The Religion of the Bible, Odious?

THIS religion, together with ours which is derived from it, has been declared by great and powerful minds to be intrinsically odious. They have fail to understand how we could possibly lay claim to such a religion. They have decided that our modern society should squarely reject the Bible, which for too long has encumbered the Christian world. In their eyes this religion is human and too barbarous to be divine; it is marked with dishonourable signs and abounds in fanaticism, racism and totalitarianism under the fine pretext of being a universal, absolute and immediate theocracy. They insist that it is an inhuman religion, a false revelation, unworthy of God, unfortunate, unworthy of man and harmful.

In fact, anyone who turns the pages of the Bible without a guide, who reads it at random, cannot but be profoundly disconcerted and discouraged by it and, through not understanding nor appreciating it, he will reject the Book for ever. “What is it, compared with the masterpieces of Greek and Latin paganism?” they say, not without reason. Let us espouse their point of view, become their advocates and unrestrainedly pronounce their indictment. All we shall do is to give shape to what has so often shocked us too, what has scandalised and what still wounds us.


The golden age only lasted one morning. From the third chapter of Genesis, sin entered the world. The sin of one person is the curse of infinite and perpetual evils. God’s anger never ceases, thereafter, to weigh on poor men become execrable. Cain kills Abel and a perverted humanity deserves to be wiped out by the Flood; those who survive soon build the tower of Babel, in an attempt to reach God. From the fifth chapter, the Creator repents of His original plan, but then repents of His great anger and swears that never again will He curse the earth because of man, “for the inclination of the heart of man is evil from his youth”.

But already He had lost His sovereignty over the human race, only to triumph over it by dividing and scattering men over the face of the earth. (Gn 11:9) And the world foundered in idolatry.

Then, God chose for Himself one man, Abraham, to form from his race a people who would belong to Him, whom He will implant in a land from which He will chase the original inhabitants to make room for Abraham’s seed (Gn 12) Thenceforth, this people has pre-eminence over all others; the Most High Who created heaven and earth is with them, confers on them His blessings and gives them victory over all their enemies.(Gn 19:20) There is no human right, no international law, but there is the divine election of a people set apart, the source of exorbitant rights.

For all that, the Patriarchs are not exemplary people. They give way to their passions and lie boldly. The Bible unflinchingly relates their turpitude (Gn 19; passim) where the end, willed by God, justifies the means, exculpates the most surprising and condemnable crimes. On top of that, the sign of divine favour is hardly edifying; it is circumcision. (Gn 17:11) a slight mutilation of the male sex, which would seem to testify more to primitive, barbaric taboos than to be a religious act. Thereafter this act is sacralised for centuries!

Furthermore, God chooses whomever He pleases from this family, Jacob against Esau, without respect for the birthright (Gn 27); without anything to justifying his election nor counting against it, as with Joseph who was raised above his parents and brethren (Gn 37).

What took place on the family scale will be reproduced, with the same excess and the same arbitrariness, with regard to the twelve tribes of Israel, a people chosen without reason by the God of the Bible, and raised above all others, in such wise that all human right disappears before the claims of Israel, now of divine right.

It is true that the Pharaoh of Egypt, as we are told in the Book of Exodus, took discriminatory measures against this prolific people and that he even planned their extermination (Ex 1). But the insurrection of the Hebrews does not draw its justification from that; its legitimacy comes from God. It began with the assassination of an Egyptian by Moses himself. (Ex 2:12) In our day, certain revolutionary priest have appealed to that text in order to advocate guerrilla warfare against “institutionalised violence”! Then, they were delivered by means of the “plagues” sent by their God to the accursed Egyptians. Would the last and most terrible of these, the slaughter of the first-born by the Angel of Yahweh, not have been administered by the very hands of the most zealous of the Hebrews? The holy people goes on its way, not without robbing their former masters of all their gold and jewels, – on the recommendation of God! – by means of a deceptive subterfuge(Ex 12:35). It does not do to treat those people badly.

Yes, it is with such a “mixt multitude of people” (Nb 11:4) that the God of Heaven and earth makes a Covenant, giving them a perfect, natural, moral law, the Decalogue (Ex 20) which will be the admiration of all peoples for all time, and at the same time promising them an abundance of earthly goods, victory over all their enemies and domination of the earth, if they will obey Him. Other peoples do not count. Far from it! “The Angel of Yahweh will destroy them” (Ex 23:23) if they oppose the Chosen People, but not all at once lest an embarrassing economic situation be created for them: “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and possess the land.” (Ex 23:29-30) What tender care!

And so the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, emphasises the importance of this Covenant between the one true God and His people, the sublimity of their moral law and ritual, and also His predilection for the race of the circumcised and His favours towards them, who nevertheless neither earn nor deserve this favour, for they are a “a stiff-necked people” prompt to rebellion and lacking in gratitude. On the other hand, He perpetually pursues the uncircumcised, the idolaters, who are odious to Him, orders them to be anathematised, that is to say, utterly exterminated, leaving nothing of them remaining, neither living soul, nor man nor beast, down to the last object. The value, rectitude and civilisation of those nations is of little importance: the Chosen People, even when bad, have every right; the others must serve them, be subject to them or disappear before them, by fire and sword.

All the same, Yahweh consecrated Israel for Himself to make of them a holy people in His own image. If they agree to that, they will be blessed; if not, it will cost them dearly: “I will cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols; and My soul will abhor you.” (Lv 26:30) Throughout the long crossing of the Sinai wilderness, every revolt and disorder is dealt with terribly and paid for with tens of thousands of dead. Butchery without and butchery within is this work of the world’s sanctification! It is true that if the nations are worth nothing in the eyes of the God of Israel, His Chosen People gave Him scarcely more satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is Israel that is the Chosen People, Yahweh’s last chance. Tempted many a time to abandon everything, He affirms His resolution of fidelity and of holy injustice: all for them, nothing for the others.

The conquest of the promised Land is horror upon horror. Anathema is pronounced on Horma, and nothing of it is left standing (Nb 21). On the order of Moses, the Madianites are massacred, women and children included. “But all the young girls, keep alive for yourselves.” (Nb 31:18) If Amnesty International had known about that! Canaan is divided up and all its inhabitants driven out, on God’s orders. There is the siege of Jericho, which is related in our children’s holy stories, without insisting on the general massacre that followed (Jos 6). Likewise with Ai. The whole book of Joshua is one long celebration of massacres, copious plunder, ruins, treachery and terrible vengeance. And the same with the book of Judges, in the name of Yahweh of hosts who loves His people Israel. It is an obsessive refrain.

As for the morals of these king’s sons (Jg 8:18)! They are appallingly coarse and cruel. The crime of Benjamin’s “wasters” is repugnant, but the vengeance of the other tribes of Israel is hideous: wholesale massacre of women, the abduction of the daughters of Shiloh to replace those of the men of Benjamin – atrocious (Jg 19-21)It is all odious, and what do we retain of such accounts in our sacred books?


Once installed in this “land flowing with milk and honey”, a land given them by God, the inhabitants of which He anathematises for the sake of His chosen ones, these nomadic people settle down and slowly reach the degree of civilisation around them. Thus it is that they decide to give themselves a king. It is not to the taste of Yahweh, Who is a “jealous God” and Who would prefer, at least according to certain texts from the first book of Samuel (1 Sm 8:10,12,15), to govern His people Himself, through His priests, through charismatic “judges” in a direct and continual theocratic manner. The monarchy, however, is established, and other texts note God’s consent (1 Sm 8:9,11,13; passim) – texts that are certainly monarchist.

The anointing of Saul, then of David by Samuel the Judge, the man of God, sacralises the king and makes of him the object of divine election, as though he concentrated within his person all God’s favour for His people. To him are made promises of victory over all his enemies and of a glorious destiny. The race and throne of David will be maintained in glory for ever before the face of Yahweh, according to the prophecy of Nathan (2 Sm 7).

That is enough for the kings of Judah, and soon the Kings of Israel, to believe that all is permissible for them. They make war and they make love without any restraint, without remorse, helped by Yahweh – sometimes chastised, even so. Typical are the transgressions of David, who nevertheless is the most engaging and the most mystical of his line. His adultery with Bathsheba, in shameful circumstances, is remembered by all (2 Sm 11), but the chastisement inflicted on him is so mild as to denote almost a kind of weakness on God’s part towards him, even complicity (2 Sm 12)

When he commits that other crime of numbering all his people, his contrition is touching: “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray You, be against me and against my father’s house.” But, in saying that, he knew well that God would once more be disarmed. “And so Yahweh became merciful, and the plague was averted from Israel.” (2 Sm 24).

