Dark/Hard Passages of Scripture


Hey everyone. I need help in understanding the dark or hard passages of Scripture such as the ones when genocide was committed. There are also some very sexually explicit verses in the Bible such as this one that I need help with:

Yet she increased her whorings, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose emission was like that of stallions.
(Ezekiel 23:19-20 NRSV-CE)

Anyway, if you can provide some links which help to explain these verses, I’d really appreciate it.


Augustine was willing to read the Old Testament genocidal material allegorically.

The verse you posted from Ezekiel is, I believe, an allegorical description of Jerusalem, who is personified multiple times by Ezekiel as a prostitute or a promiscuous woman. The metaphor puts the sin of national idolatry in parallel with the personal sin of prostitution, and may be even more appropriate if some of the idolatrous rituals were also sexual in nature, as they sometimes were. Many prophets used the metaphor of prostitution to describe the sin of idolatry, including Hosea and Jeremiah, among others.

It is an especially powerful metaphor because Jerusalem is supposed to be “married” to God, but has begun worshipping other deities. Ezekiel explains the destruction of Jerusalem by foreign powers as the emotional, violent response of her divine husband, who feels deeply betrayed and humiliated on a personal level. This metaphor is revisited in Revelation, when a “Great Whore” is destroyed by a multi-headed beast that she has been unfaithful with.


Remember to look at the who chapter within context.

Obviously God here is referring to Israel as a nation but Jerusalem specifically , who was to be His bride as well as His first born son among the nations.

Judah was trying to establish their security by establishing political marriages with Babylon and Egypt rather than relying on God for their protection.

This necessarily lead to the royalty of Judah to approve of idolatrous worship of Babylon and Egypt.

The allusion to the abomination such actions are in God’s eyes as you see from the text.


But what about the genocidal parts of the Bible where entire civilizations including men, women, children, and even infants were killed? I know that Augustine read them allegorically but what if it really happened?


What do you mean by “genocide”?

Genocide as a term can only be applied to other humans. We do not have the right to take life because it is not ours to take no more than it is ours to give.

Even when we say that we give our lives to God we aren’t doing anything more or giving God anything more than is His due by rights. Everything ultimately belongs to God.

So God cannot commit “genocide” in any real sense. In the case of every human death he’s taking back what is rightfully His.

In the instances of those civilizations He may of in fact been saving them by taking their lives.

So if they really happened what can we really say to God? “You had no right”?

I think we need to take a lesson from Job.

Sometimes we get so familiar with God I think that we forget Who it is we are really talking to or about.


I’m not sure what passages of the Bible it is but there is documentation of the wholesale killing of all the Amalekites and Canaanites.


Yes there is.

But you have to ask the question “why”? God doesn’t will the death of anyone. What He does He does because He must.

What were the Amalekites and the Canaanites doing to invite God’s wrath.

And why did God enlist Israel in these deeds when He certainly could have taken care of it Himself?


I regard those parts of the Bible the same way I regard the story of Flood in Noah’s day. The main difference being that, instead of water, God’s chosen instrument of destruction was the swords of Israel. If anything, Israel is to be praised for carrying out the will of God. It is certainly God’s right, as Creator, to decide when and how his creatures die.

Remember, after death comes judgment, when God will punish the wicked with eternal punishment and reward the innocent and righteous with eternal joy, a joy that so surpasses the fleeting joys of this life that the innocent who die young ought to be regarded as not have missed much of anything.


Well, the number one thing that the Canaanites did was that they sacrificed their children to Moloch, and taught other people to do so. This was also done by the Phoenicians, and by the Phoenician colonists of North Africa, the Carthaginians. We know about this from archeological finds of bodies and furnace/kiln things used to burn babies alive, and we know about it from contemporary sources talking about this habit, which went on for centuries. The largest amount of literary evidence is from ancient Rome and Greece, chronicling Rome’s wars against Carthage. The Romans finally decided that the only thing to do with Carthage was to destroy every living human being who had worshipped Moloch in this way, and to salt the fields so nobody would ever live in Old Carthage again - and the Romans were pagans, if you recall.

So yes, they burned every firstborn baby son, or they were supposed to. If times were bad, apparently they would burn any babies on hand, or who hadn’t been burned when they were supposed to be.

There was at least one Israelite king who converted and “sent his children through the fire to Moloch.” The area where he did it was called the Valley of Gehinnom, or Gehenna. After he did it, the Gehinnom temple area could no longer be used for anything because the people of Israel regarded it as cursed, so they used it as a garbage dump.


Actually, the whole thing about the site where Carthage stood being sowed with salt is from the 19th century. Carthage was utterly destroyed by the Romans, yeah, but no ancient source ever said that the salt was sowed on the area. 19th century authors might have gotten that from the Old Testament.

There was at least one Israelite king who converted and “sent his children through the fire to Moloch.” The area where he did it was called the Valley of Gehinnom, or Gehenna. After he did it, the Gehinnom temple area could no longer be used for anything because the people of Israel regarded it as cursed, so they used it as a garbage dump.

That was Ahaz, I think.

Just a couple of minor nitpicks. We don’t really have any evidence for the common idea that there was a rubbish heap at the Hinnom Valley before the 13th-century French rabbi David Kimhi. That being said, there is evidence that the southwest shoulder of this valley (the Ketef Hinnom) was a burial location with numerous burial chambers that were reused by generations of families from as early as the 7th until the 7th century BC, continuing up to the 1st centuries BC and AD.

Also, the ancients never had the idea of clear-cut ‘conversion’ from one religion to the other the way we have. What often happened was that you simply incorporated, syncretized your new beliefs to your older one. That’s exactly what the Greeks and Romans did - they identified their gods with those of the people they encountered. Hence the reason why you have ‘Jupiter Sabazios’ (Jupiter + the Phrygian sky god Sabazios) or ‘Jupiter Ammon’ (Jupiter + the Egyptian god Ammon).

I don’t think the Israelites who were accused of idolatry in the Old Testament were in most cases actually consciously worshipping a god distinct from Yhwh. I think it’s more likely that (1) they tried to identify Yhwh with the gods of other nations and were offering a syncretic form of worship (“It’s all the same god anyway”); (2) that they a ‘national god’ mentality (Yhwh is the god of Israel, Qos is the god of Edom, Melqart is the god of Tyre, Moloch/Milcom is the god of the Ammonites, etc.), so for some reason or another - say, to ensure good relations with these nations - they might have felt a need to pay homage to their patron gods as well, but without repudiating their former beliefs (as in our modern ideas of ‘conversion’); or (3) a combination of both.


Jimmy Akin’s answer to this question

Consider also the concept of “divine accommodation” in which God permits lesser evils to raise up a nation, Israel, from immaturity to maturity.


Here are some videos by Fr. Barron that you might not only find helpful but also enjoy.:slight_smile:

God Bless you





But that begs the question of why God has not delivered any of his wrath to any of our current cities, (Remember, God DOES NOT EVER CHANGE), say, like San Francisco or Las Vegas, these cities have gotten to the point of being much worse than Sodom or Gomorrah, he destroyed those cities, burnt them to the ground, yet he does nothing to any of the earthly cities in todays world??? The only thing I can think of to explain this, is ‘TIME’…as in enough time has not passed for God to be so upset he is ready to destroy a city, but Im not sure if we know how long Sodom/ Gomorrah went on living as they did, before God decided to destroy them, but it couldnt have been that long…right?

Many people have said ‘If God does not destroy America, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah’…not sure if thats true, but it does make alot of sense.


The books of Numbers and Joshua pretty much chronicle this stuff. Seriously. Honestly, though, my personal opinion is that it goes back to the “golden calf” incident in Exodus. God saw that it was quite easy for the Israelites to fall back into pagan worship. My opinion is that God ordered the Israelites to kill all these people quite simply to try to make sure that the Israelites would stay faithful to Him.


The inhabitants of the Promised Land were wicked and practiced a religion that was abominable to God. That this had been the case long before the Israelites ever encountered them is clear from a vision God gave Abraham hundreds of years before:

13* Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years; 14 but I will bring judgment on the nation which they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:13-16)

The Amorites were just one of the peoples in the land, but they were representative of all the people that dwelt there. God of course knew everything about them and, knowing what we do of God’s mercy, we can be sure that he gave them every kind of opportunity to repent in some way (just as he did with Nineveh by sending them Jonah). By the time the Israelites arrived, however, their “iniquity was complete” and God used the Israelites as an instrument of his judgment.

It is also worth remembering that in those primitive times, herem (total) warfare was the norm, rather than the exception. For obvious reasons, the Israelites (who were little more than a loose confederation of nomadic clans at that point) could ill afford to have an enemy population living among them.


In that case he had no justification for doing so.

It did really happen and was commanded by God. God’s commands are always righteous; they were destroyed simply because they were evil.

Here ya go:

“13 Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 And Moses said to them, “Have you [c]spared all the women? 16 Behold, these [d]caused the sons of Israel, through the [e]counsel of Balaam, to [f]trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man [g]intimately. 18 But all the [h]girls who have not known man *intimately, [j]spare for yourselves.” Num. 31:13-18 (NASB)

“32 “Then Sihon [v]with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz. 33 The Lord our God delivered him [w]over to us, and we [x]defeated him with his sons and all his people. 34 So we captured all his cities at that time and [y]utterly destroyed [z]the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor.” Deut. 2:32-34 (NASB)

“3 So the Lord our God delivered Og also, king of Bashan, with all his people into our hand, and we smote them until no survivor was [c]left. 4 We captured all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we did not take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates and bars, besides a great many [d]unwalled towns. 6 We [e]utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, [f]utterly destroying [g]the men, women and children of every city.” Deut. 3:3-6 (NASB)

“Then Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the [a]words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”” 1 Sam. 15:1-3 (NASB)

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you [a]defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.” Deut. 7:1-2 (NASB)

“3 Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the [c]temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. 4 The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” 5 But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. 6 [d]Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.”” Ezek. 9:3-6 (NASB)*


Here is a very fine explanation.



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