Robert Spencer

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Pamela Geller

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Bat Ye'or

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Brigitte Gabriel

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Daniel Pipes

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Debbie Schlussel

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Walid Shoebat

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Joe Kaufman

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Wafa Sultan

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Geert Wilders

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The Nuclear Card

The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (I)

Posted on 29 August 2011 by Danios

*This piece was first published on Aug, 23.

This article is the conclusion to part 9 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

Islamophobes argue that the holy book of Islam, the Quran, is uniquely violent as compared to other religious scriptures–certainly more so than the “peace-loving Bible.”  Similarly, they argue that the the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was uniquely violent as far as prophets go–certainly more so than the religious figures of the Judeo-Christian faith.

These reassuring platitudes were shattered in LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series(see parts 1234567, and 8).  Clearly, the Bible is more violent than the Quran, and the Biblical prophets were more violent than the Islamic prophet.

But what about the Islamic God?  How does He compare to the Judeo-Christian God?  Is it true that Allah of the Quran is uniquely warlike and violent as the anti-Muslim camp claims?

We previously came to the conclusion (see here, here, here, here and here) that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God–however, whereas the God of the Bible and the God of the Quran are essentially the same, they differ somewhat in their details.  In other words, they have slightly differing qualities and characteristics.  For example, Christians would argue that their God is Trinitarian, whereas the Islamic God is Unitarian.

Anti-Muslim Jews and Christians often try to portray the Islamic God as uniquely warlike and violent, as opposed to the supposedly loving and peaceful God of the Bible.  However, I will argue (quite convincingly) that in fact the Quranic God is no more warlike and violent than the Biblical one.  Indeed, we might even be able to say the opposite: Yahweh of the Bible, unlike Allah of the Quran, is a war-god.

Yahweh originated from a war-god tradition.  Dr. Lloyd M. Barre writes:

The earliest Yahwistic traditions reveal that Yahweh was a bedouin war god from the deserts of Edom and of the surrounding regions. His essentially warlike characteristics are demonstated by his name, by cultic celebrations of his mighty deeds, and by his ark.

Prof. Mark S. Smith notes on p.144 of The Origins of Biblical Monotheism that Yahweh was introduced to the Israelites as a “divine warrior [god] from the south.”  Indeed, “Yahweh and Baal co-existed and later competed as warrior-gods” (Ibid., p.33).  This motif continued in the Israelite tradition: the tribal warrior-god Yahweh went to war against competing gods and nations on behalf of Israel.

Although Yahweh, the God the Israelites adopted, would one day become the supreme God of the land and eliminate his competition, initially he was just one of many competing “war and storm-gods;” as Prof. Erhard S. Gerstenberger writes on p.151 of Theologies of the Old Testament (emphasis added):

Yahweh was not always God in Israel and at every social level.  Rather, initially he belongs only to the storm and war gods like Baal, Anath, Hadad, Resheph and Chemosh…His original homeland was the southern regions of present-day Palestine and Jordan.  Thus the regional and functional, cultural and social limitations of Yahweh should be beyond all doubt.  The elaboration of ideas about Yahweh, e.g. as a guarantor of fertility, personal good fortune, head of a pantheon, creator of the world, judge of the world, etc. is gradual and only fully unfolds in the exilic/post-exilic age, always in connection with social and historical changes.

In other words, Yahweh started out as a “storm and war god,” and only later acquired other functions now commonly associated with God, including for example the ability to create.

Prof. Corrine Carvalho writes on p.79 of Encountering Ancient Voices: A Guide to Reading the Old Testament that “Yahweh was first and foremost a warrior God.”  From the very beginning, “God appeared to the ancient people as a warrior…’armed in military attire, to contend with all the forces of his foes’” (p.19 of God is a Warrior by Professor Tremper Longman).  This is a reflection of God being introduced to the Hebrews in a time of persecution and war, as Moses defeats Pharaoh’s forces and then leads his people to war against the Canaanites in the Promised Land.

As we shall see later, herein lies a major difference between Yahweh of Judaism and Allah of Islam; the very first introduction of Yahweh to the believers was in the war-god role, not as the creator of all things; as Robert Wright writes in The Evolution of God:

…If you go back to the poems that most scholars consider the oldest pieces of the Bible, there’s no mention of God creating anything. He seems more interested in destroying; he is in large part a warrior god. What some believe to be the oldest piece of all, Exodus 15, is an ode to Yahweh for drowning Eygpt’s army in the Red Sea. It begins, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea…the Lord is a warrior.”

He notes:

The part about creating stars and the moon and the sun and light itself–the story in the first chapter of Genesis–seems to have been added later. In the beginning, so far as we can tell, Yahweh was not yet a cosmic creator.

Biblical scholar Prof. J.M.P. Smith writes in Religion and War in Israel published in The American Journal of Theology (emphasis added):

Among the functions of Yahweh called into play by Israel’s needs, the leading place in the earlier times was held by warHence, Yahweh is constantly represented as a war-god. He it is who marches at the head of Israel’s armies (Deut. 33:27); his right arm brings victory to Israel’s banners (Exod. 15:6); Israel’s wars are “the wars of Yahweh” himself (Num. 21:14; I Sam. 18:17, 25:28); Israel’s obligation is to “come to the help of Yahweh, to the help of Yahweh against the mighty” (Judg. 5:23); Israel’s enemies are Yahweh’s enemies (Judg. 5:31; I Sam. 30:26); Yawheh is Israel’s sword and shield (Deut. 33:29); yea, he is a “a man of war” (Exod. 15:3) As the leader of a nation of war, Yahweh was credited with the military practices of the day.  He shrank not from drastic and cruel measures. Indeed, he lent his name and influence to the perpetration of such deeds of barbarity…Yahweh orders the total extermination of clans and towns, including man, woman, and child (I Sam. 15:3; Josh 6:17 f.).

In line with the customary belief in ancient times, the warrior-god of Israel did not just lend his help from afar or through divine agents but was thought to literally accompany the soldiers on the battlefield. Professor Sa-Moon Kang of Hebrew University of Jerusalem writes on p.224 of Divine War in the Old Testament and in the Ancient Near East (emphasis added):

YHWH was understood as the divine warrior…YHWH intervened not only to help the army on the battlefield but He also marched in front of the king and soldiers…The victory after the battles was given to YHWH, and the spoils obtained were dedicated to YHWH and His treasures.

In Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, winner of the 2005 National Jewish Book Award, Howard Schwartz writes (emphasis added):

40. The Warrior God

Yahweh is a mighty warrior who defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea…God appeared to Pharaoh as a mighty warrior, carrying a fiery bow, with a sword of lightning, traveling through the heavens in a chariot…God took a cherub from His Throne fo Glory and rode upon it, waging war against Pharaoh and Egypt, as it is said, He mounted a cherub and flew (Ps. 18:11). Leaping from one wing to another, God taunted Pharaoh, “O evil one, do you have a cherub? Can you do this?”

When the angels saw that God was waging war against the Egyptians on the sea, they came to His aid. Some came carrying swords and others carrying bows or lances. God said to them, “I do not need your aid, for when I go to battle, I go alone.” That is why it is said that Yahweh is a man of war (Exod. 15:3).

Notice here that Yahweh does not merely engage in fighting via divine or worldly agents.  Instead, he is literally on the battlefield itself, fighting as a warrior god.  Schwartz goes on:

In addition to Exodus 15:3, Yahweh is a man of war, God is described as a warrior in Psalm 24: Who is the King of glory–Yahweh, mighty and valiant, Yahweh, valiant in battle (Ps. 24:8).  Frank Moore Cross finds in this passage a strong echo of the Canaanite pattern, in which both El and Ba’al are described as warrior gods.

Prof. F.E. Peters writes on p.272 of The Monotheists:

Yahweh was a warrior God (Exod. 5:3, Isa. 42:13)…The Israelites, quite like the pre-Islamic Arabs, even carried their God with them into conflict on occasion (Num. 10:35-36).

Eventually, the Ark became associated with the presence of God Himself, and was brought to the battle front.  Prof. Reuven Fireston writes in an article entitled Holy War Idea in the Hebrew Bible:

The Ark of the Covenant is the symbol and banner of God’s presence in battle (1 Sam. 4:4, 2 Sam. 11:11), and this connection between the Ark and the presence of God in war is made already in the desert in Num.10:35: “When the Ark was to set out, Moses would say: Advance O Lord!  May your enemies be scattered and may your foes flee before you!”  The Ark is like a battle station from which God fights for Israel and, although not mentioned in every battle, probably went forth often and is referred to in passing as a regular part of the battle array (Jud. 4:14).  The Philistine army was terrified of the Ark itself and related to the Ark as if it were the very appearance of God (1 Sam. 4:5-8)

On pp.16-17 of God Is a Warrior, Longman et al. trace the “the divine warrior theme,” dividing it into ”five stages:”

The first stage is God’s appearance as a warrior who fights on behalf of his people Israel against their flesh-and-blood enemies.  The second stage overlaps with the first, yet culminates Israel’s independent political history as God fights in judgment against Israel itself.  The Old Testament period ends during the third stage as Israel’s prophets look to the future and proclaim the advent of a powerful divine warrior.  While many studies of the divine warrior are restricted to the Old Testament, we will show its development into the New Testament.  The Gospels and letters reflect a fourth stage, Christ’s earthly ministry as the work of a conqueror, though they also look forward to the next stage.  The fifth and final stage is anticipated by the church as it awaits the return of the divine warrior who will judge the spiritual and human enemies of God.

The divine warrior theme is one of the basic motifs of the Bible, and can be seen from the very start of the Biblical narrative with Moses defeating the Egyptians all the way to the end of with it with the triumphant return of the divine warrior conqueror Jesus Christ.  The genocide against the infidels begins with Moses and comes to its completion with Jesus (refer to parts 1234567, and 8 of the Understanding Jihad Series).

*  *  *  *  *

That Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is a war-god is clearly written in the text itself:

Exodus 15:3 The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His Name.

Of note aside from the obvious “man of war” appellation is that Yahweh is depicted as a man who is actually physically on the battlefield as a warrior, instead of merely helping from afar. The Lord will fight for you” (Ex. 14:14) is meant to be taken very literally.

Says the Bible elsewhere:

Isaiah 42:13 The Lord will march forward like a warrior.  He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.  He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.  He will prevail against all His enemies.

God was not just any warrior, but the best of them–victorious in battle:

Psalm 24:8 Who is the King of Glory?  The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

He would prove his might in battle by crushing the heads of his enemies:

68:21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies.

Indeed, the God of the Bible would order his people to do more than that, commanding them to ethnically cleanse and commit genocide against infidel populations (again, refer to parts 1234567, and 8 of the Understanding Jihad Series).

*  *  *  *  *

That Yahweh was a warrior-god can be ascertained from the choice of name itself. A longer name for Yahweh is found in the Bible: Yahweh Tzevaot or Yahweh Sabaoth, which is translated as “Lord of hosts” or “Lord of armies.”  Prof. Corrine L. Carvalho writes on p.79 of Encountering Ancient Voices: A Guide to Reading the Old Testament:

In other passages in the Bible, a longer version of the name, the Lord of hosts, could also be translated as “the one who created the heavenly armies.” This would suggest that Yahweh was first and foremost a warrior God.

Biblical scholar Jonathan Kirsch writes in God Against the Gods:

Among the many titles and honorifics used to describe the God of Israel is Elohim Yahweh Sabaoth, which is usually translated as “Lord of Hosts” but also means “Yahweh, the God of Armies.”

This name, Lord of Hosts (Armies)–which defines God’s function as the war-God (or warrior God)–is used well over two-hundred times in the Bible.  Stephen D. Renn notes on p.440 of the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words:

This title, translated “Lord of hosts,” occurs around two hundred times [in the Bible], mainly in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the postexilic prophets. It is found occassionally in the Former Prophets, Chronicles, and Psalms.

Biblical scholar David Noel Freedman writes on page 1402 of Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible:

Yahweh is linked with seba’ot (“armies/hosts”) 284 times in the Hebrew Bible.

Jehovah is another way to spell Yahweh in English.  BlueLetterBible.org says of Jehovah Sabaoth (the Lord of Armies):

Use in the Bible: Jehovah and Elohim occur with Sabaoth over 285 times. It is most frequently used in Jeremiah and Isaiah. Jehovah Sabaoth is first used in 1Sa 1:3.

Interestingly, if you scroll up just one entry above, you find the following entry for Jehovah-Shalom (the Lord of Peace):

Use in the Bible: In the Old Testament Jehovah-Shalom occurs only once in Jdg 6:24.

In other words, God is the Lord of Armies over 280 times in the Bible, but Lord of Peace only once.  Based on this, would you say that the emphasis of God’s nature is on his warlike nature or his peaceful side?

*  *  *  *  *

To make matters worse, the one time that the Lord of Peace is used, the passage isn’t that peaceful at all.  As noted above, the name Yahweh Shalom is found in Judges 6, in which God orders an Israelite man named Gideon to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population of Midian, reassuring him that “you will strike down all the Midianites together” (Jdg 6:16).

Gideon expresses some doubt about his ability to do this “great task,” and he wants to make sure it’s really God who said that (reasonable enough, right?).  Gideon asks God to prove that it’s really Him, so God reveals an angel to him.  The angel burns up some meat and bread, which are both completely incinerated.  The meat and bread represent the Midianites, who are to be “utterly destroyed.”

Once Gideon realizes it’s an angel in front of him, he panics and thinks that God is angry with him for asking for proof.  Gideon is worried that God might kill him for that.  That’s when God reassures him that He’s not going to kill him (Gideon, that is), whereupon Gideon breathes a huge sigh of relief and calls God the Lord of Peace for not killing him.  Gideon decides to build an altar at that place which he calls “The Lord is Peace” and then God tells him to build an altar by destroying the altar built for the pagan god Baal.

Then, the Bible goes on to tell how God helps Gideon destroy the Midianites.  Of note too is the fact the name Gideon is a Hebrew name that means “he that bruises or breaks; a destroyer,” as well as “mighty warrior.”  So, The Destroyer built an altar called The Lord is Peace by destroying an altar to another god, in thanks to God for sending him proof that He is the one who asked him to destroy the heathen Midianites.  Not very peaceful at all.

