Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah"; in Hebrew: יַהֲדוּת, Yahedut, the distinctive characteristics of the Judean eáqnov) is the religion of the Jewish people, based on principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and 59 in the diaspora. The Jewish religion uses as a criteria, being born of a Jewish mother as establishing Jewish identity for purposes of legitimate religious observation.
According to Jewish tradition, the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (ca. 2000 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still in practice today. Jewish history and doctrines have influenced other religions such as Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.
Judaism differs from many religions in its revolutionary idea of only one God that cannot be represented by any form or image. Laws traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret those texts comprise that authority through rigorous debate and halachic rulings. Throughout the ages, Judaism has clung to a number of religious principles, the most important of which is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent, transcendent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. According to traditional Jewish belief, the God who created the world established a covenant with the Israelites, and revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Most branches of Judaism believe an Oral Torah was also revealed at the same time. The Jewish people are descendants of the ancient Israelites. The traditional practice of Judaism revolves around study and the observance of God's laws and commandments as written in the Torah and expounded in the Talmud.
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