24 July 2012

The worst person in the Bible

As anyone who has actually read the Bible knows, there are a lot of bad people in the (not so very) Good Book. Noah, Abraham, Lot, Moses, Joshua, Jephthah, Gideon, Samson, David, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus -- there are many candidates for the worst person in the Bible award.

My choice for the award isn't on the above list. It is someone that many Bible believers have never even heard of.

His name is Jehu.

The story of Jehu is told in 2 Kings chapters 9 and 10, where God, through the prophet Elisha, anoints Jehu as king and commands him to perform a series of serial killings. First he is told to kill everyone in Ahab's family, especially all those who have ever "pissed against a wall."
Thus saith the LORD God ... thou shalt smite the house of Ahab ... For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall. 2 Kings 9:7-9
So Jehu rides off in his chariot to kill Ahab's son, Jehoram -- a wall pisser if ever there was one.

After killing Jehoram, Jehu killed Ahab's wife, Jezebel, whom God wanted not just dead, but treated like shit and fed to the dogs.
And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. 9:10
This is the word of the LORD ... dogs [shall] eat the flesh of Jezebel: And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field. 9:36-37
So Jehu had Jezebel thrown off a wall to be trampled by horses and fed to the dogs.

Then it was time to take care of the rest of Ahab's family. So Jehu ordered the rulers of Jezreel to cut off the heads of 70 of Ahab's sons and deliver them to him in two baskets.

But there were still a few other wall-pissers on God's hit list. So Jehu searched the town of Jezreel for any and all of Ahab's remaining family and friends -- whoever was associated somehow with Ahab and might have pissed against a wall at one time or another.

Then he killed them all.
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. 2 Kings 10:11
But there were still more of Ahab's family to kill. (Ahab had a very large family.) So Jehu drove off to Samaria to meet with the family of King Ahaziah of Judah (a relative of Ahab).

It was a short, productive meeting. Jehu had only one action item: kill all 42 attendees.
Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah ... And he [Jehu] said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and fortymen; neither left he any of them. 10:13-14
There were still a few more of Ahab's relatives to kill, however. So Jehu and a very close friend show off their "zeal for the Lord" by slaughtering the rest of Ahab's family.
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 ... 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. 10:15-17
And finally, after Jehu finished killing Ahab's family in Samaria, he called an assembly to worship Baal. Then when the worshipers arrived, he killed them all.
Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another. ... 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. 2 Kings 10:20-25
And that's all the Bible says about Jehu. Still it seems enough to award him the title of the worst person in the Bible.

But what about God? Since he ordered the killings, isn't he even worse than Jehu?
And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. 2 Kings 10:30
Well, yes he is.  Richard Dawkins was quite right when he said that "the God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." But he's not human (or a corporation), so he doesn't qualify as a person.

To be fair to God, I should mention that God seemed to change his mind about the Jehu mass murders.
And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. Hosea 1:4

Here are a few questions for believers:
  • Did Jehu "do well" when he performed this series of mass murders and was "it according to God's heart" as it says in 2 Kings 10:30? 
  • Why then did God say he would avenge Jehu's killings in Hosea 1:4? 
  • How are Jehu's killings different from those of James Holmes?

6 comments:

Stephen said...

It may yet turn out that James Holmes (thought he) was doing the lord's work. If so, he'll be in good company, but he's a rank amateur compared to Jehu.
Steve Weeks

Ngofo said...

I was introduced to your blog earlier this year by a youtube comment. obviously, I have read most of your post and the ensuing arguements and, like many, I find your blog quite intriquing, I must say.

Pioneering missionaries to Africa discredited the African interpretation of their god-experience as barbaric heathenistism but, on the other hand, all the killings done by the chosen children of God, the Israelites, and commanded by God, were all justified righteousness, because, according to them, the people on the receiving end had so many sins that God was now punishing them. We see this same rationalization today in the invasions of Iraq, Lybia,Syria,Lebanon,Vietnam,and countless others as if any mass killings can be justified if the aggressors can explain how bad, and therefore deserving, the victims are.

TWF said...

By Jove, I think you've got a winner! Way to play the underdog, and do it so well!

I am not sure I agree that Jehu was the worst, but you have certainly made a convincing case here. Good work. (Don't be surprised if I condemn your children for this work in the future.) ;-)

No said...

From the Bible's point of view any person in the book that would not believe Jesus is their personal saviour are equaly as bad and worthy of burning in hell for all Eternity as perscribe by Jesus and God.

From my point of view the worst person in the Bible is the christian God for promissing to ruthlessly murder more than half the human race, present and throughout history, for not believing in him.

Stephen said...

Here's a letter (edited for brevity) written by Colin (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/28/my-take-this-is-where-god-was-in-aurora/comment-page-1/#comments)about the Colorado shootings:

Dear Christians:
God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in World history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.
You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire Universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time?
So, you really think my periodic miracles prove my existence hey? Then why not something inarguable and unambiguous, like a huge crucifix in the sky, or my face on the moon? Why is it always that believers have to construct my miracles out of perfectly explicable natural events?
This happens every time there is a tragedy or near tragedy of any kind, anywhere in the world and in all cultures. Of course, none of these incidents really are "miracles.” When the totality of facts are taken into account, "miracles" turn out to be nothing more than believers who are desperate for some sign of my existence ignoring the downside of a set of facts, focusing solely on the upside and calling the quarantined "good" a miracle from me or one of the other sky-fairies.
Another annoying habit my “miracles” seem to have is that they always seem to tag along, just behind medical science, like an annoying kid brother who won’t go away. Until the mid nineties, those with AIDS who prayed for a miracle were never granted one. Medical science finds a way to permanently suppress the disease, and all of a sudden I start to perform miracles with AIDS patients. No polio patient ever received a miracle until the Salk vaccine and I routinely ignored cancer patients until chemotherapy and radiation treatments were developed. Suddenly, prayers to me from cancer patients are regularly “answered.”
Why is it that I still seem deaf to the pleadings of amputees who would like their fingers, arms or legs back, to those who have physically lost eyes or ears, to the horribly burned and to all others who ail from patently visible and currently incurable maladies? Why is it that, at the very same time, I am very receptive to the prayers of those whose condition is uncertain, internal and vulnerable to miraculous claims?
Take five minutes to make two lists; one of those ailments I will miraculously cure and the other of those I will not. You will quickly find it coincides perfectly with those conditions medical science (or the human body itself) can defeat and those we cannot. Why do you think that is? It is almost as my miracles are created out of medical ambiguity isn’t it?
No, my human friends. I am afraid I do not exist. I do not read your minds (or “hear your prayers” as you like to call it) and you are not going to achieve immortality (or “eternal life” as you like to call it) no matter how many commandments from Iron Age Palestine you choose to “keep”. Move on and enjoy the few years you have. You were all dead for the last 13,700,000,000 years and it wasn’t that least bit uncomfortable now, was it?
God

Ed Suominen said...

Quite a disgusting little tale, isn’t it?

You might enjoy a semi-fictional narrative version of the Jehu story I wrote last week. There’s a first-person account from the zealous psychopath himself, and another one from a fictional victim of his Baal worship massacre. Free for the reading here.