Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam?

August 6, 2011
The military conquest of the land of Canaan by the Hebrews in about 1200 B.C.E. is often characterized as “genocide” and has all but become emblematic of biblical violence and intolerance. God told Moses:

But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them — the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite — just as the Lord your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God. So Joshua [Moses’ successor] conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord, God of Israel had commanded.

…God clearly ordered the Hebrews to annihilate the Canaanites and surrounding peoples. Such violence is therefore an expression of God’s will, for good or ill. Regardless, all the historic violence committed by the Hebrews and recorded in the Old Testament is just that—history. It happened; God commanded it. But it revolved around a specific time and place and was directed against a specific people. At no time did such violence go on to become standardized or codified into Jewish law. In short, biblical accounts of violence are descriptive, not prescriptive.
This is where Islamic violence is unique. Though similar to the violence of the Old Testament—commanded by God and manifested in history—certain aspects of Islamic violence and intolerance have become standardized in Islamic law and apply at all times. Thus, while the violence found in the Qur’an has a historical context, its ultimate significance is theological. Consider the following Qur’anic verses, better known as the “sword-verses”:

Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way.
Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day, and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden – such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book – until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.

Summer 2009 |
Middle East Quarterly,
Volume XVI: Number 3, pp. 3-12 |
by Raymond Ibrahim
and image via

Canaanite (or Hebrew?) Idol.

March 25, 2011

will the feminists ever shut the hell up?

When the Israelite women baked cakes for the Queen of Heaven (mother of the gods) the image was easier to produce in bread dough:

The original bread of life. Hebrew and Canaanite women molded loaves of this figure which were blessed and ritually eaten, the precursor of the communion wafer (sun god image). Her idols were found under every green tree, were carved from living trees, or erected as poles or pillars beside roadside altars. Crude clay images of her as tree of life later evolved into the more refined Syrian Artemis. Ancient sexual rites (dismissed to this day by male scholars as cult prostitution) associated with worship of Asherah insured that matrilineal descent patterns, with their partnership rather than dominant values, would continue. Hebrew priestly iconoclasts finally uprooted Asherah, supplanting matrifocal culture with patriarchy. via


Some scholars say early versions of the Bible featured Asherah, a powerful fertility goddess who may have been God’s wife. Research by Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, unearthed clues to her identity, but good luck finding mention of her in the Bible. If Stavrakopoulou is right, heavy-handed male editors of the text all but removed her from the sacred book.
What remains of God’s purported other half are clues in ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in an ancient Canaanite coastal city, now in modern-day Syria. Inscriptions on pottery found in the Sinai desert also show Yahweh and Asherah were worshipped as a pair, and a passage in the Book of Kings mentions the goddess as being housed in the temple of Yahweh.
J. Edward Wright, president of The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, backs Stavrakopoulou’s findings, saying several Hebrew inscriptions mention “Yahweh and his Asherah.” He adds Asherah was not entirely edited out of the Bible by its male editors.
“Traces of her remain, and based on those traces… we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the Southern Levant,” he told Discovery News.
…Aaron Brody, director of the Bade Museum and an associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion, says the ancient Israelites were polytheists, with only a “small majority” worshipping God alone. He says it was the exiling of an elite community within Judea and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C that lead to a more “universal vision of strict monotheism.”

Well, as for Biblical references, we do have these
וַיָּקֶם מִזְבְּחֹת לַבַּעַל, וַיַּעַשׂ אֲשֵׁרָה כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אַחְאָב מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לְכָל-צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַיַּעֲבֹד אֹתָם.
and he reared up altars for Baal, and made an Asherah, as did Ahab king of Israel,
2 King 21:3
וְהִנֵּה נֻתַּץ מִזְבַּח הַבַּעַל, וְהָאֲשֵׁרָה אֲשֶׁר-עָלָיו כֹּרָתָה
the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah was cut down that was by it
Judge 6:28
But the Torah has this:
לֹא-תִטַּע לְךָ אֲשֵׁרָה, כָּל-עֵץ:  אֵצֶל, מִזְבַּח יְ וָה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ
Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee
Deuteronomy 16:21
(A Hebrew-language Wikipedia summary.  A larger one in English.)
Seems to me Asherah is very prominent and well-known in  the Bible.  So what’s the big deal?  Does one have to possess weird theories to be famous?

Violent Ancient Feminism Confronting the Hebrew

I was reading some interesting things about Ba’al. the Assyrian god was El… who is the creator god that some people believe Judaism turned into Elohim. El’s wife was Asherah. This character called Ba’al kept the god El in check by castrating him. These religions were deeply lunar, matriarchal and violent. Kind of a mother goddess Gloria Steinem religion before contemporary feminism. El is apparently some kind of Bull who is castrated. Ba’al acts within the control of Asherah who is a woman. Kind of like Hilary Clinton but worse.

Asherah: The Goddess of the Sea and wife of El. An important council to El with a minor association to fertility.

Ba’al was apparently a war god. the bible does not clarify this. he is not the big cheese. kind of funny that the Hebrew word for “Master” comes from Ba’al. like Ba’al Shem Tov…. meaning “Master of the Good Word”

but it is interesting to me that the creator god gets castrated by the “Master”. it would seem that women had a lot of power in this theology.

