The Myth and the American Jewish Community

Until the 1930s, a sizeable portion of the U.S. Jewish community was skeptical, at best, about the Zionist project.  America was their promised land.   Knowledge of the Holocaust gave a great boost to support for a Jewish state.  But once that state was established in 1948, the passion for Israel subsided here.  In the 1950s, when sociologists asked Jews what made them different from gentiles, the answers they got rarely mentioned any special affinity for the state or land of Israel.  In fact, most people said that there was no special value or belief or behavior that made them different from their gentile neighbors.  The only thing that made them different was that their friends were Jews.  Being Jewish was mainly a social thing.  Jews hung out with other Jews.

These Jews did not complain a whole lot about anti-semitism either.  Many of them had experienced significant anti-semitism in the pre-World War II days.  They knew it was still around.  But they knew that things were far better than they had been, and they looked forward to even more social acceptance in the future.  So it made sense to overlook the vestiges of anti-semitism, to assume it would keep on diminishing until it gradually disappeared.

When did Jews begin to tell the myth of Israel that prevails today?  This is a rare situation where a historian of religions can point to a very precise time, in fact a precise week, when a new story became the official story of a community.  It was the second week of June, 1967, when Israel and its Arab neighbors fought a six-day war.  Jews flocked to their synagogues, not only to pray for Israel, but to inaugurate (though they did not know it) a new form of Judaism based on their new official story.  America’s most eminent historian of Judaism, Rabbi Jacob Neusner, has called this new form “the Judaism of Holocaust and Redemption.”  The “Holocaust” part represent the belief that anti-semitism is an eternal threat to Jews everyone.  The “Redemption” part represents the twin beliefs that Jews have a special relationship with the land of Israel and that only in Israel can they hope to be safe, redeemed from that eternal threat.

These beliefs, and the myth built upon them, were certainly not totally new.  All of the elements had been around for a long time.   Yet those elements had not been fused so tightly into a single integrated myth.  Nor had they been so central in American Jewish life before the six-day war.  Every history of American Jewish life describes this dramatic change.  So far, there is no commonly accepted theory to explain why it happened.  So I want to offer my own theory.

Several factors came together in June, 1967.  One was a kind of emptiness in American Jewish life, a sense that no one quite knew what special values Jews were supposed to hold just because they were Jews.  For most of them it was just a matter of socializing with other Jews.  Perhaps there was an unconscious sense that Judaism ought to mean something more than that.

Of course, 1967 was a time when many people in the U.S. were beginning to explore new possibilities for meaning and identity.  Issues of individual and group identity became more urgent than before.  Our whole society was entering a brief era when everything seemed open to question.  Remember, June, 1967, wasn’t only the time of the six-day war.   It was also the beginning of San Francisco’s summer of love.  For many Americans, it was a time of cultural confusion, a time when U.S. society seemed to be falling apart.  In such a time, it is quite common that individuals and groups will seize upon one particular story that gives them a highly structured sense of meaning.  If the story seems to answer their questions and make sense out of confusing times, they will cling to it tightly, no matter what happens.

For Jews, the question of ethnic identity was especially acute.  African-Americans were asserting their right to equality more powerfully than ever before.  Some Jews had expressed their Jewish identity by working with the civil rights movement.  By 1967, many of these Jews were disturbed, or even scared, by the rise of the black power movement.  They were no longer sure that the cause of racial justice had any place for white people.  Yet they could see that it was becoming acceptable in liberal circles to assert one’s ethnic identity.  African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and native Americans were all standing up as oppressed people demanding their rights.

This placed the Jews in a real quandary.  As white people, they could easily be classed with the oppressors.  When tensions broke out in inner city ghettos, individual Jews were sometimes identified as oppressors.  This was an uncomfortable feeling, of course, especially for the many Jews who genuinely sympathized with the cause of people of color.

At the same time, the growing antiwar movement was raising another very disturbing question:  Perhaps the United States itself was not a force for freedom, but rather a force for oppression, in Vietnam.  If the U.S. was the oppressor in Vietnam, this would make all Jews, along with all other Americans, oppressors as well.  By 1967, a new story was emerging to shape the experience of all Americans as they watched the events of the day unfold.  This story said that every person was either with the oppressors or the oppressed.  In Camus’ terms, everyone was either an executioner or a victim.   It was the most fundamental moral choice, and no one could avoid making it.  So how could Jews be sure that, when oppression arose, they were on the right side?  How could they be sure they were victims and not executioners?

One possibility was to depict themselves as perpetual victims of anti-semitism.  However, American Jews did not want to believe that they would always be threatened by anti-semitism simply because they lived in the diaspora.  They hoped that anti-semitism was gradually fading away, allowing them to live fully and freely as Americans.  How could they feel fully accepted, yet still count themselves among the oppressed?

The events of June, 1967, solved that problem.  For Jews around the world, and here in the U.S., there was no doubt that the Arabs were the aggressors and Israel the victim.  By picturing Israel as a small, weak, victimized nation, and then identifying themselves with Israel, Jews could feel certain that they were among the oppressed.  They could see the U.S. as a place where Jews were increasingly accepted, but still view themselves as victims of persecution.  So American Jews “discovered” a special, almost mystical tie between every Jew and the holy land.  If they were tied to Israel, and Israel was being persecuted, they were being persecuted.  So they could not be among the persecutors.  There could be no doubt about which side of the moral divide they were on.  That question was laid to rest.

Six days later, however, a new problem had emerged.  The Israeli army had proven itself superior in every way to the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Syrians combined.  Israel now possessed not only Jerusalem, but all of the West Bank and Gaza.  In the Jewish community, it seemed obvious that this was something to celebrate.  Few people consciously addressed the problem, but it was obvious if you stopped to think about it.  How could such a triumphant military power call itself a small, weak victim?  If Israel was so powerful, could Jews still be sure they were on the side of the oppressed?

This problem was especially acute for American Jews, who could not express their tie with Israel in political terms.  Politically, they wanted to be 100% American.  They had to express their Jewishness as a religious or cultural identity.  So they had to make support for the political state of Israel a religious or cultural value.  For virtually all of them, that meant making support for Israel a moral and ethical value.  They could not celebrate Jewish power and military victory as good in and of itself.  They had to give it an ethical meaning.

Power could have an ethical meaning as long as it was used only to fight oppression.  Jews could give Israel’s power a moral value as long as they viewed Israel as a victim of aggression.   They could celebrate Israel’s military victory as long as they believed it a justified and necessary act of self-defense.  By identifying with Israel, they could participate in that act of power and feel perfectly moral at the same time.

Identifying with Israel meant making Zionism the center of Jewish life.  Few American Jews became Zionists in the full sense, since that would require actually moving to Israel.  For most, Zionism meant simply supporting both the concept and the reality of the Jewish state.  It meant equating the fate of Israel with the fate of every Jew, everywhere.

It is no coincidence that, just when American Jews “discovered” their unbreakable bond with Israel, they also “discovered” the unique importance of the Nazi Holocaust in every Jew’s life.  Until 1967, Jews did not talk a great deal about the Holocaust.  But the six-day war catapulted the memory of the Holocaust into the center of Jewish life.  The Holocaust was offered as crucial proof that anti-semitism is indeed eternal, that Jews are indeed perpetually threatened by irrational hatred and oppression.  This, in turn, became the supposed proof that all Arabs were motivated by the same hatred that had moved the Nazis to their murderous project.

Once this premise was accepted, there could be no doubt that Israel’s military victory was a necessary act of self-defense, and therefore absolutely morally justified.  This is why the Holocaust and Israel were linked so closely in what Neusner calls “the Judaism of Holocaust and Redemption.”  The memory of the Holocaust provided the crucial link between the perception of Jews as oppressed victims and the sense of pride in Israel’s achievements and its power.

Most Jews still do not have to live differently from their gentile neighbors, because too much difference might make them potential targets of stigma, discrimination, and oppression. Yet in order to sustain their new-found form of Judaism, Jews must exaggerate or overestimate their own experience of anti-semitism. Many seem eager to trade stories of anti-semitism and hear their leaders do the same, as if they enjoy hearing bad news.  That is how they convince themselves that Israel’s motives are always pure and innocent, which means that Jewish power is always morally justified—even when the facts on the ground (or, more precisely, viewed on television) seem to raise troubling questions about the morality of Israeli policies.

Within the terms of the dominant doctrine, every threat must be countered.  Fighting back is a way to prove both that Jews are being victimized and that Jews have power.  Since Israel has the most powerful military in the Middle East, when it responds to threat it usually uses major force.  Naturally, this evokes angry, sometimes violent, responses.  Jews take those responses as proof of threat and reason for even more forceful response.  Military conflict serves as a kind of ritual performance, a way to act out their beliefs and confirm their basic premise that Jews, the perpetual victims, always use their power in a morally justified cause.

Tragically, this performance is a ritual sacrifice in which far too many real people die. Most of them are Arabs. Some are Jews. This hardly makes Israel more secure.  On the contrary, it perpetuates the physical facts of insecurity.  Here in the U.S., as well as in Israel, it also perpetuates and exacerbates the psychological facts of fear, anxiety, and defensiveness in Jewish life.  It demands a sense of perpetual victimhood.  It creates a culture of victimization.  This is a high price to pay.

Yet many Jews have been, and still are, willing to pay that price.  Perhaps this tells us that human beings find security not in physical safety, nor in freedom from fear, but in beliefs that offer a firmly fixed, immutable, unquestioned sense of meaning and identity.  As long as “the Judaism of Holocaust and Redemption” gives them meaning and identity, Jews will cling to it and repeat its ritual performances, regardless of the price.

Since the early years of the 21st century, a steadily growing number of Jews have been questioning—and some overtly rejecting—the myth of Israel’s insecurity with all that it entails. Whether this trend will continue, and if so how rapidly it will accelerate, is the great question for the American Jewish community.


15 Responses to The Myth and the American Jewish Community

  1. Samaki says:

    Mr. Chernus, I just want to thank you for your bravery in presenting these views which sorely need to be published. This topic is a painful one for me as my best friend of 20 years who I considered my brother recently cut himself out of my life because I am a gentile who sides with the Palestinians. I was married to a Palestinian and learned straight up about life in the West Bank and the difficulties Israel and its illegal settlements impose on them daily. I was shocked when I was called Anti-Semitic for opposing Israel policy but this is the standard response to discredit any criticism on this rogue government. I learned intelligence has nothing to do with rational thought when it comes to discussing Israel and it’s Zionist roots. Thanks again and keep up the powerful work!

  2. Douglas Mailly says:

    I very much enjoyed your essays. I recently read ( but unfortunately cannot recall where ) the phrase ” the divine right of vengeance” meaning the belief that the actor has, by virtue of having been previously wronged, an unlimited license to visit devastation on any and all who might oppose him. I think the phrase applies to many Zionists, and unfortunately to many Americans, most especially since 9/11.

    • Gerald Goldberg says:


      Prophet Jesus and Prophet Jeremiah preached the SAME message (Jeremiah ch 7 – ch 8:8) (John 2:3-17).


      Undergirding the theory that it was the cheating money-changers whom Jesus targeted as the culprits in the system of animal sacrifice, is the claim that the whole process had become “too commercial.”

      This is akin to claiming that the institution of slavery had to be dismantled because it had become too commercial. Although both Temple sacrifices and human slavery had a firm economic foundation, it was the inherent immorality of those systems that brought together the historical forces which finally led to their collapse.

      Several hundred years after prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Hosea had denounced the sacrificial slaughter of animals, Jesus carried out what is euphemistically called the Cleansing of the Temple. It was just before Passover and he disrupted the buying and selling of animals that were being purchased for slaughter. And because Christian scholars and religious leaders continue to ignore biblical denunciations of that bloody worship, they also try to obscure the reason for Jesus’ assault on the system.

      They have done this by focusing on the money-changers, although they were only minor players in the drama that took place. It was the cult of sacrifice that Jesus tried to dismantle, not the system of monetary exchange. In all three gospel accounts of the event, those who provided the animals for sacrifice are mentioned first: they were the primary focus of Jesus’ outrage.

      The Gospel of John gives the most detailed account of the event.

      “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

      In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: ‘Get out of here.’ (John 2:13-16)

      Matthew’s gospel does not detail the kind of animals that were being sold for slaughter, but it gives the same order of events.
      “Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.
      ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My House will be called a House of Prayer but you are making it a Den of Robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)

      The same account is given in the gospel of Mark who, like Matthew, also reports that Jesus accused those at the Temple of making God’s house into a “den of robbers.” And there is universal acknowledgement that in both gospels, when Jesus said this, he was quoting from the prophet Jeremiah (7:11). That prophet had hurled the same accusation at the people of his own time, almost six hundred years earlier. He said it while standing at the Temple entrance, after he had already warned the people “do not shed innocent blood in this place.” And when Jeremiah said God’s House had been turned into a Den of Robbers it could not have had anything to do with money-changers–they did not exist in his time.

      In the time of Jeremiah, as in the time of Jesus, there was a great distinction made between “robbers” and “thieves.” In contemporary times that distinction can best be understood by comparing the crime of petty theft with crimes of armed robbery by those who violently attack/kill their victims. But in ancient Israel there was an even greater distinction. A thief could be anyone who succumbed to a momentary impulse to steal something, but a robber was someone for whom violent crime and killing was a lifestyle.

      Both Jesus and Jeremiah were indignant about the violence of sacrificial worship, not the possibility of petty theft by money-changers. When they said God’s House had become a den of “robbers” the Hebrew word that was used (here, transliterated) was “per-eets’” defined as “violent, i.e., a tyrant–destroyer, ravenous, robber.” It was the violence of the system, the killing of innocent victims in the name of God, that they were condemning. The money changers operating in the time of Jesus were driven out of the Temple because they were taking part in the process of sacrificial religion, NOT because they may have been cheating the pilgrims.

      The gospel of Mark correlates Jesus’ attempt to dismantle the sacrificial system with the plot to kill him. Like Matthew’s gospel, Mark’s account of the Temple Cleansing starts by saying that Jesus “began driving out those who were buying and selling there.” It goes on to relate how he explained to the people why he was doing this, by quoting Jeremiah’s opposition to animal sacrifice:

      “My House will be called a House of Prayer for ALL Nations. But you have made it a ‘Den of Robbers.’”

      And in the verse of scripture immediately following that statement, Mark reports that “The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teachings.”(Mark 11:18)

      It is ridiculous to claim that the religious leaders of Jesus’ time would have plotted his death because he undermined the function of the money-changers. Nor would the crowd have been “amazed at his teachings” if Jesus was simply telling them to make sure they were not short-changed when they purchased Temple coins. What the people were amazed at was his condemnation of animal sacrifice; it had been hundreds of years since that kind of condemnation had been heard in Jerusalem. And it would not be allowed. A few days after he tried to overthrow the Cult of Animal Sacrifice, Jesus was crucified. The religious leaders of his time were determined to preserve the belief that it had been ordained by God, who demanded its continuance.

      That determination is echoed in the teachings of contemporary Christian leaders. In spite of Jesus, and in spite of the many biblical denunciations of animal sacrifice (*see endnote) they continue to maintain the ancient fiction that it was God who demanded His creatures be killed and butchered as an act of worship.

      It is understandable that in the time of Jesus the religious leaders were committed to upholding the system of Temple sacrifice at all costs: it was the center around which their lives revolved and their livelihood depended. And in biblical times, most people were illiterate and dependent on what their religious leaders taught them concerning the scriptures. But it is not easy to understand why contemporary Christians uphold the validity of the cult of animal sacrifice. In an age of widespread literacy, there is a choice to be made. The bible clearly presents an ongoing conflict between those forces that demanded sacrificial victims in the name of God, and those forces that opposed it as a man-made perversion.
      And because there is a choice to be made, it is deeply disturbing to see Christian leaders joining hands across the centuries with their ancient counterparts, in order to validate a system of worship in which the house of God became a giant slaughterhouse, awash in the blood of its victims.

      *Partial list of scriptures opposing animal sacrifice.
      Psalm 40:6
      Isaiah 1:11-17;
      Jeremiah 7:3-7, 11, 21-25
      Hosea 8:11-13,
      Amos 5:21-25
      Micah 6:6-8

  3. Teri says:

    Amen! The truth must be told.

  4. California Bob says:

    No one says it is antisemitic to oppose various political aspects of the Israeli government.

    Various Israel-haters like to pretend that’s the case, but it isn’t.

    But when people who seem to have a lot of information about Israel seemingly intentionally twist it in dishonest fashion for the sole purpose of excessively bashing Israel, the thought of antisemitism does pop up.

    Ira Chernus, for example, writes insane anti-Israel articles. This guy seems to pretend that Israel has no reason to fear countries that have made repeat wars against Israel and to this day still hate Israel. Chernus seems to pretend that rockets flying into Israel have no reason to cause feelings of insecurity in Israel. Chernus seems to feel that thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel have no reason to cause any feelings of insecurity in Israel. Chernus seems to feel that antisemitic hate promoted across the Middle East should not in any way cause feelings of insecurity in Jews in the Middle East.

    His views are crazy.

    So does he really believe that a country whose security is violated almost every day by rockets or terrorist attack attempts has no reason to feel insecure? Does that even make sense?

    • Gerald Goldberg says:


      (Found in the apartment of a Jewish Rabbi in Manchester, England,)

      The Book of Joshua describes little more than a genocidal campaign against the unsuspecting inhabitants of Canaan. The Canaanites never attacked the Israelites, never enslaved the Israelites, and aren’t described as ever having done anything to warrant mistreatment of any sort. Their only crime was living in the wrong place at the wrong time — land promised to the Israelites by God at the time when God decided to make good on that promise.

      It’s impossible to know the moral or mental disposition of the Israelites and in fact the text doesn’t really delve into their psychology at all; the length and breadth of their roles consists of obeying or disobeying Yahweh. It is thus to Yahweh that we turn to understand the genocidal actions of the Israelites. Through much of the relevant text only Yahweh is presented as being truly active and, as one might expect, all of the impetus for genocide indeed comes from Yahweh.
      Already in Exodus, Yahweh promises that the Canaanites would “melt away” and that he would drive away the Canaanites when the Israelites arrive. By Deuteronomy, Yahweh says:
      And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
      (Deuteronomy 7:2-3)
      Similar instructions appear in subsequent texts and they are clear that not only are the Israelites to make total war on the inhabitants, but they are also prohibited from entering into any sort of peace treaty with any group. There is to be no mercy for anyone, only death.
      The Israelites got some practice in this by making war against the Midianites:
      And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. …And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. …

      And Moses said unto them…Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
      (Numbers 31:7-18)
      So were the young virgin girls lucky that they weren’t slaughtered like the rest of their people, or were they unlucky that they were essentially taken as sex slaves to be used to satiate the lusts of the soldiers who slaughtered their fathers, mothers, brothers, and older sisters?
      The Book of Joshua makes it clear that the Israelites get to the murderous work of genocide and become quite efficient at it:
      And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. …every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe. As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.
      (Joshua 11:12-15)
      Raphael Lemkin argues in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe that one of the distinguishing features of genocide is not simply mass killing, which happens frequently in war, but the goal-oriented mass killing that is designed to destroy or culture or society with the purpose of replacing it entirely. This is definitely what we see happening in Joshua: the Israelites kill all the people in order to destroy their culture then move in to take over their fields, vineyards, cities, and lands.

      To be fair to the Israelites, it should be noted that they may have been operating from more than a little fear. Given their experience of what Yahweh did to their enemies, did they really want to become Yahweh’s enemies too? Probably not — and Yahweh certainly made threats about what would happen if they Israelites didn’t do as they were told:
      But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them. (Numbers 33:55-56)
      This is of course not the only threat issued to the Israelites, but it is the one which most closely associates Yahweh’s actions against the Canaanites with possible action against them: if they don’t follow orders to commit genocide, Yahweh might decide to cause a bit of genocide against them instead.
      This doesn’t entirely let the Israelites of the hook for their actions, but insofar as their guilt is mitigated at all, it’s magnified many times over for Yahweh. Not only did Yahweh order genocide to be committed and not only did he actively assist to ensure that genocide was committed, but he threatened his thugs that if they didn’t blindly obey their murderous orders then he’d do the same to them later on.
      And even that’s not the worst…

      Committing genocide against the indigenous people of Canaan was made easier by the fact that they were willing to fight for their ancestral homes. It’s easier to slaughter people who are trying to kill you, even if you’re the one who started the fight. Had the Canaanites tried to welcome the newcomers and pursue peaceful treaties, genocide might have been harder. Even the most fanatical religious zealot has a harder time slaughtering unarmed, peaceful people.
      Apparently Yahweh thought of this and took steps to ensure that nothing like this would interfere with his plans:
      There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:19-20)

      So Yahweh “hardened” the hearts of the Canaanites to guarantee that they would “come against Israel in battle.” Had he not done that, some of the Canaanites might have chosen a more peaceful solution and the Israelites might have been tempted to befriend them. Instead, they slaughtered everyone.
      Where else have we seen this? Not long before, Yahweh did the same thing with the pharaoh in Egypt: every time the pharaoh was about to let the Israelites god, Yahweh hardened his heart to ensure that he would say “no” and keep them a while longer as slaves. This guaranteed that Yahweh would get to kill all the firstborn sons of all the Egyptians as a show of psychopathic power.

      This is thus a persistent pattern for Yahweh: order one group of humans to harm a second group of humans, then take away the free will of the second ground and force them to act in a way that ensures conflict can occur. This sounds remarkably like a child torturing small animals and we all know what happens to kids like that.

  5. Molly says:

    I have long felt Jewish persecution of palestinians & our support of same to be a travesty. This has very much colored my view of Judaism & sadly ruined my respect & admiration for a noble, ethical, religion.

    • Gerald Goldberg says:

      “This has very much colored my view of Judaism & sadly ruined my respect & admiration for a noble, ethical, religion”.


      Along with the biblical myth of creation, also to be found early on in the story of Genesis is the first mention of a theme that is repeated quite frequently throughout the Mosaic books: the oppression and inferiority of women. Even many of those who have read very little, if any, of the Bible are aware of the story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were supposedly the first human beings that God created. While Adam was created from the dust of the earth, Eve was merely created from Adam’s rib, thus consigning woman in essence to the status of an appendage of man. God forbids Adam and Eve from eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Eve then convinces Adam to eat the fruit anyway, and God becomes enraged upon discovering this. So how does God react? By saying to Eve,

      “I will make most severe your pangs in childbearing. In pain shall you bear children, yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3)

      From this passage, we are expected to accept two notions that reinforce the suffering and subordination of woman: First, that childbearing, rather than being viewed as an act that leads to joyousness, actually represents a punishment bestowed upon woman by God. And secondly, that men should rule over women. As mentioned, the latter in particular is a theme returned to multiple times throughout the first five books of the Bible. The women of the Mosaic books are kept as concubines (sex slaves), bartered and controlled as possessions, and subject to the most horrific of abuses. Abraham, for instance, is one of the most famous Biblical figures. When Sarai, wife of Abraham (who is originally called “Abram” and then later renamed), proves unable to conceive, how is the situation resolved? Well, according to Genesis 16, it is resolved when Abraham sleeps with a concubine instead:

      “So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her maid—Hagar the Egyptian—and gave her to her husband Abram as a concubine.”

      Later, in Leviticus 12, it is said that after a woman gives birth to a male, she shall remain in “blood purification” for thirty-three days, a period of time during which she must be isolated from all living things. However, if a woman gives birth to a female, she must remain in an isolated state for double that time—sixty-six days. What a statement to make about the value of women in society—both that they must remain isolated in a state of “uncleanliness” following the act of childbirth, and also that their period of “uncleanliness” is double if they gave birth to a girl rather than a boy!

      Further on in Leviticus, the horrors for women continue. For instance, it is clearly stated that

      “When the daughter of a priest defiles herself through harlotry, it is her father whom she defiles; she shall be put to fire.” (Leviticus 21)

      Here we see not only the horrifying consequence for a woman who engages in prostitution, but also the articulation of the notion that daughters are nothing more than an extension of their father’s property.
      Meanwhile, passages in Deuteronomy outline the “ideal” procedure for how to capture women as prizes of war:

      “When you take the field against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her and would take her to wife, you shall bring her into your house and she shall trim her hair, pare her nails, and discard her captive’s garb. She shall spend a month’s time in your house lamenting her father and mother, after that you may come to possess her and she shall be your wife.” (Deuteronomy 21)

      Where to even begin with the horrors of the above passage? For one, the reader will no doubt immediately notice that it is apparently of no consequence whether the woman in question wishes to become sexually involved with the man! Rather, the woman is immediately declared a possession of the man who wishes to capture her, and she has no choice but to surrender to him.

      The absolute surrender of woman to man laid out in the Bible is driven home in an even more powerful and explicit manner a few passages later:

      “If a man comes upon a virgin and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, the man who lay with her shall pay the girl’s father fifty [shekhels of] silver, and she shall be his wife.” (Deuteronomy 22)

      Again, it is clear that the choice of a woman does not enter into the equation anywhere—she is powerless! If a man “seizes”—i.e. rapes—her, she not only can but must become the property of the very man who raped her, so long as he can provide monetary compensation. And the reader will again notice that the woman is being treated as nothing more than an extension of her father’s property—monetary compensation is paid because a father’s property—not a human being—was violated.

      In this same book of the JEWISH BIBLE, one finds that if a man accuses his wife of not being a virgin prior to their marriage, the parents of the girl are supposed to produce a bloody bed sheet that proves she was, in fact, a virgin.

      “But if the charge proves true, the girl was found not to have been a virgin, then the girl shall be brought out to the entrance of her father’s house, and the men of her town shall stone her to death.” (Deuteronomy 22)

      Perhaps it is worth taking a moment to pause and reflect on what kind of statement it makes if a woman accused of not being a virgin prior to marriage—i.e., accused of not being her husband’s complete sexual property—must be faced with either the humiliation of producing a bloody bedsheet or be brutally stoned to death.
      I could go on and on quoting passages from the Bible that demonstrate in no uncertain terms that in every facet of life and society, women were expected to completely surrender to the will of their husbands and to be subordinate to men in general. In the interests of conserving space and time, however, it likely suffices to simply consider this: What would the implications be if the principles discussed thus far were taken and applied literally to a society?

      PART 2
      From the earliest books of the JEWISH BIBLE onward, a basic theme emerges from the JEWISH GOD’S commandments and utterances:
      Follow me completely, or else I will annihilate you.

      Before delving into the numerous instances in which the JEWISH GOD says this openly and clearly to his “CHOSEN PEOPLE,” let us begin by looking at an example that is more subtle, though no less instructive: The story of the JEWISH GOD, working through Moses, leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Much like the story of Adam and Eve, even those who have not studied the JEWISH BIBLE closely (or at all) are generally familiar with this story of Moses and the Pharaoh of Egypt, and the famous instance during which Moses defiantly tells the Pharaoh:

      “Let my people GO!”

      What is perhaps less known about this story of “EXODUS” is that if one were to take the story literally, they would have to believe that the JEWISH GOD deliberately enslaved the Israelites in Egypt, and then when the Pharaoh was tempted to release the Israelites, the JEWISH GOD repeatedly hardened the heart of the Pharaoh so that he would refuse to release the Israelites!

