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.
That is about as oxymoronic as one can get.
There is absolutely ZERO meaning in the babble.
That's why it's called the babble!
There is no god. But there are always people who do do "bad" things.
There is absolutely no meaning in the universe or in life if there isn't a God. You have no purpose.
Maybe you have not meaning in your life without the existence of your sky fairy, but not me.
I love my life. Every second of it.
I am very healthy, have a great family, great friends, good well paying job, interesting hobbies, get to travel, and am happy.
And I do this all WITHOUT any belief in any god. Never have.
Free yourself from religion Mr.Handson. Life is so much better without believing in a lie.
@MrHanson without the power of Zeus. Your life has no meaning.
You really are stupid!
Hanson, if you haven't figured out that you make your own purpose and blindly letting yourself be guided by anyone other than yourself, you are far more the fool than you realize.
Whoever says, "There is no God"....PROVE IT or rephrase your statement. What, no God because you don't see Him? I guess He doesn't exist then....That thinking goes against every scientific principle PROVEN by man. Nothing new under the sun to be discovered, we've SEEN it all, right? "There is no God" sounds more like DENIAL than truth. Lol Go ahead and PROVE otherwise.
Ignorance and insult are the hallmarks of a defeated argument.
"Ignorance", you got that right. So is side-stepping the question. PROVE IT! You can't, that's why atheists use every other argument in the book short of proof. There is MORE scientific PROOF of "intelligent design" that not. Saying, "there is no God" is denying a "possibility". Illogical to do that. The logic of an atheist ends at the same place – denial. Give me a solid argument, not a canned response from the atheist handbook.
I seriously doubt you've ever even opened a bible, or tried to study it's meaning with any degree of understanding, or to dedicate yourself to learning about it. It's really true, experts such as yourself, who make statements like yours have actually never read the bible! Oh, but they've read *about* the bible on the internet, heard about it here and there, pulled scriptures out of context and think they know their meanings... Admit it. You don't know what's between the pages of the bible and I'm sad for you. There is rich meaning in the bible for our lives today. Yes today.
Prove there is a God without the circular logic of the Bible saying there is. If you want to use the Bible as your proof, then explain what is going on in Joshua. This is God? No thanks. You cannot prove a negative. So to state there is no God and then have someone try to prove it, means you don't understand the idea of being unable to prove a negative.
We can prove that Iran has nukes. We cannot prove that they don't have nukes.
Take No offense and give none. athiest suck at that part of life.
Laughing on MrHanson's response. So funny that so many people think like this illogical fool.
Its amazing how Isreal is such a small country and yet there are enimes all around and none of the above can touch them, why you might ask.... Because Christ is shielding them.
It's amazing that there are such stupid people in this world.
If by Christ you mean Obama, then you are correct (I understand your confusion. Most liberals I know believe Obama is Christ).
God & Country .... medication time, medication time. So God has no interest is shielding the little children on the Palestinian side who have been killed in this conflict ? Sounds like a pretty screwed up God to me
I wonder why Hay-Zeus didn't shield the Jewish people throughout Medieval to early modern Europe where Antisemitism ran rampant
And here I thought Jesus was only qualified as a gunner in the Merkava...now, thanks to "God and Country," I see he has been training on Iron Dome...
Go Jesus! What a great soldier.
but he had no interest in shielding them outside the gates of Auschwitz & Treblinka eh ?
Well you have to watch the "enimes", they are a tricky bunch.
why didn't he shield the one's who got killed by the bombs from gaza...Thye MUST HAVE BEEN SINNERS
You are really ignorant.
They Killed the Christ. Don't you remember.
Good one though.
Because jewish money from the US is forcing the government to protect them
How can God be love, peace and understanding – yet at the same time want to kill your enemies? Of course, both sides probably look at it the same way, but somehow either God has two personalities or he favors one set of humans over another. Maybe a more rational answer is that God is with neither of these nations!
There will be no peace for jews until , jehova and jesus come. THIS what jesus condenm them when he was alive .
Yous ARE aware that Jesus was a Jew, arent you? And that Christianity started as a group of Jews who followed Christs teachings, 200 years after his death? Eventually the Christia Jews broke away and formed thier own religion. So all Christions are, in fact, descended from the Jews.
the cloud they followed wasn't for protection, it was for guidance.
THe cloud represented God's power. and it is both.
No! A religion-based nation, using religion infused names and sentiments? Can't be! ;)
Killing for god . . . wonderful theology !
That"s the mulim way
Atheists are alway good at pigeonholing.
Atheist do not force Theists to do anything. A select few of them do, however, point out the hipocracies within them based upon their actions versus the writings they claim to follow.
that is all any religion ever does if you don't believe like me I will kill you IN THE NAME OF MY GOD
O Brother !!!! I knew it wouldn't take long for religious whackos to start looking for "the Biblical meaning" in this Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The only meaning that can be found is that you have two fanatical neighbors who believe in different invisible imaginary beings in the sky who can't get along and don't have the brains to try to work things out without shooting at each other. 5000 years of recorded history in that part of the world and they still can't figure it out for themselves. I'm tired of it, I say let's give them all the weapons they need and let them finish each other off and be done with it !!!
Well there really isn't 2 fanatical neighbors. You just have just one fanatical neighbor who's true religion is to destroy kill the infedel and to spread Islam and sharia law. Do you really think they would stop at Israel? Do all of you atheists really think this way?
A person doesn't have to be a "religious whacko" to believe what's written in the Bible. Also, I think anyone who accepts as truth what is in the Bible (not you, of course), accepts the Bible in totality. That said, those who are fairly familiar with the Book of Revelation and Bible prophecy in general, likely recognize the signs as we are seeing them these days and have been for a while now.
You said "5000 years of recorded history and they still can't figure it out for themselves". Guess what? That's exactly what can be found in the Bible, and it will culminate one day in an epically unpleasant event called Armageddon. The signs are everywhere, if you know how to recognize them.
And you can reply and insult me and call me a religious whacko, but the truth is that I would much rather believe and end up being wrong than to not believe and be wrong.
You are arrogant because you are ignorant... Read your history about the true Christians.
Can you explain and prove that the earth have a iron "circle" core? When no alive or dead have seen it?
Can you explain how the heck can there be such a continental drift movement breaking out from the super continent Pangea? When no one alive or dead have witnessed it? Because how can they explain that the species are scattered out from different continents? When out from different goo came the same species all over the place?
Use Critical Thinking and Common Sense...
"Only fools say there is no GOD".
Give it a rest, people, half the people I know are named after Bible characters. What's the buzz?
israelist who try to kill Jesus or killed him as christian said now big friends of christians to killing muslim everywhere, they have good partnership.
because the goyem are the slaves of the joos! bahaha
Umm, I think your clock is wound to tight, and you are suffering from severe brain farts, which manifest as rambling. Yes, the rambling habrew. You've been in the desert to long, sport.
The term "clouds"and "Pillars"in the Bible menas flying objects. People saw spaceships flying and didn't know what it was so they called "Clouds" because was the only thing they knew.
Clouds are the most common descriptions of the flying vehicles of the Elohiym. This is not surprising considering the probable size and density in daylight hours attributed to these objects. The word most often used in the Old Testament for cloud is `anan, pronounced aw-nawn'; a cloud (as covering the sky), i.e. the nimbus or thunder-cloud. The descriptions as a dark cloud, thick cloud, and dark water all allude to a solid object in the sky. Since there were no solid flying objects 2000 to 4000 years ago, and the only things close were thunder or storm clouds, this is a logical relation. For those that may cling to the belief that these are actually clouds, the flight characteristics, glowing at night, and other anomalous behavior, leaves such a narrow view very much in doubt. Read the website Bibleufo.
Oh, oh! Is this the same elohim that the mormons believe in? Oh cool, so, really they are the ones behind the ufo's? Who woulda thunk? It is my belief you are coo-coo.
Those flying saucers are just us going about our business, so don't go probing into things you don't understand.
More like the Pillar of Myth if you believe 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis:
origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.
New Torah For Modern Minds
“Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).
The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.
The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."
google house of abraham in google maps..
Glad to see your back, well done!
Glad your back, well done!
Attention Christians: Want to know what JESUS had to say about everything ? The Four Gospels !!! Caution: They are hard words to live by. But he said the WORD, each & every one, came to him from the Father.
You are currently in a fugue state please seek help.
Sonny, the four gospels don't even match each other and in fact contradict. Faulty reasoning there. You need to get your nose out of that fairy-tale book and read some books on real life and science. Hell, you need to get a life.
It's possible he's actually a meth dealer who has faked being in a fugue state to avoid his wife finding out he spent the last few days as the prisoner of a crazed drugs wholesaler. Don't worry Sonny (or should that be Walt), I won't tell.
Isn't it strange that if you believe in any other imagainary beings not named Jesus, they lock you away and give you heavy doses of medication. But if your imaginary being is named Jesus, it's perfectly okay
"he said the WORD, each & every one, came to him from the Father." Old crazy wino down on the corner had the exact same story, man. God came to him and told him how it was and how it was going to be, and it changed his life. He switched to MD 20/20 from Thunderbird and never looked back.
These folks really need to update their library of reading materials . . . the Bible: the greatest story ever told! NOT!
Believe this: agenticity..... Now look it up
That whole life of Jesus scam would have made a great reality TV show
Pantheist .... exactly ! It is frightening too me that we have people in elected office in this country that base their entire world view on one book of fairy tales, along with several hours per day of listening to the like of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Rielly & Lord Glenn Beck. Gives me the chills just thinking about it
I pray that God's grace keeps you and one day you'll come into the understanding of God's love!! Just as a car has a owners manual, we have the Bible to live according to the One that created us!! As always Stay Blessed!!
Culpepper it is a reality TV show you can watch it on just about every channel on Sunday mornings...at least until the pre-game comes on
well common sense should now dictate the meaning of the occupation – we all know the bible is a bunch of words in a book, and nothing to die over- or even fight over. It was meant as a guide for people in the stone age, not to be taken literal today.. dah!!! its all fake – written by many people over the years- wake the hell up already.
May God's grace keep you!! May you come into a understanding of the love Jesus has for all of us!!
I wish the Israeli military would target the Sarah Palin trailer park.
How is it off topic? Of all the times when people mention religion's potential danger on this blog, this time is far more apt than most.
Sorry, wrong thread.
I think you are the last person who remembers Sarah Palin. Can you just forget about her now? Seriously?
Wow! Atheists wanting to kill christians. Imagine that, atheists wanting to spread their "beliefs" by force.
me too...but leave the view of Russia
A shining example of why religion is going to be the death of mankind.
So true. The most dangerous people are the ones that believe god (i.e., their version of god) is on their side. In this case, both sides believe god is on their side. The long-term outlook doesn't look very promising.
Most of you need to find an athesists blog to follow. So off topic.
How is it off topic? Of all the times when people mention religion's potential danger on this blog, this is far more apt than most.
Barb, just because the comment got your fundamentalist panties in a wad doesn't mean it's off-topic. In fact, it's very on.
Actually, mankind will be the death of Christianity.
" find an athesists blog" Athesists, really? And you wonder why we assume you are credulous and so easy to fool.
"going to be"? it already is my friend
Nice, you must be a believer then....don't look now but that's Biblical prophecy :)
Off topic? The article is about how military operations are being given Biblical relevance. What part of humans dying in military operations and religion's influence on those events is off topic?
Even more interesting, the word hamas in Hebrew means violence. In arabic it is an acronym for islamic resistance movement. The Hebrew meaning, a word found in the bible, fits the nature of this movement.
It is hypocritical of the Israeli leaders...since Israel clearly denies the preeminence of the Creator God by embracing and living a way of life which glorifies freedom of rights, freedom of all religions, of all gods.
They worship the "god of fortresses" shown by the "mark of liberty" on their foreheads.
It is written that Christ is the One and Only Way...which they also clearly deny and
BUT it is Christ that will rule.
Thor disagrees. Christ is a wuss god.
But Jews are the chosen people – are you now saying your Bible is wrong?
Your christ is well and dead like other delusional cultic personalities who thought they were demogods.
*Every knee will bow to His name.* Lots of Jews and atheists hate it, but it is written. It is impossible for God to lie.
I prefer my military operations be named after myths with much more panache.
The abrahamic god is just really uncool. Thor, Zeus, Heracles, Apollo... Now those are god's worthy of military operations!
I think Shiva's Wrath would be a great name for a military operation.
By Grabthar's Hammer, by the sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged
No wussy mthical gods. Get some name that can really put fear into modern man: Corporation, Republican, NRA, Sarah Palin, John McCain Investigation, Job Creator, FOX News . . . Oh, the horror !
Lou's right: McCain's Prostate would be a better name for an invasion plan. Operation Cheney's Heart would be an attack on daycare centers.
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.