NOTE: This book is an attempt to rationalize the atrocities committed or commanded by God in the Old Testament for the New Testament Christian. The early Orthodox Church Fathers had a similar approach when dealing with passages that seemed irreconcilable with the Christian Faith and Orthodox Theology. The mosaics used in this article are from the 5th century and found in the Nave of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.
Recently there has been a new wave of biblical apologetics that seeks to defend the account of the Canaanite conquest and genocides depicted in the Book of Joshua in one or both of two ways:
(1) The language of total destruction, which depicts the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children, is a common motif in ancient Near Eastern war literature and is hyperbolic in nature—it is not meant to be taken literally. The accounts are exaggerated, and we should not read into them literal historical claims that women and children were in fact slaughtered.
(2) The book of Joshua is hagiographic in nature, which means that its intention was not to recount literal history so much as to make a moral point using the literary devices of warfare literature in order to encourage a certain type of orthodox religious behavior among the faith community who gathers to hear the book as sacred scripture. Both of these strategies have been taken up by Evangelical biblical scholar Richard Hess as well as by Christian apologists specializing in philosophy of religion such as Nicholas Wolterstorff, Paul Copan, and Matt Flannagan.
Douglas S. Earl’s new book, The Joshua Delusion? Rethinking Genocide in the Bible, should be seen within the context of this new wave. It is by far the most sophisticated attempt to defend the biblical narratives along these lines, as it should be since Earl wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Book of Joshua.
The hyperbolic reading of the Joshua genocides (the first of the aforementioned strategies) is wholly untenable for a number of reasons…Proponents of the hyperbolic reading will find no help from Douglas Earl. Earl argues that the book of Joshua is not about genocide; rather, it is a myth written to challenge the assumption of Israelites that their favor with Yahweh was owed to their ethnicity as descendants of Abraham.
Earl begins his first chapter with a statement of the historical problem of the Canaanite conquest: If Jericho was not razed, is our faith in vain? Earl points out that the majority of biblical scholars have concluded based on the archaeological evidence that a conquest of Canaan such as that depicted in the book of Joshua could not have occurred historically. He does not go into many of the details of the archaeological record, citing primarily Kathleen Kenyon’s excavation at Jericho, which concluded that no destruction took place anywhere near the time the conquest of Canaan is purported to have occurred (by either the conservative or critical dating of the emergence of Israel in Canaan). But his focus here is to state that if the conquest did not occur as described, our faith is not in vain.
Earl then proceeds to show that some early Christian theologians saw these texts to be morally problematic, and therefore opted for non-literal, metaphorical or allegorical readings. He quotes from both Origen and Gregory of Nyssa in this respect.
Origen explicitly states that the genocidal nature of the conquest narratives make it “impossible” to interpret the text literally. He opts instead to read them as allegories for Christ’s conquest of the soul. The Canaanites become symbols of the internal vices that Christians must overcome as Christ makes his conquest within us. Other interpreters did similar things, reading the conquest of Canaan as a metaphor for the Christian mission to the Gentiles. Gregory of Nyssa takes the same approach to the tenth plague of Egypt, the slaughter of the first-born sons. Gregory rightly contends that such a slaughter, if taken literally, would be morally intolerable. He therefore interprets the killing of the first-born as the Christian’s killing of personal vices early, before they can blossom into serious sins.
For Earl, Origen and Gregory show that morally problematic texts serve as “cues to the reader of the text to seek the significance of the text in a ‘spiritual sense’”. He rightly notes that the reading strategy of Origen and Gregory stand in counter-distinction to that of Marcion, who insisted on a literal reading of the conquest narratives.
He summarizes: “The Church Fathers suggest to us that historical and ethical difficulties in a narrative might be indicators to us that we misread an Old Testament text if we read it primarily in terms of historical or ethical description via the ‘plain sense’ of the text. The Fathers mapped out a whole other way of reading the texts in a theologically faithful scheme, but a scheme that is perhaps unconvincing in a number of its details today. One could, therefore, reject the scheme, or one could ask if whether the fact the instincts of the Church Fathers were basically correct in moving towards reading some texts ‘non-literally,’ but in a non-literal sense that needs to be constructed and understood in another way today.”
Earl insists that the proper way to understand Joshua is as a myth. By “myth,” of course, Earl does not mean, “something that is not true.” The question of whether the text is historically true or not is irrelevant to its categorization as “myth.” He uses myth in the anthropological sense of a narrative that is used to bring a sense of coherency to a community.
Earl urges us to understand Joshua as such a “myth” that was composed in order to shape the identity of Israel, but the question of Joshua’s historicity is irrelevant, according to Earl, to understanding what the book of Joshua was trying to say and do. All of this leads Earl to conclude that “the historical and ethical difficulties [in the Book of Joshua] point us not necessarily to an allegorical or spiritual sense of a text, but rather to a symbolic sense that has theological and spiritual implications”
There aren’t many Orthodox commentaries on the Old Testament. The commentaries in existence are not complete commentaries; i.e. the Fathers did not interpret the books verse by verse. The Fathers have three methods of interpreting the murders committed or ordered by God in the Old Testament.
1) An allegorical method where the incidents are reduced to “spiritual metaphors.” Whether they accept the events as actual historical events or not, they are rendered as typologies of Christ and the New Testament.
2) The Fathers who accept the historical reality of events criticize those who feel God is cruel for commanding genocide and other atrocities.
3) They ignore the incidents: emphasis is placed on another aspect of the story or the story is skipped altogether.
Origen uses this “spiritual metaphor/typology” method of interpreting the Old Testament stories because: “I myself think it is better that the Israelite wars be understood in this way, and it is better that Jesus [Joshua] is thought to fight in this way and to destroy cities and overthrow kingdoms. For in this manner what is said will also appear more devout and more merciful, when he is said to have so subverted and devastated individual cities that ‘nothing that breathed was left in them, neither nay who might be saved nor any who might escape’” (Homilies on Joshua, 13.3).
Church Fathers who accept the historical reality of these events, such as St. Augustine of Hippo, say, “One should not at all think it a horrible cruelty that Joshua did not leave anyone alive in those cities that fell to him, for God himself had ordered this. However, whoever for this reason thinks that God himself must be cruel and does not wish to believe then that the true God was the author of the Old Testament judges as perversely about the works of God as he does about the sins of human beings. Such people do not know what each person ought to suffer. Consequently, they think it a great evil when that which is about to fall is thrown down and when mortals die.” (Questions on Joshua 16).
One of the arguments to justify ignoring or not interpreting God’s atrocities in the Old Testament can be found in a New testament passage: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” (Romans 11:33-35). This is called “circular reasoning.”
One can ask many contemporary monks and nuns who are considered sanctified in the Orthodox Church–or at least considered as such by their blindly obedient followers–about such things. One may receive a slew of different responses that don’t exactly answer the question of why God acted this way in the Old Testament. The following are brief examples of responses given over the years by both monks and nuns at different monasteries under Geronda Ephraim:
“Questions like that can lead to blasphemy. You shouldn’t focus on these things. Be more simple.”
“Well, if there’s nothing in the Fathers, it’s obviously not that important. If it was something important, they would have written more in depth about these things.”
“Knowing the answers to questions like that are not necessary for salvation. You should focus more on the positive things God did.” (Followed by a whole slew of miracles by Christ for our salvation and contemporary miracles by orthodox saints).
“People always focus on the concept that God is love but they forget that he is also a righteous judge. This should make us fear saddening or angering him through our disobedience lest we suffer something similar.”
