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Holy War in JudaismThe Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea$
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Reuven Firestone

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860302

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860302.001.0001

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Holy War in the Bible

Holy War in the Bible

(p.17) Chapter 1 Holy War in the Bible
Holy War in Judaism

Reuven Firestone

Oxford University Press

In the ancient Near East, war was prosecuted by humans in partnership with their gods, so all wars were in some sense divinely authorized. War in the Hebrew Bible likewise is authorized by the God of Israel. The Hebrew Bible thus articulates a notion of war that can be defined as holy war, and the articulation is most developed and systematized in the Deuteronomic literature. Never intended as a means to propagate the faith or gain converts, divinely commanded war in the Hebrew Bible is justified for conquest and control of the Land of Israel and the elimination of idolatry within it.

Keywords:   Deuteronomic literature, idolatry, Canaanites, Deuteronomy

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