On Jonathan Cahn’s Claim that the Bible “Pinpointed the Exact Date” of 9/11

After an extensive build-up, Jonathan Cahn’s Christian book The Paradigm has at last been published. According to a promotional website, the work promises to answer the following questions (emphasis added):

Is it possible that this ancient paradigm has determined and is determining not only the American presidency but also the timing of current events, in some cases even down to the exact dates?

Could a mystery from the ancient Middle East have foretold the course of current events more accurately than any poll or pundit?

Could the ancient paradigm have pinpointed the exact date of the 9/11 attacks before anyone had any idea? Could the paradigm have determined the exact years of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Osama bin Laden, Donald Trump, and others?

As I noted a few days ago, the book’s premise is that American politics is mystically re-playing the history of ancient Israel as described in the Bible’s two-part Book of Kings, and that various figures relating to American politics have Biblical counterparts. Thus Bill and Hillary Clinton are the modern-day equivalents of the Biblical villains Ahab and Jezebel, while Donald Trump is the warrior king Jehu, a Biblical hero – this reflects a broader trend within American evangelicalism to interpret Trump as being an instrument of God’s purposes.

On the claim that the Bible “pinpointed” 9/11, publication means that we can now see his reasoning for ourselves, such as it is – the book can be browsed on Google Books and Amazon.

Cahn draws attention to the following words from the Bible (plucked from 1 Kings 21 and 22; punctuation and gaps as presented by Cahn on page 95):

“‘See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?’ Because he has humbled himself before Me’ …Now three years passed without war between Syria and Israel. Then it came to pass, in the third year…” (1)

The reason that Ahab had “humbled himself” was because he had just been rebuked and warned by the Prophet Elijah over the murder of Naboth and the theft of his vineyard:

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!'”

Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free…” (2)

However, because of Ahab’s repentance, God explained to Elijah that he had decided to put off his plans:

“Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

The war with Syria comes about because God allows a spirit in heaven to “entice” Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead across the Jordan, where he is killed in battle; but the plain reading of the Biblical text is that this is different from the postponed promised disaster that God has transferred from Ahab to his son. (3)

What does this have to do with American politics? Cahn fixates on the supposed significance of the three years between Ahab’s repentance and the battle:

In the paradigm the day of repentance is separated from the day of calamity by a space of three years. Thus starting with the day of the president’s repentance, we must add three year and see where it brings us. (p. 95)

Cahn draws attention to the fact that Bill Clinton had spoken publicly of his “repentance” over the Monica Lewinsky scandal at a White House prayer breakfast on… 11 September 1998! For those too dense to work out what this means, Cahn explains what happens if you add three years to this date:

It brings us to September 11, 2001. (p. 96)

Cahn thus expands on how Ramoth Gilead supposedly foreshadowed 9/11:

It was the day that the king’s reign came to an end. But it was also a day of calamity for Israel on several counts, a day of military defeat, a day of bloodshed, and a day of lives lost. (p. 97)

In fact, though, the Biblical text does not refer to a general bloodshed at Ramoth Gilead, and it specifically states that the king of Aram ordered his charioteers to target Ahab personally rather than engage in general combat. The death of Ahab was followed by a rebellion in Moab, but that there is no indication in the Bible that Ramoth Gilead was a great disaster that damaged Israel’s military capacity (indeed, by removing a dud commander it may have improved it).

Clearly, Cahn is interpreting the Bible idiosyncratically, and choosing whatever details from American politics he thinks he can make fit to his “paradigm”. So what about the rest? Bill Clinton was gone from office by 9/11; he was not killed on 9/11; and 9/11 was not a military attack by the US that went wrong. Such massive divergences from the Bible perhaps can be addressed via convoluted allegorical interpretations, but such an approach seems arbitrary when the “three years passed” detail is presented as a striking literal parallel.

It’s worth reflecting for a moment on what the popularity of such a book means for the state of American Christianity (and Cahn’s previous works have sold millions). God seems to be an impersonal force whose actions can be predicted (maybe even manipulated?) according to some rigid “template”, while human beings are pawns in a bizarre and pre-destined cosmic drama.

To state Cahn’s thesis baldly: all those who died on 9/11 did so because Bill Clinton repented on 11 September 1998; had he not done so, presumably other people would have perished in an earlier disaster of a similar kind. This is in extremely bad taste: the meaning of 9/11 is reduced to a “code” to be understood through an esoteric reading of various timescales in the Bible; the human dimension of the tragedy is thus inevitably diminished.

When Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell appeared on TV on 13 September 2001 to explain that 9/11 was the responsibility of “the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way”, the two men were widely reviled by an America that was not in the mood to indulge such an opportunistic reaction to the terrorist outrage.

Cahn deserves a similar reception; but in an age of conspiracy theories and fake news, in which the likes of David Icke and Alex Jones are increasingly normalized, anyone who claims to have special insight into hidden forces that supposedly explain world affairs has the potential to achieve prominence.

BONUS UPDATE: Cahn’s publisher, Steven Strang, is of the opinion that demonic forces sent Hurricane Irma to hinder the launch of the book. He explains that Irma refers to “the goddess of war, also linked to Jezebel”.

In contrast, Hurricane Harvey’s name means “warrior”, which is the role given to Jehu/Trump. Harvey was thus apparently a good hurricane, and it hit Houston because of the publication of Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened.  Why Houston? Cahn’s own book notes that in 1990s Clinton had an advisor named Jean Houston, who has some New Agey ideas, and as such she embodies the evil that he also attributes to Clinton. Thus, according to Strang:

 As in The Paradigm, the warrior strikes the priests, and the representative is the woman [Jean] Houston, so Hurricane Harvey—the warrior—strikes Houston…

In The Paradigm, the warrior (Jehu) strikes the priests of the pagan gods and goddesses. The modern representation of the priests of the goddess is a woman named HoustonSo now Hurricane Irma—the goddess of war, also linked to Jezebel—strikes the publishers of The Paradigm.

Once again, we are presented with interpretation of a tragedy that is both bizarre and callous: people are dead in Houston and the surrounding areas, but apparently it’s all because of the surname of Clinton’s former advisor. Theodicists will be up all night with that one.

Footnotes

(1) Cahn uses Young’s Literal Translation, which was published in the nineteenth century.

(2) New International Version.

(3) Although the disaster has been transferred to Ahab’s son, the Biblical author decides to have dogs licking Ahab’s blood after all – explained as having happened when Ahab’s body was washed in a pool in Samaria prior to his interment.

One Response

  1. ‘God seems to be an impersonal force whose actions can be predicted (maybe even manipulated?’ isn’t that what prayer is all about?

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