“The Old Testament isn’t that important; it’s the New Testament you should focus on. Anything important or crucial for our salvation in the Old Testament is found in the New Testament, the Synaxarion and the Church Services. It’s very easy to become deluded reading the Old Testament. Some Elders even recommend not reading it because it can incite warfares of the flesh and blasphemy.”
“Many saints of old were illiterate and they didn’t become sanctified by reading and studying or satisfying vain curiosities for idle knowledge which puffs up the ego. They didn’t need the answers to such questions because they knew Jesus Christ was the true God through direct experience.”
The numerous vague answers given over the years all seem to come down to one thing: critical thinking is demonic; using reason is “Luciferian,” and this line of questioning stems from egotism. As St. John of the Ladder advises in the Ladder, the Shepherd should attempt to make intricate men simple: “I beg you, do not instruct the simpler sort in the complexities of deceitful thoughts, but rather, if possible, make complex men simple—a marvelous thing indeed!” (To the Shepherd #95).
Using biblical numbers alone, the Old Testament states God murdered 2,821,364. Many of the killings recorded do not give numbers of the death tolls. Based on populations and other Biblical trends of counting numbers, the total number of God’s murders in the Old Testament is estimated at 25,000,000. This high number is for a 4500-5500 year time period (the LXX has an extra 1000 years in the genealogical list found in Genesis 11).
The Orthodox Church Fathers state that natural disasters are punishments from God for the peoples’ sins. The Old Testament total is a very low number compared to all the murders God has committed in the New Testament period of Grace. In the period from 1900 to the present, 115 years, God has greatly exceeded His Old Testament death toll by punishing sin through natural disasters:
[Also see Demetrios Panagopoulos’ Homilies on Earthquakes #18- & 181. Demetrios also relates a miracle from June 20, 1978. Geronda Epraim was being driven to Thessaloniki. On the way there, he ordered the driver, Ioannis, to turn around immediately. He did, and they avoided the great 6.2 earthquake that occurred that day in Thessaloniki. ( περί τών σεισμών http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp7/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=1DP01 )
COMMENTARIES OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH FATHERS
The following article contains a few excerpts from the Fathers. It is by no mean an exhaustive list.
THE FLOOD OF NOAH
St. Justin Martyr writes: Accordingly, when the prophet says, ‘I saved you in the times of Noah,’ as I have already remarked, he addresses the people who are equally faithful to God, and possess the same signs. For when Moses had the rod in his hands, he led your nation through the sea. And you believe that this was spoken to your nation only, or to the land. But the whole earth, as the Scripture says, was inundated, and the water rose in height fifteen cubits above all the mountains: so that it is evident this was not spoken to the land, but to the people who obeyed Him: for whom also He had before prepared a resting-place in Jerusalem, as was previously demonstrated by all the symbols of the deluge; I mean, that by water, faith, and wood, those who are afore-prepared, and who repent of the sins which they have committed, shall escape from the impending judgment of God. (Dialogue with Trypho, 138).
St. Ephraim writes: If they did not repent because of the signs done in those seven days, it was clear that they would not have repented in the twenty years in which there would have been no signs. Therefore God sent off, with many fewer sins, those whose lives He had shortened by twenty years… (Commentary on Genesis).
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
St. Augustine writes: “Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God’s law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. In fact, the relationship that we ought to have with God is itself violated when our nature, of which He is Author, is desecrated by perverted lust…Your punishments are for sins which men commit against themselves, because, although they sin against You, they do wrong in their own souls and their malice is self-betrayed. They corrupt and pervert their own nature, which You made and for which You shaped the rules, either by making wrong use of the things which You allow, or by becoming inflamed with passion to make unnatural use of things which You do not allow” (Rom. 1:26). (Confessions, Book III, chap. 8)
Origen writes: But let us return to Lot, who, fleeing the destruction of Sodom with his wife and daughters after he had received the command from the angels to not look back, was proceeding to Segor. But his wife became negligent of the command; “she looked back”; she violated the imposed law; “she became a little statue of salt.” Do we think there was so much evil in this transgression, that the woman, because she looked behind her, incurred the destruction which she appeared to be fleeing by divine favor? For what great crime was it, if the concerned mind of the woman looked backward whence she was being terrified by the excessive crackling of the flames? But because “the law is spiritual” and the things which happened to the ancients “happened figuratively,” let us see if perhaps Lot, who did not look back, is not the rational understanding and the manly soul, and his wife here represents the flesh. For it is the flesh which always looks to vices, which, when the soul is proceeding to salvation, looks backward and seeks after pleasures. For concerning that the Lord also said: “No man putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” And he adds: “Remember Lot’s wife.” But the fact that “she became a little statue of salt” appears to be an open indication of her folly. For salt represents the prudence which she lacked. (Homilies on Genesis, 5.2)
St. Clement of Alexandria writes: “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted” (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2).
St Ephraim the Syrian writes: After these things, Judah took a wife and by her begot Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er, his firstborn, took Tamar as a wife. But because he was evil before the Lord, that is, because he was wicked before the Lord, the Lord slew him. even though his brother took Tamae out of love for her, because of his hatred towards his brother, Onan did not wish to raise up offspring for his brother. When God also slew the second son because of the cruel stratagem that he contrived, it was thought that it was due to the sins of Tamar that her two husbands had died. (Homilies on Genesis, 34.2)
GOD’S 7 YEAR, WORLDWIDE FAMINE: The Fathers teach that Joseph, in providing for those suffering from the seven year famine, is a figure of Christ, who provides for all those suffering from spiritual famine. They don’t really focus on anything else.
HAIL: THE 7TH PLAGUE OF EGYPT
St. Ephraim the Syrian writes: “Hail and fire” together; neither did the hail extinguish the fire, nor did the fire melt the hail. Rather, it burst into flames in the hail as in a thicket and turned [the hail] as red as iron in the fire, blazing in the hail, and careful of the trees. The force [of the hail] “splintered the ancient trees,” but the fire [in the hail] protected the hedges, seed beds and vineyards.” (Commentary on Exodus 9.3)
GOD KILLED ALL THE FIRST-BORN EGYPTIAN CHILDREN
St. Basil the Great writes: “He that has opened a pit and dug it.” We do not find the name of “pit” (lakkos) ever assigned in the divine Scriptures in the case of something good, nor a “well” of water (phrear) in the case of something bad. That into which Joseph was thrown by his brothers is a pit (lakkos). And there is a slaughter “from the firstborn of Pharaoh unto the firstborn of the captive woman that was in the prison (lakkos).” (Exegetic Homilies 11.8) [Ps. 7:15; the Greek word for dungeon in Ex. 12:29 is lakkos].
GOD DROWNS THE EGYPTIAN ARMY
St. Clement of Rome writes: Pharoah and his army and all the leaders of Egypt, “the chariots and their riders,” were drowned in the Red Sea and perished for no other reason than that their foolish hearts were hardened, after the working of signs and wonders in the land of Egypt by God’s servant Moses (Letter to the Corinthians 51).
