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Name of Israel’s anti-Hamas operation has biblical meaning
Smoke billows from a spot targeted by the Israeli military inside the Gaza Strip last week.
November 20th, 2012
09:49 AM ET

Name of Israel’s anti-Hamas operation has biblical meaning

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – To English speakers, the name of Israel’s anti-Hamas campaign sounds pretty straightforward: “Operation Pillar of Defense.”

But reading the name of the Israeli operation in Hebrew might provoke some head-scratching. In Hebrew, the Israel Defense Forces have branded their recently launched anti-Hamas effort as “Operation Pillar of Cloud.”

An IDF spokesman explained that most Israelis would recognize “Pillar of Cloud” as a biblical reference.

“It’s based on the pillar of cloud that accompanied the the nation of Israel during the Exodus as they left Egypt and traveling toward Israel,” said Eytan Buchman, head of the North American media desk for the IDF.

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“They wanted the protection from the troubles of the desert, from robbers and people that would attack them and from snakes and scorpions.”

Buchman said the anti-Hamas operation’s Hebrew name is meant to send the message that it is a defensive maneuver.

“We are coming up on a decade of rockets being fired indiscriminately at civilians,” Buchman said, referring to Hamas’ actions in southern Israel. The Jewish state’s current military operation, he said, “is a proverbial cloud that is coming to protect you.”

The Bible’s first reference to a cloud pillar comes in Exodus 14, which describes the Israelites’ flight from bondage, culminating in Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.

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“The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them,” reads the passage in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

"It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel,” the passage continues. "And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.”

The idea of the cloud pillar refers to both physical and spiritual protection, according to Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads Ohev Sholom, the National Synagogue in Washington.

“The spiritual message here is about praying to God for protection,” said Herzfeld, who heads an Orthodox congregation. “In Exodus, the pillar of cloud is spiritual protection of the Israelis.”

Herzfeld said the biblical reference would be instantly recognizable to the many Israelis who have had Jewish educations.

The phrase also appears in the Bible’s Book of Psalms, in a verse that says God spoke to Hebrew leaders like Moses, Aaron and Samuel “in the pillar of cloud.”

Israel’s choice of Hebrew words has provoked some criticism online.

"By calling this operation 'Pillar of Cloud,' the IDF are, in a sense, calling themselves God,” tweeted @joshua_eaton, whose Twitter bio describes him as a journalist covering religion and politics. “And they act like they believe that, too."

A blogger for the website Gawker, meanwhile, said that calling the Israeli operation a “pillar of cloud” evoked “an all-powerful, vengeful God seeking to demonstrate the primacy of his chosen people, to guide them in their affairs, and to confound their enemies.”

“Did Israel launch this attack because there was no other rational route to maintain its security?” asked the Gawker blogger, John Cook. “Or was it pursuing a broader agenda rooted in ancient mysticism?”

The IDF’s Buchman said he contacted Cook to challenge his interpretations, saying the Israeli military merely wanted to stress what he called the operation’s defensive nature.

“Inside the Bible,” Buchman said, “the cloud was defined as (following people that were) leaving and running away from a full army that had enslaved it.”

Buchman noted that previous IDF operations have also used biblical references.

In 2002, he said, the IDF used the name “Operation Noah’s Ark” for the seizure of a Palestinian vessel loaded with rockets, missiles and explosives.

And a 2008 IDF operation in Gaza was called “Operation Cast Lead,” which began during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and references a popular Hanukkah song.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Israel • Judaism • Military

soundoff (1,431 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

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    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

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    the wrong path is Adam and Eve !

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    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

    Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

    No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

    Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

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    Ca-nabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) – National Cancer Insti-tute

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    Mar 21, 2013 – [1,2] These plant-derived compounds may be referred to as phytocannabinoids. ... have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. ... In lung cancer cell lines, CBD upregulated ICAM-1, leading to ...

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    The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

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    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/

    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

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    Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
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    Science

    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
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    08:32 PM ET

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    Make sure to read comments

    April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

    Breaking News

    NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

    NASA: Mars could have supported life

    Star Dust we are

    Holy Hallucinations 35

    The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

    Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

    Human Evolution

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    BBC. Planet of the Apemen. Battle for Earth 1. Ho-mo Erectus

    BACKFILL on E =mc2.....

    Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

    By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

    Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/category/culture-science/

    May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420

    http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/3b1508d1f0/cheech-chong-s-history-of-420?rel=player&playlist=341944

    All cults...........creationists, ID believers and devil cults.................

    The fact...............the earth is to old ...........time to EVOLVE !.

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

    Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

    Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

    http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

    Education works for children

    Earth From Space

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    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/earth-from-space.html

    February 16, 2013 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |

    Peace

    May 5, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  2. angel

    Right now,the yearly earnings is below the poverty line for people making 7.20 per hour,the minimum wage,and Jesus said he came to preach his Gospel to the poor,and the GOP,the religious and political right claim to be Christian are not following Jesus,but each other,the blind leading the blind,and falling into the ditch,as Jesus teaches.And increasing the minimum wage to 9 dollars plus per hour would raise millions above the poverty line,and many will have more money to spend and this will boost the economy,and some over time can save,get a loan,and possibly own their own small business.Over all,many more people being above the poverty line can only make America a stronger country.We've seen the riots poverty causes in other countries.

    February 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  3. angel

    Jesus says the end times will be as it was in the days of Noah with all the world sinning,and Revelation says a big part of the sinning will be wars caused by the antichrist,the devil's man.It will be just as it is now only worse,as 1 John 2:18,says,even now there are many antichrists,whereby we know it is the last time.Now as in the last time,all the world believes in and is fighting wars,so the final and worst antichrist can come at any time,nobody knows exactly when so that means it can happen at any time. And even most of the religious who expect to be Raptured out or protected from it believe in wars.

    January 30, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  4. angel

    God cannot keep His promise of eternal life for mankind in God's Kingdom on earth as long as man kills man for any reason whatsoever,this includes wars,murder,the death penalty,suicide,and euthanasia,the most prominent,and most legal,in the largest of numbers done by man at any one time being wars.And those who refuse to understand will be held accountable by God.Their hope is there is no God,but in that case they may be held accountable by man himself.in order for mankind to save itself from extinction.Both of which are really not in the best interests of all mankind.

    January 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  5. angel

    Politicians use the Bible and people's belief in God to get elected,and even swear on the Bible taking public office,and they lead many to believe they can kill evil in wars,let's look in the Bible and see what it really says: The Bible says,the source of all evil is Satan,the devil,a fallen angel,angels are spirit beings,and spirits are eternal,and so wars of guns and bombs can't kill evil spirits.The same is true of people's souls/spirits,evil or good,people's souls/spirits are eternal,the evil ones separated from God forever,and the good with God forever in His Kingdom.So wars of guns and bombs can't kill evil people's souls/spirits.This is why the Cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ is so necessary to change people's hearts and minds,to repent of practicing wars of guns and bombs,this is what the Bible really says and teaches,but not what many say or teach,even in Media,even the Religious or Political Right.

    January 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  6. angel

    According to the Bible and Jesus,a good guy is not a guy with a gun,Jesus sent out his disciples without a sword,and said to his own disciple,all who take the sword perish by the sword,and Jesus said he fulfills all the prophets,including the prophet Isaiah,and so Isaiah 2:4,he will beat swords to plowshares,and they will practice war no more.The sword Jesus carries and wields is the word of God,the sword of the Spirit,God's Holy Spirit,the sword of his mouth,a doubled edged sword,obey it and it can save you,disobey it and it can destroy you. Sword of the Spirit,God's Holy Spirit,the word of God would be: Galatians 6:7,Be not deceived,God is not mocked,for whatsoever people sow they reap,man sows the sword and reaps the sword,even the swords of wars.And Jesus uses the sword of his mouth,the word of God,sword of the Spirit,God's Holy Spirit,which Jesus left with us,uses it in Revelation 1:16,2:16.19:15,and 19:21,not the swords of guns and bombs,man uses that,God doesn't need to use that,and we must follow Jesus and not use it,but use the word of God,even the Word Himself,Jesus.As Jesus says,nothing is impossible following God,if you follow God and put God first.

    January 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  7. angel

    Don't show us the money,show us the hypocrisy.Remember Jesus' story of the
    widow who gave her last mite,money,to help the poor: The Bible teaches fear is a
    disconnection from God,and the perfect love,perfect love meaning Holy and
    complete,of God casts out fear. So it's out of fear,not of God's love to kill
    the innocent along with the guilty as happens in wars,and it's not of God's love
    to blame the innocent along with the guilty for people being on the Govt dole
    making it harder for the innocent to get what they need,which can even lead to
    the death of some people.And the Bible says God doesn't kill the innocent,wars
    do,and making it harder for people who are suffering to receive help from the Govt that
    can lead to the death of the innocent too,and so is not of God.And
    those who cheat to get Govt help is not of God as well.So it's all out of
    fear,it's not of God's love.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  8. angel

    The world believes in wars,and so do we.It's believing in war,even as a last resort. When you believe in wars you're just concerned about your children,not as concerned about all the children of the world,as Jesus is in saying you do it to the little children you do it to me,In other words if you believe in wars which have killed millions of children the world over,you're a hypocrite to God who loves all the children of the world,not just your children.So they blame sick people,mentally ill people,rather than the mentally stable taking responsibility for their wars. Jesus says,expect no reward from God loving who love you,even sinners love their own,in wars men love only who love them.

    January 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  9. angel

    It's believing in war,even as a last resort. When you believe in wars you're just concerned about your children,not as concerned about all the children of the world,as Jesus is in saying you do it to the little children you do it to me,In other words if you believe in wars which have killed millions of children the world over,you're a hypocrite to God who loves all the children of the world,not just your children.So they blame sick people,mentally ill people,rather than the mentally stable taking responsibility for their wars. Jesus says,expect no reward from God loving who love you,even sinners love their own,in wars men love only who love them.

    January 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  10. angel

    We know the 20 children killed in Sandy Hook was a sin,but do we understand that to God the killing of about 15 children by an American soldier in Afghanistan a few months ago was also the same sin,it may not be the same to us,but it is to God.The Bible teaches that all life is precious and sacred to God,not necessarily to man,but in wars life is expendable.And Jesus says,if you do it to one of the little children you do it to me.Wars kill little children all the time,even by mistake,wars are not of God,He doesn't make mistakes,men do.So wars are practiced sin never repented of.Wars are just more gun violence to God,who as Isaiah 2:4,says,will beat our swords to plowshares,and Judge nations and people,and they will practice war no more.If there was real concern about children,not just our children,but all children,they would truly and completely understand-Jesus says if they would only understand I would save them and heal them.

    January 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Really??

      Men made your god, men made your bible.
      You have fallen for the biggest scam in history.

      January 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  11. angel

    The economy depends upon people spending money,so give more money than you
    are now giving to the poor who are more likely to spend it,instead of giving it
    to the rich,who are less likely-like they do in Reagan's trickle down economy which
    the GOP still worships and wants done. Jesus says he came to preach his Gospel to
    the poor,and he healed the sick poor,and he fed the poor,without taking any money
    in for it.It's what the Bible says all must have,unconditional love,not giving money
    to the rich on the condition that they will create jobs,which they may not even do.
    And do the same the world over rather than invading poor countries,or even not poor
    countries,and killing the poor in order to help them.None of what is done now,even
    in God's name,is really of God,it's more likely a deception of Satan than anything else.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  12. angel

    On our money it says,in God We Trust,and the Bible says God is love,it's not love to spend billions of dollars on wars killing people,and cut Programs that help the poor and the needy,Jesus says he came to preach his Gospel to the poor and he helped the needy,Jesus would not cut funds to help the poor and the needy in order to fight wars killing people,this is not love and this isn't in God We Trust as it says on our money.The Bible teaches that God always comes first,this is the same Bible the Politicians swear upon taking public office.As Jesus would say,it's hypocrisy,as he said of the religious and political leaders of his day.You don't have to fight wars killing people to help the poor and the needy of the world-this is not of God,but it's of Satan. Jesus said of the religious leaders of his time,they turn as many away from God,as to God.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  13. angel

    Whether it be war as a last resort,or a first one,the results of wars are the same,innocent people are killed,even by mistake or by accident,so it can't be of God-the Bible says God doesn't kill the innocent and of course God doesn't make mistakes or commit accidents. So wars are not of God,even as a last resort,wars kill the innocent again and again in every war,so wars are a sin that's never repented of.And Isaiah2:4,says,God will Judge nations and rebuke people,beating their swords to plowshares,nation will not lift up sword against nation,neither will they practice war again. It's just more lies by politicians who are good at lying.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  14. angel

    A Born Again Christian is supposed to turn the will of his flesh over to the will of God,but wars kill innocent people,including innocent fetuses and children,and Jesus says if you do it to one of the little ones,you do it to me.Wars kill the innocent even by mistake or by accident,and the Bible says God doesn't kill the innocent,and God doesn't make mistakes or commit accidents,men do.So wars which kill the innocent,even by friendly fire,are not of God,but of men,of the flesh and the devil.Ephesians 6:12,says,For we struggle not against flesh and blood (people),but against evil spirits in high places.And wars of guns and bombs can't kill evil spirits/souls,spirits/souls are eternal,forever with God,or forever separated from God.Wars are of the sin of Genesis chapter 3,pride,man wanting to be as God and know good and evil as God,when nothing is equal to God.So being Born Again of the Spirit,God's Holy Spirit,which Jesus left with us,restores man's relationship to God.And so the Christian fight is a Spiritual fight to change hearts and minds through Jesus Christ,through his Cross and his Gospel,his word,the only way to be Saved,and to repent of wars of guns and bombs which are of the flesh and the devil

    December 31, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  15. angel

    The psychology of the problem,mental illness,is part of the problem because despite what many say we don't have as good a mental health care system as people say,the funding isn't there.And the Gun Culture is tied into why we have too many guns because we glorify guns,we glorify solving problems by violence,even gun violence,killing people,even in wars.So all three the psychology of it,the Gun Culture,glorifying gun violence in Media,movies,TV,and yes video games,even News Media glorifies gun violence as solving problems as in wars.And so guns become more desirable,and all three bleed into the other,and spill blood,and the Bible says the life is in the blood.So life is spilled due to an incomplete understanding of the problem,and many not willing to admit the truth.Too much money,profit is involved,too many people are making too much money from the glorification of violence and gun violence.The NRA is tied to the gun MFG's.And the love of money is the root of all evil (1Timothy6:10).When you become a born again Christian you put God first,and you turn your will over to the will of God,and by your own will you give up your guns.Otherwise,you won't be entering God's Kingdom,where there are no wars,and no gun violence.

    December 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  16. angel

    You have to recognize,believe and understand what the Bible says and teaches about man to begin to quantify the influence of glorifying violence,even the violence of wars,in Media has upon man,man since Eden has a sinful nature,and Media glorifying violence which is of that sinful nature doesn't help man to control it,and of course it's not of God.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  17. angel

    The Bible ends in the worst war ever,so fighting wars never did end wars,only God can do that,man can't,man's not God.God ends all wars,and God doesn't end what is Holy,so wars are not Holy,or Jihads. Jesus called the leaders of his day,hypocrites,he said they turn as many away from God as to God,many of them believed in wars,and wars do the same,turn as many away from God as to God,so the Bible says in Isaiah 2:4,that God will end all wars.

    December 18, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  18. angel

    A ban on assault weapons would be a good start.The Cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ is so necessary because wars of guns and bombs between nations and individuals can't kill evil. The Bible teaches that all souls/spirits of all people are eternal,so guns and bombs can't kill them. And Jesus Christ loves the sinner,but not the sin,and so wants to Save sinners from the sin,not send them to Hell,separating them from God,Jesus wants to bring people to God through his Cross and Gospel. Wars divide mankind,and as Jesus says,a house divided against itself,even mankind in wars,cannot stand. And Jesus says the body is a temple for God's Holy Spirit,which Jesus left with us,and the Holy Spirit is God,so God is here now as the Holy Spirit,and wars destroy those temples. So wars work against God and the Holy Spirit to Save the world,to Save mankind,through Jesus Christ,which God would never do. So war itself can only be the work of Satan,who hates man,and doesn't want God to Save man,wars are a deception,and a temptation of the flesh,wars are of the flesh and the devil,and ever since Eden when man's flesh was first tempted to sin and disobey God.

    December 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  19. angel

    Jesus Christ loves the sinner,but not the sin on the Cross,so God desires to save the sinner from the sin,but wars kill the sinner,and can't save the sinner from the sin,only the Cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ can save sinners from sin.So wars are a deception and a sin of Satan,who doesn't want Jesus Christ to save the sinner from his sin,because Satan hates man,and wants to be God.Satan even tempts men to play God,such as the final and worst antichrist,to put themselves in God's place,and the Bible says even now there are many antichrists,this is how we will know the final antichrist.He will be a warrior who deceives the world and makes war in God's name,putting himself in God's place,playing God taking God's power of life and death in war and killing the innocent along with guilty,which is the nature of war itself. God told Abraham,He doesn't kill the innocent along with the guilty,not even by mistake as wars do,God doesn't make mistakes,men do.Wars are of the sin of Genesis chapter 3,man believing he can be as God and know good and evil as God,but the Bible says nothing is equal to God,so man in wars kills both the good and the evil,when only the Cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ can save man from sin,this means nothing else,not wars.Wars can't save your body,it's destined to die,we all die,and wars can't save your soul,or even keep it from God's Kingdom,only God has that power,man doesn't,and all authority has been given to Jesus Christ regarding your Salvation in this life and in the life to come..

    December 13, 2012 at 10:05 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.