The False Prophet and the True

Aug. 16 2021

In Jeremiah 28—set after the Babylonians have already reduced Judah to vassal status, but not yet conquered the kingdom or destroyed Jerusalem—the titular prophet finds himself facing a rival prophet named Hananiah. While Jeremiah urges capitulation and acceptance of divine punishment, his competitor offers hope, claiming that God is poised to “break the yoke of the king of Babylon.” Hananiah proves to be a false prophet, but a popular one. James A. Diamond analyzes the episode, and the way medieval and modern commentators used it to discuss a crucial question: how to tell a false prophet from the real thing.

Hananiah’s inappropriate exploitation of a shattered yoke as a symbol of liberation is glaring in light of Israel’s own perpetuation of slavery over its citizens. Indeed, Jeremiah complains that Israel had ignored the obligation of sabbatical manumission of slaves since the inception of the monarchy, and that God says that Judah will be conquered by its enemies because of this.

In the face of Israel’s own failure to shatter the yokes of its own slaves, Hananiah’s resort to this imagery can be seen as disingenuousness. How could the Lord use this imagery now, Jeremiah may have asked, when the Lord has also expressed that Judah has been acting like an oppressor and deserves its fate? Hananiah’s doubling down simply coopts a stale and dated message conveyed previously to other prophets to confront a current crisis.

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Read more at theTorah.com

More about: Hebrew Bible, Jeremiah, Prophecy

 

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy