The Bible has a lot to say about killing. Most of the time, people are being killed for no good reason at all. And most of the time, the Bible totally approves of it.
The biblical law is full of descriptions of all the animals God wants people to continually sacrifice to him. Never mind that God doesn’t need them because he doesn’t actually eat animals. And he doesn’t always allow other people to eat the sacrificed animals either, so those animals are being killed for nothing. And never mind that God says sacrificing a bull is like killing a human. God won’t let you come near him without an offering. And he won’t forgive you unless you shed blood for him. He likes the smell. Instead of helping diseased people, God demands a bunch of pointless bloodshed from them.
Even the forest of Lebanon isn’t big enough to provide enough firewood and animals to satisfy God’s desire for bloodshed. And when people don’t sacrifice quite as many animals as God would like, he accuses them of robbing him, and punishes them. It may be possible to make offerings to God without killing animals, but God likes it much better when you do kill animals. The Bible says killing animals is righteous, and not killing animals is evil.1 If you don’t kill them, God will.
Killing an animal can convince God not to punish people, regardless of whether they’re actually guilty or not. That means either that murderers can bribe God to ignore what they’ve done, or that the people in this scenario aren’t guilty, but God doesn’t care and would have killed them anyway, but then he decides not to kill them, because they killed a cow.
When two cows brought the lost ark of the covenant back to Israel, the Israelites were so grateful that they sacrificed the cows to God. Solomon wisely sacrificed too many animals to count. Even God sacrifices animals.2
Okay, suppose you don’t care about all that because you disagree with God and don’t think sacrificing a bull is like killing a human. What about human sacrifice, then? The Bible tends to describe sacrificing your sons and daughters as something that only evil people do. Something that God would never think of telling people to do.
But the Bible also says we should love each other the way God loved us… which was by sacrificing his son for us. So are we supposed to sacrifice our sons, too? If God didn’t want us to sacrifice our sons, why would he set such a bad example? And why would he tell his people to give him the firstborn of their sons just like they give him the firstborn of their animals?
The Bible says God did indeed command child sacrifice,3 and he rewarded Abraham for obediently attempting to sacrifice his son to him. And when Jephthah inadvertently made an idiotic conditional promise to sacrifice his daughter to God, God knew exactly how that would turn out… Yet instead of doing anything to stop him, God actively fulfilled the condition that would make Jephthah obligated to carry out the sacrifice.
Suicide and assisted suicide
A woman dropped a millstone on Abimelek’s head, but that didn’t quite kill him. He didn’t want people to think a woman had killed him, so he had his armor-bearer finish him off. Similarly, after a not-quite-successful suicide attempt, Saul asked someone else to put him out of his misery, and he did. But David didn’t think it was ever right to kill God’s chosen king, so he had that guy killed. Saul’s armor-bearer’s response to Saul’s death was to kill himself the same way Saul had tried to.
Samson’s story ends with a suicide attack, where (with God’s help) he causes a building to collapse on his enemies and himself. Zimri set a palace on fire while he was in it.
Ahithophel hanged himself after God made Absalom ignore his advice, and Judas hanged himself because he felt guilty.4
When Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard, God showed that that was exactly what he wanted them to do (though he didn’t let Jonah actually die). Later, Jonah asked God to kill him, but God just tormented him instead.
The Bible has some terrible advice about love: It claims that you should lay down your life for others just like Jesus did, or else you don’t really love them.
The Bible fails to actually discourage suicide at all. It says the only kind of sins you can commit against your own body are sexual sins. So I guess suicide wouldn’t be considered a “sin” (unless you count deaths from dangerous fetish activities).
God commanded that anyone who kills a human is to be killed.5 And also that they don’t have to be killed if it was an accident. In that case, you’re safe… as long as you’re willing to be imprisoned in a certain city for as long as some unrelated person lives. But if you leave that city, then God thinks it’s okay for someone to kill you in spite of your innocence.
If someone breaks into your house at night, it says it’s okay for you to kill them. But if you do the same thing during the day, you’re a murderer and now you have to be killed. God also said anyone who kills an animal that belongs to someone else has to “give life for life“… but he failed to clarify whose life he meant.
