Most my life, I, like most people assumed the Bible was a book about love, peace, tolerance and rules for a good life. It was always assumed that if more people took a page out of the Bible the world would be a better place. However, recently I have started to look into the Bible and found a lot of pretty nasty things. So many in fact, that I can’t fit them into one post so this will have to be a series.
I was shocked and horrified when I found out that the Bible justifies ethnic cleansing and genocide. For example, we all know the story of how Moses helped the Jews escape from Egypt. In order to get their freedom, God kills the firstborn child of every Egyptian (Exodus 12:29-30). That is pure murder. What did the children do to anyone? It’s not as though they were responsible for the enslaving of the Jews. Every Egyptian was punished, even the poor wretches in dungeons who could hardly have been responsible. What if we applied this logic to modern day? What if Lincoln killed the first born of every Southerner in order to free the slaves in America? This is the action of a cruel and brutal murderer of the innocent, not that of a kind and loving God.
However, it gets worse. See the Israelites came to the “promised land” only to find other people were living there. So God told them to drive them out and “destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images.” (Exodus 34:11-4) (So much for respecting other people’s religion.) This is one of the earliest examples of ethnic cleansing, of the murder of another people for the simple reason they belong to another ethnic group. And we are supposed to worship this God?
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. In fact the Old Testament is full of God commanding the Israelites to attack and destroy different religions and ethnic groups, for petty and often non-existent reasons. Leviticus 26:7-9 for example. 1st Samuel 15:2-3 tells of how God told the Israelites to “go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both men and women, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” This is the complete extermination of another group of people, in other words genocide. This is God commanding that innocent women and babies are to be murdered. Were it to happen today it would be considered a brutal and unjustifiable war crime.
God commanded them to attack the Midianites and “kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:17-8) Now, not only does God command them annihilate another group of people (it is not mentioned what they did to deserve this) but he also gives them to permission to rape children. God is a sick bastard.
That isn’t the only time. On another occasion he tells them to “smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword. But the women, the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself.” (Deuteronomy 20:13-4) However he tells them to reserve special treatment for the tribes that neighbour them. Of these “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them, namely, the Hittites, and the Amorities, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” (Deuteronomy 20:16-7)
Then there is Noah’s flood (Genesis 7:21-3) where God wipes out all of humanity (bar Noah) because of “sin” and “violence”. So God cures this problem with evil and even more violence. Apparently the complete annihilation of all of humanity is reasonable and we should still worship the God. The more I read about God the more he resembles a cruel and evil dictator, brutally massacring his own people and expecting them to love him for it.
There are literally too many massacres to mention in one article and I could go on all night. For a complete list see of all of God’s killings (they number 135) see http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2010/04/drunk-with-blood-gods-killings-in-bible.html
They include the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (and the death of every person inside) (Genesis 19:24), the destruction of Jericho (Judges 1:8), the massacre of the Philistines (Samuel 23:2), the genocide of the Gezrites and Amalekites which “left neither man or woman alive” (Samuel 27:8) the killing of 127,000 Syrians because they said the Israelites worshiped a God of the hills but not a God of the valleys (1st Kings 20:28), the murder of every member of the religion of Baal (2nd Kings 10:19-27) killing 120,000 men for not worshipping God (2nd Chronicles 28:6) and killing two thirds of the Moabites and making the rest slaves (2nd Samuel 8:2).
Some might argue that these are old, obscure parts of the Bible that are out dated. If this is so then why are they not simply removed from the Bible? Christians still quote from these books when it suits them. No church has ever denounced or even tried to distance themselves from the Old Testament. Also Jesus agreed with these killings and warned his followers that the same would happen to them if they did not believe. He threatened that the land of the non believers would be turned into another Sodom and Gommorah (in other words annihilated) (Luke 17:26-32) (Matthew 10:14-5)
My greatest fear is that some people might actually believe these terrible stories. Some people might believe that the genocide of another race is acceptable as the Bible condones it. Some people might use the Bible to justify hatred and violence. They might fly a plane into a tower or gun down 77 innocent people and think God approves.