From Bet Midrash to Talmidim: The Tradition of Discipleship in Ancient Hebrew Culture

Yeshua (Jesus) had a group of twelve main followers. Their names included Simon Peter, Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John, and several others. Here's an interesting fact: before Yeshua's era, being a disciple was already a respected tradition in Hebrew culture. To become one, young learners first completed Bet Midrash, where they studied the entire Tanakh (the Old Testament) and also learned their family's trade. After mastering this, a teacher would then invite them to become his disciple, known as 'talmidim.'

These talmidim closely emulated their teachers, adopting their eating habits, observing the Sabbath similarly, and studying the Torah in the same manner. Their primary roles were to remember their teacher’s teachings, understand their traditions, emulate their behaviors, and eventually, become teachers themselves to continue the tradition.

Read Matthew 10, 1 Timothy 3:15-17, John 1:38-39 and Luke 6. Can you answer the questions below?

  1. Can you name the 12 disciples?
  2. What did young learners study in Bet Midrash?
  3. After completing Bet Midrash, who invited the learners to become disciples?
  4. What is the Hebrew term for these disciples who closely followed their teacher's traditions?

Click on The Disciples Activity Book below to learn more about the 12 Disciples.

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