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History, moreover, disclosed not only God’s purpose but also humankind’s inability to live in accord with it.Even the chosen community failed in its obligation and had to be summoned back, time and again, to its responsibility by the prophets—the divinely called spokespersons who warned of retribution within history and argued and reargued the case for affirmative human response.
As the prophet ) expressed it: “You alone have I intimately known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).This one and only God has been affirmed by virtually all professing Jews in a variety of ways throughout the ages.Jewish monotheism has had both universalistic and particularistic features.Between creation and redemption lies the particularistic designation of the Jewish people as the locus of God’s activity in the world, as the people chosen by God to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).
This arrangement is designated a covenant and is structured by an elaborate and intricate law.
In their encounter with the great civilizations, from ancient Babylonia and Egypt to Western Christendom and modern secular culture, they have assimilated foreign elements and integrated them into their own social and religious systems, thus maintaining an unbroken religious and cultural tradition.