The Bible Debunks Itself (Part 1)

Here are some Old Testament passages that debunk the Bible...

It has been said that the Bible debunks itself, and I agree wholeheartedly. Isaac Asimov said, “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." The difficulties abound. There are scientific, political, moral and inconsistency problems that can be found in almost every chapter of the Bible. But only a limited selection is reproduced here.[1] Some of them do not need comment because they go against every decent moral standard civilized people accept in today's world, even most Christians of today, despite several Christian rationalizations for them.[2]

I’m going to highlight not the best texts, but the worst ones. Nearly everyone does some good deeds, and nearly every work contains at least some good moral teachings. So it should surprise none of us that there is good in the Bible. But even if the good outweighs the bad that does not show why the bad is in the Bible, for Christians believe in a perfectly good God. If this is the case, then the nasty things in the Bible need to be examined and explained, not explained away. I’ll show how some of these passages are just repugnant, while others were used by believers rightly or wrongly to thwart scientific, political, and moral progress.

Of those texts which were misinterpreted and wrongly used by subsequent believers, my question is this one: Why didn’t God effectively communicate his will to his people? Communication is a two-way street. Both the one doing the communicating and the one listening must do their best in facilitating a correct understanding. But with God there is an additional problem, since he supposedly knows how certain texts could (and would) be misused by human fallible beings. From the true scale of the universe to the issue of slavery God could’ve told humans the truth about it all from the very beginning. On the issue of slavery, God could’ve said: “Thou shalt not buy, own, or beat slaves,” and said it as often as needed. He could’ve even condemned all racism, but he didn’t. In fact, my contention is that there is not a single statement in the Bible which reveals a divine mind behind the human authors. Everything said in it can be accounted for much better by the hypothesis that it’s just the reflections and musings of an ancient superstitious barbaric people.

Notorious Old Testament Biblical Passages

The Genesis One Creation Account. This passage is contrary to modern science in so many ways. Notice the earth existed before the universe of stars. Notice also that the earth rises out of the primeval chaotic waters, and that the “firmament” (a hard dome like structure), arose out of those same waters. On the fourth day the sun moon and stars were placed by God in that firmament. Later we read the firmament held back the waters from which the flood came down in Noah’s day (Genesis 7:11 ; 8:2-3). This is the natural reading of the passage.[3]

Genesis 1:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

The Dominion Mandate. The following passage has been used in opposition to the care of our planet and of the animals in it. Since we have been given dominion over it we can do what we want to with it. God also commands mankind to have children, which has been used against contraception and family planning.

Genesis 1:
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

The Basis For Sabbath Day Blue Laws Forbidding Work. A Blue law is a type of law designed to impose moral standards on a society, particularly the adherence of Sunday as a day of worship or rest. Since God rested on the seventh day so should we (see Exodus 20:8-11)

Genesis 2:
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.

The Inferiority of Women and Homosexuals. The following passage has been used to denigrate women and homosexuals, since Eve was made from man and since another man was not made as a helpmate for Adam.

Genesis 2:
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Women Blamed For the Sin of Man. Because Eve was used to tempt Adam, women have been blamed for what happened when God pronounced judgment on them (verses 13-19). Because of this, women are also seen as the weaker sex, and as such, man is told to “rule over” her (verse 16).

Genesis 3:
1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said…To the woman…

“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

The Curse and Mark of Cain, the First Murder. There is a lot of violence in the Bible. Here is recorded a horrible act. One brother kills another one. This passage has been used to support racism and slavery. Christians have falsely interpreted the “curse” and the “mark” on Cain to mean that his skin was turned black and his descendants were cursed. As such it was also used as a ban on interracial marriage.

Genesis 4:
8 Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. [See Note][4]

Divine Genocide: The Flood. This is the first of many passages that show us a God who sends natural disasters upon human beings because of their sins, which is a dominant explanation for such things as droughts, and plagues of locusts.

Genesis 6:
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die.

Genesis 7 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.[See note][5]

17 The flood continued forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; 20 the waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man; 22 everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

A Reaffirmation of the Dominion Mandate. Notice that God is seen to authorize the meat eating industry. And once again God commands mankind to have children, which has been used against contraception and family planning.

Genesis 9:
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

The “Divine” Authorization of Capital Punishment. This practice is being rejected by more and more civilized people. It has condemned a lot on innocent people, and disproportionately applies, most notably against black people in America.

Genesis 9:
6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image. 7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply in it.”

The Curse of Ham. This passage has been notoriously (and falsely) used to justify racism, interracial marriage and the brutal enslavement of Africans.[6]

Genesis 9:
20 Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; 21 and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan;a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. 27 God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.”

Polygamy: Abraham’s Wives and Concubines. Not only does Abraham take Sarah and Hagar as his wives, he also had many concubines (Genesis 25:6). This has been used to justify polygamy. Jacob (Genesis 29:15-30; 30:1-12) and Solomon (I Kings 11:1-3), followed the same practices, as did many kings.

Genesis 16:
1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.  3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

The Palestinian Land Promise. This grant by God has been the source of the conflict over the land of Palestine from the beginning. It was reiterated to Jacob (Genesis 28:1-15) who was renamed Israel and known as the father of the Jews.

Genesis 17:
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. More divine genocide! This passage has been used to label gay people as “Sodomites” and is the source of the oppression, beating and killing of them.[7] Notice also how cavalierly Lot is willing to hand his daughters over to be raped by them and how a slighted God turns Lot ’s wife into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:
1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening; and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the earth, 2 and said, “My lords, turn aside, I pray you, to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the street.” 3 But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; 5 and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door. 10 But the men put forth their hands and brought Lot into the house to them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves groping for the door.

12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you any one else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or any one you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13 for we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up, get out of this place; for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

15 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him forth and set him outside the city. 17 And when they had brought them forth, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills, lest you be consumed.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords; 19 behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me, and I die. 20 Behold, yonder city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one? —and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Make haste, escape there; for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.

Incest in the Bible. Enough said.

Genesis 19:
30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar; so he dwelt in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the first-born said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring through our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night; and the first-born went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 34 And on the next day, the first-born said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring through our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. 37 The first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

Abraham’s Attempted Sacrifice of Isaac. For no reason at all God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son by fire; the one previously miraculously given to him (Genesis 17:15). What God with foreknowledge would demand this and then just as he was about to slaughter his son, and say, “I was just checking to see”? Abraham would not have even thought about sacrificing his son, and protested this just like he did God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, if his moral convictions were violated by God’s demand. The silence of God about child sacrifice here is appalling. Not once does God say child sacrifice is abhorrent to him in this passage.

Genesis 22:
1 After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

Dinah’s Rape, Deceit, More Rape, Slaughter and Plunder. That the Bible depicts a barbarous ancient era cannot be doubted. Note that Simeon and Levi take vicious and total revenge for the rape of their sister, even to the kidnapping and raping of the wives of the Shechemites. It was another act of genocide. This story reveals one of the most barbaric acts in the Bible, although there are others, as we shall see.

Genesis 34:
1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land; 2 and when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humbled her. 3 And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob; he loved the maiden and spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this maiden for my wife.” 5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. 6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard of it; and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had wrought folly in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; I pray you, give her to him in marriage. 9 Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us; and the land shall be open to you; dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Ask of me ever so much as marriage present and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; only give me the maiden to be my wife.”

13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male of you be circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone.”

18 Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. 19 And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his family. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are friendly with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their cattle, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.” 24 And all who went out of the gate of his city hearkened to Hamor and his son Shechem; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

25 On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came upon the city unawares, and killed all the males. 26 They slew Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. 27 And the sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled; 28 they took their flocks and their herds, their asses, and whatever was in the city and in the field; 29 all their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

Onan’s Sin and His Death. The sin of Onanism has been used to prohibit masturbation, coitus interruptus, and contraception. It doesn’t deal with any of these things. Onan was slain by God because he did not fulfill his duties to help produce an heir for his brother. Does such a disobedient deed really deserve death? How civilized is that?

Genesis 38:
7 But Er, Judah’s first-born, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also.

Judah Takes a Tamar as a “Harlot.” Prostitution is the oldest occupation in the world, but this time the father of the Jews, with his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Notice that even though Judah hired a harlot, he wanted to punish Tamar for playing the harlot by burning her, presumably alive.[8]

Genesis 38:
13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she put off her widow’s garments, and put on a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot, for she had covered her face. 16 He went over to her at the road side, and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a kid from the flock.” And she said, “Will you give me a pledge, till you send it?” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he could not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the harlot who was at Enaim by the wayside?” And they said, “No harlot has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah, and said, “I have not found her; and also the men of the place said, ‘No harlot has been here.’” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, lest we be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid, and you could not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; and moreover she is with child by harlotry.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Mark, I pray you, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again.

