A few years ago, I started to document God's killings at my blog, Dwindling in Unbelief. I began with Genesis and worked my way through the Bible, writing a post for each killing event and keeping a running count of the number of victims as I went along. I don't think it's ever been done before,1 which is a shame, since God is so proud of his killings.
You don't believe me? Well, here, I'll let him tell you directly.
I kill ... I wound ... I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh. Deuteronomy 32:39-42
Bible believers, on the other hand, are less proud of God's killings. Oh, they like a few of them -- Noah's flood, David and Goliath, Jericho -- those that can be made (with considerable dishonesty) into cute children's stories. But the rest are completely ignored by, or completely unknown to, believers.
I believe that most believers would stop believing in the Bible if they knew what was in it. And this is particularly true of God's killings. All of the stories are absurd from a historical standpoint; they could not have happened the way they are told in the Bible. But what is even more damning is their unspeakable cruelty and obvious immorality. If the killings described in this book actually happened, then the God of the Bible is not the kind of God that believers pretend him to be.
In this book, I've tried to count all of God's killings: those that are numbered in the Bible and those that are not; the ones that God did himself; those that he instructed others to do; and those that, while he may not have taken an active role in, met with his approval.
Of course, some killings are easier to count than others. When God burned to death 250 men for burning incense in Numbers 16:35, we know how many were killed. But how many did God drown in the flood or burn to death in Sodom and Gomorrah? How many first-born Egyptian children did he kill? There's just no way to know for sure.
So I have two tallies: one for the killings in which numbers are given in the Bible, excluding the others; and another that uses both the Biblical numbers and estimates when numbers are absent.
But what about the killings that God apparently approved of, but didn't take an active role in?
Take the story in 1 Samuel 18:25-28, for example, in which David buys his first wife with 200 Philistine foreskins. Did God approve of that killing?
Well, yes he did, if you believe the Bible, that is. God approved of everything David did, including all of his killings, with only one exception: the killing of Uriah.
How do we know this? Because it says so in the Bible.
David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 1 Kings 15:5
Drunk with Blood includes a separate account for each of God's 158 killings. They are presented in the order that they occur in the Bible, along with the number killed, either the Bible's number or an estimate, or both. In each account, I've made an effort to quote enough of the actual story from the Bible to make it unnecessary to refer to the Bible itself. Still, I encourage everyone to read these stories in the Bible. It is nearly impossible to believe in the Bible once you have read them.
Here's the total, if you use only numbers that are provided in the Bible: 2,821,364.
How many did Satan kill in the Bible?
I can only find ten, and even these he shares with God, since God allowed him to do it as a part of a bet. I'm talking about the seven sons and three daughters of Job.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job ... And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. ... 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? Then Satan answered the LORD ... put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 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 went forth from the presence of the LORD. ... And there was a day when his sons and his 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. Job 1.1-19
So it seems that both Satan and God share the blame (or the credit) for killing Job's children. If so, then the tally would be:
When the Bible doesn't say how many were killed, I try to provide a reasonable estimate.
For example, the Bible says that Job's ten children were killed in God and Satan's bet. The Bible also says that all of Job's servants (slaves?) were killed, though it doesn't say how many. But since he was a wealthy man ("the greatest of all the men of the east"), he probably had many servants. So I guessed that fifty servants were killed, and I gave both Job and God credit for their killings.
I made similar estimates for the other killings when a number was not provided in the Bible. I tried to give an idea of my thinking for each estimate at the end of each killing account.
When there was no clear way to get a number from the Bible itself, I used estimates from Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones' Atlas of World Population History (Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1978).
Using these estimates, I came up with the following grand totals for the number killed by God and Satan in the Bible:
God: 25 million
The "Apocrypha"(or "Deuterocanonical Books")2 are considered sacred scripture by more than a billion Christians, members of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic churches. Another billion or so (the Protestants) consider them non-canonical and exclude them from the Bible. It's one of the many things that divides the followers of Jesus, contrary to Jesus's prayer in John 17:21.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
From which we can conclude two things:
1) Nothing fails like prayer (even when Jesus does the praying), and 2) God didn't send Jesus.
But whatever the canonical status of these books might be (I'll let the Christian's fight that out), there are many impressive killings in them -- killings that were inspired, commanded, or performed by God, and therefore deserve to be included in this book.
So I've added another chapter to the second edition of Drunk With Blood, which I guess could now be called, "Drunk With Blood: The Catholic Edition."3
You might think the title of the book is a bit unfair. A single verse that uses the phrase "drunk with blood" is hardly enough to go on, especially if context is taken into account. But the phrase (or variants of it) is used five times in the Bible, and context (as usual) doesn't help at all.
- God first uses it to describe himself: his arrows are drunk with blood.4
I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh. Deuteronomy 32:42
- God's sword is also drunk with blood, just like his arrows.5
This is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood. Jeremiah 46.10
- God's sword and arrows won't be the only things drunk with blood. God also plans to force people (before he kills them) to eat their own flesh and get drunk on their own blood.6
I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine. Isaiah 49:26
- After God kills people, he will feed their bodies to the birds and beasts until they, too, become drunk with blood.7
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth ... And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Ezekiel 39.17-19
- And finally, the great whore of Babylon will be drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs.
I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. Revelation 17:6
But enough with the blood, guts, and gore. Let's get on to the killings!