The Self-Immolation; Insights from Hebrew Scriptures and Rabbinic Tradition

An Historical exploration of Martyrdom, Religiously Motivated Death and its Legitimacy

  • Ahmad Raza ul-Habib Associate Lecturer, University of Narowal
Keywords: Self Immolation, Hebrew Scriptures, Martyrdom, Legitimacy


A powerful ritual and religious symbol, blood was valued by primitive people and modern people alike, as it could have harmful or healthy connotations, cleansing or destroying connotations. Blood symbolized the soul or life. Religion provides invaluable terms for referring to it. The article starts by exploring the historical existence of human sacrificial phenomena in world civilizations, followed by elaborating the nature of its existence in Judaism. It deals with such questions; Is there any Biblical narration of human blood shed and its prohibition exits? When, according to the Jews, blood loses its veneration and one intends to shed human life? What the Hebrew terms Kiddush Hashemand Yom kippuraremeant in relation to the religiously motivated death? Does the Hebrew Bible and Judaic Tradition record any instance of self-sacrifice/martyrdom; Individual and collective throughout Jewish history? Do the Jewish scriptures motivate its adherents to do so? What could be the objectives and reasons in fostering this extreme act of self-sacrifice? How the Talmudic Teachings and Rabbinic Law treat this phenomenon and elaborates its legitimacy or the other way round? The article is an attempt to present the Jewish approach on the subject matter by applying the historical and descriptive method.


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