God Kills Many Egyptian Innocent Children. Notice that God desires to kill the first born in ancient Egypt, so he hardens Pharoah’s heart to do this (cf. Exodus 6:1). This was the tenth plague as seen in Exodus chapters 12-13. All of the plagues represent a total assault upon the Egyptian society and their polytheistic gods simply because they were raised to believe differently (Exodus 7-13).

Exodus 4:
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my first-born son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me”; if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your first-born son.’”

God Seeks to Kill Moses. After calling Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God inexplicably seeks to kill him. In this enigmatic ancient passage, Zipporah circumcises someone (Moses, or his son, the text isn’t clear) and then smears the blood of the foreskin on someone (either Moses, his son, or on God himself, the text isn’t clear) to halt the divine attack. Apparently God flies off his rockers if a piece of penis isn’t removed. Understood within the context of that day, circumcision was considered as a kind of child sacrifice in substitute, which appeased the gods by offering up blood without actually killing the first-born son.[9]

Exodus 4:
24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. Then it was that she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

No Graven Images. This second commandment was used to prohibit and to destroy some great artwork.

Exodus 20:
4 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

A Literal Six Day Creation. That the Genesis 1-2 creation account was understood by pre-scientific people to describe seven literal days can be seen when Moses speaks about the six-day work week.

Exodus 20:8-11:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

The Atrocious Laws About Slavery. Surely no civilized person should accept slavery of any kind, nor any of these specific laws.

Exodus 21:
1 “Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt faithlessly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

20 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his property (NIV).

26 “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free for the eye’s sake. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free for the tooth’s sake.

28 “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be clear. 29 But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 32 If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Barbaric Capital Punishment Laws. While some of these offenses are odious to us in varying degrees, civilized people today think a mandated death penalty for the following offenses is extreme, even if we don’t know whether they were all actually followed. Rather than quote them, let me merely list them. The death penalty was demanded for any rebellious son who either struck or cursed his father or his mother (Exodus 21:15, 17; Deut. 21:18-21). The following people were to be executed: anyone who kidnapped another person (presumably another Israelite, Exodus 21:16; Deut. 24:5); any owner of a bull who has a known habit of goring people who eventually kills someone (Exodus 21:28-29); witches, mediums, and sorcerers (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27); shepherds who have sex with their sheep, or any beast (Exodus 22:19); anyone who sacrifices to a different god than Yahweh (Exodus 22:20); anyone who works on the Sabbath day (Exodus 31:14-15; Exodus 35:2, which happened in Numbers 15:32-36); anyone who is an adulterer (Leviticus 20:10; Deut. 22:22); any man who rapes another man’s wife when her screams could not be heard (Deut. 22:25) prostitutes, fornicators (Deut. 22:13-21); any man who sleeps with his mother, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, another man, or sister (Leviticus 20:11-13); any man who marries both a woman and her mother, or maries his sister (Leviticus 20:14, 17); any priest’s daughter who becomes a prostitute must be burned with fire (Leviticus 21:9); blasphemers (Leviticus 24:10-16); any prophet or person who seeks to lead others astray from God (Deut. 13:1-10; if a whole town of people are leading others astray, all of the inhabitants are to be killed and the town with all of its plunder was to be burned to the ground; Deut. 13:12-18); anyone found worshipping other gods (Deut. 17:2-5); and finally, any rapist of a virgin once she was pledged to be married to another man (Deut. 22:23-27); this authorizes “honor killings,” for the virgin has dishonored her future husband. Both the rapist AND the victim were to be killed, unless the rapist does so out in the country where her screams could not be heard). Anyone who afflicts a widow or orphan, God himself will kill him (Exodus 22:22-24).

“Eye For An Eye” Passages. This is barbaric justice, period, and is still practiced in some cultures to this day. The Exodus passage below is also used by anti-abortionists in denying women the right to choose, although the context indicates the harm done that demands the death of the men is that which takes the life of the mother, not the dead miscarriage. Only a fine is demanded of the men if it’s a miscarriage.

Leviticus 24:
19 When a man causes a disfigurement in his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured.

