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The creation of the United States of America represented a unique event in world history – founded as a modern republic, it was rooted in the Bible, and one of its earliest tenets was religious tolerance.
They were the new Israelites, entering into a new covenant with God in a new Promised Land.
Thanksgiving ― first celebrated in 1621, a year after the Mayflower landed ― was initially conceived as a day parallel to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; it was to be a day of fasting, introspection and prayer.
Writes Gabriel Sivan in The Bible and Civilization (p.
236): "No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the Biblical drama of the Hebrew nation...
the Word of God shall be the only rule to be attended unto in organizing the affairs of government in this plantation." (1) Subsequently, the New Haven legislators adopted a legal code ― the Code of 1655 ― which contained some 79 statutes, half of which contained Biblical references, virtually all from the Hebrew Bible.
The Plymouth Colony had a similar law code as did the Massachusetts assembly, which, in 1641 adopted the so-called "Capitall Laws of New England" based almost entirely on Mosaic law.
Of course, without a Jewish Oral Tradition, which helped the Jews understand the Bible, the Puritans were left to their own devices and tended toward a literal interpretation.
these émigré Puritans dramatized their own situation as the righteous remnant of the Church corrupted by the 'Babylonian woe,' and saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the Covenant entered into at Mount Sinai." Previously, during the Puritan Revolution in England, (1642-1648) some Puritan extremists had even sought to replace English common law with Biblical laws of the Old Testament, but were prevented from doing so.
In America, however, there was far more freedom to experiment with the use of Biblical law in the legal codes of the colonies and this was exactly what these early colonists set out to do.