1) The strategy more effective for imperial power was for a ruler to be seen as kind and just. If a leader could set an example for how best to act, his people would loyally follow, emulate his benevolent nature, and pay tribute with little to none fight. For example, the Persians were more accepting of local indigenous traditions, and encouraged different cultures and religions. Cyrus is known as being a great and kind ruler- freeing the people of Juduh from the Babylonians and, “encouraging them to rebuild their temple (Video: Persia).” This fostering of knowledge and different ideas without fighting over who was right or wrong allowed for a society with good communication, trade, and plentiful schools of thought. On the other hand, the Assyrians harsh rule created resentment in those they defeated, or those outside of the “yoke of Asshur.” This resentment would eventually lead to their downfall as their system was overthrown by a coalition allied with the Babylonians. Now, one could argue that Persia, just as Assyria fell and that technically, Assyria did last longer; however, Persia’s political context at the time of their demise furthers the argument that ruling with benevolence is more beneficial for all parties. During the 5th century this, “benevolent image, memory of the oder of the Persian Shaw was altered after conflict and war broke out between Persians and Greeks… image of the Persians in the West became increasingly viewed in an adversarial light (Video: Persia).” Of course, following this discourse, their empire fell as challenges with the Greeks and invading armies arose. As soon as their image of benevolent emancipators fell, they became more subjected to conflict and attack- further proving that their initial strategy- perhaps best emulated in King Cyrus, was what provided their successes in communication with others, trade facilitation, and military efforts.
2) The Israelite interpretation of justice faces some conflict. In the Death Of Moses passage, it is implied that because Moses served God, his death was just, despite not being rewarded for his labor and dying directly before reaching the promise land. However, then, God speaks to Abraham and his mind is changed about what is just- negotiating his way from, “fifty innocent within the city (WW Ch.5)” to his final conviction, “I will not destroy, for the sake of ten (WW Ch. 5).” Here lies an implication that maybe the divine’s sense of justice is not all knowing and that perhaps the human judicial instinct is something truly novel to our species. There seems to lie two schools of thought. The first being that doing what is right means following God’s order no matter what (as is seen with Job approaching all of his misfortune but continuing his faith and being rewarded for it in the end). And the second seems to exemplify that there is no divine justice, and that true religion is doing what is right regardless, best emulated in the Book of Job’s analysis, “others believe God’s words imply so system of divine justice and that authentic religious faith requires human righteousness in spite of this fact (WW Ch.5),” and in the decision of God’s to make Gob suffer despite his proven loyalty. It was clear that they had a sense of what seemed objectively right or wrong based off the lists of rules written down, including the Proverbs. The question seemed more to stem from where that right and wrong ideal came from. Man or God?
3) Looking at the Egyptian view of justice, we see a clear similarity to the Israelites. Earlier in the course, we looked at Hammurabi’s code, a grand list of rules similar from those listed in the Torah. Both were extensive in reach and handed down from a “higher being,” who we assume knows all and is capable of making a list reflecting an eternal and objective right versus wrong. However, even earlier, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the vengeful god Ishtar kills Enkidu, which Gilgamesh and the reader both see as bad as well as threatens to do awful things that would effect everyone, “I will smash the doors of the nether world… I will raise up the dead eating and alive So the dead will outnumber the living (Epic of Gilgamesh pg. 3)!,” suggesting that god’s are capable of malpractice and are flawed beings with greater power. This far beyond contrasts with the ways in which the Israelites present the 10 commandments: as a list of perfect rules presented by a perfect God. Where justice once came more from within, now we see the emergence of divine justice as a way of keeping rules and people in check.
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