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War

Marrying a Beautiful Captive Woman

If an Israelite wishes to marry a woman taken captive in war, she becomes part of the Israelite polity and is protected from future re-enslavement. Uncomfortable with the Torah’s permitting this marriage, the rabbis declare it to be a compromise to man’s “evil impulse,” an idea reminiscent of Jesus’ claim that the Torah allows divorce as a compromise to humanity’s “hard heart.”

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Israel’s Army: What Is the Basis for the Draft in Jewish Law?

When the State of Israel was established, the leading figures in religious Zionism had to justify Israel’s right to conscript soldiers using Jewish legal sources.

Prof.

Robert Eisen

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The Subverted City (Ir Hannidahat) in the Context of ANE Vassal Treaties

Deuteronomy’s requirement to destroy a city whose inhabitants worship another god and to leave it as an eternally desolate mound, can be understood in the context of ancient Near Eastern vassal treaties. Specifically, Hittite texts describe how kings dealt with rebellious vassal cities, by destroying them utterly and dedicating their land to the gods.

Prof.

Ada Taggar-Cohen

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The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

In revenge for the Midianite seduction (Num 25), Phinehas takes the sacred utensils from the Tabernacle and leads the war against Midian (Num 31). Many details in this story contradict other Priestly texts, giving us a glimpse into how the Priestly Torah was compiled.

Dr.

Ariel Kopilovitz

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"Are Trees of the Field Human?"

Deuteronomy 20:19 forbids the chopping down of fruit trees during war-time, and offers the cryptic explanation כי האדם עץ השדה (ki ha-adam etz hasadeh), but what does this mean?[1]

Dr.

Shai Secunda

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Keeping Excrement out of God's Presence

The Torah requires all Israelite soldiers to carry a shovel with them for covering their feces, outside the war camp, because God is in the camp. Jewish interpreters have grappled with the meaning of this law: the Qumranites and Karaites assume feces must be impure, the rabbis extend the law to prayer and Torah study, and some medievalist interpreted the law homiletically, as a goad towards maintaining human decency at all times, even during war.

Prof.

Alan Cooper

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Honoring the Death of Soldiers

The concept of heroic death is conspicuously absent in Bible. This sharply contrasts with ancient Near Eastern and Greek tropes, as well as with the book of Maccabees and modern day commemorations such as Israel’s Yom Hazikaron and America’s Memorial Day. How should we understand this difference?[1]

Dr.

Jacob L. Wright

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An Ancient Precedent for the Yom Kippur War?

Two Roman conquests of Jerusalem (Pompey in 63 B.C.E. and Sosius in 37 B.C.E.) purportedly happened on “the day of the fast,” during which the Jews barely defended themselves. Is this a reference to Yom Kippur and why didn’t the Jews defend themselves?

Dr.

Nadav Sharon

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The Midianite War: Where Is Joshua?

Project TABS Editors

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What Caused the War Between the Kings? Philo's Dual Interpretation

In his account of Abraham’s life, the first-century thinker Philo of Alexandria skillfully interprets the bewildering details in the story of the war between the four and five kings. Understanding the tale on a literal and allegorical level, he offers intriguing suggestions about what motivates both powerful rulers and forces within the soul.

Dr.

Ellen Birnbaum

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Maimonides' Purim and Chanukah Message of Peace

Both Chanukah and Purim are celebrations of Jewish victory over their enemies. Nevertheless, in the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides, making use of aggada, turns these into holidays of peace.[1]

Prof.

Menachem Kellner

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The Megillat Esther Massacre

Confronting the description in Megillat Esther of the Jews killing 75,000 including women and children

Prof.

Meylekh (PV) Viswanath

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