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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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Who Is the Enemy?

Who Is the Enemy?

Chapter:
(p.99) Chapter 6 Who Is the Enemy?
Source:
Holy War in Judaism
Author(s):

Reuven Firestone

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860302.003.0007

The mortal enemies of Israel become schematized in Rabbinic Judaism into two paradigmatic entities: the seven Canaanite nations and the Amalekites, both of which disappeared from history. The Amalekites, although destroyed physically, live on as a metaphor for both the external and internal evil that weakens Israel. Jewish aggression is thus redirected to imagined paradigms rather than real groups, further limiting the possibility of Jewish war in real time. A further limitation is imposed by the rabbis by insisting that a discretionary war may be prosecuted only under the authority of both the king and the Sanhedrin, a court of seventy-one rabbis.

Keywords:   Amalek, Amalekites, Canaanite Nations, Seven Nations, King David, Urim vetumim, Sanhedrin

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