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.

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

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy