Thought-provoking column in the Colorado Springs Gazette by past MRFF Thomas Jefferson Award winner Barry Fagin: “Israel, Hamas and Biblical Prophecy”

Published On: October 19, 2023|Categories: News, Top News|1 Comment|
Barry Fagin

When I ask the internet about “Israel Hamas Bible prophecy”, I get over 5 million hits. These include YouTube videos wondering if the war between Israel and Hamas is a sign of the end times.

I have some knowledge of biblical Hebrew, the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and the New Testament, albeit from an admittedly secular perspective. In my opinion, to give these views even one minute of your time, let alone support them with money, is intellectually dishonest, morally lazy and downright dangerous.

The historical record is filled with literally hundreds of recorded predictions of impending doom, with doubtless thousands more that were never written down. These claims have existed since humans could write, and exist in numerous religious texts. They are a reflection on our unique capacity as human beings to wonder about the future.

That might make them important. That might make them worthy of study. But it doesn’t make them right. In fact, at the risk of stating the obvious, every single one of them has been wrong.

Yes, the word “hamas” appears in the Bible. Its first occurrence is the last word in Genesis 6:11, in the book of Noah. “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence (hamas).”

But that’s just one translation. Other translations I’ve seen include “lawlessness”, “robbery”, or “injustice”, sometimes all within the same edition. That’s not a bad thing. It means the translators are paying attention to context.

But it’s different in Arabic. The name of the organization Hamas originated as an acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement” in Arabic. The Arabic word “Hamas” is best translated as “strength” or “bravery” or “valor”. If we’re going to talk about world-ending prophecies, shouldn’t the fact that we’re interpreting across two millennia and multiple languages engender a little humility?

What worries me the most about connecting the terrible events of the past two weeks to apocalyptic predictions is what it does to our moral sensibilities. If all this is foretold, then we’re powerless to prevent it. Why even try?

In a recently published complaint filed with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, active-duty soldiers reported their commander saying exactly this at a mandatory briefing: “The war between Israel and Hamas has all been foretold by the Book of Revelation … and no one can do anything about that.” I beg to differ.

I believe Hamas is a terrorist organization. As their charter makes clear, they have no interest in improving Palestinian welfare. They are only interested in Israel’s destruction. Their faith tells them the rape, torture and slaughter of Jewish men, women and children will send them straight to paradise.

I also believe that innocent civilians of Gaza, who will die as the human shields of Hamas, have lives of equal value to Israelis killed by Hamas. I don’t believe efforts to solve the problems of the Middle East are doomed to fail just because some people think the world might be ending.

The events of these past two weeks should cause the democracies of the world, supported by all their citizens of goodwill, to wipe barbaric murderers from the face of the earth. They should also inspire them to give the residents of Gaza a future where their legitimate concerns are addressed and they can enjoy healthy, flourishing lives.

If we seek to ground our efforts in a traditional text, I prefer the one my grandmother taught me long ago. It’s from the Jewish Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers):

“It is not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to shirk from it”.

Barry Fagin is a lay Torah reader at Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs, and the author of the Radical Center. His views are his alone. Readers can write Fagin at [email protected].

Click to read on The Colorado Springs Gazette

Share This Story

One Comment

  1. Ironmoped November 8, 2023 at 1:41 am

    Your bias is showing brother. I don’t fault you for it. It is what it is – bias!

    I believe you are so inculcated that you wouldn’t know objectivity if it bit you in the ass!

    When you say, “ democracies of the world should wipe barbaric murderers from the face of the earth,” I assume you’re referring to Netanyahu and his Katanist henchmen in the Likud?

    Can you point out the article in the Hamas charter that calls for the destruction of Israel? I believe the charter clearly states that they are not against Jews, but rather, Zionists.

    You also say that Islam promotes the rape, torture, and slaughter of men, women, and children. I know very little about the Koran but I’m sure you can point me to the passage that says that?

    You mentioned the “human shields” Hamas hides behind but let’s do a hypothetical. If Hamas were to target the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv and civilians were also killed in that attack, could those civilians be categorized as Israeli human shields? Many military installations in Israel are co-located within civilian population centers. Is that by “human shield” design?

    Believing in the Bible makes you a Christian or a Jew. Reading the Bible makes you an Atheist!

    Being a lay Torah reader, I’m sure it hasn’t gone unnoticed that your God is a pretty mean, hot-tempered, insecure, murderous, megalomaniacal bastard!

    I think your shilling for Israel, particularly in light of the Israeli carnage being inflicted on Gaza and Palestinians in the West Bank is abhorrent. Obviously, many “Not In My Name” Jews agree!

    Per your Grandmother’s words, are you shirking your responsibility to help stop the carnage?

Leave A Comment