Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

How Many People Did God Slaughter in the Bible?

In Freethought on July 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

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Biblical Kill Count…

God: 2,821,364
The Devil: 10

From HEMANT MEHTA
Patheos

Steve Wells is the author of the brilliant Skeptics Annotated Bible website. It was only a few months ago when he published a print version of the site — a massive tome that chronicles the messed up shit in the holiest of books.

Now, Wells is back documenting something else just as interesting. For years, he has been blogging about the people God kills in the Bible.

How many people are we talking about? Wells knows the answer, to the best of anyone’s knowledge.

His latest book, detailing God’s loving, caring bloodlust, is called Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible (the completely revised second edition):

Each chapter in the book describes a killing. When death estimates are required, Wells offers an educated guess and explains how his numbers aren’t just being pulled out of nowhere.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction of the book:

In January of 2009, I started to document God’s killings at my blog,Dwindling in Unbelief. I began with Genesis and worked my way through the Bible, writing a post for each killing event and keeping a running count of the number of victims as I went along. I don’t think it had ever been done before, which is a shame, since God is so proud of his killings.

You don’t believe me? Well, here, I’ll let him tell you directly.

I kill … I wound … I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.Deuteronomy 32.39-42

Bible believers, on the other hand, are less proud of God’s killings. Oh, they like a few of them — Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jericho — those that can be made (with considerable dishonesty) into cute children’s stories. But the rest are either completely ignored or completely unknown to believers.

I believe that most believers would stop believing in the Bible if they knew what was in it. And this is particularly true of God’s killings. All of the stories are absurd from a historical standpoint; they could not have happened the way they are told in the Bible. But what is even more damning is their unspeakable cruelty and obvious immorality. If the killings described in this book actually happened, then the God of the Bible is not the kind of god that believers pretend him to be.

In this book, I’ve tried to count all of God’s killings: those that are numbered in the Bible and those that are not; the ones that God did himself; those that he instructed others to do; and those that, while he may not have taken an active role in, met with his approval.

Of course, some killings are easier to count than others. When God burned to death 250 men for burning incense in Numbers 16.35, we know how many were killed. But how many did God drown in the flood or burn to death in Sodom and Gomorrah? How many first-born Egyptian children did he kill? There’s just no way to know for sure.

So I have two tallies: one for the killings in which numbers are given in the Bible, excluding the others; and another that uses both the biblical numbers and estimates when numbers are absent.

But what about the killings that God apparently approved of, but didn’t take an active role in?

Take the story in 1 Samuel 18.25-28, for example, in which David buys his first wife with 200 Philistine foreskins (Killing 70). Did God approve of that killing?

Well, yes he did, if you believe the Bible, that is. God approved of everything David did, including all of his killings, with only one exception: the killing of Uriah. How do we know this? Because it says so in the Bible.

David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 1 Kings 15:5

Drunk with Blood includes a separate account for each of God’s 158 killings. They are presented in the order that they occur in the Bible, along with the number killed, either the Bible’s number or an estimate, or both. In each account, I’ve made an effort to quote enough of the actual story from the Bible (using the King James Version) to make it unnecessary to refer to the Bible itself. Still, I encourage everyone to read these stories in the Bible. It is nearly impossible to believe in the Bible once you have read them.

How many did God kill?

Here’s the total, if you use only numbers that are provided in the Bible: 2,821,364.

Who has killed more, Satan or God?

How many did Satan kill in the Bible?

I can only find ten, and even these he shares with God, since God allowed him to do it as a part of a bet. I’m talking about the seven sons and three daughters of Job (Killing 133).

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job…And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. Job 1.1-2

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD … put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 1.8-12

And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house … And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead. 1.13-19

So it seems that both Satan and God share the blame (or the credit) for killing Job’s children. If so, then the tally would be:

God: 2,821,364

Satan: 10

Estimated totals

When the Bible doesn’t say how many were killed, I try to provide a reasonable estimate.

For example, the Bible says that Job’s ten children were killed in God and Satan’s bet. The Bible also says that all of Job’s slaves were killed, though it doesn’t say how many slaves Job owned. But since he was a wealthy man (“the greatest of all the men of the east”), he must have owned many slaves. So I guessed that fifty slaves were killed, and I gave both Satan and God credit for their killings.

I made similar estimates for the other killings when a number was not provided in the Bible. I tried to give an idea of my thinking for each estimate at the end of each killing account.

When there was no clear way to get a number directly from the Bible itself, I used estimates from Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones’Atlas of World Population History.

Using these estimates, I came up with the following grand totals for the number killed by God and Satan in the Bible:

God: Approximately 25 million

Satan: 60

The Apocryphal Killings

The “Apocrypha” (or “Deuterocanonical Books”) are considered sacred scripture by more than a billion Christians, members of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic churches. Another billion or so (the Protestants) consider them non-canonical and exclude them from the Bible. It’s one of the many things that divides the followers of Jesus, contrary to Jesus’s prayer in John 17.21.

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

From which we can conclude two things:

1. Nothing fails like prayer (even when Jesus does the praying), and

2. God didn’t send Jesus.

But whatever their canonical status might be (I’ll let the Christian’s fight that out), there are many impressive killings in these disputed books — killings that were inspired, commanded, or performed by God, and therefore deserve to be included in this book.

So I’ve added another chapter to the second edition of “Drunk With Blood,” which I guess could now be called, “Drunk With Blood: The Catholic Edition.”

(I used the Douay-Reims Version for the Apocryphal killings since that translation is in the public domain and is the traditional Roman Catholic translation of the Bible.)

The book also includes a several-page-long catalogue of all the killings, with both the actual numbers in the Bible and Wells’ estimates when the Bible is unclear:

Just like Wells’ other project, this is a wealth of knowledge for anyone who has a desire to show the bad side of the Good Book. Drunk with Blood is now available, so check it out!
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