The paper seeks to revise the standard history of the just war tradition by demonstrating that just war thought developed beyond the boundaries of Europe and existed many centuries before the advent of Christianity or even the emergence of Greco-Romano thought on the relationship between war and justice. It also suggests that the creation of a potent ius ad bellum doctrine in ancient Egypt, based on universal and absolutist claims to justice, led to the diminishment of ius in bello norms in Egyptian warfare. It is posited that this development prefigures similar developments in certain later Western and Near Eastern doctrines of just war and holy war.