Polytheism

Polytheism is opposed to monotheism, since there is not one God, but many Gods.  In other words, there is not one transcendent ultimate God, but a series of many Gods.  Thus, many ancient religions, like the Greeks and Romans, had a variety of Gods for all occasions.  The Israelites were continually fighting against the variety of Baal Gods in Canaan.  Many ancient native religions also had a variety of Gods to answer their many questions.

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The wider meaning of prophet

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites, since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some so-called historical books are often called the early prophets.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.  The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although some Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

Remember the teachings of Moses (Mal 4:4-4:4)

“Remember

The teachings

Of my servant Moses!

Remember

The statutes,

The ordinances,

That I commanded him,

At Horeb

For all Israel!”

The Israelites were to remember the teachings of Yahweh’s servant, the law of Moses.  They were to remember all his statutes and ordinances, because Yahweh had commanded him to do so at Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai.  These commandments were for all the people of Israel.

Yahweh would remember the just righteous ones (Mal 3:16-3:16)

“Then those who revered Yahweh

Spoke with one another.

Yahweh took notice.

Yahweh listened.

A book of remembrance

Was written

Before him

Of those

Who revered Yahweh,

Of those

Who thought on his name.”

However, there was a group of Israelites who revered Yahweh.  They spoke among themselves.  Yahweh saw and listened to this, as he took notice of what was going on.  There was a book of remembrance, where all the names of those who revered Yahweh and his name were written down.  This is where we get the idea that someone is keeping track of our lives in a book.

Yahweh is weary of evil doers and mere words (Mal 2:17-2:17)

“You have wearied Yahweh

With your words.

Yet you say.

‘How have we wearied him?’

By saying.

‘All who do evil

Are good

In the sight of Yahweh.

He delights in them.’

Or by asking.

‘Where is the God of justice?’”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that he was weary of mere words.  The Israelites wanted to know how they had wearied Yahweh.  He responded that they seemed to say that evil doers were okay in the sight of Yahweh and that Yahweh delighted in evil.  Or they may have asked Yahweh where his justice was.  Yahweh wanted to set the record straight.