Subsequently, the process of personification of deities takes place – they acquire their own names and “biographies”.

Religious beliefs of the ancient Slavs

1. The religions of the ancient world, as a rule, were polytheistic, ie polytheistic. In polytheism, each god acts as the personification of a certain phenomenon inherent in nature, society or the human psyche, and the personification of a higher order than in primitive peoples. Fantastic images of deities reflected the idea of ​​the common, which is characteristic of a group of homogeneous objects. Thus, from the ideas about the soul of an individual tree, ideas about the spirits of individual oaks and forests were gradually formed, and then the image of the god of the forest was formed. Subsequently, the process of personification of deities takes place – they acquire their own names and “biographies”.

In the slave-owning states of the Ancient East (Egypt, Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Iran, etc.), religion and priesthood played an important role. They helped to subdue various categories of free and dependent population. A characteristic feature of the religions of the Ancient East was the deification of the monarch and monarchical power. The image of a powerful earthly ruler became a prototype for the formation of the idea of ​​a single, omnipotent, omnipresent god. That is why the tendency to monotheism (monotheism) arose in some peoples of the East and was finally formed in Judaism.

In ancient Egypt, the supreme deities were the sun god Ra and the creator god Pta, who created the world of gods and people with his divine word. The most famous gods were Osiris (the god who died and rose again, symbolizing the cycles of the Nile), Isis, Gore, Amon, Mount Athos, and others. There was also a cult of animals: lion, wild bull, crocodile, cat. The sacred scarab beetle was especially revered. According to the beliefs of the Egyptians, the fate of the people is ruled by the gods. At the end of life, a person is waiting for the transition to the afterlife, but first he must appear before the Last Judgment, where the gods hold a scroll with a record of good and evil deeds of a person who is entitled to self- defense.

In ancient Egypt, as in many other ancient countries, there was a phenomenon of ethnocentrism (in the ancient Egyptian language, even the word “people” meant only the Egyptians) and the deification of the supreme ruler – Pharaoh.

To the east of Egypt in the interfluve of the Tigris and Euphrates there were several state formations: Sumer, Babylon, Assyria. In the imagination of the ancient inhabitant of Mesopotamia, the world was inhabited by spirits, good and evil, and powerful deities who control all natural phenomena. Each family, community, city-state had its patron gods, who were sometimes considered ancestors; each person had his guardian spirits (sheda and lamasa) and patrons, god and goddess; but her life was threatened by evil demons: the incubus – Lila and the succubus – Lilith, and the mysterious virgin – Ardat Lily, and various demons of disease and death.

The destiny of man was written by the gods in cuneiform in the “table of destinies”; and at the hour of her death came the special deity Namtar, or Ekkemu, the Thief, and man was doomed to a miserable existence in the eternal darkness of an underground city ruled by the god Nergal (Eragal) and the goddess Ereshkigal together with the council of earth gods Anunnaki. One could only rejoice in the hope of a more lenient Anunnaki verdict.

In the sky there is also a city-state with a council of gods – Igigiv. The most important of them – Ellil, the god of land and air, the god of the ancient Sumerian tribal alliance. No less important are Anu, the god of the sky, and the wise, human-loving god Eya, the deity of groundwater and the world’s oceans.

Among the most powerful gods are also Shamash, the omniscient sun god, the guardian of justice, who, together with his girlfriend Aya, reveals to people the future in divination and divination of oracles; blue-bearded bull, the god of the moon Son; the capricious goddess Ishtar – the goddess of the planet Venus, the goddess of love thirst and strife, the goddess of earthly fertility; the thunderbolt of Addu, which causes storm clouds and “waters of Addu” – rain; warrior son of Ellil Ninurt; god of plague and disease Erra. Each community worshiped its local patron, a god or goddess. They worshiped their god more than others, sometimes placing him next to Ellil himself.

The Babylonians imagined that the earth was flat, that it floated on the surface of the freshwater Great River or the world’s oceans, that people were created by the goddess Arura from clay mixed with the blood of a dead god, or born to the goddess Dingirmah , or Mami (Mamet). According to later priestly teachings, people had to serve the gods and feed them with their offerings. The supreme god of the ancient Babylonians was Marduk. He embodied order, helped other deities in the fight against Tiamat – the salt ocean, from which, as a result of the alliance with the fresh water of Apsu, all other gods were born.

2. The pastoral tribes of Palestine, of Semitic origin, adhered to the norms of Judaism, the first consistently monotheistic religion, which, however, never became world, although it does not contain prohibitions on its adoption by non-Jews. Among other peoples who eventually converted to Judaism are the Turkic Khazar people, the Ethiopian Falash tribes, and others.

