In the case of ancient Israel (see below Biblical Judaism [20th-4th century BCE]), particularism took the shape of the doctrine of election; that is, of a people chosen by God as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" to set an example for all mankind.
Such an arrangement presupposed a covenant between God and the people, the terms of which the chosen people had to live up to or be severely punished.
Law became the major instrumentality by which Judaism was to bring about the reign of God on earth.
In this case law meant not only what the Romans called jus (human law) but also fas, the divine or moral law that embraces practically all domains of life.
It is this particular claim--to have experienced God's presence in human events--and its subsequent development that is the differentiating factor in Jewish thought.
This obedience was a further means by which the divine presence was made manifest--expressed in concrete human existence.These theories have been discarded by most scholars, however, in the light of a more comprehensive knowledge of the ancient Middle East and the abandonment of a theory of gradual evolutionary development that was dominant at the beginning of the 20th century.Most Jews share a long-accepted notion that there never was a real break in continuity and that Mosaic-prophetic-priestly Judaism was continued, with but few modifications, in the work of the Pharisaic and rabbinic sages (see below Rabbinic Judaism [2nd-18th century]) well into the modern period.The ideal, therefore, as expressed in the Ten Commandments, was a religioethical conduct that involved ritualistic observance as well as individual and social ethics, a liturgical-ethical way constantly expatiated on by the prophets and priests, rabbinic sages, and philosophers.Such conduct was to be placed in the service of God, as the transcendent and immanent Ruler of the universe, and as such the Creator and propelling force of the natural world, and also as the One giving guidance to history and thus helping man to overcome the potentially destructive and amoral forces of nature.Belief in the one and only God of Israel has been adhered to by professing Jews of all ages and all shades of sectarian opinion.