Israel and Humanity - Reports from Israel with the Gentiles

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Reports of Israel with the Gentiles.

§ 1.

We must now examine the design of international relations stemming from the previous doctrines. God in Judaism, is the creator and father of all peoples, he commands respect for individual rights and in this world of nations which constitute a large family, Israel appears to be the heart of humanity with any function special and glorious mission of working to the future unity of all mankind. What then is the conduct that was imposed on Jews vis-à-vis the Gentiles? Prescriptions mosaics on some peoples who had not precisely distinguished by benevolence toward Israel, perhaps we will he have learned the principles that should govern the attitude of the latter .

We see that the descendants of Esau had so inherited the antipathy of their ancestor Jacob as the king of Edom refuses to Hebrews simply passing through his country. Moses did [1] ordered not least his people not to hate the Edomite, adding, as we have seen, he is our brother . And so we do not believe that this recommendation is made because the family of Jacob with him, she also repeatedly about the Egyptian: "Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian [2] ". Why? Is it because he would have done good to Israel, what can not be said of all other peoples? No, that although he has done wrong, so that the Jews are bound a fortiori to love other nations that have made them no and then if the text invokes the memory of the Egyptian hospitality , is there not an extra generosity to forget the excesses of the ills suffered in the land of the Pharaohs to remember only their first home? The sacred writer is very far indeed to ignore the teaching of history. What proves it is the restrictions on intermarriage with Egyptians who are only allowed the third generation.

We find, indeed, besides this, exceptional laws against Amalek, Ammon, Moab and the Canaanite tribes. But if these special laws have been deemed necessary for the conquest of a country or the subjugation of a people, is not it precisely because the rule imposes a conduit to Israel any different in those with regular reports Gentiles? Note furthermore that these sentences have special moral significance far greater than the material interests of the Jews. The amount of harm these people have caused and which is little compared to persecution of the Egyptians, for nothing in the condemnation which they are the object it is motivated by the more outrageous conduct sacred and the legislature does not fail to mention the moral education of its people. This, for example, because Amalek, when the exodus from Egypt, threw himself on the poor people who dragged themselves painfully exhausted with fatigue, and in so doing, it has been no fear of God [3]. So just as the pagan fear God to become respectable as the equal of a brother. Ammon and Moab were also committed evil actions, since they have shown hospital point for Israel and they have bribed him against Balaam. As for the Canaanites, we learn from the mouth [4] Moses even if they are hated, not because of their faults vis-à-vis the Jews, it is because of their corruption, immorality and Israel is merely serving as instruments of divine justice and avenge the honor of outraged humanity. Here comes a very important observation is that while Moses expressly declares that it is because of their abominations the LORD doth drive them [5] and it excludes any other cause, he does not need to add that God does not act as a blind love for Israel. A similar pattern, though often criticized, however, the Jews, is so far from his thoughts, he fears that one can never be suspected of inspiration. When he speaks of God's love for Israel is simply to explain that he used them in preference to any other people to carry out his plans and he has done, in doing so, the oath to the patriarchs. This idea of providential coincidences does not exclude other causes also historical, as a prior possession of the Holy Land by the Semites that several biblical data are to be listed, nor the belief in the religious mission of Israel established by mankind in so many passages of Scripture. "The Lord is our God," said the Psalmist. He gave them the lands of nations, and they inherited the labor of the people; is so they might keep his orders and that they observe his laws [6] ". Another text also makes us understand that if God chose Abraham because he knew that he would recommend to his children and his posterity after them to observe fairness and justice, that is, according to Jeremiah, monotheism in which these virtues are the full development, "and the Lord had done to Abraham the promises he had made [7]".

§ 2.

But here are some facts of Israelite history even more conclusive. We know that Solomon made an alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre. The terms in which the Bible tells us about this pagan king can not be assumed that it represented, at the Jewish perspective, nothing [8] respectable or legitimate. We see that this person is assisting in the holy work of all, building the Temple refused to honor the Israelites degenerate like Samaritans because they were not admitted at the time of Ezra, to cooperate in the restoration of the sanctuary, while they eagerly accepted when the contributions of another pagan king, Cyrus.

It is not only against foreign sovereigns, but vis-à-vis the people themselves that the Hebrews observe this attitude of friendly deference. We remember the loyalty with which Joshua and the elders of Israel will keep the oath, however obtained by fraud, by which they promised the Gibeonites, without knowing them, not to touch anything that belonged to them. Surprisingly! sense of the inviolability of that promise is so persistent that we find in full force until the time of Saul, and when the reign of David, the famine afflicting the country, we still believe it is a punishment of the insult to international good faith, exercised terrible punishment on own son and grandchildren of Saul would shudder, but that intention is sublime soften the impact of this distressing scene bloody [9]. David has a very nice word at Ammon's son, Hanun, "I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash," he said, as his father showed to me [10]. And a former Karaite author commenting on the verse concludes, "it must be good, like David, even to the disbelievers that they received some benefit [11] ".

Israel's conduct in respect of the pagan peoples was so great that they gave the name of his sovereign pious kings and they did not hesitate to confide in their generosity. We read that during the defeat of the Syrians, their King Ben-Hadad fled to the city Aphek trying to hide. 'His slaves said to him: Behold, we heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: we put bags on our loins, and ropes upon our heads and we will deliver to the king of Israel, can be he will grant you life saving. " They executed their plan and when they found themselves in the presence of Ahab, they tell him: "Your servant Ben-Hadad sent you say: Let me through life! Ahab did not belie his good name: [12] Was he so still? he replied he is my brother! [13] "This is how delicate that King Ahab corrected the title humiliating servant whom his enemy had been defeated, and the first to learn to deal with sovereign brothers. The Syrians were quick to announce to Ahab the arrival of his brother Ben-Hadad, who ascended the royal carriage at the invitation of the king of Israel and was doubtless not a little surprised to hear him tell it: "I will return the cities my father took from your father and you prepare yourself for markets in Damascus as my father established in Samaria, I'll let free after having made an alliance with you." The alliance was thus entered and the prisoner released and then if the Lord condemns the conduct of Ahab, it must be noted that the reason for disapproval is in effect, expressly tells us the sacred text, because Syrians had made the God of Israel, an idea somewhat similar to that which the rationalist critique offers today. They said that the God of Israel is a god of mountains and valleys, not a god [14] and this outrage is that the Lord had decided to punish. Ahab is in no way blamed for having acted with generosity, but rather for failing to aggressively claimed for the Lord's universal power. The victory had also been obtained in a miraculous way, so that Ben-Hadad was a prisoner of God rather than the king of Israel, but later when the soldiers of this same king of Syria in war against Israel were brought unwittingly by Elisha in Samaria until we see the man of God in turn advise the king of Israel conduct magnanimous: "I smite, smite myself, my father? asked the king. No, not smite you, "answered Elisha, Do you smite people that you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Give them bread and water, they eat and drink and they return to their master [15] ".

This sublime response proves that the Prophet commanded also treat with kindness the enemies of Israel, it also helps to distinguish the cases in which the sovereign is free to indulge his personal generosity: the king has the option [16] to pardon or to exercise her rights of war when he was defeated by force of arms, but when the victory is a special favor of Providence is God's command that it is required to perform. So there is a question of authority independent of the use we made of it. Added that if the word of Elisha to the king of Israel must be understood in the sense that it gives Raschi: "Is it your habit of killing people you do prisoners? "It shows as clearly as possible that the constant rule in Israel was to respect the lives of the captives and that any semblance of offense for this generous tradition could not excite the astonishment of a Jew.


  1. Page 406
  2. Deuteronomy , XXIII, 7
  3. Deuteronomy, XXV, 18
  4. Page 407
  5. Ibid. XVIII, 12
  6. Psalm CV, 44, 45.
  7. Genesis XVIII, 19
  8. Page 408
  9. V. Samuel II, XVI, 1-14.
  10. Sat II X, 2
  11. Ecol hacopher, P. 96
  12. Page 409
  13. I Kings XX, 32.
  14. I Kings XX, 28
  15. Kings II, VI, 21. 22.
  16. Page 410