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Bible stories; religious violence; biblical immorality

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God's Genocides
"Show them no mercy" 1

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Quotations:

bullet"When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you may nations...then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy." Deuteronomy 7:1-2, NIV. 1

bullet"...do not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy them...as the Lord your God has commanded you..." Deuteronomy 20:16, NIV. 1

Overview of violence in the Hebrew Bible:

Biblical scholar Raymond Schwager:

"... has found 600 passages of explicit violence in the Hebrew Bible [a.k.a. Old Testament], 1000 verses where God's own violent actions of punishment are described, 100 passages where God expressly commands others to kill people, and several stories where God irrationally kills or tries to kill for no apparent reason. Violence ... is easily the most often mentioned activity in the Hebrew Bible." 6

"Paprikazz" posted the following video on You Tube with texts derived from the Skeptics Annotated Bible:

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Overview of some biblical genocides:

Of the many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that describe major loss of life, most were conventional wars. Four of these events would probably qualify as genocides under most current definitions of the term. They were:

bulletThe worldwide flood at the time of Noah as described in Genesis, chapters 6 to 8. From the description, it almost completely wiped out the human race, with the exception of Noah, his wife and sons and their wives.

bulletThe Passover incident described in Exodus chapters 11 and 12, in which all of the firstborn of all Egypt were slaughtered. This included newborns, children, youths, adults, the elderly -- both human and animal.

bulletThe conquest of Canaan, in which God ordered the Hebrews to completely exterminate the Canaanite people -- again from the elderly to newborns and fetuses. This is described throughout the book of Joshua as occurring in Jericho and other Caananite cities.

bulletThe near extermination of the entire tribe of Benjamin by the remaining 11 tribes, triggered by the serial rape and murder of a priest's concubine by a few Benjamites. See Judges, chapter 20.

The first three of the above genocides have at least three factors in common:

bulletThe Bible explains that God was primarily responsible.

bulletMany liberal Christians, liberal Jews, historians and biblical archaeologists believe that all three are religious myths -- stories of great spiritual significance about events that never actually happened.

bulletJewish and Christian conservatives generally believe in that the authors of the Bible were inspired by God and thus their writings are inerrant. They believe that the genocides happened exactly as described in the Bible.

In addition, the book of Revelation, as interpreted by Christian Dispensationalists, predicts that a massive genocide will occur at some time in our future, in association with the war of Armageddon and the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). If it were to happen in the near future, on the order of two billion people will die.

In modern times, genocide is generally regarded as the most serious, reprehensible, horrifying and disgusting crime of which humans are capable. Those responsible are considered to be sub-human pariahs. At first glance, there seems to be a conflict between concept of God as a loving, caring, beneficent deity, and his responsibility in causing or ordering these genocides.

Theologians have attempted to resolve this apparent conflict for millennia. It is part of a larger conflict called theodicy: Why doesn't an all-good God prevent evil?

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Topics covered in this section:

bulletA brief list of genocides in biblical and modern times -- mostly religiously motivated

Other topics to be written in the future:

bulletThree genocides involving Noah, the Egyptians, and the Canaanites
 
bulletA genocide in our future, as covered in Revelation
 
bulletBiblical genocides, as viewed in the 21st century

Essay on a related topic:

bulletMass crimes against humanity and genocides: A description of religiously motivated atrocities from 1450 CE to the present.

References:

  1. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
  2. "Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide," University of the West of England, at: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/
  3. "Genocide: Definition and Controversies," University of the West of England, at: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/gendef.htm
  4. Deuteronomy 20:17 (KJV)
  5. Deuteronomy 20:16 (KJV)
  6. Cited by Walter Wink, "The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium," Galilee Doubleday, (1998), Pages 84 & 85.

 

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Copyright 2003 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-MAR-22
Latest update: 2011-FEB-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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