*  *  *  *  *

Indeed, “‘Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of hosts’ is one of the frequent titles or names of God in the Old Testament.”  In fact, using BlueLetterBible.org I compiled a list of the most frequently used names in the Bible, and Yahweh Sabaoth is God’s fourth most frequently used name in the Bible:

Most Frequently Used Names for God in the Bible

1.  Yahweh (Lord): 6,519 times
2.  El, Elohim (God): over 2,000 times
3.  Adonai (Lord): 434 times
4.  Yahweh Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts/Armies): over 285 times
5.  El Elyon (The Most High God): 28 times
6.  El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty): 7 times
7.  Qanna (Jealous): 6 times
8.  El Olam (The Everlasting God): 4 times
9.  Yahweh-Raah (The Lord is My Shepherd): 4 times
10.  Yahweh Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness): 2 times
11.  Yahweh Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You): 2 times
12.  Yahweh Nissi (The Lord My Banner): 1 time
13.  Yahweh-Rapha (The Lord That Heals): 1 time
14.  Yahweh Shammah (The Lord is There): 1 time
15.  Yahweh Jireh (The Lord Will Provide): 1 time
16.  Yahweh-Shalom (The Lord is Peace): 1 time

(This list seems consistent with that provided by Agape Bible Study.)

This would mean that not only is Lord of Hosts/Armies the fourth most common name of God, it would mean that it is the first most frequently used descriptive name of God in the Bible, behind only generic names such as Yahweh (Lord), El/Elohim (God), and Adonai (Lord).  Sabaoth is certainly the most common descriptor following Yahweh, with Raah (as in Yahweh-Raah) a very distant second place.

*  *  *  *  *

Having thus understood the warlike and violent origin and nature of the Judeo-Christian God, one would wonder why it would be something necessary for Muslims to prove that they worship the same deity.  If it is agreed–as is only reasonable–that Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians but that their conception and understanding of God differs–I argue that the Judeo-Christian conception and understanding of God is not very desirable in the first place.  That the Islamic view of God differs in regard to war and violence is a good thing.

Stay tuned for the next page, in which we contrast the Islamic conception and understanding of God with the Judeo-Christian one…

Update I: Check out The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (II) which was just published.

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  • Average Joe

    This article one huge steaming pile of taqiyya.

  • Sahra

    sorry, i meant.. that prostrate before Allah and do good deeds

  • Sahra

    @bin death… You are nothing but a what we call a JUDEOPHOBE, hating an entire group of people without distinction of the good ones from the bad ones its racist and hatefull, and in that then you’re not different from the islamophobes like geller-spencer who are blaming the entire muslim population for the crimes of some. And if you’re claiming that you’re a muslim, that’s even more disgusting of you, even the palestinians who are the ones directly oppressed by the zionists dont hate jews for being jews, but zionists. And (FYI) they’re plenty of just and God fearing jews like (@AJ mentioned above) who are fighting for the palestinian-cause, So take a chill-pill. If you’re claming you’re a muslim, i recommend for you to do urdu and pray 2 Rakat to ask Allah forgiveness for your hatefull blasphemy.
    Also read the passage of the Qur’an that says ( they’re a great section of the people of the book that protrate before Allah and do good deeds)
    SO DROP YOUR HATE, IDIOT

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    Sorry, I meant:

    Jews for Justice for Palestinians (check out their signature list)

    http://jfjfp.com/

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    bin dead focus on the Jews that write against Israel, Richard Silverstein and Phillip Weiss, the ones that lie down in front of bulldozers to save Palestinian homes, the ones that refuse to serve in the Israeli army and the many others who are just like us trying to lead normal lives but are held guilty because of association with the bad people in their religion. I think Jews have one of the finest people on earth that fight discrimination and bigotry like Jews for Justice in Palestinians but you have to open your eyes beyond the hatred. They are Ahl-e-Kitab and among the believers, you can’t hate them.

  • Solid Snake

    @bin dead

    That isn’t helpful at all. Why do you hate Jews? It’s rhetorical I’m not looking for you to list some reasons. We are more related to Jews (theologically) than anyone else. I understand there are people who do wrong in the Jewish community but we should never paint all Jews with the same brush. Even the most conservative Muslims, ie Salafis who I happen to know and have attended a Masjid run by them, do not engage in such wholesale generalizations and hate. My advice is turn yourself towards something productive my friend. There’s plenty of hatred aimed against Jews, we as Muslims shouldn’t be the ones adding to it. If you are upset with Israels many horrible actions against the Palestinians then criticize Israel not the Jewish people. Just advice from a brother.

  • bin dead for awhile

    @ nerses

    Dumb man

    1947/48

    1. Apartheid south africa is born, the reasons for seperation, the god in the bible tell us. pls wtfu.

    2. Apartheid Occupied palestine is born, (for everyones info i hate jews, everyone of them, there are many other nations i love, so really im happy) the god of jews(spit) tells them to occu[py some land and kick the inhabitants out. STFU.

    still i love danios, but he does not point out the babylonian talmud, which is theguiding light for jes, the christians are punk(no offense to the good one) but if you people still believe that jews are the chosen ones, really now become a jew.

