Violence in the OT



It is me again with my questions, haha. Please bear with me. :slight_smile:

Can someone explain to me why God is very very angry, wrathful and downright hateful in the OT?

Reading through the most of the NT I say: Oh, well, he is a nice guy and I would gladly be associated with him. Reading some of the OT I really go back to my earlier state! He is hateful and very unjust.

For example why will God puish an entire nation for the sins of its king and handful of wrong doers responsible for the enslavement and Ill treatment of the Jews.

Why would God cause the killing of 3,000 Jews because they worshipped another God? How is that any different from Islam’s Hadd Al Reda ,(Killing of apostates).

Why would the merciful God exterminate the Caananites and kill even women and children! Guys, even the messed up Mohamed daren’t do such a horrile thing.

Why would he kill Uzzah, yes he broke the law, but why should this award death?

Why many mitzvots in the OT ends with you will die, too many deaths for a deity.

I left Islam because it had some thirst for violence and killing . Why should I believe in a religion that preaches the same.

From my earlier discussion here, I guess you don’t believe the Bible to be infallible as opposed to fundamentalist Christians.

So I guess you would come up with much better ‘justifications’ and so.

Also, is there a way to get in touch with a Catholic priest and Apologetic?

Thank you for your patience.


Sacred Scripture is called Revelation and is taken as a whole. The parts are not independent of each other and God reveals His nature progressively. So conclusions are not to be drawn from preceding parts without taking subsequent parts to give context. Jesus Christ dying on the Cross to redeem us out of love gives the conclusions under which preceding parts of the old testament are to be read.


Our Lord Jesus does not preach violence. To the contrary, we should be humble and meek for God has power over everything and we depend upon Him. We are ordered to love our enemies and do upon them as we wish others to do upon us. We are also ordered to turn the other cheek to the one slapping us, walk with him two miles if he wants us to walk one mile, and give our tunic if he wants our cape. [Lucas 6:27-38]

As for everything else, God serves justice. And the old testament reminds us justice can be terrible. We are also reminded Our God delights in repentance, penitence, contrition, and wants nothing more than for a sinner to return to Him.

Every Catholic is required to believe the infallibility of the bible. Understanding the bible is at times not evident.


How does that make the killing of innocents and children anything less barbaric?
The details are just gruesome.

I want to believe, but I can’t fool myself anymore.


This much I adore and love, but that is just Jesus.

If it is only justice, he’s always overreacting. He kills too much.

I meant the literal truth, that it is not metaphors and poetry.


There is a similar thread going on in #apologetics:sacred-scripture

This is what I said there:


It’s all good! :+1:

You’ve already gotten some good answers here, so I won’t repeat them.

From a personal perspective, though, I see the descriptions of God and His actions in the OT as the lens through which the people of the OT perceived God. They didn’t understand Him as well as the people of the NT did, or as we do.

Catholics absolutely believe that the Bible is ‘inerrant’, just like other Christians. However, Catholics don’t believe that every word, every verse in the Bible is meant to be taken literalistically. Rather, we understand that there are various genres of literature in the Bible, and each is understood in its own context.

You could always look up your local parish priest! If you’re just learning the faith, perhaps you could participate in an RCIA program or some adult catechetical program in your parish or diocese?


I do not at all mean to be patronizing, but reading the Bible to see whether or not God conforms to your expectations is precisely the wrong way to go about it. The whole point of faith is to conform our thinking to God’s, not the other way around.

There are perfectly good explanations for all of the things you mentioned, but this is the more fundamental point. You should try to see if the faith is true, not whether it is palatable to your pre-existing notions.


Thanks a lot.

That means that God changes? What does my understanding of God have to do with him doing evil or Good? If he did evil he is evil, if good he is good. Our understanding is irrelevant.

I meant you don’t believe that it is literally true or to the word. There’s some wiggle area here.
So are these horrific passages in the Bible are literature or literally true?
The genocide of Canaanites, the killing of 42 children because they made fun of a bald prophet. and every other horrific instance.

There’s no Catholic parishes near me. I am from Egypt.


If God doesn’t make sense to me or he’s very contradicting in himself, then how can believe in him? With your reasoning every one faith will say the same thing and we will lose every way to discuss these things. I’m not wanting him to conform to my expectations. I want him to conform to universal expectation of a good and just deity, who cares and will not kill and order genocide as many false Gods did.

I want these perfectly Good explanations and which makes it very different from any genocide committed by Mohamed, Hitler or any other tyrant. I am trying to see whether the faith is true or not, and I’m putting my assumptions aside.


No… it means that the human understanding of God changes, as His revelation becomes known and understood.

Right. And, I think that in all these cases, we can see that God is not evil. You mention a few; let’s look at them…

Are you talking about God commanding that the Israelites put the Amelekites to death (1 Samuel 15)? There’s context to this conflict, as well as an interesting footnote…

The first time we encounter the Amalekites is as the people of God are approaching the Promised Land, after being freed from slavery. We see that the Amalekites attack Israel (Exodus 17). At the end of that narrative, we see the following:

“Then the LORD said to Moses: 'Write this down in a book as something to be remembered, and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.'
Moses built an altar there, which he named Yahweh-nissi; for he said, ‘Take up the banner of the LORD! The LORD has a war against Amalek through the ages.’”

