30 March 2009

This is the Finger of God

Pharaoh's magicians were a talented bunch.

They could turn rods into snakes, the Nile into blood, and bury Egypt in frogs. But there are some things that only a god can do.

Like make lice, for example.

The magicians could match all of God's tricks until he made lice. That one they just couldn't do. So they gave up, saying, "This is the finger of God."

So now you know what the finger of God looks like.

The Seventh Plague of Egypt: Hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die

Drunk With Blood Audiobook
10. The seventh plague of Egypt: Hail

In the first of the famous ten plagues of Egypt, God forced Egyptians to drink blood (human blood according to the apocryphal book of Wisdom), and only blood, for seven days.  Since it is not possible to survive for long when only drinking blood, I estimated that one-half of the Egyptians (1.5 million) died in the first plague.

But God was only getting started. Here are the next five plagues:

Frogs. (8.1-7)
Lice. (8.16-19)
Flies (8.21-24)
All cattle in Egypt die. (9.3-6)
Festering boils on man and beast. (9.9-10)

The Bible doesn't say whether anyone died from these plagues. Frogs, lice, flies, dead animals as far as you can see, and boils covering every person and animal in Egypt. These things were probably unpleasant. But did it kill anyone? There's just no way of knowing.

But the Bible is clear about the seventh plague: hail.

Upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field … the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. ... So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous ... And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast. Exodus 9:19-25
So God killed everybody in Egypt who was out and about that day with fire and hail (except Israelites).
Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 9:26
But how many people would that have been?

Well, the Egyptian population is estimated to have been 3 million at the time the Exodus supposedly happened (McEvedy and Jones 1978), and God already killed half of them in the first plague. So if maybe 10% of the surviving Egyptians were in the field at the time, about 150 thousand would have been killed by God's fiery hailstorm.

God's next killing: firstborn Egyptian children

28 March 2009

Billy Graham: God never tempts us to do anything wrong (except maybe to kill our children once in a while)

It's fun to read Billy Graham's answers to believers' questions.

Here's one that I especially like.

DEAR REV. GRAHAM: How do you know if it's the devil who is tempting you to do something, or if God is just testing you to see if you'll do what's right? I try to make the right choices, but I'm not sure I always know what to do. --J.T.H.
And here's the "important" part of Reverend Graham's answer.
Dear J.T.H.: The most important thing for you to remember is that God never tempts us to do anything wrong.

Yet according to the Bible, God tempted Abraham to kill his son.

God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him ... Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering. Genesis 22:1-2

Which means, I guess, that Billy Graham thinks it isn't wrong for a father to kill his son and offer him as a burnt offering to God. (God would never tempt anyone to do anything wrong.)

27 March 2009

God's Killings in Genesis: A summary

OK. I think I'm done with Genesis now. Here's a summary.
Killing EventVerseEstimated number killed
1Noah's Flood Genesis 7:23 20,000,000?
2 Sodom and Gomorrah Genesis 19:24 1,000?
3 Lot's wife Genesis 19:261
4 Er who was "wicked in the sight of the Lord" Genesis 38:7, 1 Chronicles 2:3 1
5 Onan for spilling his seed Genesis 38:10 1
6 A 7 year, world-wide famine Genesis 41:25-54 70,000 ?

So in Genesis, there were 6 killing events, with 3 named victims, and an estimated total of 30 million or so.

But there are a few things that I've left off the list that I should mention, since they provide more evidence of God's murderous nature.

