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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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Maimonides’ Counting of the Commandments

Maimonides’ Counting of the Commandments

(p.108) Chapter 7 Maimonides’ Counting of the Commandments
Holy War in Judaism

Reuven Firestone

Oxford University Press

This chapter treats the generally meagre discussion among medieval Jews about holy war. While little is added to the discussion outside of Maimonides, that great medieval polymath develops a universal Jewish theory of war patterned after the universal Muslim theories of war that were issues of discussion in his environment under the Caliphate. He portrays biblical wars against the Canaanites and Amalekites as a reflection of the divine will to bring all humanity to right religion rather than for Israel to take possession of the Land. In fact, in Maimonides Book of Commandments, he fails to include conquest of the Land of Israel despite what appears to be repeated divine directives to do so. The commandment to conquer and settle the Land of Israel is not operative in the time of Exile after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple.

Keywords:   Rashi, Maimonides, Book of Commandments, Mishneh Torah, Guide to the Perplexed, Noahides, Noahide Laws

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