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Does Judaism Condone Violence?Holiness and Ethics in the Jewish Tradition$
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Alan L. Mittleman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174235

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174235.001.0001

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Holiness and Violence

Holiness and Violence

(p.154) Chapter Three Holiness and Violence
Does Judaism Condone Violence?

Alan L. Mittleman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how holiness relates to violence, with particular emphasis on biblical, medieval, and contemporary Jewish attempts to justify violence, both in wartime and in peacetime. It defends the holy and its connection to ethics, while also purging holiness of violence. The chapter first considers the extreme violence commanded or depicted in the Bible, citing as an example the genocide of the Canaanites, before discussing holiness and violence in contemporary Judaism. More specifically, it describes how the legacy of biblical violence was moralized and diminished by rabbinic Judaism. It then analyzes God's violence by applying the so-called Maimonides's razor and suggests that the harshness of God, as depicted in the Bible, is a poetic way of capturing the imperative of justice. The chapter concludes with a commentary on the association of justice with the God of monotheism.

Keywords:   holiness, biblical violence, ethics, Bible, Canaanites, Judaism, God, Maimonides's razor, justice, monotheism

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