St. Gregoy of Nyssa writes: “Again, according to the view of the inspired Paul, the people itself, by passing through the Red Sea, proclaimed the good tidings of salvation by water. The people passed over, and the Egyptian king with his host was engulfed, and by these actions this sacrament [i.e. Baptism] was foretold. For even now, whensoever the people is in the water of regeneration, fleeing from Egypt, from the burden of sin, it is set free and saved. But the devil with his own servants (I mean, of course, the spirits of evil) is choked with grief and perishes, deeming the salvation of men to be his own misfortune.” (On the Baptism of Christ) Elsewhere, St. Gregory writes: “But after that the surface of the sea became one again, and the temporary gap was flooded over. So this remains a unique event which occurred in such a way that the marvel did not lose credibility because of the passage of time, since it continues to be testified to by visible traces. That is the way the affair of the marshy lake is both described and shown.” (The Life of Gregory the Wonderworker 7.55)
Paulus Orosius writes: The Hebrews proceeded safely over the dry passage, and the masses of stationary water collapsed behind them. The entire Egyptian multitude with their king was overwhelmed and killed, and the entire province, which had previously been tortured by plagues, became empty by this last slaughter. Even today there exists most reliable evidence of these events. For the tracks of chariots and the ruts made by the wheels are visible not only on the shore but also in the deep, as far as sight can reach. And if perchance for the moment they are disturbed either accidentally or purposely, they are immediately restored through divine providence by winds and waves to their original appearances, so that whoever is not taught to fear God by the study of revealed religion may be terrified by his anger through this example of his accomplished vengeance.” (Seven Books of History Against the Pagans 1.10)
GOD’S PERPETUAL WAR WITH AMALEK: The Church Fathers usually focus on the name Amalek meaning “a sinful people” and Moses’ raised arms as a typology of the Cross.
St. Justin Martyr writes: In truth it was not because Moses prayed that his people were victorious, but because, while the name of Jesus was at the battle front, Moses formed the sign of the cross. Who among you does not know that prayer is most pleasing to God which is uttered with lamentation and tears? But on this occasion Moses (or any after him) did not pray in such a manner; he was seated on a stone. And i have shown that even the stone is symbolical of Christ…Besides, the fact that the prophet Moses remained until the evening in the form of the cross, when his hands were held up by Aaron and Hur, happened in the likeness of this sign. For the Lord also remained upon the cross until the evening, when he was buried. Then he rose from the dead on the third day (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 90, 97).
GOD PLAGUED THE PEOPLE BECAUSE OF AARON’S CALF
Salvian the Prebyter writes: Thus it is written: “The lord therefore struck the people for their guilt on the occasion of the calf which Aaron had made.” What greater and more manifest judgment could God have made regarding sinners than punishment immediately follow their sins? Yet, since all were guilty, why was not condemnation visited on all? Because the good Lord struck some with the swords of his sentence in order to correct others by example and to prove to all at the same time, his judgment by correcting, his love by pardoning. When he punished, he judged; when he pardoned, he loved. His judgment and love were unequal: his love was more evident than his severity. (The Governance of God 1.11.48)
THE JERICHO GENOCIDE: The Church Fathers focus more on the Fall of Jericho and the trumpets, as well as Rahab the prostitute, and overlook the genocide aspect. There are also many allegories made, but none of the Fathers really explain or interpret the fact that God ordered and sanctioned the genocide of an entire nation; “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”
ACHAN AND HIS FAMILY ARE STONED AND BURNED TO DEATH
St. Jeromewrites: Achan sinned, and the entire nation transgressed. And the Lord said to Joshua, “The children of Israel will not be able to stand before their enemies but shall flee from their adversaries, because there is a curse in the midst. And I shall no more be with you unless the anathema is destroyed out of you.” And when they made search for the guilty person and the lot discovered him hiding, Achan, and his sons and daughters, and his asses and sheep are killed; his tent and all his possessions are destroyed by fire. Granted, that he himself committed a sin. What sin did his children commit, his oxen, his asses, or his sheep? Reprehend God, why one man committed a sin and a number of people were put to death; why even he is stoned to death and all his possessions are destroyed by the avenging flame? Let us also quote the other testimony: “There was not a city,” he says, “that the Lord did not deliver to the children of Israel except the Hivites who dwell in Gibeon; they took all by fight, because it was the sentence of the Lord that their hearts should be hardened and they should fight against Israel and be killed, and that they should not deserve any clemency and should be destroyed, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Josh. 11:19-20). If it was done by the will of God that they should neither make peace with Israel nor obtain peace from Israel, let us say with the Apostle: “Why then does he find fault? For who can resist his will” (Rom. 9:13)? (Defense Against the Pelagians, 1:37).
St. Basil the Great writes: Accordingly I find, in taking up the Holy Scripture, that in the Old and New Testament contumacy toward God is clearly condemned, not in consideration of the number or heinousness of transgressions, but in terms of a single violation of any precept whatsoever, and, further, that the judgment of God covers all forms of disobedience. In the Old Testament, I read of the frightful end of Achar (Jos. 7.19-26) and the account of the man who gathered wood on the Sabbath day (Num. 15.32-36). Neither of these men was guilty of any other offense against God nor had they wronged a man in any way, small or great; but the one, merely for his first gathering of wood paid the inescapable penalty and did not have an opportunity to make amends, for, by the command of God, he was forthwith stoned by all his people. The other, only because he had pilfered some part of the sacrificial offerings, even though these had not yet been brought into the synagogue nor had been received by those who perform this function, was the cause not only of his own destruction but of that also of his wife and children and of his house and personal possessions besides. Moreover, the evil consequences of his sin would presently have spread like fire over his nation and this, too, although the people did not know what had occurred and had not excused the sinner unless his people, sensing the anger of God from the destruction of the men who were slain, had promptly been struck with fear, and unless Joshua, son of Nun, sprinkling himself with dust, had prostrated himself together with the ancients, and unless the culprit, discovered thus by lot, had paid the penalty mentioned above.
Perhaps someone will raise the objection that these men might plausibly be suspected of other sins for which they were overtaken by these punishments, yet the Holy Scripture made mention of these sins alone as very serious and worthy of death. (Preface on the Judgment of God)
THE AI MASSACRE
Origen writes: You see that these things that follow truly pertain more to the truth of a mystery that that of history. For it is not so much that a piece of land is forever uninhabitable, but that the place of demons will be uninhabitable when no one will sin and sin will not rule in anyone. Then the devil and his angels will be consigned to the eternal fire with our Lord Jesus Christ sitting as ruler and judge and saying to those who overcame before and afterwards, “Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom that was created for you by my Father.” But to the others he will say, “Go into the eternal fire that God prepared for the devil and his angels,” until he takes care of every soul with the remedies he himself knows and “all Israel may be saved.” (Homilies on Joshua, 8.5)
You will read in the Holy Scripture about the battles of the just ones, about the slaughter and carnage of murderers, and that the saints spare none of their deeply rooted enemies. If they do spare them, they are even charged with sin, just as Saul was charged because he had preserved the life of Agag king of Amalek (1 Sam. 15:9-24). You should understand the wars of the just by the method I set forth above, that these wars are waged by them against sin. But how will the just ones endure if they reserve even a little bit of sin? Therefore, this is said of them: “They did not leave behind even one who might be saved or might escape.”
Do you perhaps not believe me that the battle is joined against our sin? Then believe Paul as he says, “Not yet to the shedding of blood have you resisted against sin” (Heb. 12:4) Do you see that the fight proposed for you is against sin and that you must complete the battle even to the shedding of blood? Is it not evident that the divine Scripture indicates these things, even as it habitually says, “Sanctify war” (Joel 3:9), and, “You will fight the battle of the Lord” (1 Sam. 18:17)?
