What Does It Mean to Love God?

To the modern reader, the biblical injunction “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God” seems strange: how can one of the most fundamental human emotions be commanded? In his new book on the subject, Jon D. Levenson first places the verse from Deuteronomy in its historical context and then proceeds to examine how it has been understood by Jewish thinkers through the ages. (Interview by Debra Liese).

[Seen in the context of other documents from the ancient Near East], “love” has a technical, legal meaning in Deuteronomy and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. . . . [However], the technical usage doesn’t preclude the emotional or affective connotations that the word has for most people. To put it differently, sometimes loving may simply mean loyal service and faithful obedience, but we need to guard against over-generalizing from such passages, just as we need to guard against interpreting “love” in this context as a purely subjective, emotional state without normative behavioral correlates.

I try to show that in Deuteronomy God falls in love with Israel—I don’t think the language is exclusively technical but rather [that] it connotes passion—and demands a response that has its own affective character. In other words, we have to reckon with both an outward and an inward dimension. . . . In fact, the movement is in both directions. Actions awaken and deepen emotions, and emotions generate and make sense of actions.

Read more at Princeton University Press

More about: Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible, Law, Love, Religion & Holidays, Theology

 

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security