Prophecy and International Politics

Michael Walzer

Abstract: This article focuses on the tension between kings and prophets with regard to what we now call “foreign policy.” The kings favored a policy based on prudence and calculation, while the prophets (most crucially Isaiah) argued that only faith in God was necessary and that any reliance on human means was a form of idolatry. I claim that the prophetic argument, which is antipolitical, is dominant in the Hebrew Bible.

Biography: Michael Walzer is professor (emeritus) of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton [nb, not Princeton University]. He is the author of Just and Unjust Wars, Spheres of Justice, and other books, and the editor, along with Menachem Lorberbaum and Noam Zohar, of The Jewish Political Tradition, two volumes of which have been published by Yale UP; two more are forthcoming. His previous article in HPS was "Biblical Politics: Where Were the Elders?"

Volume 4, Number 4 (Fall 2009) pp. 319–328