The biblical law requires the death penalty not just for things like murder, but for all kinds of crimes, many of them quite petty and harmless. God thinks people should be killed for “cursing” their parents, for practicing “sorcery“, for doing any work on the wrong day of the week (or year), for breaking his stupid, unreasonable, arbitrary “uncleanness” rules, for doing anything else God thinks is evil, and for criticizing the guy who came up with all these dumb rules.6
God’s law says people have to be killed if they make sacrifices to the wrong god. Or if they don’t worship other gods, but they encourage other people to. Or if they sacrifice to the right God, but in the wrong place.
God threatened to kill people if any of them went near his tent when they weren’t from the right tribe. Or when they weren’t wearing the right underwear. Or when they hadn’t washed their feet. He said they would also die if they drank the wrong beverages while they were there. And if they entered the wrong parts of God’s house at the wrong time. And if they touched or even looked at God’s things. He also required Aaron’s sons to stay at the entrance of his tent for a week or die.
If you prophesy things that God didn’t say, you have to die.7 But that rule might be a bit hard to enforce, because anyone who questions authorities who claim to speak for God also has to die. Eventually, God seems to have decided that people should kill not just false prophets, but all prophets.
The Bible requires that both of the people who commit an act of adultery be put to death. Adultery is bad because it threatens your ability to stay together with your spouse, right? So killing your spouse seems to me like it would be kind of counterproductive.
God says if a woman is engaged to one man, and then no one hears her scream when another man has sex with her, she has to be killed. Because if she didn’t scream, she must have been intentionally cheating, right? It looks like it didn’t occur to “God” that there are plenty of reasons a woman might not scream when she’s raped,8 and plenty of reasons no one might be able to hear her if she does scream, and plenty of reasons they might not do anything about it even if they do hear her. If any of those things goes wrong, God thinks you should just blame the woman, and kill her.
The Bible says a man should be killed if he has gay sex. And a woman should be killed if she’s promiscuous while she’s living in her father’s house. Or if she’s both a prostitute and a priest’s daughter.
It says if a boy fails to obey his parents, they are to accuse him of being a drunkard and stuff (never mind whether that accusation is true or not), and then they are to have him stoned to death.
When Moses went up on a mountain so God could tell him these rules, God said anyone else who touched the mountain without permission would have to be stoned or shot with arrows.
Paul claims that God also decreed that people deserve death for things like envy, deceit, gossip, insolence, arrogance, and not understanding things. Though I don’t think the Old Testament ever actually says those are capital crimes.
A king of Babylon decreed that anyone who didn’t worship his giant statue would be thrown into a furnace. Another king of Babylon decreed that anyone who prayed to anyone but him would be thrown into the lions’ den. He also threw to the lions people who accused others of breaking that law.
A king of Persia decreed that anyone who interfered with the Jews rebuilding the temple would be impaled on a beam taken from their house. Another king of Persia said anyone in his empire who didn’t obey the Jewish laws, whether they were Jewish themselves or not, could be punished by death. (This is supposed to be a good thing.)
God caused some innocent prison guards to be wrongly executed, by helping a prisoner miraculously escape and then not explaining to the king that it wasn’t the guards’ fault.
The first murderer, according to the Bible, was Cain. God punished him, but then also kind of rewarded him by personally protecting him for the rest of his life. As a result of God’s mixed messages here, other people were emboldened to murder, since they figured God would protect them too.
God never outlawed cannibalism, but he did repeatedly threaten to punish his people by forcing them to eat their own children. Which he did. He also sent people from other nations to eat the Israelites’ children.9 The vision of Revelation includes a prostitute being burned and eaten by a beast and by its horns, which are all actually kings.
One time when the Israelites sinned, God started killing them, and he said he would stop if Moses killed all their leaders.10 But what actually turned out to make God stop being angry was when somebody drove a spear through a man and a woman while they were having sex. That pleased God so much that he made a covenant of peace with the guy who did it, and with all his descendants.
In the most pointlessly evil story in the Bible, a man’s house is surrounded by rapists, so the man and his guest decide to send the guest’s girlfriend out to get gang-raped to death. Then the guest chops her up into a dozen pieces and has them distributed all over the country, which eventually leads to an entire tribe of Israel being mostly killed off.
Samson’s father-in-law took his wife away due to a misunderstanding, and Samson reacted to that by burning up some other people’s crops. And then those people responded by murdering Samson’s ex-wife and her father.
Two men murdered Saul’s innocent son in his bed because they thought David would appreciate it. David had them executed. After David’s commander Joab killed one of David’s own sons and then scolded David for mourning over him, David tried to have Joab replaced. But then Joab murdered his replacement, so David let Joab keep his job.
Solomon said there are times when it’s right to kill. He thought it was wise to drive a threshing wheel over people he considered wicked. He had his brother killed for asking to be allowed to marry their father’s platonic bedmate, because Solomon thought that meant he was trying to become king.11 Solomon also had someone killed for leaving the city after he told him not to. He claimed that this was also a divine punishment for criticizing Solomon’s father.
A prophet told Jehu he would be king of Israel, so Jehu murdered the existing king of Israel. And the king of Judah. And the wife of a former king of Israel. And he murdered a whole lot of other people as well. God was pleased. Killing the king of Judah too was God’s idea.
God’s priest convinced the Israelites to stop worshipping Baal, so they murdered Baal’s priest. Only one queen ever ruled over either the kingdom of Israel or the kingdom of Judah. She wasn’t very popular, so God’s priest got the people to kill her, along with anyone who liked her. Ahaz king of Judah was evil, so an Israelite killed his son and some of his officials. Jehoiakim king of Judah had a prophet killed for what he said.
When the sexy daughter of Herodias12 convinced Herod to promise to give her whatever she asked for, her mother Herodias got her to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. So Herod had John beheaded, even though he was distressed to have to do that… even though that was exactly what he had wanted to do anyway. One of Herodias’s brothers (who, like way too many people in their family, was also named Herod) later started persecuting Christians, and had one of Jesus’s disciples killed.
Jesus vaguely predicted that children would have their parents put to death, though he didn’t say when or who or why or if it would be legal or justified or not. In any case, people were going to be killed because of Jesus. The book of Hebrews says some people who had faith were stoned, sawed in two, or killed by the sword. But again, there’s so little detail that I have no idea who it’s talking about, what they were killed for, whether it was legal or justifiable, or what the point of mentioning it was.
When a Christian named Stephen was falsely accused of opposing the Jewish Law, he opted not to defend himself against that accusation. Instead, he recited a bunch of irrelevant Bible stories and insulted and falsely accused the Jews, until the Jewish religious leaders were so enraged that they murdered him.
Paul said people are full of murder because God has given them over to a depraved mind. And James said his followers were killing to get what they wanted, when all they really had to do was ask God.
Revelation predicts that even after wiping out large portions of humanity, God will fail to get people to repent of their murders. (Maybe he should try setting a better example.) It also says he’s going to send two horrible fire-breathing prophets to torment everyone for several years, and they will burn to death anyone who opposes them.
Job said God destroys the blameless along with the wicked, and mocks the despair of the innocent as they’re dying. God starves people and gets them killed with the sword, not because they’re wicked, but just because they happen to have wicked parents. He also kills people for being good at complimenting people. God confirmed that what Job said about him was true.
With barely any warning, God killed Lot’s wife for the completely harmless action of looking at something.13 He killed Onan for refusing to get his brother’s wife pregnant. He killed Naomi’s husband and their sons, too. Another time, God killed a boy who was the only good person in his family. God also killed the oldest and youngest sons of the man who rebuilt Jericho.
God burned some of Aaron’s sons to death for making an offering to him, because they used “unauthorized fire“, whatever that is. And then he threatened to kill Aaron and his remaining sons if they mourned for them. Similarly, when God murdered Ezekiel’s wife just to try to make a point (which wasn’t even effective), he ordered Ezekiel not to mourn for her.
God once killed somebody for trying to protect the ark of the covenant. Another time, God sent a lion to kill someone for being so foolish as to trust the words of a prophet. He also sent a lion to kill someone for refusing to injure a prophet.14
David wanted to have Uriah’s wife in addition to the wives he already had. So he arranged to intentionally get Uriah killed in battle. God responded by torturing and killing David’s baby, and then making sure the rest of his descendants would constantly be violently attacked as well.
God killed Jeroboam, the man he had chosen to be king of most of Israel when he decided to take the kingdom away from David’s descendants just two generations after he had led David to believe that his descendants would rule over Israel forever.
When people were resorting to eating their own children because of a famine God had caused, and then a prophet said food would be easy to get again in just one more day, an officer said he doubted it. God didn’t like that, so he made sure that officer got trampled to death.
God killed a king who he considered good, just because he didn’t want that king to see what God was about to do to Judah. God thinks killing good people is a good way to make sure nothing bad happens to them.
