ABSTRACT: Internecine wars in biblical Israel

Y. Levin and A. Shapira (eds.), War and Peace in Jewish Tradition from the Bible to the Present, London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 89-100  Meir Bar-Ilan


So Far, for several reasons, the wars among the Jews in Biblical Times didn’t get the attention it should have gotten. Modern Jewish historiography called upon the suffering of the Jews by their various enemies: from Assyria and Rome through the Crusades and the Nazi regime, according the lachrymose trend that governed historiography. The aim of this paper is to draw attention to some “skeletons” in the Jewish closet, when Jews killed Jews.

We will pay attention to some of the forgotten facts of our pasts when Judea and Israel used to fight each other and it will be shown that there were more fights than one perceives. Before analyzing the text a general warning is made concerning the numbers in the Bible, allegedly corrupted, and thus numbers per se cannot be taken as to refute authenticity.

After discussing pre-monarchy stories about brethren blood-shedding the main discussion is dedicated to fights between Judah and Israel during the 10-8 centuries BCE. These fights are divided into three categories: 1) few fights in the battle-fields; 2) constant clashes; 3) a raid: a story in Chronicles (II, 25,5-13), extremely cruel and without parallel. These testimonies should be taken as authentic while discussing the problems of the book of Chronicles.