"Might" and "Right" in the Biblical Narrative

Mordecai Roshwald

Abstract: The confrontation between “might” and “right” is one of the basic themes of the Bible. Indeed, the imperative of commitment to right and the belief in its vindication may be regarded as a major contribution of the Israelite civilization to the Western creed. An exploration of this theme in some biblical stories where it is not obvious—such as that of Joseph and the tale of the exodus from Egypt—will make this apparent. This major theme is further highlighted in other narratives where the issue is explicitly articulated.
    Yet the belief in the vindication of right is challenged in the Bible itself, as well as in post-biblical literature, in the face of Israelite/Jewish and universal human experience. An indirect response to such a challenge is implied in eschatological prophecy and in messianic beliefs, which envisage a perfect world of peace and justice.

Biography: Mordecai Roshwald holds Master’s and Doctor’s degrees in Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Minnesota. He has also held appointments at universities in Israel, England, Canada and Taiwan. His publications include numerous articles, both scholarly and popular, in English and Hebrew, some of which were translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, German, Arabic and Chinese. He has published twelve books, including two books of fiction, two books in Hebrew, and one book written jointly with Miriam Roshwald.

Volume 4, Number 1 (Winter 2009) pp. 1-24