Ever since Plato’s Republic, the study of statecraft has been a staple of Western discourse, and so has the study of particular leaders. Although Jewish scholars, thinkers, and popularizers have contributed notably to this genre, strikingly few have turned their attention to the history of Jewish leaders—that is, leaders specifically of the Jewish people—in particular.
And yet there has been no lack of such outstanding figures, from the biblical period of Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land and once again in present-day Israel or during the millennia of exile and formal Jewish statelessness in the Diaspora. This book, devoted to ten of the most colorful, fascinating, and consequential Jewish political leaders over the past three millennia, fills the gap.
Among the ten, men and women alike, some were firmly bound to Judaic religious teachings and others less so, but guiding all of them was the fixed lodestar of their own Jewish identity. By the mid-20th century, the legacy of past generations would inspire modern successors bent on the re-founding of the sovereign Jewish state, one of the greatest political feats in human history.
In delving into the unique circumstances and predicaments faced by these ten, and into the characteristics that mark them and their statesmanship as specifically Jewish, readers will also become familiar with what Jewish tradition has to say about the demands of statesmanship and, by inference, with the qualities needed by successful Jewish political leaders encountering the challenges of today and tomorrow.