And so the kings of Israel are led by their pride and their love of foreign women into unfaithfulness towards God, their patron, protector and benefactor, and they fall into idolatry. Yahweh punishes them more and more severely; they repent, but then, too sure of their election, they fall again. It is an infernal cycle, as related of Amon, but equally applicable to any other: “And he did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as Manasseh his father had done. He walked in all the way in which his father walked, and served the idols that his father served, and worshiped them; he forsook Yahweh, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of Yahweh.” (2 K 21). Then “the anger of Yahweh was kindled against him.” He struck the kings of Israel harder than those of Judah, a legitimate dynasty against a dissident one; “It came to the point He cast them out from His presence” (2 K 24:20).

Why so much patience, unjust patience, when the same God shows Himself to be terrible towards other peoples who have not received the same lights nor ever known His blessings? There is mystery of divine arbitrariness in this astounding Book.

For generations, Yahweh repents of His anger, pardons His people and restores them to glory and prosperity. He, who in the eyes of the nations, is tied to these the people of His last chance. He saves them, not for their sakes but “for the honour of His Name”, which He cannot allow to be mocked among the nations! At the end of five hundred years, He finally allows them to fall into the hands of their enemies. Samaria, the proud capital of the Schism of the ten tribes, surrenders to the besieging Assyrians in 720. Jerusalem will have a hundred-year respite, a hundred years of her God’s longanimity, which she will defy until the very end. Alas, she will be captured and destroyed by the Chaldeans in 587, and her inhabitants will be deported to Babylon for seventy years. They went too far!


God had governed His people through the leaders of His choice, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, who had been wholly His creatures and instruments for great works of power, accompanied by miracles. Then He had tolerated, or perhaps chosen, to see His people led by kings, usurping or sharing His power, but who should have been morally and religiously faithful to Him in this very new and perilous political autonomy.

It was not a success. Then, in order to save His work and to pursue His plan, Yahweh raised up prophets. spokesmen, whose mission would be constantly to remind the people of God’s rights, law and worship as opposed to the rights and laws of the kings, their usurpation of His authority, their crimes, along with those of the great ones and the people, their purely human politics, their idolatry-ingrained diplomacy and their pagan alliances.

Thus appeared Elias, the first and greatest of the prophets, one against all. “I have been very jealous for Yahweh, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken Your Covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 K 19:10) His words have come down to us and are now the maxim of the Carmelite order: “Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo meo exercituum”.

Then in the 8th century there were Isaiah, Amos and Oshea and in the 7th century Jeremiah and Ezekiel, only to mention the greatest, and so they continued until the fall of Jerusalem. The books of divine oracles they have left us are certainly great works of the human spirit, demanding respect and admiration. Even so, considerable reproaches and criticism have been directed at them too. Here are the four main accusations that have been lodged in the name of reason, civilisation and universal wisdom.


The first grievance that is articulated against the great prophets is for having advocated a direct theocracy, in contempt of political realities and all human prudence, for condemning diplomacy as a crime at a time of conflict between the empires of North and South, when the little nations could only survive by making intricate protective alliances. Isaiah, for example, himself a high dignitary of the court of King Ahaz, rejects the royal art as infidelity and preaches pure faith in Yahweh, Who will not save those who try to save themselves by human means. It is pure religion, grandiose faith in the Absolute, condemning all politics.

When, later, the prophets see themselves being disobeyed, they announce, in the clearest terms the imminent chastisement of their rebellious City, for which there would be no further remission. Disregarding patriotism. Jeremiah shows himself to be resolutely pacifist against the bellicists, a “collaboratoravant la lettre. During the two sieges by the Chaldeans, he behaved as a defeatist, announcing certain ruin, decided by God and therefore inevitable, and he preached the uselessness of fighting. At times like that, religion becomes treason!

Under different outward appearances, the same profound contradiction between religious faith and political prudence, against the progress of civilisation, will occur later at the time of the Palestinian conquest and occupation by the Greeks. The armies of Alexander brought a superior civilisation; they opened up these people, who had been closed in on themselves for millennia, to a wider life, to the arts and sciences of an unrivalled great people. Well, Yahweh’s faithful transformed themselves into tribal chiefs and, identifying their faith with savagery they roused the country .and dragged it back to insecurity, violence, division, inexpiable hatreds and ruin. Such was the guerrilla warfare of the Maccabees, blessed by God.

This fanatical sedition, this endless holy war, always ready to resurface, will pose an obstacle to civilisation, regarded as the sin of apostasy, and up to the time of Christ, by which time Romans had taken the place of Greeks, it risked putting the country back to fire and blood. It is to this mad fanaticism that the Jews in the end owe their final catastrophe, the fall of Jerusalem in the year 70.

It would lead one to believe that the God of the Bible does not tolerate others bringing His people prosperity, security, stability, order and wisdom, and that they must hold everything from Him alone or else die. The prophets, in their zeal, will go so far as to conceive God’s glory, and God’s glory alone, as contrary to the poor human happiness of His elect.


The second grievance voiced by modern humanism against our old Holy Book concerns the racist pride which the Jewish people have drawn from their divine election. The grievance is all the greater in that this pride still continues down to our day, despite two thousand years of malediction and dispersion. And also, because other peoples have drawn from their reading of the Bible this idea of racial segregation, so contrary to the notion of human brotherhood.

As proof of this will be given the horrifying accounts of the conquest of the Promised Land, and the no less savage wars of David against the Philistines, all the consequence of prophetic oracles against the nations. Isaiah is full of it: oracles against Babylon, against the Philistines, against Moab, lamentations over Damascus, against Egypt, against the Arabs, against Tyre and Sidon. Which people can escape from these maledictions? The same universal remorselessness is to be found in the book of Jeremiah, all the more violent in that Judah, God’s chosen, is then struck by the anger of the Almighty. If they are struck, the nations must be struck even harder and still more manifestly! All are promised invasion and ruin: Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Syria, Arabia, Elam and Babylon. The vengeance of Yahweh against these lions, whom He Himself sent to devour His straying sheep (Jr 50:17). Ezekiel curses the entire world (Ez 25-32, 35, 38) with the same inexhaustible fury.

If need be, one could understand, even though not exemplary, the resentment, hatred and cries of vengeance and death by the people of Samaria and Judah against their ferocious conquerors, the Assyrians and Chaldeans, and against their smaller neighbours, always rapacious, jealous, ruthless and bitter against them in their days of woe. But it is God, speaking through His prophets, Who, far from calming the evil passions of His people, assumes them Himself, foments them and announces their appeasement for a near future! Yahweh Himself is the wine-maker, drunk with fury, trampling down his enemies in the winepress of His anger and staining His garments with human blood (Is 63).

This racism is much more than the exaggeration of a passing sentiment. It is very grave. The theology of history taught in the Book of Daniel shows a succession of great conquering empires whose rise and fall successively occupy the centuries, past, present and immediate future. But then comes the time of the little Jewish kingdom which will grow without decline to the detriment of all the others and on their ruins, until it finally fills the earth and rules it to the end of time (Dt 2:44; Dt 7:18). These oracles were given during the Babylonian captivity; they date, in fact, from the fiercest years of the persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and of the Jewish resistance to Hellenism, in a climate of unbelievable hatred (167-164). Exasperated Semitism creates anti-Semitism, soon to become a component of universal history.

Jewish pride and the conviction of complete moral superiority over other nations already makes themselves felt, albeit unconsciously attenuated, in the Book of Tobit. This pride of race based on religion shines like the glint of the avenging rapier blade in the Book of Judith; there, it goes beyond all limits, justifying every means of conquest out of consideration for the end being pursued, which is the salvation of the holy people. With the goyim, there is no law, no morality and no limit in vengeance and war.

But it is the Book of Esther that streams with hatred, enough to upset even the most pious modern reader. It is an inexpiable hatred of the pagan for the Jew and of the Jew for the pagan, feeding a homicidal rage. Genocide already, the Holocaust! It is horrible. Its prime cause is Jewish pride, with transcendental origins. They alone are the Chosen People of the one God and this vocation keeps them from being assimilated by the idolatrous peoples, and with bravado!

Even in their narration of the events, in a light entirely favourable to themselves, where they show themselves to be the true friends and correct advisers of Ahasuerus, they are exclusive and dominating as though they had a share in their God’s absolute sovereignty over every creature. They are made to escape from their enemies by cunning, to crush them and annihilate them to the very last. The scenario is in the very titles of the Jerusalem Bible The Jews threatened. Extermination decree of the Jews, Revenge of the Jews. Then there is endless slaughter, accompanied by banquets and canticles of thanksgiving (Est 9:16-17. The charming Jewish princess presides over all that with her pure hands raised to heaven and her feet in the blood of pagans.

One ceases to be amazed at the cruelty of the Maccabees, imbued with such reading, against the Greeks.


Humanist criticism continues its indictment. Fanaticism: there is only God, the God of the Jews, Who counts. Racism; only the destiny of the Chosen People counts. But still more grave, there is injustice: the only ones who count are those preferred by God; for them everything is permissible; for the others nothing. And finally we shall see that there is immoralism: for what God promises by way of recompense for keeping His law and worshipping Him has nothing supernatural about it; it is possession of the Land. That cannot inspire edification, but only scandal and disgust.

Does not justice consist in rendering each man his due, be it in exchange of goods or the bestowing of services and honours? Now, naturally speaking, men are unequal by birth, by education or by industry. There are the old and the new, the rich and the poor, princes and subjects. Justice consists in the tranquillity of this order which engenders peace, whose Guarantor is God Himself.

But God seems to be unconcerned about this. For example: when the Ark was fetched from Kiriath-Jearim, the cart on which it was placed happened to lean over. “Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it. And the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because Yahweh had broken forth upon Uzzah…” (2 Sm 6:8) One can understand David.

Another example. For once, God had in Judah a pious and loyal king, Josiah. There was a wonderful renewal. But when Josiah went to war he was killed in the Battle of Megiddo in 609, and there was great consternation among all the people at the death of a friend of God, whom God had not willed to protect. And again we find on reading chapters 34 and 35 of the Second Book of Chronicles that Yahweh Sabaoth’s injustice is suffocating.

It would be too little to say that the God of the Bible preaches equality. It has often been maintained, but it is a rational, quantitative notion, western, and as such, foreign to Israel’s mentality and even more to the thinking of the prophets. It is worse. The God of the Bible takes delight in overturning fortunes, in inverting the social pyramid. He chooses the younger brother in preference to the elder. You remember, Jacob rather than Esau, Joseph above his brothers and David the last of Jesse’s sons. He humiliates the young and fruitful woman in order to raise from her shame the sterile and ageless woman. You remember Sara against Agar, Rachel in order to avenge her for Lea, and Anne who will become the mother of Samuel. Is it in order to cause amazement? Rather it manifests the arbitrary nature of His election! Thus, at every turn, the pride of him who has nothing, is nothing and worth nothing is exalted. But for what social order? Grace is everything, the rest does not count.

The Jewish spirit is impregnated with this capricious chance, and when Jewish society becomes stabilised, diversified and enriched, Yahwism will remain a ferment of subversion, systematically exalting the poor and bringing down the rich, the wise and the powerful. It is as though poverty and virtue went together, as does its opposite, wealth and impiety, authority and injustice. Is not that the starting point for the revolutionary spirit? Reread the canticle of Anna (1 Sm 2), which is the inspiration for our Magnificat. Tell me, as well as expressing the gratuitousness of the divine gift, can that not be read as a foretelling of the systematic overturning of social conditions and of the natural order? Is not that in outline the substance of every revolutionary manifesto? Evidently so.

The cries of the Prophet Amos and others following him against wealth and injustice may seem dictated by moral law, and they are. But they nonetheless herald a time when fortunes will be reversed, and I mean reversed rather than confused: the poor will in turn be rich! What is more, the ‘wisdom’ of Proverbs and the other sapiential books is aimed at a certain empirical prudence or malice, all geared towards the most paltry of temporal successes. That, as well, is not very moral either.


Paradoxically, and our Progressivists§ of today will not forget it, this predilection of Old Yahweh’s for the poor, the little, the rank and file, the penniless is not free from contradiction. For, instead of keeping them in the state in which He found them and loved them, the God of the Bible fills them with the mad hope of coming out of that state and, in their turn, shamelessly and copiously enjoying the very riches which they had so strongly detested in the hands of others!

This God Who promises His own “the fat of the land”, possession of “a land flowing with milk and honey” is still very human and very close to carnal men. He allows them to dream of His reign as one long lavish banquet. At the least, He promises them a quiet life, each one in his own vineyard under the shade of the fig and the olive tree. And the dream of the too wretched a Yahwist is that of revenge against the execrated rich, who will be despoiled of all that he had amassed, for the faithful of Yahweh to be enriched with the spoils without having fought or worked to acquire them, other than through the blessing of God alone.

The horizon is very low. The psalms wax indignant against the wicked and call down Heaven’s vengeance without the least spirit of detachment or of mercy. The Book of Job shows us this: once his trial is over, he is justified and immediately recompensed twofold for all the goods he had lost: “fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, – but the same, perfect, number of sons and daughters, “seven sons and three daughters” (Jb 42:12-13). He thus lived happily to be a hundred and forty years, “and Job died an old man and full of days”, full stop.

This constant promise of an earthly, carnal blessing to those who fear Yahweh is the foundation of all Jewish morality, the keystone of inspired “wisdom”. But several of the psalms question its value and Qoheleth cynically mocks at it, so much is it belied by common experience. The impious rich remain rich, and the poor friends of God stay poor. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”, it is all nonsense and true wisdom consists in caring for nothing beyond the happiness of the moment.

Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot. Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil – this is the gift of God,” that is worthwhile taking. “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” (Qo 5:17-19)

The Books of Wisdom have no certain ideal nor any real opening to the beyond; they go no further than do the historical and the prophetic books. Apart from the worship of His unique Glory and demonstration of the infallible power of His works, their God does not appear to have surpassed the perfection of a god made in the image of man, a jealous and angry god closed in his loves and firm in his hatreds, despoiling some but not entirely, enriching others but without accomplishing all that he had promised, thus fostering the fervour of his partisans through his carnal attractions, making himself more feared than loved, and his goods desired more than Himself.


Quite rightly, modern criticism notes that this whole great historical movement, finally exploded, loses itself in eschatology, in dreams of a kingdom to come, a Utopia where all the contrary things foretold will be fulfilled at one and the same time. But the danger of utopianism is certain; it dissipates energy and diverts from day to day life. It is a sign of decadence.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” In 1938 we were made to sing these visions of Isaiah (Is 2:4) by some minister of Education or other. “And the mighty cannon will be ploughshares!” Alas, it was war and defeat for us. The pacifist idyll is not for tomorrow.

The explosion of history, prophecy and wisdom in so many opposite directions during the last five hundred years of the Mosaic religion is sufficient indication of its decline and the foretelling of its disappearance. Something else will have to make a sudden appearance or Israel’s hope is ended.

The critic is indeed obliged to admit that the writings of the Persian epoch are the most beautiful; The Book of Psalms, the Canticle of Canticles, Job and Jonah are matchless jewels. But it is all a precious restoration and a reliving of a glorious past rather than a blazing resurrection of the kingdom of David and Solomon, Juda and Israel, united under the one crown and priesthood. In vain did they announce this kingdom for the centuries to come; it was never to be again.

No more monarchy, and when the descendants of the Maccabees ascribe to themselves both supreme priesthood and kingship, no prophet is sent to them by God for their anointing, and all will consider this confusion of the temporal and the spiritual to be a sacrilegious usurpation. No more national independence, since the “glorious land” will pass, without ever recovering the freedom of its destiny, from Persian suzerainty, very relaxed and favourable it is true, to Greek domination (319 b.c.) and then, after the conquest of Pompey (63 b.c.) to Roman protection. No more purity of race, after the return from exile when it had been necessary to accept cohabitation with the Samaritans, a collection of foreigners settled in the ruins of Jerusalem and in the countryside emptied of its inhabitants. These “un-circumcised” are there to stay, mixed with the “sons of the captivity”, but they are richer and more powerful than the returned exiles. And so, there is no more spiritual unanimity for those “impious ones”, who have enjoyed success, are of a provocative arrogance. There is no more sincereYahwism”, because the impious mix with the pious people in the Temple ceremonies, without believing. Pagan modernity has for ever sullied the soul of this people. Who will lead them back to the source of their ancient holiness?

It all gives the impression of irreparable decadence. Despite the fantastic dreams, the expectation of Israel’s re-establishment by a Messiah, the reality looks like failure. The last centuries of Jewish history drag on in disillusion, as though the God Yahweh had lost His power, as though His arm were shortened, according to the expression of the prophets in ancient times, and as though He no longer loved His people. As though He were no longer master of the nations and of history; as though He had never even been!

The inevitable conclusion, notwithstanding the cultural value of the sacred Book for the people of Israel, is surely the uselessness of the faith and of the hope of the whole Jewish religious conception? What further need is there to scrutinise this Book to analyse its strengths and weaknesses? To be sure, it retraces the grandiose epic of a people; it allows us to see the causes of their grandeur and those of their decadence and to make a just appreciation of their degree of civilisation and humanity. The Bible keeps its place, even first place perhaps, in the great treasury of universal literature, but its vices, fanaticism, racism, injustice and immorality are enough to turn us away from it for ever. With the Bible, is it not the whole idea of theocracy that is compromised once and for all? Certainly.

It is true that there remains, as its purest part moreover, the bold Utopia, which in every century, projects a future ideal, having taken stock of the moment’s failure. This truly indomitable Jewish hope assumes the present disappointment and integrates it into a much vaster vision where it becomes only the first stage. Judaism is thus assured of a survival, or at least thought it to be so, by presenting itself as an initial attempt at restoring the divine Covenant after the original fall and the general relapse of the peoples into idolatry. Then, within the limits of one family and of one people, by means of the Law given to Moses, there was to be fulfilled in the land of Palestine a temporary success and an initial draught of Yahweh’s reign. But this was to be only for a time and, always in accordance with the divine plan, it was from its very failure that, later, would be born another Covenant, but this time a “new and eternal” Covenant, another history that would know no decline, by another Moses and another David, a Messiah, priest, king and pastor of His people, as also of every nation. There would be another Sinai, a new crossing of the Jordan and conquest of a Promised Land for the establishment of Yahweh’s definitive reign. Open to all peoples, peaceful and spiritual, it would introduce the Elect on an equal footing into life eternal.

The Prophet Daniel even went so far as to fix its date, “seventy weeks of years” after the deliverance of Babylon (Dn 9). An admirable and impressive hope. Yet would it be fulfilled? That is another story.

Father George de Nantes
Excerpt from The Religion of the Bible Odious, Justified, Obsolete,
Catholic Counter-Reformation no. 131, February 1981.

To be continued.

The Book of Genesis 11:9

Therefore the name of the city was called Babel, because there Yahweh confused the language of all the earth; and from there Yahweh scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

The Book of Genesis

Chapter 12.

The Book of Genesis 19:20

Behold, yonder city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there – is it not a little one? – and my life will be saved!

The Book of Genesis

Chapter 19.

The Book of Genesis 17:11

You (Abraham) shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between Me and you.

The Book of Genesis

Chapter 27.

The Book of Genesis

Chapter 37.

The Book of Exodus

Chapter 1.

The Book of Exodus 2:12

Moses looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

The Book of Exodus 12:35

The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked of the Egyptians jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing.

The Book of Number

Chapter 11, verse 4.

The Book of Exodus

Chapter 20.

The Book of Exodus

Chapter 23, verse 23.

The Book of Exodus

Chapter 23, verses 29-30.

The Book of Leviticus

Chapter 26, verse 30.

The Book of Number

Chapter 21.

The Book of Number

Chapter 31, verse 18

The Book of Joshua

Chapter 6.

The Book of Judges 8:18

Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Where are the men whom you slew at Tabor?” They answered, “As you are, so were they, every one of them; they resembled the sons of a king.”

The Book of Judges

Chapters 19-21.

The First Book of Samuel 8:10,12,15

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East; for there had fallen a hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword. 12 And Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and Gideon pursued them and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and he threw all the army into a panic. 15 And he came to the men of Succoth, and said: “Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are faint?’ ”

The First Book of Samuel 8:9,11,13

And Gideon said to the men of Penuel: “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.” 11 And Gideon went up by the caravan route east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army; for the army was off its guard. 13 Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres.

The Second Book of Samuel

Chapter 7

The Second Book of Samuel

Chapter 11

The Second Book of Samuel

Chapter 12

The Second Book of Samuel

Chapter 24

The Second Book of Kings

Chapter 21

The Second Book of Kings

Chapter 24, verse 20

The First Book of Kings

Chapter 19, verse 10

The Book of Jeremiah 50:17

Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones.

The Book of Ezekiel

Chapters 25-32, 35, 38

The Book of Isaiah

Chapter 63

The Book of Daniel 2:44

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.

The Book of Daniel 7:18

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the Kingdom, and possess the Kingdom forever, forever and ever.

The Book of Esther 9:16-17

Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies, and slew seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they laid no hands on the plunder. This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness.

The Second Book of Samuel

Chapter 6, verse 8

The First Book of Samuel

Chapter 2

The Book of Job

Chapter 42, verses 12-13

The Book of Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth)

Chapter 5, verses 17-18

The Book of Isaiah

Chapter 2, verse 4

The Book of Damiel

Chapter 9