So, we already see that the Amalekites are hostile to the Israelites and to their claims to the Promised Land.

Then, in 1 Samuel 15, God commands Saul to wipe out the Amalekites. Did he, though? Look later on, in 1 Samuel 30, in the time of David:

“Before David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had raided the Negeb and Ziklag. They stormed Ziklag, and set it on fire. They took captive the women and all who were in the city, young and old, killing no one, and they herded them off when they left. David and his men arrived at the city to find it burned to the ground and their wives, sons, and daughters taken captive.”

Two things to note: first, Saul obviously did not commit genocide against the Amalekites, if they were still around in his successor’s time!

Second, note the behavior of the Amalekites: they took whole cities and enslaved them.

I think it would be more fair to say that God, knowing the Amalekites and their proclivities, was attempting to spare the lives of the Israelites.

This was the action of Elisha, not God, right?

There are sections that we take to be “literally true”, and other sections which we do not. :man_shrugging:

Hmm… there’s no Coptic Catholic parish near you?


Needing beliefs about God to make sense is perfectly fine. The issue is with judging God’s decisions to be wrong, which is the height of arrogance.

When I spoke of wanting God to conform to your expectations, I was using the general “you”. That many (obviously not everyone fwiw) also think it right to pass judgment on God does not change the arrogance of such a way of thinking. It simply means that it is common.

God is the author of human life and has the right to take it back. There’s obviously nothing at all wrong with God killing people directly (as in the slaughter of the firstborn), nor is their any cogent reason why, in a particular case, God couldn’t delegate that task to human beings.


Are you sure you’re not making yourself God by trying to say that God should conform to your standards?


Simply put, human beings have inadequate and imperfect understandings of God’s will.
God does not change.
God cannot do evil.
Human beings do evil, and human beings cast onto God our own understandings of how God acts. Scripture is full of this human element, by definition.

Christians trust that God communicates his will even through the chaos and contradiction that is humanity.


It is incompatible with God’s self revelation that he would, in literalist fashion, will and command one human being to kill another innocent human being.


I like your view on bible studies, above the norm !! Also, I liked you pointing out that those writing the bible were obviously under guidance of the Holy Spirit (to safeguard against error of course, other times to inspire directly) and nevertheless had their own way of seeing (and interpreting) things in their historical context that reflected on the elaboration of Sacred Scripture as we see it today.


The OT is a history of the Jewish people…it was violent.

On the Other hand, the NT is a history of Christianity…not so violent.


@Raafat , this is much more complex than 1 single sentence (more than it seems.)

First, this is about sin. Sin against an older man, sin against a wise man, sin against a man of good, a man of God.

Second, God is revealing Himself, and in this is teaching us (with an example) the cost of sin. But we only get to understand sin (consequences of sin) as the bible evolves until Jesus. And in every book of the bible we are given to see sin (and consequences) as a whole. This episode is only one part about sin.

Third, when you commit sin (in this life) you pay a price (in this life). When you sin against your wife, against your son, against your father, against your neighbor or enemy, sin against God. You pay a price.

Forth, latter in the bible we understand that God forgives us, but we must pay the price in this life (through indulgence God can even avoid that we pay the price in this life.)

Fifth, the price of sin follows naturally, if you smoke, if you drink, if you do drugs, if you commit adultery and catch a disease, you will pay the price in this life (only God through indulgence can avoid that we pay consequences.)

Sixth, the episode of the 42 children is there to remind us that when we sin against a man we should respect (our father or mother) the consequence of sin is death. Your mother or father tell you to be a good man, you disobey by smoking, drinking, being lazy or arrogant, you will pay a price in this life. The price is death!! Your health and well being (your family) -your body- will suffer. That much is just nature - the price of sin.

Seventh, when God wants to teach us a lesson (the bible is a very special example) God made everything and the will of God is Holy (second lesson of that episode) - God does not want us to sin. God is not unjust in this, God made the world, God made those children, and very likely God even gave eternal life in heaven to those children. So God was not unjust or cruel, we profited the lesson and the children are in heaven (and the children owe everything to God, their life both temporal and eternal.)


It’s important to understand the context of the situation. Many of the passages have spiritual or typographical meaning.

For instance, what is a king today, and what is a king in the past? Is he representative of the whole of Israel? Did he have the chance to do as the perfect Jesus does and take on the punishment of shame for the punishment of Israel?
Do you understand the exaggeration of Ancient near eastern war texts?
Do you realize that the Jews were under a VERY difficult and specific law code for a specific purpose, and had a covenant with God to this end, and thus had a strict temporal judgement?

Do you realize the ANE law codes were made to haggle, and that though all the PUNISHMENTS for SIN is DEATH (hint hint), you usually just got off with a fine with the exception of murder?

Etc etc.

But we can have trust in God as He is just. He is God, and if He were a man, you don’t have to worry about how He acts because we know already.


It’s good to note that this is an equal opportunity admonishment that can apply to both relativist and fundamentalist leanings.

Literalist readings of Scripture confine God to the individual’s on-the-spot conception of the written word. It’s an expression of modernism.
God is not confined by scripture, Scripture reveals him in human words.
And the fullness of all revelation is in Christ.

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