In January of 2009, 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.
How many did God kill?
Here's the total, if you use only numbers that are provided in the Bible: 2,821,364.
Who has killed more, Satan or God?
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 Apocryphal Killings
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
A note about the title
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!
- Other attempts to list God's killings have recently become available. For and excellent summary of God's killings in the Bible see Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature (New York: W.W.Norton & Company, 2011), 6-12. And see Matthew White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things (New York: W.W.Norton & Company, 2001) for a list of religious killngs in the Bible (109-110) and bilical genocides (192).
- The Deuterocanonical books include the following:
Daniel (Chapters 13 and 14)
Esther (10:4 - 16:24)
Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach)
- Quotations from the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books are taken from the Douay-Rheims Version, since that translation is in the public domain and is the traditional Roman Catholic translation.
- I know that God doesn't mean this literally. God's arrows don't have mouths; they don't drink blood and they've never been drunk on anything. His sword doesn't eat flesh either. God is being metaphorical
Still, God is trying to make a point. He's saying that he kills people. Lots and lots of people. And that is what this book is about.
- God's sword is not only drunk with blood; it's filled with blood and is bathed in blood in heaven.
My sword shall be bathed in heaven. Isaiah 34:5
The sword of the LORD is filled with blood. Isaiah 34:6
By his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. Isaiah 66:16
The sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace. Jeremiah 12:12
I ... will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Ezekiel 21:3
My sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh. Ezekiel 21:4
I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. Ezekiel 29:8
I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life. Ezekiel 32:10
Your young men have I slain with the sword ... and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils. Amos 4:10
I [Jesus] will ... fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Revelation 2:16
Another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. Revelation 6:4
God is as strong as a unicorn. (Heck, I bet he's even stronger than a unicorn.) And he has quite an appetite, too. He will eat entire nations, and break bones and pierce bodies with his arrows.
God ... hath ... the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. Numbers 24:8
I will spend mine arrows upon them. Deuteronomy 32:23
God is angry with people every day. His sword is wet and his bow is bent. He has prepared all the instruments of death.
God is angry with the wicked every day ... he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death. Psalm 7:11-13
Even his clothes are sprinkled with the blood of his victims. (I don't know whether his clothes are really dripping with blood in heaven. I don't even know if he wears clothes. I'm just telling you what the Bible says.)
I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. Isaiah 63:3
- I'm not sure how much of this is metaphor. God often talks about forcing people to eat other people. That part, at least, is literal. Here are a few examples.
Forcing people to eat themselves:
And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm. Isaiah 9:20
Forcing parents to eat their children and friends to eat each other:
Ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. Leviticus 26:29
Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters. Deuteronomy 28:53
The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them. Deuteronomy 28.56-57
I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend. Jeremiah 19:9
The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat. Lamentations 4:10
The fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers. Ezekiel 5:10
Let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. Zechariah 11:9
So while it is true that part of God's plan for humanity is forcing people to eat each other, he was probably just getting carried away with his own metaphor when he said they'd get drunk on their own blood.
Oh, one more thing that believers should know. God wants them to keep their swords bloody, too. He'll curse (and probably kill) anyone whose sword isn't dripping with blood.
Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood. Jeremiah 48:10
Every man's sword shall be against his brother. Ezekiel 38:21
- God talks a lot about feeding dead people to birds and animals. Here are some examples.
Thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. Deuteronomy 28:26Believers will get into the act, too. Heck, they even get to drink the blood of God's victims after they wash their feet in it.
The carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. Jeremiah 7:33
Come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour. Jeremiah 12:9
Their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. Jeremiah 16:4
Their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. Jeremiah 19:7
Their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth. Jeremiah 34:20
I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven. Ezekiel 29:5
I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee. Ezekiel 32:4
I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Ezekiel 39:4
Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. Revelation 16:6
Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God. ... And all the fowls were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:17-21
The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. Psalm 58:10And, of course, all believers must drink the blood of Jesus if they want to get to heaven.
God shall wound the head of his enemies ... that thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same. Psalm 68.21-23
The people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain. Numbers 23.24
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:53-54