Exodus 21:
22 “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Usury Laws. Such laws as specifically stated in the Old Testament demanded a sophisticated level of gerrymandering to get around them. They didn’t prevent investment, but made the lender a joint-venturer such that he would have to share the risk. The rise of modern democratic capitalism, by contrast, has raised the standard of living in those countries who have rejected these specific laws. Other examples can be found (Exodus, 22:24; Leviticus, 25:35-37; Deuteronomy, 23:20-21; Psalm 15:5; Jeremiah 15:10; Ezekiel 18:8-9, 13, 17).

Exodus 22:
25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him.”

Child Sacrifice is Divinely Commanded. Exodus 22:29-30: “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.”

God admitted he did this in Ezekiel 20:25-26 where he purportedly said: 25 “Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; 26 and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.”

The context of the Exodus passage concerns offerings and sacrifices, and it says God requires that first born sons are to be literally sacrificed to him. Hence, unlike other passages where there is the possibility of redemption with a substitute sacrifice (cf. Exodus 13:13; 34:10-20), none is specifically stated here. The concept of "redemption" is an interesting one that goes hand in hand with child sacrifice, because animals were substituted for the firstborn. Yet that says nothing against the idea that a better sacrifice was the firstborn child himself, and many people in the Old Testament did just that. Circumcision was probably a substitutionary child sacrifice (Exodus 4:24).

Child sacrifice should be understood within the whole concept of human sacrifice as a whole, which pleased God (Leviticus 27:28). Human sacrifice was probably only considered evil when it was done in the name of a foreign god, and doing so was punishable by death precisely because it was offered to another deity (Leviticus 20:2; 18:21 Deuteronomy 12:31 18:10; II Kings 17:17 23:10; II Chronicles 28:3 33:4-10; Ps 106:38; Isaiah 57:5,6; Jeremiah 7:31 32:35 Ezekiel 16:20,21 20:26,31 23:37,39 Acts 7:43).[10]

Child sacrifice was something that several Biblical people either did, or assisted others in doing so. Abraham, was not morally repulsed by the command itself (Genesis 22). Then there is Jepthah who probably sacrificed his daughter because of a stupid vow (Judges 11); David (II Sam. 21:7-9); Solomon and his wives (I Kings 3:16); Ahab (I Kings 16:33-34); Ahaz (II Kings 16:2-3); Hoshea (II Kings 17:7); and Manasseh (II Kings 21:6, II Chronicles 33:6). It was a problem for King Josiah ( II King 23:10), for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:30-31; 19:3-5; 32:35), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:20-21; 20:25-26, 30-31). The prophet Micah wonders if he should sacrifice his oldest son “as a sin offering” (6:6-8). Child sacrifice to foreign gods was so prevalent that it’s named as one of the major reasons why God sent the Babylonians to conquer Israel and forcibly take many of them as captives (II Kings 17:16-18). We even read where the King of Moab sacrificed his son which caused the Israelites to retreat in defeat. Moab’s sacrifice created a great “wrath,” (ketzef), which was an external divine force to the warriors in the story, indicating that his sacrifice caused some divinity to act on behalf of Moab. (II Kings. 3:26-27). In the New Testament God the Father sacrifices his only son (Jesus) as the central redemptive act of Christianity, and God still seeks to fulfill his lust for human sacrifice by burning humans forever in the lake of fire.

“Life is in the Blood.” Regardless of several unnecessary dietary laws themselves, the following verse was (and is) used to deny life giving blood transfusions. Enough said.

Leviticus 17:
10 “If any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers that sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life.

Vigilantism. The blood avenger was someone who, like bounty hunters, could track down and kill a person for killing a family member. If the murder was an accident the avenger could still kill him, unless that person stayed inside six cities of refuge and was not found outside of them. If the person could be lured or dragged out of the city the avenger could kill him.

Numbers 35:
19 The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. 20 And if he stabbed him from hatred, or hurled at him, lying in wait, so that he died, 21 or in enmity struck him down with his hand, so that he died, then he who struck the blow shall be put to death; he is a murderer; the avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death, when he meets him.

22 “But if he stabbed him suddenly without enmity, or hurled anything on him without lying in wait, 23 or used a stone, by which a man may die, and without seeing him cast it upon him, so that he died, though he was not his enemy, and did not seek his harm; 24 then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood, in accordance with these ordinances; 25 and the congregation shall rescue the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, to which he had fled, and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26 But if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the bounds of his city of refuge to which he fled, 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the bounds of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood slays the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood. 28 For the man must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession.

A Rape Victim Must Marry Her Attacker. Enough said.

Deuteronomy 22:
28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.”

