God’s Killings in the Bible Part IX – 4 Acts of Murder in the Prophets

NOTE: In the Old Testament alone, there are over 132 incidences of God murdering or ordering murders. According to the Orthodox Church Fathers, in the Old Testament it is the Logos—the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity before His Incarnation—who is making appearances and acting: “God the Father acts through the Son in the Holy Spirit.” In the books of the Prophets, 4 separate incidents are recorded where God either kills or orders His people to kill others. The following biblical verses are taken from the King James Version:

Prophet Job

God and Satan kill Job’s children and slaves, Job 1:15-19. And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. [NOTE: This is the only killing in the Bible that Satan had anything to do with. And he didn’t do it alone; God was a co-conspirator.

Job on the Dunghill is Afflicted with Leprosy to the Dismay of His Friends
Job on the Dunghill is Afflicted with Leprosy to the Dismay of His Friends

The fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 21:5-7. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath. And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence. And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.

Mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel, from a synagogue wall in Jerusalem
Mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel, from a synagogue wall in Jerusalem

Hananiah, Jeremiah 28:16-17. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

"The Yoke of Jeremiah"
“The Yoke of Jeremiah”

God kills Ezekiel’s wife and tells him not to mourn her death, Ezekiel 24:16-18. Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.

The prophet Ezekiel cuts off his hair and beard and burns it .
The prophet Ezekiel cuts off his hair and beard and burns it .

Patristic Commentary on Job 1:15-19

Julian of Eclanum writes: The day of trial is chosen by the devil in order that he may now overwhelm the holy Job with the variety of damages and afflictions, for previously, after offering the sacrifices, by having his meals in the circle of his children, Job could be safe in God’s protection. It was not without meaning that on the day of the theft of the oxen and donkeys mention was also made of what happened to the children as they were eating together. This was to show that all the misfortunes, by which the soul of the righteous man was to be crushed, happened simultaneously (Exposition on the Book of Job 1:13-15)

St. Hesychius of Jerusalem writes: Who is “the fire”? The enemy himself about whom David said, “You will throw burning coals at them.” In fact, he could not, as some people believe, cast thunderbolts, nor brandish lightning, nor set in motion any element. Therefore it is the devil in the semblance of fire who fell on the herds of sheep, with the intention of forcing Job to blaspheme God, as if it were he, who from heaven had destroyed the riches of the righteous (Homilies on Job 3.I.16).

Didymus the Blind writes: It is remarkable how the news from the second [messenger] increases Job’s pain. “Fire fell from heaven,” he says, “and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them.” Even if Job thoroughly knew the teachings of the truth and understood that afflictions did not occur without God’s permission, the incident still brought him great suffering for the people’s sake. They were confused by what occurred. It was as if God had turned against Job. That the intruders during the attack took the cattle and killed the servants could be interpreted by the less intelligent as if the intruders were simply acting in accordance with the hostile customs of battle. They had attacked and behaved in that way due to lack of discipline and hate. Therefore [one might conclude] that the event was not sent from God. But when the fire that had fallen from heaven was reported, one might have feared that the weak would believe that virtue was nothing admirable, if God even punishes the one who possesses it. Yet even during this incident the holy man did not fall down but focused his entire attention on God’s work (Commentary on Job 1.16)

St. John Chrysostom writes: Therefore we cannot consider these blows as coming directly from God. The devil amplifies the tragedy, as seen in the variety of the announced calamities. But, since Job was pious, he probably said, “It is God who strikes. Hence it is necessary to be patient.” The devil then argues. “Look!” the devil says. Consider what kind of men attack you. It is not only God who is fighting against you. Contemplate the great power of the devil and the way he has armed such numerous hordes. The devil has clothed himself in appearances. Even if you do not believe in the reality of divine judgment, you can see his ability to give demonic powers a visible form, even when he cannot create these powers (Commentary on Job 1.17)

St. Gregory the Great writes: He who is not laid low by one wound is in consequence stricken twice and thrice, that at one time or another he may be struck to the very core.  Thus the blow from the Sabeans had been reported, the Divine visitation by fire from heaven had been reported, tidings are brought of the plundering of the camels, by man again, and of the slaughter of his servants, and the fury of God’s displeasure is repeated, in that a fierce wind is shewn to have smitten the comers of the house, and to have overwhelmed his children.  For because it is certain that without the Sovereign dictate the elements can never be put in motion, it is covertly implied that He, Who let them be stirred, did Himself stir up the elements against him, though, when Satan has once received the power from the Lord, he is able even to put the elements into commotion to serve his wicked designs.  Nor should it disturb us, if a spirit cast down from on high should have the power to stir the air into storms, seeing that we know doubtless that to those even who are sentenced to the mines fire and water render service to supply their need.  So then he obtained that tidings should be brought of misfortunes; he obtained that they should be many in number; he obtained that they should come suddenly.  Now the first time that he brought bad tidings he inflicted a wound upon his yet peaceful breast, as upon sound members; but when he went on smiting the stricken soul, he dealt wound upon wound, that he might urge him to words of impatience… (Morals on the Book of Job 2.78)

Leprous Job on a dunghill and the Devil





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