23 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

A former head of the Mossad made what might be an apt analogy, comparing Netanyahu to King Saul and Naftali Bennett to young David. But the rest of the Biblical analogy fell apart, suggesting that former intelligence chiefs should learn more Bible and stay out of politics.

Danny Yatom: Politics and Biblical Comparisons

Danny Yatom, the former head of the Mossad intelligence service and former Member of Knesset, made the Biblical analogy via Twitter on Tuesday:

“So after it has been decided that Bibi is King Saul and that Bennett sees himself as King David, I ask myself why all politicians treat citizens and the state like Rahav the prostitute?” Yatom wrote.

Bibi and Bennett

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett. (Photo: Flash90)

Analogy Does Not Hold Up

Yatom may be an expert in intelligence matters but his Bible knowledge is clearly lacking. His comparison of Netanyahu and Bennett to the Biblical characters may have some merit as the two politicians vacillate between being storing allies and political rivals, as did David and Saul.

Portraying Bennett as the young upstart David may be apt but comparing Israeli to Rahab would be an anachronistic break in the analogy. Rahab lived in Jericho and when the Israelites were about to enter the land 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt which many believe took place approximately 1250 BCE whereas David and Saul probably lived approximately 250 years later. 

In the Bible, there is no connection between Rahab and the kings who came later. She assisted them in capturing the city by hiding two men who had been sent to reconnoiter the city prior to their attack. When the city of Jericho fell, Rahab and her whole family were preserved according to the promise of the spies, and were incorporated among the Jewish people. 

It may be that Yatom’s intention was to imply that the Israeli public is being poorly served, treated like a harlot as it were,  due to the political conflict currently playing out between the two right-wing politicians. Though it is true that the Hebrew אשה זונה (ishah zonah), used to describe Rahab in Joshua 2:1, literally means “a prostitute woman”, in rabbinic texts, however, she is explained as being an “innkeeper. Biblical commentaries have described Rahab as a model of hospitality, mercy, faith, patience, and repentance in her interaction with Joshua’s spies. Thus the harlot of Jericho became a paragon of virtue.

A Left-Wing Politician With a Grudge

The Biblical comparison was clearly meant as irony and intended to portray the two politicians in a negative light which would be consistent with Yatom’s long history of criticizing the Netanyahu government. Yatom was a member of the left-wing Labour Party, a rival of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud that has dropped in its political standing. 

Yatom resigned as head of the Mossad in 1998 during Netanyahu’s first term as Prime Minister. His resignation came in the wake of a report by the Ciechanover Commission that questioned his performance as head of the intelligence service. 

In 2018, Yatom joined in a group of six former intelligence agency chiefs in criticizing the Netanyahu government. The criticism came at the beginning of an investigation into alleged corruption in the Netanyahu administration. Yatom accused Netanyahu of putting his own interests above those of the country. 

Yatom also described the country as “sick” due to the lack of a Palestinian state inside Israel’s borders.