This is page II of IV. To return to page I, go here.
In his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer claims that the violent verses in the Bible are only “descriptive” whereas those in the Quran are supposedly “prescriptive, open-ended, and universal.” However, this argument is simply not supported by the facts on the ground, as we explained on page I. There are many violent verses in the Bible that are “prescriptive, open-ended, and universal”–at least using the same standards that Spencer so mirthfully employs against the Quran.
The Battle Psalms
The Book of Psalms is amongst the most commonly read and recited part of the Bible by both Jews and Christians. “Throughout the world many Jews recite the Book of Psalms each week or each month.” “The Psalms are some of the most widely read portions of the Old Testament. They have a long history of popularity in the Christian tradition, so much so that often the Book of Psalms has been bound with the New Testament in pocket editions.”
The Psalms are attributed to King David, who waged violent holy war against heathens and committed atrocities that can only be described as genocide (see part 3 of this Series). Many of the Psalms are war poems, glorifying holy war against heathens. No wonder then that even today “when Israel is at war, Jews gather to recite Psalms” and “many Yeshivot and synagogues recite Psalms (especially Psalms 20, 83, 121, 130, 142 …) daily for the protection of Jews in Israel from terrorism.” (Certainly, ethnic cleansing–which is called for in this particular selection of Psalms–is one vengefully satisfying, albeit ineffective, way of dealing with terrorism.) Christian soldiers in the U.S. military routinely recall and recite the Psalms as they sustain their illegal occupations in the lands of the Saracen heathens.
The Bible proclaims:
Psalms 149:5 Let godly people triumph in glory. Let them sing for joy on their beds.
149:6 Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hands,
149:7 to execute vengeance on the heathen and punishment on the people,
149:8 to bind their kings with chains, and their leaders with iron shackles.
Using Spencer’s own standards, this is a “prescriptive, open-ended, and universal” proclamation of holy war against “the heathen”. Far from letting “God handle the unbelievers”, this Biblical passage empowers men to do God’s bidding–with the sharp edges of a sword no less. After all, Psalm 18:34 says of God: “He teaches my hands to war” and 144:1 says: “Praise be to the LORD, who is my rock, who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.”
Other verses more graphically depict how the Jewish and/or Christian believers will themselves “see vengeance” and exult in bloodletting:
58:10 The righteous will be glad when they see vengeance, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
The believers pray to God: “Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked” (3:7), “Strike them with terror” (9:20), “let death seize my enemies” (55:15), “trample our enemies” (60:120), “destroy them!” (74:11), “terrify them” (83:15), and “let them perish in disgrace” (83:17).
It cannot be claimed that these verses ask for the intervention of God without any human action. Rather, the Psalms are calling for divine support to aid human soldiers on the battlefield. This becomes abundantly clear from numerous passages contained therein:
18:29 With [God's] help I can advance against a troop [of soldiers]; with my God I can scale [an enemy] wall.
18:30 God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
18:31 For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?
18:32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
18:34 He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.
18:35 You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great.
18:36 You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.
18:37 I will pursue my enemies and overtake them; I will not turn back till they are destroyed.
18:38 I will smite them through, so that they shall not be able to rise: They shall fall under my feet.
18:39 You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet.
18:40 You have also given me the necks of my enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.
God’s aid is certainly sought, but it is the human who will become God’s agent of vengeance. It can almost be considered that God was thought of as another fighter on the battlefield:
108:11 Have you rejected us, O God? Will you no longer march with our armies?
108:12 Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
108:13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
Psalm 83 is one of the most commonly recited parts of the Bible and is in fact read “daily” by many pro-Israeli Jewish congregations. This psalm calls for God to do to the enemies of Israel what was done to the people of Midian. As we read earlier, the Israelites killed every Midianite man, and enslaved their women and children. The passage also lists other peoples who were defeated and destroyed by the Israelites. This prayer in the Book of Psalms reads:
83:9 Do to them as you did to Midian, as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
83:10 who perished at Endor and became like dung for the ground.
83:11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
83;12 who said, “Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God.
83:13 Make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind.
83:14 As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
83:15 so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.
83:16 Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O LORD.
83:17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace.
Far from rejecting the wars and genocides of Moses, this prayer in the Bible–recited by Jews (and Christians) worldwide–hopes for similar treatment of other infidels, especially those who have the unfortunate fate of being deemed enemies to Israel.
Editor’s Note: Due to the length of this article, it will be split into four parts, the next part to be published tomorrow.
Update I: Page 3 is now available here.
Update II: Page 4 is now available here.