Tag Archives: injustice

The Story of the Rejection of Saul
Not Evil Enough to Please God

King Saul attacked his enemies, the Philistines, but the Israelite army was outnumbered and had almost no weapons, so they ran and hid. Saul tried making a burnt offering so God would help him. But then Samuel told him that was a foolish thing to do, and now God had rejected Saul and would have to find a new king for his people.

Later, Samuel told King Saul that God wanted him to break God’s law and kill all the people and animals in the city of Amalek for the sins of their ancestors. So Saul ambushed the city and killed all the people except the king of the Amalekites,1 and all the animals except the best ones, which his men were planning to sacrifice to God later. Then God realized that he had made a bad decision when he made Saul king. Because Saul had failed to kill everyone and everything immediately,2 God rejected Saul as king of his people. Again.

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Not Evil Enough to Please God
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The Story of Jonathan and the Cursed Honey
Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army

During a war with the Philistines, King Saul’s son Jonathan ate some honey that he found on the ground. But then someone informed him that his father had said anyone who ate anything that day would be cursed. Jonathan thought that was dumb. By depriving them of food, Saul was making his army too weak to fight the Philistines. So Jonathan sneaked away and started killing Philistines himself. Then God made the Philistines panic and attack each other so the Israelites wouldn’t have to.

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Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army
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God punishes the wrong people

Way too often, the God of the Bible punishes people not for what they’ve done, but for what other people have done.

God accuses Nazirites of “sinning” just because they happened to be nearby when someone else died. Unless all Nazirites are like Samson, that probably wasn’t the Nazirite’s fault.

God told Aaron that if other people got too close to God’s stuff, God would kill Aaron along with them. Likewise, Moses said repeatedly that God got angry at him because of what the people did.

God’s law says if you find a person who has been killed, and you don’t know who did it, you can just blame it on a cow. Break the cow’s neck, and God’s bizarre sense of justice will be satisfied.

One time, God thought the Israelites deserved to die… but since he was biased in their favor, he decided to punish a bunch of other nations instead. God makes people drink from the cup of his wrath whether they deserve it or not.

God said because the king of Judah had broken a promise, the troops of Judah would be killed.

The book of Obadiah is all about what God’s planning to do to Edom. He says he’s going to turn everyone against that country and completely devastate them, and there will be no survivors. Why? It’s because of violence against Israel, but apparently the Edomites aren’t the ones who actually committed that violence. They just stood aloof while other nations invaded Israel. But God thought Edom was “like one of them”, and that was enough to make him want to kill all the Edomites.

Jesus (who the Bible says is God) found a man possessed by a legion of demons, which were tormenting the man. When Jesus confronted the demons, they expected to be tortured, or at least banished from the area. But Jesus didn’t end up punishing the demons at all. Instead, he let them do just what they wanted, which was to possess someone’s herd of 2000 pigs and make them drown themselves. So the innocent pigs died, and the innocent owner of the pigs lost his livestock. The demons, meanwhile, remained on the loose, let off the hook and free to continue causing trouble.

The Bible says God made an innocent man suffer and die for everyone else’s sins.

God had an angel kill Herod Agrippa 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 didn’t even give Herod a chance to say what he thought about it.

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The Story of the Calling of Samuel
Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed

A man named Elkanah had two wives, named Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t, because God wouldn’t let her. Peninnah kept tormenting Hannah about this for years, and she was miserable. Her husband told her she should stop crying, because she had him, which was better than having children. Hannah silently asked God to give her a son. When Eli, the priest and leader of Israel, saw her mouth moving but didn’t hear her saying anything, he told her she needed to stop getting drunk.

Then God let Hannah have a son, and she named him Samuel. She was so happy to finally have a son that she gave him away to Eli, whose sons were scoundrels. Eli tried to get his sons to change their ways, but God wouldn’t let them repent, because he wanted an excuse to kill them.

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Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed
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The Story of King Abimelek
The King Who Wasn't Killed by a Woman

Gideon was another judge of Israel. He destroyed a pagan object of worship that his father had made, and then he made his people a new one. He also tortured or killed anyone who wouldn’t give his men free food. The Israelites liked Gideon so much, they wanted him to become their king. But he refused. After Gideon died, his son Abimelek murdered his 70 brothers, and then he was made the first king of Israel.

