02 April 2010

A List of God-Approved Killings in the Bible

This is a list of the God-approved killings in the Bible. It does not include the killings that God performed himself or those in which he took an active role. (See here for a complete list of those killings.)

I've already posted about some of the killings (see links in the table), and I'll be adding more later to explain how we know that God approved of these killings. Eventually, I'll combine the lists to show all of God's killings, those that he approved of and those that he did himself.

Killing Event Scriptural reference Biblical number Estimate
1 Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad Jg 3.31 600 600
2 42,000 killed for failing the "shibboleth" test Jg 12.4-7, Heb 11.32 42,000 42,000
3 The massacre of the peaceful, unsuspecting people Jg 18.27 - 1,000
4 The End of Judges: Two genocides and 200 stolen virgins Jg 21.10-14 - 10,000
5 34,000 Israelites killed so that God could kill Eli's sons 1Sam 4.2-11 34,000 34,000
6 David or Elhanan killed Goliath 1Sam 17.51, 2Sam 21.19 1 1
7 David killed 200 Philistines for their foreskins (to buy his first wife) 1Sam 18.27 200 200
8 David slew the Philistines with a great slaughter 1Sam 19.8 - 10,000
9 David commited genocides for the Philistines 1Sam 27.8-11 - 50,000
10 David killed the messenger 2Sam 1.15 1 1
11 David killed Rechab and Baanah, cut off their hands and feet, and hung up their dead bodies 2Sam 4.12 2 2
12 David killed 2/3 Moabite POWs and enslaved the rest 2Sam 8.2 667
13 David killed 22,000 Syrians 2Sam 8.5 22,000 22,000
14 David killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt 2Sam 8.13, 1Kg 11.15-16, 1Chr 18.12 18,000 18,000
15 David killed 47,000 Syrians 2Sam 10.18, 1Chr 19.18 47,000 47,000
16 David's massacre of the Ammonites 2Sam 11.1, 1Chr 20.1 - 1,000
17 David's army killed 20,000 Israelites 2Sam 18.7 20,000 20,000
18 Adino killed 800 at one time with a spear 2Sam 23.8 800 800
19 Eleazar the son of Dodo smote the Philistines with a great slaughter 2Sam 23.9-10, 1Chr 11.12-14 - 1,000
20 Shammah slew the Philistines 2Sam 23.12 - 1,000
21 Abishai killed 300 with his spear 2Sam 23.18 300 300
22 Benaiah slew two lion-like men of Moah and a giant Egyptian 2Sam 23.20-21, 1Chr 11.22-23 3 3
23 Solomon carries out the deathbed wish of his father David by having Joab murdered 1Kg 2.29-34 1 1
24 Solomn has Shimei murdered (another of David's death bed wishes) 1Kg 2.44-46 1 1
25 Zimri burns to death 1Kg 16.18-19 1 1
26 Elijah kills 450 religious leaders in a prayer contest 1Kg 18.22-40 450 450
27 A skeptic is trampled to death 2Kg 7.2-20 1 1
28 Jehu killed Ahaziah's family 2Kg 10.12-13, 2Chr 22.7-9 42 42
29 Jehu assembles the followers of Baal and then slaughters them all 2Kg 10.18-25 - 1,000
30 Jehoiada killed Mattan the priest of Baal 2Kg 11.17-18 1 1
31 Athaliah 2Kg 11.20 1 1
32 Amaziah slew 10,000 Edomites 2Kg 14.7, 2Chr 25.11 10,000 10,000
33 Josiah killed all the priests of the high places 2Kg 23.20 - 100
34 Jashobeam killed 300 at one time with his spear 1Chr 11.11 300 300
35 Ahaziah of Judah 2Chr 22.7-9 1 1
36 Amaziah killed the people that killed his father 2Chr 25.3 - 10
37 Amaziah killed 10,000 Edomites 2Chr 25.11 10,000 10,000
38 Amaziah pushed 10,000 men off a cliff 2Chr 25.12 10,000 10,000
39 Amaziah 2Chr 25.27 1 1
40 Uzziah's wars 2Chr 26.3-7 - 3,000
41 Jotham's war with the Ammonites 2Chr 27.1-5 - 1,000
42 Esther hangs Haman and his ten sons Est 7.6-10 11 11
43 The Jews killed those who wanted to kill them Est 9.9-16 75,800 75,800
Total 291,518 371,295


Brucker said...

This list seems way too short, I've got to say. Really no approved killings before Judges without divine intervention?

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, Leor. I've added them. Let me know if I've missed any others.

Yeah, I agree, Brucker. I was surprised when I went through the first six books and couldn't find any more. Are there any in Genesis - Joshua that you think should be included?

Brucker said...

I don't know, Genesis 14 has a war that seems to be approved by God, but it doesn't explicitly say God approved, nor that anyone was killed. I can't think of anything else.

Brucker said...

Got it; how about Exodus 2:12? It's arguable. I don't see it as condoned, but Moses certianly never gets punished for it.

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, Brucker, Exodus 2:12 comes pretty close. I Exodus 4, God nearly kills Moses for not circumcising his son, but he doesn't say a thing when Moses murders an Egyptian.

Still, I'd like the text to be more explicit. It looks like God approves, but the case seems pretty weak.

Cristiano SamZZ said...

I think you could include Lazarus's death in this list, Steve.

Jesus knew he would die, and could save him, but he's chosen to wait for two days, so he could die, and use his death as a miracle.

John 11:6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

teavee said...

What about 2 Kings 6:28-29 and Lam 4:4-11 taking into account Lev 26:29 and Deu 28:53? Do they fit in here? They might deserve mention in some list.

twillight said...

Ever wondered what happened with the 200 philistean foreskin David gathered?

The Talmud reports this:
Saul thought it had no value, but David held, they'll be good for dogs and cats as food!

Unknown said...

Judges 15:8
2 Samuel 10:15-18
2 Samuel 18:7
2 Chronicles 15:9-15
1 Kings 12:18

Steve Wells said...

Leor: I thought about adding Judges 15:8, but I don't see how we can be sure that God approved of Samson's "great hip and thigh slaughter." But I probably missed something.

Steve Wells said...

Leor: I don't think I can count 2Chr 15.9-15, although it is an especially nasty passage: If you promise to kill non-believers, God will give you peace.

King Asa and the people took the oath and God blessed them for it. But did they actually kill anyone?

Steve Wells said...

Leor: I'm not sure about 1Kg 12:18. Did God approve of the stoning to death of Adoram or did the people just do it because they were pissed off?

Unknown said...

2Chr 15.9-15: Whoops. Apperantly I read this passage as it is described in the Brick Testament (that shows the bodies of the unbelievers).
1Kg 12:18: The people being pissed off thing was part of God's plan to split the kingdoms.

Matthew Blanchette said...

Brucker, in Genesis 14, Melchizedek did thank God for blessing the war; doesn't that count for something?

Also, what about the golden calf? God didn't raise a hubbub over all the people Moses killed; doesn't his silence on this matter mean that he implicitly approved of it?

teavee said...

(Got this from a NonStampCollector YouTube video) Jephthah's men of Gilead kill 42,000 (Judges 12:4-7). But Paul states approval (Hebrews 11:31-32). Would that count?

Steve Wells said...

It works for me, teavee. I've added the 42,000 that failed the famous "Shibboleth" test!


teavee said...

Just a thought, should non-God committed/approved (mentioned by others) but poorly justified killings by supposedly good people of God be included in the master list for completeness as yet another category?

And maybe a category for untimely accidental deaths like the tower collapse which might still be viewed as an act of God in some way.

It might also be interesting to see who gets to live to a ripe old age after taking part in many killings. So-and-so, age xxx, death: natural/murdered/God-smote, took part in yyy thousand deaths, survived by ....

Categories for killings/deaths might be God-committed, God-approved, other killings (unjustified, questionable, justified?), accidental, natural.

How much more effort would it take to categorize all of the interesting deaths in the Bible? Are there many more after God-committed/approved?

nazani said...

Over at Debunking Christianity, John Loftus has a partial list of the child sacrifices in the Bible. Don't forget the kids!

Matthew Blanchette said...

Does he include Jephthah's daughter in that list? "What a treasure hadst thou!"

Talisman said...

I heard that Satan Has only killed 1. Lot's wife.

Unknown said...

"David's slaughter of the Amalekites 2Sam 1:1"
It's not a god approved killing.
The text talks about God's 66th killing.

Steve Wells said...

Leor: Could you explain what you mean about 2Sam 1:1 a bit more?

Talisman: What did Satan have to do with Lot's wife. Maybe you're thinking of Job's children?

Unknown said...

"David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites" 2 Sam 1:1
The last story concerning David in 1 Sam was God's 66th where David slaughters some Amalekites.
I think that verse simply mentions this killing (in other words, David killed the messenger [2 Sam 1:15] shortly after that very slaughter).

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, you might be right about that, Leor.

Although the David's Amalekite massacre (#66) wasn't the last one in 1 Samuel. There was the Philistine one that killed Saul and his sons in chapter 31. But David didn't get to participate in that one (the Philistines didn't trust him to fight Israelites), so 2Sam 1.1 may well refer to #66. So I'll remove it from the God-approved list. (I don't want to count anything twice.)

skipper said...

And there I was thinking the Allah/Mohammed tag team was bad!

Dustin said...

Hey there, are these all 100% God approved killings? Specifically the ones King David committed? Thanks for your input!