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The Born Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible by Ruth Hurmence Green
Chapter Five

Mass Killings Ordered, Committed,
Or Approved By God

The entire population of the earth at the time of Noah, except for eight survivors, in a flood. "And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." Gen. 7:23

Every inhabitant of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of the surrounding plain, by "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." Gen. 19:24 Lot's family fled.

All the first-born of every family in Egypt, including children of those in the dungeons and the successor to the throne of Egypt's Pharaoh, by God on the first Passover night. Ex. 12:29

All the hosts of Pharaoh, including the captains of 600 chariots, who drown in the Red Sea while pursuing the Israelites. ". . . and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea." Ex. 14:27,28

Victims who perish in the conquest of seven nations in Canaan by the Jews under God's guidance so that the Jews can occupy their lands as God had promised Abraham. "When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them." Deut. 7:1,2

Amalek and his people, by the edge of the sword. "Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." As long as Aaron helped Moses to hold up his hands, the Israelites prevailed. Ex. 17:11,16 At times of crisis, the Lord often waxed whimsical.

3,000 Israelites, massacred by their Levite tribe at the command of the Lord for worshipping the golden calf. "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 These were the orders of a God who would brook no disloyalty, a self-styled "jealous" God.

Rulers of Israel, 11 in number, who refused to invade the Promised Land after they had spied on it for 40 days. God kills them with a plague. Num. 14:37

250 Levite princes of the Jews who challenged the leadership of Moses. God would have killed the whole congregation, if Moses hadn't pointed out the injustice of such a course of action. Owing to Moses's plea for sanity, the Lord repented somewhat and re-fashioned the punishment. Letting his compassion prevail, he proceeded to open up the earth and bury alive "the wives, sons, and little children" of two of the princes, then sent a fire that consumed the remaining princes. The rest of the congregation, properly terrified, next made a covering for the altar out of their incense braziers. Num. 16:1-40 God was finally mollified.

14,700 Jews in a plague, because they rebelled against Moses after the killing of the 250 princes. At last Aaron makes atonement with incense to stop the plague. Num. 16:41-49

The Canaanites at Hormah, utterly destroyed by the Lord at the request of the Jews. Num. 21:3

The Amorites at Heshbon. Israel "took all these cities." Moses summed up the slaughter: "We . . . utterly destroyed the men and the women and the little ones." Num. 21:25 and Deut. 2:34

All the sons and subjects of Og, about whom the Lord said to Moses: "Fear him (the king of Bashan) not, for I have delivered him into thy hand." None was left alive. Num. 21:34,35

24,000 Israelites who co-habited with Moabite women and worshipped Baal. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun . . ." Num. 25:4,9

All the males and kings of the Midianites, because they worshipped idols, and all their wives and male children. "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Vex the Midianites, and smite them. Num. 25:16,17 Num. 31:7,8

The subjects of two kingdoms on the east side of the Jordan, in order that Reuben and Gad might seize these realms for their own as a gift from God. Num. 32

The Ammonites, decimated by the Lord so that Lot might possess their land. Deut. 2:19-21

The Horims, slain by God in order that Esau might acquire their land. Deut. 2:22

All the citizens of Jericho, except for a prostitute and her family. "And they utterly destroyed all in the city, man and woman, young and old, and ox . . . with the edge of the sword." Josh. 6 "They" make a grisly game of it, using the superstitious number "7" popular in the Bible, trumpet blasts, and marches around the doomed city. Joshua competes with Moses, the leader he replaced, for title of No. 1 Murderer (God's hit man) of the Old Testament, as he follows God's orders.

Men of Ai, and the women and children, 12,000 in all (and the city burned), in a treacherous ambush conceived and directed by God. Joshua and his men smote them with the "edge of the sword." With the usual biblical hocus-pocus, Joshua held out his spear at arm's length until all the inhabitants were killed, then built an altar and sacrificed to God to celebrate the victory. (God always has demanded recognition of his beneficence!) Joshua hanged the king of Ai on a tree. Josh. 8:1-30 (Jesus was also to be "hanged on a tree." The precedent builds.)

