Τρίτη, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012

Bible passages-Mass murder and genocide and mass infanticide


Bible passages that appear immoral today

Part 2 of 5: Mass murder and genocide


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Topics covered in this essay:


bulletActs of mass murder and genocide:
bulletThe flood of Noah
bulletGenocide of the residents of Canaan
bulletGenocide of the Geshurites, Gezirites, and Amalekites

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The flood of Noah:

Genesis 6:5-9:
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
God is described as having created the earth, mankind, other living things, and the rest of the universe in the early chapters of Genesis. But he apparently was unable to foresee the future behavior of his creations. In particular, He did not predict the degree of wickedness that mankind would exhibit. He regretted his decision to create mankind. So he decided to commit the ultimate act of genocide, by murdering the entire human race: men, women, children, infants and newborns. God decided to exterminate people by drowning - a slow and painful way to die. He allowed Noah to survive, along with Noah's wife, his three sons and their wives. But the Bible states that the rest of the human race were wiped out, including young children and infants who had not reached the age of accountability.
In the 20th century, the most serious acts of genocide involved less than 1% of the human population. Examples are: the extermination of the Armenian minority in Turkey, the extermination of Jews, Roma (Gypsies) and others by the Nazis, the extermination of the ethnic Albanians by the Serbs in Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. The perpetrators have become the most hated of people. But the genocide resulting from the great flood is far more serious. It is recorded as having destroyed over 99% of the human race, leaving only eight humans alive.
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Genocide of the residents of Canaan:

The Israelites invaded Canaan and, under God's instructions, exterminated seven nations in widespread acts of genocide: the Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites,  Hivites, and Jebusites. They continued to commit genocide against other groups.
Deuteronomy 7:1-2:
"... the seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them."
Joshua 6:21:
"And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
This latter passage describes one event in the invasion of Canaan by the ancient Israelites. After the walls of the city of Jericho fell, the soldiers ran into the city, and murdered all its inhabitants: elderly men and women, mature men and women, pregnant women, youths, boys, girls, infants and newborns. Their goal was to entirely wipe out the Canaanite culture by destroying its people; this is one definition of genocide. Incidentally, the people were butchered by the edge of the sword, because the weapons did not have pointed ends.
Joshua 10:40-41:
"So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon." 
As recorded in Joshua 11:19-23, God had "hardened the hearts" of the Canaanites, so that all but one city attempted to fight the Hebrews in battle. The sole exception were the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. "As the LORD commanded Moses", all of the rest were defeated in battle; their cities and populations were destroyed. This included people of all ages: men, women children, infants and newborns.
Genocides and other extreme atrocities are recorded in:
bulletGenesis 19: - Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for being:
bulletUncharitable to their widows, children and poor
bulletAbusive to strangers.
More details [BELOW]

bulletJoshua 8:24 - City of Ai
bulletJoshua 10:26 - Joshua murdered five defenseless kings of the Amorites in cold blood.
bulletJoshua 10:28 - City of Makkedah
bulletJoshua 10:29 - City of Libnah
bulletJoshua 10:31 - City of Lachish
bulletJoshua 10:33 - City of Gezer "...Joshua smote him and his people until he had left him none remaining."
bulletJoshua 10:34 - City of Elgon "They left none remaining."
bulletJoshua 10:37 - City of Hebron
bulletJoshua 10:38 - City of Debir
bulletNumbers 21:2-3 - City of Hormah
bulletNumbers 21:33-35: Land of Bashan "...they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land."
bulletDeuteronomy 2:21-24: The Ammonite, Horim, and Avim people.
bulletDeuteronomy 2:26-35 - Land of Heshbon "...we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain.
bulletJudges 4:16 - City of Sisera
Acts of genocide are condemned by all religions and secular groups and by the international community. 
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Genocide of the Geshurites, Gezirites, and Amalekites:

1 Samuel 27:8-9:
"And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites ... And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel. And David saved neither man nor woman alive"
The Living Bible translates verse 9 as saying "They didn't leave one person alive." David and his men apparently stole the animals and clothing, while killing all the people: the elderly, men, women, youths, children, infants and newborns.
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About the biblical story of Sodom & Gomorrah: 

Genesis 19

Why did God destroy the
city of Sodom & its people?

