MembersEspionage, the Bible and Mossad Innovation

“By clever tactics (cunning) you shall wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

By Tsvi Sadan | | Topics: Tech & Tradition
Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen
Photo: Flash90

The Mossad is the Israeli government’s spy agency, officially titled the “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations.” The Mossad’s motto is a Bible verse, and its tradition stretches back to Moses.

The verse from Proverbs 24:6 reads, “By clever tactics you shall wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Most of the English translations seem to have been piously embarrassed by the phrase ”clever tactics” or “cunning” (tachbulot in Hebrew), and they render it more gently as either “guidance” or “counsel.” I would suggest the following reading to better understand the Mossad’s motto: “Lack of cunning leads to a people’s defeat, but in an abundance of [shrewd] counsellors there is safety.” This advice is given in the context of war, which means that otherwise cunningness is not a legitimate practice.

Trickery and cunning are trademarks of effective espionage. The famous story of the 12 Israelite spies Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land tells how they moved all throughout Canaan like...

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