  • Danios

    @ Nerses:

    1) You fail to distinguish between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

    I’ve already written an article about this fall back argument and cop-out of yours: The “But That’s Just the Old Testament!” Cop-out

    2) You fail to specify whether you’re discussing a text either a) mentioning God/Allah commiting violence, or b) calling on the readers to commit violence

    I’ve already written an article about this other fall back argument and cop-out of yours: The Bible’s Prescriptive, Open-Ended, and Universal Commandments to Wage Holy War and Enslave Infidels (I)

    See, this is why I say: you follow a predictable pattern of trite anti-Muslim propaganda, a series of weak fall-back arguments.

    3) What “Christian” prophets? The only possible “Christian” prophet is St. John the Baptist, and he didn’t commit any violence at all, neither did Jesus nor any of the people who knew and studied under Jesus. Muhammad, on the other hand, did commit violence, and so did the people who studied under him.

    I said the “Judeo-Christian prophets,” which refers to the Biblical prophets. I should have also included the other holy figures in the Bible in addition to just the “prophets.” Will you be furthering the misleading, dishonest, and deceitful argument that the Biblical protagonists are not to be attributed to Christianity? If you are, then let me know so I can refute it; otherwise, I am hoping I can save time and move on to your other arguments.

    But those three texts greatly differ in the degree of violence they call on readers/believers to commit.

    The Bible, unlike the Quran, exhorts its followers to commit genocide, and to kill women, children, and babies. No verse in the Quran does that. So that is the difference in the degree of violence. I refuse to accept the validity of you invoking The “But That’s Just the Old Testament” Cop-out here (see above link provided).

    That’s reflected very well in the actual acts committed by the creators and readers/believers of each of the three texts. Old Testament prophets and Jews were very violent, New Testament Saints and Jesus and their followers didn’t commit any violence, while Muhammad and the Companions of the Prophet are in between.

    The real reason that Jesus of the New Testament and the New Testament do not exhort to as much violence as the Old Testament is that Jesus was not in a position of authority to do so, as the other earlier Biblical prophets were. But as I showed in the article entitled Jesus Loves His Enemies…And Then Kills Them All, Jesus in the Bible promises to kill his enemies as soon as he has the power to do so. His “failure” to do so then is a reflection of his inability to do so, although he wishes with all his might that he can and promises to do so as soon as he possibly can.

    Danios, you are definitely inappropriately downplaying the extent to which Muslims are rejecting Naskh/Abrogation.

    Not only have I not downplayed it, I haven’t even begun to do justice to the truth: it’s not even that “most Muslims actively reject the concept of Naskh/Abrogation,” but rather the case that the vast majority of Muslims (95+%) have never even heard of the concept of naskh/abrogation, let alone actively believe in and accept it. In fact, I’ll bet that most Muslims reading my comment here fall into one of two groups: (1) are wondering WTF is naskh, or (2) only heard of it when they read anti-Islam literature and then wondered WTF is that and found out that way what it is. It’s the same as the concept of taqiyya.

    I think you probably mean to say “Orthodox Judaism” and not “Conservative Judaism.” Conservative Judaism, again, views large parts of the Old Testament as being completely irrelevant to modern times. These are important distinctions that you need to grasp.

    No, I mean Conservative Judaism. Orthodox Judaism’s views on war are absolutely atrocious, as I shall show. As for Conservative Judaism, it’s more of a mixed bag. Just like conservative Islam.

    Have I ever said otherwise? I totally agree with this statement. You seem to be arguing primarily against a Straw Man.

    Oh? So can you link us to a single place on the internet where you’ve warned about the danger of Orthodox Judaism’s views of war ethics? Considering that the State of Israel only recognizes Orthodox Judaism, one would hope you’d be warning about this? Can you show me where you do this? Or could it be that you just spend all your time warning about the dangers of the minority, vulnerable, and bullied faith?

    1) You’re assuming that the labels “conservative” should and do mean the same thing when applied to Islam and Judaism, an assumption that is not at all warranted.

    You’re assuming too much and making an ass out of yourself. Reformist, modernist Islam is most similar to Reform Judaism. Conservative Islam is most similar to Conservative Judaism; Ultra-conservative Islam is most similar to Orthodox Judaism. Unlike Judaism, Islam does not have explicit sects, but there are definitely these trends apparent and practically amount to the same thing.

    2) “Conservative” Jews, as I’ve pointed out before, believe that large parts of the Old Testament are no longer relevant to modern times (http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/kevin_speaks_with_the_rabbi_about_judaism_and_christianity). Please show me “conservative” Muslims (whether they call themselves that or someone else does) who believe the same thing about the Quran. You can’t.

    You’re right: I can’t. I can’t because they don’t have to, since the Quran–unlike the Bible–never calls for genocide or the killing of innocent civilians such as women, children, and babies. Conservative Muslims, however, believe that the “world has changed” and that the “classical formulations of war theory” are no longer applicable in the changed context. The distinction of Reformist/Modernist, Conservative, and Ultra-conservative Islam reflect the way they view the classical tradition of Islamic jurisprudence, not the Quran. The Quran itself is open to interpretation, and allows for the interpretation that (1) war is to be in self-defense only and (2) innocent civilians can never be killed. (In fact, this seems to be the most obvious interpretation, but you don’t have to agree with that for me to make my point.)

