Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are critically ill after being poisoned by a military grade nerve agent. Prime Minister Theresa May has concluded it is highly likely this was a state-sponsored assassination attempt by Russia. So, what does the Torah say about this?
The Bible has its share of political assassinations, double agents and poisoning, although not all rolled into one event.
When Ehud, the son of Gera, asked for a private audience with the King of Moab, he had the King’s absolute confidence and used it to fatally knife him.
Ehud saw their closely-related Moabite cousins as enemies ready to sell out the Israelites, as they had done when entering Canaan.
Assassination of this kind was deemed justifiable, as it was an attack on the security of the Israelites,and Ehud ruled the confederacy of Israelite tribes for 80 years after his act of vengeance.
Before King David died, he instructed his son Solomon to find the means to kill Joab, whom he viewed as a double agent.
Despite a life in service to David, Joab turned coat and supported Adonijah in his rebellion against his father.
Poisoned food appears in the pot of the prophets under Elisha’s guidance, at a time when unitarian worship was forbidden in the Israelite kingdom by Jezebel, for whom the Prophets of God were traitors.
It is possible that the starving prophets might have died of mass poisoning, and the Israelite monotheist cult obliterated, were it not for Elisha’s miracle cure for the pottage.
It appears the Skripals could lose their lives to their defiance of the current regime in Russia.
However, the crossing of borders to poison unfaithful citizens abroad, causing the death and injury of others, crosses a red line.
Ariel Abel is rabbi of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and will this week be inducted by the Chief Rabbi at Bevis Marks as a chaplain to HM Forces. Mazeltov!