I said in part one that throughout history, the metaphysical undergirded how people understood themselves and others. The Israelites, for example, were told by Moses to not worship the gods and idols of the surrounding nations; their one and only object of worship was to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He instructed them:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
This instruction is foundational for Jewish identity. The Mosaic laws included elements such as food and its preparation, physical as well as ritual cleanliness, and so on. The children of Israel knew who they were. They were the sons of Abraham. They were not Egyptians, nor were they Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, Perizzites, or Jeb′usites. To this day, the Jewish people have kept their sense of selfhood. I admire this immensely, and I have attempted to learn from it.
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