Eric Jobe on Violence in the Old Testament

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Eric Jobe is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.  My friend Joel recently shared Eric’s blog, Departing Horeb, on Facebook and I was very impressed.

Currently, he’s writing a series on understanding violence in the Old Testament. I found the first essay extremely fascinating and very informative.  For anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the historical context of the time in which the Old Testament documents were written and compiledI highly recommend this blog.

Here’s the introduction to Eric’s first post on this fascinating topic:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 presents commandments regarding the taking of female prisoners of war, and the process of how a soldier may go about taking his female prisoner of war as a wife.

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife,  12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails.  13 She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.  14 And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her. (NKJV)

Immediately, we blush at the notion of God giving instructions on what and what not to do in regard to forced marriage of female prisoners, and herein lies our problem, which is an apparent ethical disparity between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age and our own day. Before we look at Christian interpretations of this passage and some possible ways we can resolve this disparity in our own minds, let’s look at Jewish exegesis of this passage to see what these men, who spent their entire lives meticulously contemplating the Torah, had to say.

click here to read the entire blog.

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