Is Jehovah really a merciless murderer?

If you have ever paid attention to political campaigns and have done a fact check on ads, you may have noticed that some candidates endorse ads that put their opponents in the worst light possible. When mudslinging occurs, the opponent is often misquoted or a snippet of what an opponent says is presented out of context to make them look like evil incarnate when what they said may have been completely accurate or good when the whole context is presented. This is the modus operandi of people in our culture who run anti-God, anti-Bible, and anti-Christian campaigns. To make God, their opponent, look bad, they will often take what he commanded out of context to make him look like a merciless, bloodthirsty murderer (Bill Maher does this often on his show). Yet, a fact check of the Bible reveals that people like Bill Maher are actually defending merciless, bloodthirsty murderers who had to be punished by a just God.

Battle of JerichoOne of the passages that atheists and others highlight to paint Jehovah as a merciless murderer is this one from Deuteronomy 20:

16 But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:

18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.

At first glance, it looks pretty bad for God, but the bigger picture shows that God was carrying out a just sentence against people who were guilty of murdering their own children as human sacrifices to false gods (Lev. 18:21), committed incest regularly (Lev. 18:6-13), committed bestiality (Lev. 18:23), and did a whole host of other sins that were harmful to society. God commanded Israel not to do these things because, as he explains, in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)” Leviticus 18:24-27.

This was the pretext for the Deuteronomy passage above where God commanded the death penalty for their crimes. But Jehovah, being the God of mercy and establishing a law of mercy, offered the Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites an out from this death penalty. It was what I call the law of sojourning strangers. It was a law based on free will that is briefly referred to in the Leviticus passage above. All any stranger of any nationality had to do was change their wicked ways by following God’s commandments. Specifically, they followed what the Israelites did in that they would enter into covenant with God as prescribed here in Exodus 12 (which of course sets a precedent for the Deuteronomy passage above since it precedes it):

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. Exodus 12:48

The foreigners had to follow the law to be part of the nation. This speaks volumes about how the present administration in Washington is mishandling the immigration situation, but that’s another subject for another day. By agreeing to the passover and circumcision, they were symbolizing their repentance away from paganism and the sins that went with it and were expressing a belief in the true God and his coming Messiah to take away their sin. But just like today, most of the pagan people snubbed God’s way out. Unfortunately, Israel held back on destroying all of them, which led to their own destruction.

There were several pagans who took advantage of this law who became positive contributors to Israel such as:

  • Rahab the Canaanite harlot of Jericho
  • Uriah the Hittite
  • Ruth the Moabite
  • Simon the Canaanite (one of the 12 disciples)

Harry A. Gaylord

3 thoughts on “Is Jehovah really a merciless murderer?

Add yours

  1. We have to remember that this is God’s creation and God’s plan. He is just and justifies. I like to think of it as a potter who makes two vessels, one to carry new wine and the other to carry human waste. We may look at the vessel for new wine and think it worthy, a fine vessel that is good because it holds something we enjoy or desire. We may look down on the second vessel because of the contents it carries because it disturbs us. This is simply human righteousness. The potter sees both as suitable for their purposes and he has no partiality between them. We must view the bible from God’s perspective not ours.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: