Examples of God personally killing people
|Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
“”Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
|—2 Kings 21:12|
God is recorded in the Bible as having personally killed a large number of people.[note 1] While the majority of the divine assassinations certainly took place during God's time as the notoriously vengeful deity in the Old Testament, a few instances are also recorded in the (just slightly) more peaceful New Testament.
This page lists people personally assassinated by His hand or by His non-human minions; however, it is not entirely complete. It also does not include the vastly greater number of people which the Bible maintains were killed at His instruction, or in His name throughout recorded history, though those count towards his tally.
Old Testament killings by God
“”If the Old Testament had been marketed as a horror story — like a Stephen King novel — we might think differently about it. We applaud King's talent (if not the actions of his characters). Those who read his belief-suspending books can appreciate the literary value of that genre. We wink as we wince. We could make allowances for the crude (or even camp) writing style of the Old Testament authors if we thought their aim was to entertain by shocking. But the real horror story — the one that made Nietzsche say he needed to put on gloves before reading it — is that those writers were not pretending. And neither were the readers. Today, anyone who takes the Old Testament seriously — and does not wink or wince at the gratuitous splattering of blood — is a troubled person.
|—Former evangelical pastor Dan Barker, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction|
The God of the Old Testament had a very simple approach to education and law. In Genesis 9:1, God asked that Noah and his kin be "be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth." Frenzied reproduction was certainly a good idea when trying to avoid extinction at the hands of an angry God, who saw death as a suitable chastisement for even the most trivial of offences.
|Fatalities||Crime||Method used||Biblical reference|
|20 million (estimated).||People being "wicked".||Drowning.||Genesis 6:7|
|The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (population of Sodom estimated to be 600-1200, Gomorrah presumably would be similar).||According to Genesis: Being evil and wanting to rape two angels (who visited Sodom in the form of men).
According to Ezekiel (depending on translation): Being prideful (arrogant), overfed and unconcerned (having an abundance of idleness); neglecting the poor and needy; being haughty and committing abominations before God.
The passage suggests that a mob were interested in homosexual rape in respect of the angels. Lot — the only example of a good man in the city — offered them his virgin daughters instead, but the mob were not interested.
|Burnt to death by fire and a rain of burning sulfur.||Genesis 19:4-5 |
Ezekiel 16:46-47 (specifically Ezekiel 16:49-50)
|Lot’s wife.||Pausing to look back at the spectacle of God destroying entire cities, including her own residence and all her possessions, in a massive conflagration of fire and brimstone (in direct contravention of God's weird order not to do so. Really, who wouldn't check it out?).||Transformed into a pillar of salt.||Genesis 19:26|
|Er, the firstborn of Judah.||Being "wicked in the sight of the Lord"||Not specified||Genesis 38:7|
|Onan (Er’s brother and apparent inventor of onanism).||Disobeying God's orders to impregnate his dead brother's wife (or “spilling his seed”).||Not specified||Genesis 38:9-10 (…Unlucky family…)|
|People in fields.||Being outside when God decided to show his strength. God hardened Pharaoh's heart so he refused to let the Israelites go.||Hail||Exodus 9:22-26|
|The firstborn of Egypt.||Being firstborn when God decided to show his strength. God hardened Pharaoh's heart so he refused to let the Israelites go.||The Angel of Death.||Exodus 12:29 (Rather tough on the kids who really had nothing to do with it.)|
|The Egyptian army.||Refusing to disobey orders to pursue the Israelites fleeing through the Red Sea, which was parted with walls of water on both sides of the path.||Drowned when the seawater returned.||Exodus 14:28 (God kills you or the boss kills you… those poor bastards were screwed either way.)|
|Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron.||Offering strange fire before the Lord.||Burnt to death||Leviticus 10:1-3 (If you don't get the ritual right, then death is the result.)|
|Undisclosed number of Israelites.||Complaining against God||Fire||Numbers 11:1-3|
|Undisclosed number of Israelites.||Complaining about the food and wanting to go back to Egypt for an easier life.||Plague||Numbers 11:4-35|
|Ten scouts sent to explore the promised land.||Spreading bad reports about this land containing giants, and being too difficult to conquer.||Plague||Numbers 14:36-38 (If you don't give the answer the boss wants, then you're in big trouble.)|
|Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their respective families.||Claiming to be as holy as Moses and Aaron.||The earth opened up and swallowed them - burying them alive.||Numbers 16:27-32, which implies the children were killed, but Numbers 26:11 states Korah's children survived.|
|250 Israelites.||Followers of Korah (see above)||Burnt to death by fire from God.||Numbers 16:35|
|14,700 Israelites.||Complaining about the previous two loving assassinations concerning Korah.||Plague||Numbers 16:49 (The management thanks you for your feedback. You will now be escorted to the afterlife.)|
