemed Palestine and Israel. So long as Abraham adhered to God’s word, there would be a land to pass down to Abraham’s descendants. Several hundred years later in Egpyt, circa 1300 BCE, a baby that would later be named Moses was born. Coincidentally, this was also during a time that it was ordered that all Israelite boys be murdered and that the Israelites are enslaved by the Egyptians. In order to save his life, Moses’s mother places her child, which she has hidden up until that point, into a basket and sends him down the Nile River, in the hopes that Moses will have a better chance at survival elsewhere.
Down the river, the Pharaoh’s daughter intercepts the child, and decides to raise him as her own. After being raised in a life of luxury and peace, Moses happens upon an Israeli being abused by an overseer, which Moses then kills. After this incident, Moses flees, marries, and lives his life out as a shepherd. God eventually makes contact with Moses via a burning bush and commands that Moses goes to free the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt.
After many trials and tribulations, Moses is able to free the slaves with God’s assistance, though he would die before the slaves were able to fully be lead to freedom. Within this occurrence was the finding of the Ten Commandments. Both of these profits, Abraham and Moses, are revered as two points of origin for the Jewish religion (Stefon, M, 2011).Hinduism in contrast is the oldest recorded religion out of all of modern civilization’s religions. There is a common understanding within the tradition itself that there is no origin for Hinduism, as it is the origin itself. It is infinite, and has always been. Time itself is cyclical and eternal, as there is no beginning, no ending.
Whereas Judaism is one doctrine, one law, Hinduism is a complex group of beliefs that are native to India, that is not just one religion, but a very complex combination of ideas and traditions. There is a wide understanding within Hinduism that location, age, time of birth, social standing, and more all may influence ones understanding and experience of the ultimate truth. Hinduism is not monotheistic like Judaism.
There are many Gods within the religion, and deities that are subparts to the Gods, depending on what is believed, but there is still a common understanding that everything is still a part of the ultimate God. Along with this, though there are many gods, each practitioner typically worships one specific one, such as Shiva or Vishnu (Funk ; Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2017).Judaism and Hinduism both have a very large catalog of religious text to be read and studied. In Judaism, there is the Tanakh, also known as the Hebrew Bible. It is comprised of 24 books total, split amongst three books; the Torah, Nevi’im, and the Ketuvin (Cohn Sherbok, D, 2003). In Hinduism, The Vedas and Upanishads are deemed Hindu texts, and at times the Bhagavad Gita and Agamas. There are many more texts for both religions, and both share the common ground of having oral traditions and text with a known author, or authors. In Hinduism, text can either be deemed smriti or sruti.
Smirti is text that has a known author, and sruti is text that does not have one known author but are considered to of been written by sages at one point or another (Funk & Wagnalls New World Encuclopedia, 2017)In Judaism, a priest is called a Kohen. Levitical Priests are called Kohanim, and believed to be sons of Aaron, Moses’s brother who helped free the slaves. When the temple of Jerusalem was still around, the Kohen would typically perform duties and task for daily ritual and holidays. Now, Kohen are typically bound by a stricter law within the Orthodox Jew community, and also within Rabbit and Karaite traditions. Within the Samaritan community they are still seen as the highest to be respected (Cohn Sherbok, D, 2003). In Hinduism, the priests are typically drawn from the Brahmin. Brahmin is a class within Hinduism that usually contain priests, as well as teachers and protectors of scared learning throughout generations.
Both priest class are involved in prayer, ritual, and religious ceremonies, and are highly respected within their religious community (Johnson, J.M., 2013)Judaism and Hinduism are both very different in many ways.
Hinduism has been around longer than any other modern religion, has many deities and gods involved, and has a different view and philosophy as a whole. Its teachings are very flexible, and allow for a different view on the truth based on every other being’s circumstances. In Judaism, there is one God, one ultimate truth, and one path. Both have oral and written traditions, priest and religious leaders to follow, and an understanding and acceptance that everything is ultimately under one God. Although both religions differentiate a lot on the surface, once one digs a little deeper, there can be many similarities found, just as within each culture or society in the world, regardless of geographic location.