Jesus told a parable where God killed a rich man, because God forgot that it was possible for people who hoard wealth to be godly. He told another parable where a character representing Jesus came home and found one of his servants getting drunk and beating the others, so he chopped his servant into pieces.
God gave Lazarus a terminal illness just to give Jesus a chance to show off. And Jesus deliberately waited till Lazarus was dead before visiting his house. Then he brought Lazarus back to life,15 so he would have to experience death twice. Jesus was glad he hadn’t been there to save Lazarus from dying.
The Bible says God made an innocent man suffer and die for everyone else’s sins. He didn’t have to do that. Since everything is possible for God, he could have accomplished the same goals without anyone having to suffer and die. But God wanted to crush him and make him suffer.
God killed a couple for choosing not to fully participate in the early Christians’ communist system where they had to give 100% of their income to their leaders to be distributed among the community according to their needs. Paul said God also killed a number of Christians for eating and drinking “in an unworthy manner”.
God had an angel kill Herod Agrippa just because his subjects thought he was a god. Herod himself never said he was a god. God just killed him immediately after some other people said he sounded like a god. He never even gave Herod a chance to say what he thought about it.
Intent to kill
Abraham had a son with his wife’s slave, but his wife didn’t like that son. So Abraham, who always did what God wanted him to do, stopped providing for the slave and son, and sent them out into the desert to die.
Reuben said if he failed to bring his father’s youngest son back home safely, his father could kill Reuben’s sons. I have no idea what good that’s supposed to do.
Saul was possessed by an evil spirit from God, which made him repeatedly try to pin David to the wall with a spear. David, who always did what God wanted him to do, threatened to kill his wife. He also planned to murder all the men who worked for Nabal, because Nabal had refused to give him anything in exchange for not harming the men who worked for Nabal. Then David declared that Saul’s men “must die” for failing to protect King Saul from David. But luckily, David didn’t have the authority to actually sentence anyone to death. Yet.
David said God was going to destroy all the descendants of his enemies. Another psalmist thought it would be great if somebody would smash some Babylonian babies against the rocks. One of the Psalms encourages faithful people to “inflict vengeance on the nations” with a sword.
A priest claimed that God had commanded that only priests and Levites could enter the temple. He said anyone who entered the temple would be put to death.
Everybody Jeremiah prophesied to thought he should be killed because they didn’t like the things he said would happen. Jeremiah himself cursed someone for failing to kill him before he was born.
The people in Jesus’s hometown tried to throw him off a cliff, because he refused to do anything for them because he imagined they didn’t like him.16 And lots of people wanted to stone his disciples to death.
Some Jews thought they had stoned Paul to death, but he got better. Later, some other Jews also unsuccessfully plotted to get Paul killed. Paul recommended that one of his followers should be handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. (He thought that would be a good way to save him.) When Paul was being transported as a prisoner on a ship and it got wrecked, the soldiers on the ship were going to kill all the prisoners so they wouldn’t escape.
God’s plans to kill
When God created humans, he also created a tree that he said would kill anyone who ate its fruit. And he put that tree right in the middle of Adam and Eve’s home. (Luckily, God was wrong, and they didn’t actually die when they ate the fruit.)
God sent Moses on an important mission, but before he could even get started on his mission, God tried to kill Moses for no apparent reason. Luckily, Moses happened to have a wife who understood God’s mysterious ways. She touched Moses’s feet with a baby’s foreskin, which somehow convinced God that he didn’t need to murder Moses after all.
God said if his people didn’t obey him, he would send wild animals to kill their children. Obeying God doesn’t really seem to help much, though. God demanded that his people give him money so he wouldn’t have to kill them all for the crime of being counted when God told Moses to count them. God wanted to kill his prophet Balaam for going to see Balak after God told him to go see Balak.
God told Isaiah about a certain servant of God he would appoint to lead Judah. Then, with no explanation, he implied that he was going to kill that guy. Isaiah said when destroyers stop destroying, God will destroy them. Which means either God wants to encourage them to keep destroying, or he didn’t think this through. God said he was going to punish a sorceress by killing her children and her husband.
When God got angry at his people, he said he was going to send famine, disease, wild beasts, and enemies with swords, which would kill all their children, and then kill the rest of them. God told Jeremiah about his plans to make his people stumble and die. He said he hated his people and wanted to feed them to wild animals, because they had… roared at him? God said he was tired of not destroying the people of Jerusalem. He threatened to burn Jerusalem down because people were carrying things through the gates on the wrong day of the week.
