Book

Holy War in Judaism

Reuven Firestone

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860302
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950621 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860302.001.0001
Holy War in Judaism

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Holy war, defined for this study as war authorized or even commanded by God, is a fundamental part of biblical religion and a core institution of the Hebrew Bible. Jews of antiquity engaged in wars considered to be divinely sanctioned, but after crushing defeats against the Roman Empire this kind of response to communal threat became so self-destructive that Jewish leaders devised a means of removing holy war from the repertoire of Jewish political actions. The result was the tendering of two interpretive instruments, normative for nearly two thousand years, which would prevent Jewish zealots from declaring holy war and thus endangering the community. The exegesis was possible within a particular historical context, but times change. The transformations brought about by modernity required Jews to re-examine the traditional rabbinic prohibition against war in the light of the times. Within a hundred years the traditional safeguards were effectively removed for the majority of religious Jews that continued to take Jewish traditional exegesis seriously. This full process, from removing holy war from possibility to reviving holy war as a paradigm for action, is the topic of this study.

Keywords: Bible; holy war; Judaism; Jews; violence; terrorism; peace; conflict resolution; Roman Empire; Zionism

Book.  384 pages. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Holy War in Judaism

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Holy War in the Bible in Holy War in Judaism

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Jewish Holy War in Practice in Holy War in Judaism

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Holy War Fails in Holy War in Judaism

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Rabbinic Typology of War in Holy War in Judaism

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Who Is the Enemy? in Holy War in Judaism

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