Holy War in Ancient Israel

Front Cover
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1991 - Bible - 166 pages
This is a print on demand book and is therefore non- returnable.

From the earliest days of Israel's existence as a people, holy war was a sacred institution, undertaken as a cultic act of a religious community. The concept of holy war, an intriguing and sometimes disturbing theme in the Old Testament, is given its most articulate expression in this classic study by the distinguished German scholar Gerhard von Rad.

For Israel, the most important feature of holy war was the demand for faith in Yahweh's saving acts. However, von Rad argues, it was not Yahweh alone who acted; rather, because they envisioned Yahweh fighting in their behalf the Israelites themselves were inspired -- and obliged -- to fight even harder.

In this regard, the actual events differed vastly from the picture given by the biblical narratives, which downplay and often exclude the human factor and stress the exclusive warlike action of Yahweh, thus equating holy war with absolute miracle.

So persuasive was von Rad's work on the Old Testament understanding of holy war that it set the standard for all subsequent work on the subject. Appearing here in English for the first time, this definitive study will prove valuable not only for students and scholars, but for anyone interested in the theory of holy war and its development throughout biblical history.

Ben C, Ollenburger, professor of Old Testament at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, has written an introduction to the book. An annotated bibliography by Judith E. Sanderson, assistant professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, brings the work up to date with current research.


Selected pages


The Theory of Holy War
Holy War in the History of Ancient Israel
Holy War in me PostSolomonic Novella
Holy War in the Prophets
Deuteronomy and Holy War
Conclusion and Prospect
A Representative Bibliography

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1991)

Gerhard von Rad (1901-1971) was for many years professor of theology at Heidelberg University. The author of numerous commentaries and monographs on various aspects of Old Testament studies, his magnum opus is the two-volume Old Testament Theology.

Bibliographic information