God said if anyone in Jerusalem survived the plague, sword, and famine he sent, he would hand them over to the Babylonians to be mercilessly killed. He said he would give deadly diseases to anyone who didn’t move out of the land he had given them. And then he would send people to hunt down the Israelites wherever they went.
God told Ezekiel that if a righteous person ever slipped up and sinned, God would forget about how righteous they had been all their life, and he would kill them. And he would probably also kill Ezekiel, because the only possible reason anyone would ever do something bad is that Ezekiel must have forgotten to warn them that doing bad things is bad.
Ezekiel had a vision where God sent men to kill all the men, women, and children in Jerusalem who weren’t upset about the same things God was upset about. He said God wanted to destroy people for whitewashing a wall. God was also going to violently kill the king of Tyre for correctly thinking he was wise. Ezekiel described how God was planning to get the king of Egypt killed. And God said he would destroy other foreign leaders and their nations too, for attacking Israel when he made them attack Israel.
When God was rambling to Ezekiel about a woman who God called a whore even though she was really more like the opposite of that and also she was a city, God said he wanted to hand her over to people who would throw stones at her and stab her with swords until she died, which would make God satisfied. God also told Hosea that he wanted to make a woman die of dehydration for the crime of… not being God’s wife, or something.
God told Hosea that he was going to destroy a sinner’s mother. Hosea said when God’s people turned away from him, he tried to stop them from having any children. But apparently God wasn’t confident in his ability to do that… so he decided he would also kill every child they did manage to have. God said he was going to dash mothers and children to the ground and have pregnant women ripped open. Another time, God mentioned infants being dashed to pieces on every street corner, as an example of the kind of thing he was planning to do.
Jonah suggested that the sailors he was traveling with could throw him overboard, to get God to stop the storm that was threatening their ship. The sailors were reluctant, and tried to sail back and return Jonah to land so he could get back to the mission God had assigned him. But God wouldn’t let them do that, because he liked Jonah’s idea better. God forced them to try to kill Jonah, and he rewarded them by stopping the storm after they threw Jonah overboard.
Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth; he just wanted to watch the world burn. Jesus says if a believer wants a mountain to be thrown into the sea, which would most likely be completely pointless and cause a lot of death and destruction, God will do it for them. His disciples wanted to destroy a village with fire because “the people there did not welcome him”. Jesus told them not to, but only because he wanted to do it himself.
In the vision of Revelation, Jesus said a false prophet named Jezebel was leading people astray. So Jesus said he was going to strike her children dead. That way everyone would know that he repays everyone according to their own deeds!
With God’s permission, Satan killed all Job’s children and most of his servants for no good reason.
Jacob’s sons killed every man in the city of Shechem and kidnapped all the women and children, because one man from that city had raped their sister.
One time when the Israelites were celebrating a festival to the Lord, God wasn’t happy with them. So Moses got the Levites to kill 3000 of their neighbors and friends and families with swords. Then God was pleased, and rewarded the Levites.
The people of Israel said they would kill anyone who didn’t obey their leader. Nobody had told them to do that; they just decided to take the law into their own hands. (Not that God seemed to mind.) Then when someone did disobey their leader, they didn’t just stone him to death, but also his sons and daughters.
Gideon, a very popular leader of Israel, killed all the men in a certain town for refusing to give his men free food. Gideon’s son Abimelek was the first king of Israel. When he became king, he murdered his 70 brothers for no apparent reason. That made the people of his city hate him, so he killed them too.
Jephthah was a leader of Israel who, in addition to murdering his own daughter, had 42,000 other Israelites killed as well. He did that because he didn’t like what some people from a certain part of Israel said once.
The Israelites killed everyone in one of their own towns who wasn’t a virgin girl, because that was the best way they could think of to provide wives for the Benjamite men after killing all the Benjamite women.
Saul had a shepherd kill all the men, women, and children in a whole town, because one guy in that town had helped Saul’s enemy without knowing he was Saul’s enemy. David later convinced God to end a famine by having seven descendants of Saul killed after he had sworn he wouldn’t kill off Saul’s descendants.
Baasha became king of Israel by killing the previous king and his whole family. God got him to do that because he didn’t like the previous king. Then when he realized the new king was evil too, God waited till he was dead, and then found another evil guy to replace him, and had him kill Baasha’s whole family to punish dead Baasha for carrying out God’s will by doing the same thing to the other king’s family.
The prophet Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of another god. One “good” king of Judah burned a bunch of priests on their own altars. Another one killed everyone in his kingdom who didn’t agree with his religious views.
I mentioned earlier that Jehu murdered the king of Israel, because he was told that God wanted him to be the new king of Israel. And that he also murdered the king of Judah, because he happened to be there too. Well, Jehu did a lot more killing than that. He killed off the whole family of the old king of Israel, as well as a lot of his friends and people who worked for him, because a prophet told him to. God was pleased, and rewarded Jehu.
Jehu happened to meet 42 relatives of the king of Judah, and slaughtered them too. And he also had a huge crowd of Israelites killed for disagreeing with his religious views. When Athaliah found out that Jehu had killed her son, the king of Judah, her response was to kill the rest of her family so she could rule Judah herself.
Esther had her husband the king authorize the Jews in Persia to kill over 75,000 “enemies” who “might attack them”… even though it only says there was one person who actually wanted to harm the Jews.
King Herod wanted to kill baby Jesus, but the astrologers who had told him about him refused to help him locate the particular baby he wanted to kill. So instead, Herod had all the boys in Bethlehem up to two years old killed.
Jesus sent a legion of demons into somebody’s herd of 2000 pigs, making them drown themselves, just because the demons asked him to.
Even after his conversion, Paul hadn’t entirely abandoned the idea that it was good when he used to try to kill as many Christians as possible.
Direct divine decimation
The Bible describes the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as evil. It has two lists of their sins, but neither of those lists seems to contain anything serious enough to be an actual crime. One of the things God had a problem with was that they ate too much. God decided that the only thing to do with such evil people was to completely destroy their cities with a rain of burning sulfur. (Of course, God first had to make sure a certain terrible father and his rapey daughters were a safe distance away from Sodom. He wouldn’t want innocent people like them to get killed.)
God killed all the firstborn Egyptians because he thought that was the only way he could convince the Pharaoh to let his people go. Of course, that wasn’t actually necessary at all. If God really wanted Pharaoh to do what he said, he could have just not forced Pharaoh to refuse to do what he said. God also drowned the Egyptian army after they had decided to stop chasing the Israelites and were just trying to get away from them and leave them alone. Later, God decided to devastate Egypt with the sword because one of the Pharaohs had delusions of grandeur.
God burned up some of his people because they didn’t appreciate him taking them out of a land flowing with milk and honey where they could eat whatever they wanted, and making them eat nothing but boring bread for 40 years. He killed his people for the crime of wanting food to eat. And another time, he sent snakes to kill a lot of his people because they didn’t appreciate him taking them to a desert where there was no water to drink.
Moses sent twelve scouts to explore the promised land. But then God killed most of them, because they brought back a true but unfavorable report about it.
When some men challenged Moses’s authority, God killed their whole families. Then God killed over 14,000 more of his people for objecting to that. And if Moses and Aaron hadn’t stopped him, he would have wiped out his people completely. Another time, God killed 24,000 of his people for doing what his prophet had influenced them to do… and if Aaron’s son hadn’t stopped him, he would have completely wiped out his people again. God kept destroying the men and women of his chosen nation without pity with fire and the sword, just because he was jealous of non-existent gods.
When Eli tried to get his wicked sons to change their ways, God made them refuse to listen to him, because if they did repent, God wouldn’t get to kill them. And God didn’t stop at punishing the people who had actually sinned. He made sure all the descendants Eli would ever have would die young.
When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, God started killing people and giving them tumors wherever the ark went. Then after the Israelites recovered it, God killed 70 people for looking inside the ark of the covenant at the things that God had said should be kept so that people could look at them.
God killed 70,000 people to punish David for obeying him. Another time, God withheld rain for three years, causing innocent people to starve all throughout Israel and beyond. God starved his people, ruined their crops, and killed them with diseases and the sword. And he couldn’t figure out why they still didn’t like him.
Elijah got God to send fire from heaven and kill about a hundred men, just because he could. Later, God sent two bears to kill 42 boys for making fun of Elisha. Jeremiah asked God to kill the families of his enemies, which he did. God got some of his enemies killed in battle, and he caused a famine that killed their children. God wiped out all the descendants of at least one enemy of Jeremiah. Similarly, God also got people killed for being children of people who opposed the prophet Amos.
After the Assyrians forced the Israelites to leave their homeland and sent in foreigners to replace them, God sent lions to kill some of those new inhabitants for not knowing what he wanted them to do. And God said he would punish Babylon by destroying not just Babylon, but also everyone around it.
In one of Jesus’s parables, a vineyard owner (representing God) sends his son to deal with some troublesome tenants who are known to murder everyone who comes their way. For some reason, the vineyard owner doesn’t expect the tenants to murder his son. And when they do, he murders them.
In another of Jesus’s parables, a king (representing God) invites some people to a wedding banquet. But some of those people murder the servants the king sends to escort them to the banquet. So the king burns down their whole city.
In the end times, God will drop giant hailstones on people.
One of the rewards God promised his people if they obeyed him was that during peacetime, they would get to go out and mass murder many thousands of people who were not threatening them in any way. (That’s supposed to be a good thing.)
Joshua led his people to kill all the men, women, and children in many cities, leaving no survivors, because his war-loving God told him to. They continued after Joshua died, putting the previous inhabitants of Jerusalem to the sword, and killing many more people with God’s help.
God intentionally got some of his own people killed in battle because this one other guy had done something that God hadn’t yet said was okay to do.
Ehud, one of the first leaders God gave Israel after they settled in the promised land, led his people to kill 10,000 Moabites. The tribe of Dan hadn’t found a place to settle into yet, so with God’s approval, they found a helpless, unsuspecting town, attacked its people with the sword, burned down their city, and took over their land.
God gave Samson the strength to kill 30 Philistines so he could give 30 other Philistines the 30 sets of clothes he owed them for “solving” his “riddle”. Later, Samson slaughtered many more Philistines to get revenge on them for getting revenge on him. Then he killed another thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. And he ended his life by making a temple collapse on top of thousands more Philistines.
Saul made a suggestion that involved not leaving one Philistine alive, and his men made no objection. (They asked God what he thought of that idea, but God had no comment. He was more concerned about Saul’s son eating a little honey, and thereby breaking a random foolish promise that he didn’t know Saul had made on his behalf.)
Lots of people died in a war between the Israelites and the Philistines. If they had just stuck to Goliath’s suggestion to have a duel rather than a battle, they could have limited the deaths to one. By killing Goliath, the Israelites had already won, so it was completely unnecessary to kill anyone else.
Saul was upset that the women of Israel admired David more than him. He could tell they preferred David because they credited David with killing tens of thousands of people, and Saul with only thousands. That’s a pretty weird way of judging people, isn’t it? I suppose these women would like Hitler even better. He killed millions.
David did live up to his reputation. Before he became king, he would go around to various places outside of Israel and attack them, not leaving a man or woman alive. After he became king, he took all the Moabites captive and killed two-thirds of them. Being a man after God’s own heart, he pursued his enemies and beat them and pounded them and trampled them and crushed them completely, and he didn’t turn back till they were destroyed. Two of David’s warriors each killed 300 men with a spear in one encounter.
God got his chosen king Saul and his sons killed in battle because Saul hadn’t quite killed all the Amalekites when God wanted him to. (He had only killed all but one of them.)
During an early conflict between Judah and the rest of Israel, 24 soldiers all paired up and grabbed each other and killed each other with daggers, just because their commanders thought it would be fun to see them do that.
Solomon was a relatively peaceful king, but for some reason he didn’t think it went without saying that it was better to be patient and have self-control than to be a warrior and take a city. God, on the other hand, declared that he would curse anyone who avoided bloodshed, because that meant they were avoiding doing the Lord’s work.
God helped the evil king Ahab of Israel inflict 100,000 casualties on the Arameans in one day. Later, the Arameans slaughtered the men, women, and children of the Israelites. An angel killed 185,000 Assyrians. God helped the men of Judah inflict half a million casualties on the Israelites. And then he let an evil king of Israel kill 120,000 soldiers in Judah.
A “good” king of Judah killed 10,000 men of Seir. He also captured another 10,000 alive… and then killed them too. But because God wouldn’t let the Israelite soldiers help Judah with that, the Israelite soldiers killed 3000 civilians in Judah.
God told his prophets all about how he was planning to destroy many nations, often without giving any reason. God sent a king of Egypt to invade Syria, and when a good king of Judah tried to stop him, God got the good king killed.
When God was displeased with what his people were doing, he overwhelmed them with war, without making sure they understood why that was happening.
When God sent the king of Babylon to conquer Judah, he killed all their troops, all the king’s sons, all the officials of Judah, and several priests, advisors, and doorkeepers. And after most of the Jews were forced to go to Babylon, somebody killed a bunch of the people who had stayed behind. Then God said he would destroy everyone in Babylon, including having their infants dashed to pieces, to punish them for what their ancestors did. He had similar plans for the whole world.
Jesus, who intentionally kept his divine identity secret, said God was going to let Jerusalem’s enemies destroy their city and their children for not knowing that Jesus was God. Zechariah said God was going to send all the nations to attack Jerusalem. And then he was going to punish the people of those nations for doing his will, by making their bodies rot while they were still alive.
When God realized that humans are evil, he regretted making them, so he decided to try to fix his mistake by killing everyone in a flood.17 Afterwards, he needed a reminder not to kill everyone again. Or at least not with water. Next time, he’ll use fire.
The Bible says God wanted to completely destroy the people who had already been living in the promised land before the Israelites got there. (According to Moses, God had done similar things before.) So God helped his people completely destroy all the men, women, and children of certain Canaanite nations, leaving no survivors.18 Sometimes God got different Canaanite groups to kill each other off.
Even when he later decided to force the Hebrews back out of that land, God, the destroyer of nations, still wanted the native Canaanite nations to be wiped out. He also told his people to kill all the men in cities that weren’t even anywhere near the promised land if those men refused to be enslaved. (And he told them to enslave and rape the women and children of those cities in any case.) He wanted his people to be like a fire in a woodpile or a lion among helpless sheep, and consume all the surrounding peoples.
When the Israelites killed every man in Midian, Moses was displeased. He thought they should have also killed all the women and children, except for the young virgin girls, who they could “save for themselves”. So they did. Except they apparently sacrificed 32 of those virgins to God, or something.
God didn’t like his own chosen nation all that much better than the others. He repeatedly had to be reminded not to kill them all. And he could only be convinced to keep his people around for selfish reasons, not because he actually valued their lives. He wanted to destroy Judah just because one man was evil. (And he only refrained from doing that because one other man, who was dead, had been good.)
People who heard about these things somehow concluded that God was remarkably good. They must have had unbelievably low moral standards to be so impressed just because somebody didn’t kill all the Jews.
Even after he agreed not to kill them all, God still thought his people were worthless and said he was going to kill them all. He thought of himself as a shepherd, so naturally he intended to slaughter his sheep. The thought of bringing evil on his people and destroying them pleased him.
The Israelites once nearly destroyed one of their own tribes. With God’s encouragement, they killed tens of thousands of people, leaving only 600 men and no women. They did this just because some men did something bad in one of that tribe’s cities once.
God wanted to totally destroy the Amalekites, so he told Saul to totally destroy the Amalekites—men and women, children and infants. But Saul only killed all but one of the Amalekites, which made God wish he had never made Saul king. The Amalekites somehow survived being killed off, so David attacked them later, not leaving a man or woman alive. The Amalekites survived that too, so David tried to kill them all again, but 400 of them got away. And after that, another “good” king finished them off.
David’s army also destroyed all the men in Edom. David boasted about cutting down all the nations in the name of the Lord.
God told his people that one day he would destroy all the nations that had attacked Jerusalem. He chose someone to destroy nations with his sword and his bow, and called it righteous. God suggested that he was going to kill everyone who wasn’t in Ninevah, just so the people in that city wouldn’t be able to kill them themselves.
Jesus told a parable where a character representing Jesus tried to appoint himself king over a country. But all the people in that country hated him, so he killed them all.
God said he was planning to destroy the whole land. And to destroy his people wherever they went. And to destroy the whole world (again). The book of Revelation says Jesus will authorize one of his followers to dash the nations to pieces. One of the horsemen of the apocalypse will be authorized to make people kill each other. Another will cause death throughout a fourth of the earth. But God won’t judge the world until every Christian has been killed.
It predicts that, among other disasters, an angel will contaminate a third of the world’s water, causing many people to die. Then angels and fire-breathing lion-headed horses will kill a third of mankind. And then an idol will kill everyone who doesn’t worship it.
Then Jesus will come with a sickle and harvest the earth, stuff trillions of people in a winepress, and trample them to death. He’ll also strike down the nations with a sword from his mouth, leaving the corpses of all people to be eaten by birds. And then God will send fire from heaven to devour the nations, to punish them for being deceived.