Exodus 15:3 The LORD, the Warrior - LORD is His name! (NJPS) Exodus 15:3 The LORD is a man of war, The LORD is His name (OJPS).

I came across a note in "The commentators bible, the JPS miqra'ot gedolot" of Michael Carasik saying regards 'the Warrior':

More literally, "a man of war" (OJPS), but the word does not literally mean a human being; it refers to God's personality." A "man of war" is one posseses warlike qualities; so NJPS has the sense.

Which warlike qualities are we talking about? Could this be something like the righteousness mentioned in Isaiah 59:17?

In the Talmud Shabbat 133b on the verse in parsha beshalach "Zeh keli v'anveyhu." Abba Shaul states that "V'anveyhu" teaches us to emulate Hashem: "Ma hu rachum v'chanun, af ata rachum v'chanun - Just as HaShem is merciful and compassionate, so too, you [i.e., man] should be merciful and compassionate." (Shabbos 133b).

So if we are to emulate HaShem in ways of becomming merciful and compassionate [i.e] peacefull qualities, should we also emulate HaShem regards the warlike qualities?

  • על כן יאמר בספר מלחמות ידוד – Double AA May 29 '18 at 20:24

The Midrash in Shemot Rabbah (Parshah 29) says as follows:

בא וראה שאין מדותיו של הקב"ה כמדת בשר ודם מלך ב"ו אינו יכול להיות עושה מלחמה ולהיות סופר ומלמד תינוקות והקב"ה איננו כן אתמול בים כעושה מלחמה שנאמר ה' איש מלחמה ואומר בכחו רגע הים והיום במתן תורה ירד ללמד תורה לבניו וכה"א הן אל ישגיב בכחו מי כמוהו מורה הוי וידבר אלהים את כל הדברים האלה

This seems to be saying that God's warriorness is encapsulated by his actions by the splitting of the sea, and that this demonstrates the difference between God and man. God can be both a mighty warrior and a peaceful teacher whereas man cannot. It that sense, then, we cannot emulate him.


Found this in a article of the Jewish Post, Indianapolis, Marion Country, 15 January 1992 in a Sidrah of Beshelach from the hand of Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka.

To be a master of war means to master war, but to be a master of war is more than just being a superb general, an ingenious tactician, or a brilliant strategist. It means to be a winner in war AMD a winner in life. It implies the capacity to wage war even while loving life - to protect without militaristic experience has a contagious effect in which it is quite easy to become insensitive to life.

Only G-d can be called a Master of war because all those who take part in battle are G-d’s own children, and remain as such. Battles are never pleasant. G-d is the Master of war. G-d is His name. The essence of G-d does not change through militarism. In life, there is an obligation to emulate G-d. It is impossible to be as G-d, but it is possible to emulate, to be aware of, what is godly, and to approximate, this godliness to whatever human extent possible. In the dimension of war, this implies the obligation not to let the necessity to fight in-vade the personality.

Yaakov, when he was about to confront his brother, Esav, was greatly afraid and distressed (Bereshit 32:8). The midrash explains this double anxiety state as referring to two things which worried Yaakov - the fact that he might be killed, and the fact that he might kill others. Why was Yaakov botheted about having to kill others? Perhaps because he did not know what effect this would have on his personality, whether it would change him from a peace-loving individual into a bellicose, belligerent individual. This disturbed him.

Throughout Jewish history, we have had many military confrontations, but we do bot gloat over them. Indeed, the very victory over Egypt is only a partial celebration for which a half of Hallel is recited on the last six days of Pesach (Arachin 10a). The first days celebrate the leaving from Egypt, which was a total celebration. The last days celebration, the annihilation of Egypt, can never be a total celebration. Hannukah is celebrated not on the day of victory but on the day after, the day of rededication of the Temple. The holiday of Purim was made possible by military victory, but Purim is celebrated on the day the Jewish people ‘rested from their enemies’ (Esther 9:17-18).

These are subtle but potent emulations of the godly quality that war should not permeate and overcome one’s human tendencies. In our time, this very feature is lived in the delicacy of Israel’s existence. Almost every able-bodied citizen is at once a defender of the state and a lover of peace. The Jewish subconscious relates back to its primordial roots.

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