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Christian scholars have been writing about war for centuries. The "just war theory" is perhaps the greatest contribution that Christians have made to the moral study of war.

This got me wondering. Is there a Jewish way of war? War has obviously taken place within the Jewish tradition. Is there a decidedly Jewish way of war? I mean this in terms of moral restraints on battle, when wars are justified, etc etc

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  • Rambam has a three-prong criteria for how to lead a just war. If memory serves, first is to send peaceful letters, then soemthing else, and then fight. – Turk Hill Mar 22 at 4:25
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    Deuteronomy 20 highlights what the Yisraelites/Israelites were to do before engaging in warfare. – יהודה Mar 22 at 5:34
  • @TurkHill ask the enemy to flee, accept a peaceful settlement then fight. See MT Melachim 6:5 – mbloch Mar 22 at 6:36
  • @mbloch Yes, that's it. – Turk Hill Mar 22 at 16:13
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There is indeed a Jewish way of war. See Rambam's Mishne Torah Melachim uMilchamot chapter 6 and to some extent 7 and 8.

Some of the key principles are

  • propose a peaceful settlement first (except for Amnon and Moav, but we can accept peace if they start it)
  • it is forbidden to lie after they accepted peace
  • don't kill women and children (except for Amalek and seven nations)
  • not to set siege on all four sides of a city but to leave a side for escape
  • not to cut down fruit trees outside a city nor prevent an irrigation ditch from bringing water to them so that they dry up
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