To Be or not to Be - A Theological Discussion On War, Peace and Moral

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There is a time in our lives when we all conceptualize the world childishly in political terms that we have privately defined. I was no different. I was a feminist because I wanted to improve the lot of women in an unequal world - until the pussy marches. I was a liberal because I value freedom over everything - until the war on free speech. And I was a pacifist for my love of peace.


The latter one got a dent when I realized the dishonesty of those who claim to be pacifists. It starts with them only taking note of a war when Western troops are involved, goes on with unsubstantiated claims about the causes of war, and gets treasonous when they remember peace only, and really only, in moments when it could help socialist or Islamist opponents. We didn't see pacifist rallies against the genocide in Rwanda. There were no marches against the Serbian war crimes on the Balkans. We wait in vain for sizable candle vigils against Islamic terror of which only a tiny friction makes it into Western news to begin with.


I got increasingly alienated from the hypocrites who say 'peace' and mean advancement of their own group. And I turned to the bible. My entire life I was told how immoral it is. No public figure that I can think of ever says something positive about the Jewish bible. We hear the same phrases again and again about 'respect' and 'tradition' and that Jews belong to the Western World, the 'Judeo-Christian' West. Yet the same people see the Jewish bible as trash and they leave little qualms about their disgust over what they unilaterally declare as a violent, primitive text in need of abolition. If you are lucky you are told how it is only in need of correction  - through Jesus.


What are the morals of war? When do we fight it? This question is so important that arguably the better half of the bible deals with it in one way or another. There is the war in the name of the Lord - which must be harnessed by the important commandments never to use his name in vain and never to bear false witness against thy neighbour. There is the war in direct defence or in defence of a just ally. There is also the war against a deeply sinful, rotten people (e.g. Book of Judges 19-20). A sensible moral code would parlay this notion to humanitarian strikes.


However, very often the bible is simplified, if not misquoted, to speak against war. The trick is that sentences that do not actually speak about war are misused. The German peace movement during the Cold War often cited 'turn swords to ploughs' (Mi 1,1-4). This is part of the prophecy of Micah and did not mean to resist from war. It is the enemies of Israel who will be disarmed and their weapons will be destroyed in the final days - according to his prophecy. The identical prophecy with the same context was made by Isaiah (Is 2, 3).


Rather to the contrary the bible denounces pacifism. The Song of Deborah scolds the city of Meroz (Judges 5: 23) because it did not help defeat the enemy. In the prophecy of Jeremiah, amidst the account of the last days, the descriptive text is interrupted with the line (Jer 48) Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his cherev (sword) from bloodshed". The scribe wrote this line into the text without context, to preserve a message that was more important than the flow of the biblical story.


This puts the believer between a rock and a hard place. You can no longer just abstain from war, yet killing for the wrong reason is the worst sin possible. The way out is buried in a curse that King David spelt against his army leader Joab:

May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food. Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.

King David curses his top man and his family because Joab had revenged a legitimate killing, which happened in the context of a battle. Joab killed Abner after the war in the context of civilian life. This is paramount: Had Joab killed Abner in battle, he wouldn't have been cursed. He would have been praised. The bible does therefore draw the line that pacifists try to erase: There is a time for war and a time for peace, and you better don't mess up.


Another biblical misquote that does just that is the Jesus words "Turn the other cheek". The context is that Jesus, contrary to today's Christians, confirmed that he did not change one letter of the Halakha, the Jewish law. Following that statement he gives a number of examples on how he would rather over-fulfill the law. They don't make necessarily sense in themselves apart from underlining that Jesus really, really wanted to keep the old laws. Example: If a man asks you to walk with him a mile, walk with him two. In itself it has no point. If somebody hits you, the law demands to restrain yourself to an equal blow. Like with the walk, Jesus suggests now to over-fulfill the demand of the law and restrain yourself by turning the other cheek. It bears no meaning for the battle ground. "Love your enemy" is also an item on the list of examples for over-fulfillment, as it extends "love your neighbour".


But, in fact, the bible does very little to enforce the moral duty to draw the line clearly between war and peace. It fails to say that we are expected to act in very different moral codices when we are at peace and when we are at war. In war we kill and deceive. In peace we fight peacefully for truth to avoid war (and "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully", Jer 48). This is probably a common knowledge gap. There was never an iota of doubt that killing and deceit was righteous in war. The Ten Commandments forbid murder. Period. Just Murder.


Another problem that is hardly addressed by the bible is the definition of war. This again is a common knowledge gap for the times that are covered in the bible. In today's world most wars are not properly declared, are rarely fought between nations (directly), are asymmetric, and find no ends. The lines between combatants and civilians, state actors and militias, war and peace become ever more blurred and with them our moral system itself.


But of course the problem that is now central was to a much lesser degree present at all times. The Song of Deborah tells us about a violent uprising against an oppressive occupation. The Lord himself commanded Barak to fight King Jabin's troops led by army officer Sisera. Because of Barak's reluctance Deborah summoned him and offered him help. He still refused to take the onus of the battle strategy and rather wanted to follow Deborah. She prophecied that his path would cost him the honour and he would be shamed by seeing a woman killing Sisera. Not only is an uprising commanded by the Lord, reluctance against it is shamed. The story was probably later expanded. Sisera loses all his soldiers in the battle and somehow the role of Barak is suddenly emphasized, raising doubts whether Deborah played a military role at all. Sisera flees to a befriended Jewish household, the House of Haber the Kenite. Jael the wife of Haber assassinates Sisera while he is asleep depriving King Jabin off his capabilities to use his top man again to come back and suppress Israel.


Is a strategic, extra-judicial killing of an exiled man who may pose a future threat moral? My personal red line is the distinction between peace and war. In times when we see ever more states (Russia, Iran, Israel, America,...) commit these killings, my personal gut feelings speak against it. I fear the blurring of the lines. In the same light, I abhor economic sanctions. I think that they are a necessity and often a better alternative to sending troops. But sanctions should be wielded with care. Today they are handed out like candies.


Things become different again when the powers are too unequal. A state can do better than to blur the lines. But how do we judge assassinations by powerless citizens against their tyrants? Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, for example, is widely honoured for his unsuccessful attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. And is a tyranny peace? Mao and Stalin killed more innocent civilians in supposedly peaceful times than most wars. Maggie Thatcher judged that this is not peace and I agree with her.


So we must take care in identifying a tyrant. For if we call out a tyranny we mean war. We must identify the roads to tyranny and fight bad developments peacefully. We can explain why we don't see our countries as democracies, but we must acknowledge the spectrum between freedom and tyranny. The tyrant is a tyrant. Unless you are prepared to kill somebody, you should do all in your power to prevent others from upheaval.


Whatever your core beliefs are, my conviction is that you should identify this red line for yourself. If you wait too long, propaganda will have taken the hearts and minds of your people in favor of a strongman (male/female). If you are too quick you may end as a murderer, damned to hell.


For me it is about the last road blocked, the last road blocked to you converting people to Islam, to Marxism, to justice, to freedom, or whatever you want to see others make a reality. If all roads are blocked, you know the tyrant. As long as people with your goals are allowed a public forum, fair and big enough to have the chance of convincing people peacefully, you have no right to start a fight.


Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:09pm
Stop investing your power in things outside yourself. Your solutions seek the same thing what you hate has - power over you. 
Julius Fann Jr. jufa Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:33pm
I do not  speak for those who listen to hear.  Should it be of necessity for them, Spirit will intervene.  And irrespective of what I say, reality tells me  I cannot speak tangibly as to what Consciousness can and cannot do in the minds of men.  However, I do understand living is a frontier of variables, and all are attached to self.  And regardless of how wise and intelligent any individual is, and how they have learned to harness their  energy, I know "You can only get to all day self observation after training in observing self."  I too realize to observe self is being done second by second in our observation of every individual we encounter, and situation, circumstances and conditions.  Now the people or events we encounter really do not matter, for relativism is the standard bear of our attitudes.  And when  words  touch us, or our visions and feelings are extended, then implode upon our consciousness, we observe ourselves in all events we see others in wearing the same attitudes and displaying the same characters as those of like kind as us.  From my view, the problem is we see everyone blanketed with the same fears within us, and we mask ourselves with introversion in our depth, but demonstrate extroversion in our actions.  We see nothing but a circle of our, and all mankind's rotating thoughts.  And so, we dare not rock the  boat for fear of drowning, or fear people will see through the many mask we wear of the same fear, loneliness, and lack of knowledge.
Self observation is a way of life or living observing ourselves who understand somewhere in our depth we are the consciousness of Spirit, yet Spirit is the only source of consciousness.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:41pm
Gilbert: Thank you, Jeffry! I knew you wouldn't like it!
Julius Fann:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisici elit, sed eiusmod tempor incidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequat. Quis aute iure reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.
Dino Manalis Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:49pm
Peace through strength would prevent many wars!
Wayne McMichael Added Mar 28, 2018 - 4:55pm
Religion is where Spirit goes to die. Why would you imagine God favors "religion" of any kind? The Torah is a great story, but written well beyond any, so called, prophecy. It was written to impress the Greeks with grandiose tales of a well developed empire... that never existed:) "Religion" can be Spiritual kindergarten, however, but that is certainly no place to pitch a tent, or a religion. Your quest is for God, and you are god, not God, but you stream the breath of God which is Consciousness. Once you have exhausted your curiosity about "religion", you may want to get in touch with God to find out the whole truth, and that ain't in the bible:) What you are eventually searching for is in you, not somewhere here on earth. THere is always going to be some tyrant who believes they can control everything, hence war... it is inevitable. A great place to look for God today is in science:) Thought I'd never say that:)
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:20pm
re "A great place to look for God today is in science:) Thought I'd never say that:)  "
That sounds as crazy now as you once thought it did, or more.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:21pm
Pacifism is for fools. Right now we have the law and I do not think I violent overthrow is even possible. There is no possible way for a disorganized group to engage an organized professional army. But too are ruled by law and the pen is mightier than the sword.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:22pm
No way those Muslims will show their cruelty and sickness in USA and Canada while we are armed.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:25pm
Great article. That "turn the other cheek" thing is something I never believed in and I always took it to mean that I have two cheeks, not a third. On the third, you're out. I always have wanted to get a better understanding of this.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:29pm
Wayne: The article is about when war and violence can be morally justified.
Doug: Thank you for the compliment. I hate to ask this but could you give a definition, not longer than 2 sentences, on what you mean with law when you write "now we have the law"?
Wayne McMichael Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:47pm
But you did say " Theological Discussion" and indicated you struggle with it Spiritually. You can not separate anything from anything else. 
War is justified when some kook wants to control you without your permission... it is not complicated, unless you are neck deep in any religion:)
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:49pm
re ""now we have the law"  The law is still common law. The West is still ruled by common law, and it can cure all ails. We must also live according to this law. By "common law" I mean the rational law that a society of equal rational beings would adopt.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 28, 2018 - 5:55pm
Doug: So you believe that the pen is enough to hold government accountable so a violent uprising would never be needed? But the pen is clearly broken in most countries. Censorship is common. Doesn't the tree of freedom have to be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants from time to time?
I personally believe that a disorganized entity can easily win against modern armies.
Katharine Otto Added Mar 28, 2018 - 11:09pm
I'm a pacifist.  I don't like to see anybody hurting anybody, and I don't hurt anybody (or anything) on purpose, except for mosquitoes and other vampires that are sucking my blood.
I especially resent other people hurting people and claiming they are doing it for me, and spending my tax money to do it.  War is a group, not an individual, action, perpetrated by tyrants and would-be tyrants who believe they have a "god-given" right to make decisions for other people.  If there were no governments, there would be no wars.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 11:25pm
re "So you believe that the pen is enough to hold government accountable so a violent uprising would never be needed?"
Absolutely. Start with the income tax. What obligation does the Fed have to you, why do you have an obligation to them? Are you in America or the United States ? Men with guns love the law, we start exposing what common law actually is, they will give us a parade.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 28, 2018 - 11:28pm
re "Doesn't the tree of freedom have to be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants from time to time?"
That's what they say, but that's when we didn't have youtube and a population that can read.
Maybe a disorganized group could beat the government, but it would have to be one hell of a mess. Even if that could happen and did, you would have 10 million Chinese at the borders with their guns to rescue the banks. I'm no military theorist though. I doubt you can easily move that many guys that far - or you get 50 million 25 cent drones, each programmed to kill on sight, launched from bombers.
Pardero Added Mar 29, 2018 - 12:07am
Katharine Otto, 
Good job! I like how you put that.
Pardero Added Mar 29, 2018 - 12:17am
Benjamin Goldstein,
Why couldn't you write this before my job got so busy?
You give me so much to work with. I had 5 hours sleep in 48 and we just got very busy at work.
This will be old news by the time I get my reset break. 
This uneducated truck driver, er pacifist hypocrite, I should say, can shred this pretentious tripe. 
A monument to your own hubris.
I actually expected much more out of you. You can play footsies with Doug until I get some time off.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 29, 2018 - 1:42am
Nice work, Ben. The only problem is that you complicate life as so many others do. Belly full - peace reigns.
Better think about why some don't like belly full for everybody and why we don't do something about it.
Neil Lock Added Mar 29, 2018 - 4:48am
Katharine:  If there were no governments, there would be no wars.
Spot on, and no more need be said on this subject.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 7:21am
Otto: If you were kidnapped, wouldn't you want a police officer/soldier to commit an act of violence to free you? The article above is about where we draw the lines. I don't know your lines. That's what I try to explore. The pacifist movement draws it very inconsistently.
Doug: The last paragraph is about the last road blocked. At some point a government will have enacted enough censorship that your pen is broken. The EU is already considering a new censorship law. And the EU is mild in comparison to China, Russia and most other places.
SEF: Thank you. I think that "belly full - peace reigns" is simply false. People who organize wars have full bellies. That is already true for terrorists like Baader-Mainhof or Osama bin Laden.
Neil: You can see all around the world what happens when the nation does not provide security anymore. Families, clans and tribes go at each other. It is much bloodier that way.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 29, 2018 - 7:30am
I think that "belly full - peace reigns" is simply false. People who organize wars have full bellies.
True. But you can't make war without soldiers/people who follow. And the ones who organize wars make sure that the ones who follow them have EMPTY bellies. Otherwise they wouldn't follow....
Dave Volek Added Mar 29, 2018 - 12:19pm
Nice article Benjamin. Lots of food for thought.
I liken the war situation similar to the robber who earns his living robbing convenience stores. If we let the robber go free because it is his inalienable right to earn a living in that way, he will rob with impunity--and many others will also take on this occupation. In essence, we have to, in order to protect society, "wage war" against this robber, but within the context of laws. And because we stay within those laws, we don't become a lawless society.
Likewise, if we have a rogue nation overstepping its civil boundaries, eventually we need to wage war against it. I would say that WW2 was indeed a moral war. Most other wars since then are debatable in terms of their morality.
Should we wage war against rogue states who keep most of their atrocities within their boundaries? I think one philosopher said it well: "The war must be winnable". Otherwise we should stay out.
Should we wage war against a nation that seems to be thinking about doing harm to another nation? Well, do we wage war against someone who is thinking about robbing a convenience store? No, we wait until the action is done, then we invoke the police, prosecution, and prison guards. Same too for rogue nations: wait for their actions, then act.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 1:26pm
Thank you, Dave. I think the decision to go to war because a government is abusing its people is very difficult to make. Your intervention must be more humane than leaving people alone. The notion that it is better to attack an enemy who is weak anyway comes from Sun Tzu. Contrary to our intuition, it is more moral for a nation to attack somebody who is weak than somebody who is strong.
I'm also for waiting until the very last minute.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 29, 2018 - 1:52pm
it is more moral for a nation to attack somebody who is weak than somebody who is strong.
Ok. I will advise my daughter who is 1m 79 at 15 years to attack other girls smaller than her, because moral says whack those weak bastards, they deserve it. Is that what you understand about moral ?
Please explain....
Wayne McMichael Added Mar 29, 2018 - 1:53pm
Wait... Sun Tzu does not make it moral and strong and weak have nothing to do with it. But you did indicate that you are a liberal and I suppose it is natural to value power over morals in that case:)
Stone-Eater Added Mar 29, 2018 - 1:57pm
Should we wage war against rogue states who keep most of their atrocities within their boundaries? I think one philosopher said it well: "The war must be winnable". Otherwise we should stay out.
Who defines what a "rogue state" is ? And what does it concern another state which is not nearby and would have to be afraid to be concerned by it ?
This whole thought model that the US is concerned about everything on the planet is bullshit. Stay in your borders and leave the rest alone. This is the fucking message I hear not only in Europe, but in Africa and from Asian friends too.
But I'm blowing in the wind.....
Stone-Eater Added Mar 29, 2018 - 2:01pm
BTW: Once and for all: The US simply wants all resources of the planet for itself, and fuck the rest. If it wouldn't be the case, they wouldn't have all those military bases around the world. Don't talk to me about "we have to defend ourselves" shit. Even Forrest Gump would laugh about such.
Dave Volek Added Mar 29, 2018 - 2:40pm
The Articles of Independence are a summary of the atrocities or perceived atrocities the 18th century British did on the American colonies. As one reads this articles, it is not hard to recall history examples of where the USA violated nearly all these principles on other countries.  USA is indeed an oxymoron in this regard.
Determining rogue nations is a bit of artform than an absolute scientific analysis. One day, the five superpowers may just grow up and allow the UN to define when a nation goes rogue. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 3:01pm
SEF: That's why I wrote that it is counter-intuitive. Your daughter ain't a nation. A nation loses contol and kills more people if the enemy is strong. So big nations cannot be stopped from committing atrocities against their people. Smaller nations can be stopped.
Wayne: Yes, Sun Tse did not think about morals as far as I know, but Dave had a philosopher in mind and I thought that it might be him. For Sun Tse it was appropriate to attack a weaker oponent even if your superior doesn't want it.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 3:03pm
Dave, if all nations would allow a democratic process to set the laws on which to judge nations themselves and would they consistently adhere to these laws, an international body could determine rogue nations. It will always be a pipedream and we have to do with fuzzy logic.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:04pm
re "The last paragraph is about the last road blocked. At some point a government will have enacted enough censorship that your pen is broken. "
I just talk about stuff on here. I use my pen elsewhere, and am just getting started. So what if they tell me not to talk about the holocaust. I may be arrested for having talked about it in the past. Everyone will be arrested for something.
They cannot censor knowledge of the law, they can punish those who spread it but usually these freemen that get locked up probably deserve it. There is piles of hubris and stupidity in that movement with a few gems of good knowledge from their experiences. They (The Establishment) have to beat us at law, the only way they can do it is to keep everyone ignorant of the law. They start breaking laws and they put themselves in jeopardy. All these politicians and their antics is just a circus, probably scripted, but there for entertainment, and to help discredit Western law. The PM or President doesn't have any real power, he has to stay within bounds set by the nations creditors.
re "It will always be a pipedream and we have to do with fuzzy logic."
That will always be the nature of law, until someone invents a new calculus, an entirely new math that can be used to do it. Any scholar of law will say that in his book. Lawyers will always be lawyers and they are kind of good in the way they are in a sense. They are good for the law, but not good for people.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:09pm
re "One day, the five superpowers may just grow up and allow the UN to define when a nation goes rogue."
God better help us before that happens. Your lifespan is about six months after the UN disarms the world. I'd rather be one of the first than one of the last. It will make the last Bolshevik revolution seem like a harmless prank.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:13pm
re "Wait... Sun Tzu does not make it moral and strong and weak have nothing to do with it. But you did indicate that you are a liberal and I suppose it is natural to value power over morals in that case:)  "
That is a great point Wayne. Welcome to WB.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:24pm
Doug: May I advice you to structure your texts better. The longer comment is a bit difficult to understand. So I split it up into:
1) You think that you have said enoug in the past to get punished for it. So you don't mind anymore.
2)The elites have to keep us uninformed about our natural rights. Somehow you think they won't manage that.
3)Some speculation that the politicians aren't in charge.
4)Legal scholars understand that their field isn't precise enough to kind of automate it.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:44pm
I should do that, you are right, thanks.. I was just thinking that I may not ever get good at explaining myself. I spend a lot of time reading the comments and have little left over to carefully think about what I write, which is half of what this site, WB, is supposed to be for.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:46pm
re "1) You think that you have said enoug in the past to get punished for it. So you don't mind anymore."
I just think everyone is going to get arrested for something, I don't want my arrest to be because I accidently put my garbage can a little past the property line or just hurt some assholes feelings. I don't want to be here when people start eating their children and their wallpaper.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 29, 2018 - 6:47pm
re "The elites have to keep us uninformed about our natural rights. Somehow you think they won't manage that."
They cannot really hide the truth, but you can't lead a horse to water either.
ChristianRepublic Added Mar 29, 2018 - 8:46pm
First, it's Bible, with a capital B.
Second, "It is the enemies of Israel who will be disarmed and their weapons will be destroyed in the final days - according to his prophecy."
In fact, Micah 1:5&f refers to God coming down from heaven to destroy Samaria and Jerusalem for idolatry. And Isaiah 2 is about the Church ruling the world under Christ. Isaiah 3? Really? Have you ever read it? If you had you wouldn't have conscripted it to illustrate your wrongheaded point.
There's more, but why bother?
As for the apparent topic of your piece, war is a natural state of man, and always will be until Christ puts an end to it as it pleaseth Him. However, I have long considered how war is petering out. There are very few hotspots of active military engagement in the world today, but that's not the point: war is now less military than it used to be.
War today is ongoing but it is espionage, surveillance, financial, cyberspace and the like, that are the broadest fronts with the hottest battles. There will never be another Pickett's Charge or Normandy. At no time in history has there been as much firepower in the hands of governments and the general population as we see today, yet except for Yemen and Syria, there isn't much government-to-government shooting going on these days.
The Old Testament is like a child's Bible picture book, full of symbolic stories and allegories involving actual events that, in God's providence, carry great spiritual truths - illustrating Christ and His Church and their victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Until those victories are in our bag, there will always be wars and fighting among us. The means may be less violent these days, but it is war nonetheless.
Katharine Otto Added Mar 30, 2018 - 12:12am
I can't say what I would do if I were kidnapped.  I might like the kidnappers better than the rescuers.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to kidnap me.  It might be a compliment.
In my experience, police excel at making bad situations worse.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 2:11am
ChristianRepublic: Good catch. I do indeed not read prophecies very intensively. BTW I meant Isaiah two line three, not sections two and three.
For quick readers: Swords to ploughshares are still no command to abstain from war.
Prophecies are a part of the bible that I really don't know much about. So I went for the quotes and the immediate environment make it sound as if Israel may simply dominate. The Micah part reads:
Indeed, the Law will proceed from Zion,
and the message of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And he will judge among many people,
rebuking strong nations far away;
and they will reshape their swords as plowshares
and their spears as pruning hooks.
The more I look at it, the more I think that the text is a hybrid. Jerusalem is already a rubble at this point and yet the Lord speaks "from Jerusalem". This is no logical contradiction because Zion is in Jerusalem. It just makes no sense to edge in the name Jerusalem at this space when the city is rubble. The Isaiah part does the same:

