“Always two there are, no more, no less, a master and an apprentice.” Star Wars fans have long known about the “Rule of Two.” At any given time, there can only be two Sith in the galaxy. There is a master that holds power, and an apprentice to crave it. Or, as Darth Sidious put it in the Marvel comic Darth Vader #20, they hid in the shadows for generations amassing their power until they could one day conquer the Jedi, their own nature, and the Republic. It was the work of generations. Their secrecy and work paid off during the Clone Wars, and eventually the Sith defeated the Jedi and the Republic at the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith. It is at that moment that the Jedi became something like the Sith with only two apparent survivors.
Always Two There Are – The Sith, and Now the Jedi
Yes, the Jedi evolved into something similar to the Sith. But, beyond their numbers, how similar were they? Like the Sith in the era of the Old Republic, the Jedi hid in the shadows. Defeated by Darth Sidious and his legions of clones with the execution of Order 66, Yoda retreated into exile. Obi-Wan Kenobi began life as a hermit on Tatooine while overseeing the protection of a young Luke Skywalker. Like the Sith before them, what remained of the Jedi were biding their time. They were in no position to challenge the Sith with a galaxy and Empire at its disposal. Neither could Obi-Wan and Yoda simply raise the next generation of Jedi Knights. They didn’t have the resources to find prospective students, train them, and keep them safe.
Ironically, the scarcity was a strength for the Sith, but a weakness for the Jedi. The Sith were thought to be extinct before the Trade Federation blockaded Naboo. Ki-Adi-Mundi boldly proclaimed as much in The Phantom Menace. Mace Windu seconded this motion at the time. In their hubris, neither believed the Sith could return without the Jedi knowing it. The Sith had become something of a legend in the galaxy. This served the Sith well. With only two roaming the galaxy, they hid easily. It was unlikely anyone would realize they encountered a Sith even if they met one. There was no Empire of soldiers hunting them down.
The Jedi’s limited numbers were not an immediate benefit. At the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith, the clones that once fought alongside the Jedi now actively hunted them. The Jedi weren’t a myth yet, but they were approaching that by the time of A New Hope. Hiding did not allow the Jedi to accumulate power. If anything, it allowed them time for Luke and Leia to grow and their potential in the Force to flourish, even though it wouldn’t be nourished until they were nearly adults.
Always Two There Are – The Motivation
Although they found themselves as a similar position as the Sith of the Old Republic, their motivations were different. The Sith cannibalized themselves. The proliferation of Sith diluted their power. In contrast, the Jedi had no such issues. As Yoda explained to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, the Jedi used “the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” The accumulation of power for power’s sake is a Sith trait. When the Jedi strayed from their role of defenders during the Clone Wars, they became blinded to the growing threat of Darth Sidious, and as an order, they perished.
For a generation, there were only two Jedi in the galaxy: Yoda and Obi-Wan. Ahsoka Tano was a powerful Force-user, but she left the Jedi Order before the conclusion of the Clone Wars. Eventually Kanan Jarrus accepted the mantle of the Jedi, but he too had cast aside that role during the Clone Wars. Later, Ezra Bridger joined the fold. However, by the time of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Yoda was counseling Luke that he was the last of the Jedi. One might debate how literal Yoda’s were at the time. Indeed, it would have done Luke no good in this situation to believe another Jedi might finish the job of defeating the Sith.
Always Two There Are – The Strength
“Always two there are.” Two Sith. Two Jedi. Two major factions in the Force. For the Jedi and the Sith, limited numbers were both a weakness and a source of strength. Limited by the Rule of Two, the Sith could not openly confront the Jedi. Therefore, they plotted from the shadows, put themselves in positions of power, and eventually conquered the galaxy by creating an army to serve their will. The Jedi, with their superiority in numbers, allowed themselves to be draw into a galaxy wide conflict. Although they became aware of a growing Sith presence, they focused on winning the war. It was only when it was too late that the Sith sprung their trap and defeated them. However, once their numbers were limited, Yoda and Obi-Wan focused on defeating the Sith and restoring balance to the Force. In each instance, the Sith and Jedi turned their limited numbers to their advantage and defeated their foe.
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