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The Levite and the Leviathan (Re’eh)

The following is an essay on Parshat Re’eh originally written in 2014. Shabbat shalom!

What's P'shat?

In his classic work of political theory, Leviathan, English philosopher Thomas Hobbes warns that without stable government, “the life of man [will be] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” This is precisely what occurs in the Biblical book of Judges. After the death of Joshua, Moshe’s successor, tribal rulers from all over the country scramble to fill the void created in his absence. Many of the men and women who step into positions of authority at this time provide for the needs of their people quite capably. Gradually, however, these competent “judges” are superseded by a group of power-hungry demagogues. Abimelech hires hit-men to murder seventy of his brothers and declares himself king of Shechem; Jephtah seizes the fords of the Jordan and executes forty-two thousand Ephraimites for treason; Samson burns Philistine crops in order to settle a personal score and nearly brings ruin upon all the inhabitants of the…

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1 Comment

  1. Mike Shriqui says:

    This is absolutely fantastic and timely. Thank you for the superb essay, I really enjoyed it and learned a great deal from it. Hope you and Blima are enjoying life. Take good care my friend. 🙂

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