|Undisclosed number of Israelites.||Despairing, and complaining about the quality of bread.||Being bitten to death by divinely summoned fiery serpents, although casting a bronze snake and looking upon it would prevent them from dying.||Numbers 21:4-9 (Honestly, wouldn't it be cool just to try this to see it happen? C'mon, I dare ya...)|
|24,000 Israelites.||Sexual immorality with Moabite women and worshiping Baal.||Plague.||Numbers 25:9 (Proving once more that despite God being obviously real and very jealous, Israelites would worship a sandwich if Moses so much as popped out to buy a newspaper.)|
|Entire Israelite army.||Unclear (possibly to prevent them from waging war on the children of Lot).||Not specified||Deuteronomy 2:14-16|
|Undisclosed number of Ammorites.||Waging war against Israel, trying to protect themselves and their families from the holy slaughter that the Israelites regularly inflicted on their enemies||Sending hailstones from Heaven||Joshua 10:10-11|
|Either 70 or 50,070 Israelites (dependent on how the inerrant Bible is translated. The original Hebrew text literally says, "[God] killed of the people 70 men, 50,000 men..." so the language is confusing even at the source).||Looking into the Ark of the Covenant (Like the ending of Indiana Jones: Raiders of The Lost Ark).||Not specified||1 Samuel 6:19 (You would have thought the (50,0)70th Israelite would have more sense than to climb a mountain of (50,0)69 bodies and look into a box)|
|Nabal.||David refrained from murdering Nabal's servants or stealing from him. He expected his kindness to be repaid in the form of gifts from Nabal, but Nabal declined. God killed Nabal before David had the chance to go "avenging thyself with thine own hand."||Not specified||1 Samuel 25:38 (This was quite convenient, as David, an avid collector of wives, got to marry Nabal's wife who was quite hot.)|
|Uzzah.||Touching the Ark while trying to prevent it from tipping over.||Not specified.||2 Samuel 6:6-7 (Which seems grossly unfair - should he have just let it fall to the ground and |
|David and Bathsheba's baby boy.||None. The baby was killed in order to punish David for his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequently arranging the death of her husband Uriah.||Infected with a disease||2 Samuel 12:14-18 (The life of a baby is sacred, as explained by Christians, but it's worth squat when God is angry with the parents.)|
|70,000 assorted Israelites.||Inspired by either God, or perhaps Satan - the Bible is a tad unclear - David took a census of his lands and people.||Plague||2 Samuel 24:13, despite being told to by God in 2 Samuel 24:1. (Unless you read 1 Chronicles 21:1, where the devil did it.)|
|An unnamed prophet.||The prophet had been told by God to not eat bread, but another guy claimed he too was a prophet, and that God had commanded him to bring the prophet home for some food.||Eaten by lions||1 Kings 13:1-24 (That’s what happens when you follow the advice of self-proclaimed prophets.)|
|Jeroboam's son.||None. Child killed to punish Jeroboam, to save him from a massacre God was planning for the rest of Jeroboam's family, and possibly also as a sign used to confirm a prophecy.||Not specified. Died in his mother's arms.||1 Kings 14:10-18 (God euthanizes a child to save him from the terrors of… His own wrath?)|
|An unnamed man.||Refusal to strike a prophet when ordered to do so by the prophet in question.||Killed by a lion (God really enjoys using Lions in Kings).||1 Kings 20:35-36 (Weird or what?)|
|King Ahaziah.||Seeking medical advice from a rival god, and Baal worship.||Died in bed while recovering from an earlier fall.||1 Kings 22:51 and 2 Kings 1:16 (Baal must have been pretty good to compete with Yahweh: the God who would incinerate your children.)|
|102 soldiers.||Being impolite to Elijah and serving King Ahziah. (Although they would have attempted to remove Elijah by force/kill him for not obeying Ahaziah had God not intervened)||Burnt to death.||2 Kings 1:9-12 (This verse is worth reading, since it's almost comical the way in which the soldiers queue up to be incinerated.)|
|42 youths.||They mocked Elisha's bald head.||No kidding - God sends 2 she-bears to maul them to death.||2 Kings 2:23-24 (Evidently there weren't any lions to hand).|
|Some foreigners.||Not worshiping God||Killed by lions||2 Kings 17:25-26 ("Death by lion" crops up with suspicious frequency. Did the author of Kings have some kind of lion-phobia?)|
|185,000 soldiers.||Being at war with Israel||Killed by the angel of the Lord while they slept.||2 Kings 19:35|
|Jeroboam.||Rebelling against Abijah, the king of Israel based on dependence from David.||Not specified||2 Chronicles 13:20|
|Jehoram.||Doing evil in the sight of the Lord.||Stricken by a disease that caused his bowels to fall out.||2 Chronicles 21:14-19 (Nasty way to go.)|
|Hananiah.||Being a false prophet.||Not specified||Jeremiah 28:16-17|
|Ezekiel's wife.||Literally nothing. God just wanted to make a point.||Unknown.||Ezekiel 24:15-18 (Well, being wife of the prophet or people who may be eligible to become the prophet is now an occupational hazard…)|
Since large numbers of people often end up as meaningless statistics, consider the rough guide below:
- 20 million - In the global flood: this figure is just over the maximum estimated human population before agriculture. Approximately the current population of Australia. It would take about a decade for this many Americans to die of natural causes. Actually, absolute terms aren't useful for this one, as it was near-enough 100% of the population - imagine 7.5 billion people being killed should God decide to pull this one again.