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The King Who Wasn't Killed by a Woman
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Discrimination by nation

I’ve been cataloging everything the Bible has to say about various forms of discrimination. One type of discrimination that gets a lot of attention in modern times is racism. And the version of the Bible I’m working with does appear to use the word “race” in that sense a couple of times. But back in biblical times, they didn’t really have the same concept of “race”. So rather than write about “racism” in the Bible, I’m going to discuss the closest thing the ancients actually did have: Discrimination by nation.

Equality?

Let’s look at the least discriminatory parts of the Bible first. It says Israel isn’t the only nation God cares about; the nations are all the same to him. He cares about what people do, not who their ancestors are. God loves foreigners and wants his people to love them too. He says his people shouldn’t mistreat or oppress foreigners. They should judge everyone fairly and justly and treat the foreigners among them the same as the native-born Israelites, because they once lived as foreigners in Egypt.1

In fact, there’s one passage that just assumes Israelites want to help foreigners in need, and encourages them to help each other the same way they would help foreigners. (That’s not going to do much good in the cases where that assumption is wrong.)

Sometimes the Bible says its laws should be applied equally to Israelites and foreigners living in Israel. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, though. Mostly what that means is that people will get stoned to death if they don’t follow the rules of the religion of the people of the country they happen to be in. But if foreigners do worship and obey him, then God will… allow them to worship and obey him.

God did occasionally disapprove of his people oppressing foreigners. (At least when they did it without fearing him.) But that didn’t do much good when he was telling them to oppress them most of the time. Foreigners were amazed and confused on the occasions when Israelites actually decided to be nice to them.

An angel who was the commander of God’s army said he was not on Israel’s side or on their enemies’ side. God thinks all nations are worthless and just wants everybody to die.2 Equality! David once entrusted the ark of the covenant to a Philistine, and later he allowed hundreds of Philistines to join his army.3 That’s quite a difference from how he normally treated Philistines. Solomon asked God to answer the prayers of foreigners, though I’m not sure it says God agreed with that part.

When Ezra said all the Jews should disown their foreign wives and children, there were about four people who disagreed. Jesus once healed a girl even though she was a Canaanite, though it took some convincing. There was one Samaritan who was willing to help a Jew… in a story Jesus made up.

After Jesus died, Peter convinced himself that foreigners could be saved, which his peers thought was a pretty weird idea. He decided he should preach to Gentiles even though it was against God’s law to associate with them. Paul, too, thought God now judged people according to their actions, their beliefs, or his own whims, and not by their nationality.

Ambivalently unequal ordinances

Sometimes the Bible says things about certain nations that I’m not sure whether to classify as favorable or unfavorable treatment.

It says God gave his laws to Israel, and not to any other nation. Some of those laws suggest that being a foreigner living in Israel automatically makes you disadvantaged and unable to provide for yourself somehow. But to make up for that, God’s law says Hebrews have to give foreigners free food. It says Hebrews aren’t allowed to eat animals they found already dead, but they can give them to foreigners to eat.

It says every seven years, an Israelite has to cancel any debts that another Israelite owes them. But they don’t have to do the same for a foreigner. And an Israelite isn’t allowed to charge another Israelite interest. But they can make a foreigner pay interest.

Jesus told his followers to only preach their message to Jews, at least at first.

Between Gentile nations

The Bible says God had his people wipe out a lot of other nations and steal their land. But it says God didn’t want them to invade the land of the Ammonites.

The Moabites and the Midianites both led Israel into sin in the Peor incident. God told Israel to go to war against Midian because of this. But he told them not to go to war with Moab, even though they did the same thing.

The Romans thought it was okay to violently punish people without a trial, as long as they weren’t Roman citizens.

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The Story of the Levite’s Concubine
The Most Pointlessly Evil Story in the Bible

A Levite man’s girlfriend broke up with him and went back to live with her parents. But then he followed her to her parents’ house and took her back. On the way back to the man’s home, they stopped for the night in Gibeah, a city of the tribe of Benjamin, and stayed in an old man’s house.

Some of the Benjamite men from that city came and surrounded the house. They told the old man to send the Levite man out so they could have sex with him. The old man said he couldn’t let them have sex with his guest, because that would be outrageous and vile. So he offered to let them rape his daughter and his guest’s girlfriend instead.

The Levite man thought that was a good idea, so he sent his girlfriend outside. The men of Gibeah spent the whole night gang-raping her to death. Then the man went home, and he chopped up his girlfriend into a dozen pieces and had them distributed all over the country.

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The Most Pointlessly Evil Story in the Bible
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The Story of Jephthah’s Sacrifice
The Stupidest Story in the Bible

The people of Israel angered their God again by serving other gods. So God let the Ammonites take over Israel, and he said he would never save his people again. But his people insisted on being saved, so the never-changing God, who never listens to sinners, changed his mind and appointed a new judge to save Israel: Jephthah, the leader of a gang of scoundrels.

Jephthah asked the Ammonite king why he was attacking Israel. The king explained that the Israelites had stolen the Ammonites’ land, and the Ammonites wanted it back. Jephthah was like, that never happened, what would you know about that? The king ignored him.

So Jephthah went to attack the Ammonites, which God had forbidden the Israelites to do. He promised that if God helped him disobey God in this way, he would give God whatever met him at the door when he came home, as a burnt offering. The all-knowing God knew what would happen if he did this, but he wanted that burnt offering. So he helped Jephthah destroy twenty Ammonite towns, and he didn’t warn Jephthah’s family to stay indoors.

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The Stupidest Story in the Bible
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The Story of the Moabite/Midianite Clusterfuck
The Origin of the Priesthood

The women of Moab and Midian, following the advice of God through his prophet Balaam, invited the Israelite men to have sex with them and worship the gods of Moab. This made God angry, so he decided to kill all the Israelites yet again, and he told Moses, the leader of Israel, to kill all the leaders of Israel. So Moses told the judges of Israel to kill all the Israelites who had worshipped a Moabite god.

God had already killed tens of thousands of Israelites himself, when an Israelite leader brought a Midianite woman into his tent. When Aaron’s grandson Phinehas saw this, he followed them into the tent and killed them with a spear. This somehow turned away God’s anger and convinced him not to kill all the Israelites. God was so pleased with Phinehas that he made a covenant of peace with him and said the descendants of Phinehas would always be God’s priests.

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The Origin of the Priesthood
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The Story of Balaam’s Ass
God Can't Make Up His Mind

The Israelites wanted to peacefully pass through the country of the Amorites on the way to Canaan. But the king of the Amorites wouldn’t let them, because God made him stubborn. So to punish the king for what God had made him do, the Israelites murdered all the Amorites, stole all their possessions, and took over their land. When Balak king of Moab found out about this, he was terrified of Israel. So he decided to hire Balaam, a prophet of God, to curse God’s chosen people. Great idea, Balak. /s

Balak sent messengers to Balaam to ask him to come and weaken the Israelites so Moab could defeat them, but God told Balaam not to do that, so the messengers returned to Balak without him. Then Balak sent more messengers to Balaam and offered him a large reward for cursing Israel. For some reason, “God” changed his mind and said Balaam should go with them this time.

So Balaam got on his donkey and started to go with the messengers to see Balak. But when God saw that Balaam was going with them after he had told Balaam he should go with them, God was very angry. So God tried to get Balaam to stop by putting an invisible angel in his way. Balaam’s donkey could see the angel standing in the road with a sword, so the donkey turned away from the road. Balaam beat his donkey to get it to get back on the road.

Then while Balaam was on a narrow path between two walls, the donkey saw the angel again, and it crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. Balaam beat his donkey again, but there was nowhere the donkey could go, so it lay down, and Balaam kept beating it with his staff.

Then God enabled the donkey to talk, so it could tell him that it had a good reason not to keep walking, and that he had no good reason to beat it. God also enabled Balaam to see the angel. The angel told Balaam that he was being reckless by going down the straight and narrow path to meet Balak, and that if his donkey hadn’t turned away, the angel would have killed Balaam, but spared the donkey.

Balaam said he had sinned by going with Balak’s men when God had told him to go with Balak’s men. He was going to go back home, but the angel that had been sent to stop him from going to meet Balak told him to keep going and meet Balak.

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God Can't Make Up His Mind
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