Beliefs about Religion

At the time of Abraham, people in Mesopotamia worshiped

thousands of gods. People in Egypt worshiped many nature gods. The

Egyptians also worshiped the sun and spirits and even their own kings.

This belief in many gods and goddesses is called "polytheism"


Egyptian goddess Isis

Egyptian god Osiris

The ancient Israelites introduced a new idea. The Israelites came to believe

that there was only one true god. The Israelites believed that their

god was all-powerful, all-knowing and was present everywhere.

The Israelites saw themselves as the chosen people of their god.

This belief in one god is called "monotheism".

Central to the religion of the ancient Israelites was the belief that they had

entered into a special relationship with their god, Yahweh. This relationship

was called a covenant. According to this covenant, the Israelites were to

follow all the rules and regulations in the Torah (or Bible). In return,

their god promised to protect them, increase their population,

and give them the land of Canaan as their homeland forever.

The primary form of worship in ancient Israel was animal and grain

sacrifice. Sacrifices were not offered in one main location

until King David made Jerusalem his capital city. From that time

until the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in

70 A.D., sacrifices were only allowed in Jerusalem.