Society & Politics

How Democratic Were the Children of Israel?


Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks

One of the primary sources of knowledge for Christians is the Bible, so it comes as little surprise that when we study a subject like politics, we are encouraged to study Scipture’s implications for it. It is with this interest that we look at Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ review of Michael Walzer’s book, In God’s Shadows.ˆ Rabbi Sacks’ review asks of the Old Testament “How democratic were the children of Israel?”

Interestingly, what Walzer finds is that the Hebrew Bible doesn’t say much about politics as we often understand it—“an attempt on the part of humans to govern themselves.” Instead of the sovereignty of humankind (or the sovereignty of a select few humans), the Old Testament builds its understanding of politics solely upon the sovereignty of God—a God who is deeply interested in and involved with the affairs of this world. The emphasis for humanity, thus, is shifted from the political to the ethical. As such, Walzer’s book should be a timely reminder that our hope lies not in the political realm but in the God who lets the political be—a message that rings through the entirety of the Bible.

What are the political lessons you have learned from reading the Bible?

How does the New Testament further develop the political thoughts of the Old Testament?

Source: The Jewish Chronicle

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