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Wrestling With an Angel: Power, Morality, and Jewish Identity

by Ehud Luz Michael Swirsky

After the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 CE) and the eradication of all trace of Jewish political independence in Palestine, Jews gave little thought to questions of war. Long exile freed them from the sharp moral dilemmas con¬fronted by any polity that is compelled to use force to defend itself. Jews considered warfare to be the ''craft of Esau,'' that is, a matter for the gentiles, at least until such time as the Messiah would come. The Jews --''Jacob'' -- took no interest in armed conflict except insofar as it might impinge upon their fate as a minority living under foreign rule.

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