Thursday, March 3, 2011

Learning in Ancient Israel


By contemplating how God led the Children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years, we can see a word picture of His educational techniques.  Before their foray into the wilderness, the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt.  Because of their years in slavery, they had become ignorant and untrained, without opportunities to develop their characters and minds.  After Moses led them out of slavery, God worked to provide opportunities for them to strengthen their characters and to expand their minds.   If we examine this period of history, we discover examples of some of the techniques God implemented in teaching the Israelites.  God used:

1)  Symbolism ~ God asked Moses to build a sanctuary so that He could live among the people, thereby showing them His character and of their need for Him.

2)  Hand’s on learning ~ God asked the people to work together, both intellectually and physically, as they planned and built the sanctuary.  Through labor they developed character traits that helped draw them closer to God and to one another.

3)  Character Development ~ God taught them cooperation and trust as they worked together on the sanctuary, thereby  developing Godly character traits.  Each experience they had in the wilderness taught them something that they needed to know and improved their characters accordingly.

4)  Expression & Singing ~ God taught them to sing as a way to internalize the commandments and lessons He exposed them to. 

5)  Exposure to Art ~ God taught them principles of art and symmetry as it was incorporated into the building of the sanctuary.  The sanctuary was not only functional and symbolic, but beauty of shape, form, color and symmetry was expressed using the finest of materials.

6)  Nature ~ God used lessons in nature, both natural and cultivated, to teach them of the patterns and lessons found in the cycle of life.

7)  Social contact ~  Through interaction with one another in a family and community atmosphere, God taught them sympathy and of the joy of fellowship with others.  Festivals and feasts were a means of providing for some of this interaction.

8)  Giving and care ~ God taught them responsibility and the spirit of giving through communal rules for the care and conduct of others within their community.

The education that Israel received during the years after their captivity included knowledge of God, time spent with him in work and study, and a multitude of opportunities and experiences that developed the character of each one.  God was the source of Israel’s education.

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