What was the sin of Sodom according to Genesis 19?

The text of Genesis 19 implies that God approved of Lot's behavior, even though he made an offer of his virgin daughters to be raped. This approval would have been extended to Lot's family as well. But God apparently had a fierce anger directed at the other inhabitants of the town. He destroyed Sodom with fire and brimstone (sulfur) dumped from above. According to the story, he killed all of the men and women of Sodom, as well as all the innocent children, infants, newborns, etc. who lived in the city. This is one more example of a theme that runs throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation: transferring the punishment from guilty people to innocent people. This is commonly called "scapegoating" and is condemned in all major religions.
It is unclear from this brief passage in Genesis why God demolished the city. The following theories  have been advanced.
The people of Sodom:
  1. Engaged in consensual homosexual acts -- a same-sex orgy in this case. This is the belief of most conservative Christians. This option seems unlikely because:
    • Genesis 19:5 said that all of the men (perhaps all of the people) of Sodom formed the mob at Lot's house and demanded to "know" the angels. The percentage of homosexuals in a typical group of male adults is generally around 5%, not 100%.
    • Also, Lot had lived in the city for some years and would have know if all of the men were homosexuals; he would hardly have offered to sacrifice his daughters to the mob if the men were entirely homosexual.
    • Finally, as noted above, if the men of Sodom were all homosexuals, there would be few if any children and widows in the city as are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.
       
  2. Were uncharitable and abusive to strangers, the poor, sick, and disadvantaged. In that society, a person had a very strong obligation to protect any guests in their home. Many liberal Christians believe that this is the meaning behind the story of the destruction of Sodom. This belief has considerable support in themany other references to Sodom in the Bible and Jewish literature.
     
  3. Wanted to humiliate their visitors by engaging in "an act of sexual degradation and male rape...These are acts of violence that are committed by parties seeking to show their hatred for those they are degrading. It is not an act of love or of caringSome theologians suggest that the sin of Sodom was the threat of mass rape.
     
  4. Wanted to engage in bestiality -- having sex with members of another species. The mob may have wanted to rape the angels; angels are not human beings; they are of a different species. This would be consistent with the frequently mistranslated verse in Jude about the men of Sodom going after "other flesh" or "strange flesh."
     
  5. Wanted to adsorb the power of the angels: In ancient times, sacred sex was very common. People would engage in sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes who represented a god or goddess. By doing so, the people believed that they would receive a blessing from the deity. If the people of Sodom realized that angels sent by God were present in their city, the men of Sodom may have concluded that raping the angels might give them supernatural powers. 2

What were the sins of Sodom according to other biblical passages that refer to the city:

A common procedure in biblical apologetics is to let the Bible interpret itself. Looking elsewhere in the Bible for references to Sodom may help us determine which of the four above interpretations is correct.
The interpretation of Genesis 19 as referring to a homosexual sin appears to have been created in the 11th century by the Italian ascetic St. Peter Damian. 3Christian theologians generally accepted this explanation until recently. In fact, the English word sodomy, which popularly means either homosexual or heterosexual anal intercourse, was derived from the name of the city. The term "sodomy" is also used in some ancient laws to refer to a variety of sexual behaviors in addition to heterosexual intercourse. Some of these laws are still on the books although the U.S. Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2003-JUN as part of its Lawrence v. Texas decision.
Opinion among most liberal and mainline Christian and Jewish theologians has now reverted to the original Christian belief that Genesis 19 refers to a lack of charity and to ill treatment of strangers. Consider:
bulletIn ancient Jewish literature, such as the Ethics of the Fathers and the Talmud, there are many references to Sodom. The phrase "middat Sdom" was used. It may be translated as "the way the people of Sodom thought". It meant a lack of charity and hospitality towards others; ignoring the needs of the poor, etc. In the Middle East, a person's survival could depend upon the charity of strangers. To help strangers was a solemn religious duty of paramount importance. See Leviticus 19:33-34 and Matthew 25:35, 38 and 43.
bulletIsaiah 1; The entire first chapter is an utter condemnation of Judah. They are repeatedly compared with Sodom and Gomorrah in their evildoing and depravity. Throughout the chapter, the Prophet lists many sins of the people: rebelling against God, lacking in knowledge, deserting the Lord, idolatry, engaging in meaningless religious ritual, being unjust and oppressive to others, being insensitive to the needs of widows and orphans, committing murder, accepting bribes, etc. There is no reference to homosexuality or to any other sexual activities at all.
bulletJeremiah 23:14:"...among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah." Jeremiah compares the actions of the prophets with the adultery, lying and evil of the people of Sodom. Homosexual activity is not mentioned.
bulletEzekeiel 16:49-50:"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen." God states clearly that he destroyed Sodom's sins because of their pride, their excess of food while the poor and needy suffered; sexual activity is not even mentioned.
bulletMatthew 10:14-15: Jesus implied that the sin of the people of Sodom was to be inhospitable to strangers.
bulletLuke 10:7-16: This is parallel passage to the verses from Matthew.
bullet2 Peter 6-8: Peter mentions that God destroyed the adults and children of Sodom because the former were ungodly, unprincipled and lawless.
bulletJude, Verse 7: Jude disagreed with Jesus and Ezekeiel; he wrote that Sodom's sins were sexual in nature. Various biblical translations of this passage in Jude describe the sin as: fornication, going after strange flesh, sexual immorality, perverted sensuality, homosexuality, lust of every kind, immoral acts andunnatural lust. It looks as if the translators were unclear of the meaning of the verse in its original Greek, and simply selected their favorite sin to attack. The original Greek is transliterated as: "sarkos heteras." This can be translated as "other flesh". Ironically, our English word "heterosexual" comes from "heteras."

A likely interpretation is that the author of Jude 4 criticized the men of Sodom for wanting to engage in sexual activities with angels. Angels are described in the Bible as a species of created beings who were different from humans. The sin of the people of Sodom would be that of bestiality. Another possibility is that the "other flesh" refers to cannibalism, which was a practice associated with early Canaanite culture. However, there is no mention in Genesis 19 about actually eating the angels.
On the other hand there are some passages which might imply that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality:
bulletJeremiah 49:18: Some conservative theologians have interpreted this verse as criticizing the inhabitants of Jerusalem for their sexual sins, and implying that they were like the men of Sodom.
bulletEzekeiel 16:50: Although the preceding verse describes Sodom's sins as pride, laziness, insensitivity to the needs of the poor, and haughtiness, verse 50 refers to the citizens of Sodom as having "committed abomination." The Hebrew word "to'ebah," translated here as "abomination," was used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) to refer to various ritually impure acts, such as Hebrews and Egyptians eating together, Hebrews eating lobster, shrimp, or snakes, sacrificing an animal in the temple that contained a blemish, women wearing men's clothing (e.g. pants), a man remarrying his former wife, etc. It was also used in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to condemn same-sex activity between two males. It is not known which "abomination(s)" occurred in Sodom, but it could conceivably have been same-gender sexual activity.

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Reb Gershon Caudill, "A Heterosexual Jewish Rebbe's View on the (Supposedly) Homosexual Texts in the Hebrew Bible," at: http://www.affirmation.org/
  2. "Elaine," "Sodom and Gomorrah," Gay Church, at: http://www.gaychurch.org/
  3. Father Basil Isaacs, "Proofx booklet", Fountain of Life Western Orthodox Church Catholic Mission. Available for $2.50 from 1928 E. Highland, Suite F104-142, Phoenix, AZ 85016.
  4. We refer to "the author of Jude" rather than use his name. This is because there is no consensus on the identity of the author. Conservative Christian theologians generally believe that the book was written by Jude, a brother of Jesus circa 67 to 73 CE. Liberal theologians generally believe that the author is unknown, and that the book was written some time after 100 CE.
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Part 3 of 5: Murder of children

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Topics covered in this essay:

bulletMurder of children:
bulletIsaac (near ritual murder)
bulletThe first-born of Egypt
bullet42 little children
bulletAn entire family
bulletThe Midianite children
bulletBabies of Babylon
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The near ritual murder involving Isaac:

In Genesis 22:1-18, God decided to test the depth of Abraham's faith. God ordered Abraham to travel to the top of a mountain in the land of Moriah, and there murder his own son, Isaac, as a human sacrifice. At the last minute, after Abraham had immobilized Isaac and laid him on a makeshift alter, as he was about to stab his son to death, an angel appeared and ordered Abraham to stop. A ram which was caught in a thicket was used as a substitute for Isaac.
The passage assumes that God is not omniscient, because he did not know the depth of faith of Abraham without testing him in this way. The immorality of this story is the massive traumatic stress that both Isaac, his father, and mother experienced during this event. Compounding this is the willingness of a father to murder his own son. It is doubtful that either would have been able to function fully normally afterwards.
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Mass murder of the first-born of Egypt:

Exodus 7:3:
"...I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt."
Exodus 7:13-14:
"And he [God] hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go."

