The Cruelest Bible Verses by Ruth Hurmence Green (May 1997)

How to decide which are the most distressing verses from the Bible? Which are the few that make me cringe the most? What do I use for a measuring stick? I wish the whole Bible could be made to drink the purity test of water and dust that is reserved for the wives of jealous husbands. Its belly would surely swell and its thigh rot. Numbers 5:12-31

When the Lord thy god hath delivered (a City) into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the sword: but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thou shalt save nothing alive that breatheth; but thou shalt utterly destroy them. Deut. 20:13,14 and Deut. 20:16,17

And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then shalt thou bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father a full month; and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will. Deut. 21:11-14

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him … and all the men of his city shall stone him with stones that he die. Deut. 21:18-21

Happy shall he be who taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. Psalms 137:9

Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men shall stone her with stones that she die. Psalms 137:9

And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and daughters which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege and in the straitness. Deut. 28:53

Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, because thou hearkenest not unto the voice of thy Lord thy God to keep his commandments. … And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed forever. (If you do not obey Mosaic law) Deut. 28:46

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Matt. 23:33

And the brother shall deliver up the brother of death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. Matt. 10:21

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father. … Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and thy daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matt. 10:33-36

Therefore, the Lord will strike with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts. Isaiah 3:17

Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. … Everyone that is found shall be thrust through; and everyone that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and wives ravished. Isaiah 13:9,15,16

It is good for a man not to touch a woman. I Cor. 7:1

There are many whose mouths must be stopped. Titus 1:10,11

Servants, be subject to your master with all fear. I Peter 2:18

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. II John 1:10

If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool. I Cor. 3:18

Be afflicted and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy into heaviness. James 4:9

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. I Peter 2:13

They that resist (powers) shall receive to themselves damnation. Romans 13:2

Take every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. Ex. 32:27

Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Woe to the bloody city. I will make the pile for fire great. Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. Ez. 24:9,10

I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of the heart. … I will also send wild beasts which shall rob you of your children. Lev. 26:16-22

Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung from your solemn feasts. Malachi 2:3

I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh. Deut. 32:42

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. John 6:53

And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun. Numbers 25:4

Slay man and woman, infant and suckling. I Sam. 15:3

And David commanded his young men, and they slew them and cut off their hands and their feet and hanged them up over the pool. II Sam. 4:12

And he said throw her down, so they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses; and he trode her underfoot. And when he was come in he did eat and drink and said, Go see now this cursed woman. And they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet, and the palms of her hands. II Kings 9:33-35

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known 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: 15-18

All the women therein that were with child he ripped up. II Kings 15:16

O Princes of the House of Israel, who pluck off their skin from off their bones: who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin off them; and they break their bones and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the cauldron. Micah 3:2,3

Wherefore if thy hand or foot offend thee, cut them off … And if thine eye offend thee pluck it out. Matt. 18:8,9

And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly father do also unto you. Matt 18:34,35

Thus were both daughters of Lot with child by their father. Gen. 19:36

I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye them as is good in your eyes. Gen. 19:8

So the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning. Judges 19:25

And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. Ex. 12:29

The Lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way. Jer. 4:7

Ruth Green (1915-81) is the author of The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide To The Bible.

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