Definition of Judaism: World religion that traces its origins to God’s call to Abram (Abraham) to be the father of a great people who would inherit the land of Canaan and be the means of blessing to all mankind (Genesis 12). That people is identified as the children of Abraham’s grandson Jacob, who was renamed Israel. The foundation of Judaism is the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy), which tells of the Israelites’ bondage in Egypt, their miraculous deliverance in the Exodus, and the giving of the Law through Moses. The Israelites returned to the promised land of Canaan and became a small but powerful nation there under the rule of King David and his son Solomon. After Solomon’s death the kingdom split into a northern kingdom called Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah (the name of David’s tribe). The northern kingdom was conquered and decimated by the Assyrians in 722 BC, after which the term Judeans, or Jews, gradually came into use to refer to all Israelites. The Jews suffered conquests by a succession of foreign powers — the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and finally the Romans in the first century BC. Throughout this period the Jews developed a strong sense of national identity, identification with the Promised Land, and anticipation of a coming Messiah or Christ (“Anointed One”). These themes dominate the rest of the Jewish Bible, which is identical with the Protestant canon of the Old Testament. In the first century AD, Christianity originated with the belief that Jesus was that promised Messiah. The Jewish establishment at that time, however, rejected Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, and in fulfillment of his prophecy (Mark 13) the Jerusalem temple was destroyed and the Jewish nation scattered (AD 70). What is now known as the religion of Judaism originated after AD 70 as the rabbis, or teachers of the Torah, developed a system of laws and interpretations of the Torah that were eventually codified in the Talmud. Today Judaism can be identified as a cultural, ethnic, or religious concept. There are three main branches of modern Judaism: Orthodox (traditional, literal adherence to the Torah as interpreted by the Talmud), Conservative (a middle position advocating traditional beliefs and practices up to a point), and Reform (liberal, non-literal stance on the Torah and Talmud; often non-religious or secular with emphasis on Jewish culture).