The Jewish people originate from Israel and Judaism is their traditional faith, religion, and way of life. A pagan on the other hand can be termed as a person who has little or no religion. Pagans believe in many gods, goddesses or deities though one is chosen as a chief or supreme one to be worshiped. Although it is difficult to distinctly differentiate the Jews from the pagans, there are some distinct differences that can be seen according to their practices and beliefs.
For example, Judaism professes one God while paganism teaches of many or no god, Judaism teaches that the bible contains God’s words and messages to mankind while paganism does not have a main religious text or set of beliefs to follow and finally, the Jews believe that Jesus the son of God came on earth, died on the cross for the sins of the whole world and resurrected or rose to life again while some pagans believe in Jesus as one of the gods and do not give importance to Him as the Jewish do.
The Mosaic Law is regarded as a very essential tool in the Jewish way of life as it is viewed as a basis of their identity. The first four commandments distinguish the Jews from the pagans on the basis of how they interpret or believe in certain things (Cunningham and Reich 11).
There is a great difference between the Jews and pagan beliefs on this issue. The Jewish people believe that there is only one Supreme Being, God, who should be worshiped solely and no other gods whatsoever. The Jews got this idea from the creation story in the bible where God created everything and nothing was created as a god. Most pagans believe that everything has a spirit and therefore it can be worshipped.
The Jewish believe that under no circumstance should an image be made to represent God or to be worshipped. Although the Jewish people were involved in artistic work like making of images and sculptures, they never used them to represent God and never used them as a worship item but for aesthetic and beauty value.
The idea is that no images should be worshipped or viewed as God. Those that don’t follow the Mosaic Law like the pagans may make or model some form of art/ images that stand for their gods, goddesses or deities and use them in worship.
Jewish people regard God as being transcendent. They believe that God is beyond the world and not part of it. It is therefore taken as a sin to use the name of the Lord lightly and with no supreme importance. The Jews believe God is invisible and it is not possible to physically interact with Him.
Most pagans on the other hand believe that they can easily intermingle with their gods and goddesses as they are part of, not above the world. For example they viewed heroes and leaders as gods or goddesses with the believe that they descended from the gods (Cunningham and Reich 18).
Both paganism and Judaism recognize the Sabbath, the difference lying on how they carry out their practices. Jewish people take the Sabbath to begin on Friday evening to Saturday evening, the day was meant for prayers and meditation as they believed Yahweh was not materialistic but required holiness of the soul.
Pagans also honored their gods through celebrations and feasting since the gods were physically together with them in the celebrations. The Jewish and pagan cultures are quite different and each culture view the other as being inferior or not following the right path since each one of them believes in themselves. All in all, different cultures should be respected for what they are.
Cunningham S. Lawrence and Reich J. John. Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. 7th ed. New York: Cengage Lerning Publishers, 2009.