You shall not kill them…: Reading II Kings 6: 8-23 in the context of the African Great Lakes Region Conflict
AbstractThe African Great Lake Region, specifically, Burundi, Rwanda and the Republic Democratic of Congo, is a region renowned across the globe for its history of persistent conflicts. A pattern observable especially in Rwanda and Burundi is a succession of political regimes where each time a new regime indicted its predecessor for failing to end the spiral of deadly ethnic conflicts. When previously oppressed any social group that finally snatches power resolves to neutralize the rival social group for good. To achieve this, the new powerful, formerly oppressed, becomes the new oppressor. The attitude of the leaders of the African Great Lakes countries find echo in that of the Israelite king mentioned in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Traumatized by the oppression that his people had suffered from the Arameans, and now in a position of strength, the king would not want to miss the opportunity to put off the threat for good by annihilating the enemy. But Elisha had a different solution, not to kill the now weak enemies but to show them the alternative way of relating. The present paper draws attention to one of many voices in Old Testament texts that are opposed to violence that focuses on Elisha’s approach of pacifism; Elisha’s approach of pacifism in the narrated conflict is found to be in tune with some pacifist approach usually grounded on Jesus’ teaching in the gospels. The essay argues that the pacifist perspectives find in the Old Testament find support in the New Testament and explores the relevance of such pacifist approach to modern conflicts such as those experienced in the African Great Lakes Region.
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