      Indeed, at the beginning of Exodus, the famous story of the “burning bush” is described: The JEWISH GOD supposedly reveals himself to Moses in a burning bush and tells him that the Egyptians will have enslaved the Israelites for a period of 400 years before the JEWISH GOD finally delivers the captives from their masters. (Exodus 2) Now remember: This is supposed to be an all-powerful JEWISH GOD we are talking about here! Instead of subjecting his own “CHOSEN PEOPLE” people to horrible suffering and enslavement for centuries and then freeing them, why not just prevent them from being enslaved in the first damn place?
      Well, reading on in Exodus, we get our answer. The JEWISH GOD hints to Moses that this whole process by which the Israelites become slaves to the Egyptians and then are freed is to him nothing more than a sick game–an opportunity to “shock and awe” everyone with his power:

      “You shall repeat all that I command you…. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that I may multiply my signs and marvels in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 6)

      The “you shall repeat all I command you” portion of this passage refers to the instructions the JEWISH GOD provides to Moses where he tells Moses to tell the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from captivity or else the JEWISH GOD will punish Egypt. The next few passages of Exodus follow a basic pattern: Moses threatens the Pharaoh that unless he releases the Israelites from captivity, the JEWISH GOD will unleash plagues on the Egyptians–including blood, lice, frogs, locusts, swarms of insects, and inflammation of the skin, among other things. The Pharaoh witnesses one of these plagues, and immediately agrees to free the Israelites if the plagues are stopped. The JEWISH GOD halts the plagues, but then also hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that he recants on his promise to free the slaves, and thus the JEWISH GOD “has no choice” but to inflict more plagues on the Egyptians.

      Think about this passage for a second. What does it say about this “JEWISH GOD” that, even though he is “all-powerful” and could easily have prevented the Israelites from being enslaved in the first place, and then subsequently could have freed them once they were enslaved, he would instead choose to intentionally prolong the suffering of both the Israelites and the Egyptians merely so that he could show off his -powers? Is that JEWISH GOD any kind of Supreme Being to uphold or believe in?

      This passage is one of the earlier examples of the brutality of the JEWISH GOD’S logic, and the remainder of the five Mosaic books clearly demonstrate that this passage is the rule and not the exception. The text, in fact, is littered with instances where those who do not follow the JEWISH GOD’SG commandments absolutely meet with unspeakable death and suffering. Let us now look through some of these instances–a section we might refer to as “THE JEWISH GOD’S GREATEST HITS.”

      In Leviticus, the JEWISH GOD makes it clear that his laws are to be followed absolutely–no questions asked:
      “You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or the land of Canaan, to which I am taking you; nor shall you follow their laws. My rules alone shall you observe, and faithfully follow my laws.” (Leviticus 17)

      Sounds pretty “totalitarian” to me!

      Yet strangely, one never hears those who would use that very word to describe Stalin or Mao use it to describe the JEWISH GOD! But sure enough, it gets worse. Following the passage mentioned where the JEWISH GOD describes homosexuality as an “abhorrence,” the JEWISH GOD proceeds to threaten the Israelites:

      “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for it is by such that the nations I am casting out before you defiled themselves. Thus, the land became defiled… You must not do any of these abhorrent things…for all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before you, and the land became defiled.” (Leviticus 18)

      Thus, not only does the JEWISH GOD demand complete obedience to all of his laws, which include laws that label homosexuality as an abhorrence, but he goes one step further and implies that he will smite the Israelites completely, just as he did the Egyptians, if his laws are not followed. The JEWISH GOD elaborates on the exact forms that this “smiting” will take in a lengthy passage further along in Leviticus:

      If you do not obey me and do not observe all these commandments, if you reject my laws and spurn my rules….I will in turn do this to you: I will wreak misery upon you–consumption and fever–which cause the eyes to pine and the body to languish; you shall sow your seed to no purpose, for your enemies shall eat it…. I will make your skies like iron and your earth like copper…. And if you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey me, I will go on smiting you sevenfold for your sins. I will loose wild beasts against you and they shall bereave you of your children and wipe out your children…. I will bring a sword against you to wreak vengeance for the covenant; and if you withdraw into your cities, I will send pestilence among you…but if despite this, you disobey me and remain hostile to me, I will act against you in wrathful hostility; I, for my part, will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons and daughters….I will spurn you. I will lay your cities in ruin….I will scatter you amongst the nations and unsheathe the sword against you. Your land shall become a desolation and your cities a ruin….These are the laws, rules, and instructions that the Lord established through Moses on Mount Sinai, between himself and the Israelite people. (Leviticus 26)

  6. […] the U.S. presidential campaign, Republicans were eager to play on the traditional American belief in Israel’s insecurity: an innocent victim surrounded by vicious Arabs eager to destroy the little […]

  7. Larry says:

    No matter what, there is a sovereign power, Israel, and there is a people, Israel, and since the beginnings of Christianity, hatred against both has flourished. First to consolidate Christianity against Judaism, then to dislike the foreigner in their midst, then to despise the Jews when they began to finally take destiny into their own hands. War sucks, it creates casualties. But history goes on; only the Arabs in all the upheavals of the last 100 years continue to cling to their loss in war. And a part of that is because according to Islam, Jews are inferior. The thought of Jewish sovereignty, and in their midst, is anathema. It is more than the land, it is this belief of the inferiority of the Jew, and how dare he succeed against the Moslem.

    • Gerald Goldberg says:

      The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
      Palestinian geographer; born at Flosz, Bavaria, Oct. 22, 1804; died at Jerusalem Feb. 5, 1865. When he was seventeen years old he graduated as teacher from the Königliches Schullehrerseminar of Colberg, after which he joined his brother Israel at the University of Würzburg, where for five years he devoted himself to the history and geography of the Holy Land, and published a map of Palestine (1829; republished at Vienna, 1831, and Triest, 1832). It was his ardent desire, however, to study in Palestine itself the physical history and geography of the Holy Land, where his knowledge of Talmudic sources and early Jewish writers would be of more service. Accordingly he decided to settle in Jerusalem, whither he went in 1833. Schwarz then began a series of journeys and explorations in various parts of Palestine, to which he devoted about fifteen years.
      The results of his investigations and researches into the history, geography, geology, fauna, and flora of that country have placed him in the front rank of Palestinian explorers and geographers. HE IS THE GREATEST JEWISH AUTHORITY ON PALESTINIAN MATTERS SINCE ESTORI FARHI (1282-1357), the author of “Kaftor wa-Feraḥ.”

      (Be sure to Google this article:

      614-1096 C.E.
      From the Accession of the Mahomedans to that of the Europeans.

      By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

      Rabbi Shallum, son of the then Resh Gelutha, in Babel, aka Abu Bachr al Chaliva al Zadik. Abu Bakr, became the first Caliph, and was in fact son of the then Resh Gelutha, in Babel, who perceiving a dreadful predicament, sent Rabbi Shallum to Mahomed, and told him to offer his submission, friendship, and services, and endeavour to enter with him into a friendly compact. Mahomed accepted Rabbi Shallum’s proposition with pleasure, conceived a great affection for him, and took his daughter, Aisha, a handsome young child, for wife; he made him also a general in his army, and gave him the name of Abu Bachr al Chaliva al Zadik, literally:

      The father of the maiden, the descendant of the righteous; this means, that of all his wives, who were either widows or divorced women, this one was the only one who had never been married before, and then she was the granddaughter of the celebrated chief of the captivity; therefore, the descendant of the righteous. This occurrence induced Mahomed to give up his terrible intention to destroy the Jews in his country, and thus did Rabbi Shallum save his people.


      [Why Muhammad hated alcohol]

      Abu Bachr and Aliman now resolved among themselves to remove the dangerous enemy of the Jews, Bucheran. One evening Mahomed, Bucheran, Aliman, and Abu Bachr, were drinking together; the latter two soon saw that Mahomed and the astrologer were strongly intoxicated, and lay stretched out in a deep and profound sleep. Abu Bachr thereupon drew the sword of Mahomed from its scabbard, cut off therewith Bucharan’s head, and put the bloody sword back into its receptacle, and both then lay themselves down quietly near Mahomed to sleep. When Mahomed awoke and saw his friend lying decapitated near him, he cried out in a fury: “This terrible deed has been done by one of us three in our drunkenness!” Abu Bachr thereupon said quite unconcernedly: “Let each one draw his sword, and he whose weapon is stained with blood, must needs be the murderer!” They all drew their swords, and that of Mahomed was completely dyed with fresh blood, which proved thus clearly to his satisfaction that he had murdered his friend. He was greatly grieved at this discovery; cursed and condemned the wine which was the cause of this murder, and swore that he never would drink any more, and that also no one should do so who wishes to enter heaven. This is the cause why wine is prohibited to the Mahomedans.

      At a later period, Mahomed learned the whole transaction, and that his father-in-law was the perpetrator of the bloody deed; wherefore, he lost his favour, and he would not permit him to come before him. Abu Bachr went thereupon and conquered sixty places, which had not yet submitted to Mahomed, and presented them to him, through which means he became again reconciled to him, was received in favour, and remained thereafter at court.

  8. Troy says:

    Dr. Chernus:

    I appreciate your attempt to fill a desperate void in the Jewish/Palestinian dialogue. As a religious studies student a couple hours north of yourself, I am saddened to see how modern Israeli secularists and religious alike have responded so poorly to the centuries of injury heaped upon the Jews. Their myth is one of limitless retribution and uninformed reaction, a myth that will always be self-perpetuating so long as Israel seeks retribution as a means to solving unfathomably difficult historical crises. It is a myth of fear that has unfortunately become the driving force behind Israeli decision making.

    Yes, there will always be anti-semitism, just as anti-black, anti-communist, anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-indigenous, anti-gay, and anti-EVERYTHING sentiment will also continue to exist. People refuse to live in peace. It is our sad history.

    But Israel has a unique place in history. It possesses the influence, technology, funding, and other resources necessary to be an example for peace and cause, at the very least, a hiccup in our history of war as a tool for self-justification. I would hope that they will eventually recognize that they need not live by that dangerous myth of fear and find a vehicle for exercising peace with their Palestinian neighbors. I will hold out hope for that day because I know the people of Israel are good people, not the malevolent subhumans that history has too often made the Jews out to be.

    Thanks again for your contribution. Happy to see that civilized intellectual conversation is not yet completely dead in America.

    • Gerald Goldberg says:



      “If there was a legal case between a Jew and a Gentile (non-Jew), then the manner of judging between them is as I will explain: if we [i.e., a Jew] will win under their laws, we judge them according to their laws and say to them: this is your law! If it is better that we judge according to our laws, we judge them according to our laws and say to them: this is our law! And do not find it difficult, and don’t be surprised by it, just as one is not surprised about the slaughter of animals even though they have done no harm, for one in whom human characteristics are not complete is not truly a man, and his end purpose is only for ‘man’ [that is to say, the entire raison d’etre of the Gentiles is only for the benefit of the complete man —
      comment by Rabbi Y. Kapach shlita in his edition of Maimonides’s Commentary on the Mishnah], and the discussion on this matter requires a separate book.”

      Foreword — Daat Emet
      For a long time we have been considering the necessity of informing our readers about Halacha’s real attitude towards non-Jews. Many untrue things are publicized on this issue and the facts should be made clear. But recently, we were presented with a diligently written article on the subject, authored by a scholar from the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva — so our job was done by others (though we have already discussed some aspects of this issue in the weekly portions of Balak and Matot). Since there is almost no disagreement between us and the author of the article on this issue, we have chosen to bring the article “Jews Are Called ‘Men'” by R’ David Bar-Chayim (in Hebrew) so that the reader will be able to study and understand the attitude of the Halacha towards non-Jews.
      In this article R’ Bar-Chayim discusses the attitude towards “Gentiles” in the Torah and in the Halacha and comes to an unambiguous conclusion:
      “The Torah of Israel makes a clear distinction between a Jew, who is defined as ‘man,’ and a Gentile.”
      That is to say, any notion of equality between human beings is irrelevant to the Halacha. R’ Bar-Chayim’s work is comprehensive, written with intellectual honesty, and deals with almost all the aspects of Halachic treatment of non-Jews. It also refutes the statements of those rabbis who speak out of wishful thinking and, influenced by concepts of modern society, claim that Judaism does not discriminate against people on religious grounds. R’ Bar-Chayim shows that all these people base their constructs NOT on the Torah but solely on the inclinations of their own hearts. He also shows that there are even rabbis who intentionally distort the Halachic attitude to Gentiles, misleading both themselves and the general public.
      For the English readers’ convenience we will briefly mention the topics dealt with in R’ Bar-Chayim’s article:
      Laws in regard to murder, which clearly state that there is Halachic difference between murder of a Jew and of a Gentile (the latter is considered a far less severe crime).
      A ban on desecrating the Sabbath to save the life of a Gentile.
      A Jew’s exemption from liability if his property (e. g. ox) causes damage to a Gentile’s property. But if a Gentile’s property causes damage to a Jew’s property, the Gentile is liable.
      The question of whether robbery of a Gentile is forbidden by the Torah’s law or only by a Rabbinic decree.
      A ban on returning a lost item to a Gentile if the reason for returning it is one’s sympathy towards the Gentile and compassion for him.
      The sum which a Gentile overpays in a business transaction due to his own error is forfeit; whether a Jew is permitted to intentionally deceive a Gentile is also discussed.
      One who kidnaps a Jew is liable to death, but one who kidnaps a Gentile is exempt.
      A Jew who hurts or injures a Gentile is not liable for compensation of damage, but a Gentile who hurts a Jew is liable to death.
      One who overcharges a Gentile ought not return him the sum that the Gentile overpaid.
      A Gentile — or even a convert to Judaism — may not be appointed king or public official of any sort (e. g. a cabinet minister).
      One who defames a female proselyte (claiming that she was not virgin at the time of her marriage) is liable to neither lashes nor fine.
      The prohibition to hate applies only to Jews; one may hate a Gentile.
      One may take revenge against or bear a grudge towards Gentiles; likewise, the commandment “love your neighbour” applies only to Jews, not to Gentiles.
      One who sees Gentile graveyards should curse: “Your mother shall be greatly ashamed…”
      Gentiles are likened to animals.
      If an ox damaged a Gentile maidservant, it should be considered as though the ox damaged a she-ass.
      The dead body of a Gentile does not bear ritual impurity, nor does a Gentile who touches the dead body of a Jew become impure — he is considered like an animal who touched a dead body.
      One is forbidden to pour anointing oil on a Jew, but there is no ban on pouring that oil on a Gentile because Gentiles are likened to animals.
      An animal slaughtered by a Gentile is forbidden, even if the ritual slaughter performed was technically correct, because Gentiles are deemed like animals. (Daat Emet does not agree that this is the Halachic reason for invalidating a Gentile’s ritual slaughter — but this is not the place to delve into the subject).
      Their members are like those of asses” — Gentiles are likened to animals.
      Between the Jews and the Gentiles — In the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and in Jewish Thought
      R’ Bar-Chayim’s arguments and conclusions are clear, Halachically accurate, and supported by almost all the existent major Halachic works. It would be superfluous to say that R’ Bar-Chayim fully embraces this racist Halachic outlook as the word of the Living G-d, as he himself pointed out in the “Conclusion” of his article:
      “It is clear to every Jew who accepts the Torah as G-d’s word from Sinai, obligatory and valid for all generations, that it is impossible to introduce ‘compromises’ or ‘renovations’ into it.”
      On the other hand, we want to make it clear that Daat Emet — as well as any reasonable people who do not embrace Halachic laws as the word of the Living G-d — are repulsed by such evil, racist discrimination.
      In the Hebrew text we have abridged the second part of R’ Bar-Chayim’s article,
      “Between Jews and Gentiles — In the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and in Jewish Thought,” because, in our view, the Halacha is the law which obligates every religious Jew while concepts of the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and Jewish thought are not binding on anyone, as our rabbis have already written:
      “And so the Aggadic constructs of the disciples of disciples, such as Rav Tanchuma and Rabbi Oshaya and their like — most are incorrect, and therefore we do not rely on the words of Aggadah” (Sefer HaEshkol, Laws of a Torah Scroll, p. 60a); we have expanded on this issue in the portion of Vayeshev.

