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The Devil Is in the (Jewish) Details

Jan. 20 2015

There are a few references to Satan in the Hebrew Bible, but the figure they describe bears little relation to that found in the New Testament and other Christian writings. Yet, according to Philip Jenkins, Christian beliefs about the devil sprang from decidedly Jewish sources. Some of these found their way into the Bibles used by Christian churches:

Probably in the late 3rd century [BCE], the Book of the Watchers (now part of [the Apocryphal book of] 1 Enoch) describes the evil angels who descended to earth to mate with human women, and here we find such later infamous names as Azazel. These are clearly associated with the coming of evil to the earth, a curse cured only by the Great Flood. Also in the late 3rd century, the Book of Tobit features the evil and destructive angel Asmodeus, who was defeated by one of God’s own archangels, Raphael.

A few decades later, the Enochian mythology also appears in the Book of Jubilees, where Mastema (Hostility) fills a role very close to that of the later Satan. Mastema, in fact, is a transitional figure between the divine servant found in Job and the cosmic adversary of New Testament times.

Read more at Anxious Bench

More about: ancient Judaism, Apocrypha, Bible, Christianity, Religion & Holidays, Satan

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen