As the debate surrounding gun control has become a central issue in the US, one rabbi in Israel weighs in, offering a Biblical perspective on the controversial topic. Rabbi Avi Grossman of Machon Shilo recently recorded a Torah class dealing exclusively with what the Torah says about the right to bear arms.
Examples from the Bible
Rabbi Grossman kicked off the presentation by noting that the ancient Israelites in Egypt were not allowed to bear arms should they revolt against their slave owners. But the fact that the Bible makes a point of mentioning that they finally did have the means to defend themselves against their Egyptian slave owners enabled them to realize their destiny of leaving Egypt:
Now the Israelites went up armed out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:18)
Rabbi Grossman also notes that Devorah’s song lamented a largely unarmed Nation of Israel slated to fight the mighty Canaanite warriors in battle after failing to evict them from the Land of Israel.
When they chose new gods, Was there a fighter then in the gates? No shield or spear was seen Among forty thousand in Yisrael! (Judges 5:8)
The Jewish sage Ralbag explains that when Barak, along with the tribes of Zevulun and Naftali, eventually won the war against the Canaanites, it was not “due to their own strength,” Rabbi Grossman said, explaining that “they didn’t have weapons.”
No blacksmith was to be found in all the land of Yisrael, for the Philistines were afraid that the Hebrews would make swords or spears. (Samuel 13:19)
“Everybody else was armed with sticks and stones basically or farm tools before this fight. Because of Saul’s victories eventually, he was able to begin to arm his Israelite armies such that it was quite good by David’s time.”
Gun control: The way of Israel’s oppressors
Regarding gentiles, the rabbi stressed that: “The Torah doesn’t tell them don’t have guns. The Torah tells them to educate and to follow the laws that God gave them and to enforce these laws.”