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Its great centre was Jerusalem, the "Holy City", whither repaired in hundreds of thousands Jews of every part of the world, anxious to celebrate the yearly festivals in the "City of the Great King".

The other nations, once fallen into idolatry, He had allowed to grovel amid their impure rites ; but He had dealt differently with the Israelites whom he wished to be unto Him "a priestly kingdom and a holy nation" ( Exodus 19:6 ).

Their repeated falls into idolatry He had not left unpunished, but He kept alive among them the revealed religion which ever represented God as the true and adequate object of their devotion, trust, gratitude, of their obedience and service.

The rise of the Essenes is also ascribed to this period.

At the beginning of our era, Judaism was in external appearance thoroughly prepared for the advent of the Kingdom of God.

It was the policy of ancient Asiatic empires to grant to each province its autonomy, and the Judean Jews availed themselves of this to live up to the requirements of the Mosaic Law under the headship of their high-priests and the guidance of their scribes.

The sacred ordinances of the Law were no burden to them, and gladly did they even increase the weight by additional interpretations of its text.

On the other hand, the rigour with which the letter of the Law became enforced gave rise to a narrow "legalism".

The mere external compliance with ritual observances gradually superseded the higher claims of conscience ; the Prophet was replaced by the "scribe", the casuistic interpreter of the Law; and Israel, in its sacred isolation, looked down upon the rest of mankind.

C.), Juda was conscious of having inherited the religion of pre-Exile Israel.

Thence they naturally drew the conclusion that, cost what it may, they must prove faithful to Yahweh, so as to avert a like punishment in the future.

On the one hand, this religious attitude of the Judean Jews secured the preservation of Monotheism among them.