The Hypocrisy of the Old Testament

One of the names of the primary Judaic god is El Shaddai. According to Exodus 6:2, 3, Shaddai (שַׁדַּי) is the name of the god known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The name Shaddai is again used as the god’s name later in the Book of Job. The root word “shadad” (שדד) means “to overpower” or “to destroy”. This would give Shaddai the meaning of “destroyer”, representing one of the aspects of the god, and in this context it is essentially an epithet. Ēl is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity” and it is used as the name of major Ancient Near East deities, including the God of the Hebrew Bible. El is a generic word for god that could be used for any god, including Hadad, Moloch, or Yahweh. Thus El Shaddai means “God the Destroyer.” The Septuagint and other early translations usually translate “El Shaddai” as “God Almighty.” However in the Greek of the Septuagint translation of Psalm 91.1, “Shaddai” is translated as “the God of heaven.” “God Almighty” is the translation followed by most modern English translations of the Hebrew Scriptures. The following article looks at some examples of the “destroyer” attributes of the Christian Triune God that are found in the Old Testament. Orthodox Christian theology teaches that the accounts of God speaking in the Old Testament are the Logos of God, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, Who would later incarnate, namely Jesus Christ.

The Septuagint does not transliterate the names of God. They are usually rendered Kurios or Theos.

And now go, and thou shalt smite Amalec and Hierim and all that belongs to him, and thou shalt not save anything of him alive, but thou shalt utterly destroy him: and thou shalt devote him and all his to [destruction], and thou shalt spare nothing belonging to him; and thou shalt slay both man and woman, and infant and suckling, and calf and sheep, and camel and ass.” (1 Samuel 15:3)

“Samaria shall be utterly destroyed: for she has resisted her God; they shall fall by the sword, and their sucklings shall be dashed against the ground, and their women and child ripped up.” (Hosea 13:16)

“And he went up thence to Baethel: and as he was going up by the way there came up also little children from the city, and mocked him, and said to him, Go up, bald-head, go up. And he turned after them, and saw them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And, behold, there came out two bears out of the wood, and they tore forty and two children of them.” (2 Kings 2:23-24)

“Blessed [shall he be] who shall seize and dash thine infants against the rock.” (Ps. 137:9)

“Behold, I will stir up against you the Medes, who do not regard silver, neither have they need of gold. 18 They shall break the bows of the young men; and they shall have no mercy on your children; nor shall their eyes spare thy children.” (Isaiah 13:17-18)

“And if any man has a disobedient and contentious son, who hearkens not to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother, and they should correct him, and he should not hearken to them; then shall his father and his mother take hold of him, and bring him forth to the elders of his city, and to the gate of the place: and they shall say to the men of their city, This our son is disobedient and contentious, he hearkens not to our voice, he is a reveler and a drunkard. And the men of his city shall stone him with stones, and he shall die; and thou shalt remove the evil one from yourselves, and the rest shall hear and fear.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

“And God told Abraham, Take thy son, the beloved one, whom thou hast loved– Isaac, and go into the high land, and offer him there for a whole-burnt-offering on one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2)

The Sacrifice of Isaac, from the pavement of the Beth Alpha synagogue (6th century)
The Sacrifice of Isaac, from the pavement of the Beth Alpha synagogue (6th century)
  1. God permits the taking of little girls and women as “wife plunder”

“Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. But keep alive for yourselves all the *young* girls who have not known a man intimately.” (Numbers 31:17-18). The Hebrew word for “young” used here means “children.”

“But if they will not hearken to thee, but wage war against thee, thou shalt invest it; until the Lord thy God shall deliver it into thy hands, and thou shalt smite every male of it with the edge of the sword: except the women and the stuff: and all the cattle, and whatsoever shall be in the city, and all the plunder thou shalt take as spoil for thyself, and shalt eat all the plunder of thine enemies whom the Lord thy God gives thee.” (Deuteronomy 20:12-14)

“All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses.” (Genesis 34:29)

“And if when thou goest out to war against thine enemies, the Lord thy God should deliver them into thine hands, and thou shouldest take their spoil, and shouldest see among the spoil a woman beautiful in countenance, and shouldest desire her, and take her to thyself for a wife, and shouldest bring her within thine house: then shalt thou shave her head, and pare her nails; and shalt take away her garments of captivity from off her, and she shall abide in thine house, and shall bewail her father and mother the days of a month; and afterwards thou shalt go in to her and dwell with her, and she shall be thy wife.” (Deuteronomy 21:10-13)

Yahweh prefers killing the innocent children of sinners over the sinner.

“And I will kill her children with death” (Revelations 2:23)

“Who smote the first-born of Egypt, both of man and beast” (Psalm 135:8)

“Prepare thy children to be slain for the sins of their father; that they arise not, and inherit the earth, nor fill the earth with wars” (Isaiah 14:21)

“The Lord…bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and to the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7)

“For I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, recompensing the sins of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation to them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5)

Drowned corpses during Noah's Flood (Basilica of San MArco, Venice)
Drowned corpses during Noah’s Flood (Basilica of San Marco, Venice)

Rape victims must marry their rapists

“And if anyone should find a young virgin who has not been betrothed, and should force [her] and lie with her, and be found, the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the damsel fifty silver didrachms, and she shall be his wife, because he has humble her; he shall never be able to put her away” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

If the rape occurs in the city, the victim must be stoned to death

“And if there be a young damsel espoused to a man, and a man should have found her in the city and have lain with her; ye shall bring them both out to the gate of their city, and they shall be stoned with stones, and they shall die; the damsel, because she cried not in the city; and the man, because he humbled his neighbour’s spouse: so shalt thou remove the evil one from yourselves” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

Top: Jacob negotiates the purchase of the field in which he had pitched his tents. Bottom: Jacob told of the rape of his daughter Dinah.

Polygamy and sex slaves (concubines) okay for men, but females are said to be “defiled” if not found virgins on their wedding night

“And if any one sell his daughter as a domestic, she shall not depart as the maid-servants depart. If she be not pleasing to her master, after she has betrothed herself to him, he shall let her go free; but he is not at liberty to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has trifled with her. And if he should have betrothed her to his son, he shall do to her according to the right of daughters. And if he take another to himself, he shall not deprive her of necessaries and her apparel, and her companionship [with him]” (Exodus 21:7-10)

“And if anyone should take a wife, and dwell with her, and hate her, and attach to her reproachful words, and bring against her an evil name, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her I found not her tokens of virginity: then the father and the mother of the damsel shall take and bring out the damsel’s tokens of virginity to the elders of the city to the gate. And the father of the damsel shall say to the elders, I gave this my daughter to this man for a wife; and now he has hated her, and attaches reproachful words to her, saying, I have not found tokens of virginity with thy daughter; and these [are] the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall unfold the garment before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man, and shall chastise him, and shall fine him a hundred shekels, and shall give [them] to the father of the damsel, because he has brought forth an evil name against a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife: he shall never be able to put her away. But if this report be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel; then shall they bring out the damsel to the doors of her father’s house, and shall stone her with stones, and she shall die; because she has wrought folly among the children of Israel, to defile the house of her father by whoring: so thou shalt remove the evil one from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

“But a widow, or one that is put away, or profaned, or a harlot, these he shall not take; but he shall take for a wife a virgin of his own people.” (Leviticus 21:14)

“And if a man have two wives…”(Deuteronomy 21:15). Polygamy was originally permissible in the Bible. Jacob (who becomes God’s chosen people, Israel), has two wives (Rachel and Leah), who are both sisters (Genesis 30)

God commands Jacob to leave.  He announces his departure to his wives Leah and Rachel.
God commands Jacob to leave. He announces his departure to his wives Leah and Rachel.

