What the Bible Means When It Speaks of Worshipping God

April 9 2021

Both philosophers of religion and laypeople tend to assume that prayer is a uniform activity across faiths, cultures, and denominations—even if the content, addressee, and external forms vary. But Avital Hazony Levi, by rejecting this assumption, comes to a novel approach to understanding Jewish worship and the specific activity of bowing or prostration before God:

Religions vary greatly in their conceptions of God, of man, and of the relationship between the two. By trying to define a universal archetype of worship, philosophers unwittingly overlook notions of worship that are different from their own. [Moreover], the philosophical discussion of worship has mostly focused on an individual’s attitude or emotion, thereby portraying worship as part of a one-on-one relationship between man and God that transcends a person’s other human relationships. In contrast, the Hebrew Bible’s notion of worship as bowing down, kneeling, or prostrating oneself in service of God shapes a person to carry out God’s will of bringing justice and charity to human relations.

Just as we cannot know God without referencing human experience, we also cannot learn how to relate to God without reference to human relationships. This explains why in the Hebrew Bible all verbs that direct us in our relationship with God are taken from the realm of human experience and especially from human relationships. . . . The King James Bible uses “worship” to translate the ritualized action of bowing down (hishtaḥavah) [only] when the text is referring to bowing before God, and uses “bow” to translate the very same Hebrew term when referring to bowing before a human being.

Thus worship in the biblical view is not a unique phenomenon that occurs [solely] between humans and God. . . . [It] is a term taken from the political realm of masters and servants because, like human kings, God needs servants who will accept His rule and utilize their knowledge, power, and initiative in achieving His goals.

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Read more at Religious Studies

More about: Hebrew Bible, Judaism, Prayer, Religion

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank