20 July 2006

Forget Amalek: What the Bible really says about fighting terrorism

Rabbi Gellman has a new article in Newsweek (Remember Amalek: What the Bible says about fighting terrorism). He begins by saying:
The Bible is the greatest collection of books, and I believe it to be the complex but discernable word of God.
Well the Bible is one of the three worst books I've ever read (the others are the Quran and the Book of Mormon). And I sure as hell wouldn't blame its contents on God.

Next he tells us that we must be careful when we interpret the Bible, because the Bible can be used to justify anything. To prove it, he uses the Bible to justify Bush's war on terror.

The key to it all, he says, is Amalek.

In Deut. 25:17-19 we read: “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.”

God didn't like Amalek's tactics: he attacked the Israelites from behind when they were "faint an weary; and he feared not God." Or as Rabbi Gelman puts it:

This meant that his [Amalek's] soldiers could kill women and children, the elderly and the infirm and in so doing avoid engagement with the soldiers at the front. In this way he could produce maximum carnage and maximum terror. The moral problem the Bible addresses is that this is not warfare, it is the slaughter of innocents—it is terrorism.

So Amalek, according to the Rabbi, was a terrorist. And that's why God hated him so much. And we must hate him too, just as much and forever.

Indeed our remembrance of Amalek is combined with a chilling pledge from God that is also unique in the Bible: “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exod. 17:16). Our enemies are just our enemies except if our enemy is Amalek. In that case our enemy is also the enemy of God. Amalek thus becomes the symbol of terrorism in every generation. ... Yes, one can disagree and debate how Amalek must be fought, but not that Amalek must be fought.

But Gellman has it exactly backwards here. We might not know for sure who God thinks Amalek is these days (Amalek's descendents, terrorists, Muslims, Republicans, Knicks fans, etc.), but there can be no debate about what we must do to them whenever and wherever we find them. God made that clear in the Rabbi's favorite book.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. -- 1 Samuel 15:2-3

Now this was a direct command given by God to King Saul several hundred years after Amalek died. (Saul lost his kingdom because he failed to kill everyone as God commanded.) And, as the rabbi pointed out, the instructions still apply today (see Exod. 17:16). So if you think today's Amalekites are terrorists (as Rabbi Gellman does), then you must kill them all -- the terrorists, their families, and their neighbors -- every man, woman, infant, suckling, ox, sheep, camel, and ass.

According to Rabbi Gellman, the difference between us and Amalek is "that our victims were killed by mistake and Amalek's victims were killed by design." But the Bible God doesn't quite see it that way. We must kill them all -- innocent or guilty, young or old, women, children, babies, even their animals.

Gellman ends by endorsing "the message from our president: victory is the only way."

In my heart and prayers, I thank President Bush for remembering Amalek. ... [T]his is a war against a lover of slaughter.

There is no greater "lover of slaughter" than the God of the Bible. Bush should reject his evil commands to kill innocent people.

It's time to finally forget Amalek.

1 comment:

Tim said...

"this is not warfare, it is the slaughter of innocents—it is terrorism"

I think he summed up the entire Old Testament right there.