    Therefore, unlike Jews and Christians who need to reject verses of the Bible because of how they call for violence against women, children, and babies, Muslims don’t have to and can simply apply just war theory to the verses in the Quran. This shows how truly violent the Bible is, that it is impossible to really make a convincing case for just war theory from it and that the only way to do this is by rejecting a vast number of passages in it. Interestingly enough, the only way ultra-conservative Muslims can make the case for their perpetual war theory is by nullifying verses of the Quran through Naskh/abrogation. So, the only way to make the Bible accommodate just war theory is by eliminating a vast number of verses in it, whereas the only way to make the Quran reject the just war theory is to nullify a vast number of verses in it. Speaks volumes of which is the more warlike and violent book.

    More on this later. I think for now however my discussion with you is over, since it is taking away from writing future articles to the Series, after which I can simply link you to them as I did to the first couple of cop-outs you gave.

  • Nerses

    @Danios your arguments

    A lot of what you list aren’t anything I’ve ever said. Straw Man fallacy anyone?

    @DaniosQuran, Muhammad, and Allah being more violent than the Bible, the Judeo-Christian prophets, and Yahweh the God of the Bible

    1) You fail to distinguish between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
    2) You fail to specify whether you’re discussing a text either a) mentioning God/Allah commiting violence, or b) calling on the readers to commit violence.
    3) What “Christian” prophets? The only possible “Christian” prophet is St. John the Baptist, and he didn’t commit any violence at all, neither did Jesus nor any of the people who knew and studied under Jesus. Muhammad, on the other hand, did commit violence, and so did the people who studied under him.

    I would say that the actions of God/Allah are about equally as violent in all three texts, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Quran. But those three texts greatly differ in the degree of violence they call on readers/believers to commit. I would say that the Old Testament calls on readers/believers to commit the most violence, the New Testament doesn’t call on readers/believers to commit any violence at all, while the Quran is in between the Old Testament and New Testament in the degree of violece it calls on readers/believers to commit. That’s reflected very well in the actual acts committed by the creators and readers/believers of each of the three texts. Old Testament prophets and Jews were very violent, New Testament Saints and Jesus and their followers didn’t commit any violence, while Muhammad and the Companions of the Prophet are in between.

    @Danios This of course is an opinion which is found in the books of the classical religious authorities who lives hundreds of years ago and which today is held only by the most ultra-conservative Muslims

    Have you seen any survey data on this particular issue within Muslim communities? I haven’t, and I doubt you have either. In the absence of such survey data, we should look at what sorts of ideological persuasions are dominating Muslim communities.

    1) “The current political landscape of the Muslim community is one that is dominated by Islamist groups.” http://dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d10Rich.pdf
    2) http://intelligencesquaredus.org/index.php/past-debates/islam-is-dominated-by-radicals/
    3) The largest Muslim country: ” Indonesian Islam has turned out to be a new radical religion. Religious attributes, clothes, the increase in the number of mosques, religious expressions in the public domain and various attempts to sell religious sentiments in politics are nothing but indications of the resurgence of Islamic radicalism. There is little room, if any, left for moderation in practicing Islam in this country.
    The radical voice has dominated the public, whereas moderate Muslims remain silent, failing to speak out and unwilling to preach their moderate faith and practices. They somehow let the radicals speak on behalf of their religion and watch their actions on TV. They seem to condemn extremism but not harshly enough.”
    http://www.journalaljamiah.com/index.php/en/news-and-articles/54-increased-radicalism-the-failure-of-moderate-islam
    4) “Concentrated criticism of the abrogation concept only started in the latter part of the last century …The prognosis then is that, notwithstanding the opposition of some scholars such as ibn Baz of Saudi Arabia, the thrust towards a thematic understanding [rejecting naskh/abrogation in interpretation] of the Qur’an will gain greater force among Muslims. How long it will take for the traditional concept of naskh to be abrogated by the reading of Q2:106 as relating to historical and cosmological phenomena, however, is a question for which it is too early to hazard a guess.”
    - http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muhammad_al_ghazalis_view_on_abrogation_naskh_in_the_quran/

    The conclusion from this American Muslim article is that a) the idea of rejecting naskh/abrogation is very new within Islam, and b) it isn’t yet dominant by any stretch of the imagination. Danios, you are definitely inappropriately downplaying the extent to which Muslims are rejecting Naskh/Abrogation.
    Indeed, the doctrine of Naskh/Abrogation is alive and well even in relatively modern, moderate Islamic circles. This is from a website that labels itself “Islamic Thought In the Modern Era of the Islamic Awakening”
    “Abu Suleman suggests that Naskh’s application should be limited to clear cases only such as change of Qiblah. They are clearly mistaken in their ‘opinions.’ According to the majority, there is Naskh in the Quran and the Sunnah. According to majority, Ijma can not abrogate a ruling of the Quran and the Sunnah. “
    http://islamthought.wordpress.com/our-mission/shariah/lessons-in-the-fundamentals-of-jurisprudence-in-islam/naskh-abrogation-part-1/

    @Danios. Aside from the fact that Conservative Judaism has some very troubling views found in it with regard to this issue

    I think you probably mean to say “Orthodox Judaism” and not “Conservative Judaism.” Conservative Judaism, again, views large parts of the Old Testament as being completely irrelevant to modern times. These are important distinctions that you need to grasp.