Holy War. Most civilized people think with Union General Sherman, “War is hell.” And even though the phrase ‘holy war’ in not mentioned in the Old Testament, divinely sanctioned wars are frequently mentioned (Joshua 8:1; Judges 4:14-15; 1 Samuel 17:45; 1 Samuel 23:4; II Kings 3:18), including genocide against the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:2). The enemies of Israel were the Lord’s enemies (Judges 5:31; 1 Samuel 30:26). One of the basic images of God in the Old Testament is that he is a warrior (Exodus 15:3; Psalms 24:8; and Isaiah 42:13), and this concept is used in the New Testament to describe God’s war against the devil (Ephesians 6:10-20) and against his armies of unbelievers (Revelation 19:11-21). Many wars in the history of Christendom were justified by claims that God demanded it, as in the Crusades, and that God was on “our” side, even when professing Christian armies were fighting against each other.

Joshua 1:
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, 2 “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

Jephthah Sacrifices his Daughter. What’s extremely troubling about this passage is that it’s in the Bible in the first place. It is merely reported as if these are the sorts of deeds that men did with their daughters from time to time. They are not shocked by the possibility that God might demand human sacrifice, nor that Jephthah did. And there is no trace of a condemnation from God for what he did. Also very troubling is that Jephthah makes a completely stupid vow, knowing in advance his daughter might be the first one to greet him when he returned from war, and feels compelled to fulfill it (on vows see for example, Numbers 30:3; and Deuteronomy 23:22-24).

Judges 11:
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering.”

32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 And he smote them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel .

34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.” 36 And she said to him, “My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the Lord has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.” 37 And she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions.” 38 And he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made.

A Levite and his Concubine: More Rape, More Slaughter and More Kidnapping. These few chapters in the Bible describe incredible horrors. It must be read in its entirety to see how barbaric the people, God’s people, were towards each other. According to the Bible God sanctioned the near genocide of the Benjamites (Judges 20:18 ,23,28,35), leaving only 600 men who escaped. And since the people of Israel didn’t want to exterminate the Benjamites they felt obligated to keep a stupid oath they made about not giving their women to them as wives (on vows see Deuteronomy 23:21 -23). So they slaughtered every man woman and child of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead, except for four hundred virgins, and gave these virgins to the remaining Benjamites. But they still needed 200 more virgins, so the “elders of the congregation” encouraged the kidnapping of 200 wives from the virgins of Shiloh . (Judges 21:5-7). This is absolutely stunning and hideous. Where was God? Why didn’t he tell them not to do this?

Judges 19:
1 In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 And his concubine became angry with him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. 3 Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of asses. And he came to her father’s house; and when the girl’s father saw him, he came with joy to meet him. 4 And his father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay, and he remained with him three days; so they ate and drank, and lodged there. 5 And on the fourth day they arose early in the morning, and he prepared to go; but the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and after that you may go.” 6 So the two men sat and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, “Be pleased to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” 7 And when the man rose up to go, his father-in-law urged him, till he lodged there again. 8 And on the fifth day he arose early in the morning to depart; and the girl’s father said, “Strengthen your heart, and tarry until the day declines.” So they ate, both of them. 9 And when the man and his concubine and his servant rose up to depart, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold, now the day has waned toward evening; pray tarry all night. Behold, the day draws to its close; lodge here and let your heart be merry; and tomorrow you shall arise early in the morning for your journey, and go home.”

10 But the man would not spend the night; he rose up and departed, and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a couple of saddled asses, and his concubine was with him. 11 When they were near Jebus, the day was far spent, and the servant said to his master, “Come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites, and spend the night in it.” 12 And his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel; but we will pass on to Gibe-ah.” 13 And he said to his servant, “Come and let us draw near to one of these places, and spend the night at Gibe-ah or at Ramah.” 14 So they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibe-ah, which belongs to Benjamin, 15 and they turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibe-ah. And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city; for no man took them into his house to spend the night.

16 And behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening; the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was sojourning in Gibe-ah; the men of the place were Benjaminites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the wayfarer in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going? and whence do you come?” 18 And he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah; and I am going to my home; and nobody takes me into his house. 19 We have straw and provender for our asses, with bread and wine for me and your maidservant and the young man with your servants; there is no lack of anything.” 20 And the old man said, “Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants; only, do not spend the night in the square.” 21 So he brought him into his house, and gave the asses provender; and they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24 Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them; and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light.

27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her upon the ass; and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and laying hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

Judges 20:
1 Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beer-sheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. 2 And the chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand men on foot that drew the sword. 3 (Now the Benjaminites heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the people of Israel said, “Tell us, how was this wickedness brought to pass?” 4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came to Gibe-ah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. 5 And the men of Gibe-ah rose against me, and beset the house round about me by night; they meant to kill me, and they ravished my concubine, and she is dead. 6 And I took my concubine and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed abomination and wantonness in Israel. 7 Behold, you people of Israel, all of you, give your advice and counsel here.”

8 And all the people arose as one man, saying, “We will not any of us go to his tent, and none of us will return to his house. 9 But now this is what we will do to Gibe-ah: we will go up against it by lot, 10 and we will take ten men of a hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and a thousand of ten thousand, to bring provisions for the people, that when they come they may requite Gibe-ah of Benjamin, for all the wanton crime which they have committed in Israel.” 11 So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one man.

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What wickedness is this that has taken place among you? 13 Now therefore give up the men, the base fellows in Gibe-ah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the people of Israel. 14 And the Benjaminites came together out of the cities to Gibe-ah, to go out to battle against the people of Israel. 15 And the Benjaminites mustered out of their cities on that day twenty-six thousand men that drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibe-ah, who mustered seven hundred picked men. 16 Among all these were seven hundred picked men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not miss. 17 And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand men that drew sword; all these were men of war.

18 The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel, and inquired of God, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the Benjaminites?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”

19 Then the people of Israel rose in the morning, and encamped against Gibe-ah. 20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibe-ah. 21 The Benjaminites came out of Gibe-ah, and felled to the ground on that day twenty-two thousand men of the Israelites. 22 But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. 23 And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening; and they inquired of the Lord, “Shall we again draw near to battle against our brethren the Benjaminites?” And the Lord said, “Go up against them.”

24 So the people of Israel came near against the Benjaminites the second day. 25 And Benjamin went against them out of Gibe-ah the second day, and felled to the ground eighteen thousand men of the people of Israel; all these were men who drew the sword. 26 Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept; they sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27 And the people of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, “Shall we yet again go out to battle against our brethren the Benjaminites, or shall we cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up; for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.”

29 So Israel set men in ambush round about Gibe-ah. 30 And the people of Israel went up against the Benjaminites on the third day, and set themselves in array against Gibe-ah, as at other times. 31 And the Benjaminites went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and as at other times they began to smite and kill some of the people, in the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibe-ah, and in the open country, about thirty men of Israel. 32 And the Benjaminites said, “They are routed before us, as at the first.” But the men of Israel said, “Let us flee, and draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33 And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and set themselves in array at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel who were in ambush rushed out of their place west of Geba. 34 And there came against Gibe-ah ten thousand picked men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard; but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them. 35 And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel; and the men of Israel destroyed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin that day; all these were men who drew the sword. 36 So the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated.

The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted to the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibe-ah. 37 And the men in ambush made haste and rushed upon Gibe-ah; the men in ambush moved out and smote all the city with the edge of the sword. 38 Now the appointed signal between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that when they made a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city 39 the men of Israel should turn in battle. Now Benjamin had begun to smite and kill about thirty men of Israel; they said, “Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.” 40 But when the signal began to rise out of the city in a column of smoke, the Benjaminites looked behind them; and behold, the whole of the city went up in smoke to heaven. 41 Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed, for they saw that disaster was close upon them. 42 Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43 Cutting down the Benjaminites, they pursued them and trod them down from Nohah as far as opposite Gibe-ah on the east. 44 Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell, all of them men of valor. 45 And they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon; five thousand men of them were cut down in the highways, and they were pursued hard to Gidom, and two thousand men of them were slain. 46 So all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand men that drew the sword, all of them men of valor. 47 But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and abode at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48 And the men of Israel turned back against the Benjaminites, and smote them with the edge of the sword, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns which they found they set on fire.

Judges 21:
1 Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.” 2 And the people came to Bethel, and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3 And they said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?” 4 And on the morrow the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5 And the people of Israel said, “Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, “He shall be put to death.” 6 And the people of Israel had compassion for Benjamin their brother, and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. 7 What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?”

8 And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly. 9 For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 So the congregation sent thither twelve thousand of their bravest men, and commanded them, “Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. 11 This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall utterly destroy.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14 And Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead; but they did not suffice for them. 15 And the people had compassion on Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17 And they said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe be not blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” For the people of Israel had sworn, “Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.” 19 So they said, “Behold, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” 20 And they commanded the Benjaminites, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and seize each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously to us; because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23 And the Benjaminites did so, and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off; then they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the towns, and dwelt in them. 24 And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.

The Genocide of the Amalekites. This is an appalling act of “divinely commanded” genocide.

I Samuel 15:
1 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore hearken to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.’”

4 So Saul summoned the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley. 6 And Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed.

10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I repent that I have made Saul king; for he has turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry; and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning; and it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned, and passed on, and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord; I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Say on.”

17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,he has also rejected you from being king.”

24 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Putting Away Foreign Wives. Women were pretty much helpless in ancient cultures without a husband of father to care for them, and simply because Israelites had married foreign wives they were divorced.

Ezra 10:
1 While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel; for the people wept bitterly. 2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3 Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” 5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

7 And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, 8 and that if any one did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.

9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days; 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have trespassed and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then make confession to the Lord the God of your fathers, and do his will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 16 Then the returned exiles did so... 44 All these had married foreign women, and they put them away with their children.

Dashing Children Against the Rock.

Psalm 137:
8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall he be who requites you
with what you have done to us!
9 Happy shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!

Beating and Spanking Children. This verse has been used by abusive fathers. We now have more enlightened ways of disciplining children.[11]

Proverbs 13:
24 He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.


[1] A whole host of these and many more passages can be found at, and

[2] The following rationalizations are used by Christians about the violence found in the Bible. Whether they succeed or not I’ll let the reader decide after reading this. (Thanks to Andrew Atkinson for some suggestions on this):
1 It wasn't sanctioned by God himself. Sinful humans committed these atrocities in disobedience to God.
2 God was accommodating to their hardened hearts.
3 The Israelites were better morally than the surrounding cultures.
4 The people of Israel needed a pure bloodline to bring in the Messiah.
5 The Bible (especially the Old Testament) does indeed contain a lot of barbarisms, but through it all God was progressively leading believers to gradually come to civilized notions about morality, which were either finally realized in Jesus, or later in the church down through the centuries.
6 What God makes or creates he has the right to destroy, he is the potter we are the clay. God gives life so he can take it away. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills so he can take our possessions away.
7. Because of our sin and depraved nature we deserve eternal torment, so anything that happens to us or that God does to us we deserve anyway. We should be thankful that God does not do horrible things to all of us all the time, thank God he is so merciful!
8. Many of the laws in the Old Testament were either not ordained by God himself, or not acted upon in reality.
9. What God does can be a mystery and we are not in a position to question his actions. Gods ways are above are ways.
10. Our depraved nature makes us unfit cognitively to judge moral claims. What God does is good by definition.
11. God needed to do some ethnic cleansing and trim the fat from society, the ends justifies the means.
12. God was being merciful to the children by killing them because if he had not done so then they would’ve grown up to be heathens and gone to hell.
13. All of these seemingly horrible acts work out for the greater good some how.
14. That was the Old Testament now we are under a new covenant. Civil, Ceremonial, moral law distinctions.
15. What about the good things God has done?

[3] For a good discussion of this account see Conrad Hyers, The Meaning of Creation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984), pp. 9-114.

[4] Where does Cain get his wife, who is he afraid of, and how is it possible to build what’s called “a city” when they were just a small family? None of these questions can be answered with a straightforward reading of this text.

[5] There is a discrepancy in how long the flood lasted. Was it 40 days ( 7:17 ), 150 days ( 7:24 ), or one year (compare 7:11 with 8:13 )?

[6] For two book length treatments of this see Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse : The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, and David M. Goldenberg, The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

[7] This passage does not support the claim that God condemns homosexuality per se, since any forceful rape of another human being is wrong. Besides according to Ezekiel their sin was that they did not help the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48 -50).

[8] Jonathan Kirsch titled his book depicting the horrible acts in the Old Testament by this incident, The Harlot By The Side of the Road (Ballantine Books).

[9] For a good discussion of this passage see Jonathan Kirsch, The Harlot By The Side of the Road (Ballantine Books), pp. 145-179.

[10] To read a scholarly defence of this view see, Francesca Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities, (Walter De Gruyter Inc., 2004).

[11] See for instance Thomas Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children (Three Rivers Press, 2000).