The CNN Blog told the story this morning of the name of Israel’s operation against Hamas and its biblical roots. Called “Operation Pillar of Defense” in English, in Hebrew it is more closely translated “Operation Pillar of Cloud.” The reference is biblical: The head of the North American media desk for the Israeli Defense Forces Eytan Buchman explained that it is “based on the pillar of cloud that accompanied the the nation of Israel during the Exodus as they left Egypt and traveling toward Israel.”
“We are coming up on a decade of rockets being fired indiscriminately at civilians,” Buchman said, referring to Hamas’ actions in southern Israel. The Jewish state’s current military operation, he said, “is a proverbial cloud that is coming to protect you.”
The cloud refers to both spiritual and physical protection, as explained in Exodus 14, where the reference is first used in the Bible.
“The spiritual message here is about praying to God for protection,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who heads an Orthodox congregation in Washington. “In Exodus, the pillar of cloud is spiritual protection of the Israelis.”
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