Judaism is historically significant to the development of
Western Civilization and today for several reasons, including values found in
popular religions, court of law, and education. Judaism, founded over 3500 years ago, is the
oldest monotheistic religion. Abraham is recognized as the father of the
religion and Moses as the prophet, who introduced the Ten Commandments, which played
a fundamental role for Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish religion.
Many of the major religions beliefs and values were we see
have today are adopted from the teachings of Judaism. The Jews introduced monotheism,
which is the belief that one God created and rules the universe. This became
the basis of Christianity and Islamic beliefs. The Torah also taught that every
person was special and made in God’s image. This was very different than many
religions before them which presented an angry God/Gods that required horrible
and brutal things, such as human sacrifice. The teachings of respect for human
life and the want for peace and harmony helped create a more civilized society
in the Western civilization for many generations.
Additionally, with the influence of the 10 commandments and
other elements, Judaism helped formed our legal system today. They followed due
process and taught that everyone should be accountable for their crimes and receive
a fair trial, regardless of race, sex, wealth, or power held. The Judea court
system was ran by a number of judges and allowed the accused to defend himself.
The accuser must have two witnesses and could not convict on circumstantial
evidence alone. Like today, the accused had the right to not self-incriminate
and confessions were not admissible evidence in court. They did not have a jury
however to determine the outcome of the case, that job rest solely on the
judge/judges handling the case. Using a few of the Judaism methods we were able
to lay the foundation of the legal system we rely heavily on today.
The Judaism people were the first people to acknowledge that
every individual should receive a basic education. They wanted to ensure that all had a
functional literacy and was able to succeed within society. Every child 6 and
up was encouraged to attend school, even if their parents could not afford to
send them. This created the first known instance in history where education was
funded by the larger community. Created by Rabbi Yenoshua Ben Gamla in 64CE,
many believe this inspired the Western Civilization, including the present day
United States to offer free public education.