7 Pages

Introduction: The Epochs Explored

WithDaniel J. Elazar

The first two epochs, which are by far the most obscure, reflect the biblical traditions of the Patriarchs and the Egyptian bondage. The third epoch marks the emergence of the Jewish people in its first “national” stage, as an edah —a tribal confederacy—and as a religious civilization based on a fundamental organic law, or constitution, the original Mosaic Torah (Torat Moshe). The fourth epoch begins with the emergence of the first major revision of the Mosaic constitution, the establishment of a federal state under a constitutional monarchy at the time of David. The climactic event of the fifth epoch was the Josianic Reform. This important event followed on the heels of a period in which the old constitution had been persistently violated and even abandoned by the power holders in Judah. Ezra and Nehemiah introduced a fourth revision of the fundamental law as embodied in the Torah and in doing so formally brought the Jewish people into sixth historical epoch.