Apart from these examples of literally raising hands, we also find biblical examples of this action in two related figures of speech. The mutinous revolt against established authority is described as raising one’s hand against a sitting ruler. Shortly after David survived the coup attempt of Absalom, Sheba initiated a revolt against David (2 Sam 20:1). Joab characterized this act of aggression by stating that Sheba had “lifted up his hand against the king” (2 Sam 20:21; 18:28; Ezra 6:12). The violence behind this figure of speech is also present in the figurative
raising of the hand against the less fortunate-in other words, mistreating them in some fashion. In defending his innocence, Job said, “If I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint” (Job 31:21-22).
As a spirit, God himself does not literally have hands to raise, but he figuratively raises his hands when he is described as taking an oath or commencing aggressive acts against opposition. In addition, he often is pictured with an upraised hand when promise of the land is in view. Given the power that resided in Egypt, the slave-call Israelites appeared to have no hope of ever returning to the Promise Land. But God emphatically assured them, “I will bring
you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob” (Exod 6:8 Neh 9:15). Following the exodus and the Israelites’ refusal to enter the land as God directed, a near parallel statement with the same powerful image bars access to a rebellious generation: “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home” (Num 14:30; Psa 106:26). As mortals put weapons in their hands to harm one another, so the gods of the ancient Near East were stylized with weapons in a raised hand poised to strike. END OF PART 2