It's Holy War Time
It was clear from the start that this was coming. After all, there was nothing coincidental about the language that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant used from the very beginning:
Terrifying language from Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: - "I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed... We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly”. https://timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/defense-minister-announces-complete-siege-of-gaza-no-power-food-or-fuel/…
Humans as animals? Wait a second, I’ve heard that somewhere before … Ah, got it!
by Albert S. Lindemann
In his autobiography the Yiddish-language author [and early Zionist] Sholem Aleichem reported how as a child in Russia he once watched a rough and dirty ferryman laboriously pulling a boat across the Dnieper River. He wrote, "Esau! Only a Goy could do work like that, not a Jew. The Bible says of Esau, 'And thou shalt serve thy brother.' It is good that I am a descendant of Jacob, and not of Esau." In old age the eminent Jewish-American intellectual Sidney Hook remembered how, as a boy, he had asked his religious teacher about the injustice of what Jacob did to Esau. The teacher responded, "What kind of a question is that? Esau was an animal." (P. 5, quoting Sidney Hook, "On Being A Jew," Commentary, vol. 8, nu. 4, Oct. 1989, 29.)
Esau was an animal. Did he have any descendants? Yes, he did, and among them was a grandson, Amalek. Follow the link for more information about the Amalekites. For our purposes, and most famously, this will suffice:
In Deuteronomy 25:17–19, The Israelites are specifically commanded to "blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven" once they have taken possession of the promised land in retribution for "what Amalek did to [them] on the way as [they] were coming out of Egypt." Earlier, in Deuteronomy 7:1–16 and Deuteronomy 25:16–18, they are commanded to utterly destroy all the inhabitants of the idolatrous cities in the promised land and their livestock; scripture purports that King Saul ultimately loses favor with Yahweh for failing to kill King Agag and the best livestock of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15 in defiance of these commandments.
So the Amalekites, descendants of Esau, were treated as their animals—all killed. The link above also goes into Jewish Traditions regarding Amalek, the enemy of the Jews (for example, Haman—cf. the Book of Esther—is traditionally said to have been an Amalekite) and theology regarding the Samuel episode and the supposed divine commandment to exterminate the the Amalekites—men, women, children, domestic animals, you name it.
As you will see, some deprecate this story. On the other hand, the opposition of Arabs to being dispossessed by Zionists has led other to suggest that Arabs—or, at least, those who show themselves to be enemies of Israel—are Amalekites and should be treated accordingly. Christian Zionists are sometimes enthusiastic supporters of that theory. An article just this past week in The Forward, while not raising the business of Amalek discusses that aspect—blaming Christian Zionists for raising the specter of a religious war in Palestine. That topic came up in comments here, so …
Some Christians are interpreting the violence as the culmination of prophecies about the End Times
Evangelical Christians have long been strong supporters of Zionism, and of the state of Israel. ...
Not all Christian Zionists believe this prophecy, nor does all Christian support for Israel stem from it. But for those who do believe the End Times are near, ….
Jonathan Cahn, who runs a Messianic congregation in New Jersey and has published several books connecting biblical prophecies to modern events, posted a widely viewed sermon to YouTube.
In the video, which has been viewed over 1 million times, he frames support for Israel in the war as a religious command.
“God loves all people, but it’s clear in the Scriptures that he gave the land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to their children, the children of Israel,” he said in the sermon. “To use the word Palestine to speak of the land of Israel is to take part in a war that goes against the word and promise and will of God.”
“Could this present conflict lead to a greater conflict, a war, lead ultimately in time to the war prophesied in Ezekiel? It could,” he continued, adding that Jews will need to accept Jesus to end the conflict. “Only when they turn to him, who is the hope of Israel, will they find their shalom, their peace.”
Though Cahn’s sermon is certainly extreme — it also contains his theory that the Bible predicted 9/11 — he is far from alone in his views.
Christian news network CBN published an interview with Jeff Kinley, a “prophecy expert,” explaining that the war in Israel and Gaza is proof that we are living through the “last days.” Pastor Greg Laurie, discussing the war in one sermon, said “when you see these things, look up because your redemption is drawing near.” And in a video viewed 2.3 million times, David Jeremiah, a megachurch minister with a radio show and a new book titled The Great Disappearance: 31 Ways to Be Rapture Ready, explained how viewers should prepare for Armageddon: accept Jesus.
