The Bible is one of the most widely read and studied books in Western Civilization. As the vast majority of Harry Turtledove's works are set worlds where the Bible exists in nearly the same format as it does in OTL, dozens if not hundreds of his characters refer to passages from it. The references are rarely significant to the plot, but sometimes give brief insight to a particular character or culture.

Book of DanielEdit

The Book of Daniel is a book of the Old Testament. It focuses on a group of 6th-century BC Jewish men, who are captured from Jerusalem in wartime and then forced to live in exile, first at Babylon and later in Persia. The book is an example of apocalyptic literature, written to bring hope to a persecuted people. It recounts how the protagonists encountered several brushes with death (including a night in a den of lions), but triumphed against all odds with the aid of a supernatural force. The theme suggests that, just as the God of Israel saved Daniel and his companions from their enemies, so will he save all of Israel from a similar oppression in the future. Daniel's prophetic visions are full of oblique symbols and metaphors, whose precise meanings have been debated to this day. Exactly who wrote the book, in which century for what purpose, has also been a popular topic of conjecture with various proposed answers.

In The House of Daniel, the titular baseball team uses this section of the Bible as a motif. The team members recite and discuss passages from the Book of Daniel, some quite extensive, throughout the novel.

King DavidEdit

In addition to having the ill-fated alter-ego of "Tabitas" in "Occupation Duty," David, King of Israel is often referenced in Turtledove works, whether in connection with his battle against Goliath, his subsequent rule over the Israelite tribes, or his familial connection to Jesus.

In the Atlantis story "The Scarlet Band," Athelstan Helms reminds his listeners of a statement attributed to David in the 60th Psalm: "Moab is my washpot". Helms uses this reference for the benefit of Samuel Jones, a self-proclaimed holy man suspected of several murders, to explain that many holy men of the past have resorted to violence to achieve a desired end.[1]


Gideon was a judge of the Israelites, whose career is summarized in Judges 7-9. During his life, Israel was under constant attack by the Midianites and Amalekites, and its people had turned to the worship of the false god Baal.

God commanded Gideon to free the people politically and purify them religiously. Gideon was very unsure of his calling and asked God to indicate His will through miracles, which God did. Gideon then condemned his compatriots' worship of Baal and destroyed the god's altars.

He then gathered an army to counterattack Midian and Amalek. God ordered Gideon to demobilize most of his troops till the army had shrunk from 32,000 to 300; with such a small force, there could be no doubt that victory had come through God's favor.

God sowed fear and discord in the enemy camp, so that the sound of three hundred shofars (each man in Gideon's army was ordered to carry and blow a horn) caused them to panic and kill one another. Gideon pursued the two kings of Midian, who had been responsible for the deaths of his brothers. He requested assistance from the men of the Israelite towns of Succoth and Peniel; the men of both towns refused. Gideon captured the Midianite kings unassisted, then destroyed Succoth and Peniel. He then killed the Midianite kings.

In The Guns of the South, Andries Rhoodie, leader of the Rivington Men, seems to be quite fond of Gideon's story. In early 1864 during the Second American Revolution, General Robert E. Lee comes across Rhoodie reading Gideon, and reflects that he must be a pious man. This dispels a certain unease which Lee had felt ever since meeting him. The two discuss how Gideon's story "seemed to fit" the South's current situation.[2]



Haman in a 17th-century Dutch painting.

Haman the Agagite המן האגגי, or Haman the evil המן הרשע is the main antagonist in the Book of Esther. In the story, he is prime minister in the Persian empire under King Xerxes the Great. When he thinks he has been insulted by Mordecai, a leader of Susa's Jewish community, Haman plans the complete genocide of Jewry. In the process, he builds a proudly ostentatious gallows on which he plans to hang Mordecai specifically. Unknown to Haman, Xerxes' consort Queen Esther, a secret Jewess and the niece of Mordecai, has learned of the plan. Mordecai and Esther concoct a plan which entraps Haman into perjuring himself before the King, leading to his being hanged on the very same gallows he built for Mordecai, who succeeds him as prime minister.

Haman's defeat is celebrated in the popular Jewish holiday of Purim (named after the "lots" Haman used to calculate strategy). This holiday is celebrated each March, and often involves pageants and puppet shows portraying Haman as an exaggerated comic villain.

Secular historians doubt the veracity of the Purim story, as the surviving accounts of Xerxes' inner circle do not mention any figures resembling Mordecai, Esther or Haman. The story may have originated as a myth about the Babylonian deities Marduk and Ishtar, and the Zoroastrian Devil-like figure Ahriman.

Haman's story is referred to in proverbial shorthand by characters in various Harry Turtledove works, who declare that certain traitors and other malefactors will be "hanged higher than Haman." In "Must and Shall", Hannibal Hamlin declares that such will be the fate of all Confederate leaders at the end of the Great Rebellion. Similar proclamations can be found in The Guns of the South, The Two Georges, The Man With the Iron Heart, "Lee at the Alamo", and several volumes of the Southern Victory series. The phrase was used in famous OTL speeches by Stephen Douglas and Woodrow Wilson, either of which may have inspired Turtledove's use of the catchphrase.