Exodus 12:29-30:
 "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." 
God "hardened Pharaoh's heart" to prevent him from giving into the requests of Moses to release his people from slavery. Because God made the Egyptian ruler resistant to the idea of freeing the Israelites, the pharaoh ignored a variety of plagues. Finally, God killed the first born of all of the humans and cattle in Egypt, except for those of the Israelites who had ritually killed a male lamb and daubed its blood over the doorposts of their homes. The death toll must have been enormous, as every Pagan family was affected.
Mass murder of children is inexcusable by today's moral standards.
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Mass murder of 42 little children:

2 Kings 2:23-24:
"And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."
Elisha, a Prophet, was ridiculed by some little children who called him a name like "old baldy". Elisha laid a curse on them in God's name. God appears to have responded to the curse by sending two bears out of the woods who tare (tore up, killed) 42 of the little children.
All countries, with the exception of the United States and a very few other states, prohibit capital punishment for youth offenders - no matter what their crime is. The U.S. at least waits until the convicted child is 18 before executing him or her. In this passage, God is seen to arrange the murder of dozens of small children for simply pointing fun at adult.
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Executing a whole family for the sins of the father:

Joshua 7:20-25:
"...Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel... And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones."
During the siege of Jericho, God had instructed Joshua to have the army avoid taking any loot from the city. Everything was to be destroyed. Only objects of silver and gold and utensils of bronze and iron were to be taken, and these were to be dedicated to God. Achan had violated these orders. He had taken and hidden a Babylonian robe, and a few thousand's of dollars worth of silver and gold. Because of Achan's sin, God allowed the Israelite army to be defeated in a battle for Ai, a small city close to Jericho. Many lives were lost. Achan confessed his sin. His punishment was death by stoning. Afterwards, his body was burned. But in addition to executing Achan, the Israelites stoned and burned his sons, his daughters, his animals and his tent. Apparently, his wife was already dead because she was not mentioned in this passage; otherwise she would have undoubtedly been murdered and burned as well.
There are three factors which are unacceptable by today's standards of morality:
bulletIn almost all of the developed world, with the exception of the U.S., capital punishment has been abandoned.
bulletEven where the death penalty is applied in the developed world, it is not used as punishment for theft.
bulletKilling of the thief's children for the crimes of the father is considered profoundly immoral.
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Mass murder of the Midianite children:

Numbers 31:1-18:
"...And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses, and they slew all the [adult] males. And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones...And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses...And Moses was angry with the officers of the host And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Ba'laam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the female children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."
On God's instructions, Moses sent 12,000 soldiers against the Midianites. The army allegedly killed every adult Midianite male. This is in response to some of the Israelite men having had sex with some of the Midianite women. Moses then ordered them to slaughter in cold blood most of the captives, including all of the boys, while saving only female virgins. The latter were apparently to be retained for purposes of rape. The Midianite mothers were thus punished by having to watch their male children murdered in front of them. Then, they were themselves killed. Verse 35 talks about 32,000 virgin captives; this implies that there were probably about 32,000 boys killed.
Fortunately, other passages in the Bible imply that the above genocide and mass murder never actually happened. If it did, then the entire Midian tribe would have been wiped out. All the males and many of the females had been killed. Any children that the female captives later had would not be regarded as Midianites. Yet, Judges 6:1 implies that in the course of a single lifetime, the Midianites went from being totally destroyed to becoming a nation once more. Further, they were strong enough to take the Israelite nation captive for 7 years.
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Mass murder of Babylonian babies:

In Psalms 137:8-9, God is asked to bless those who would bash Babylonian babies against stones in an act of mass infanticide.
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