When the Jews read these things, they become cruel and thirst after human blood, thinking that even holy persons so struck those who were living in Ai that none of them was left “who might be saved or who might escape.” They do not understand that mysteries are dimly shadowed in these words and that they more truly indicate to us that we ought not to leave any of those demons deeply within, whose dwelling place is chaos and who rule in the abyss, but to destroy them all. We slay demons, but we do not annihilate their essence. For their work and endeavor is to cause persons to sin. If we sin, they have life; but if we do not sin, they are destroyed. Therefore, all holy persons kill the inhabitants of Ai; they both annihilate and do not release any of them. These are doubtless those who guard their heart with all diligence so that evil thoughts do not proceed from it, and those who heed their mouth, so that “no evil word” proceeds from it. Not to leave any who flee means this; when no evil word escapes them. (Homilies on Joshua, 8.7).
FIVE KINGS KILLED AND HUNG ON TREES
St. Jerome writes: For if the armed host of the Lord was represented by the trumpets of the priests, we may see in Jericho a type of the overthrow of the world by the preaching of the gospel. And to pass over endless details (for it is not my purpose now to unfold all the mysteries of the Old Testament), five kings who previously reigned in the land of promise and opposed the gospel army were overcome in battle with Joshua. I think it is clearly to be understood that before the Lord led his people from Egypt and circumcised them, sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch had the dominion, and that to these, as to five princes, everything was subject. And when they took refuge in the cave of the body and in a place of darkness, Jesus entered the body itself and killed them, that the source of their power might be the instrument of their death. (Against Jovinianus 1.21).
JOSHUA UTTERLY DESTROYS ALL THAT BREATHES AS GOD COMMANDED
Joshua Conquers Libnah
Origen writes: But if we examine the very meanings of the names more eagerly and more diligently, it will be discovered that the significance of the names can have an interpretation at one time of a wicked kingdom, and at another time, of a good kingdom. For example, I think Libnah means “whiteness.” But whiteness is understood in different ways, for there is a whiteness of leprosy and a whiteness of light. Therefore, it is possible to indicate diversities in the meaning even of the name itself, and of either condition. Thus Libnah had a certain whiteness of leprosy under the wicked kings, and, after those are destroyed and overthrown, when Libnah comes into the Israelite kingdom, it receives the whiteness of light; because whiteness is mentioned in Scriptures as being both praiseworthy and blameworthy. (Homilies on Joshua, 13.2).
Joshua Conquers Lachish
Origen writes: And again, Lachish is interpreted “way.” But in the Scriptures, a way is both a laudable and a culpable thing. That is not difficult to demonstrate, as it says in the Psalms, “And the way of the impious will perish;” and in another place, on the contrary, “Make straight the way of your feet.” Therefore it can also be understood here that the city of Lachish was at first the way of the impious, and afterwards, when it was destroyed and overthrown, it was won over to the right way with the Israelites reigning. (Homilies on Joshua, 13.2).
Joshua Conquers Hebron
Origen writes: In like manner, there is also Hebron, which they say means “union” or “marriage.” But the union of our soul was at first with a wicked man and a most evil husband, the devil. When that one was destroyed and abolished, the soul was “freed from the law” of that former wicked man and united with a good and lawful one, him about whom the apostle Paul says, “I determined to present you a chaste virgin to one man, to Christ.”
Thus even the understanding of names themselves agrees with this twofold condition of every city.
The Whole Land is Defeated
I myself think it is better that the Israelite wars be understood in this way, and it is better that Jesus [Joshua] is thought to fight in this way and to destroy cities and overthrow kingdoms. For in this manner what is said will also appear more devout and more merciful, when he is said to have so subverted and devastated individual cities that “nothing that breathed was left in them, neither nay who might be saved nor any who might escape.”
Would that the Lord might thus cast out and extinguish all former evils from the souls who believe in him—even those he claims for his kingdom—and from my own soul, its own evils; so that nothing of a malicious inclination may continue to breathe in me, nothing of wrath; so that no disposition of desire for any evil may be preserved in me, and no wicked word “may remain to escape” from my mouth. For thus, purged from all former evils and under the leadership of Jesus, I can be included among the cities of the sons of Israel, concerning which it is written, “The cities of Judah will be raised up and they will dwell in them.” (Homilies on Joshua, 13.3).
Likewise, it is especially the work of the Word of God to pull down the diabolical structures that the devil has built in the human soul. For, in everyone of us, that one raised up towers of pride and walls of self-exaltation. The Word of God overthrows and undermines these, so that justly, according to the apostle, we are made, “the cultivation of God and the building of God”, “set upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself the chief cornerstone, from whom the uniting edifice grows into a temple of God in the spirit.” And thus at last we may be entitled to be included in the inheritance of the holy land, in the Israelite portion. Then our enemies will be abolished and destroyed so “that none of them remains who may breathe in us,” but only the spirit of Christ breathes in us, according to the teaching of Christ Jesus our Lord, “to whom is the strength and the power forever and ever. Amen!” (Homilies on Joshua, 13.4).
Origen writes: But let us attempt, as God grants, to investigate certain individual kings of the opposing army; and through the meaning of the names of each one, let us consider also the work he performs in malice.
First of all, the one who is designated the author of this war, who collects the others and summons them to a conspiracy of wickedness, is named Jabin, who was king of Hazor. For he is the one who is said to have called the others together. But Jabin means “thought” or “prudence.” What,, then, is this “thought” or “prudence,” if not that which the prophet Isaiah calls “proud thought?” For he says, “And moreover, I shall strike out the proud thought of the prince of the Assyrians who said, ‘I shall bring it to pass by my power, and by the wisdom of my perception, I shall remove the boundaries of the nations and plunder their power.’”
Therefore, the one who is called “proud thought” in that place is this king of the Assyrians. But here, Jabin is “thought” or “prudence.” For it is written that in paradise the serpent was “more prudent than all the beasts” who were upon the earth. And even that “steward of iniquity” is said to have “done prudently” that which he did. This Jabin, then, is king of Hazor. But Hazor means “court.” Therefore, all the earth is the court of this king, the devil, who holds the supremacy of the whole earth as though one court. But do you wish to verify that the court is itself the earth? In the Gospels it is written that the strong one sleeps unconcerned in his own court until a stronger one comes, who may both “bind” him and “carry away what he possesses.” The king of the court, therefore, is “the prince of this world.” (Homilies on Joshua, 14.2).
Origen writes: This one sends word to Jobab; for he himself is the one who sends word to all nations and summons them to battle. He sends word to the king of Merom. Jobab means “hostilities,” but Merom means “bitternesses.” Therefore, the devil sends word to another hostile power, doubtless from among the fugitive angels, and this power is the king of bitternesses. All bitternesses and difficulties in this world that are inflicted on wretched mortals issue from this author and what he does. There are diverse kinds of sin. For nothing can be more bitter than sin, even if it seems somewhat delightful at first, as Solomon writes. “But in the end,” he says, “you will find what seemed sweet in the beginning to be more bitter than gall and sharper than the edge of a sword.” But the nature of righteousness is the opposite: In the beginning, it seems more bitter, but in the end, when it produces fruits of virtue, it is found to be sweeter than honey. Therefore, the devil sent word to the hostile Jobab, the king of bitterness. (Homilies on Joshua, 14.2).
Below are some images of various massacres and attempted genocides against Christians (primarily Eastern Orthodox) during the 20th century. One wonders if, in the spirit and tradition of the Church Fathers, they will be allocated to “allegories” and “metaphors” and “hyperbole” by future writers who deny their historical reality.
Deuterocanonical is a term coined in 1566 by the theologian Sixtus of Siena, who had converted to Catholicism from Judaism, to describe scriptural texts of the Old Testament considered canonical by the Catholic Church, but which are not present in the Hebrew Bible today, and which had been omitted by some early canon lists, especially in the East. The deuterocanonical books are considered canonical by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and the Church of the East, but are considered non-canonical by most Protestants. The word deuterocanonical comes from the Greek meaning ‘belonging to the second canon’. The original usage of the term distinguished these scriptures both from those considered non-canonical and from those consideredprotocanonical. However, some editions of the Bible include text from both deuterocanonical and non-canonical scriptures in a single section designated “Apocrypha”. This arrangement can lead to conflation between the otherwise distinct terms “deuterocanonical” and “apocryphal”. The Greek Septuagint English translation used in this article can be found here:
The books in the Apocrypha (aka the Deuterocanonical books) add another 20 killings to God’s list. The first three involve Susanna and Judith, the rest are told in the Books of the Maccabees. This article is about the murders in the Books of the Maccabees, it is taken from Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, 2nd revised edition:
MATHATHIAS’ DOUBLE MURDER: The first chapter of I Maccabees tells about the trials and tribulations of the Jews after Alexander the Great conquered Judea. His successor in the region (a century and a half later), Antiochus, desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and forced the Jews to abandon their religious traditions. That’s when Mathathias appears.
“Now when he had left speaking these words, there came one of the Jews in the sight of all to sacrifice on the altar which was at Modin, according to the king’s commandment. Which thing when Mattathias saw, he was inflamed with zeal, and his reins trembled, neither could he forbear to shew his anger according to judgment: wherefore he ran, and slew him upon the altar. Also the king’s commissioner, who compelled men to sacrifice, he killed at that time, and the altar he pulled down. Thus dealt he zealously for the law of God like as Phinees did unto Zambri the son of Salom.” (I Maccabees 2:23-26)
[Note: Mathathias was showing his zeal for the Law just like Phinehas did when he threw a spear through an interfaith couple. The double murder pleased God so much that He stopped killing Israelites with a plague—after killing 24,000. For being so “zealous for his God,” Phinehas was given God’s covenant of peace” and the “covenant of an everlasting priesthood.” Mathathia’s double murder was as pleasing to God as Phineha’s].
MATHATHIAS AND HIS FRIENDS SLAY THE WICKED SINNERS, CIRCUMCISE THE UNCIRCUMCISED AND YIELD NOT TO THE HORN OF THE SINNER: So they joined their forces, and smote sinful men in their anger, and wicked men in their wrath: but the rest fled to the heathen for succour. Then Mattathias and his friends went round about, and pulled down the altars: And what children soever they found within the coast of Israel uncircumcised, those they circumcised valiantly. They pursued also after the proud men, and the work prospered in their hand. So they recovered the law out of the hand of the Gentiles, and out of the hand of kings, neither suffered they the sinner to triumph. (I Maccabees 2:44-48)
[NOTE: According to the story in I Maccabees, Antiochus had made circumcision illegal so there were lots of uncircumcised boys running around in Israel. Mathathias and his men inspected every penis in Israel to make sure it was properly circumcised, and if not, they cut off the offending foreskin themselves].
GOD KILLED ANDRONICUS (THAT SACRILEGIOUS WRETCH): Andronicus was an official of King Antiochus who got involved in a dispute between two rivals for the Jewish high priesthood. One claimant was Onias, God’s favorite; the other was Menelaus, a cruel tyrant and savage beast, who stole gold out of the temple and gave it to Andronicus. Menelaus asked Andronicus to kill Onias, which he did. Then, God inspired Antiochus to kill Andronicus (the sacrilegious wretch) as his deserved punishment.
“Now Menelaus, supposing that he had gotten a convenient time, stole certain vessels of gold out of the temple, and gave some of them to Andronicus, and some he sold into Tyrus and the cities round about. Which when Onias knew of a surety, he reproved him, and withdrew himself into a sanctuary at Daphne, that lieth by Antiochia. Wherefore Menelaus, taking Andronicus apart, prayed, him to get Onias into his hands; who being persuaded thereunto, and coming to Onias in deceit, gave him his right hand with oaths; and though he were suspected by him, yet persuaded he him to come forth of the sanctuary: whom forthwith he shut up without regard of justice. For the which cause not only the Jews, but many also of other nations, took great indignation, and were much grieved for the unjust murder of the man. And when the king was come again from the places about Cilicia, the Jews that were in the city, and certain of the Greeks that abhorred the fact also, complained because Onias was slain without cause. Therefore Antiochus was heartily sorry, and moved to pity, and wept, because of the sober and modest behaviour of him that was dead. And being kindled with anger, forthwith he took away Andronicus his purple, and rent off his clothes, and leading him through the whole city unto that very place, where he had committed impiety against Onias, there slew he the cursed murderer. Thus the Lord rewarded him his punishment, as he had deserved” (II Maccabees 4:32-38)
A JEWISH MOB KILLS LYSIMACHUS, THE SACRILEGIOUS FELLOW: In the last apocryphal killing, God killed Andronicus (the sacrilegious wretch) for supporting the wrong candidate (Menelaus) for Jewish high priest. The next high priest was Lysimachus. There were rumors among the Jews that Lysimachus followed after his brother’s sacrilegious ways:
“Now when many sacrileges had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the consent of Menelaus, and the fruit thereof was spread abroad, the multitude gathered themselves together against Lysimachus, many vessels of gold being already carried away. Whereupon the common people rising, and being filled with rage, Lysimachus armed about three thousand men, and began first to offer violence; one Auranus being the leader, a man far gone in years, and no less in folly. They then seeing the attempt of Lysimachus, some of them caught stones, some clubs, others taking handfuls of dust, that was next at hand, cast them all together upon Lysimachus, and those that set upon them. Thus many of them they wounded, and some they struck to the ground, and all of them they forced to flee: but as for the churchrobber himself, him they killed beside the treasury.” (II Maccabees 4:39-43)
GOD HELPS JUDAS MACCABEUS DESTROY THE WICKED: After Mathathias died, his son, Judas Maccabeus, replaced him as the leader of the Jewish terrorists. His first act was to burn “them that troubled his people” (with fire). Judas went through the cities of Judah, destroying the wicked, making himself famous all over the world. He killed Apoloonius and many of his soldiers, and he took the sword of Apollonius and fought with it for the rest of his life. Seron, the captain of the Syrian army, heard about Judas (as had everyone on earth). He collected a large army of wicked men to fight Judas. When Judas’ smaller army saw the Syrians, they were frightened. But Judas told them not to worry. Because success in war depends on God, not on numbers. “The Lord Himself will overthrow them. Immediately after his speech to his soldiers, Judas attacked Seron’s army, killing 800 men which made Judas even more famous and feared. And Judas was just getting started (I Maccabees 3:1-5; 8-26)
[NOTE: The same story, more or less, is told in II Maccabees 8:5-6).
JUDAS AND HIS UNARMED MEN KILL 3000 OF GORGIA’S SOLDIERS: In Judas Maccabeus first set of God-assisted slayings, he told his men not to worry about large opposing armies because success in war depends not on numbers but on God: “The Lord Himself will overthrow them.” This time, though, Judas and his men didn’t have a single sword among them. They didn’t need any; God did it all for them.
Judas and the Israelites prepare for war by putting on sackcloth, putting ashes on their heads, rending their garments, blowing trumpets, and crying together with a loud, long prayer to heaven:
“What shall we do with these, and whither shall we carry them away? For thy sanctuary is trodden down and profaned, and thy priests are in heaviness, and brought low. And lo, the heathen are assembled together against us to destroy us: what things they imagine against us, thou knowest. How shall we be able to stand against them, except thou, O God, be our help?”(I Maccabees 3:44-54)
And the war rituals worked like magic: Judas and his completely unarmed valiant men defeated 5000 well-armed soldiers. He told his men not to do anything; God would do the killing for them—and He did! Judas blew the trumpet and God killed 3000 Gentile soldiers. Then Judas and his men enriched themselves with the booty. As they left the bodies of God’s victims, they sang a hymn to God praising him for his mercy and they prepared for God’s next killing. (I Maccabees 4:1-11, 13-15, 23-24).
THE HANNUKAH KILLINGS: A year after God’s slaughter of Georgia’s army, Lysias attacked Judas with an army of 60,000. Judas asked God to deliver the Syrians like he did the mighty strangers to David and Jonathan. He asked God to scare the hell out of them and kill them with the sword of those that love him and it worked. God helped Judas kill another 5000:
“The next year therefore following Lysias gathered together threescore thousand choice men of foot, and five thousand horsemen, that he might subdue them. So they came into Idumea, and pitched their tents at Bethsura, and Judas met them with ten thousand men. And when he saw that mighty army, he prayed and said, ‘Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, who didst quell the violence of the mighty man by the hand of thy servant David, and gavest the host of strangers into the hands of Jonathan the son of Saul, and his armourbearer; Shut up this army in the hand of thy people Israel, and let them be confounded in their power and horsemen: Make them to be of no courage, and cause the boldness of their strength to fall away, and let them quake at their destruction: Cast them down with the sword of them that love thee, and let all those that know thy name praise thee with thanksgiving.’ So they joined battle; and there were slain of the host of Lysias about five thousand men, even before them were they slain.” (I Maccabees 4:28-34)
After God “discomfited” the Gentiles, Judas and his brethren went up to clean up the Temple:
“Then said Judas and his brethren, Behold, our enemies are discomfited: let us go up to cleanse and dedicate the sanctuary. Upon this all the host assembled themselves together, and went up into mount Sion. And when they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest, or in one of the mountains, yea, and the priests’ chambers pulled down; They rent their clothes, and made great lamentation, and cast ashes upon their heads, And fell down flat to the ground upon their faces, and blew an alarm with the trumpets, and cried toward heaven.” (I Maccabees 4:36-40)
“Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts. They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table. And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple. Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make. Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made.” (I Maccabees 4:47-53)
When the Gentiles found out the Jews had cleaned up the temple, they were exceedingly angry and began to persecute and kill the Jews—which got Judas (and God) into a killing mood again. He slaughtered tje children of Esau, burned to death the children of Bean and smote the children of Ammon:
“Now when the nations round about heard that the altar was built and the sanctuary renewed as before, it displeased them very much. Wherefore they thought to destroy the generation of Jacob that was among them, and thereupon they began to slay and destroy the people. Then Judas fought against the children of Esau in Idumea at Arabattine, because they besieged Gael: and he gave them a great overthrow, and abated their courage, and took their spoils. Also he remembered the injury of the children of Bean, who had been a snare and an offence unto the people, in that they lay in wait for them in the ways. He shut them up therefore in the towers, and encamped against them, and destroyed them utterly, and burned the towers of that place with fire, and all that were therein. Afterward he passed over to the children of Ammon, where he found a mighty power, and much people, with Timotheus their captain. So he fought many battles with them, till at length they were discomfited before him; and he smote them. (I Maccabees 5:1-8)
After the slaughter of the Gentile and the rededication of the Temple, the Jews established the annual eight-day festival, which we now know as Hanukkah:
“Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.” (I Maccabees 4:59)
THE MACCABESS BROTHERS SLAUGHTER THE HEATHENS: After the Hanukkah killings, the gentiles gathered together to fight the Israelites, who sent messengers with “their garments rent’ to ask Judas for help. Judas and his brothers (Simon and Jonathan) attacked the Gentiles in Galilee and Galad. Simon killed 3000 Galilean heathens and took their wives and children captive. Judas and his army went to Bosor and “slew every male with the edge of the sword, took all their spoils, and burnt it with fire…killing almost 8000.” Then Judas burnt the city of maspha to the ground after killing every male “with the edge of the sword.” Judas then went and did likewise to Casbon, Mageth, and Bosor, and the rest of the cities of Galaad.” Next, Judas commands his soldiers to akkack the great city of Ephron, kill every male, and then burn it. To thank Him for helping them slaughter the Gentiles, Judas and his brothers killed some animals for God. Then Judas and his brethren attacked the children of esau, burned walls and towers in Chebron, destroyed the altars and statues in the land of the aliens and strangers, and took the spoils of their cities:
“Now unto Simon were given three thousand men to go into Galilee, and unto Judas eight thousand men for the country of Galaad. Then went Simon into Galilee, where he fought many battles with the heathen, so that the heathen were discomfited by him. And he pursued them unto the gate of Ptolemais; and there were slain of the heathen about three thousand men, whose spoils he took. And those that were in Galilee, and in Arbattis, with their wives and their children, and all that they had, took he away with him, and brought them into Judea with great joy.” (I Maccabees 5:20-23)
“Hereupon Judas and his host turned suddenly by the way of the wilderness unto Bosora; and when he had won the city, he slew all the males with the edge of the sword, and took all their spoils, and burned the city with fire, From whence he removed by night, and went till he came to the fortress. And betimes in the morning they looked up, and, behold, there was an innumerable people bearing ladders and other engines of war, to take the fortress: for they assaulted them. When Judas therefore saw that the battle was begun, and that the cry of the city went up to heaven, with trumpets, and a great sound, He said unto his host, Fight this day for your brethren. So he went forth behind them in three companies, who sounded their trumpets, and cried with prayer. Then the host of Timotheus, knowing that it was Maccabeus, fled from him: wherefore he smote them with a great slaughter; so that there were killed of them that day about eight thousand men.” (I Maccabees 5:28-34)
“This done, Judas turned aside to Maspha; and after he had assaulted it he took and slew all the males therein, and received the spoils thereof and burnt it with fire. From thence went he, and took Casphon, Maged, Bosor, and the other cities of the country of Galaad. After these things gathered Timotheus another host and encamped against Raphon beyond the brook. So Judas sent men to espy the host, who brought him word, saying, All the heathen that be round about us are assembled unto them, even a very great host. He hath also hired the Arabians to help them and they have pitched their tents beyond the brook, ready to come and fight against thee. Upon this Judas went to meet them. Then Timotheus said unto the captains of his host, When Judas and his host come near the brook, if he pass over first unto us, we shall not be able to withstand him; for he will mightily prevail against us: But if he be afraid, and camp beyond the river, we shall go over unto him, and prevail against him. Now when Judas came near the brook, he caused the scribes of the people to remain by the brook: unto whom he gave commandment, saying, Suffer no man to remain in the camp, but let all come to the battle. So he went first over unto them, and all the people after him: then all the heathen, being discomfited before him, cast away their weapons, and fled unto the temple that was at Carnaim. But they took the city, and burned the temple with all that were therein. Thus was Carnaim subdued, neither could they stand any longer before Judas.” (I Maccabees 5:35-44)
“Now when they came unto Ephron, (this was a great city in the way as they should go, very well fortified) they could not turn from it, either on the right hand or the left, but must needs pass through the midst of it. … Wherefore Judas commanded a proclamation to be made throughout the host, that every man should pitch his tent in the place where he was. So the soldiers pitched, and assaulted the city all that day and all that night, till at the length the city was delivered into his hands: Who then slew all the males with the edge of the sword, and rased the city, and took the spoils thereof, and passed through the city over them that were slain. (I Maccabees 5:46; 49-51)
“So they went up to mount Sion with joy and gladness, where they offered burnt offerings, because not one of them were slain until they had returned in peace.” (I Maccabees 5:54).
Afterward went Judas forth with his brethren, and fought against the children of Esau in the land toward the south, where he smote Hebron, and the towns thereof, and pulled down the fortress of it, and burned the towers thereof round about. From thence he removed to go into the land of the Philistines, and passed through Samaria. At that time certain priests, desirous to shew their valour, were slain in battle, for that they went out to fight unadvisedly. So Judas turned to Azotus in the land of the Philistines, and when he had pulled down their altars, and burned their carved images with fire, and spoiled their cities, he returned into the land of Judea. (I Maccabees 5:65-68)
NICANOR’S ARMY—THE ALMIGHTY BEING THEIR HELPER, THEY SLEW ABOVE 9000 MEN: It’s hard to sort out God’s killings in First and Second Maccabees. The same stories are often told, but the details are so different that it’s hard to believe they are the same story. This is the account from II Maccabees:
King Philip (Demetrius in I Maccabees 7:4) sent Nicanor and Gorgias with 20,000 soldiers “to root out the whole race of the Jews.” When Judas found out about it, he gathered 7000 men “to fight manfully.” Telling them to trust in God who “at a beck” can destroy all of Nicanor’s army—along with “the whole world ,” if he wants to—like he did to Sennacherib’s 185,000 sleeping soldiers and when 6000 Jews and Macedonians slew 120,000 Galatians “because of the help they had from heaven.” For such a great slaughter, “they received many favors.” The speech had the desiring effect, inspiring the troops to die for their country. After Judas concluded his speech by reading Esdra’s book and giving them the watchword “The help of God,” his soldiers went off to fight Nicanor. And with God as their helper, “they slew above 9000 men.” Then they asked the “merciful God” to help them kill some more. And with God’s help, they killed more than 20,000 in Timotheus and Bacchides’ army. They killed Philarches (a wicked man) and they burned to death Callisthenes, as “a worthy reward for his impieties.” (II Maccabees 8:9-33).
JONATHAN AND SIMON DESTROY THE WICKED OUT OF ISRAEL: Jonathan Maccabeus encouraged his company to fight Bacchides, but they were divided by the Jordan River. So Jonathan told his troops to ask God for help. Jonathan and those that were on his side of the Jordan swam to the other side and together they killed 1000 men in Bacchides’ army. A little later, Jonathan struck the brethren of Odares and the children of Paseron, while his brother Simon discomfited Bacchides, and killed many wicked men that had asked him to come to their country. Thus, Jonathan and Simon destroyed the wicked out of Israel. (I Maccabees 9:44-73).
FIVE HEAVENLY HORSEMEN CAST DARTS AND FIREBALLS AT THE ENEMY: When Timotheus and his army threatened to attack, Judas and his companions sprinkled dirt on their heads, girded their loins with haircloth, and begged God to help them kill some more Gentiles. And the dirty heads and hair-clothed loins worked like a charm! God sent from heaven five men on horses, who cast darts and fireballs at the Gentiles, confounding them with blindness and filling them with trouble, and killing 20,500 soldiers and 600 horsemen. Timotheus fled to a stronghold, where he and his companions “blasphemed exceedingly, and cast forth abominable words.” Twenty of Judas’ young men were especially offended by their bad language, so they burned the blasphemers alive. Then they blessed the Lord “who had done great things” and given them the victory. (II Maccabees 10:24-38)
GOD KILLED ANTICOHUS WITH AN INCURABLE BOWEL DISEASE: Antiochus was a Seleucid king who, according to II Maccabees, mistreated the Jews. So God paid him back by giving him “an incurable and invisible plague” that caused “a dreadful pain in his bowels…and bitter torments of the inner parts.” While Antiochus suffered from his God-given bowel disease, worms swarmed out of his body, “his flesh fell off, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome.” No one could get near him because of the “intolerable stench.” It got so bad, in fact, that Antiochus couldn’t even “abide his own stench.” Then Antiochus became a Jew and begged God to stop tormenting him. But God did not stop. Antiochus, “the murderer and blasphemer, being grievously struck…died a miserable death” from his God-given bowel disease. (II Maccabees 9:5, 9-17, 28).
There’s another story about Antiochus’ death in the same book. In this one, Antiochus is smashed with stones as he entered the temple in Jerusalem. His head is cut off and his body chopped into pieces—all with God’s help and blessing:
“Which when the priests of Nanea had set forth, and he was entered with a small company into the compass of the temple, they shut the temple as soon as Antiochus was come in: And opening a privy door of the roof, they threw stones like thunderbolts, and struck down the captain, hewed them in pieces, smote off their heads and cast them to those that were without. Blessed be our God in all things, who hath delivered up the ungodly.” (II Maccabees 1:15-17)
IDUMEANS, TRAITORS, AND JEWS IN TWO TOWERS: After God killed Antiochus with a bowel disease, Judas Maccabeus restored the temple and “by the protection of the Lord” destroyed the altars of the heathens. Then they all got down on the ground and begged God to never again deliver them into the hands of barbarians and blasphemous men. After the prayer, Judas returned to killing people. He hunted down the Jews that had not supported his previous killing campaigns, by allying with the Idumeans. Then he asked God to help him attack the Idumeans. And together, God and Judas killed more than 20,000.But some Idumeans escaped to two towers. When Judas found out, he killed the men who allowed the escape and killed more than 20,000 in the twin towers. (II Maccabees 10:1-4, 15-23).
NICANOR’S HEAD—A MANIFEST SIGN OF THE HELP FROM GOD: Apparently Nicanor and at least some of his army survived the previous massacre, because a while later they attack the Jews on the Sabbath day. But Judas trusted in God, telling the people “a dream worthy to be believed.” Then Onias prayed for the people and Jeremiah the prophet showed up, delivering to Judas a gift from God: a holy, golden sword. The people were inspired by Judas to fight—not to protect their families and friends, but for the sake of “the holiness of the temple.” Judas reminded the people of how good God is at killing people and prayed:
“O Lord, thou didst send thine angel in the time of Ezekias king of Judea, and didst slay in the host of Sennacherib an hundred fourscore and five thousand: Wherefore now also, O Lord of heaven, send a good angel before us for a fear and dread unto them; And through the might of thine arm let those be stricken with terror, that come against thy holy people to blaspheme.”
So the Jews prayed with their hearts and fought with their hands, killing 35,000, while “being greatly cheered with the presence of God.” When the Jews found out that Nicanor had been killed, “they made a great noise and blessed the Almighty Lord.” Judas commanded that Nicanor’s head, hand and shoulder be cut off and carried to Jerusalem. Judas showed everyone Nicanor’s head and “wicked hand.” Then he had his tongue cut out and fed piece by piece, to the birds. Finally, he hung his hand and head over the temple and castle, respectively, as “an evident and manifest sign of the help of God.” (II Maccabees 15:1-3, 7, 11-35)
ALIENS AT CADES: Until now, everything went well for Jonathan and his brothers. They slaughtered gentiles, heathens, wicked sinners, and traitorous Jews wherever they went. When an army of strangers attacked Jonathan’s army and his army ran away, Jonathan rent his garments, cast dirt on his head and prayed. Having done that, his army returned and together they attacked the aliens at Cades, killing 3000 of them. (I Maccabees 11:68-74)
JOHN BURNS TO DEATH 2000 IN THE TOWER OF AZOTUS: Simon Maccabeus was getting old so he gathered his sons around him and made a speech, encouraging them to fight in holy wars, as he and his brothers had done their entire lives:
“I, and my brethren, and my father’s house, have ever from my youth unto this day fought against the enemies of Israel; and things have prospered so well in our hands, that we have delivered Israel oftentimes. But now I am old, and ye, by God’s mercy, are of a sufficient age: be ye instead of me and my brother, and go and fight for our nation, and the help from heaven be with you.”
Simon’s speech had the desired effect. In the next verse, Simon’s son John enlisted 20,000 fighting men to attack Cendebeus. And after sounding the holy trumpets, John and his army routed Cendebeus’ army. John pursued the fleeing soldiers and, with God’s help, burned 2000 of them to death in the Tower of Azotus. (I Maccabees 16:1-10)
[NOTE: Though the original book of I Maccabees was written in Hebrew, as can be deduced by a number of Hebrew idioms in the text, the original has been lost and the version which comes down to us is the Septuagint. Origen of Alexandria gives testimony to the existence of an original Hebrew text (as cited by Eusebius, Church History, vi. 25). Jerome likewise claims “the first book of Maccabees I have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style” (per Prologus Galeatus). The book’s author is unknown. The author interprets the events not as a miraculous intervention by God, but rather God’s using the instrument of the military genius of the Maccabees to achieve his ends.
Unlike 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees was written in Koine Greek. The author of 2 Maccabees is not identified, but he claims to be abridging a 5-volume work by Jason of Cyrene. This longer work is not preserved, and it is uncertain how much of the present text of 2 Maccabees is simply copied from that work. The Greek style of the writer is very educated, and he seems well-informed about Greek customs.
2 Maccabees demonstrates several points of doctrinal interpretation deriving from Pharisaic Judaism, and also found in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology.
Doctrinal issues that are raised in 2 Maccabees include:
Prayer for the dead and sacrificial offerings, both to free the dead from sin
Merits of the martyrs
Intercession of the saints (15:11–17) (at least as seen from a Christian viewpoint)
Resurrection of the dead
Specific mention of creation ex nihilo (II Maccabees 7:28)
Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox regard 2 Maccabees as canonical. Jews and Protestants do not. 2 Maccabees, along with 1 and 3 Maccabees, appeared in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible completed in the 1st century BC. In Jamnia c 90, according to one theory now largely discredited, rabbis endorsed a narrower canon, excluding deuterocanonical works such as 2 Maccabees. This had little immediate impact on Christians, however, since most Christians did not know Hebrew and were familiar with the Hebrew Bible through the Greek Septuagint text of Hellenistic Jews, which included 2 Maccabees and other deuterocanonical works.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 I & II Chronicles, 11 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:
Just another holy war,1 Chronicles 5:18-22. The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war. And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him. And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand. For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.
God killed a half million Israelite soldiers, 2 Chronicles 13:15-17. Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand. And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
Jeroboam, 2 Chronicles 13:20. Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the LORD struck him, and he died.
God killed a million Ethiopians, 2 Chronicles 14:8-13. And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour. And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee. So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
God forced “a great multitude” to kill each other, 2 Chronicles 20:14-25. Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation; And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
God made Jehoram’s bowels fall out, 2 Chronicles 21:18-19. And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.
God killed Jehoram’s sons, 2 Chronicles 22:1. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned.
Ahaziah (of Judah), 2 Chronicles 22:7-9. And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab. And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them. And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.
Joash, the princes and army of Juday, 2 Chronicles 24:20-25. And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it. And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus. For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the LORD delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash. And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings.
God destroyed Amaziah, 2 Chronicles 25:14-27. Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand? And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king’s counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel. Then Amaziah king of Judah took advice, and sent to Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us see one another in the face. And Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle. Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites; and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee? But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom. So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent. And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and the silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obededom, and the treasures of the king’s house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria. And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years. Now the rest of the acts of Amaziah, first and last, behold, are they not written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel? Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.
Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 28:5. Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.
God killed 120,000 valiant men for forsaking him, 2 Chronicles 28:6. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.
The fall of Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 36:16-17, Jeremiah 21:5-7. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
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.
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 II Kings [IV Kings in the LXX], 18 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:
God burned 102 men to death for asking Elijah to come down from his hill, 2 Kings 1:9-12. Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
God killed Ahaziah (of Israel) for asking the wrong god, 2 Kings 1:16-17. And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub the God of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.
God sends two bears to rip apart 42 boys for making fun of a prophet’s bald head, 2 Kings 2:23-24. And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
The Lord delivered the Moabites, 2 Kings 3:18-25. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand. And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones. And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armor, and upward, and stood in the border. And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood: And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil. And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country. And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.
A skeptic is trampled to death, 2 Kings 7:17. And the king appointed the Lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.
God’s seven year famine, 2 Kings 8:1. Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
Jehoram of Israel, 2 Kings 9:24-25. And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot. Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him;
Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:33-37. And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot. And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter. And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.
Ahab’s sons: 70 heads in two heaps, 2 Kings 10:1-10. And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children, saying, Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armor; Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house. But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand? And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes. Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons, and come to me to Jezreel by tomorrow this time. Now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up. And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel. And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning. And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these? Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.
Ahab’s family, friends, and priests, 2 Kings 10:11. So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
Jehu kills Ahaziah’s family, 2 Kings 10:14. And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.
The rest of Ahab’s family, 2 Kings 10:15-17. And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.
The followers of Baal, 2 Kings 10:25-28. And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.
Queen Athaliah and the priest of Baal, 2 Kings 11:15-20. But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the LORD. And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house: and there was she slain. And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD’s people; between the king also and the people. And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD. And he took the rulers over hundreds, and the captains, and the guard, and all the people of the land; and they brought down the king from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the gate of the guard to the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings. And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet: and they slew Athaliah with the sword beside the king’s house.
God sent lions to eat those that didn’t fear God enough, 2 Kings 17:25-26. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.
And angel killed 185,000 sleeping soldiers, 2 Kings 19:35. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
God caused King Sennacherib to be killed by his sons, 2 Kings 19:36-37. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his God, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
Josiah killed all the priests of the high places, 2 Kings 23:20. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
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 I Kings [III Kings in the LXX], 13 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:
Solomon kills Joab and Shimei, 1 Kings 2:29-46. And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me. And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father. And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD. So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar. And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days. And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath. And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath. And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again. And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good. Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with? The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head; And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever. So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
A tale of two prophets, 1 Kings 13:11-28. Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah. And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon, And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers. And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him. And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him. And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.
Jeroboams’ son: God kills another child, 1 Kings 14:17. And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died.
Jeroboam’s family, 1 Kings 15:29. And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite.
Baasha’s family and friends, 1 Kings 16:11-12. And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends. Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet.
Zimri burns to death , 1 Kings 16:18-19. And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died. For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.
The drought of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
Elijah kills 450 in a prayer contest, 1 Kings 18:22-40. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
The first God-assisted slaughter of the Syrians, 1 Kings 20:20-21. And they slew everyone his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen. And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
God killed 100,000 Syrians for calling him a god of the hills, 1 Kings 20:29. And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.
God killed 27,000 Syrians by making a wall fall on them, 1 Kings 20:30. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.
God sent a lion to kill a man for not smiting a prophet, 1 Kings 20:35-36. And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbor in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him. Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
God killed Ahab for not killing a captured king, 1 Kings 22:35. And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.