Leftists Reminisces Yiddish Vs. Hebrew. Backhanded Helen Thomas Thinking

October 13, 2010

Matthew Yglesias just arrived and he’s already left, full of satisfaction with himself for having come to learn, and smug in his conviction that he didn’t need to learn all that much because he already knew lots of it. He was hosted by Didi Remez, whom long-time readers of this blog may recognize as an ideologically driven member of our far Left who isn’t very convincing unless you agree with him. I’m recording Matthew’s arrogance of lecturing to the Israelis who just can’t see things as he and Didi see them, and his total lack of curiosity: if people don’t see things his way they’re wrong, and he has no reason to wonder why they might see things otherwise.
Before I sign off following him, however, here’s a tidbit that rather sums it up:

Since I’ve got Israel on the brain, it strikes me in this regard that it’s perhaps unfortunate that the early Zionist leaders decided to revive Hebrew rather than use the Jewish state to ensure the continued existence of Yiddish and Ladino. The successful revival is enormously impressive as a pure example of clear ideological vision but that’s a lot of lost literature and such. 

Umm, Matthew: Yiddish literature didn’t really start until the 2nd half of the 19th century, and Ladino, so far as I know, never created much literature at all. This means that modern Hebrew literature was born at roughly the exact same moment in time as Yiddish literature; not to mention everything else that was ever created in Hebrew, all along.
Matthew, incurious as he is, won’t be interested, but if any of you are, there’s a fine readable story of Yiddish literature in Aaron Lansky’s Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

These guys must spend all their time trying to poke holes in the legitimacy in the cultural state of Israel. Too bad they are complete ignoramuses. They all allude the some kind of glamorous “what if?” with Jews in Germany. It is not worth debating them or talking with them.

How much do you want to bet that this will not stop the Chazar claim of Arabs? Genetic study sheds light on Jewish diaspora

June 13, 2010

The researchers analysed genetic samples from 14 Jewish communities across the world and compared them with those from 69 non-Jewish populations.
Their study, published in Nature, revealed that most Jewish populations were “genetically closer” to each other than to their non-Jewish neighbours.
It also revealed genetic ties between globally dispersed Jews and non-Jewish populations in the Middle East.
This fits with the idea that most contemporary Jews descended from ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents in the Middle Eastern region known as the Levant. It provides a trace of the Jewish diaspora.

How much do you want to bet that this will not stop the Chazar claim of Arabs?

Posted via web from noahdavidsimon’s posterous

The Results Are In: Helen Thomas Was Wrong–Jews Are A People And Israel Is Home

The results of a study by New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University proves–among other things–that Helen Thomas is wrong:

Researchers say the study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, puts to rest age-old questions about whether Jews are a group of unrelated people who share a religious ideology or a distinct ethnicity with common ancestry.

“The debate is over,” said Dr. Edward R. Burns, one of the lead authors of the study. “The Jewish people are one people with a common genetic thread that evolved in the second or third century BC.”

The study, “Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era ,”  [available here] compared the genetic analyses of 237 Jews, including Sephardic (Middle Eastern) and Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews — as well as an analysis of 418 non-Jews worldwide, and found that the Jews were more closely related to each other than to their fellow countrymen.

Past studies have reached similar conclusions, but they looked at smaller populations and considered only blood groups, mitochondrial DNA (a type of DNA passed down by mothers) or Y chromosomes (passed down by fathers).

For this inquiry, researchers conducted a genome-wide analysis of the major groups of the Jewish Diaspora — Ashkenazi Jews; Italian, Greek and Turkish Sephardic Jews; and Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian Jews.

The study — and a second genetic study published Friday in the journal Nature [available here] — scientifically undermines arguments made by those who challenge Jews’ historical relationship to Israel, such as former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who resigned last week after saying Jews in Israel should “go home” to Germany, Poland and the United States.

Turns out, the Jews in Israel are already there.

More on that second study–

“It seems that most Jewish populations, and therefore most Jewish individuals, are closer to each other [at the genetic level], and closer to the Middle Eastern populations, than to their traditional host population in the Diaspora,” Israeli geneticist Doron Behar, author of the Nature study, told the BBC.

Behar’s study examined the genes of people from 14 Jewish communities and compared them to 69 non-Jewish communities, finding — as the American Journal of Human Genetics did — a common ancestral Middle Eastern link among all Jews.

One key difference in Behar’s study is that it also included Ethiopian and Indian Jews; he found that those communities were genetically closer to their non-Jewish neighbors than the other Diaspora groups were to theirs. This may be due to a higher degree of genetic, religious and cultural crossover when the Jewish communities in these areas became established.

Both studies also find that Jews have a strong genetic link to modern Palestinians, Druze and Bedouins, following another traditional understanding of both the Jewish and non-Jewish populations of the region. (Israeli Jews and Palestinians sometimes refer to each other as “cousin,” a term used to recognize the common Biblical understanding that both groups descended from Abraham.)

In addition to the claim that Jews are merely a religion and nothing more, there is another claim that is also debunked by the findings of the study:

DNA analysis in both studies shows that European Jews are related to Middle Eastern Jews and non-Jewish Middle Eastern people, a finding that also repudiates claims by some that Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of Slavs or Khazars, a north Caucasus group, who converted to Judaism in the ninth century.

“It de-legitimizes the attempts to suggest that there is an alternate origin to Judaism,” said Paul Root Wolpe, professor of bioethics at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not part of the study. Despite “all of the attempts to try to rewrite the Jewish people’s understanding of their own history, over and over again genetic studies show that there is more truth to the tale.”

Wolpe notes that Jewry had a similar reaction in 1997, when a Y chromosome study revealed a strong genetic marker that seemed to support the Biblical account of a priestly family, the Cohanim, descended from Moses’ brother Aaron.

It’s not as if anti-Semites have any lack of claims to make against both Jews and against Israel–nor will 2 scientific studies prevent the same old claims from being made–but now it is clear that those kinds of claims and the people who make them are not to be taken seriously.

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