For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

So I believe that this is an older text. And indeed had the meaning that I interpreted. This was then embedded into a final days prophecy that sees Jerusalem destroyed. Integrated it doesn't read like only the enemies of Israel, but instead really all destroy their weapons. This is only possible because the Lord establishes himself as an authority over nations and can enforce a rule of law between them - a luxury today's nations don't have.

BTW I stumbled across something that is quite fitting (Micah 3, 5) about false prophets before he names their punishment:
This is what the Lord says about the prophets
who are causing my people to go astray,
who are calling out ‘Peace’ when they’re being fed,    but who declare war against those who won’t feed them:

Exactly my problem with the pacifist movement.
The problem is that people try to believe all prophecies despite their contradictions. The final days will be a big war. The final days will be the kingdom of the lord and peace. It is put together that the hopeful, the peace parts come after the big war parts. So some people believe a big war must happen to come to the peace.
I personally take the prophecies with a grain of salt. The hill of Zion will have grown higher than all other hills in the region (Micah) and shall even grow higher than all mountains (probably worldwide, Isaha). The nations of the world 'come' to it....*g*
Thank you so much for commenting. It was inspiring.
ChristianRepublic Added Mar 30, 2018 - 8:43am
Rome completely razed Jerusalem in AD 70. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus declared that there was no evidence that a city had ever been there, The stones were even carted away. What remains today of Fort Antonia's western wall is wrongly assumed to have been part of the temple mount, but this is false.
The term "last days" or "end times" refers to the *last days* of Jerusalem before the siege and sack of the city, the last days of the Law of Moses, the temple, the sacrifices, etc. It is not in our future.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 9:11am
ChristianRepublic: In this case the hill of zion is already larger than the Mount Everest or at least larger that all other surrounding hills. No. The entire description of events does not fit any historical period. I understand that some Christians avoid that realization by declaring everything that doesn't fit to be a symbol that stands for something that fits into their agenda. But this is not an objective reading of a text. Of course, you are free to believe it still.
Very few Christians see the prophecies of the end times as a happening of the past. But it is an interesting thought.
I say above that zion grows. This is true for the part that pertains to the peaceful prophecy. Shortly before we learn that, we learn that it is razed down and 'plowed like a field' in the war prophecy for the final days. This, of course, does not necessarily mean that the hill shrinks, but the religious sites on it are destroyed and it is now plane enough for agricultural usage. I can really hear the different voices coming through the prophetic texts. In any event they give little moral guidance or clues about actual historic events. To turn 'swords into ploughshares' isn't a command, it is a hope. And I think that it was first a phantasy of dominance and establishing the own law over the surrounding nations.
Stephen Hunter Added Mar 30, 2018 - 9:33am
How about "do unto others as you would have others do unto you". If we always go back to that one before we act, most wars and conflict can be avoided. 
Fear causes people to be paranoid and want to fight to protect themselves. The WAR machine pushes fear so that the US for example keeps increasing the military budget. Just imagine the good that would happen if the US cut that budget in half and spent the money on things that benefit a peaceful society.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:00am
Stephan H: Thanks for commenting. The golden rule that you quote is a rule of thumb. It isn't mentioned directly in the bible but as it is so broad it is touched in many places like in 'a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye." It doesn't really go into details in a world with different levels of morality. It is often better to be a better person than somebody who attacks you. At other times you cannot regain control over a situation if you don't push back harder than the original attack.
I think that the military-industrial complex really has an easy time with us if we don't set our moral standards first. I'm happy that I get now some feedback, but it looks like people have a hard time to sign up to a principle because they think more in loyalties. I explained above that extrajudicial killings of individuals who are no declared war enemies blur the line between war and peace and that I don't like them. So I agree with a principle that people who I'm usually loyal with do violate. Most people work their moral system on the fly to protect their loyalties. As long as this is the case the military-industrial complex has an easy time with us and we shouldn't complain.
Stephen Hunter Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:20am
Yes Benjamin I do agree, as what you are describing is basic pack mentality, something that is innate. It is unconscious thinking for the most part. Logic plays no role. Think about it, we just do not want to admit that our father was wrong on some issue, so we rationalize that he was actually right by falling back to a moralistic argument, which dismisses logical thought.
ChristianRepublic Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:23am
"The golden rule that you quote is a rule of thumb. It isn't mentioned directly in the bible..."
"Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets," Matthew 7:12.

One would think that the utter destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 would have been prophesied in the Bible, momentous event that it was. Where is this prophecy?
Doug Plumb Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:38am
re "Very few Christians see the prophecies of the end times as a happening of the past. But it is an interesting thought."
It is, and when heard it seems very well articulated and by people who actually have (ie earned) their knowledge through careful study. I went my HD where I have saved many of my favorite best youtube talks, and I can't find this great pastor from the 50's.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:38am
What do you think of this statement Benjamin?  I suspect its true.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:46am
ChristianRepublic: Thank you for filling this in. The international standard version ISV of the bible translates it with:
 Therefore, whatever you want people to do for you, do the same for them, because this summarizes the Law and the Prophets.
So it somehow summarizes the law. It is a nice rule of thumb. I didn't know that Jesus was indeed saying it.
I don't believe in prophecies at all.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 10:58am
The correct translation of ChristianRepublic's quote is "Is the law" not 'summarizes the law.' But there seems to be an error on how this was preserved. I also checked Martin Luther's translation and the phrase is 'it is the law and the prophets.' It makes grammatically no sense. So .... it's a rule of thumb.
Leroy Added Mar 30, 2018 - 11:40am
Excellent article, Benjamin.  I don't know where to start.  I could fill volumes on the subject.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 30, 2018 - 12:15pm
re "Therefore, whatever you want people to do for you, do the same for them, because this summarizes the Law and the Prophets."
Its an early statement of the common law. But its not quite perfect. The better statement is "the unwritten law" because it avoids possible error.
Pardero Added Mar 30, 2018 - 12:15pm
Benjamin Goldstein,
It was wise for you to edit your admission that you supported any means whatsoever, in fighting a war, declared, undeclared, or merely a state of mind. It was shrewd of you to delete something so horrific, that left you open to having to explain some recent events.
I regret very much that my difficult schedule did not allow me to prioritize in time to save your deleted but illuminating quotes. Oh well. The article, as carefully edited, has little outrage remaining.
As far as being an imperfect pacifist, many would not feel the need to apologize for feeling a keener concern for events closer to home. I have identified myself as a tribalist previously, and I still believe that one can entertain both thoughts without being a "hypocrite." Pacifism may well be another thing practiced in reasonable moderation.
Whether intended or not, you make a good case for the folly of justifying war or warlike activities, based on ancient religious documents. 
We may not get the same news coverage, so you may have missed the hue and cry over the Bosnian situation that led the US to bomb Serbia nearly into the Stone Age. I understand if you missed that particular episode and maybe that little oversight will not compel you to engage in more of your extensive deleting and editing.
To use Scripture to cloud the 'righteousness' of warlike activities, is an unparalled achievement in the art of cynicism.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 12:50pm
Pardero. I did not edit this text once. Every time somebody edits a text the followers get an email. There is for example a spelly that I would undo if it was tacit.
One can argue for the tribalist idea. The rule of law is a new phenomenon. Before that justice was served between families. The concern for the kin had usually priority. This was challenged throughout history. I wrote an article about the tension before:
I hold the position that the weapons of warfare are not morally relevant. So far I did not integrate it into an article of mine.
It's a pity that you don't find outrage anymore. It is my specialty. I would never edit it away.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 30, 2018 - 1:02pm
Thank you very much, Leroy. I really wish the big topics would be tackled with more articles instead of this never ending stream of conspiracy theories all the time. I value your opinions a lot.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 30, 2018 - 1:27pm
Law is a technology that replaces bullets, or rocks and sticks, nothing more. It has been under continuous development since man came up with the idea of living co-operatively.
The statement of the NT when compared to the OT is what the vacuum tube is to the IC chip. The vacuum tube had advantages, it worked, but not as well as an IC chip.
The NT is a magnificent expression of the common law that some of the consequences of the common law such as separation of powers, the original sin, etc, things I have written about before. One plus one = two has sure consequences, ie, calculus, so does the common law.
The NT is both good and rational (by rational I actually mean common law)
Doug Plumb Added Mar 30, 2018 - 1:30pm
Benjamin, politics is the study of conspiracy. Conspiracy is when two or more people meet in secret to form a plan. Secret societies exist to take something away from everyone else (Plato).
Conspiracies are as real as anything and you cannot escape that.
Khnum Added Mar 30, 2018 - 3:51pm
Where to begin well I suppose the fact that the church has lied to you from the day you were born is where to begin, the new testament is a wondrous study of astrotheology and internal alchemy ,the best thing I can do is refer you onto a man who has done the research and tells the truth I suggest you watch Santos Bonacci on youtube with his 'your body is the holy land' presentation its well worth watching
Doug Plumb Added Mar 31, 2018 - 6:46am
I listened to Santos on law, he does have some of it wrong although his basic ideas are correct. Everything cannot be prepaid, it wouldn't satisfy common law requirements. Trash Christ all he wants, but when Christ goes, government goes Old Testament, and that's what they want. Karl Lenz is a better source, but you have to read a hell of a lot of law and philosophy before you can understand him, otherwise, you will use his stuff on fumes and the judge will see it.
I have a few essays on here explaining the common law.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Mar 31, 2018 - 8:35am
Khnum: I'm not into esoterics.
Doug: The issue of the Halakha, the Jewish law, in the New Testament is a complex one and really should be handled in a separate article if you wish to write it. For Christians the Law is fulfilled by following Jesus. This speaks of the cult of person of the early Christians.
The new testament speaks a lot about the disagreements about the halakha. I think apostle John was for circumcision while apostle Paul was fiercely against it. Both can be found in the new testament. Since one cannot do without any law and 'following Jesus' is not detailed enough, Paul suggests that 'love thy neighbour' is good enough as a guideline.
Of course, it isn't and he himself puts up rules in his episltes that are all included in the New Testament. So the rules by which the early community tried to live is a big topic itself and requires that you really read the New Testament.
I personally believe that Jesus was negligent about the law and the discussions of the early Christians reflect that as much as his rebuttals to pharisee accusers. He just engaged in whataboutism. The Sermon of the Mount, quoted in the article above, is therefore probably a forgery. His ambition of becoming the king of the Jews, for which he was crucified as it was nailed on his cross according to all 4 gospels, was difficult to legitimize with a lax handling of the laws. Therefore the sermon of the mount was written.
I also disagree with the notion that he was a secularist. He rebelled against the Emperor. The coins are his because he does not value the Emperor of Rome.
So this is a very big topic. If you write about it, you should do so with honesty and along original sources, that is the New Testatment.
Happy passover/Eastern
Doug Plumb Added Mar 31, 2018 - 10:05am
Benjamine: For me Christianity is the common law. I study the common law because the common law can save us. I do agree that Christianity does follow the cult of personality rather than the idea and this upsets me greatly, especially when reading from other Christians. No one has an interest in basic Christian doctrine.
  As far as reading the NT again, its on my list, but a close enough study to say something about it is another matter. I think you know more about it than I do and I may as well read your essays on here and see what I can get from them, as suggestions to think about for a more careful reading. I've had to read so much old English during this past year that its driving me a little crazy. I'm also far behind in the math I've wanted to learn.
  re "Paul suggests that 'love thy neighbour' is good enough as a guideline" That is my basic belief. Its a complex one and has given us bills of exchange, trusts, and legal procedure, not easy things to learn, and I'm not yet ready to go to court.
Khnum Added Mar 31, 2018 - 2:17pm
Astrotheology is an important aspect of the New Testament as is internal alchemy however the esoteric may not appeal you may prefer the literal translation,but even then you must know the habits and culture of first century Judaism,the symbolism and allegories of the early Christian Church and only then will you be reading it with some appropriate understanding.
In fact you have free will to believe whatever the hell you want but I wish to re-iterate my warning about the blessed Church. It is a wolf in sheeps clothing.
Here are some civics for you to study.
Unam Sanctum 1302
1st Crown of crown land 1455
2nd Crown of Commonwealth 1481
3rd Crown of Ecclesiatical 1537.
They claim ownership of the earth and everything on it they own you through your birth certificate they even claim ownership of your soul.
The Church is a corporation as are all others.
Doug Plumb Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:14am
Benjamin, I got your message regarding Blonde In The Belley Of The Beast. I know she is Jewish, many people are that speak against globalism. It doesn't surprise me in the least. I do like her, but I like quite a few others more, especially Millennial Woes, who isn't Jewish. But a disproportional number of freedom activists are Jews and they deserve respect for what they stand for.
Doug Plumb Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:16am
re "In fact you have free will to believe whatever the hell you want but I wish to re-iterate my warning about the blessed Church. It is a wolf in sheeps clothing."
Jesus was the first to warn us of the churches.
Doug Plumb Added Apr 1, 2018 - 9:51am
re "I also disagree with the notion that he was a secularist. He rebelled against the Emperor. The coins are his because he does not value the Emperor of Rome."
He said pay unto Ceasar what is his. This is easily and definitively determined by law. What is and what is a tax leaves no doubt in tradition and in reason. Jesus wasn't a tax rebel, and neither is the freeman movement, except in its misunderstandings.
Doug Plumb Added Apr 1, 2018 - 10:05am
Benjamin,why don't you do a post on Jewish law as in the NT? I think this may be very interesting - I know nothing of it. Kant didn't talk about Jewish law much. He just said Judaism is a giant political conspiracy. 8-) This is Kant, not some new age fag from an ivey league university.
Kant can be wrong in his opinions. His philosophy is magnificent, but his personal opinions are like those of any educated man, still subjective.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Apr 1, 2018 - 2:05pm
Doug: I think that you benefit more from looking into the topic than I would. It is actual work. You have a stronger interest in the law as such. Take your time.