08 April 2009

How does God kill people? Let me count the ways.

And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. -- Numbers 21:6

When it comes to killing people, God has quite an imagination.

Here's a summary of the many ways God killed people in the Bible. (Numbers in parentheses are the number of killing events, not the number of people killed. My very rough estimate of the total number of people killed by God is 33 million.)

  1. The edge of the sword: God-assisted genocides and massacres (32)

    Okay, it's gets a bit boring reading the same words over and over again.

    And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. Deuteronomy 2:23-24

    And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them. Deuteronomy 7:16

    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. Joshua 6:21

    But if you are going to read the Bible, then you have to get used to it. There are 32 separate God-assisted massacres and genocides that are recorded in the Bible. And God is proud of every one of them. (See The Bible's top 10 massacres for some details.)

    Here is a list of the massacres.

    1. God and Moses help Joshua kill the Amalekites (Exodus 17:3)

    2. "The LORD ... delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities." (Numbers 21:1-3)

    3. Bashanites: " I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people ... So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive." (Numbers 21:34-35)

    4. Midianites: "And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males ... And Moses was wroth with the officers ... And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore 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 31:1-35)

    5. Anakim: "A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them." (Deuteronomy 2:21-22)

    6. Heshbonites: "And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain." (Deuteronomy 2:33-34)

    7. Bashanites (again): "So the LORD our God delivered into our hands ... and we smote him until none was left to him remaining.... threescore cities ... And we utterly destroyed them ... utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. (Deuteronomy 3:3-6)

    8. Jericho: "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." (Joshua 6:21)

    9. Ai: "Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai." (Joshua 8:1-25)

    10. 7 cities: "So Joshua ... left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded." (Joshua 10:28-42)

    11. Hazorites: And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. (Joshua 11:8-12)

    12. Anakim: "Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities." (Joshua 11:20-21)

    13. Canaanites and Perizzites: "and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand ... and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites." (Judges 1:4)

    14. Moabites: "For the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand ... And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man." (Judges 3:28-29)

    15. Canaanites: "And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword ... and there was not a man left." (Judges 4:14)

    16. Ammonites: So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon ... and the LORD delivered them into his hands ... And he smote them ... with a very great slaughter." (Judges 11:32-33)

    17. "And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he ... slew thirty men." (Judges 14:19)

    18. Benjamites: "And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men:" (Judges 20:35-37)

    19. More Benjamites: "And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to." (Judges 20:44-16)

    20. God delivered the Philistines to Jonathan: "the LORD hath delivered them ... And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land. (1 Samuel 14:12)

    21. God orders Saul to kill every Amalekite man, woman, and child (1 Samuel 15:2-3)

    22. God delivers the Philistines: I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand ... So David ... fought with the Philistines ... and smote them with a great slaughter." (1 Samuel 23:2-5)

    23. God delivers the Philistines to David: "And David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand." (2 Samuel 5:19, 25)

    24. Baasha killed everyone in the house of Jeroboam "according to the saying of the Lord." (1 Kings 15:29)

    25. Zimri killed everyone in the house of Baasha "according to the word of the Lord." (1 Kings 16:11-12)

    26. Religious leaders killed in a prayer contest (1 Kings 18:22-40)

    27. God delivers the Syrians into the Israelites' hands (1 Kings 20:28-29)

    28. Jehu killed "all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria ... according to the saying of the Lord"(2 Kings 10:16-17)

    29. God delivers Israel into the hands of Judah (2 Chronicles 13:15-17)

    30. "The Lord smote the Ethiopians." (2 Chronicles 14:9-14)

    31. Judean soldiers killed for forsaking God (2 Chronicles 28:6)

    32. God delivered the Israelites into the hand of the Chaldeans. (2 Chronicles 36:16-17)

  2. Burning people to death (5)

    Most people that I know are opposed to this sort of thing, but it's one of God's favorite ways to kill people. He did it himself (or commanded others to do it for him) 5 times in the Bible.
    (See Is it wrong to burn people to death? for more on this.)

    1. Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24)

    2. Aaron's sons for offering strange fire before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-3; Numbers 3:3:4, 26:61)

    3. An unknown number for complaining (Numbers 11:1)

    4. For offering incense without a license (Numbers 16:35)

    5. For worshiping the wrong god (2 Kings 1:9-12)

  3. Lions and serpents and bears, Oh my! (5)

    Remember how the Romans used to kill Christians by throwing them to the lions? Well, God thought of it first!

    1. A lion is sent by God to kill a prophet for believing another prophet's lie (1 Kings 13:1-24)

    2. God sent lions to kill a man for not killing a prophet (1 Kings 20:35-36)

    3. And he sent lions to kill some foreigners for not fearing him enough (2 Kings 17:25-26)

    4. Sometimes God made special creatures to kill people on special occasions. Like the time he sent fiery serpents (maybe even flying, fiery serpents!) to bite and kill people for complaining about the lack of food and water. (Numbers 21:6)

    5. And then there were the bears. God sent two bears to kill 42 boys for making fun of Elisha's bald head. (2 Kings 2:23-24)

  4. Plagues (5).

    What would God be without his plagues? They became his trademark after the ten plagues of Egypt. But he didn't use them as often as you might think. I can only find 5 times that God used plagues to kill people.

    1. God sent "a very great plague" for complaining about the food. (Numbers 11:33)

    2. For murmuring (Numbers 14:35-36)

    3. For complaining (Numbers 16:49)

    4. For "committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab" (Numbers 25:9)

    5. To punish David for his census (2 Samuel 24:15, 1 Chronicles 21:14)

  5. Forcing people to kill each other (3).

    I'm not talking about war here. Yes, God often inspired or forced people to kill each other in war (see the 32 massacres above). But that's not what this is about. In this method God forces friends, family, soldiers, and community members to kill each other.

    1. For dancing naked around Aaron's golden calf (Exodus 32:27-28, 35)

    2. Midianites soldiers (Judges 7:22, 8:10)

    3. Philistine soldiers forced to kill each other (1 Samuel 14:20)

  6. Drowning (2)

    1. The big one -- the flood of Noah (Genesis 7:23)

    2. The drowning of the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:27-28)

  7. Hailstones (2)

    1. God chases the Amorites along the way, throwing hailstones at them (Joshua 10:11)

    2. The seventh Egyptian plague -- fiery hailstones killing man and beast (Exodus 9:25)

  8. Stoned to death (2)

    1. For blasphemy (Leviticus 24:10)

    2. For picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32)

  9. Famine (2)

    1. A three year famine for something Saul did (2 Samuel 21:1:)

    2. A seven year famine for God knows what (2 Kings 8:1)

  10. Eaten by worms

    Herod for not giving God enough glory (Acts 12:23)

  11. Buried alive

    Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (and their families) for criticizing Moses (Numbers 16:27)

  12. Burned and stoned to death

    Achan (and his his sons and daughters) for taking the accursed thing (Joshua 7:10-12, 24-26)

  13. Falling wall

    God makes a wall fall on Syrian soldiers killing 27,000 (1 Kings 20:30)
    (It was a very big wall. After the wall fell, they built a new one and put up a sign, "Watch out for falling wall". It hasn't happened since.)

  14. Hacked to pieces before the Lord

    Samuel hacks Agag to pieces before the Lord (1 Samuel 15:32-33)

  15. Hanged before the Lord

    The seven sons of Saul (2 Samuel 21:6-9)

  16. Killed with the jawbone of an ass

    Samson kills 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:14-15)

  17. Killed and hung on a tree

    Joshua kills 5 kings hand hangs their dead bodies on trees (Joshua 10:24-26)

  18. Killed by an angel

    Sleeping Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35, Isaiah 37:36)
    ("When they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.")

  19. Forced to committed suicide

    Saul because he didn't inquire of the Lord (1 Chronicles 10:4-6, 13-14)

  20. A message from God (knife in the belly)

    Ehud gets the message (Judges 3:15-22)

  21. Bowels fell out

    God kills Jehoram by making his bowels fall out (2 Chronicles 21:14-19)

  22. Thrown off a wall and trampled to death

    Jezebel (2 Kings 9:33-37)
    ("And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field.")

  23. Trampled to death

    For not believing Elisha (2 Kings 7:17-20)

  24. God-inspired act of terrorism

    Samson's suicide attack (Judges 16:27-30)

  25. Turned into a pillar of salt

    Lot's wife for looking back (Genesis 19:26)

  26. Scared to death

    Ananias and Sapphira for not giving all their money to Peter (Acts 5:1-10)

  27. Unknown methods: "The Lord smote them." (10)

    1. Er for being "wicked in the sight of the Lord" (Genesis 38:1, 1 Chronicles 2:3)

    2. Onan for spilling his seed (Genesis 38:10)

    3. Every Egyptian firstborn child (Exodus 12:29-30)

    4. For looking into the ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 6:9)

    5. Nabal so that David could marry his wife (1 Samuel 25:38)

    6. Uzzah for trying to keep the ark from falling (2 Samuel 6:6-7, 1 Chronicles 13:9-10)

    7. David and Bathsheba's baby boy(2 Samuel 12:14-18)

    8. Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:20)

    9. Ahaziah for talking to the wrong God (2 Kings 1:2-4, 2 Chronicles 22:7-9)

    10. Ezekiel's wife just for the heck of it (Ezekiel 24:15-18)

Here's a handy chart you can put on your wall.


I Am said...

Some of the ways of killing people are truly demented. I wonder if the "unknown" methods were too gruesome or too boring to be mentioned? Or maybe the authors of the Bible just had writer's block that day.

Ian said...

Look at the Samson story again. In an act of suicidal terrorism in God's name, he makes a large building collapse and kill 3,000 people.

Sound familiar? I guess we should be impressed that Samson managed to do it without hijacking a single airplane!

Josell said...

I believe in the God of the New Testament. He is so good that he gave his life for us and was resurrected to prove it, yes, he proved to be God, as a scientist proves his hypothesis, but God did it with something else that science applies to our universe.

The Old Testament is a collection of cultural books, which are used to interpret the New Testament, but does not show the true God of love.

Moreover, the God who gives life has the right to remove it. God is always justified itself.

I admit that I am a sinner, but I know that God is love and worship and deserves all glory. Evil is temporary, but good and love are eternal, like God and our soul.

Even non-believers recognize the presence of God when they invest much time writing these posts.

God Bless you; and sorry for my google-translator-english.

Steve Wells said...


You say that you "believe in the God of the New Testament." That's nice.

But isn't the God of the New Testament the same God as the God of the Old Testament? Isn't that why you are forced to defend the evil Old Testament God by saying, "the God who gives life has the right to remove it"? God can kill whoever he wants, whenever he wants, any way that he wants, for any reason -- or no reason at all.

Such a God is evil, Josell. Thank goodness he doesn't exit!

Miguel M said...

God is our creator and as so it has the power to decide on the life of all living being. If you create something and it is defective and evil. What do you do? First it is to try to accommodate it, but if you can’t? ….We are like mud containers into the hands of the potter… Remember that the one that beginning the death was the same man, when CaĆ­n kill his brother. Easy it is to judge, but we are only men… simple men

Steve Wells said...


If you create something and it is defective and evil. What do you do? First it is to try to accommodate it, but if you can’t? …

Kill it, eh Miguel?

If you make something evil, then isn't it your fault in the first place? Shouldn't you at least try to fix it before killing it?

And what was so evil about David and Bathsheba's baby boy? (2 Samuel 12:14-18) Why did God have to kill him?

Unknown said...

Psalm 17:9 Happy is he who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rocks.
Hoshea 13:16 and their pregnant women will be ripped open.