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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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Rabbinic Typology of War

Rabbinic Typology of War

(p.77) Chapter 5 Rabbinic Typology of War
Holy War in Judaism

Reuven Firestone

Oxford University Press

The rabbis developed two rabbinic instruments designed to prevent the instigation of holy war after the destruction of the Temple. One was to categorize all biblical wars into categories and then limit the possibility of extended discussion about them. The other was the discovery that God had charged certain behaviours to both Jews and Gentiles that enacted a kind of balance between them. Exegetes understood a repeated motif in the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) to refer to three vows imposed by God on Jews and the world. Jews were commanded through their two vows not to rebel against Gentile hegemony nor engage in mass movements to settle the Land of Israel until God wished, meaning that Jews would not initiate such activities of their own accord. Gentiles, for their part were required to vow that they would not treat the Jews living among them too harshly.

Keywords:   Three Vows, Commanded War, Discretionary War, Obligatory War, Deferments, Rabbi Yohanan, Rav Hisda, Sanhedrin, Diaspora, Pre-emptive strike

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