The Apocrypha — Israel, Gaza and “just war”

John Partington writes:

On Sunday 19th November (at 6.00 pm in St Mary’s) we’re having our last session studying the Apocrypha, and will be looking at 1 & 2 Maccabees.

An excerpt: “In those days, Simon Maccabeus camped against Gaza and besieged it round about.”  A few years earlier, according to the historian Josephus, Simon’s brother Jonathan had “set a part of his army round about Gaza and overrun their land, and spoiled it, and burnt what was in it.”  Those were just two episodes in a decades-long war of attrition in the second century BCE.

We shall be exploring the theological and moral issues raised by Jewish nationalism in the Hasmonean period, with little expectation of “solving” the millennia-long dilemmas inherent in the story .. but some hope of being a little better informed.

All are welcome, and to whet your appetite why not look at how the Maccabees narrative is still used today to explore the idea of “just war” in the Kyiv Post of December 2022 and the Jerusalem Post of December 2014.

From 1996 to 1999 the writer of the Jerusalem Post article that I refer to, Michael Freund, was deputy director of communications under then-and-now prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu .. and so the “Maccabean solution” that he proposes for Gaza is perhaps a useful insight into current Israeli policy.