    @DaniosDollar for dollar and pound for pound, the traditional and ultra-conservative views of Islam with regard to war are far less violent and unethical than the traditional and orthodox views of Judaism.

    Have I ever said otherwise? I totally agree with this statement. You seem to be arguing primarily against a Straw Man.

    @Danios. If you want to compare the conservative branch of Judaism, then compare it to the conservative trend of Islam

    1) You’re assuming that the labels “conservative” should and do mean the same thing when applied to Islam and Judaism, an assumption that is not at all warranted.
    2) “Conservative” Jews, as I’ve pointed out before, believe that large parts of the Old Testament are no longer relevant to modern times (http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/kevin_speaks_with_the_rabbi_about_judaism_and_christianity). Please show me “conservative” Muslims (whether they call themselves that or someone else does) who believe the same thing about the Quran. You can’t.

  • Danios

    @ Nerses:

    Whenever I write articles in this Series, I always feel a bit of regret, as I don’t wish to “attack” any other faith. This was the reason for my “disclaimer” here. Whenever I do publish a piece that gives anti-Muslim Jews and Muslims a “taste of their own medicine,” sometimes a few Muslim commenters will also tell me, “hey, that’s too much.” And then I must admit it does give me pause.

    But whenever people like you post with your trite anti-Muslim rhetoric, it infuriates me but it also strengthens my resolve. It reassures me that this Series is absolutely necessary, even if it unfortunately upsets some goodhearted fellow Jewish and Christian friends.

    For way too long, the majoritarian religious group has peddled this pack of lies, with no substantive response. No more. Enough. It is time to instill in you some much needed humility. Already I have absolutely pulverized your arguments about dhimmitude and your arguments about the Quran, Muhammad, and Allah being more violent than the Bible, the Judeo-Christian prophets, and Yahweh the God of the Bible. I have also refuted your argument that Muslims view the Quran as “literal” whereas Christians supposedly “don’t.”

    With the release of my next article on Jewish law and war (which is almost complete), I will now turn to decimate your next fall back argument: the claim that the “classical” and current-day “mainstream” interpretations of Islam are more violent than “classical” and today’s “mainstream” Jewish interpretations.

    Indeed, even in your comment your duplicity is apparent. You posit that some Muslims today say that the Medina verses cancel out the tolerant Meccan verses. This of course is an opinion which is found in the books of the classical religious authorities who lives hundreds of years ago and which today is held only by the most ultra-conservative Muslims. You use that to represent the Muslim side. Fair enough. I will show you then that the normative, traditional Halakha–which is upheld by Orthodox Jews today–is far, far more violent and unethical.

    But notice the duplicity that you suddenly switched to Liberal & Conservative Jews. Aside from the fact that Conservative Judaism has some very troubling views found in it with regard to this issue (to be discussed later), is the fact that for some odd reason you immediately–in your deceit–wish to compare the most ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam with the “liberal” interpretations of Judaism. What a purposefully unjust and misleading comparison.

    Dollar for dollar and pound for pound, the traditional and ultra-conservative views of Islam with regard to war are far less violent and unethical than the traditional and orthodox views of Judaism. This I will begin to prove in the next part of my Series.

    If you want to compare “liberal” Judaism, then compare it to the reformist, modernist trend of Islam. If you want to compare the conservative branch of Judaism, then compare it to the conservative trend of Islam (as opposed to the ultra-conservatives which are more akin to orthodox Jews).

    Islamophobia is entirely based on foisting unfair comparisons upon Muslims. Enough.

  • Nerses

    @Boostava

    Is there anything I said that was inaccurate? I said that within Islam it’s debated whether the newer and more violent Medinah Ayahs cancel out the earlier and less violent Meccan Ayahs. I didn’t say it was settled. That’s the only claim I made about what Muslims believe about Islam.

    @Fox news
    God of the bible does not change

    Look, the fact remains that Christians believe that New Testament principles trump conflicting Old Testament principles, and that both Liberal & Conservative Jews believe that vast parts of the Old Testament (specifically the more violent parts) are no longer relevant to modern times.

    God (i.e. God’s nature) doesn’t change, but what He wants us to do can change. Those principles do not conflict on any level. Let me take a purely Old Testament example. God originally wanted the Jews to enter the Promised Land right away, but after the Golden Calves incident, He made them wait. God didn’t change, but what He wanted people to do did change.