The Israelites (Hebrew: בני ישראל‎‎ Bnei Yisra'el) were a Semitic people of the ancient Near East, who inhabited part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods, and lived in the region in smaller numbers after the fall of the monarchy. The ancient Israelites are considered an outgrowth of the indigenous Canaanite populations that long inhabited the Southern Levant, Syria, Palestine and the Transjordan.

In the Hebrew Bible, the term "Israelites" refers to the direct descendants of any of the sons of the patriarch Jacob, or of the people called Israel, and of a worshipper of the God of Israel, Yahweh. In the period of the divided monarchy it referred only to inhabitants of the northern kingdom, and is only extended to cover people of the southern kingdom in post-exilic usage. Other terms sometimes used include the "Hebrews" and the "Twelve Tribes" (of Israel).

The Jews, which include the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon and partially Levi, are named after the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah. The word "Jews" is found in Kings (16:6), Chronicles (I, 4:18), and in numerous passages in the Book of Jeremiah, the Book of Zechariah and the Book of Esther. The Samaritans, whose religious texts consist of the five books of the Samaritan Torah (but which do not contain the books comprising the Jewish Tanakh), do not refer to themselves as Jews, although they do regard themselves as Israelites, in accordance with the Torah.

The Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), often called the Northern Kingdom of Israel, contained all the tribes except for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Following its conquest by Assyria, these ten tribes were allegedly dispersed and lost to history, and henceforth known as the Ten Lost Tribes. Jewish tradition holds that Samaria was so named because the region's mountainous terrain was used to keep "Guard" (Shamer) for incoming enemy attack. According to Samaritan tradition, however, the Samaritan ethnonym is not derived from the region of Samaria, but from the fact that they were the "Guardians" (Shamerim) of the true Israelite religion. Thus, according to Samaritan tradition, the region was named Samaria after them, not vice versa. In Jewish Hebrew, the Samaritans are called Shomronim, while in Samaritan Hebrew they call themselves Shamerim.

In Judaism, an Israelite is, broadly speaking, a lay member of the Jewish ethno-religious group, as opposed to the priestly orders of Kohanim and Levites. In texts of Jewish law such as the Mishnah and Gemara, the term יהודי (Yehudi), meaning Jew, is rarely used, and instead the ethnonym ישראלי (Yisraeli), or Israelite, is widely used to refer to Jews. Samaritans commonly refer to themselves and Jews collectively as Israelites, and describe themselves as the Israelite Samaritans.

In The Guns of the South, Robert E. Lee examines a time-displaced weapon invented in the post-1948 State of Israel, and mistakes "Israeli" for "Israelite".[3]


In addition to being the focus of "Occupation Duty," the Philistines are referenced in a character's metaphor in In the Presence of Mine Enemies. Lise Gimpel wonders if the ancient Jews made jokes about the then-recently extinct Philistines, just as 21st-century Germans find it great sport to make jokes about the (officially) extinct Jews.

Pontius PilateEdit

Turtledove has referenced the Roman bureaucrat Pontius Pilate, who ordered the execution of Jesus, in numerous stories, most notably "Shock and Awe" which includes a direct appearance by Pilate.

In "Under St. Peter's", the POV character Jesus, whose resurrection turns out to have been a vampiric phenomenon, thinks back on his encounter with Pilate, whom he remembers as "a brute, but not a stupid brute."

Book of RevelationEdit

In addition to directly influencing the plot of "Ils ne passeront pas," the Book of Revelation is frequently referenced in Turtledove's work.

In Ruled Britannia, English seditionist John Walsh incorporates passages from the Revelation into his speech in which he demonises (so to speak) the Spanish occupiers.[4]

King SolomonEdit

Solomon (Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה Shlomo, Arabic: سُليمان‎‎ Sulaymān, Greek: Σολομών Solomōn; Latin: Salomon), also called Jedidiah (Hebrew יְדִידְיָהּ‎), was, according to the Bible (Book of Kings: 1 Kings 1–11; Book of Chronicles: 1 Chronicles 28–29, 2 Chronicles 1–9), Qu'ran, hadith and Hidden Words, a fabulously wealthy and wise king of Israel and a son of David, King of Israel. The conventional dates of Solomon's reign are circa 970 to 931 BC, normally given in alignment with the dates of David's reign. He is described as the third and final king of the United Monarchy.

The Hebrew Bible credits him as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem. It portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power beyond any of the previous kings of the country, but ultimately as a human king who sinned. His sins included idolatry, marrying foreign women, and ultimately turning away from Yahweh, and led to the kingdom's being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam.

Solomon is traditionally considered the author of the Bible sections Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. He is named as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

One of the more famous stories of Solomon tells how he used reverse psychology to determine which of two low-born women, who both claimed to be a lost infant's mother, was telling the truth.

In In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Heinrich Gimpel uses the "two mothers" story as a metaphor to help ease an argument between shoppers competing to buy a children's toy in a store. This leads to much grief for Heinrich. Even though Solomon is also part of the Christian Scriptures and therefore also a Christian might have made a reference to the story, Gimpel's stalker Erika Dorsch knows that Solomon was a Jewish king, and gets the idea to denounce Heinrich as a secret Jew to the Nazi authorities.