The armies of five kings of the Amorites, who beseiged Gibeon. "And the Lord . . . slew them with a great slaughter." He then chased the survivors and killed more of them with hailstones. Josh. 10:10,11 (The rest of the world apparently had to muddle along the best it could, while the Supreme Being was pre-occupied with the war games of some Semitic tribes. "You only have I known . . ." Amos 3:2)

The five kings of the Amorites after being shut up in a cave and then brought before the congregation. Joshua exhorted his fellow Israelites to: "Come near: put your feet upon the necks of these kings. Thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies." He then slew all five and hanged their bodies. Josh. 10:16-26 The Bible specializes in such horror tales and yet is considered a proper book for children, in full confidence of its not being read.

All the people of Makkedah, and their king hanged, by Joshua. Josh. 10:28

All the people of Libnah. Not a soul remained; all were delivered to Joshua by the Lord. Josh. 10:29,30 Joshua and God were agreed upon capital punishment.

All the people of Lachish, by Joshua. Josh. 10:32

All the people of Gezer. "And Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining." Josh. 10:33 Joshua continues to display the sterling qualities that win favor with the Boss.

All the people of Eglon. "They left none remaining." Josh. 10:34,35 (The Old Testament is a mixture of brutal history, poetry, narratives, and philosophy.)

All the people of Hebron. "All the cities and souls that were therein." Josh. 10:36,37

All the inhabitants of "the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs and all their kings; he left none remaining but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded." Josh. 10:40 God's communications with Joshua usually took the form of military communiques, and Joshua was nothing if not a "clean sweeper."

All 31 kings and inhabitants of their countries, of the hills and south country and land of Goshen and the valley and the plain and the mountain of Israel and the valley of the same from Mt. Halak to Mt. Hermon. "As God commanded Moses." Josh. 11:12,16,17 and 12:24 Joshua was happy to do Moses' dirty work, but the logistics must have been mind-boggling.

The inhabitants of Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, killed by Judah and Caleb. "And the Lord was with Judah." Judges 1:18,19

10,000 Moabites, by the Israelites. ". . . and there escaped not a man." Judges 3:29

10,000 Perizzites and Canaanites, conquered by Judah and Simeon. Judges 1:4 (Whoever did the body-counting always came out with a nice round figure.)

600 Philistines, slain with an ox goad by Shamgar. Judges 3:31

All the hosts of Sisera. "And all the hosts of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword." Judges 4:16 (Old Testament swords all had edges, no points.)

120,000 Midianites by Gideon and his 300 men. Judges 8:10

All but one, who managed to escape, of his 70 step-brothers by Abimelech, the son of one of God's favorite torturers, Gideon, in order to gain for himself the throne of Israel. Judges 9:5 Like father, like son.

30 young Philistines by Samson, furious after they guess his riddle. "The spirit of the Lord came upon him." Judges 14:19

Many Philistines with a "great slaughter" by Samson, because they burned his former wife and her father to death to avenge Samson, mistakenly thinking to win his approval. Judges 15

All the lords of the Philistines and a houseful of men and women, including 3,000 on the roof, who perished when Samson pulled down the pillars, after calling upon God to restore his strength. "So the dead that he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." Samson's bloody score included 1,000 Philistines slain with the jawbone of an ass when "the spirit of the Lord was upon him." Judges 15:14 and 16:27,30 (Is this the Holy Spirit that enchants the clergy?)

25,100 Benjamites, who, with God on their side, fought against their fellow Jews. Judges 20:35

50,070 people of Bethshemesh, struck dead by God, because a few of them who were working a field happened to glance into the Ark carrying the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. "And the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter." I Sam. 6:19 God kept grave-diggers of the Old Testament working overtime burying innocents.

Philistines killed under Samuel. "And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines." I Sam. 7:13 (Does God really like anybody?)

Philistines killed by Saul and Jonathan. "For the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel." I Sam. 14:12,13,20

The Ammonites who threaten Jabesh, slain by Saul and the children of Israel "so that two of them were not left together." I Sam. 11:11

All the Amalekites killed by Saul upon God's orders. "Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling. . ." I Sam. 15:3,7 (Bottle feeding was definitely recommended.)

Thousands of Philistines slain by David's armies. "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." I Sam. 18:5,6,7 and 23:5; II Sam. 5:25 and 8:1

200 Philistine men, killed by David to obtain their foreskins with which to purchase Saul's daughter to be his wife. I Sam. 18:27 (But that's minor surgery!)

The Geshurites and the Gezrites and the Amalekites slain by David, "leaving neither man nor woman alive." I Sam. 27:8,9 (What about the infants and sucklings?)

The Jebusites, killed by David when he captured Jerusalem from them. ". . . and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind . . ." II Sam. 5:6,7,8

The Moabites and 22,000 Syrians by David. "And the Lord preserved David." II Sam. 8:2,5,6,14

40,000 horsemen of the Syrians, killed by David. II Sam. 10:18 (The horses, too?)

The children of Ammon, by David's men. II Sam. 11:1

The Ammonites of Rabbah and other cities, tortured to death by David. "He put them under saws and under harrows of iron and made them pass through the brick kiln." II Sam. 12:31 (David, today the patriarch most revered by the Jews, was a man who lived by the values and customs of his age.)

Every man in Edom, killed by Joab and David. I Kings 11:15

The murderers of one of Saul's sons, sentenced to death by David. "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. 4:7,12 Such deeds are typical of the behavior of God's favorites in the Bible. Even though it was customary behavior at the time, surely Almighty God's standards of morality should not fluctuate.

70,000 victims of a pestilence sent by the Lord, because David chose it as his punishment for taking a census. II Sam. 24:15

450 prophets of Baal, killed by Elijah. "And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah." I Kings 18:40,46 (God's motto was "better dead than mis-led.")

100,000 Syrian footmen, slaughtered in one day by the children of Israel. "Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said the Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys; therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand . . ." A wall falls on the 27,000 who are left. I Kings 20:28,29,30 (That certainly got God the valley vote!)

100 Moabite troops, consumed by fire from heaven called down by Elijah when they question whether he is a man of God. II Kings 1 Wholesale murder is proof of Godliness in the Bible.

42 children eaten by two bears, after Elisha curses them in the name of the Lord for making fun of his bald head. II Kings 2:23,24 (Similar nightmarish tragedies happen in fairy tales, but there they aren't perpetrated by God.)

All who died in a 7-year famine sent by the Lord on Samaria. II Kings 8:1

70 children of King Ahab of Israel, and all the rest of Ahab's "house," after God decreed they should all be destroyed. The heads of the children are put into baskets at the gates of the city. II Kings 9:8 and 10:1-11 (Baskets full of heads!) All of this was engineered by Jehu, whom God had chosen to succeed Ahab to the throne.

42 children of the king of Judah, by their uncles, at Jehu's command. Elisha is the medium through which God communicates his inhuman demands for the annihilation of these entire families, and Jehu is all too eager to comply: "Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord." For all his savagery he wins the praise of the Lord: "Thou hast done that which is right in mine eyes and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart." II Kings 10:12-17,30 The God of the Christian Bible has little regard for the family as such.

All worshippers of Baal in Samaria and Israel by 80 guards at the direction of Jehu. The victims were tricked into attending a Baal-worship service where they were all butchered. "And they smote them with the edge of the sword." II Kings 10:18-25

185,000 Assyrians slain by one angel overnight. Thus the Lord defended Jerusalem. II Kings 19:35 The Christian conception of an angel puts a halo (much-needed) on the Old Testament variety.

All the priests of heathen gods in Judah, slain by King Josiah. II Kings 23:20

500,000 men of Israel by King Abijah of Judah and his men. "God smote . . . all Israel before Abijah and Judah." II Chron. 13:16,17,18 This atrocity was the result of civil war between Israel and Judah.

10,000 Edomites killed by Amaziah's men, who then carried away 10,000 more and "brought them to the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they were all broken in pieces." II Chron. 25:11,12 Amaziah accepted the Lord's advice on this campaign.

120,000 Judeans, massacred in one day by King Pekah of Israel, "because they had forsaken the Lord God." He also took 200,000 women and children captive as bondmen and bondwomen. These are all fellow Jews. II Chron. 28

500 subjects of a Persian king and the ten sons of Haman who meet death as the result of the machinations of Queen Esther on behalf of her Jewish countrymen. Haman suffers the same fate. Esther's uncle Mordecai and the other Jews throughout the kingdom had refused to abandon their Mosaic law. Esther 3:5,8 and 7:10 and 9:1-14

75,000 Persian subjects of King Ahasuerus by the Jews, urged on by Esther and Mordecai. Esther 9:16 Esther's part in this is celebrated by a festive Jewish holiday, in which she is honored for saving her fellow Jews. It is called Purim.

Job's children and servants by God in a contest with Satan over Job's loyalty to God. Job 1:13-19

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

The Born Again Skeptic's Guide To the Bible can be purchased online here.