What political and religous beliefs and institutions gave Hebrew civilization its unique character and its relation to western civilization?
It is difficult to practically distinguish between the political and religious institutions of Hebrew civilization because they were inextricably intertwined. Hebrew society was in the strictest definition of the word a theocratic society. Their political institutions came from their God Jehovah, and all of their laws, both civil and ceremonial, were religious in nature, and grounded upon the relationship of the people to their God.
Alone among ancient civilizations, the Hebrews were montheistic. While their neighbors worshipped a multiplicity of gods, the earliest Hebrew writings, going back to the prophet Moses, strictly teach that Jehovah is the Creator of heaven and earth, and that all other gods are idols, and in fact no gods at all. Hebrew society was born from the patriarch Abraham, through his single son Isaac, and his son Jacob. Jacob's twelve sons ultimately migrated to Egypt, where their numbers vastly expanded, until the Egyptians feared they might become a political threat, and enslaved them. Eventually, the people were liberated by God from Egypt after a series of plagues, and when Pharaoh's army pursued the Hebrews as they left Egypt, God drowned them in the Red Sea.
Although the Hebrews were a distinct society ...
The political and religious beliefs and institutions gave Hebrew civilization its unique character and its relation to western civilization is determined.