The 14 Words

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Will the anti-Christ be Jewish?

What will be the identity of the anti-Christ?

That is a question that has interested millions upon millions of Christians thoughout history and there is good evidence that, according to the Bible, the anti-Christ will be jewish. Don't worry though I haven't suddenly become religious or anything, but rather after hearing fellow skeptics rhetorically state that the 'anti-Christ will be a jewish homosexual' enough times to make my ears bleed: I thought I'd write something on the matter of whether the anti-Christ, if you are a Christian believer (which I am not), will, according to the Bible, be jewish.

Having done a bit of reading around this issue it seems to me that the verses that are explicit as to the origin of the anti-Christ (as opposed to the rather convoluted reasoning often deployed to interpret other passages as being descriptive of such) are as follows:
'And the king shall do according to his will; he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is determined shall be done. He shall give no heed to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women; he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honour the god of fortresses instead of these; a god his fathers did not know he shall honour with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by help of a foreign god; those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honour. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.' (1)
This passage, from the book of Daniel, is usually held by Christian theologians to be a description of the characteristics of the future anti-Christ. In it we are told that the anti-Christ ('the king') shall be do what he wilt, be extremely egoistical and be thoroughly opposed to the desires of Yahweh.

Then the excerpt moves on to being rather more specific in that he shall not worship Yahweh neither will he worship the Shekhinah ('god's wife' in Judaism, more technically god's 'feminine presence', derived from the ancient jewish practice of worshiping the goddess Astarte) (2) who is styled as 'the one [i.e. god/goddess] beloved by women' and that he will be an egotistical atheist of a sort.

However notice how the book of Daniel phrases the anti-Christ's rejection of Yahweh: 'he shall give no heed to the gods of his fathers'. Now some might argue that the plurality here suggests that the anti-Christ must come from a polytheistic nation, but the next sentence removes this interpretation from contention as it states that he will not worship the god that women pray to.

This is because Judaism is fairly unique in that it has one god for jewish men (Yahweh) while jewish women do not worship Yahweh directly, but rather worship his 'feminine presence' which is, as I have stated, a memory of Yahweh's ancient Canaanite consort. Polytheistic religions tend to have multiple women's goddesses (for example Hera, Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis in Greek mythology [who could also be worshiped by men but were generally preferred by women]) not just one.

Having just one goddess specifically for women is something that is almost unique to Judaism and the book of Daniel's reference to it is firm evidence that the anti-Christ is to be born a jew according to the Bible. The reference to gods in the plural can be reasonably explained as a reference to the polytheistic nature of ancient Israel and pre-rabbinic Judaism (Yahweh worship was something of an elite religion at the time and wasn't adhered to by the average jew at the time who tended to be polytheistic) (3) and even among the jewish religious elite (as I have previously discussed) (4) there appears to have been remnants of strident polytheism and the worship of other Canaanite gods and goddesses.

This then suggests that when the book of Daniel talks of the anti-Christ giving no heed to the 'gods of his fathers' he is actually talking about the anti-Christ being jewish and when you combine that with the reference to the Shekhinah then it is almost impossible to argue against the proposition that, according to the book of Daniel, the anti-jewish will be jewish.

The other passage that is explicit in its dealing with the ethnic origin of the anti-Christ is from the gospel according to John, which gives Jesus as saying that:
'You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope.' (5)
In this excerpt Jesus is telling the jews, or the Pharisees if you want to be really specific, that they need to stop observing the letter of God's law and instead observe the spirit of it. Since they are using the letter of the law as an excuse for their disbelief in Jesus' status as the long-awaited Messiah (that could be divined by obeying the spirit of the law), which, as he says, contrary to the spirit of Moses that they pretend to embody.

When Jesus states that he has 'come in the name of his Father' and the jews did not receive him: he goes on to say that another will come and they (the jews) will accept him.

Now given that Jesus has been rejected by the jews for his, in their view, lack of qualifications to be the long-awaited Messiah: does that not mean that the individual who they will accept (who is traditionally and quite reasonably supposed to be the anti-Christ) as their Messiah will almost certainly be a jew?

After all can you imagine jews hailing a man who was not jewish as their Messiah given this rejection of Jesus?

I must confess that I can't.

Therefore we must conclude from the only two explicit mentions of the anti-Christ's origins that the anti-Christ will be of jewish origin.

No ifs, buts or maybes about it.


(1) Dan. 11:36-39 (RSV)
(2) On this see William Dever, 2008, 'Did God have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel', 2nd Edition, Eerdmanns: Grand Rapids
(3) David Freidenreich, 2011, 'Foreigners and their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Law', 1stEdition, University of California Press: Berkeley, pp. 7-10; also see John Day, 2002, 'Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan', 2nd Edition, Sheffield Academic Press: New York
(4) On this please see:
(5) Jn. 5:39-46 (RSV)

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