By Susan Niditch

Texts approximately struggle pervade the Hebrew Bible, elevating difficult questions in non secular and political ethics. The battle passages that readers locate such a lot disquieting are these during which God calls for the complete annihilation of the enemy with out regard to gender, age, or army prestige. The ideology of the "ban," even though, is just one between a variety of attitudes in the direction of warfare preserved within the old Israelite literary culture. using insights from anthropology, comparative literature, and feminist reviews, Niditch considers a large spectrum of warfare ideologies within the Hebrew Bible, looking in each one case to find why and the way those perspectives may have made feel to biblical writers, who themselves might be obvious to strive against with the ethics of violence. The examine of conflict hence additionally illuminates the social and cultural historical past of Israel, as struggle texts are discovered to map the area perspectives of biblical writers from quite a few sessions and settings. Reviewing ways that glossy students have interpreted this arguable fabric, Niditch sheds extra mild at the normative assumptions that form our knowing of old Israel. extra extensively, this paintings explores how humans try to justify killing and violence whereas targeting the tones, textures, meanings, and messages of a specific corpus within the Hebrew Scriptures.

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Extra resources for War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study in the Ethics of Violence

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The ban-as-sacrifice is the ideology behind many of the brief comments on the conquest of cities in Joshua 8 and 10. Humans but not animals or inanimate booty are always devoted under the ban in this context for they are the most valuable offerings. If the vow is reneged upon an equivalent substitute must be found. 1 Kings 20 reveals a tension between this ethic of herem as God's sacrifice and the more pragmatic ethic of war as statecraft. Important examples treating the death of enemies as sacrifice and more specifically linking "the ban" and sacrifice are found also in prophetic poetic texts.

The lines between crusade and just war are thus not at all neat. ) As Michael Walzer says, ". . " (Walzer, 1977:20; see also Q. Wright, 1942:93-94). " What do the war texts reveal about ancient Israelite ethics? Once again we should expect the emergence of a complex spectrum of attitudes, a range of ways in which war is justified, and some disagreement about what is considered allowable behavior in war. Attitudes toward killing and destruction in war, in turn, relate to attitudes toward other aspects of human violence including that fundamental feature of Israelite religion, blood sacrifice.

This passage is an interesting one, not only in its relevance for understanding the war vow of devotion but also in that it implies a difference in war ideologies. In contrast to this father, Jonathan does not believe in the war vow—better to rely on oneself and a well-fed army. The people will not let the vow lead to a human death. For them, such vows are and perhaps should be redeemable; Jonathan need not die. A much more consistent ideology of vow-making in war is found in the tale of Jephthah.

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