God's Killings in Esther, Job, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel
There are only four killings in the last 25 books of the Protestant Old Testament. But each is important in its
In the Purim killings in the book of Esther, God shows us his views on women, thought crimes, and preemptive war.
In the book of Job, we see how God and Satan work together, betting on how a father will react after they
kill his children.
In the killing of the prophet Hananiah in the book of Jeremiah, we learn how to tell a true prophet forom a false one. (The
false prophet is the one who is killed by God for prophesying good things.)
And then there's the killing of Ezekiel's wife. God killed her to show us how we should mourn the deaths of our friends
and family after God kills them. (We shouldn't.)
- The Purim Killings: God hath done these things
- God and/or Satan kill Job's children, slaves, and animals
- Ezekiel's wife
The Purim Killings: God hath done these things
Esther is one of the two books in the Bible in which God is not even mentioned (the other is the
Song of Solomon).
Maybe that's why some Bible believers, such as Martin Luther, believed that it should be excluded from the Bible.
In Luther's case, however, it probably had more to do with his extreme antisemitism. Because the point of the Book of
Esther, if it has a point, is this: God loves Jews more than everyone else and anyone who has ever had a bad thought
about them should be killed. (And Luther had lots of bad thoughts about Jews.)
There is a whole series of killings in Esther, mostly to avenge antisemitism. But since the Book of Esther
does not mention God's name, it's difficult to blame him directly for these killings. Still, since Esther is
included in the Bible, the God of the Bible must approve of the killings, insofar as a nonexistent being can
approve of anything.
The Book of Esther also has an important message for women: your job in life is to look pretty and to please,
honor, and obey men. If that means dancing naked in front of your husband's drunken guests, dance naked. Be an Esther,
not a Vashti. (Which is, of course, bad advice. Vashti is the real hero of the Book of Esther and she gets my vote
for the best person in the Bible.)
Here's the story.
After the Esther wins the dancing-naked-before-the-king contest, she goes on a killing spree.
She begins by telling the king to hang two men that her friend (Mordecai) said wanted to kill the king.
Two of the king's chamberlains ... sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai,
who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king ... And when inquisition was made of the matter,
it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree. Esther 2:21-23
Then, for some strange reason, the king told everyone in the kingdom to bow and show reverence to a guy named Haman.
All the king's servants ... bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded 3:2a
But Esther's Jewish uncle Mordecai refused.
But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. 3:2b
So Haman, did what any proper Bible villain would do: he tried to kill every Jew in the kingdom.
When Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath ...
Wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom. 3:5-6
Haman offered to give the king 10,000 talents (~300,000 kg) of silver if he would kill all the Jews.
And the king said, "OK, that sounds like a good idea. Let's kill all the Jews."
Haman said unto king Ahasuerus ... let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver.
And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman ... the Jews' enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver
is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. 3:8-10
The king sent out a decree to all the provinces declaring a kingdom-wide Kill-the-Jews Day. It was to take place on the 13th
day of the 12th month. "All Jews, both young and old, little children and women" were to be killed on that day.
Letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old,
little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. 3:13
Haman, at his wife and friends' suggestion, decides to begin by building a 25 meter tall gallows to hang Mordecai on.
Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high,
and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon ... And the thing pleased Haman;
and he caused the gallows to be made. 5:14
Meanwhile, at one of the king's drunken parties, the king told Esther that he'd give her whatever she wanted,
up to half the kingdom.
So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the
banquet of wine ... what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.
Esther asks the king not to murder all the Jews. And the king says, "Huh? Who is trying to kill the Jews?" (The king had completely
forgotten that he had ordered the genocide of the Jews back in chapter 3.)
The king ... said unto Esther ... Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? And Esther said,
The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman 7:5-6
So the king hangs Haman high.
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.
After hanging Haman at Esther's request, the king gave Esther (and her buddy Mordecai) Haman's ring and house.
The king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house
of Haman. I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon
the Jews. 8:1-7
Then, at Esther's request, the king ordered a preemptive strike on all 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia.
Everyone who planned to kill Jews will be killed by Jews, along with their wives and children. And all this killing
is to take place on a single day -- the day after the first decree ordered all the Jews to be killed. (How are the
Jews to figure out who planned to kill them and who didn't? Were they supposed to just kill everyone and let God sort
it out? And why did they need to kill the women and children?)
Mordecai commanded ... the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred
twenty and seven provinces ... to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province
that would assault them, both little ones and women. Upon one day in all the provinces ... the Jews should be ready
against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 8:9-13
On the day when all Jew-haters (and their families) were killed by Jews, "the Jews had light, and gladness, and joy,
and honour ... a feast and a good day." (Esther 8:16-17a)
But many of the Jew-haters became Jews rather than be killed for wanting to kill Jews.
Many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. 8:17b
So the Jews kill everyone who ever had a bad thought toward them, along with their Jew-hating families.
The Jews had rule over them that hated them. The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the
provinces ... to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them
fell upon all people. ... The Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what
they would unto those that hated them. 9:1-5
They killed 500 men in Shushan.
In Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. 9:6
They killed the ten sons of Haman.
The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they 9:10
Esther asks the king to kill all those who planned to kill the Jews and hang the already dead bodies of Haman's
ten sons on trees.
The king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace,
and the ten sons of Haman ... what is thy request further? ... Then said Esther ... let it be granted to the
Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged. ...
And they hanged Haman's ten sons. 9:12-13
Then the Jews killed another 300 men at Shushan,
The Jews ... slew three hundred men at Shushan 9:15
And 75,000 other Jew-haters.
The other Jews ... slew of their foes seventy and five thousand. 9:16
The day after killing all the Jew-haters and their families, the Jews took a day off to party.
(This is the origin of the Jewish holiday of Purim.)
On the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 9:17
And then, at Esther's request, the king hung Haman and his ten sons (again).
When Esther came before the king, he commanded ... that he [Haman] and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
After the killings, "Modecai the Jew was ... great among the Jews ... seeking the wealth of" the Jews. And so ends the Book of Esther.
Here is a list of the Esther killings:
|The two treasonous chamberlains
|Men in Sushan
|More men in Sushan
|People who planned to kill Jews|
on Kill-the-Jews Day
God and/or Satan kill Job's children, servants, and animals
This is the only killing in the Bible that Satan had anything to do with. And he didn't do it alone; God was a co-conspirator.
The story begins by introducing Job.
Job was a perfect man with 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 she asses, and lots of servants. He was the greatest man east
of the Mediterranean.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels,
and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the
men of the east. Job 1:1-3
Job's sons liked to party a lot, and they often invited their sisters over to party with them.
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three
sisters to eat and to drink with them. 1:4
Job worried that his sons (he didn't worry about about his daughters) might sin while they were partying,
so Job spent all his time killing animals for God in order to sanctify his sons.
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them,
and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all:
for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job
One day the sons of God came over to to God's place. And Satan was with them.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
God ignored his other sons, but was especially interested in Satan. He hadn't seen him for a while and wanted
to know what he'd been up to lately.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? 1:7a
Satan said that he'd been down hiking around on earth.
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
God asked Satan if he'd seen Job, you know, the guy that is perfect, upright, God-fearing, and whatnot.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect
and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 1:8
Satan knew who God was talking about. He told God that Job had a good reason to be good. God made Job the biggest big shot east of Eden,
protecting him from everything bad and giving him everything good.
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house,
and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
Take away the protection and mess with his stuff, and he'll curse you to your face, Big Guy.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 1:11
So God said, "You're on, Satan. Go back down to earth and and do whatever the hell you want with his stuff. But don't do anything to him."
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.
So Satan left God's place and, presumably, went down to earth to visit Job.
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 1:12b
When Satan got down to earth, he found Job's children partying, as usual.
his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house. 1:13
And then all hell broke loose.
A messenger came to tell Job that the Sabeans had taken his oxen and asses and killed all his servants.
And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the
Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I
only am escaped alone to tell thee. 1:14-15
And then, while he was still talking to the first messenger, another messenger showed up, telling him that "a fire from God had
fallen from heaven" and burned up Job's sheep and servants (I guess some of Job's servants must have survived the Sabean attack).
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep,
and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 1:16
And then while the second messenger was talking, a third messenger arrived to tell Job that a wind came up and
knocked down the house that his children were partying at, killing them all. (These three messengers were, of course,
the only ones who survived.)
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine
in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners
of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
After Job heard these three messages he ripped up his clothes, shaved his head, fell on his face, and worshiped the
God who had just murdered his children.
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. 1:20
Oh, and he also said that he was born naked and would die naked, God gives and takes away, blessed be his name.
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD. 1:21
God burned to death his slaves and animals and murdered his children, but Job didn't blame God.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. 1:22
But God was to blame, even if Job didn't have the guts to say so.
We know that God and Satan killed Job's seven sons and three daughters. Job also had a lot of servants
who were killed in God's little bet with Satan, but the Bible doesn't say how many. I'll guess there were 50 servants
that died (some burned to death).
Whenever two prophets get together in the Bible, you can be pretty sure that one of them will soon be killed by God.
Remember how God sent a lion to kill a prophet for believing another prophet's lie? And then
he sent another lion to kill another prophet for refusing to smite fellow prophet? Yeah, well,
the same thing happens to here to Hananiah, sans lion.
The trouble starts when Hananiah prophesies good news for the people of Judah. God was going to break the yoke
of the king of Babylon and bring the people of Judah back home.
Hananiah ... the prophet ... spake ... in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, Thus
speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two
full years ... I will bring again to this place ... all the captives of Judah ... for I will break the yoke of the
king of Babylon. Jeremiah 28:1-4
Which contracted what Jeremiah had been telling everyone. Lately, in fact, Jeremiah was running around wearing a
wooden yoke, symbolizing Nebuchadnezzar's absolute power over Israel. So Hananiah's good news was anathema to him.
Jeremiah replied with his usual sarcasm.
Amen: the LORD do so: the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels
of the LORD's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place. 28:6
Then Hanaiah took Jeremiah's silly yoke and broke it in front of everyone.
Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it.
And he repeated his prophecy about the end of Judah's exile within two years.
And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.
Jeremiah went away after that. But a little later God told Jeremiah to tell Hananiah that he wants everyone
to serve Nebuchadnezzar, even the animals.
Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD ... I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations,
that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of
the field also. 28:14
Oh, yeah, and that within a year God would kill him.
Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith
the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast
taught rebellion against the LORD. 28:15-16
And, by golly, that's what happened.
So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month. 28:17
The story begins in Ezekiel 11, when the spirit lifted Ezekiel up and carried him to God's house.
Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD's house.
When he arrived, he saw 25 men, among whom was Pelatiah.
And behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur,
and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah. 11:1b
God warned Ezekiel about these men, saying they're a bunch of trouble makers,
Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city.
They said things like, "Let's build houses. This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat."
Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.
So God told Ezekiel to prophesy against them.
Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man. 11:4
So Ezekiel did that.
Then while he was prophesying, God killed Pelatiah.
And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. 11:13
When Ezekiel saw that, he fell on his face and said, "OMG, are you going to kill everyone?"
Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD!
wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel? 11:2
God didn't answer the question directly, but seemed to say, more or les, "Yes."
As for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable
things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own
heads, saith the Lord GOD. 11:21
God kills Ezekiel's wife and tells him not to mourn her death
I guess God was trying to make some kind of point in this killing. Maybe you can help me figure out what it was.
God had just revealed some important stuff to Ezekiel.
Thus saith the Lord GOD ... Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! ...
That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. ...
Woe to the bloody city! ... Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned ...
that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed. She hath wearied herself with lies,
and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire. ... I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come
to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare. Ezekiel 24:3-14
So there you have it. God is going to make a bloody, scum-filled soup using human blood, bones, and body parts.
It will come to pass and God will spare no one.
Then in the next verse he announces his next killing: Ezekiel's wife.
Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine
eyes with a stroke. 24:15-16a
Now, I don't think God meant to say here that he was going to kill Ezekiel's wife "with a stroke." Here's how
the Revised Standard Version puts it.
Son of Man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke." 24:16a (RSV)
So although we don't know how, we do know he's going to kill her right away, "in a stroke."
And when he does, God doesn't want Ezekiel to mourn her death in any way. He's not allowed to cry, take his shoes off,
cover his lips, bind the tire of his head, or eat the bread of men.
Yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. Ezekiel 24:16a-17
And that's what happens. God killed Ezekiel's wife and Ezekiel didn't give a shit.
My wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded. 24:16
Then God and Ezekiel explain the whole point of this killing to everyone in Israel. God will kill their sons and daughters,
and no one is allowed to mourn them after they die, like Ezekiel didn't mourn his wife when God killed her.
(At least I think that's the point here.)
Here's what Ezekiel told the people after God killed his wife.
The word of the LORD came unto me, saying ... your sons and your daughters ... shall fall by the sword.
And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men. And your tires shall
be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep ... Thus Ezekiel is unto you a
sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do. 24:20-24
Well, now, that's a point worth killing for, isn't it?