God's Killings in Deuteronomy

There aren't many killings in Deuteronomy. God slowly killed the Israelite army; killed some giants here and there; hardened a king's heart so he could kill all of his people; and slaughtered all the men, women, and children in sixty cities.

But most of Deuteronomy is about God's law; what to do with people who break it (kill them mostly); and what he'll do to those who refuse to obey it (smite them with hemorrhoids, madness, blindness, starvation, feed them to animals, have snakes bite them, rape their wives and force them to eat their children -- see 28:15-68 for the details).


29. God slowly killed the Israelite army

30. God the giant killer

31. God hardens king Sihon's heart so that all his people can be killed

32. Og and all the men, women, and children in 60 cities

29. God slowly killed the Israelite army

This is another strange one. For some reason God decided to slowly kill the entire Israelite army.

The space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed. So ... all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people. Deuteronomy 2:14-16

It's hard to understand, isn't it? But it sure sounds like God killed the entire Israelite army -- slowly -- over a period of 38 years.

It's not a very impressive killing, though, as God's killings go. He mostly just waited for them all to die of natural causes. Prostate cancer, heart attack, stroke.

But God claims to have killed them all himself, so I guess we should give him credit. How many old soldiers do you think died because "the hand of the Lord was against them?"

Well, they started off with 603,550 soldiers.

All those that were numbered of the children of Israel ... from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel ... were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. Numbers 1:45-46

And the only people that the Bible mentions dying along the way are those that God killed, which total a bit over 50,000. But I suppose some people must have died of natural causes over the 38 year period. So I'll just say that God killed 500,000 soldiers.

30. God the giant killer

After God kills off the old soldiers in his early retirement program (29) and before the new, youthful army begins to kill again for him, he brags a bit about some of his past killings. He is especially proud of knocking off an entire race of giants, the Zamzummim.

That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them. Deuteronomy 2:20-21

There were a few other groups that God also killed that I don't think I've accounted for yet: the Horim, Avim, and the Caphtorim.

As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day: And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead. 2:22-23

The Bible doesn't say how many were in these groups. So I'll just guess 5,000 for the lot of them.

31. God hardens king Sihon's heart so that all his people can be killed

After God killed off all the old soldiers (29) and at least most of the giants (30), it was time to get what was left of the Israelite army moving again.

Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle. Deuteronomy 2:24

God tells them to terrorize the current occupants of the land they are about to steal. The entire world will fear, tremble, and anguish at the very thought of them.

This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee. 2:25

The Israelites begin by lying about their true intentions. They send messengers to King Sihon asking to pass through his land, promising to pay for food and water along the way.

I sent messengers ... unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet. 2:26-28

But then God runs into a bit of a problem. What if King Sihon agrees to let the Israelites pass through his land? Then the Israelites wouldn't get to kill all of his people. So God has a brilliant idea: he'll harden King Sihon's heart so that he won't let them pass. [It worked so well with the Pharaoh (9?) that God thought he'd try it again here.]

But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand. 2:30

And God's plan worked perfectly. After God hardened King Sihon's heart, he refused to let the Israelites pass and fought to protect his land. Which gave God and the Israelites all the excuse they needed to kill the king along with every man, woman, and child in every city in the kingdom.

And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And 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. ... There was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us. 2:33-36

Sometimes God has to harden a heart in order to kill thousands of people.

Since everyone in every city was killed, and there seemed to be quite a few, I guessed 1000 were killed from each of five cities, for a total of 5000.

32. Og and all the men, women, and children in 60 cities

I suppose I could call this God's 30th to 89th killings, since there must have been 60 separate killing events. If God did the killing himself, he could have done it all at once. But he was relying on people to do his killing for him, so it must have taken some time. First the Israelites had to go to city 1 and kill all the men, women, and children that lived there, then on to city 2, and so on up to the 60th city. But since the Bible lumps all 60 killings together, I will too.

The Bible doesn't spend a lot of time on these killings. Only 4 verses.

So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. ... And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. Deuteronomy 3:3-6

(The story is also told in Numbers 21:33-35)

Although God is proud of all of his killings, he is especially proud of killing King Og and his people, since they were the last of the giants. Og, for example, had a bed that was 13.5 feet long!

For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold his bedstead ... nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man. 3.11

Here's what Moses says when he's encouraging Joshua to carry on God's killing tradition.

Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you ... For what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? 3:21-24

And Moses has a point here. What other god has killed as many as the God of the Bible?

(Since the Israelites killed everyone in 60 cities, I put the death toll at 60,000.)