Contact Us

Operation Pillar of Cloud or Pillar of Defense?

Operation Pillar of Cloud or Pillar of Defense?

How the Biblical Clouds of Glory Named an Israeli Military Operation



I've been following the situation in Israel this week, and I've got a question for you. I've heard Israel's operation called both "Pillar of Cloud" and "Pillar of Defense." Which one is it? And what is the significance of those terms?


This name takes us back to the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. In their journeys through the desert, the Jewish people were guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.1 This pillar played a very important defensive role just a few days after the Exodus. Fleeing Egypt, the Jews found themselves on the shore of the Reed Sea with the Egyptian army closing in fast on their tail. Just then:

The angel of G‑d, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them,coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.2

Rashi, the foremost commentator on the Torah, cites the tradition that the cloud not only separated between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp, it also intercepted the arrows and catapult stones of the Egyptians.

In order to function as a viable separation, it must have significantly changed shapes, morphing from a pillar into an all-encompassing mass that enveloped the People of Israel, shielding and defending them on multiple sides.3

It now makes sense why the name of the operation, "Amud Anan" in Hebrew, can be translated as both "Pillar of Cloud" and "Pillar of Defense."

It is our prayer that just as the cloud protected our ancestors, may G‑d continue to shelter us all under His canopy of peace.


Talk of the Rebbe, 15 Shevat, 5743.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Lou FLORIDA November 20, 2012

Short truth When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" My God has sent his angel and hath shut the lions mouth that they have not hurt me. If God is for you who can stand against you? Reply

Redneck Jew November 18, 2012

Hashem is jealous for His covenant people "In that day I will strenghten the house of Israel and the least of them shall be like King David"
"I will settle my people back in their land Never to be uprooted"

As ther biblical events of these last days unfold we can take comfort in knowing that Hashem will stand as a Mighty Rock for His people strenghtening us and if their is ever a fight we cannot handle Hashem will Himself intervene. May Hashem's Mighty Name be praised forever. Reply

This page in other languages