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

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict