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I apologize in advance if this comes across as provocative. That is not at all my intention; I ask simply to learn.


"Kill the infidels" is a phrase often used to describe Islam's stance on disbelievers - chop their heads off, poke their eyes out, and other gruesome forms of death.

Although Judaism does not invite such severe forms of killing, they seem to believe in the similar principle of join us or die.

Rashi to Shemos 17:16 says that "as long as Amalek's memory endures, Hashem's Name and His throne are not complete." Seemingly what he is referring to is the oft-quoted statement that Amalek stands against everything Judaism is for - namely, expressing Hashem's Presence in the world. As such, we cannot exist side by side. It's for this reason that R' Aharon Kotler (Mishnas Rav Aharon, Vol. 4 pg. 137-8, explaining Sanhedrin 20b) says that we had to wipe out Amalek before building the Beis HaMikdash - as the Beis HaMikdash brings the Shechinah to the world and Amalek strives to remove it from the world, we had to destroy Amalek in order for the Beis HaMikdash to be built.

Isn't this a little extreme? In general, we have an obligation to extend peace to the nations we attack (Devarim 20:10ff), yet nowhere do we find that this applies to Amalek.1 Why is this so? Because Amalek refuses to acknowledge Hashem's sovereignty, that gives us a right to kill them? Let them get their due when Mashiach comes and the nations are punished for their sins (see AZ 2a-3b). Why can we not keep our Beis HaMikdash to ourselves and let them keep to themselves?

Had the sources said they attacked first, therefore we could attack back, that would be one thing; we find a similar discussion by Midian (Bamidbar 26,31). But that's not why we're allowed to kill Amalek, according to the above; it's because they're anti-HaShem. Why is that license to kill?


1 I am aware that Rashi to Devarim 20:10, citing Sifrei there, explains this passage as referring to optional wars, of which Amalek clearly is not, and so this point would not apply. However, the Ramban to the above passuk, as well as Rambam (Malachim 6:1,4) hold that it applies to obligatory wars as well, and thus at least according to them this point would stand. When one is supposed to call out for peace is not for this post; those curious may refer to Sefer HaChinuch 527, Tosfos to Gittin 46a, and Yerushalmi Sheviis 1:6. Also see the above Ramban inside for how he defends himself against the Sifrei.

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    1) the 7 nations were allowed to surrender, under certain circumstances. Only Once that time passed we must kill them. 2) what else do you do with conquered nations. That doesn't mean there is a commandment to conquer the whole world. – Menachem Mar 20 '17 at 3:12
  • I just saw a malbim that can provide some insight but the hour is late. I will also try to look up the chinuch as well. Also Yasher Koach on your Dolphinim question! – TrustMeI'mARabbi Mar 20 '17 at 3:52
  • Given the concept of ger toshav and Noachide, the answer to your title would be no. – sabbahillel Mar 20 '17 at 4:08
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    re: the use of the word "infidels" -- disbelievers in what? A Noachide is not a believer in Judaism but certainly isn't killed. – rosends Mar 20 '17 at 9:48
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    where do you see a commandment to enslave the rest of the world? From the bit about optional wars? But aren't optional wars .... optional? Isn't it then at least misleading to claim that we are 'commanded to enslave the rest of the world'? – Jay Mar 20 '17 at 15:42
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No, it can't be proven from these sources that Jews have a "join us or die" stance and are commanded to either enslave or kill the rest of the world. See here that the killing of Amalek and the seven nations was limited to cases where they did not accept the most basic moral requirements expected of all nations - not to kill, steal, etc. or if they refused to make peace. They need not join us to be spared.

The Tosfos you mention does not imply that we are supposed to enslave as many people as possible. Tosfos doesn't cite the earlier verse because it doesn't prove his point that prisoners were enslaved rather than killed.

Eved Kena'ani also doesn't imply that there is any commandment to actively go out and enslave people.

In addition, there is another important distinction between the 'kill the infidels' stance and the Jewish faith: those nations no longer exist, so even if we were commanded to kill them unconditionally it would still be just in theory. We don't practically pose a danger to anyone as a result of these beliefs.

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We know there is no commandment to kill/conquer/enslave non Jews in general because God forbade the Jews from attacking Edom when leaving Egypt and Joshua would have killed the Gibeonites regardless of where they said they were from. Later on, David is commanded by God to turn over some members of Saul's family to the Gibeonites for revenge killing, indicating that God wants the Gibeonites to be appeased and not utterly degraded. Furthermore, we see Solomon having good relations with Egypt, Sheba, and Tyre. Tyre even did much of the work for the Temple.

  • I guess Infidel in judaism does not mean non-jew, but people that surve idles – hazoriz Jun 26 '17 at 4:37

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