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Tag Archive | "LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series"

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Warrior Monks: The Untold Story of Buddhist Violence (I)

Posted on 29 July 2012 by Danios

This is a part of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series.

The basic plank of Islamophobia can be summed up as follows:

Islam is uniquely violent compared to other world religions.

Of course, it’s just not true.  In previous articles, I’ve taken a Thor-sized hammer to shatter this myth by proving that Judaism and Christianity are scripturally and theologically just as violent, if not more so.  The Bible is far more violent than the Quran, and both the Jewish and Christian traditions have been just as problematic.

It’s also not true from a historical perspective.

Take Judaism for instance:  According to the foundational narrative in the Bible, for instance, the Hebrews were persecuted in Egypt, forcing them to flee to Palestine.  When they found the Promised Land to be already occupied by the native Canaanites, Moses and the Jews invoked their warrior god to mercilessly slaughter the indigenous population in what can only be called a genocidal holy war.

The Jewish kingdoms were then overrun by outsiders.  Eventually, the Jews came under the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who sought to replace Judaism with his own religion.  The Jews revolted and overthrew him, leading to the emergence of the Jewish Hasmonean Dynasty.  Just previously facing down the barrel of religious oppression, the Jews did not lose a beat and immediately set out oppressing non-Jews.  By force of arms, they sought to expand their borders and to ethnically cleanse the land of infidels, either killing non-Jews, forcibly converting them to Judaism, enslaving them, or simply running them off the land.

This Jewish kingdom fell as well, and the Jews would have to wait until the twentieth century to rule again.  They faced several centuries of oppression and finally ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Nazis, but eventually regrouped in Palestine.  Just yesterday having chanted “never again!”, they seamlessly transitioned to the task of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its non-Jewish population.

Although it’s true that Jews have been on the receiving end of oppression for a great deal of history, it’s also true that they have oppressed when in a position of power.  Is oppression then a matter not of religion but simply of opportunity?

Christians had more opportunity for violence than any other religious group on earth, and it is therefore unsurprising that, from a sheer numbers perspective, they have been responsible for the most acts of warlike aggression than any other.  It is true that Jesus himself never engaged in violent action, but again, this seems to be an issue of opportunity rather than moral repulsion to violence: he was never in a position of political power and was in fact killed by the authorities.  But, according to the Biblical narrative, Jesus will return to earth as a conquering warrior king, flanked by a massive army of earthly and heavenly beasts.  He will then kill all his enemies.

The early Church was not pacifist as many modern-day Christians claim.  Instead, the early Church fathers enlisted themselves as prayer warriors for the imperial Roman armies.  The very minute Christianity rose to power with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, war in the service of empire and religion was adopted wholesale.  Once persecuted by pagans, Christians now set out to destroy paganism in Europe.  They sent forth armies to conquer new lands in the name of Christ.  Eventually, almost all of Africa, Australia, Europe, South and North America–as well as huge swaths of land in Asia–came under the boots of Christian soldiers.  Even today, the Religious Right in the U.S. leads the country down the path of war.

Not a single inhabited continent was spared by the Christian conquerors, so it is very difficult to accept the idea that Islam is somehow uniquely violent.

Of course, there is no denying that Islamic history had its fair share of violence.  Just as the Christian Church came under the tutelage of the Roman state, so too did many ulema ingratiate themselves to the rulers.  Expansion of the state was religiously justified, and the armies of Islam poured out of the Arabian Peninsula, conquering lands from China to Spain.

Islamophobes often complain that Islam gobbled up a significant part of the Christian world, which is true.  Yet, the Christians themselves had conquered these lands aforetime.  Is this simply not a case of Christians crying foul play when another religious group does to them what they did to the rest of the world?

It seems clear that Westerners of the Judeo-Christian tradition have no leg to stand on when they single out Islam.

But, what about Eastern religions, such as Buddhism?  Is violence merely a problem of the three Abrahamic faiths, as some would have us believe?

Westerners imagine a stark contrast between supposedly violent Muslims on the one hand and pacifist Buddhists on the other.  When we recently linked to a story about Buddhist oppression of the Muslim community in Burma, an Islamophobe quipped:

So, Buddhists acting like Muslims for once?

This remark reveals a profound ignorance of history.  Stereotypes notwithstanding, the Buddhist tradition is no stranger to violence.  This little known story is retold by Professors Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer in the book Buddhist Warfare.  Jerryson writes:

Violence is found in all religious traditions, and Buddhism is no exception.  This may surprise those who think of Buddhism as a religion based solely on peace.  Indeed, one of the principal reasons for producing this book was to address such a misconception.  Within the various Buddhist traditions (which Trevor Ling describes as “Buddhisms”), there is a long history of violence.  Since the inception of Buddhist traditions 2,500 years ago, there have been numerous individual and structural cases of prolonged Buddhist violence. [1]

Prof. Jerryson writes in Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence of armed Buddhist monks in Thailand.  He notes that the West’s romantic view of Buddhism

shield[s] an extensive and historical dimension to Buddhist traditions: violence. Armed Buddhist monks in Thailand are not an exception to the rule; they are contemporary examples of a long historical precedence. For centuries monks have been at the helm, or armed in the ranks, of wars. How could this be the case? But more importantly, why did I (and many others) hold the belief that Buddhism=Peace (and that other religions, such as Islam, are more prone to violence)?

He then answers his own question:

Buddhist Propaganda

It was then that I realized that I was a consumer of a very successful form of propaganda. Since the early 1900s, Buddhist monastic intellectuals such as Walpola Rahula, D. T. Suzuki, and Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have labored to raise Western awareness of their cultures and traditions. In doing so, they presented specific aspects of their Buddhist traditions while leaving out others.

It should be clear that such “propaganda” need not necessarily be construed as something sinister.  Proponents of other religions–including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–will, for obvious reasons, often give a positive spin to their faith traditions.  Many Buddhists believe their history to be relatively peaceful, because they view their religion to be so.  This is no different than Muslims claiming that Islam is “the religion of peace”.

The difference is that the politics of the War on Terror have caused the religion of Islam to be put under heavy scrutiny.  Therefore, there is great incentive to refute Muslim “propaganda”, an incentive which simply does not exist for Buddhist “propaganda”.  The enemy, after all, is Muslim, not Buddhist.  Thus, Buddhism flies under the radar, and Buddhist “advertising” is taken at face-value.

Buddhism’s relative inconspicuousness shields it from the harshest blows of public criticism.  Case in point: the Bible and the Quran are well-known and easily accessible to the public.  Finding the violent verses in them is just a click away on the internet.  Meanwhile, Buddhist scriptural sources are more obscure, at least to the average Westerner.  Most people don’t even know what scriptures Buddhists follow, let alone what is contained within them.

As a consequence, many modern-day Buddhists believe that their scriptural sources are in fact devoid of violence, that this is a problem only of the Bible or the Quran.  But, Prof. Stephen Jenkins points out that this is just not the case.  In fact, ”Buddhist kings had conceptual resources [in the religious texts] at their disposal that supported warfare, torture, and harsh punishments.” [2]

For example, the Nirvana Sutra, a canonical Buddhist text, narrates a story about one of Buddha’s past lives: in it, he kills some Hindus (Brahmins) because they insulted the Buddhist sutras (scriptures):

The Buddha…said…”When I recall the past, I remember that I was the king of a great state…My name was Senyo, and I loved and venerated the Mahayana sutrasWhen I heard the Brahmins slandering the vaipulya sutras, I put them to death on the spot.  Good men, as a result of that action, I never thereafter fell into hell.  O good man! When we accept and defend the Mahayana sutras, we possess innumerable virtues.” [3]

Porf. Paul Demieville writes:

We are told that the first reason [to put the Brahmins to death] was out of pity [for them], to help the Brahmans avoid the punishment they had accrued by committing evil deeds while continuously slandering Buddhism. [4]

Here we arrive at a disturbing theme found in Buddhist thought: “compassionate killing”.  Killing is normally forbidden because it is done with evil intent (hatred, vengeance, etc.), but if it is done with “compassion”, it becomes something permissible, even praiseworthy.

The Buddhist does the unbeliever a favor by killing him, “an act of charity”:

In the Zen sect in Japan, they interpreted the argument for taking another’s life as “attempting to bring the other’s Buddha nature to life” (Buddha nature exists in virtually every living being), “by putting an end to the passions that lead astray…”

They make killing an act of charity. [5]

This is of course a disturbing belief to most of us.  As Prof. Bernard Faure puts it: “‘Killing with compassion’…remains a dubious oxymoron.” [6] One is reminded of the odd Christian belief that a Christian soldier can love his enemies even as he kills them.  Of what relevance is such “love”?

Jenkins writes:

If he does so with compassionate intentions, a king may make great merit through warfare, so warfare becomes auspicious. The same argument was made earlier in relation to torture, and the sutra now proceeds to make commonsense analogies to doctors and to parents who compassionately inflict pain in order to discipline and heal without intending harm. [7]

He goes on:

General conceptions of a basic Buddhist ethics broadly conceived as unqualified pacifism are problematic.  Compassionate violence is at the very heart of the sensibility of this sutra.  Buddhist kings had sophisticated and practical conceptual resources to support the use of force…The only killing compatible with Buddhist ethics is killing with compassion.  Moreover, if a king makes war or tortures with compassionate intentions, even those acts can result in the accumulation of vast karmic merit. [8]

There was a second reason to kill the infidels: to defend the Buddhist faith.  Prof. Demieville writes:

The Buddha’s second reason for putting them to death was to defend Buddhism itself. [9]

Faure notes:

Another oft-invoked argument to justify killing is the claim that, when the the dharma [i.e. the Buddhist religion] is threatened, it is necessary to ruthlessly fight against the forces of evil…promoting the need for violence in order to preserve cosmic balance… [10]

What about the first precept of Buddhism, which forbids murder?  Demieville writes:

In another passage, this same sutra (scripture) declares that there is no reason to observe the five precepts [the first of which is the taking of life], or even to practice good behavior, if protecting the Real Law is in question.  In other words, one needed to take up the knife and the sword, the bow and the arrow, the spear and the lance [to defend the faith].  ”The one that observes the five precepts is not a follower of the [Mahayana]!  Do not observe the five precepts–if it concerns protecting the Real Law…” [11]

The Nirvana Sutra reads:

The [true] follower of the Mahayana is not the one who observes the five precepts, but the one who uses the sword, bow, arrow, and battle ax to protect the monks who uphold the precepts and who are pure. [12]

The dye is cast for defense in the name of religion.  Elsewhere in the Nirvana Sutra, we are told of a king who goes to war in defense of rightly-guided monks:

To protect Dharma [Buddha's teachings], he came to the defense of the monks, warring against the evil-doers so that the monks did not suffer.  The king sustained wounds all over his body.  The monks praised the king: “Well done, well done, O King!  You are a person who protects the Wonderful Dharma.  In the future, you will become the indispensable tool of Dharma.” [13]

This king too was Buddha in a past life; Buddha declared:

When the time comes that the Wonderful Dharma is about to die out, one should act like this and protect the Dharma.  I was the king…The one who defends the Wonderful Dharma receives immeasurable recompense…

Monks, nuns, male and female believers of Buddha, should exert great effort to protect the Wonderful Dharma.  The reward for protecting the Wonderful Dharma is extremely great and immeasurable.  O good man, because of this, those believers who protect Dharma should take the sword and staff and protect the monks who guard Dharma

Even if a person does not observe the five precepts, if he protects the Wonderful Dharma, he will be referred to as one of the Mahayana. A person who upholds the Wonderful Dharma should take the sword and staff and guard monks. [14]

Demeiville notes:

Along these lines, the Buddha sings the praises of a king named Yeou-to, who went to war to defend the bhiksu (monks). [15]

The general idea is that “[h]eresy must be prevented and evil crushed in utero.” [16]

As for the Brahmins whom Buddha killed, they were in any case icchantika, those who neither believe in Buddha or Buddhism–historically, the Buddhist equivalent of infidel.  Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra:

If any man, woman, Shramana, or Brahmin says that there is no such thing as The Way [i.e. Buddhism], Enlightenment, or Nirvana, know that such a person is an icchantika.  Such a person is one of [the demon] Mara’s kindred [Mara = the Lord of Death].  Such a person is not of the world… [17]

An icchantika is “sinful…[because] he does not act in accordance with the Bhuddas’ injunctions.” [18]  ”Because the icchantika lacks the root of good,” he “falls into hell.” [19] In fact, “it is not possible…for the icchantika not to go to hell.” [20] The icchantika is “the lowest” and “has to live for an eon in hell.” [21]

Putting to death unbelievers carries no sin or bad karmic result.  Demieville writes:

Regardless, these Brahmans were predestined to infernal damnation (icchantika); it was not a sin to put them to death in order to preserve the Real Law. [22]

There are in fact three grades of murder, in increasing order of seriousness, but killing infidels is not one of them.  The Nirvana Sutra reads:

The Buddha and Bodhisattva see three categories of killing, which are
those of the grades 1) low, 2) medium, and 3) high.  Low applies to the class of insects and all kinds of animals…The medium grade of killing concerns killing humans [who have not reached Nirvana]…The highest grade of killing concerns killing one’s father, mother, an arhatpratyekabudda, or a Bodhisattva [three ranks of Enlightenment]…

A person who kills an icchantika does not suffer from the karmic returns due to the killings of the three kinds above.  O good man, all those Brahmins are of the class of the icchantika.  Killing them does not cause one to go to hell. [23]

The Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra that icchantika’s status is lower than that of the ants:

[T]he icchantikas are cut off from the root of good…Because of this, one may well kill an ant and earn sin for doing harm, but there is no sin for killing an icchantika.” [24]

In addition to issues of faith and unbelief, the Buddhist tradition offered sophistic justifications for killing and war:

[H]ow can one kill another person when…all is emptiness?  The man who kills with full knowledge of the facts kills no one because he realizes that all is but illusion, himself as well as the other person.  He can kill, because he does not actually kill anyone.  One cannot kill emptiness, nor destroy the wind. [25]

Furthermore, killing is sinful because of the evil it creates inside the killer’s mind.  But, a true yoga master can train his mind to be “empty” even while he kills.  If the killer has “vacuity” of thought, then the murder “did not undermine the essential purity of his mind” and then there is nothing wrong with it. [26] In other words, killing can be excused if it is done by the right person, especially a “dharma-protecting king”.

The Buddhist canonical and post-canonical texts not only provide the religious justifications for war and killing, but provide examples of meritorious holy figures who engaged in it, examples for all Buddhists:

Celestial bodhisattvas, divinized embodiments of the power of enlightened compassion, support campaigns of conquest to spread the influence of Buddhism, and kings vested with the dharma commit mass violence against Jains and Hindus. [27]

In these textual sources, we see dharma-inspired Buddhist kings who “have a disturbing tendency for mass violence against non-Buddhists.” [28]

Buddhist Warfare provides many other examples of the theological justifications for waging war and killing, but these shall suffice us for now: they provide the religious basis for Buddhist holy war: (1) Killing those who slander Buddhism as a necessity; (2) Anyone who rejects Buddhism is by default slandering it; (3) Killing infidels carries no sin; (4) In fact, it is not really killing at all.

These are not merely theoretical justifications found buried in religious texts.  Instead, these beliefs were acted upon historically, and continue to be so in the contemporary age.  The historical record is something we will explore in part II.

*  *  *  *  *

Disclaimer:

Prof. Michael Jerryson issues the following disclaimer:

Our intention is not to argue that Buddhists are angry, violent people—but rather that Buddhists are people, and thus share the same human spectrum of emotions, which includes the penchant for violence.

I could not agree more with Jerryson here.  My intent here is not to demonize Buddhism, but rather, to underscore the reality that all religious traditions, not just Islam, have had their fair share of violence.  This includes Buddhism.

It’s certainly something uncomfortable for me criticizing a religious tradition in this way, but it seems necessary to dispel the enduring myth that Islam holds a monopoly on violence.

I would also like to take this opportunity to distance myself from those who are using the violence in Burma to further Buddhaphobia.  Such claim that “people are ignoring what is happening to Muslims in Burma”, which is certainly true, but we all know that if the shoe were on the other foot–if it were Muslims in Burma oppressing Buddhists–then many of these Muslims would be the silent ones, or even be justifying such oppression (as I have seen many Buddhists doing now).

What is it other than rancid hypocrisy when some Pakistanis are up in arms about Muslims in Burma, but absolutely silent about the oppression of religious minorities in their own country?

How easily these people are able to transfer the same hatred against Islam that is directed toward them on a daily basis to Buddhism!

What I have learned about religions is the following:

#1: Adherents of a religion will cry foul when their coreligionists are the victims of oppression, but will remain silent or even justify such oppression when their coreligionists are the perpetrators of such oppression.  This includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus–as well as Muslims.

To this, I recall the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.”  The people asked him: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how we should help him if he is an oppressor?”  Muhammad replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

#2: The corollary to #1 is that religious groups will cry foul when they are oppressed by another religious group, but as soon as they themselves come to power, the very next minute they set to the task of oppressing the religious other.  Yesterday, the Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Nazis; today, they ethnically cleanse the Palestinians.  It is such a seamless transition–it happens with such mechanistic automatism and absolute obliviousness–that it is something quite amazing to witness.

#3: Following from #2, it becomes obvious that humans oppress when they are given the opportunity to do so.  It is not their religious creed that matters so much but rather whether they have opportunity or not.

#4: No major world religion is vastly different from the other when it comes to its propensity to inspire violence.

#5: Instead of using religious violence to demonize particular faiths–instead of using it as a battle ax to split open heads–we should hold in our hearts a continuous candlelight vigil to end inter-religious violence–holding hands with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus–and start seeing each other as fellow human beings.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Footnotes:
[1] Jerryson, Michael K., and Mark Juergensmeyer. Introduction. Buddhist Warfare. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 3. Print.
[2] Jenkins, Stephen. “Making Merit through Warfare and Torture.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 59. Print.
[3] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 19.
[4] Demieville, Paul. “Buddhism and War.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 41. Print.
[5] Ibid., 44.
[6] Faure, Bernard. “Afterthoughts.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 212. Print.
[7] Jenkins, 68.
[8] Ibid., 71.
[9] Demieville, 41.
[10] Faure, 212.
[11] Demieville, 41.
[12] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 5.
[13] Ibid., Chapter 19.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Demieville, 41.
[16] Ibid., 39.
[17] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 22.
[18] Ibid., Chapter 24.
[19] Ibid., Chapter 34.
[2o] Ibid., Chapter 39.
[21] Ibid., Chapter 40.
[22] Demieville, 41.
[23] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 22.
[24] Ibid., Chapter 40.
[25] Faure, 213.
[26] Demieville, 42.
[27] Jenkins, 59.
[28] Demieville, 63.

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Allah as the Best of Deceivers?

Posted on 31 August 2011 by Danios

I recently published a two-part article (see here and here) comparing the God of the Bible with the God of the Quran, showing that Yahweh of the Bible seems more violent and warlike than Allah of the Quran.

The response from the anti-Muslim critics was minimal.  Three very weak responses were provided by Halal Pork, Farlowe, and Nerses.

*  *  *  *  *

Halal Pork replied as follows:

One of the names of Allah is Al-Mukkar-the Deceiver.Why is that not included in the list

I included the twenty-five most common names used for God in the Quran. The term khayru al-makireen is used in the Quran only twice. That’s why it wasn’t included in the list.

The fact that khayru al-makireen didn’t make the list says a lot.  Consider that God is called Merciful over 300 times in the Quran, and the term khayru al-makireen is used only twice.  I wonder which one Islamophobes will focus on?

Meanwhile, the name Lord of Armies is used in the Bible for God just under 300 times.  The most common descriptive name for God in the Quran revolves around mercy, whereas the most common descriptive name for God in the Bible revolves around armies and war.  This was the main point of my two-part article.

*  *  *  *

The term khayru al-makireen is first used in verse 3:54 of the Quran:

And they schemed [against Jesus] and God schemed [against them], but God is the best schemer.

This is alternately translated as “deceiver” or “plotter”–the translation of “deceiver” is preferred by anti-Muslim elements, whereas “plotter” by Muslim apologists.  I’ve chosen the more neutral “schemer.”

The context of this verse can be found in Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, as follows:

God says: And they, the disbelievers among the Children of Israel, schemed, against Jesus, by assigning someone to assassinate him; and God schemed, by casting the likeness of Jesus onto the person who intended to kill him, and so they killed him, while Jesus was raised up into heaven; and God is the best of schemers, most knowledgeable of him [Jesus].

Some killers schemed against Jesus, and so God schemed against the killers to fool them.  God made someone else look like Jesus–a willing martyr, by the way–and the killers murdered him instead (don’t worry, he is promised heaven).

So, that is the context in which God “schemed.”

If Osama bin Ladin tried to kill the President of the United States, but the Secret Service used one of the President’s doubles to “deceive” OBL, would there be anything wrong with this? That’s the exact same situation as appears in the Quran.

The term khayru al-makireen is repeated in verse 8:30, again in the context of those who tried to assassinate one of God’s prophets, in this case Muhammad himself. The leaders of Mecca planned to assassinate him, “scheming” against him by deciding to do the ugly deed altogether as one so that nobody could assign blame to any one single tribe.  This would prevent any possible retaliation. They also planned on killing Muhammad using the cover of darkness.

The Quran says that God “schemed” against these killers, and fooled the killers by making them think Muhammad was in his bed when in fact it was his younger cousin Ali.  When the killers found out it was just Ali, they didn’t kill him since he was just an adolescent.  In the meantime, Muhammad slipped away and fled to another city with his life.

So once again, God’s “scheming” involved fooling killers so that they could not murder.

How one could twist this into something negative, I don’t know…but I guess Islamophobes are very adept at twisting things.

But in any case, the attribute of “scheming” or “deceiving” has nothing to do with the context of war. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the topic of my article and Series, which is about whether Islam is more violent and warlike than Judaism and Christianity. What relevance does “scheming” have to do with that, except maybe that God schemes against killers to prevent them from killing?

*  *  *  *  *

In any case, since this has nothing to with the topic at hand and is mostly a religious discussion more fit for Christian and Muslim apologists, I’ll just link to a Muslim apologist who responds to Christian polemicists:

The Biblical God As a Deceiver, by Bassam Zawadi

In that link, Zawadi notes that the Bible contains numerous verses in it where God “deceives.” Once again, for me the interesting thing about it is the level of pure hypocrisy of anti-Muslim Jews and Christians who vilify Islam and the Quran for what is found in their own religion and holy book.

Zawadi points to the following verse of the Bible, for instance:

Jeremiah 4:10 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised peace for Jerusalem. But the sword is held at their throats!”

Of relevance here is the fact that unlike the two Quranic verses–which show God stopping people from killing by deceiving murderers–the Biblical verse in which God deceives involves him tricking a population into thinking they would have “peace” when in fact “the sword is held at their throats!”  The Bible says:

4:16  “Tell this to the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem: ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.’”

God deceived so that a “besieging army” could carry out its war of conquest.  Similarly, God will delude people in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 so that Jesus can kill and destroy them.

*  *  *  *  *

As for Farlowe’s response, this is perhaps the weakest and most desperate response of all.  He writes:

Yahweh, God of War, yet the Jehovah’s (Yahweh’s) Witnesses (aka Watchtower Society) are a pacifist group who refuse to fight in armed forces in every country they live.

Why on earth would we restrict this to Jehovah’s Witnesses?  All Jews and Christians believe that Yahweh is the name of God.  This seems one last, desperate attempt to obfuscate the issue.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even considered to be Christians by our Evangelical opponents; they are condemned as a deviant cult.

Although Christians might use the term “God” more often for God than “Yahweh,” they certainly believe Yahweh of the Bible to be God.  But if one wants to play most common name associations, then Judaism would be most associated with the term Yahweh.  And, traditional and Orthodox Judaism is certainly not pacifist–as my next article in the Series will clearly show.

*  *  *  *  *

Nerses relies on a fall-back argument similar to the trite “But Jews and Christians don’t take the Bible literally like Muslims…!”, which I refuted in part 7.

