Amos Oz’s “Nomad and Viper”

Resource Kit by
Ranen Omer-Sherman

Module Content



From his earliest stories to his last novel, Amos Oz (1939-2018) creatively and critically examined the problems of zealotry and hypocrisy in Israel. Strongly identified with Israel’s now fading Labor movement and a fierce defender of the two-state solution, Oz (who served in the IDF during 1957–60, 1967, and 1973) was one of the first Israelis to warn against the morally-corrupting perils of occupying another people and was a founder of the Peace Now movement. 

Amos Oz first published “Nomad and Viper” (“Navadim va-tsefa”) in his 1965 debut short story collection, which he revised and republished in 1976. While this story—which centers around a conflict between members of a kibbutz and a group of Bedouin nomads—appears quite critical of kibbutzniks, it should be noted that Oz lived on a kibbutz for decades, and was a steadfast supporter of the kibbutz system. 

This resource kit includes materials that will help students engage with and understand the cultural and moral complexities in this story, which draws on biblical motifs and explores Arab-Jewish relations in the decades after the state of Israel was created.

Cover image: Jewish workers eating lunch in the fields of Migdal, Palestine, in 1912. Photograph by Ya'acov Ben-Dov.