Friday, August 20, 2010

Genocidal God

Back in Numbers 25, the Israelites were camped out on the edge of Moab. While there, some of the Israelites had sexual relations with Moabite and Midianite women, and started worshiping their god Baal. Phinehas slayed an interracial couple, and God was so impressed that He stopped the plague He sent (after 24000 Israelites had died) and rewarded the vigilante Phinehas with a lasting Priesthood.

The five chapters which followed covered a census of the 601730 Israelite men, Moses beginning the transfer of power to Joshua, and God giving some more rules and regulations which mainly dealt with the offerings for various feasts, plus a chapter primarily on the vows of women to complete the set.

Genocidal God
If you have never been deeply disturbed by reading the Bible, you have not been really reading it. Read it. Read it for all that it is worth. Read it like your life depends on it, at least if you are a believer. I recommend starting at the beginning, but let this be a teaser to get you hooked into reading.

Numbers 31:1-2 opens the chapter with malicious intent:
The LORD said to Moses,"Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people." NIV
God tells Moses to start a holy war; a war of God's vengeance. Vengeance for certain Midianite women who had sex with some Israelites and convinced some Israelite subset to worship Baal (Numbers 25:1-3, Numbers 25:16-18).

Some commands for this war are elaborated on in Numbers 31:3-6. One thousand Israelites from each tribe (twelve thousand total) would attack the Midianites, accompanied by Phinehas the priest with the Ark of the Covenant and trumpets. This was not just a simple attack. We will see that the actual purpose was genocide.

The war goes on in Numbers 31:7-12, and it was a big success. They killed every Midianite man, and claimed their women, children, livestock, and other valuables as plunder, bringing them back to the Israelite encampment. But that was wrong, very wrong.

Moses is furious when they get back (Numbers 31:13-14). He angrily commands in Numbers 31:15-18:
"Have you allowed all the women to live?" [Moses] asked them. "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the Lord in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord's people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." NIV
Note that Moses is so angry because the Israelites had let the women live who were the very cause of the war. Pause, and think on this. Instead of God simply holding the specific guilty people responsible and subjecting only them to His wrath, God initiates a war which yields destruction of all male lineage, otherwise known as genocide.

Next, note that these women had followed Balaam's advice. Balaam. The gentile prophet with the talking donkey who said that he would only say what God had told him to say (Numbers 22:38). The one who danced with God's drawn-out prophesy of blessing the Israelites while cursing many others and infuriating Balak. Talk about being non sequitur.

Finally, note that they could keep the virgin women and little girls as part of the war plunder. It is arguable that such may be a better fate than being slain like the rest of the Midianites, but keep in mind that they would become slaves and wives to the same people who had slaughtered their brothers and fathers.

Perhaps you are not moved by Holy genocide. How about Holy virgin sacrifices?

After a purification process (Numbers 31:19-24), the Israelites divided up the plunder per God's instructions. Half went to the soldiers, and the other half went to the rest of the Israelites, but the Levites got a percentage of the Israelites' portion, and God got a percentage of the soldier's portion (Numbers 31:25-47). (It is interesting that God's portion came from the soldiers.)

As we discover in Numbers 31:40, God got 32 of the 16000 virgins. What does it mean when God gets people? Numbers 31:41 explains that God's share was given to the High Priest, Eleazar, but it does not elaborate any further.

In a previous study, we saw that the priests could not marry a non-Jewish women (Leviticus 21:13-15), so marrying these virgins was not possible. The best that these virgins could become was slaves or concubines for the priests. That is, if they belonged to the priests.

The text only says that they were “for the Lord” and “the Lord's part.” There is a Hebrew term for “irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord,” meaning completely destroying them, usually by fire, which is often simply translated as destroyed. In a previous study, we observed that indeed humans could be killed this way for God (Leviticus 27:28-29). It is likely that such was the ultimate fate of these 32 virgins.

So God expands the guilt of a culpable few to an entire people, resulting in their genocide, and (likely) has some of their surviving virgins sacrificed for Him. God demands mercy, not sacrifice? Ha.


  1. Dear TWF

    I have an interest in seeking the truth, because that is the basic philosophy of Hinduism.
    Unlike Christianity and Muslim religions, which do not allow any questioning, Hinduism
    is based on search for the truth. No heresy is performed even if I question words ascribed to God.

    I have studied Bible, Quoran, Buddhist literature along with Hinduism.

    I sincerely believe that Christianity did the wrong thing by accepting Old Testament in toto as God's word.
    Old Testament, full of falsities and evil deeds (genocide by Jews) belongs to Jews, who themselves considered
    Jesus as a blasphemer. Most of the old testament has no archaeological proof and some of it is outright
    inconsistent with our present knowledge. God could not have made mistakes. So it clearly amounts to that the
    people who wrote it were illiterates, who for unknown purpose, wrote it as if out of the hat. Seems more like
    1001 Arabian Tales. How can you explain the Genesis story, Adam being born around 4500 BC, Tabernacle,
    Noah's flood, God being a guide nearly every day etc etc etc.

    To me a much better explanation is that Moses and Aron wanted to lord it over the Jews so they created the story that they had regular audiences with God. Moses got Aron installed as the high priest and collected huge wealth in the name of offerings. Whenever there was any revolt, Moses will say that he had an audience with God, and God will get angry if there is any disobedience.

    Also it is repeatedly said that "I am the God of Abraham, I am the God of Moses, I am the God of Isaac."
    By this, the so called God testifies that He is not a universal God, but only the God of the Jews.It would have been much better
    to let Him remain just there - as an imperfect God of Jews. Why suddenly God has stopped giving personal audiences to the mighty Jews? Also, why did the Jewish God not save them from the holocaust? All this raises serious doubts about the Jewish God being nothing but a figment of Jewish Priest imagination.

    Also, God is all love and infinite and everlasting. He is perfect. A perfect thing can never change by the very definition.
    By changing it becomes imperfect. So, by saying God became angry and sought vengeance, you are saying He
    is an imperfect God. So, the concept of God in the old testament is a very incorrect concept, of illiterate people, with even the basic philosophical ability. Even the concept of the day of judgement, Hell and Heaven are completely created to force people into fear and submission. God does not work by fear, but by love.

    I think Christians should ponder over these facts. Accepting Jesus does not mean that you should take Judaism lock stock and barrel. The Roman church made a huge error in doing that. It will be better to redress it at some stage.

    Pravin Gupta

  2. Thanks for the comment, Mr. Gupta. There are surely many issues with the OT God being reconciled with love and perfection. However, the Christians were kind of stuck accepting it as is. Verses such as Luke 3:38, Romans 5:14, 1 Timothy 2:13, etc. reference Adam as the first man, and Jesus Himself referencing Noah in Matthew 24:37-38 and Luke 17:26-27 tie the Old Testament to the New Testament with inseparable bonds.

    I would be nice if God was all love and perfect, though. :-)


    Since many Creationists, Fundamentalists, and I suppose Jews and Christians in general believe that they believe what the author of this 2,500 year old text believed (and by extension what the god of his text also believed!), I’ve decided to list his beliefs (and “God’s”) clearly and orderly. This follows from the textual analyses of Genesis 1:1-2:3 that were previously posted: Gen 1:1-2; Gen 1:3-5; Gen 1:6-8; Gen 1:9-10; Gen 1:14-19; Gen 1:24-27; and Gen 2:2-3. Consult them for specifics.
    As has been repeatedly voiced, our aim here is to reproduce as objectively and faithfully as possible the beliefs of the author of Genesis 1:1-2:3—not ours—as evidenced by an understanding and reading of the text on its own terms and as a product of its own historical and literary world. The author that penned the creation account now found at Genesis 1:1-2:3 had a very unique worldview and set of beliefs that, in large part, were shaped by, and shared throughout, the larger ancient Near Eastern world within which he lived. And these beliefs themselves were most likely formed as the result of what ancient peoples saw and perceived about their world and the conclusions they naturally drew from these limited empirical observations.
    Genesis 1 is an account of the origins of the world as its author perceived it. That is to say, his perception and beliefs about the world and its origins were projected onto the god of his text and in turn this god then created the world that he himself, our author, perceived and experienced. These then are his beliefs:
    1. That God created the earth (dry habitable land, never the planet) and the skies out of preexistent undefined and inhabitable earth that was immersed in a deep, dark watery abyss.
    2. That creation was an act of separating this primordial matter (earth and water) out, subduing it, and forming it into an habitable, life-bearing world.
    3. That the source of day’s light is an inherent and essential property of day itself; its source is not the sun.
    4. That God created day, as light or daylight.
    5. That night is the original primordial darkness.
    6. That God subdued the primordial untamed waters by creating a domed barrier in their midst which separated the waters, now above and below this barrier.
    7. That the sky is this solid transparent domed barrier.
    8. That the sky’s function, as God created it, is to keep back the waters above.
    9. That the sky is blue because of the waters above it.
    10. That the sky, this domed barrier holding the waters above, touched the waters below at the horizons.

    11. That God subdued the waters below and caused them to gather together into seas.
    12. That earth, specifically dry habitable life-supporting land—not the planet—emerged from the depths of these now tamed seas.

    PART 2

    13. That the land or earth was flat.
    14. That the land or earth “floated” upon or was supported by the waters below.
    15. That the earth brought forth all plants and vegetation, each by its own kind.
    16. That God created and placed the sun, moon, and all the stars together in the domed barrier that he had made earlier, above which were the waters above.
    17. That these luminaries were created to regulate and to distinguish between the day and the night, not to create day (daylight) and night.
    18. That these luminaries moved through this domed barrier.
    19. That the moon produces its own light.
    20. That the luminaries’ purpose, in part, was to indicate when the months began, and on what days Yahweh’s festivals (Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Horn-Blast Holy Day, Day of Atonement, and Booths) fell and were to be observed.
    21. That the observance of these festivals or holy days were eternal laws punishable by death or excommunication.
    22. That the luminaries, particularly the moon, were created to serve as a calendar system, each new moon beginning a new month.
    23. That God created the living beings of the waters below, each by their kind.
    24. That God created the birds, each by their kind.
    25. That God created the animals of the earth, each by their kind.
    26. That in opposition to the animals, God created mankind, male and female, in his image.
    27. That there existed a plurality of divine beings or a divine counsel of some sort.
    28. That God created all of this in 6 days.
    29. That God created and consecrated the 7th day as holy.
    30. That God rested from his work on the 7th day and therefore man too must rest from his work on the 7th day, as reckoned from the new moon and then each 7th consecutive day afterward.
    31. That anyone caught doing work on the 7th day, that is not observing the Sabbath (our Saturday—but this is still inaccurate since we do not follow a lunar calendar), was to be stoned to death by commandment from God himself.
    32. That the Sabbath was an eternal covenant, to be observed forever, on penalty of death.
    These, then, are what the author of Genesis 1:1-2:3 believed—well actually just a small fraction of what he believed and perceived as “true,” as his experience of the world dictated.
    How many of these are seriously believed by our so-called modern day Creationists? 5? 10? 30%? How long are we as sentient beings going to put up with this dishonest and hypocritical practice? For by feigning belief in Genesis 1, they themselves are some of the most strident enemies of this ancient text and its author. I would expect more out of a species made in the image of God!
    by Dr. Steven DiMattei Copyrighted and posted on May 27, 2014