24 August 2006

Have ye saved all the women alive?

Oops! In my post, How many has God killed?, I forgot to include the Midianite massacre. But luckily David Plotz in Blogging the Bible reminded me.

Plotz calls it the "most hideous war crime in a Bible filled with them." And he's right about that. It is simply impossible to read this and still believe that it was inspired by a kind and loving God. Here's a brief summary, but if you haven't read the entire story, be sure to do so. (Numbers 31:1-35)

God tells Moses to "avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites." So "they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males," taking the women and children captive.

But when the officers returned from the battle, Moses was angry with them, saying, "Have ye saved all the women alive?" So he tells them to

...kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:17-18)

The soldiers do as they were told, killing all the women and children except for the virgins, of which there were 32,000. And since there must have been at least twice as many men, non-virgin women, and young boys, I used 90,000 for the Midianite massacre in the revised death toll.

The Brick Testament: Massacre of the Midianties


Cactus Wren said...

Pat Robertson becomes absolutely frantic when confronted with these verses, insisting wildly that this mass slaughter of civilians and children was an act of mercy on God's part. Because this way, you see, he only had to send a few thousand to Hell. But if the Midianites had been allowed to live, they'd have bred, and a few years down the line he'd have had to send hundreds of thousands or even millions to Hell.

Ron said...

But then why save the virgin women. Shouldn't the die too if you want to "spare" them?