Violence in the OT


Have you read the passages where Jesus says it is better to cut your hand off if it causes you to sin than to go to hell with your body intact?

Have you read the book of revelation? It’s “eerily” similar to the Old Testament. It’s the same God, but a different Covenant.

This is not to say Jesus is someone you don’t want to be associated with, it’s just that He’s not as “easygoing” as many people imagine. He’s still not gonna put up with unrepentant sinners. If you deny Him in this life, you better believe you’ll have to live out the consequences of that in the the eternal afterlife. At the same time, the God of the Old Testament only punished unrepentant sinners. He sent prophets time and again because the people just would not listen to Him, and yet to this day He hasn’t forsaken us, in fact He sent his only son to redeem us.

You don’t punish your son or daughter when they’re 25 like when they were 3 but that doesn’t mean you’ve gone soft, it means your relationship has matured and changed.


On the contrary, God commanded Abraham to kill his son Isaac. He also commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites and Amalekites.


And you believe these passages, in literalist fashion, represent God’s will for human beings to kill one another?
Is that correct?


I accept that what was clearly intended to describe actual historical events is an accurate account of them.


Are you also a six day creationist?
Do you believe there is a hammered metal dome in the sky?
But these are literal events in the bible. You should be consistent.


I think I’ve demonstrated the point to the satisfaction of a reasonable person.

If there are any reasonable persons who don’t understand something I said feel free to ask for clarification.


I’m asking for clarification. You seem to accept that God literally wills the slaughter of innocent people because “the bible is historical”. So this is my direct and simple question to you:

Are you also a six day creationist?
Do you believe there is a hammered metal dome in the sky?
But these are literal events in the bible. You should be consistent.


Well if he created us in his image, then the general “you” is his expectations as well. I guess sin made us harder, but the soft spots in us are the original blueprint. How can God contradict himself and justice as such?

But he doesn’t want it, and as sentient beings we’re not to be treated like objects. We feel, care and know. Why is it so much morally wrong to kill a human without a reason than to kill smash a rock?


Violent passages fall in which pin?

No, I’m not making myself God. I’m judging him by his standards.

But what if God is the cause of this chaos?

Can one use this to say that it really didn’t happen? It just a gory image to make a point?

If the Jews are to blamed then it is OK, what about violence seemingly caused by God?


I don’t have anything against your interpretation about the meaning of the story. my concern is that if it indeed happened that way, one can say that Elisha was just oversensitive and that God is as well. But now, the consequence of sin here is much more exaggerated. We don’t throw disobedient children to a cage full of she-bears, do we?

I agree with you but that’s not my point. How can God be just if the episode as it told like this happened indeed?


But for the most part it is a story, not an actual event that happened. It has other meanings other than face values.

I don’t treat children of different ages the same way, but that doesn’t mean I become extra harsh when they’re little.


It is to be taken like this: God will not be mocked (that is said latter in the bible). And that is a warning for us for our own good. But what is more, as the bible progresses through its 73 books the prophets also change. At the time of Elias and Elijah prophets did powerful signs with God operating miracles through them and in their favor. The parts where God does feel wrath -one of the human characteristics that are imparted to God is that He can be irritated and offended- are sometimes accompanied by powerful punishment.

You have to understand Our God is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, in the Old Testament the Son has no yet come to redeem the world and neither has the Holy Spirit to give us consolation. So you could say, that in the story of Elijah we are not yet seeing the complete nature of God as God himself chooses to reveal Himself completely.

So, the prophets get successively less wrathful as Jesus in the new testament approaches. As if Jesus Christ, and only He, in His tremendous love, convinces the Father to forgive us for our offenses. And you can also see that the miracles of Jesus are the most powerful and beautiful with the resurrection being the most important one.

What you can see, is that we can offend God. But as the bible develops and we are given to better understand the nature of God we understand God’s mercy takes precedence over his justice.

The episode of Elijah can be seen as an example of God’s wrath before Jesus came to fulfill much of our understanding about God’s love and mercy.


The question isn’t ‘violence’, but rather, ‘unjust acts’, isn’t it? After all, violence in defense against an aggressor isn’t something to rail against, is it?


What are his standards?


What don’t you find just about it? And which episode (there were multiple)?

We can take it one at a time if you have multiple reasons.


You mean the Book of Revelation? It’s about something that will happen: the second coming of Christ. And it says Jesus will rule the world with the sword of his mouth and will cast unrepentant sinners to hell, there’s nothing figurative about that. God has not changed, but He has now revealed himself in full glory to us by a sending Jesus to us, so the way we relate to Him has changed, His hate for sin has not.

I’ve always been told God gave Israel every chance to repent, and yet they worshipped idols of fake pagan gods and sinned time and again against the Lord. Israel was given many chances to learn the easy way, but they turned their backs on that, so God made them learn the hard way. It’s just like a father and his children, if kids keep ignoring everything the father says eventually he’s gonna use tough love to educate his children. God is the same, except He has to deal with a whole people and He has infinitely more patience, hence why humanity still exists despite denying him constantly.

And also bear in mind there are many instances of God’s love in the OT too. He never broke His promises and never abandoned His people. Just think about books like proverbs, Song of Songs or Sirach. They were written by vey observant Jews who were very familiar with scripture, notice that at no time do they reach the conclusion that God is harsh or angry or evil, they always praise His mercy, benevolence and love for the meek and humble.


Contrary to other attempts above, I think the Elisha story in particular can be explained just by looking a bit into the context and paying some attention to the original Hebrew. As far as I recall, the term used for children (na`arim) is actually a general term for “youth / young man,” The closest English equivalent is the word “guy”. I don’t think these were little kids, but more likely teens to young adults. Second, Elisha became prophet at a time when there was basically a search and kill warrant by the queen Jezebel for prophets of the true God as opposed to Baal. He had just succeeded Elijah, and the taunt isn’t just calling him a baldy, but also saying to “go up” like Elijah did, so they know that he is also a prophet, and in particular the successor of Elijah. Imagine you are such a prophet, and you’re walking along a road and what looks like a gang of youths/ young men is approaching you from the city where you are headed with hostility, at a time where there was a death threat hanging over your head. Does it look like an overreaction now? Or does it not look more like God was protecting Elisha from death?

I would say that in general, if you run into a disturbing passage that does not make sense of God’s actions, before anything else, it’s good first to get a sense of not just the context, but even some of the linguistic issues involved, because often times, particular episodes may seem like they say one thing, but are in fact saying something significantly different. The RSV translation I have in front of me uses the term “small boys”, but this is an interpretation, not a translation.

If you still, even after evaluating the actually meaning of the passage and the context, are still disturbed, then you can consider some of the more theological issues, but try to do this first.


I don’t see any grounds for holding that any of our emotions are standards by which to judge God. As you said, we’re corrupted by sin. There’s no reason to think that this corruption exclusively causes us to err in one direction, even if it mainly does so.

Are you claiming that the act of intentional homicide always involves treating another person as an object? There are never just reasons for it?


Your question is the standard Muslim attack on the Old Testament. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding. The Bible is NOT the Qur’an. It is NOT the word-for-word uncreated word of God that was passed word-for-word to a prophet who recited the exact words (which–theoretically–were then written down). The Bible is revelation: God is communicating with man. But WHAT is He communicating?

You need to read two things (it would take 10 minutes). 1) Dei Verbum, a report of Vatican II. 2) Sections 109 + 110 of the Catechsim.

They say the same thing in slightly different words. I will quote from the Catechism:

“In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.

In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current. ‘For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.’”

So let’s take one of your examples: God exterminates the Cananites. (Actually, the Lebanese are genetic descendants of the Cananites, so they weren’t exactly exterminated, but that’s another issue). What is the point of the story? What did God want to reveal to us? Murder is a good thing? Of course not. We should kill all our enemies? Of course not. So what is it? We should obey God. God will help us if we ask him. God will provide for us. These are the messages, and you could probably think of a few more. All the other stuff? Details. It makes a nice story. But it’s not an essential part of the message. So why put it in? “Conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current.”

If someone were trying to give the same message today, he would tell an entirely different story. But it would be the same message. And that’s the point.

So instead of worrying about all the details–which don’t matter–you should ask yourself: “What is the point of this story? What is God trying to tell us?” And then use common sense.


The notion that the author of the Pentateuch did not intend to convey historical details when giving accounts of Israel’s wars is prima facie absurd. I don’t see how this can be disputed.


The idea that the author(s) of the Old Testament was writing a history book is absurd. I don’t see how this can be disputed.

Faulkner was once asked what his story “The Bear” was about. He answered in one word: “Christ.” The rest was detail.

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