I find Judaism’s beginnings ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. No, not because of the belief system–but because of the God. The Judeo-Christian God is awesome.
Judaism began in a VERY different way from other world religions. In other religions, a prophet or leader had some sort of revelation or power and people decided to follow him. Kind of just like that (though some did take hundreds of years to catch on) through social institutions. Judaism wasn’t like that. Yes, there was a revelation to one man. Everything started with that one man, and that one man believed God.
But, then something crazy happened: the one man’s family grew into a very large family, and then into a people–and that people didn’t want “their” God. He wasn’t really “their” God. They hadn’t chosen him. He had chosen them. They repeatedly rejected him. The God of the Jews only became the God of the Jews after repeatedly coming back to the Israelites, after repeatedly making himself known to them. They did not want him.
That is what I find ridiculous and amazing about Judaism. The God of the Israelites is not just some easy God; he doesn’t just pop in and people believe. They didn’t believe. They didn’t want him at all. Even while worshipping him, they still worshipped the gods of the people around them. But the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had chosen the Israelites as his people. He didn’t let them go. He continued to pursue them, continued to give revelations, continued to make himself known. That is what I love about the God of the Jews–and the God of the Christians.
Disclaimer: this isn’t in any way meant to criticize the Israelites. I think their behavior was the most logical and human-like behavior. My goal in writing this was only to say that a) the Judeo-Christian God is awesome; b) Why would people choose to base their whole lives around something they didn’t believe was real? They wouldn’t. The God of Israel makes himself stand out among all other gods; he did the pursuing of his believers. His believers weren’t looking for him. That isn’t as cogently explicated as I would have liked, but I hope you sort of understand.