      Tzfi’a 3
      The Editorial Board
      President of the Editorial Board and Founder: Rabbi Moshe Segal OBM
      Rabbi Yisrael Ariel
      Moshe Asher
      Joel Rakovsky
      Amishar Segal
      Articles are the authors’ responsibility
      Rabbi David Bar Chaim
      Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav

  9. victor says:

    israelis and jews in general but specially us jews are, as it has been always in jewish history, overestimating their influence. they should remember violent antisemitism always rises to the challenge. the huge hole in jewish thinking is being unable to prevent antisemitism and inflexibility. for example, israel is missing the window of opportunity to segure its existence by creating a prosperous palestinian state and gaining acceptance by giving up land. instead they bet the house on us military and financial help, a bet sooner or later they will lose.

    its seems too many jews are so convinced of their intellectual acumen they always miscalculate. one thing is to be smart for abstract thought about narrow subjects and another intelligence is necessary to create a stable, secure, prosperous country. history shows jews lack on the latter.

    of course rabid antisemites are evil, but is irrational just to condemn without jews coanging their thinking one iota. “neurosis is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results”, i believe a wise jew said, perhaps freud or einstein.

    • Gerald Goldberg says:

      1. often Fascism
      a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
      b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
      2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.


      “When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it responds peaceably and lets you in, all the people present there shall serve you at forced labor. If it does not surrender to you, but would join battle with you, you shall lay siege to it; and when the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, the livestock, and everything in the town—all its spoil—and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy, which the Lord your God gives you. Thus shall you deal with all towns that lie very far from you, towns that do not belong to nations thereabout. In the towns of the latter people, however, which the Lord your God is giving you as a heritage, you shall not let a soul remain alive.”
      Deuteronomy 20

      “See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His Commandments, His laws, and His Rules, that you may thrive and increase, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are about to enter and possess. But if your heart turns away and you give no heed, and are lured into the worship and service of other gods, I declare to you this day that you shall certainly perish. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life — if you and your offspring would live—by loving the Lord your God, heeding His commandments, and holding Fast to him.”
      Moses, speaking to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30


      Ah yes, of all the wonderful values extolled in the Mosaic books, perhaps none is more admirable than the notion of one human being owning another. Indeed, slavery is mentioned throughout each of the five Mosaic books of the Bible. Some passages mention the institution in a way that simply makes it clear that the practice is viewed as inevitable and a natural part of the social order of the times, while -others go a step further and actually outline the “proper” procedures by which one human being should “possess” another. In the first category, we find numerous examples taken straight from the Bible. Perhaps most noteworthy is the reference to slavery found in the Ten Commandments. The tenth and final Commandment instructs that God’s people:

      “Shall not covet their neighbor’s house, wife, male or female slave, ox or ass, or anything else.” (Exodus 20)

      When this is pointed out to many religious persons, their response is that this part of the Tenth Commandment does not actually condone slavery; it merely mentions its existence. This argument is severely lacking in logic. In fact, it is plain as day that the JEWISH BIBLE is implying that there is nothing wrong with slavery itself—rather, people should simply stick to their own slaves and not covet those “belonging” to others!

      If “God” were actually trying to say that slavery as a whole should not exist, why would He give an instruction that is clearly designed to protect the “human property” of others? Furthermore, to use an analogy, suppose that in present society someone were to devise a law that said:

      “Thou shalt not commit murder on a Tuesday.” Would anyone actually try to defend this law by saying, “Well, this law isn’t saying that murder is OK, it just says that murdering on a TUESDAY is not OK”? Of course not. By specifying that committing murder on a Tuesday is immoral, the law would clearly be implying that murdering someone on any other day was just fine—just as saying that people should not “covet” other people’s slaves clearly implies acceptance of slavery and merely rejects coveting the “property” of others.

      Slavery is also mentioned in Genesis 12 in relation to Abram (again, he who was later renamed Abraham): “Because of her [Sarai, Abram’s wife], it went well with Abram; [upon entering Egypt], he acquired sheep, oxen, asses, male and female slaves, she-asses, and camels.” Notice that acquiring slaves is viewed as a sign of when things “went well.”
      Or how about Genesis 17, when God tells Abraham: “As for the homeborn slave and the one bought from an outsider who is not your offspring, they must be circumcised, homeborn, and purchased alike.” Or how about Genesis 32, when Jacob sends a message ahead to his brother Esau: “I stayed with Laban and remained until now. I have acquired cattle, asses, and male and female slaves.”
      Still not convinced that the Bible is chock full of references to slavery—references that make clear that the Bible approves of slavery? How about this fine passage from Exodus, which instructs that,

      “When a man strikes a slave, male or female, with a rod, and he dies there and then, he must be avenged. But if he survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, since he is the other’s property.” (Exodus 21)

      Here, the JEWISH BIBLE goes one step beyond the part of the Ten Commandments where slavery is merely “mentioned”: Now slaves are clearly identified as “human property”—which, we can only conclude, is just fine with God. And this passage also makes clear that beating slaves within inches of their life is acceptable as long as they are not literally killed.
      References to slavery hardly decrease as one progresses through the five Mosaic books. In fact, if anything, these references become more explicit. In Leviticus 25, the JEWISH GOD instructs his “chosen people” that:

      “Such male and female slaves as you have—it is from the nations round about you that you may acquire male and female slaves… such you may treat as slaves.”

