Need some examples from the Old Testament- God can be harsh

For instance didn’t he turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt just for turning around to see her home town one more time.

I’m particularlly interested in an example from the book of numbers where he has the earth swallow up some guy. Anyone know who the guy was or what his crime was?

Could use two or three more and clarification of the above. Also examples where the victim did nothing wrong, such as little children during the flood.


He allowed Satan to really do a number on Job for no good reason.

From 2 Kings 2, via

So God, on behalf of Elisha, killed 42 kids with bears for calling him a baldy.

Moderator’s Note: I don’t think this really belongs in Cafe Society (unless you just want to discuss the Old Testament as literature). If you’re just looking for people to list verses it’s more of an IMHO thread; I suspect, though, that people are going to be really tempted to disagree about what constitutes “harsh”. For now, I’m moving this to IMHO.

Deuteronomy 13:6-11:

Deuteronomy 20:16-18:

Joshua 10:40:

1 Samuel 15:1-3:

Here you go

Actually, I put it in Cafe Society in order to avoid disagreements. I was thinking that even if one accepts the Bible as the literal word of God it is still OK to view it as literature. My second choice would have been GD. But I’m OK with your judgement on this. Just looking to fight some ignorance. Whatever works.

Hey, I asked for two or three! What am I gonna do with 708? Thanks.

I think you do need a little context. The Old Testament describes God as a god of justice, and that sometimes comes across as harsh. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites and so were visited by plagues; the Egyptian pharoah ordered the newborn Israelites be killed, so the final plague is the death of the Egyptian first-born. This was seen by the biblical author(s) as justice – perhaps a harsh justice, but the crimes were harsh too.

God is also described in the Old Testament as a god of mercy, and so you have stories such as Hagar and her infant Ishmael, cast out into the desert, and God shows them mercy (and justice, by relieving their suffering.)

Rabbinic interpretation (from, say 400 BC through 200 AD) always focuses the explanation of these “harsh” acts as being strict justice.

I note that today is the Jewish sabbath, so the Old Testament experts who are orthodox Jews won’t be posting until Sunday… and Sunday night, Monday, and Tuesday this week are Jewish holidays, so they may not be posting then, either.

The typically rebellious, T-shirt-wearing teenager could, if held to the strict injunctions from, IIRC, Leviticus, be sentenced to death, on two counts: 1) filial disobedience or defiance; and 2) wearing clothing made from fabric of mixed threads, or admixed threads (cotton and polyester).

The second prohibition never made any sense to me, except as an example of the scrupulous taboo system of the ancient Hebrews, which forbade other kinds of cominglings, as between milk and meat.

I always felt the book of Job depicted God at his most capricious. Here’s Job, God’s most loyal and penitent servant…and God utterly destroys his life. Why? God made a bet with Satan. (How much was that bet, anyway? A dollar?) And when Job finally broke down and complained, God basically said, “Go screw yourself, human scum…I am GOD and I can do whatever fuck all I want!!!”

I wish y’all wouldn’t give the theocons ideas.

I dunno, man. In my book, there’s a name for killing innocent citizens of a nation in retaliation for evil acts perpetrated by that nation’s rulers, and the name ain’t ‘justice.’
Besides, there are many cases (such as the killing of the Amalekites by the Israelites described in 1 Samuel 15) which are difficult to describe as justice. The Amalekites were living on land God wanted the Israelites to have, and fought to keep the Israelites from taking it, and for this it is just that they all die–men, women, children, even the livestock? Harsh doesn’t describe it.

Sheesh. Where, exactly, do people get the idea that the Torah prescribes the death penalty for violations of every single commandment? There’s a fairly short list of things that rate capital punishment. On top of that, the prohibition of shatnez is against mixing wool and linen - see Deuteronomy 22:11. The top I wore to synagogue yesterday was a silk/nylon blend, FWIW ;j

PlanB, the people swallowed by the earth were Korach, Datan, and Aviram (not sure how that would be rendered in English, probably Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, or something like that), along with all of their possessions. The actual swallowing is in Numbers 16:31-33, but the story takes up the entire chapter. They fomented a rebellion officially over the creation of the priesthood, but that seems to have been more about the Exodus, complaining that G-d took them from “a land of milk and honey” to be in this desert; if you read it, the chutzpah comes across even now.

Does telling Abraham to sacrifice his son count? A nasty tale.

On a global scale, how about wiping out almost the entire population of the Earth with the Flood. What had they done to offend God?

A late shout for Evil Bible for all you God-Bashing needs.

No they weren’t. The Amalekites didn’t live anywhere near Israelite land. They attacked the Israelites just to wipe them out.

You’re right; I am misremembering my OT. It wasn’t the Amalekites who were killed for land; it was someone else (see **Tagos’s ** post). Nevertheless, while killing combatant aggressors is often justified, my original point still stands: it is not clear how being under attack gives a nation the moral right to kill *everyone * from the attacking nation, which is what God ordered the Israelites to do to the Amalekites.

It was retribution. The Amelekites tried to commit genocide against Israel and failed, and for punishment, the Israelites committed genocide against them.

That’s some harsh-ass retribution, killing the Amalekite army’s wives, sisters, children, mothers, grandparents, and goats.