In ancient times, Jews (from the ancient Hebrew “Ibrim” – those who came from the Euphrates) were originally called a group of West Semitic tribes, who probably moved in the sixteenth and fourteenth centuries. BC from the northern Mesopotamian steppes to the Syrian-Arabian semi-desert. Some of them (biblical “tribes of Israel” separated from others, not later than the beginning of the XIII century BC settled in the east and south of the Dead Sea and, mixed with the local population, created several small states. Among the descendants of these tribes strongly there is a legend that their ancestors moved from Mesopotamia through Palestine to Egypt, where they had to perform construction and other duties in slavery, until they were taken to the Sinai Desert by the prophet Moses.

From the Jewish pastoral tribes formed a tribal alliance with a common cult of the god Yahweh. He took the name “Israel” (translated from the Hebrew “God in battle”) and began the struggle for the land that God had commanded to the Jews according to the Torah.

The first attempts to establish a kingdom were made by Gideon, later by Saul, but a strong state was established by David and his son Solomon (late eleventh – first half of the tenth century BC). However, already under Solomon’s successor, the state split into two kingdoms – Israel and Judah.

The Jewish state was repeatedly conquered by more powerful states: in the VIII century. BC BC – Assyria, in the VI century. BC BC – Babylonia, in the V century. BC BC – Persian Empire, in the IV century. BC BC – the empire of Alexander the Great, in the first century. N. BC – Roman Empire. The Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, the religious center of the Jews, in 70. But the power of the monotheistic religion of the Jews was invincible: the Jews preserved themselves as an ethnic group and 2,000 years later revived their state. Jewish sources refer to the later world religions – Christianity and Islam.

The holiest book of the Jews is the Torah (Law) – a book that God gave to Moses according to legend. It exists only in the form of a scroll, because here everything – each letter, its place, the distance between the letters, the placement of the text – is considered sacred and must retain its original form. The date of the final registration of the Torah by Ezra is considered to be 444 BC. The text of the Torah includes the first books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch.

The plots of the Torah are the creation of the world, man, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, the global flood, the life of the ancestors of the Jewish people – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Egyptian slavery and exodus under the leadership of the prophet Moses, receiving the tablets of the covenant people). All these and other events described refer to the constant presence of God in the history of ancient mankind and the descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people. “Without God, the Torah and the Jews, Judaism is impossible” – this is how we can define the specifics of this religion.

The Torah contains 613 commandments (prohibitions and commands). 10 of them – the Decalogue – are also revered by Christianity. But if we summarize the essence of Judaism, we can cite one commandment spoken by the prophet Amos: “Return to the Lord and live” (Am. 5: 6).

In addition to the Torah, the sacred books of Judaism are also the Talmud and the Tanakh (before the first century buy a comparison and contrast essay now AD), known in translation as the Old Testament. The Talmud (from the Hebrew Lameid – study, teaching) – consists of two sections: Mishnah and Gemara. The Talmud was first transmitted orally by Jewish jurists (up to the third century AD), and was finally recorded around the fifth century. N. is.

The Torah and Talmud set out the basic tenets of Judaism: faith in the one God who created the world and man (in His own image and likeness), in angels and demons, in original sin, righteousness, the afterlife, retribution, God’s election of the Jewish people, the coming of the Messiah. the coming resurrection of the dead.

The main ideas of Judaism were adopted and adapted by Christianity: Jesus Christ was proclaimed the expected messiah. But Judaism does not agree that the Messiah has already appeared, and continues to wait for his coming. Islam is also largely based on the Jewish tradition: in the Qur’an, plots and characters borrowed from it occupy a significant place. In general, these three religions are different versions of monotheism.

In the cult of Judaism a special place belonged to the Jerusalem temple, built in the early first millennium BC. BC King Solomon, restored in 515 BC. BC and again destroyed in 70 AD. e. The cult building is a synagogue (house of prayer, school), where rabbis (ministers, judges, teachers) perform rites and teach the Torah.

Over the centuries, currents and trends in new ways of interpreting and understanding the Torah, including Kabbalah and Hasidism, have emerged in the Jewish diaspora, which has preserved the ancestral religion.

Kabbalah is a mystical doctrine that gave sacred meaning to the 10 numbers and 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The main texts of this doctrine were “Sefer Yetzira” (“Book of Creation”) and “Zohar” (“Shine” around the X century), devoted to ways to discover the hidden content of the Torah, which, according to Kabbalists, records all past and future history of the world and the fate of each person. These methods were based on the interpretation of the meaning of each of the letters.

In the XVIII century. Hasidism (from the ancient Hebrew Hasid – pious) arose among the Jewish communities of the Right Bank of Ukraine and Poland. This doctrine, based on Kabbalah, also states that the Torah has a secret meaning, but its search is not a matter of “Torah scholars” but tzaddiks (righteous), those who themselves “became the Torah.”