  1. God sent "great plagues" on the Pharaoh for believing Abraham's lie (about Sarah being his sister). Since the Bible doesn't say what these plagues were or whether or not anyone died in them, I have left them off the list. Genesis 12:17

  2. God either commanded or approved of animal sacrifices to him by Abel, Noah, and Abraham.

  3. God threatened to kill Abimelech and his people for believing Abraham's lie (about the ever-beautiful 90 year old Sarah being his sister). Genesis 20:3-7

  4. God told Abraham to abandon his first son (Ishmael) and Hagar (Ishmael's mother) in the desert. Genesis 21:10-14

  5. God commanded Abraham to kill his second son (Isaac) by offering him as a burned sacrifice, and God rewarded Abraham for being willing to do so. Genesis 22:2-13

  6. Jacob's sons tricked all of the men of a city and then killed them (after first having them all circumcised), taking their wives and children captive. God didn't seem to mind. Genesis 34:1-31 (Brick Testament Story)

  7. "The terror of God was on cities round about them." Since the Bible doesn't say what "the terror of God" was or whether any people were killed by it, I have left it off the list. Genesis 34:5
Let me know if I've missed anything. Otherwise, I'm off to Exodus.

21 March 2009

The Terror of God (God is a terrorist)

And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. Genesis 35:5

So "the terror of God" was on entire cities?

It would be nice to have more details here. How did God terrorize the people in these cities? Did he fly planes into buildings or what?

I suppose God could have terrorized people without killing anyone. So I won't add this to the list of people killed by God.

But then, we already knew that God is a murderer. Now we know that he is a terrorist, too. (Or he would be if he existed.)

11 March 2009

God's seven year, world-wide famine

This one is all about Joseph. There's a whole series of stupid Joseph stories in Genesis: Jacob loved Joseph more than his other children (Genesis 37.3); Joseph's brothers throw him in a well (37.24); Joseph is rescued from the well and sold to the Ishmaelites (37.28); Joseph goes to prison after being falsely accused of rape (39.20); Joseph interprets the dream of his cellmate (40.8-19); Joseph interprets the Pharaoh's dream (41.25-32); the Pharaoh makes Joseph the overseer of all of Egypt (41.33).

The Bible isn't too clear on this, but as near as I can tell, God starved everyone on earth so that Joseph could become the most powerful person in Egypt by interpreting the Pharaoh's dream so that God could get the Israelites enslaved by Pharaoh and then rescue them by sending plagues on the Egyptians. Or something like that.

OK. That all makes perfect sense. But what was the Pharaoh's dream?
Well, there were these seven fat, good looking cows that came out of the Nile, followed by seven skinny, ugly cows. The skinny cows ate the fat ones.
And it came to pass … that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. Genesis 41.1-4
Then Pharaoh had another dream. This time seven skinny heads of grain ate seven fat ones.
And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. 41.5-7
No one could interpret Pharaoh's dream. So they called Joseph. Joseph said it was simple. God was going to send seven good years followed by seven years of famine. And the famine would be world-wide and "very grievous."
This is the thing which … God is about to do.…There come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine. … It shall be very grievous. … The thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 41.28-32
Joseph said the Pharaoh should have the Egyptians store up food during the seven good years so they wouldn't starve (like everyone else) during the bad.

And it all happened just like Joseph said it would. The Pharaoh did what Joseph suggested and had Joseph oversee it all. And Joseph became the most powerful person in Egypt.

So things worked out well for Joseph, but not so well for everyone else.

When the famine struck, everyone on earth (including the Egyptians) had to buy their food from Joseph. If they couldn't make it to Egypt or didn't have enough money, they starved. It was all part of God's plan.
The seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands … And the famine was over all the face of the earth … And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands. 41.54-57
But how many people starved to death during God's seven year famine?

I have no idea. But since the Bible says it was “over all the face of the earth” and was a "very grievous famine," I figure it must have been at least 70,000 or so, 10,000 each year.

God's next killing: The seventh plague of Egypt: hail

09 March 2009

The Lord Tried to Kill Him: God's first failed murder attenpt

OK, I'm done with Genesis. I found five divine killing episodes.

  1. The Flood
  2. Sodom and Gomorrah
  3. Lot's wife
  4. Er
  5. Onan

If I've missed any, let me know. I don't want to get God pissed off. I know how proud he is of his killings.