“And whatever number of men-servants and maid-servants thou shalt have, thou shalt purchase male and female servants from the nations that are round about thee. And of the sons of the sojourners that are among you, of these ye shall buy and of their relations, all that shall be in your lands; let them be to you for a possession. And ye shall distribute them to your children after you, and they shall be to you permanent possessions for ever: but of your brethren the children of Israel, one shall not oppress his brother in labours” (Leviticus 25:44-46)

“And if a man site his man-servant or his maid-servant, with a rod, and [the party] die under his hands, he shall be surely punished. But if [the servant] continue to live a day or two, let not [the master] be punished; for he is his money” (Exodus 21:20-21)

“Because these are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; such an one shall not be sold as a [common] servant” (Leviticus 25:42)

Young Joseph sold by his brothers into captivity in Egypt. Byzantine mosaic, 14th c.
Young Joseph sold by his brothers into captivity in Egypt. Byzantine mosaic, 14th c.

“For the wrath of the Lord is upon all nations, and [his] anger upon the number of them, to destroy them, and give them up to slaughter” (Isaiah 34:2)

“…and I will overthrow the thrones of kings, and I will destroy the power of the kings of the nations [Gentile, non-Hebrew]; and I will overthrow chariots and riders; and the horses and their riders shall come down, everyone by the sword striving against his brother” (Hag. 2:22)

“Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth [for] thy possession. Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:8-9)

“For thou art a holy people to the Lord thy God; and the Lord thy God chose thee to be to him a peculiar people beyond all nations that [are] upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

Daniel in the lions' den, Roman mosaic from Bordj El Loudi, Tunisia, 5th Century AD.
Daniel in the lions’ den, Roman mosaic from Bordj El Loudi, Tunisia, 5th Century AD.
  1. Killing people to confiscate their land (covetousness):

“And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have begun to deliver before thee Seon the king of Esebon the Amorite, and his land, and do thou begin to inherit his land. ” (Deuteronomy 2:31)

“And he brought us into the land of the Amorites that dwelt beyond Jordan, and the Lord delivered them into our hands; and ye inherited their land, and utterly destroyed them from before you.” (Joshua 24:8)

“Thus shalt thou do to all the cities that are very far off from thee, not [being] of the cities of these nations which the Lord thy God gives thee to inherit their land. 16 [Of these] ye shall not take any thing alive; 17 but ye shall surely curse them. ” (Deuteronomy 20:15-16)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace of Nebuchadnezzer. Byzantine Mosaic, 11th CE.3
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the 3 Youths in the Fiery Furnace of Nebuchadnezzer. Byzantine Mosaic, 11th CE.
  1. Gold, silver and other goods

“But [every] woman shall ask of her neighbour and fellow lodger, articles of gold and silver, and apparel; and ye shall put them upon your sons and upon your daughters,– and spoil ye the Egyptians.” (Exodus 3:22) The lord reiterated this in Exodus 11:2.

“…We left no living prey. Only we took the cattle captive, and took the spoil of the cities. ” (Deuteronomy 2:34-35)

“And ye shall divide the spoils between the warriors that went out to battle, and the whole congregation.” (Numbers 21:27)

“And they took captive all the persons of them, and all their store, and their wives, and plundered both whatever things there were in the city, and whatever things there were in the houses.” (Genesis 34:29)

“All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them… The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:8, 10)

The Conquest of Jericho. Early Christian Mosaic.
The Conquest of Jericho. Early Christian Mosaic.

“And it shall come to pass that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you; and ye shall be quickly removed from the land, into which ye go to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 28:63)

“For behold! the day of the Lord is coming which cannot be escaped, [a day] of wrath and anger, to make the world desolate, and to destroy sinners out of it.” (Isaiah 13:9)

“And ye shall smite every strong city, and ye shall cut down every good tree, and ye shall stop all wells of water, and spoil every good piece [of land] with stones.” (2 Kings 3:19)

“Now consider these things, ye that forget God, lest he rend you [literally, ‘tear into pieces’], and there is no deliverer.” (Psalm 50:22)

The Return of the Explorers; Rebellion of the Israelites against Moses. Early Christian mosaic. 5th CE

“So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.” (Psalm 95:11)

“I will slay in my anger and my fury” (Jeremiah 33:5)

“Therefore thus saith the Lord; I will even cause to burst forth a sweeping blast with fury, and there shall be a flooding rain in my wrath; and in [my] fury I will bring on great stones for complete destruction.” (Ezekiel 13:13)

“And my wrath and mine anger shall be accomplished upon them: and thou shalt know that I the Lord have spoken in my jealousy, when I have accomplished mine anger upon them.” (Ezekiel 5:13)

“I saw, and, behold, Carmel was desert, and all the cities were burnt with fire at the presence of the Lord, and at the presence of his fierce anger they were utterly destroyed.” (Jeremiah 4:26)

“For the heaven shall be enraged, and the earth shall be shaken from her foundation, because of the fierce anger of the Lord of hosts, in the day in which his wrath shall come on.” (Isaiah 13:13)

“And I trampled them in mine anger, and brought down their blood to the earth.” (Isaiah 63:6)

Drunkenness of Noah (narthex, entrance bay vault). 1220-85. Byzantine mosaic.
Drunkenness of Noah (narthex, entrance bay vault). 1220-85. Byzantine mosaic.

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Go in to Pharao: for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that these signs may come upon them.” (Exodus 10:1)

“Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. And I said, How long, O Lord? And he said, Until cities be deserted by reason of their not being inhabited, and the houses by reason of there being no men, and the land shall be left desolate. And after this God shall remove the men far off, and they that are left upon the land shall be multiplied.” (Isaiah 6:9-12)

“And Seon king of Esebon would not that we should pass by him, because the Lord our God hardened his spirit, and made his heart stubborn, that he might be delivered into thy hands, as on this day.” (Deuteronomy 2:30)

NOTE: Abba Dorotheos of Gaza writes in his 5th Instruction, That We Should Not Trust Our Own Understanding, “But if one does not sincerely wish to do the will of God, then though go to a prophet, God might place in the heart of that prophet an answer corresponding to the man’s corrupt heart, as the Scripture says, And if a prophet should cause to err and should speak, I the Lord have caused that prophet to err (Ezekiel 14:9).”

Pendentif with the Joseph's dream about the seven fat and the seven lean cows. Detail from the dome with the story of Joseph of Egypt. Byzantine mosaic.
Pendentif with the Joseph’s dream about the seven fat and the seven lean cows. Detail from the dome with the story of Joseph of Egypt. Byzantine mosaic.

“And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.” (Leviticus 26:29)

“Therefore the fathers shall eat [their] children in the midst of thee, and children shall eat [their] fathers; and I will execute judgements in thee, and I will scatter all that are left of thee to every wind.” (Ezekiel 5:10)

“I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons, and the flesh of their daughters; and they shall eat every one the flesh of his neighbour in the blockade, and in the siege wherewith their enemies shall besiege them.” (Jeremiah 19:9)

“And thou, son of man, say, Thus saith the Lord; Say to every winged bird, and to all the wild beasts of the field, Gather yourselves, and come; gather yourselves from all [places] round about to my sacrifice, which I have made for you, [even] a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, and ye shall eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of mighty men, and ye shall drink the blood of princes of the earth, rams, and calves and goats, and they are all fatted calves. And ye shall eat fat till ye are full, and shall drink wine till ye are drunken, of my sacrifice which I have prepared for you. And ye shall be filled at my table, [eating] horse, and rider, and mighty man, and every warrior, saith the Lord.” (Ezekiel 39:17-20)

“And they that afflicted thee shall eat their own flesh; and they shall drink their own blood as new wine, and shall be drunken: and all flesh shall perceive that I am the Lord that delivers thee, and that upholds the strength of Jacob.” (Isaiah 49:26)

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” (Revelations 19:17-19)

Mosaic of ancient women dressed for sports - Roman villa near Piazza Armerina - Sicily
Mosaic of ancient women dressed for sports – Roman villa near Piazza Armerina – Sicily
  1. LYING

“Thou saidst, I will give them flesh to eat, and they shall eat a whole month… The flesh was yet between their teeth, before it failed, when the Lord was wroth with the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” (Numbers 11:21, 33)

“Fury is not in Me.” (Isaiah 27:4)

“I will not act according to the fury of y wrath, I will not abandon Ephraim to be utterly destroyed: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One within thee: and I will not enter into the city. (Hosea 11:9)

Moses and the daughters of the Pharaoh. Early Christian mosaic, 5th CE.
Moses and the daughters of the Pharaoh. Early Christian mosaic, 5th CE.
  1. Lying is condoned if it accomplishes God’s goals

God instructs Moses to lie to the Pharaoh: “And thou shalt say to him, The God of the Hebrews has called us; we will go then a journey of three days into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to our God.” (Exodus 3:18)

God instructs Samuel to lie: “And Samuel said, How can I go? whereas Saul will hear of it, and slay me: and the Lord said, Take a heifer in thine hand and thou shall say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 16:2)

“But [every] woman shall ask of her neighbour and fellow lodger, articles of gold and silver, and apparel; and ye shall put them upon your sons and upon your daughters,– and spoil ye the Egyptians.” (Exodus 3:22)

“They have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into my mind.” (Jeremiah 19:5) Now compare with Genesis 22:2 “Then He said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar, disguises herself as a prostitute in order to become pregnant by her dead husband’s brother, after his failure to marry her, and is justified by Judah in the narrative. Tamar is rewarded for her subterfuge by the birth of the twins Perez and Zerah, through whom the tribe of Judah is established (Genesis 38:27–30).

Jehu lies to the worshippers of Baal, aimed at killing all the prophets of Baal. (2 kings 10:18-28)

Joseph accused by Potiphar. Byzantine mosaic, 13th c.
Joseph accused by Potiphar. Byzantine mosaic, 13th c.

NOTE: In Orthodox Christianity, there are also times where it is permitted to lie if it will benefit the salvation of someone, such as in case of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos, who lied to protect his brother’s murderer from being lynched by an angry mob of Christians. In monasticism, if the Abbot or Abbess instructs their disciples to lie about something, it is not considered a lie, but rather a virtue, namely “blind obedience.” Lying is permitted in all cases to protect the reputation of the Church, or its representatives. This is called “guarding your brother’s conscience.” Thus, pedophilia and other scandals are kept silent, and criminals go unpunished, for the “benefit of the lay people.”


“Vengeance is Mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35)

“The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” (Psalm 58:10)

“Therefore the Lord says…”Ah, I will rid myself of My adversaries, and take vengeance on my enemies.” (Isaiah 1:24)

“It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel…a people rises like a lioness, and lifts itself up like a lion; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain.” (Numbers 23:23-24)

“O LORD our God, you were to them God-Who-Forgives, though you took vengeance on their deeds.” (Psalm 99:8)

“I will feed those who oppress you (Israel) with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.” (Isaiah 49:26)

Joseph's Bloodstained Coat. Mosaic.
Jacob lamenting over Joseph’s bloodstained coat mosaic.

“I am he that prepared light, and formed darkness; who make peace, and create evil; I am the Lord God, that does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)

“And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (1 Samuel 16:14)

“And now, behold, the Lord has put a false spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord has spoken evil against thee.” (1 Kings 22:23)

“And now, behold, the Lord has put a false spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord has spoken evil against thee.” (II Chronicles, 18:22)

“And if a prophet should cause to err and should speak, I the Lord have caused that prophet to err, and will stretch out my hand upon him, and will utterly destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.” (Ezekiel 14:9)

“Shall the trumpet sound in the city, and the people not be alarmed? shall there be evil in a city which the Lord has not wrought?” (amos 3:6)

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth.” (II Thessalonians 2:11-12)

The Construction of the Tower of Babel. Mosaic
The Construction of the Tower of Babel. Mosaic

Also see Fr. Antonios Alevizopoulos, The Orthodox Church: Its faith, Worship and Life:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s