Michael Hudson: Were the Prophets Anti-Semitic? Debunking Netanyahu’s Distorted Biblical Justifications for Genocide

Yves here. Michael Hudson takes issue with some of the Biblical claims made to support Israel’s long-standing campaign against Palestinians and corrects Netayahu’s widely accepted distortion of words of Samuel as consistent with the the Mosaic covenant.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is The Destiny of Civilization. Originally published in the Investigación Económica (Economic Research), produced by UNAM (Autonomous National University of Mexico)

If the prophets of ancient Israel such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Malachi and Amos were alive today, Benjamin Netanyahu would accuse them of anti-Semitism for daring to describe his government as a travesty of what the Mosaic covenant was all about. A common thread running throughout the Jewish Bible – Christianity’s Old Testament – was to criticize kings, the wealthy and corrupt courts for violating the Mosaic commandments to create a fair and equitable society protecting the poor from the economic oppression of debt bondage, and loss of their land. If the prophets were summoned to give judgment today, it is Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party and the steeply unequal economy of Israel that would be condemned as violating the most basic laws of Biblical Judaism.

Prophet after prophet described the Lord as being so displeased with Israel on so many occasions for deviating from his commandments that he withdrew his protection and condemned the land to which Moses had led his followers to be conquered as punishment. The Biblical prophets attributed Israel’s defeat by Sargon in 722 BC to the Lord’s punishment for its falling away from the covenant the Lord had offered. Israel’s punishment fit the crime: Just as its wealthy creditor elite had dispossessed their brethren from the land, so the ten tribes of Israel were deported to Mesopotamia and Media, and Judah’s size was reduced to only the region surrounding Jerusalem.

Ezekiel, the great prophet of the Exile, was taken to Babylonia in 597 BC as a military hostage. He became the leading influence on Ezra and the priestly school that edited the Torah’s early sources into a version that was finalized when the Jews returned from Babylon and wrote the Babylonian concepts of economic justice into the Mosaic Holiness Code. In an apocalyptic tone Ezekiel 7 announces: “The word of the Lord came to me: … ‘The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices,’” citing the polarization of wealth by the wealthiest Jews, corrupting the law courts and violating the original covenant with the Lord.

Were the prophets self-loathing Jews? Are those who criticize today’s right-wing politicians abolishing the land’s courts of justice, urging the mass murder of civilians and destroying an entire society’s infrastructure anti-Semites? Does commenting that October 7th did not occur “in a vacuum,” as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres did – even indeed after characterizing it as an atrocity – make one an anti-Semite?

What I find most amazing is that no religious scholars are pointing out that Netanyahu’s claim to be following a Biblical covenant as his excuse for committing genocide to seize Palestinian land and destroy its existing population is a travesty of what actually is written in the Bible.

By a sleight-of-hand like that of a stage magician trying to distract the audience’s attention from what really is happening, Netanyahu has evoked what he claims to be a Biblical excuse for Israeli genocide.

But what he pretends to be a covenant in the tradition of Moses is a vicious demand by the judge and grey eminence Samuel telling Saul, the general whom he hopes to make king: “Now go and smite Amalek [an enemy of Israel], and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:3).

These were not the Lord’s own words, and Samuel was no Moses. And there was no blanket promise to back the Jews regardless of their behavior. And indeed, in following Samuel’s demand for conquest – as a means of making Saul popular enough to be made king – Saul broke the Lord’s commandments about proper religious ceremonial and dietary behavior. One would have no idea from Netanyahu’s celebration of the compact between Samuel and Saul to become popular by military conquest that Saul’s misbehavior led Samuel himself to rebuke Saul and tell him that the Lord had decided that another man must be found to be king of Israel.

It was not the Lord offering that command to destroy Amalek, but a prophet anxious to place a king on the throne. Invocation of such a command is prima facie evidence of an intention to commit genocide. But that seemed less important to Netanyahu than pandering to the desire for revenge amongst Israelis. Netanyahu makes no mention of the fact that Saul disobeyed the Lord’s commandments and the Lord rejected him as king. Nor does Likud acknowledge the context, a few chapters earlier in I Samuel 12:15, describing the corrupt rule of judges and Samuel’s warning that “if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you,” and the Lord’s warning that “if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

The Jewish Bible is remarkable in criticizing the kings who ruled Judah and Israel. It is in fact a long narrative of social revolution, in which religious leaders sought – often successfully – to check the power of a selfish and aggressive oligarchy that was denounced again and again for its greed in impoverishing the poor, taking their land and reducing them to debt bondage. (My book “… and forgive them their debts” [Dresden 2018] describes this history.) The Jewish kings, wealthy families and corrupt courts led the Lord repeatedly to abandon them in the face of Assyria, Babylon and lesser opponents when they lapsed into selfish and oppressive behavior.

What was the covenant at Horeb near Mount Sinai? Simply put, the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments, which had a moral focus on economic justice, and made a bargain binding all future Jews to obey these commandments (Exodus 19-23 and Deuteronomy 5:2 and 28:43). From the very beginning the Lord threatened to punish the Jews if they broke this covenant. The prophets are quoted as citing the many ways in which succeeding generations broke it.Reference to that context of fair rule was the role of a prophet (both ancient and modern): to awaken the people – and to be despised by those in power, especially by oppressive oligarchies. Judea, in accordance with the commandments, was supposed to provide mutual aid and protect the poor, not let creditors take the land for themselves.

So Judea lost battles to foreigners, whom the prophets described as used by the Lord as his instrument to punish the Jews for their transgression against the economic and other moral laws that the Lord had laid down. Does one doubt that today’s greater Israel [the land over which it exerts total control, including Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem] is economically polarized and unequal both financially and in terms of human rights?

Deuteronomy 28:21-25 warns that if the Jews fail to obey the Lord’s commandments, “The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess,” and “will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.” Deuteronomy then (29:24-25) reminds the Jews that if the Lord does to them as he had done to Sodom and Gomorrah, Admath and Zeboiim, “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt.”

The prophets described what obeying the covenant meant. Isaiah 5:3 and 8 cited economic inequality as the greatest woe, blaming the elders and leaders for taking “plunder from the poor into your houses.” He declaimed: “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field, till no space is left alone in the land.” That is exactly the fate that is befalling the Palestinians driven off their land by today’s Israel as a settler state.

Isaiah 10:1-3 declaims: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and rob my oppressed people of justice, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar?” And in 29:13-15: “The Lord says: ‘These people come to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. … Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord.”

Sound familiar? Isaiah 48:1 and 8 says, “Listen, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel … and invoke the God of Israel – but not in truth or righteousness. … Well I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.”

The next prophet, Jeremiah 2, accuses Israel of abandoning the Lord and thus breaking the covenant, bringing disaster upon itself with its “wickedness and backsliding” and becoming “a corrupt, wild vine.” Calling Israel unfaithful (3:8 and 20-21) the Lord “gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away,” and Judah was just as bad. The Lord again threatened (17:3-4): “Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you … for you have kindled my anger and it will burn forever.”

In a move that has failed to shock or dismay conservative Christians the United States has become modern Israel’s protector and lord, while Israel’s economy (like that of the United States) is polarizing along the same lines that the Biblical prophets denounced, such as when Ezekiel 7 and 16 repeated the Lord’s anger at unfaithful Jerusalem, saying metaphorically (16:13) that “you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute,” not heeding the poor and needy. And in 34:2: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves” but plunder their flock.

Amos 2 accuses Israel of numerous sins: “They sell the righteous for silver, and … trample on the heads of the poor … and deny justice to the oppressed.” And Micah 7:3 declaims: “Woe to those who plan inequity, to those who plot evil on their beds … because it is in their power to do it. … Therefore, the Lord said, ‘I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves’” when the wealthy join up as “the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire – they all conspire together.”
Today’s modern Zionism is at odds with the Jewish Bible. That is understandable given that its ideology comes from a very secular group despite its recent takeover by self-identified orthodox Jews. The rhetoric used by Netanyahu is a travesty when one notes how the Jewish Bible proclaimed that wealth and property were to be distributed equitably, not concentrated in the hands of an oligarchy. Exodus 23:1 and 9 give the following insight into how aliens – the Palestinians of their day – were to be treated: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong,” but “lay down the law of justice and mercy: Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.”

Is it justice and mercy to shut off water, food, medicine and fuel to an entire population and level or damage half of its buildings and most of its critical infrastructure including entire swarths of homes? Is it justice and mercy to force hospitals to shut down, bomb ambulances, drop six 2,000 pound bombs on a refugee camp?

While billions around the world witness the super-Kristalnacht carnage in Gaza and blatant pogroms on the West Bank “serious” Western journalists warn that an existential threat is posed by refugees with hang gliders but no planes, tanks or artillery pieces. The same journalists ignore the time-proven truism that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the faith” and that killing thousands of innocents immediately and many thousands in the chaos that follows will not weaken but strengthen a resistance movement. It was that same reaction in the wake of Nazism that turned today’s Zionist leaders into haters.

 In the final lines of the Jewish Bible, Malachi 4 speaks of the Lord’s emphasis that Israel’s covenant with God had a strong contractual quid pro quo as a condition for his support: “‘All the arrogant and every evil-doer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. … ‘Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.’” If these laws continued to be disobeyed, the Lord threatened, “I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

It seems that this curse has now come, in the form of most of the world’s population so appalled at the self-righteous genocide being committed by two secular governments claiming (to the discredit of Western religions) divine sanctification, Israel and the United States, just as the Western non-Soviet economy created in 1945 in the wake of World War II is breaking into two parts.

We are living in secular times. The United States has become modern Israel’s protector and lord, and it itself has become corrupt along the same lines that the great prophets denounced. American evangelists, like the Israeli government, have excluded the message of the Biblical prophets and Jesus’s social message, selecting only the Covenant as a deed of conquest and promise of a ticket to heaven without any behavioral quid pro quo involved.

The broad spectrum of Judeo-Christian religion has been secularized as today’s world differs so fundamentally from that of classical antiquity. American TV evangelicals make a travesty of Jesus’s attempt to restore the Mosaic Jubilee Year cancelling the debts that threatened ancient populations with bondage and led to the loss of their means of self-support on the land. The “Prosperity Gospel” has replaced Jesus with Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and Frederick Hayek.

Already in the 4th and 5th centuries, almost as soon as Constantine made Christianity the Roman State religion, Augustine changed the translation of the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount by replacing debt cancellation with the non-economic idea of original sin inborn from Adam. To cap matters, the new interpretation replaced Jesus’s call for debt cancellation with Church demands for monetary contributions to obtain indulgences and forgiveness. Subsequent Christianity became so pro-creditor that it defended the sanctity of debt, not its cancellation. To finance the Crusades in the 13th century, the popes excommunicated Christian clergy and secular reformers who opposed paying usury – which was re-defined as “interest” and permitted as long as it was Christian bankers who were making the loans.

Israel may have a convoluted legal right to shoot Palestinians coming over its wall in an attempt to defend land that settlers have seized illegally from them. But as an occupying power it does not have the sanctimonious right to disregard virtually every international law regarding war and collective punishment simply for revenge and to demonstrate to Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Iran what it will do to them with American support if they join in the fray. Netanyahu’s actions and claims for religious sanctification for them are the antithesis of the original Judaism. His Likud government rejects the ethic of the Jewish Bible as much as America’s Christian evangelists reject the message of Jesus.

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  1. Pensions Guy

    Well put, Professor Hudson. We might also remember that the Palestinian claim to land “from the River to the Sea” is opposed by some who base their claims that God gave Israel the land from the Euphrates to the Nile on Genesis 15:18. Sometimes a literal reading of selective passages from the Bible leads to great mischief. On the other hand, if we read the Call of Abraham is Genesis 12 aspirationally, we envision a people whose faith in God leads them to be blessed to be a blessing to the world. As Jesus put it, “a light of the world.” Matt. 5:14-16.

  2. zagonostra

    Curious why no mention of the Babylonian Talmud or the Talmud in general, where the “Mosaic covenant” really becomes twisted/corrupted.

  3. Henni

    Small timeline correction for Ezekiel. He was among the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar along with Jehoiachin in 617 B.C.E.

    Jerusalem destroyed ten years later in 607 B.C.E.

    Also, the primary sin for Judah and Benjamin in the south was failure to uphold pure worship. Northern Kingdom had already fallen by this time.

    1. Michael Hudson

      You’ve found a constant problem I have. I miss the keyboard numbers by one digit. I did indeed mean to write 617 (as it appears in my “… and forgive them their debts,” but shifted to the left.
      I’ve got to look more closely at my touch-typing. Thanks for correcting this.

  4. Neutrino

    Which version of the Bible are you using for the quotations?
    For example, Micah 7:3

    Your quote says:

    “Woe to those who plan inequity, to those who plot evil on their beds … because it is in their power to do it. … Therefore, the Lord said, ‘I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves’”

    The Complete Jewish Bible says:

    Their hands do evil well.
    The prince makes his request,
    the judge grants it for a price,
    and the great man expresses his evil desires —
    thus they weave it together.

    And the Orthodox Jewish Bible says:

    That they may do evil with both hands skillfully, the sar and the shofet asketh for a bribe; and hagadol uttereth the evil of his nefesh (soul); so they weave it.

    1. Michael Hudson

      I used the New International Version from the American Bible Society. My children went to Grace Church School in NYC, and this was their Episcopalian copy.

  5. Not Moses

    As usual, NC and Michael Hudson provide enlightenment in an otherwise deliberate, manipulative fog machine of pr blackmail against any and all criticism of the atrocities Israel is committing in God’s name. If the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again, it’s what we see in this community, over the centuries. What became of the “futility of evil”? Or, is it an expedient evil to fulfill Netanyahu imagined version of manifest destiny? The concept has been brought up before by Netanyahu (in interviews and book) in the context of US history, as an excuse.

    Mitigating the prophet teachings is the Torah, which fluidly gives cover to sins through renewed, adaptive interpretation of scripture.

    Picture, AIPAC and the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, awash with money, blackmailing higher education institutions to forbid the exchange of ideas and discussion on what they see as existential criticism of Jews by demanding a “cease fire”in Gaza. The Wall Street fleecing gravy train will inevitably have to stop at some point.

    AIPAC doing God’s work, is working hard to remove African American Congress Reps. who’re critical of massacring Palestinians. Their investment in Congress has contributed to Congress ineptitude and inertia, and destruction of our political, legal, social and economic institutions.

    An image that’s occurred to me is akin to Moses descending from the mountain with the tablets only to find his brethren worshipping the golden calf. In this case it’s money at all costs. Post 1970, the decline of the nation is directly attributed, as the evidence points out, to Milton Friedman’s Neoliberalism.

    The rapacity for chutzpah is extreme. The unsaid truth, not found in polls, is American and global perception of God’s Chosen as corrupt. Still fresh in people’s minds are the Jeffrey Epstein, Sackler family opioid dealers, Sam Bankman-Fried cryptocurrency Olympic size scam. And, of course, Netanyahu’s mass killings and land grab, to name a few.

  6. Carolinian

    Thanks for this and the tour of the fire and brimstone that we onetime Baptists grew up in. Clearly Zionism is all about tribalism and has very little to do with religion and indeed the founders like Ben-Gurion proclaimed themselves atheists. I’ve read that the Orthodox in Israel are themselves anti-Zionists but not opposed to living there and taking the subsidies. Perhaps the real meaning of “chosen” in the Old Testament would be chosen to provide an ethical example to humanity, not a get out of jail free card.

    But “strategic ambiguity” has always been the watchword, not only about Israel’s nuclear weapons but also about the many contradictions that, as just quoted above, make the US founders’ freedom/slavery paradox seem mild by comparison. The intellectual confusion brought on by supporting Zionism seems to be making our own US tribalism worse. The founders for all their contradictions believed in reason, not dogma. Seems hard to stay on that path.

  7. Susan the other

    Netanyahu was on NPR this morning. He was allowed to face criticisms of “baby killing” as if there was some possibility it was all an exaggeration. Gosh Mr. Prime Minister, can you clear this up for us? They let him rave as if no one would see through his justifications. The interview was shocking. Shocking that he was given the opportunity to blatantly carry on to the entire country, claiming the Israelis are both innocent and kind. It was as sickening as if Adolph Hitler had been given the microphone. Clearly, putting Bibi on the air like that was an act of desperate preemption lest the world, especially the gullible Americans, think he and Israel are actually committing genocide right in front of our blank faces. And thus possibly realize that we are the ones paying for it.

    1. Laurence

      When I think that my tax money (even if its a miniscule part of it) is paying for some of those bombs they drop on innocent people, makes me sick and I want to throw up, but what is one supposed to do?

      1. gcw

        I feel the same rage every morning reading about this maniacal massacre. The near-comatose Biden could stop it all with a phone call, but he has neither the compassion, nor inclination to do so. But it would appear the tide may be changing. Even the New York Times, essentially a mouthpiece for the Israeli side of things, has finally published an article, however difficult to read, that exposes what is happening at the human level. (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/18/world/middleeast/gaza-children-israel.html)

  8. Oldtimer

    “There were four classes of men among those of Cyrene; that of citizens; that of husbandmen; the third of strangers; and the fourth of Jews. Now these Jews are already gotten into all cities; and ’tis hard to find a place in the habitable earth that hath not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by it. ”

    Strabo, 63 BC.


    1. SG

      Guys, guys, make up your minds. Putting aside the Bronze Age fantasies of the xenophobic fanatics amongst us, what would you have us do? For two thousand years, you’ve lamented that we live among you and wished that we “go back where we came from”. When we do that, you call us “colonizers” of the very land where we originated and tell us to go back to the same places you so enthusiastically expelled us from a few short decades ago. What’s your plan here? Or, to put in terms you can understand, what’s your “final solution”? Aside from rule #2, of course. We’re not falling for that one again.

      1. John Zelnicker

        SG – Here’s a thought.

        How about we Jews recognize that the Palestinians also have a valid claim to the land of Israel and try to figure out a way to peacefully coexist?

        I have never understood why the Nakba was necessary. There was obviously plenty of room for everyone who went to Israel. Even today there doesn’t seem to be any overcrowding except in Gaza, and that’s not an insurmountable problem.

        My final solution is something like a completely secular state with equal rights for all.

      2. Quantum Future


        1) Two state solution.

        2) Pay the Palestinians to protect the proposed energy pipeline. Part of the deal above Israel does and should get to oversee funds getting into the general populations hands.

        3) Bibi has got to go. Israel is far to small to survive without the peoples consent on leadership.

        3) Stop creating future Hamases. Same deal for US, stop creating Al Quedas.

  9. Laurence

    I don’t always agree with Hudson but I have to salute his courage and integrity for being amongst very few voices taking such a courageous stand against the manifest evil going on and annihilation of an entire people by an apartheid state led by corrupt religious nuts.
    This intolerable ongoing genocide is also exposing for even the unsophisticated that the elite is on Israel’s payroll or corrupt beyond redemption with no dignity or humanity left, only psychopathic greed being their only motives of action. God help us all.

  10. Dagnarus

    Got to the part about Amalek. The author appears to imply that Saul lost the kingdom because he carried out Gods command. My reading of the chapter https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel%2015&version=NIV is that Saul lost the kingdom because he spared the king and didn’t kill all the Cattle (i.e. wasn’t insanely blood thirsty enough).

    10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
    12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
    13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
    14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
    15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

    16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”

    “Tell me,” Saul replied.

    17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

    The author also suggests that Samuel was not speaking for God here (I would tend to agree with that) but doesn’t provide any old testament textual proof that God was offended with Samuel on this point, I certainly can’t recall any.

    I then looked up what moses had to say on the laws of war https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2020&version=NIV .

    16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

    Moses instructions on how to treat conquered populations within the Lands of Israel match pretty closely what Samuel told Saul. My understanding is that the Amalekites did live within the bounds of Israel, so presumably the above should apply to them (although one could quibble that Amalek was not one of the peoples explicitly mentioned as being for destruction).

    All this is to say, a prima facie reading of the Old testament is openly Genocidal towards the indigenous inhabitants of the land of Canaan/now Israel.

    That is to say when the author states that.

    These were not the Lord’s own words, and Samuel was no Moses. And there was no blanket promise to back the Jews regardless of their behavior. And indeed, in following Samuel’s demand for conquest – as a means of making Saul popular enough to be made king – Saul broke the Lord’s commandments about proper religious ceremonial and dietary behavior. One would have no idea from Netanyahu’s celebration of the compact between Samuel and Saul to become popular by military conquest that Saul’s misbehavior led Samuel himself to rebuke Saul and tell him that the Lord had decided that another man must be found to be king of Israel.

    My overwhelming impression is that the author is deceptive and there is no more point reading the rest of this.

  11. clarky90

    The Second Temple was destroyed on August 4th, 70 AD.
    All of the Jewish genealogy records, stored in the Second Temple were reduced to ashes.

    There follows a 1500 year dearth of, any jewish genealogical records….. 70 AD until the middle ages.

    “JewishGen – The Global Home for Jewish Genealogy”


    Therefore, any person, or any group can claim to be THE “God’s Unique Gift to To The Universe”. …..And, people and groups have regularly made these claims over the centuries. No real proof is ever possible. (because of the destruction of the official records in 70 AD). It becomes a matter of belief. (I may believe that I am a descendant of the Lost Atlanteans…. but you might think that I am batsh@t crazy)

    To make Rabbinic Judaism’s territorial claim on the Land of Palestine an “accepted fact”, has required access to Magic Money to fund a legal, political, media, academia and public relations onslaught. and

    patience and persistence

    The utter Destruction of The Second Temple was foretold by the Prophets and intended by God as a reset.

    “Did Rabbinic Judaism emerge out of Christianity? (Prof. Israel Jacob Yuval)”


  12. Craig Dempsey

    A road not taken exists within Zionism itself. Martin Buber, famous for his book I and Thou, was “a strong supporter of a binational solution in Palestine,” which has been called “Hebrew humanism.” I do not know what is the best solution to the current crisis, but in this current moment of radical PTSD on all sides, perhaps radical peace is worth serious thought.

  13. LawnDart

    While working parole, I dealt with more than a few crooks, recently-released from DOC (Department of Corrections), who claimed to have found Jesus while doing their bid. Next to the sex-offenders (who almost always re-offend), these were the guys that I knew I had to watch closely because, just like Netanyaho, I knew they were full of s#!t.

    Any god that would sanction what Israel is doing is a god that should not exist.

    Thanks for the article, Professor Hudson.

  14. Tmartin

    Some random thoughts; regarding the great game of geo politics; US/Nato vs. Russia/China/Iran both sides may conclude that, like a Ukraine, an overly strong state along fault lines is not necessarily in any of their best interests, i.e. both sides might come to the conclusion that it is better to accept a hollowed out state that benefits no one than to to go to lengths over one that might get ‘too powerful e.g. (an independent strong Ukraine would be troublesome to everyone) Along these lines my perception, perhaps a leap of faith: Netanyahu has to go and that the idea of ‘Greater Israel’ – sorry.

    China will sooner or latter come reallize that if Iran collapses due to a US provoked war, that its B&RI is in peril, so having a too strong US base (Israel) threatening that project, that won’t be in their best interests nor will be a joint India/Israeli/US project-Imec. Ironically, the US will come to the conclusion that a too powerful Israel – one that drags the US around willy nilly, also isn’t in their best interests, i.e. the ability to project power is OK, but not to go overboard and start a hot war. And India will soon figure out that Imec is a pipe dream if muslim populations are hostile to Israel. Also, China/Xi may conclude, as Russia/Putin has, that it is better to confront this now, than later, since China is enemy #1 to the US despite Mr. Biden trying to make nice to Mr. Xi. In short, if all these great powers, simultaneously conclude that Israel/Netanyahu is getting too big for his bridges, they will be forced to step into the mess, i.e. the best solution then couldl be to have the Israelis and Palestinians have at it with each other, but not too much

    The wild card of course is religion because the best way to create a fanatic is for one religious group to attack another religious group, you know,like if some Jewish people bomb a mosque full of muslim people worshipping. One dead kid, guarantees 10 more will be seeking revenge when they come of age. Exactly what kind of investment is Israel making?

  15. Anon

    Whenever I consider Israel’s historical justification for existence, I always question, “but God already gave you your shot at the promised land?” To understand they not only lost it but he took it from them, is a riot, considering their claims.

  16. Dick Swenson

    Please be careful in quoting the Bible. The Jewish Bible is the Tanakh. The first 5 books are The Torah. The books of the Jewish Bible after Deuteronomy are in a different orer than in the Christian Bible and there are a few books not included.

    The Christian Bible consists of the Tanakh with the New Testament added after the it.

    The most difficult text to read is Deuteronomy 20:10-18 which preaches genocide on those tribes in the area from “the River to the Sea” promised to Moses by God. There are similar passages later in Deuteronomy. Leaving the Torah and beginning in Joshuah thre are more such passages.

    The Torah is the Word of God given to Moses. Some sections of Joshua seems to be words of God given to Joshua. The remainder of the Tanakh is written by prophets or other wisemen.

    For some portions, it sems that God demands genocide (Joshuah 8:24-25) )on the enemies of the Jews.

    The Bible is not a happy book/

  17. Skip Intro

    If we accept the claim that God gave ‘Israel’ i.e. the jews, some area of the Levant near some rivers, then we must next ask whom God meant. It seems like he/she was referring to a local group of monotheists (they were the ones listening). That group includes people whose form of Judaism later accepted Jesus H. Christ as God, or accepted him and Mohammed as prophets of God, as well as those who didn’t. So biblically, it seems like Christians, Muslims, and Jews have equal claim, or must first at least determine which religion is right, and if the land grant could be terminated in the event of heresy. European immigrants and native-born animists, I feel, have weaker claims.

  18. Rubicon

    We applaud Michael Hudson for delving into the OT. We recommend he read the Italian scholar Dr. Giovanni Garbini’s work Garbini was a famous Italian philologist who picked apart the Jewish “myths” and “ideologies” from the ancient realities of that environment.

    One conclusion Garbini reaches is that we don’t really know if those prophets ever existed, including Moses…… It was the radical Rabbis & wealthy Jews, following their return to the little known Jerusulem who settled on a little known “son” of “EL” and turned him into The God. In kind, they overthrew “the kings” and created their book, over many centuries by deleting work and rebranding the works that fit with the One God synopsis.

    Here are some of Garbini’s works:” History And Ideology in Ancient Israel.” “Myth and History In The Bible.”
    We should send copies of both those scholarly works to Dr. Hudson except we don’t have his address in New York. He would surely appreciate Garbini’s outstanding stature!

  19. Quantum Future


    A useful commentary contribution. The user SG asked “So we Israeli’s, what are we to do?” I netted out a similar prescription as your own.

  20. Henry Moon Pie

    The Hebrew and Greek bibles are in many ways a mirror. Because they are collections of writings from many authors with varying and sometimes conflicting points of view distributed over a period of more than a 1,000 years, it’s possible to find in them just about anything you want if you look hard enough while ignoring evidence to the contrary.

    I love Dr. Hudson’s writings on geopolitics, economics, including ancient Near Eastern economics, but when he ventures into theology and biblical interpretation, his hermeneutics suffer from a persistent tendency to read his worldview into the text rather than drawing the meaning out of the evidence that is there, i.e. eisegesis rather than exegesis.

    The Hebrew bible, especially prophets like Amos, Micah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel do show a great deal of concern for economic injustice, but even in their writings, concern about religious “impurity” commands at least as much attention. As for the Torah and the histories, their dominant focus is on Israel’s seeming compulsion to “chase after foreign gods,” especially the god Ba’al worshiped by their polytheistic Canaanite city state neighbors like Ugarit.

    We can see an example of this in Dr. Hudson’s use of Ezekiel. Now Ezekiel does rail powerfully against economic and political injustice. His Chapter 34 condemning the “unjust shepherds” of Judah reads like an indictment of our contemporary misleadership class, but Ezekiel spends at least as much time citing Israel’s corrupt worship practices (Chapters 8-11) and tendency to chase after foreign gods (Chapters 13-14) as he does economic issues. When Ezekiel promises a restoration of a united Israel, he first explains why Israel has lost the land:

    Again the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols.

    Ezekiel 36:13-18 (NIV)

    Dr, Hudson also tends toward “good guy/bad guy” narratives that obscure texts’ complexity and sometimes completely distorts their plain meaning. In a past essay, it was Augustine who was transformed into an enemy of the people; in this one, it’s rather inexplicably Samuel who is portrayed as plotting to put a king over Israel (“Samuel telling Saul, the general whom he hopes to make king”). I don’t know how Dr. Hudson missed I Samuel 8 wherein Saul pleads with Israel not to have a king, using arguments that will ring true to anyone with a healthy skepticism toward the State:

    So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord…

    Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

    Ezekiel 8 (NIV)

    This hardly sounds like a man plotting to put a king over Israel.

    Of course, all this is filtered through Ezra and his scribes as Dr. Hudson rightly points out, but reading the book of Ezra itself, it’s clear that economic injustice is a minor concern to Ezra if he considers it at all. He’s obsessed with the “purity” of the Jewish nation he’s trying to re-create as the Persian king authorized him to do. Get rid of wives who came from the “people of the land.” Eliminate impure rituals. Restore purity.

    Like David Graeber, I do think Dr. Hudson is onto something with his focus on debt relief in the ancient Near East, but ignoring the complexity of the history and creating villains out of whole cloth detract from the argument. Using a reliable commentary series like Hermeneia for background would check the tendency to eisegesis and overinterpretation. While the result would be considerably less black and white, it would be more convincing in the long run.

  21. Jorge

    About Dr. Hudson, David Graeber and the history of debt:

    The Philippine government did the exact thing that Hudson talks about with the old Sumerian city-states: the state lent too much to farmers, the farmers could not pay, the farmers could not farm, and food production dropped. So, their government has instituted a Jubilee for the farmer debt!



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