Suicide bombers

The 'just war' debate, Islamic style

Tucked away in an account of the Jewish resistance to Antiochus Epiphanes is the story of a hero’s sacrifice. The Book of 1 Maccabees describes the prebattle scene. Jewish forces are encamped at Bethzechariah with the enemy directly opposite them, fully armed and ready to fight. As the Jewish soldiers watch, their counterparts prepare elephants—the heavy artillery of ancient warfare. Wooden towers are fastened onto elephants, with each tower bearing four armed men who will fight from this raised position. The army is a fearsome spectacle: “The sun shone on the shields of gold and brass, the hills were ablaze with them and gleamed like flaming torches. . . . All who heard the noise made by their multitude, by the marching of the multitude and the clanking of their arms, trembled, for the army was very large and strong.”

Fighting ensues, and then a member of the Jewish resistance makes a move:


This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.