What Does the Torah Say About the Use of Violence?

God commands those who love and follow Him to oppose evil by resisting it by all appropriate means: You shall burn the evil out from you. (Deuteronomy 17:7). This does not mean that one should take the law into his or her own hands but that the Christian teaching, "offer the wicked man no resistance" (Matthew 5:38), is absolutely contrary to the Torah's ways of righteousness.

Understand that "all its [Torah's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17). But the world isn't always completely pleasant, or peaceful. In this unredeemed world of ours, people, who have free will, very frequently abuse it. So people everywhere are obligated to create and maintain effective systems of laws, police and courts to to protect their societies from evil; this is a universal commandment, one of the Rainbow Covenant laws, the Noachide Law.

In extreme circumstances, where there is no law, or peace, the Torah teaches clearly:

"If someone  comes to kill you, kill him first." (Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a).

For more on the universal obligation to maintain a just and orderly society with a system of police and courts, and on the place of war, defense, and defense of property, read our book: The Rainbow Covenant; Torah and the Seven Universal Laws (Lightcatcher Books, 2003).

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