  • Susanna

    It’s a shame that you have used revisionist and evolutionist scholars for the basis of your article. The first chapter of Genesis was NOT added later. If your a evolutionist that would fit nicely into that presumption. But Yahweh has been LORD God from the beginning of creation. Men began to call on the name of Yahweh after the birth of Enoch, the son of Seth, the son of Adam (Gen 4:26) In every generation after that would be the name used for God. Moses at Horeb encountered the burning bush, God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. ..God also said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the Israelites, The LORD (Yahweh)the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever and this is my title for all generations.That includes from that announcement to the present day. Yahweh does not appear in the Quran, not once. Allah the same god? NO WAY!

  • Pingback: The Bible’s Yahweh, a War-God?: Called “Lord of Armies” Over 280 Times in the Bible and “Lord of Peace” Just Once (II) | Spencer Watch

  • Pingback: Allah as the Best of Deceivers? | Spencer Watch

  • Fox news

    @Nerses

    That cop out is irrelevent here. God of the bible does not change (see Mal 3:6).

  • Boostava

    Oh, PLEASE, Nerses, tell us how we poor, uneducated Muslims should regard our own history and Holy Book. Hey, brothers and sisters, let’s ignore 1400 years of strong, previously established juristic interpretation by our scholars who dedicated their lives to understanding our religion and listen to how Nerses, who clearly isn’t even one of us, says we should understand our proud traditions and the words of our beloved Prophet (pbuh). /sarcasm over

    TL;DR, gtfo off my internets, loon.

  • NassirH

    @Farlowe

    Regarding pacifism, some say that the “proto-Sufi” Hasan al-Basri was a pacifist. He was born only two years after the Prophet Muhammad died.

  • Fox news

    Excellent post. Brilliant strategy of refutation including the usage of secular “scholarship”. Making them taste their own from every angle.

  • Nerses

    Underlying this article is the very, very, very false assumption that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all approach their holy texts in the same exact way. Because of the very nature of those holy texts and the different ways that they approach their holy texts, the violent aspects of the Bible have much less of an influence upon Jews & Christians than the violent parts of the Quran have on Muslims.

    There’s an Islamic principle that what Muhammad proclaimed later cancels out earlier statements with which they may conflict. In Islam, this means that generally Muhammad’s more violent Ayahs he proclaimed in Medinah cancel out the much less violent Ayahs he proclaimed earlier in Mecca. While this principle isn’t as explicit or fundamental to the Jewish or Christian approach to the Old Testament, it makes intuitive sense. As many of the authors quoted in Danios’ article point out, Jewish writings tended to get more peaceful as time went on, and certainly the New Testament within itself almost completley peaceful and lightyears ahead of both the Old Testament and the Quran in that regard.

    In fact, while there still may be some debate within the Islamic faith community about whether the more violent Medinah Ayahs cancel out the relatively peaceful and earlier Meccan Ayahs, within Christianity it is VERY clear that the New Testament, which is way more peaceful than both the Old Testament and the Quran, overrides the Old Testament. In addition, though, both Liberal and Convervative (although not Orthoodox) Jews do not approach the Old Testament as literally as Muslims approach the Quran. They explicitly say that vast parts of the Old Testament are no longer relevant and were meant for that time only. It is easier for them to take this approach to the Old Testament than for Muslims to take the same approach to the Quran because the Old Testament was written by so many different authors and its constituent books have not always been clearly canonised. In contrast, the Quran was written by one author, and it was completely and clearly canonized very early in Islamic history. (Although it is interesting why Muhammad didn’t bother to canonize it completely before his death. I guess he just didn’t care – He cared about gathering power for himself, but what happened after his death didn’t seem to concern him too much. See also the origins of the Sunni-Shi’a conflict. Muhammad didn’t seem to expect or care that Islam outlasted his own lifetime enough to set up the institutional structures for that continuity.)

    Basically, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Quran are all very different documents, with very different histories, and are approached by their faith communities in very different ways.

    Your article here Danios totally ignores that reality.

  • jawad

    @harmlesstree

    its also interesting to see the translation of God in aramaic (the language of jesus)

    http://www.peshitta.org/lexicon/

    God is pronounced as, “AaLaH/AaLoH”

  • Talisman

    Since Farlowe has mentioned pacifists, maybe Loonwatch can do an article on Muslim pacifists. Badshah Khan, Jawdat Saeid,and Sahar Abou Harb, just to name a few. We rarely hear about them.

  • Tahira

    Sorry for typo on first line: should have been “… mention are genuine …”

  • Tahira

    @Zakariya Ali Sher: Do you yourself believe that all the supposed miracles you mention genuine, or only the ones in the Islamic tradition? If the former, how can you call yourself a Muslim? If the latter, aren’t you guilty of precisely that which you accuse HalalDork (i.e. of assuming that only the reports of miracles in your own religious tradition are genuine)? Also, I’m curious: what, according to you, is “miraculous” about the Qur’an? Do you think there are any other “miraculous” books, or is the Qur’an the only one?

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