Now on to Exodus.

Which leads me to the topic of this post. It is one of the strangest stories in a book filled with strange stories. And it all happens so fast, you'll miss it if you're not careful.

But first a little background. (Context is everything, as believers like to say.)

In the previous chapter (Exodus 3), Moses has a long conversation with God, who is cleverly disguised as a burning bush. God tells Moses to return to Egypt and rescue the Israelites. God says that he will smite the Egyptians with all his wonders and all the Israelites have to do is steal the Egyptians' possessions.

But Moses is worried that the Pharaoh might not listen to him. So God teaches him some magic tricks. He shows him how to throw his rod on the ground and turn it into a snake. Then grab the snake by the tail and it becomes a rod again. How cool is that?

In case that doesn't work, God shows Moses how to make his own hand leprous, and then make it normal again.

And finally, the God's third trick is to turn water into blood. God says that that ought to do it.

But Moses is still unconvinced. What if they still don't believe him? He's not that great a public speaker, ya know.

Then God says, "Who made the dumb, deaf, and the blind? Have not I the Lord?" If he can make people dumb, deaf, and blind, he can do anything.

But Moses is still unsure of himself, so God tells him to bring his brother Aaron along. He's a smooth talker. They'll believe him.

And even if they don't, it won't matter. God says that even with all his snake, leper, and blood tricks, the Pharaoh still won't believe. Because God "will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go."

So the whole thing is pointless, really. Moses and Aaron are going to do all the neat tricks, but they will fail because God will harden the Pharaoh's heart.

And then God throws in one more thing.

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. Exodus 4:22-23

And that's it. That's the context.

Now for the rest of the story.

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. Exodus 4:24-26

Moses heads off on a mission from God, God meets him along the way and tries to kill him.

The Bible doesn't say why God tried to kill the guy he just taught his tricks to. But apparently it had something to do with foreskin.

Moses' son wasn't circumcised, I guess, and it really pissed off God, so he tried to kill Moses. Lucky his wife (Zipporah) quickly figured out what God was bugged about, grabbed a sharp rock and cut off her son's foreskin -- all before God could kill Moses. Whew!

OK. Try to top that story!

Can you believe that over 3 billion people believe this stuff?
(Fortunately, fewer and fewer do each day.)

08 March 2009

Solomon was wiser than Heman

And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than ... Heman. 1 Kings 4:30-31

I just thought you should know that.

06 March 2009

God is a redhead.

I was just re-reading the story about Shechem and Dinah, trying to decide if God deserved at least some of the credit for the resulting massacre (I decided he didn't), when I noticed that chapter 33 of Genesis didn't have a single side note. It is (or was) the first "clean" chapter in the SAB.

But then I noticed something amazing. Something that I'd never noticed before. There, in verse 10 of chapter 33, the Bible tells us what God looks like. And it's nothing like Charlton Heston.

In this verse, Jacob is talking to his brother Esau when he says this:

I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God. KJV: Genesis 33:10

To see your face is like seeing the face of God. NIV: Genesis 33:10

Now this is coming from a guy who (just a few verses ago) saw God face to face. So he should know. And he says that God looks just like Esau.

Luckily, the Bible describes Esau's appearance. He was all red and hairy.

And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. Genesis 25:25

Esau was so hairy, in fact, that Jacob (with his mother Rebekah's coaching) stole his father Isaac's blessing by putting goat skin on his hands and neck so he would feel like Esau to his dear old, nearly blind and dying, dad.

And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man... And Rebekah ... put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck... And he came unto his father, and said ... I am Esau thy first born. Genesis 27:11-19

So Esau was red and hairy all over his body. And God (according to a guy who had seen them both many times up close and personal) looks just like him.

(Which is kind of strange, since God hates Esau.)

So now we know what God looks like.

Unless, of course, Jacob was a liar.
(Which he was. That's why God like him so much.)