Population Growth, Scarcity, and Genocide in Ancient Israel and Twentieth-Century Rwanda
Drawing upon research from the field of genocide studies, this chapter argues that there is a connection between the genocidal violence described in some biblical texts and the marked population increases that occurred in Iron Age Palestine and the surrounding regions. It uses the Rwandan genocide as a case study for understanding multicausal frameworks for explicating genocide, demonstrating that a combination of factors is necessary for genocidal violence to occur. In both Rwanda and the ancient Levant, population increases, land scarcities, and the particular realities of ethnic identity formation were catalysts for extreme interethnic violence. The chapter examines archaeological evidence for population increases, as well as evidence from such texts as the Mesha Inscription, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Amos, paying special attention to passages discussing the practice of ḥērem and concludes with a reflection on materialist approaches to ritual violence.
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