The Devil Is in the (Jewish) Details

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

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy