“[God is] a vindictive bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic racist, an infanticidal, genocidal, phillicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”–Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
God in the Old Testament is the most prolific mass murderer the world has ever known. In the Old Testament, God kills more people than any one single figure in real life. Even in literature it is hard to recall any character who kills so rapidly and in such tremendous numbers. God is also a mass murderer who is very quick to slay his victims. He can be provoked by something as simple as a complaint, such as in Numbers 16:41-49 when the Israelites tell God he is slaughtering too many of them. In this case, God responds by killed 14,000 additional people.
But God can also be incited to murder by the most minor infraction, such as in 2 Kings 2:23-24, when God sends a bear to disembowel children for teasing a prophet. Sometimes, God kills for seemingly no reason at all, like in Judges 16:27-30 when God imbues Samson with the ability to kill 3,000 Philistines just because Samson wants to. In 2 Kings 1:9-10, God burns 50 men to prove that he is, indeed, God.
In his book Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, author Steve Wells provides an estimate of the number of people murdered by God in the Bible, and says that by his calculations after careful study, God in the Old Testament kills a total of 2,821,364 people where numbers are actually stated directly; however, the number is much higher- 25 million people-when estimates in which no numbers are stated are tallied, such as in Deuteronomy 2:32-35:
32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed[a] them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. 35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.
There is no number given here, only “we took all his towns and…we left no survivors.” In cases such as this, where no exact tally is available, Wells used a book called the Atlas of World Population History to derive estimates of how many people would have been living in a similar town of that time period.
Wells goes on the point out that Satan in the Bible only kills ten people, and most of those were because God prompted him to do so. In his book, Wells provides a chart that shows each killing incident along with the actual biblical number or an estimate derived from the atlas to arrive at the totals.
An example of a killing incident in which a specific number-500,000- is given can be found in 2 Chronicles 13:15-18:
15 and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. 17 Abijah and his troops inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel’s able men. 18 The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
But it’s not just the huge number of murders God commits in the Bible; it’s also his abundant boasting that makes an impression. God often reminds people of his all-powerful ways and lets them know he can kill anytime he wants to, inciting fear into his subjects at every turn. In this way, he is a tyrant, forcing his people to live in constant terror that they may be burned alive, crushed to death by rocks falling from the sky, torn apart by bears or slaughtered by an army to whom God has given the promise of victory. God also has a fetish for the smell of blood and burning flesh, and this is stated repeatedly in the Bible.
God in the Old Testament is a bloodthirsty mass murderer more reminiscent of a creepy killer in a Hollywood movie than a benevolent, loving father. It is almost surprising that God never asks someone to “put the lotion in the basket,” given his penchant for killing and specifically, the aroma of roasting skin.
The question is, do most people who consider themselves followers of the Bible realize God’s insatiable blood lust, or do they skip over these parts, cherry picking the things that make sense and not reading the unpleasant truths contained therein?
God is unquestionably bloodthirsty, so why is his character so revered? Is it because something in human psychology needs to exist in a state of constant fear? Or perhaps it is because the Bible verses that reveal God as the world’s most prolific mass murderer are conveniently ignored.
By: Rebecca Savastio