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The Peace and Violence of JudaismFrom the Bible to Modern Zionism$
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Robert Eisen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199751471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751471.001.0001

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The Bible

The Bible

(p.15) 2 The Bible
The Peace and Violence of Judaism

Robert Eisen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the foundational text of Judaism. The first reading argues that the Bible promotes violence. The key problem is God’s covenant with the Israelites that implies that the Israelites are superior to other nations. The moral difficulty with this idea comes out in full force with the divine command to annihilate the Canaanites and Amalekites. The same problem is evident in the depictions of the messianic era in which the enemies of Israel will be destroyed. The second reading argues that the Bible promotes peace. The Bible, in fact, has a mostly positive view of non-Israelites. In the first chapter of Genesis, human beings are created in God’s image. God’s covenantal relationship with Israel does not assume that the gentiles are inferior to the Israelites. Israel’s purpose is to serve in a mediating role so that the nations receive God’s blessings.

Keywords:   Bible, covenant, God, Canaanites, Amalekites, messianic era, Israel, God’s image, gentiles

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