Elsewhere in the article there is a reference to a tweet that I cited earlier:
Announcing the ground invasion of Gaza is imminent, Netanyahu proclaims: “We shall realize the prophecy of Isaiah” This is one of the messianic Old Testament prophecies cited by Evangelical Christian preachers who see Israel as a precursor to Armageddon.
[the video has apparently been removed somehow]
As the author notes, Netanyahu isn’t particularly religious, which is in some sense beside the point. For Christians, Zionism may be a matter of religion, but that isn’t at all the case for Jews. Very religious Jews can be strongly anti-Zionist, and very secular Jews number among those who are strongly Zionist. For example, Golda Meir (born in Ukraine) was an atheist but was also a committed Zionist. Meir is notable for popularizing the idea that there is no such thing as Palestinians, as well as many other dehumanizing views of Palestinians:
Chris Hutchinson @ChrisHu34451470
“Every morning I wish to wake up and not find a single Palestinian child alive,” former Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir said. New “Golda” Film will not whitewash the rue face. #BoycottGolda
11:14 PM · Sep 2, 2023
Still, when push comes to shove comes to war, religion is used to fan the flames. Netanyahu appealed to Isaiah, and this fanatic appeals for “revenge in a Biblical way”, which sounds suspiciously like the Holy War ideology deployed against Amalek:
Ania Lewandovska @Anna_AnninaEl
"We still have not revenged in a biblical way…we did not burn Gaza to ashes immediately.
Create a tremendous humanity crisis. Level the entire area.
Do not leave a stone upon stone in Gaza. Gaza needs to turn to Dresden. Annihilate Gaza now!"
- Moshe Feiglin
This is Zionism! ￼
3:38 AM · Oct 26, 2023
So it is that the “not particularly religious” Netanyahu has now raised the ante considerably by explicitly invoking the memory of Amalek, which many see as a warrant for genocide, certainly by implication—what other point would there be in citing such an inflammatory concept as the fate of Amalek in the context of this war? In Gentile consciousness Netanyahu’s words might not spark much, outside of Christian Zionist circles, but most Jews will recognize immediately the implication of his words:
In the Old Testament the Amalekites were exterminated: "man, woman and infant"
The Israeli Prime Minister stated: “You must remember what Amalek has done to you says our Holy Bible, and we do remember and we are fighting. Our brave troops and combatants who are now in Gaza or around Gaza and in all other regions in Israel are joining this chain of Jewish heroes, a chain that started 3,000 years ago—from Joshua to the heroes of 1948—the Six Day War, the 1973 October war—and all other wars of this country—are hero troops. They have one supreme main goal, to completely defeat the murderous enemy and to guarantee our existence in this country.”
In 1 Samuel 15:3 we find the judgment of God on the Amalekites, in the form of the divine command to Saul, the first King of Israel: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
Interestingly—at least to me—the author of this article cites Rabbi Jacob Neusner, whose work I’ve long admired. His work helps explain why, in my earlier writing, I typically refer to “the religion of Israel” rather than to “Judaism” (and also to “early Christian writings”).
Rabbi Jacob Neusner, translator of the Yale University Press edition of the unredacted Mishnah (the sacred Pharisee text which comprises the supreme halacha (law) of Orthodox rabbinic Judaism), stated:
“We have already seen substantial evidence that any notion of Pharisaism (or later rabbinic Judaism), as the true and direct descendants of the Old Testament, is contradicted by the most fundamental assumption of one Mishnah-tractate after another. These stand wholly separate from the Priestly Code… And generally contradict it!” (A History of the Mishnaic Law [Brill Academic, 1974], p. 7).
I’ll give the last word to Glenn Diesen, who cites Ha’aretz regarding the dangers of inciting to a “Holy War”
As always, Haaretz offers nuance: - "Israelis experienced a horrific trauma, and now we’re bombing, killing and starving people, and mainly hardening our hearts to stone. Moral corruption is no less dangerous to our survival than Hamas"
Please, not in America’s name.
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