      There it is, plain as day—enslaving other peoples is OK in the eyes of the JEWISH GOD, according to the JEWISH BIBLE. And as a later passage in Deuteronomy makes evident, the Biblical God does not merely sanction the enslavement of people in the nations “round about you,” but rather is perfectly willing to accept the enslavement of his own chosen people as well:

      “If a fellow Hebrew, man or woman, is sold to you, he shall serve for six years, and in the seventh year, you shall set him free.” (Deuteronomy 15)

      Again, as with instances where the JEWISH BIBLE sanctions the oppression of women, there are many more that could be found and discussed, just in the first five, Mosaic books of the JEWISH BIBLE. But I feel that those referenced so far are more than enough to make all of us shudder at the implications of applying this “core principle” of the JEWISH BIBLE literally.
      Many good-hearted religious folks point to passages such as the Commandment that reads, “Thou shalt not kill” to argue that the practice of state-sanctioned executions is ungodly. Unfortunately, while the death penalty in this society is indeed a great horror, it is not “ungodly.” The JEWISH HOLY BIBLE is full of instances where THE JEWISH GOD commands that people be put to death. In some passages, the JEWISH GOD decrees that a specific transgression occurring in the JEWISH BIBLE be dealt with by executing the offender, while in still other places he merely articulates that in any instance where a specific act is committed, the offender shall be put to death.
      Passages in Exodus 21 outline a variety of crimes for which offenders shall be executed:

      “He who fatally strikes a man shall be put to death.”
      “He who strikes his father or mother shall be put to death.”
      “He who kidnaps a man shall be put to death.”
      “He who insults his father or mother shall be put to death.”

      In particular, it is worth examining the last of these “crimes.” Think about that law for a moment:

      “He who insults his father or mother shall be put to death.”

      How many of us in society—even those who are extremely close to our immediate families—have not at one time or another in our lives done something that could be considered insulting to our parents? The JEWISH BIBLE would have us believe that any of us who are guilty of such an act should be put to death!! Many folks may be surprised to find that such a horrific law could be stated in the JEWISH BIBLE.
      In the event that anyone missed the point of the passage in Exodus 21, the JEWISH GOD is kind enough to repeat it several times throughout the Bible, including in Leviticus, where it is plainly stated:

      “If anyone insults his father or mother, he shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 20)

      This principle is then spelled out further in Deuteronomy, in a passage that articulates the notion that

      “If a man has a wayward and defiant son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey him even after they discipline him, his mother and father shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his community. They shall say to the elders of the town, ‘This son of ours is disloyal and defiant. He does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death.” (Deuteronomy 21)

      Working on the Sabbath—a day which the JEWISH GOD commanded be set aside as a day of rest and worship to Himself—is also a crime for which the JEWISH BIBLE advocates a penalty of death. In Exodus, this is made clear when God says:

      “Nevertheless, you must keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between you and me throughout the ages. He who profanes it shall be put to death.. Whoever does work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.” (Exodus 31)
      Like the Commandment concerning the execution of defiant children, the JEWISH GOD is nice enough to alleviate any confusion by repeating throughout the Mosaic books that those who work on the Sabbath shall be put to death, including in a passage further on in Exodus:

      “Whoever does work on it [the Sabbath] shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35)

      That death to those who work on the Sabbath is designed as a law and not merely an idea is made clear in Numbers:

      “Once, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the whole community. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘This man shall be put to death: the whole community shall pelt him with stones outside the camp.’ So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death—as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Numbers 15)

      Another crime for which the death penalty is advocated is blasphemy. It is made plain throughout the Mosaic books that the JEWISH GOD will show no mercy or patience to those who deviate from following him absolutely. For now, it will suffice to mention just a few examples of this. In Leviticus, the Bible describes an occurrence where,

      “The son of a half-Israelite woman had blasphemed.” (Leviticus 24)

      The penalty for this blaspheming was brutal:

      “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands upon his head, and let the whole community stone him.’” (Leviticus 24)

      Immediately after this passage, it is made clear that this instance is to serve as an example of the proper ways that blasphemers are supposed to be dealt with in all cases:

      “And to the Israelite woman, speak thus: Anyone who blasphemes the JEWISH GOD shall bear his guilt; if he also pronounces the name Lord, he shall be put to death. The whole community shall stone him.” (Leviticus 24)

      Again, it is worth reflecting on the implications of this Commandment from the JEWISH GOD: How many of us in society—religious or otherwise—have not at some point uttered an expression such as “Oh my God!”, or “God damn it!”? According to the JEWISH BIBLE, that is blasphemy—“taking the Lord’s name in vain”—and is grounds for the death penalty!

      One particular form of blasphemy for which the JEWISH GOD doles out particularly merciless punishment is the worship of other supernatural Gods or spirits. In Leviticus, we find that

      “A man or a woman who has a familiar ghost or spirit shall be put to death; they shall be pelted with stones.” (Leviticus 20)

      In Deuteronomy, Moses continues with this theme, reminding the Israelites:

      “Revere only the Lord your God and worship Him alone, and swear only by His name. Do not follow other Gods. For the Lord your God is an impassioned God, lest the anger of the Lord your God blaze forth against you and He wipe you off the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 6)

      The theory of these passages is put into brutal practice in many instances in the first five books of the JEWISH BIBLE, including in a memorable passage in Exodus: Moses returns from Mount Sinai to find that many of the Israelites have built a GOLDEN CALF and are worshipping it. Upon returning to the Israelites and observing the calf, Moses is consumed with rage and responds by grinding the calf into dust, and then making the Israelites drink it. (Exodus 32)

      But Moses didn’t quite stop there. He then “stood up in the gate of the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord come here!’ And all the Levites [descendants of Levi] rallied to him. He said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, each of you put your sword on thigh, go back and forth from gate to camp, slay brother, neighbor, and kin.’ The Levites did as Moses commanded, and three thousand fell that day.” (Exodus 32)

      Adultery is still another crime that the JEWISH BIBLE deems punishable by death. The ultimate penalty of death is indeed prescribed throughout the Mosaic books for those who commit adultery. In Leviticus, we find the decree that,

      “If a man commits adultery, the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 20)

      In Deuteronomy, this point is repeated when Moses, who is supposedly articulating the word of God, says,

      “If a man is found lying with another man’s wife, both of them—both the man and the woman with whom he lay—shall die.” (Deuteronomy 22)

      Besides the horror involved in calling for adulterers to be executed, the sheer hypocrisy of the JEWISH BIBLE must also be pointed out here: Many of the key figures of the very same Bible that calls for the death penalty to be meted out to those who commit adultery themselves have more than one wife!! As early as Genesis, we find reference to Lamech, who “took to himself two wives” (Genesis 4). It was also noted that Abram (later renamed Abraham) was married to Sarai, but because Sarai could not conceive, Abraham was “forced” to lay with Hagar, a concubine offered to him by his wife. And here we see an instance of “like grandfather, like grandson”: Abraham’s grandson and Isaac’s son was named Jacob, who took to himself two wives—Rachel and Leah. Yet, for some reason, all of these men were able to escape the penalty of death that was supposed to await all adulterers.

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