Noah’s Rainbow as an Inversion of a Mesopotamian Symbol

Comparing the biblical description of the rainbow as a sign of God’s postdiluvian covenant with mankind to understandings of the rainbow in other ancient Near Eastern literature, Ron Hendel argues that the differences speak more loudly than the similarities. Ancient Mesopotamians saw the rainbow, like other celestial phenomena, as a sign that, if properly interpreted by skilled astrologers, could portend divine intentions. In Genesis, by contrast:

God is His own omen interpreter, and the encrypted meaning is meant for Him. This turns upside down the customary system of omens and their interpretation. . .

[It is also noteworthy that] Hebrew uses the word keshet for both a bow as a weapon . . . and for a rainbow; the former meaning is primary. Since the flood story is not about combat, the presence of God’s bow may seem out of place. . . .

[I]n the Mesopotamian creation account, . . . after the warrior-god Marduk uses his mighty bow and arrows to defeat the sea-monster Tiamat, the high god Anu places the bow in heaven as a bright star. . . .

God’s bow in Genesis has a comparable resonance. In the flood story, God triumphs over chaos. But the chaos in the flood story is not the rage of a sea-monster, it is rather the violence of all flesh that has corrupted its ways on earth, and which has, as a consequence, corrupted the earth. The flood is God’s natural agent to cleanse the earth from the violence of bloodshed.

After the waters of the flood have receded, God hangs His bow in the sky, . . . but the bow is not His triumphant weapon. The rainbow is a sign of peace, of God’s promise that the flood will never come again.

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Read more at theTorah.com

More about: Ancient Near East, Astrology, Genesis, Hebrew Bible, Noah, Religion & Holidays

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela