Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"By Way of Deception"?

In passing, someone remarked to me that “...the motto of the Israeli Mossad...is 'By way of deception'”, and the (seemingly run-of-the-mill and innocent) act of Googling this set me off on a bit of a wild adventure.

Specifically, I undertook a mini-investigation (just enough to satisfy myself) regarding the credibility of the boisterous denials of the (mere possibility of the veracity of the) “By way of deception...” translation. For example, on “YAHOO! Answers” one can read the following question and the (pretty typical) replies.


Resolved Question

Is the mossad motto really "By way of deception, thou shalt do war"?

Or is this more "anti-zionist" lies? When are they going to use truth? Is it too late?

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

be-tachbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milchāmāh
Hebrew בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה

What you are referring to is the old motto, still it does not translate to what you wrote, it translate to: "For by wise counsel thou shalt wage thy war".

The new motto, is from the Old Testament
be-'éyn tachbūlōt yippol `ām; ū-teshū`āh be-rov yō'éts (Hebrew:
באין תחבולות יפול עם, ותשועה ברוב יועץ‎
"Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs XI, 14).

Hope this helps.

43% 3 Votes

Other Answers (5)

    no its Be'ein Tachbulot Yipol Am, Uteshua Berov Yoetz (Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety; Proverbs 11:14)
    and yes its more anti zionist lies
    "For by wise counsel thou shalt wage thy war" is the "motto" of Mossad.
    Do you even know who Mossad is?

    It's quite unclear what you're babbling about.

Here's a screen capture of (the most relevant portion of) the page:

The above “answers” are heavily infused with rhetoric. But, I don't know Hebrew. So I decided to run a simple test. I would just take the top Google hits for a few quick searches, following a simple, two-step procedure. First, I would find the Hebrew for Proverbs 11:14. Second, I would paste said Hebrew into Google's translate engine.

And so...if one types “Proverbs 11 Hebrew” into Google's search field, one gets the following result: mechon-mamre dot org.

If one subsequently clicks on the link and goes to the online interlinear Hebrew-English version of Proverbs at “the Mamre Institute”, one gets the following text:

Proverbs Chapter 11 מִשְׁלֵי

א  מֹאזְנֵי מִרְמָה, תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה;    וְאֶבֶן שְׁלֵמָה רְצוֹנוֹ. 1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD; but a perfect weight is His delight.
ב  בָּא-זָדוֹן, וַיָּבֹא קָלוֹן;    וְאֶת-צְנוּעִים חָכְמָה. 2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom.
ג  תֻּמַּת יְשָׁרִים תַּנְחֵם;    וְסֶלֶף בֹּגְדִים ושדם (יְשָׁדֵּם). 3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them; but the perverseness of the faithless shall destroy them.
ד  לֹא-יוֹעִיל הוֹן, בְּיוֹם עֶבְרָה;    וּצְדָקָה, תַּצִּיל מִמָּוֶת. 4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death.
ה  צִדְקַת תָּמִים, תְּיַשֵּׁר דַּרְכּוֹ;    וּבְרִשְׁעָתוֹ, יִפֹּל רָשָׁע. 5 The righteousness of the sincere shall make straight his way; but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
ו  צִדְקַת יְשָׁרִים, תַּצִּילֵם;    וּבְהַוַּת, בֹּגְדִים יִלָּכֵדוּ. 6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them; but the faithless shall be trapped in their own crafty device.
ז  בְּמוֹת אָדָם רָשָׁע, תֹּאבַד תִּקְוָה;    וְתוֹחֶלֶת אוֹנִים אָבָדָה. 7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish, and the hope of strength perisheth.
ח  צַדִּיק, מִצָּרָה נֶחֱלָץ;    וַיָּבֹא רָשָׁע תַּחְתָּיו. 8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
ט  בְּפֶה--חָנֵף, יַשְׁחִת רֵעֵהוּ;    וּבְדַעַת, צַדִּיקִים יֵחָלֵצוּ. 9 With his mouth the impious man destroyeth his neighbour; but through knowledge shall the righteous be delivered.
י  בְּטוּב צַדִּיקִים, תַּעֲלֹץ קִרְיָה;    וּבַאֲבֹד רְשָׁעִים רִנָּה. 10 When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth; and when the wicked perish, there is joy.
יא  בְּבִרְכַּת יְשָׁרִים, תָּרוּם קָרֶת;    וּבְפִי רְשָׁעִים, תֵּהָרֵס. 11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted; but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
יב  בָּז-לְרֵעֵהוּ חֲסַר-לֵב;    וְאִישׁ תְּבוּנוֹת יַחֲרִישׁ. 12 He that despiseth his neighbour lacketh understanding; but a man of discernment holdeth his peace.
יג  הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל, מְגַלֶּה-סּוֹד;    וְנֶאֱמַן-רוּחַ, מְכַסֶּה דָבָר. 13 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets; but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth a matter.
יד  בְּאֵין תַּחְבֻּלוֹת, יִפָּל-עָם;    וּתְשׁוּעָה, בְּרֹב יוֹעֵץ. 14 Where no wise direction is, a people falleth; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
טו  רַע-יֵרוֹעַ, כִּי-עָרַב זָר;    וְשֹׂנֵא תֹקְעִים בּוֹטֵחַ. 15 He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it; but he that hateth them that strike hands is secure.
טז  אֵשֶׁת-חֵן, תִּתְמֹךְ כָּבוֹד;    וְעָרִיצִים, יִתְמְכוּ-עֹשֶׁר. 16 A gracious woman obtaineth honour; and strong men obtain riches.
יז  גֹּמֵל נַפְשׁוֹ, אִישׁ חָסֶד;    וְעֹכֵר שְׁאֵרוֹ, אַכְזָרִי. 17 The merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
יח  רָשָׁע--עֹשֶׂה פְעֻלַּת-שָׁקֶר;    וְזֹרֵעַ צְדָקָה, שֶׂכֶר אֱמֶת. 18 The wicked earneth deceitful wages; but he that soweth righteousness hath a sure reward.
יט  כֵּן-צְדָקָה לְחַיִּים;    וּמְרַדֵּף רָעָה לְמוֹתוֹ. 19 Stedfast righteousness tendeth to life; but he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.
כ  תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה, עִקְּשֵׁי-לֵב;    וּרְצוֹנוֹ, תְּמִימֵי דָרֶךְ. 20 They that are perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD; but such as are upright in their way are His delight.
כא  יָד לְיָד, לֹא-יִנָּקֶה רָּע;    וְזֶרַע צַדִּיקִים נִמְלָט. 21 My hand upon it! the evil man shall not be unpunished; but the seed of the righteous shall escape.
כב  נֶזֶם זָהָב, בְּאַף חֲזִיר--    אִשָּׁה יָפָה, וְסָרַת טָעַם. 22 As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman that turneth aside from discretion.
כג  תַּאֲוַת צַדִּיקִים אַךְ-טוֹב;    תִּקְוַת רְשָׁעִים עֶבְרָה. 23 The desire of the righteous is only good; but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
כד  יֵשׁ מְפַזֵּר, וְנוֹסָף עוֹד;    וְחֹשֵׂךְ מִיֹּשֶׁר, אַךְ-לְמַחְסוֹר. 24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth only to want.
כה  נֶפֶשׁ-בְּרָכָה תְדֻשָּׁן;    וּמַרְוֶה, גַּם-הוּא יוֹרֶא. 25 The beneficent soul shall be made rich, and he that satisfieth abundantly shall be satisfied also himself.
כו  מֹנֵעַ בָּר, יִקְּבֻהוּ לְאוֹם;    וּבְרָכָה, לְרֹאשׁ מַשְׁבִּיר. 26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him; but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
כז  שֹׁחֵר טוֹב, יְבַקֵּשׁ רָצוֹן;    וְדֹרֵשׁ רָעָה תְבוֹאֶנּוּ. 27 He that diligently seeketh good seeketh favour; but he that searcheth for evil, it shall come unto him.
כח  בּוֹטֵחַ בְּעָשְׁרוֹ, הוּא יִפּוֹל;    וְכֶעָלֶה, צַדִּיקִים יִפְרָחוּ. 28 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as foliage.
כט  עֹכֵר בֵּיתוֹ, יִנְחַל-רוּחַ;    וְעֶבֶד אֱוִיל, לַחֲכַם-לֵב. 29 He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind; and the foolish shall be servant to the wise of heart.
ל  פְּרִי-צַדִּיק, עֵץ חַיִּים;    וְלֹקֵחַ נְפָשׁוֹת חָכָם. 30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that is wise winneth souls.
לא  הֵן צַדִּיק, בָּאָרֶץ יְשֻׁלָּם;    אַף, כִּי-רָשָׁע וְחוֹטֵא. 31 Behold, the righteous shall be requited in the earth; how much more the wicked and the sinner!
Zooming out to fit a bit more into the viewable screen, I got this:

If one then pastes into Google translate the Hebrew text across from verse 14 - “יד  בְּאֵין תַּחְבֻּלוֹת, יִפָּל-עָם;    וּתְשׁוּעָה, בְּרֹב יוֹעֵץ. ” - one gets the following:

Without sabotaging your hand, fell - with, and salvation, Barb consultant.

; or, pasting: “בְּאֵין תַּחְבֻּלוֹת, יִפָּל-עָם;    וּתְשׁוּעָה, בְּרֹב יוֹעֵץ ”

one gets:

“Without finagle, fell - with, and salvation, multi Advisor”

Of course, “sabotaging” seems fairly well-known and obviously negatively tinged (connotatively), but for those unaware, “finagle” means:

verb /fəˈnāgəl/ finagled, past participle; finagled, past tense; finagles, 3rd person singular present; finagling, present participle
  1. Obtain (something) by devious or dishonest means
    • - Ted attended all the football games he could finagle tickets for
  2. Act in a devious or dishonest manner
    • - they wrangled and finagled over the fine points

The Hebrew word (תַּחְבֻּלוֹת ) translated “finagle” or “sabotage” (or “contrive”) is “tachbulah”/“tachbūlōt” (or a cognate). Searching Google on “תַּחְבֻּלוֹת,”, yields (amongst other hits):
“Lexicon Results
Strong's H8458 - tachbulah
takh·vü·lä' (Key)
Part of Speech
feminine noun
Root Word (Etymology)
From חָבַל (H2254) as denominative from חֵבֶל (H2256)
TWOT Reference
Outline of Biblical Usage
1) direction, counsel, guidance, good advice, (wise) counsel
a) direction, guidance
b) counsel
1) good or wise counsel
2) of the wicked

Notice the variation. There is a semantic range that seems to allow the word to mean “prudent counsel” - what “Gesenius's Lexicon” calls good counsel – or it can mean “cunning counsel” - what is called bad counsel. Hence, it seems, “finagle” or “sabotage” fit in with what is termed “bad counsel.”

Back to the original question, then:

“Is the mossad motto really 'By way of deception, thou shalt do war'?”

To some extent, we can ignore the “best answerer's” old motto-new motto distinction because the word “tachbulah” shows up in both. But if we simply ask whether a reasonable person could translate “tachbulah” - for example, as it occurs in Proverbs 11:14 – as “cunning counsel”, also known as, “deception”, “contrivance”, “finagling”, etc., the answer seems to be a resounding: Yes! In fact, it's Google's first choice.

I hasten to add that I am not saying subtle translation issues can be settled with Google searches. Rumor has it that “CIA Seed Money Helped Launch Google” in the first place! Source: http://www.infowars.com/articles/bb/google_cia_seed_money_launched_google.htm (cf.: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/07/exclusive-google-cia/)

Of course, with the seemingly cozy relationship that CIA has with Mossad, one might wonder where this leaves us with respect to the matter at hand. But, spook-i-ness aside, I am simply suggesting that, in virtue of the fact that something close to the “deception”-translation (namely, Google's “finagle”/“sabotage” translation) is obviously available as a surface reading, it is disingenuous (at best) and propagandistic (at worst) to accuse of “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Zionism” those who adopt the “deception”-reading. After all, an uneasily duplicable search (conducted by a person of good will) shows that the decision is not a one between an obviously correct reading and an obviously incorrect reading. Rather, the choice is a one between a positively-connoted sort of “counsel” and negatively-connoted sort of “counsel”. This is a close call. One might say that it has a delicious ambiguity. In such case, only surrounding context – and neither a priori penchants for philo-Semitism/anti-Semitism nor philo-Zionism/ anti-Zionism – can determine the best reading in any situation. It may well bell that the occurrence in Proverbs 11:14 is best construed as positive. As for the Mossad Motto, those with some background knowledge of the likes of Yitzhak Shamir and his ilk (and Shamir's involvement with the terrorist group (euphemistically designated by Wikipedia, et. al. as a the “more militant faction” of a “Zionist paramilitary group”) known as the “Stern Gang”), might come to a different conclusion than those who are blissfully or willfully ignorant.

Subsequent to my initial Google-experience, I have discovered that the “by way of deception” information comes via former Israeli Mossad case officer, Victor Ostrovsky. Ostrovsky wrote a book entitled, By Way of Deception – and variously subtitled “The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer”, “A Devastating Insiders-Portrait of the Mossad”, and suchlike.

As of “9 September 2012 at 01:26”, the relevant Wikipedia page (“By Way of Deception”) has the following text:

“The title of the book is supposedly a translation of part of Proverbs 24:6, which Ostrovsky alleges is the former motto of the Mossad: be-tahbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milkhamāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה. Ostrovsky claims this translates, 'By Way Of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War.' The Hebrew word בתחבולות translates into English as, 'Ploys, Tricks, Trickery, Subterfuges, or Stratagems' (Source: Google Translate) Alternatively, translations of בתחבולות into English in Proverbs 24:6 in Christian Bibles substitute a different meaning from the original Hewbrew. For example, the King James translation of Proverbs 24:6 is 'For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war"; the American Standard Bible translation is, 'For by wise guidance thou shalt make thy war'; the New American Standard Bible translation is 'For by wise guidance you will wage war.'[1] In contrast The Jewish Study Bible published by Jewish Publication Society at Oxford University Press (2004) under the editing scrutiny of Michael Fishbane, Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler reads 'For by stratagems you wage war, and victory comes with much planning'.”

And the relevant footnote #1 is as follows:

“^ "Proverbs 24:6 -- Parallel Translations". Retrieved May 18, 2011.”

The “Google Translate” citation brings back memories. Here's the Wikipedia screen capture:

(Note: Even though I ran Proverbs 11, and the Wikipedia blurb speaks about Proverbs 24, the word “בְתַחְבֻּלוֹת” is the same in both places. Google translate gives the meaning of the word – as taken from Proverbs 24:6, via the website http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2824.htm – as “contrive”, “sabotage”, “circumvent”, and “wangle”. Like I said at the outset, I was simply trying to satisfy myself with respect to the question of how seriously to take the hysterical denials of the "by way of deception" translation. And I am satisfied.)


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