The Nursing Father: Moses as a Political Leader

Wildavsky, Aaron. The Nursing Father: Moses as a Political Leader. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1984.

“In recent years there has emerged a new interest in using classic Jewish texts as sources for contemporary political understanding, reviving an ancient art that had fallen into desuitude after the views of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, with its skepticism about sources claiming to reflect divine knowledge, became dominant in the intellectual world. The names of Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and Hans Kohn – three of the contemporary scholars who were among the pioneers in this revival – suggest how important it is.

Now Aaron Wildavsky, one of the leading political scientists of our time, has joined this trend, applying his particular analytic and intuitive powers to the study to Moses as a political leader. On one level, it is of a piece with his earlier work, full of keen analysis and important insights which are derived from an approach both empirical and synthetic in the best sense of the word. Wildavsky sees connections most others would overlook and which make a great deal of sense once uncovered. The Nursing Father could profitably be read for that reason alone.

The book is in many respects an act of piety as well as of political analysis, an act which may have begun as a filio-pietistic effort in the best sense – it is dedicated to Wildavsky’s grandparents and grandchildren – but which rapidly progressed to recognition that the Bible is something more than an ordinary human book or even an ordinary classic.”

– From a book review in Jewish Political Studies Review. Vol. 1, No. 3, Fall 1989.