Judaism began as the religion of the ancient Hebrews. According to Jewish scriptures, the religion’s early foundations began with the prophet Abraham (a nomad and leader from the Middle East) around the 1900s BC; and then after many Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt as several centuries passed, the Jewish God YHWH (a.k.a. Elohim) and the prophet Moses freed the enslaved Hebrews around the 1300s BC. According to the scriptures, God led them out of Egypt in a move known as the Exodus, and established a covenant with them.
The Hebrews / Jews later moved into an area known as Canaan in the 1200s BC, and had an Empire or major presence there on-and-off from around the 1200s BC to the 100s AD.
Religious historians point to Judaism as among the world’s earliest monotheistic (having one God) religions. Aspects of Judaism have also integrated into many of the world’s other religions, including Christianity and Islam. There are about 14 million Jews in the world today.
Central to the Jewish faith is the scripture known as the Tanakh (alternate spelling Tanach, a.k.a. the Jewish Bible). The Tanakh is one of the earliest texts in world history that is still widely read today, and is also a central text among Christians, who refer to it as the Old Testament Bible.
The Tanakh is a series of various works combined, and is considered by many scholars to have been written, edited, and organized into its current form over a period lasting from around 1300 BC to 90 AD. It is organized into three parts: Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Many well-known Biblical proverbs come from a section / book in the Ketuvim that is aptly named Proverbs.
Many Jews also study a series of “Rabbinic” Judaism texts known as the Mishnah, the Talmud (which also contains the Mishnah), and the Midrash, which are based on teachings, traditions, and various commentaries that were passed down orally, and then written from the 200s AD to 600s AD.
Some other themes of Judaism include the various laws contained in the Tanakh, synagogues (temples), rabbis (religious leaders), holidays such as Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Pessach/Passover (which commemorates the Exodus), kashrut/kosher dietary laws, Shabbat/Sabbath (the day of rest in each week), circumcision, mitzvah (a commandment, duty, or good deed), and bar & bat mitzvah ceremonies signifying the passage into early adulthood.
Tanakh / Old Testament Bible Passages
And God said unto Moses, “I am that I am”… (Exodus 3:14)
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
The Lord lifts up his countenance upon you, and gives you peace. (Numbers 6:26)
… Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
For now I will break his yoke off of you, and will burst your ropes of bondage. (Nahum 1:13)
Create in me a pure heart… and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalms 51:10)
I am a stranger on the earth... (Psalms 119:19)
Discretion shall preserve you; understanding shall keep you. (Proverbs 2:11)
Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding. (Proverbs 3:13)
My son, keep sound wisdom and discretion; and do not let them depart from your eyes. (Proverbs 3:21)
Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
…Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it. (Proverbs 8:11)
A fool finds it sporting to do mischief, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom. (Proverbs 10:23)
A gossip reveals secrets, but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter. (Proverbs 11:13)
He that diligently seeks good procures favor; but he that seeks mischief, it shall come unto him. (Proverbs 11:27)
Every prudent man deals with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly. (Proverbs 13:16)
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is [self] deceit. (Proverbs 14:8)
All the days of the afflicted are evil; but he that is of a merry heart has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)
Better is a dinner of herbs where there is love than a stalled ox [kept in a stall for fattening] with hatred. (Proverbs 15:17)
A man has joy by the answer of his mouth; and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! (Proverbs 15:23)
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold!… (Proverbs 16:16)
...He that rules his spirit [is better] than he that takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
He that has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. (Proverbs 17:27)
He that answers a matter before he listens to it, it is a folly and shame unto him. (Proverbs 18:13)
…There is a [type of] friend that sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
He that gets wisdom loves his own soul; he that keeps understanding shall find good. (Proverbs 19:8)
Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes you to err from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)
Even a child is known by his doings… (Proverbs 20:11)
He that goes about as a gossip reveals secrets—therefore, meddle not with him that continuously runs his mouth. (Proverbs 20:19)
A prudent man foresees the evil and protects himself from it…(Proverbs 22:3)
Do you see a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings… (Proverbs 22:29)
Do not labor excessively to be rich—use your wisdom and cease doing so. (Proverbs 23:4)
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…(Proverbs 23:7)
For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again… (Proverbs 24:16)
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
Boast not of tomorrow—for you know not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)
As water reflects face to a face, so does a heart reflect man to a man. (Proverbs 27:19)
Great men are not always wise, and neither do the aged [always] understand judgment. (Job 32:9)
For, see, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
So I perceive that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his portion… (Ecclesiastes 3:22)
The fool folds his hands together, and eats his own flesh. (Ecclesiastes 4:5)
Better is a handful with quietness than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)
Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he takes under the sun all the days of his life which God has given him, for it is his portion. (Ecclesiastes 5:18)
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool—this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6)
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. (Ecclesiastes 9:4)
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not [always] to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
Both riches and honor come of you, and you reign over all; and in your hand is power and might; and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength unto all. (I Chronicles 29:12)
Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash Passages
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
The sun will set without your assistance.
Who is honored? He who honors mankind.
Slander no one, whether brother or not your brother, whether a Jew or not a Jew.
Live well. It is the greatest revenge.
Examine the contents, not the bottle.
Do not conclude that someone is good before you have observed how he acts at home.
Never expose yourself unnecessarily to danger.