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Ghazzu - Gaining of Booty

Raiding and Bedouin economy were closely linked through the camel, the critical pillar of life in the desert, as Meeker explains:


"The uniqueness of camel-herding nomadism as one type of nomadism, however, becomes evident when one considers the character of the principle resource on which such a life depended. The Bedouins lived a life of camel-herding. The needs of their camels determined the character of their nomadic life. Note two aspects of this Bedouin means of existence. The camel, as a possession necessary for survival, is uniquely vulnerable. The camel can be removed from its owner. It can be run off at a trot. And yet the camel must be ranged and therefore cannot be surely protected. Unlike land, camels are not easy to defend. Unlike  land they can  be seized  in an  inadvertent  moment. Unlike  wealth  in  land wealth in camel can vanish almost instantaneously. This feature of the camel as a principal resource allows us to understand why notions of property and possession were in question among the Bedouins. 

Now let us consider a second, still more disturbing aspect of the camel. The camel, a vulnerable domestic necessity, is also an aggressive political instrument. The camel, as  a mount, makes the camel, as a possession even more tenuous. As a domestic necessity, the camel provides meat and milk. Its hair, woven into tent cloth, provides shelter (here Meeker is wrong, annotation by the author), its dung, fuel, and its urine, bath water. But as a mount, the camel can also be used against other men. One can ride to distant unknown groups, steal their camels, and ride home again, sometimes without even revealing one´s identity.  The character of  this central possession, therefore, throws into question  the concept of possession.  It is easier  to steal  camels  than to  defend them. Possession, in other words, is inseparable from a capacity for theft.”  Meeker directs our focus on two decisive aspects of Bedouin society: 1. uncertainness, and 2. contradiction.

Raiding has been an important part of the Bedouin society since remote times. Genesis 14 narrates the contra-raid to which Abraham set out to free his kinsman Lot. It is a story worth reading in the context of this chapter as we find many conformities with the unwritten law of the desert which is unfolded in this chapter on the Bedouin society. The  nomadic  society  of  Arabia was instable in many aspects, just to name political or economic factors, but not to forget the climatic circumstances. Raiding became a vital part of the Bedouin economy, if we follow Meeker´s above statement on the role of the camel, we could name it an intrinsic necessity. But raiding increased the instability and uncertainness of the badu world. 

To put this into a nutshell: Camels were the center of life in the desert. And raiding dromedary became at the same time the most important activity (behind herding them) and the greatest threat in the lives of the Bedouin.

The relation Bedouin - camel can be regarded a sort of picture or mirror for the relation God - man. The uncertainness  of this relationship through the contradictions of human life is obvious. Mankind in the large and in personal lives is going astray in daily business and conflicts of all kinds. The yearning of the father in heaven for his children that live on this earth will only be fulfilled completely when all of them will be reunited with him through the Great Exodus on the Day of the Lord. When the Great Akid from heaven will go out for the final raid to bring all his brothers and sisters home to the father.

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