The freeing of captives in the ancient near East and in the Bible

David Elgavish

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Bible’s attitude toward military or civilian action undertaken to free captives can be deduced primarily from two campaigns: Abram’s fight against the four kings to free his nephew Lot (Genesis 14); and David’s attack on the Amalekites to free the wives and children of himself and his men who had been taken from Ziklag (1 Samuel 30). In neither case were the Israelite king or the sovereign Israelite state involved; rather these are stories about individuals or militias interested in freeing members of their own families. This is even more apparent in the legal sections of the Bible. No biblical law explicitly determines that someone must act to free a captive. Such an attitude contrasts with the extensive coverage in later Jewish tradition of the obligation to ransom captives.1 In order to assess the extent, and even the very existence, of the conception of the freeing of captives in the Bible more accurately and whether it concerned military action or other means, we will first consider some of the Ancient Near Eastern sources that deal with this issue.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWar and Peace in Jewish Tradition
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Biblical World to the Present
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781136625121
ISBN (Print)9780367865146
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'The freeing of captives in the ancient near East and in the Bible'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this