My next article in the Understanding Jihad Series will be about Jewish law (Halakha) and will address the basic premise of Nerses’ argument.  However, the entirety of his claims will take several articles to thoroughly refute.  Nerses regurgitates the standard lies that are found in Robert Spencer’s book–lies that will be laid to waste over the course of this Series.

*  *  *  *  *

Lastly, I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Muslims shouldn’t vilify other faiths because they have plenty of “tricky issues” in their own religion that they must deal with.  Even if the Islamophobes could prove that the God of the Quran is very deceiving, how would that refute anything I’ve said?  My point is not that Islam has no “tricky issues” to deal with–only that Judaism and Christianity do too (perhaps more so).  Specifically, in the case of war and violence, the Quran pales in comparison to the Bible.

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

Posted on 30 August 2011 by Danios

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

A quick glance at the list of God’s names in the Bible (refer to link above) shows that most of them depict God’s Might and Power (including Lord of Armies, which depicts his might on the battlefield), but only very rarely is God described as loving, peaceful, merciful, forgiving, and beneficent.

Contrast this to God’s names in the Quran.  Here are the twenty-five most frequently used names for God found therein:

Twenty-Five Most Frequently Used Names for God in the Quran

1. God (Allah, Al-Iah): over 2,700 times
2. Lord (Al-Rub): over 950 times
3. The All-Merciful, The Most Merciful (Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim): 306 times, another 4 times as The Most Merciful Among the Merciful (Ar-Hamu Ar-Rahimeen) and 11 times as The Extremely Merciful (Al-Ra’ouf)

4. The All-Knowing (Al-Alim): 162 times
5. The Wise (Al-Hakim): 114 times
6. The Forgiving (Al-Ghafur, Al-Ghaffar, Al-Ghafir): 93 times, another 1 time as The Vast in Forgiveness (Wasi’u Al-Maghfirah)

7. The Mighty (Al-Aziz): 64 times
8. The All-Hearing (Al-Sami’u): 46 times
9.  The All-Seeing (Al-Basir): 46 times
10.  The All-Aware (Al-Khabir): 46 times
11.  The All-Capable (Al-Qadir): 46 times
12.  The Self-Sufficient (Al-Ghaniy): 21 times
13.  The Witness (Al-Shahid): 20 times
14.  The Knower of the Unseen (Alimu Al-Ghaybi, Alimu Al-Ghaybi wa al-Shahada, Allam Al-Ghiyoob): 17 times

15.  The Patron (Al-Wakil): 13 times
16.  The Acceptor of Repentance (Al-Tawwab): 11 times
17.  The All-Able (Al-Qadir): 11 times
18.  The Clement, Forbearer, Forgiver (Al-Halim): 10 times, another 5 times as The Pardoner (Al-’Afuw)

19.  The Praised (Al-Hamid): 10 times
20.  The Truth (Al-Haq): 10 times
21.  The Powerful (Al-Qawiy): 9 times
22.  The Vast (Wasi’u): 9 times
23.  The Creator (Al-Khaliq): 8 times
24.  The Great (Al-Adhim): 8 times
25. The Peace (Al-Salam): 7 times

One immediately notices a theme here: the God of the Quran is The All-Merciful, The Most Merciful,  The Most Merciful Among the Merciful, The Extremely Merciful, The Most Compassionate, The Most Beneficent, The Most Forgiving, The Acceptor of Repentance, The Clement, The Forbearer, The Pardoner, etc.  As Prof.  William Schweiker notes on p.52 of Humanity Before God that “…the Qur’an frequently emphasizes God’s mercy, pardon, and forgiveness…”

Prof. Harold A. Netland writes on p.78 of Dissonant Voices that “the early preaching of the prophet [Muhammad] ‘spoke of God’s power and his goodness to human beings.’”  Prof. Caesar E. Farah writes on p.133 of Islam: Beliefs and Observances:

In the early days of Muhammad’s preachings he stressed rahmah (mercy) and Rahman (the merciful) so much that his listeners believed he was calling upon them to worship a god called al-Rahman

The Qur’an contains numerous revelations on mercy, ending with the words “Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

In fact, every single chapter of the Quran aside from one starts with a verse calling on God the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.

This emphasis on Allah’s Mercy is altogether unlike Yahweh’s emergence as Israel’s war-god; the Canaanites came to fear the terror of Yahweh, such that even seeing the Ark struck fear in their hearts.  For example, as Henricus Oort’s Bible for Learners (vol.1, p.337) so presciently notes, Rahab (a Canaanite) cooperates with the Israelite army ”because she feared Yahweh,” as she had seen what Yahweh had done to the surrounding nations.  Indeed, the Israelites benefited from portraying their god as particularly brutal and cruel, which caused Israel’s enemies to be paralyzed by fear.

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Most of the other names of Allah refer to His Power (such as the All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Knowing, etc.), but without any association to war.  In fact, not a single name or description of God in the Quran attributes war to God.  Unlike the Bible, one simply cannot find in the Islamic holy book a name of God such as “Lord of Armies,” or a description such as a “man of war” or “warrior.”

There is a reason for this: Allah was never understood to be a “war-god.” Quite simply, there is no “divine warrior god” theme found in the Quran.  Unlike Yahweh who entered the Judeo-Christian tradition as a war-god, Allah was known during Islam’s birth as a creator God.  Writes Prof. Harold A. Netland on p.76 of Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth:

Above all the gods, distant and remote, was Allah, the God, creator of the world.

As Prof. Jonathan P. Berkey notes on p.42 of The Formation of Islam, Allah “represented a remote creator god.”  Unlike Yahweh, Allah was not thought to march out on the battlefield alongside the soldiers. Instead of Allah, the pagans brought along idols such as Hubal to the battlefront.  Dr. Malise Ruthven writes on p.28 of Islam in the World that “the pagans carried some of [their] idols as standards into battle,” but this was not the case with Allah as there were “no images of Allah” (p.21 of Prof. William E. Phipps’ book Muhammad and Jesus).

In their battle against other tribes or against the Muslims, the pagans of Mecca did not carry with them the “remote, creator God” that was Allah, but instead took with them ”Hubal, a war god” (p.13 of Prof. Matthew S. Gordon’s Islam).  This did not change with the early Muslims, who never believed that Allah was ever physically present on the battlefield.  Instead, the Prophet Muhammad and early Muslims would point upwards to the sky when they referred to Allah.  Whether or not this meant that the Islamic God was literally “above the heavens” or merely otherworldly  (a matter of intense debate among Muslims today), the fact is that Allah was never thought to reside on earth, an idea that has always been considered blasphemous to Muslims.

In other words, the Israelites acquired a war-god, whereas the early Muslims acquired a creator god.  Yahweh, a war-god, later acquired the ability to create; Allah, a creator god, later acquired the ability to assist in wars.  But, there is a difference between being a war-god and being a god that can assist in wars.  The former defines the god’s primary role to be war, whereas the latter holds war to be one function of many.  It is the difference between being a chef by occupation and being a journalist who sometimes cooks.  Stated another way: Yahweh was principally a war-god, whereas Allah was principally a creator god who also had the capability to assist in wars.

Additionally, it should be noted that although Allah did come to assist the early Muslims in wars, He only did so through divine agents.  It was believed that He dispatched an army of angels to fight for the faithful.  Nowhere does God Himself become a “divine warrior” and march out onto the battlefield.  This is an important difference, and one that explains why Allah is not understood to be a “warrior god” like Yahweh.

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As noted in my disclaimer to this Series, nowhere is this information meant to be used to vilify Judaism or Christianity.  Suffice to say, there are plenty of “tricky issues” in the Islamic faith that should make the Muslim believer think twice before lobbing polemical grenades against people of other religions.  There is almost nothing I find more odious than adherents of a religion viciously attacking other religions.

Yet, it is completely appropriate in our very specific and particular context–in which Muslims and Islam are vilified by the majoritarian religious group–to chop anti-Muslim demagogues down to size.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to subject their own religion to the standards that they themselves foist upon Islam.  When this is done, what can they do but choke on their own medicine?

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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?

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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.

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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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