- 185,000 - Assyrian soldiers killed while sleeping. This is greater than the entire multi-national coalition force at the peak of the Iraq War - so imagine losing that entire force in their sleep in one night. By comparison, the bloodiest battle (on a single day) in modern history would be the first day of the Battle of the Somme, where 20,000 BEF troops were killed. 185,000 is also the equivalent of 9/11 every single day for two months. It is slightly higher than the largest ever attendances at Talladega or Daytona motor racing tracks.
- 70,000 - Assorted Israelites, incidentally the same number of people who claimed to be Jedi in the 2001 Australian census. This is approximately the athletics capacity of Wembley Stadium, or towards the upper end of casualty estimates for the atomic bombing of Nagasaki (39,000-80,000).
- 50,070 - Assuming the higher figure, this is not far off the capacity of Yankee Stadium. Sports stadiums are useful comparisons because they're areas where we have photographs of that many people in close proximity and you can see how many it represents.
- 24,000 - Slightly higher than the capacity of Madison Square Garden for pro wrestling.
Of course, many of these numbers do pale next to what humans do to each other, and what the planet itself has thrown at us, but it is really the motives (or lack of) that should be truly shocking. When one takes into consideration all killing committed for God and in his name (up until the present 2022), the tally increase would be much, much higher. He gives free will, but apparently, it is just a trap.
But, remember.... God loves you!
New Testament killings by God
God of the New Testament appears to have had a rather drastic change in personality, resulting in far fewer deity-induced deaths than seen in the Old Testament. On the other hand, the New Testament is a smaller anthology covering a much shorter time period, and makes up for it with Revelation.
|Fatalities||Crime||Method used||Biblical reference|
|Ananias and Sapphira||Lying (Offering the money they got from selling some land but secretly withholding some, in an attempt to save money while becoming well respected.)||First one and then the other fell dead at Peter's feet when he questioned them. Possibly a divine heart attack.||Acts 5:1-10|
|Herod||Failure to praise God||Struck down by an angel and eaten by worms.||Acts 12:23 (Perhaps a potential concern for much of the human race.)|
|(Prophesied future killings) Indeterminate amount, at least all living non-Christians and "Not Good Enough" Christians||Not worshiping God, or following the Beast instead of God. Or simply being in the way.||Various||Detailed in the passages where God sends four horsemen (Revelation 6:1-7), commands the angels to sound seven trumpets (Revelation 8:7-11:15), commands the angels to unleash seven plagues (Revelation 16:2-17). Finally the Great Beast, his False Prophet, and all non-saved are cast into a Lake of Fire.|
|(More Prophesied Future Killings) Indeterminate amount, stated as "Like the sand on the beach"||Being part of Satan's last Army||Fire from Heaven||Revelation 20:8-9|
Despite the obvious dickery above, it's quite easy for the usual theological excuse to be trotted out to explain it: God works in mysterious ways. But if God was able to get away with anything without people knowing, he would probably kill.
How many people will die at the Battle of Armageddon?
“”The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
Let's assume that 1,600 stadia (320 kilometres = 320,000 metres) is the diameter of the lake of blood, therefore, the radius is 800 stadia or 160km. Let's also assume that a horse's bridle is approximately 1.5 metres from the ground, giving us its depth.
We can then calculate the volume of blood using the formula: V = πr2h. Using biblical value of π = 3 we get the formula:
1 cubic metre = 1,000 litres
115,200,000,000 × 1,000 = 115,200,000,000,000 = 1.152×1014 litres of blood
If we divide this number by the average amount of blood in a human body, 5.5 litres:
So we find that according to scripture, at a bare minimum according to one interpretation, God will kill approximately 2.0945 × 1013 people. That's in the tens of trillions.
However, since it says flows and not pools, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that a river was formed. Assuming they measured the blood-flow using actual horses, and a horse is 1 metre across.
480,000 × 1,000 = 480,000,000480,000,000 ÷ 5.5 = 87,272,727
So, in another interpretation, God will kill a minimum of 87,000,000 people to produce a horse bridle-high blood-flow.
- Actions which demand the death penalty in the Old Testament
- Examples of Satan personally killing people
- Massacres in the name of a peaceful faith
- God's Love
- Divine retribution
- Problem of evil
- Friedrich Nietzsche - an example of a person personally killing God.
- Skeptic's Annotated Bible - the maker has a book devoted to this very subject
- The 9 Most Badass Bible Verses
- Satan vs God: past and future killings
- How many has God killed? Complete list and estimated total (Including Apocryphal killings), Dwindling in Unbelief
- How Many People Did God Slaughter in the Bible? Steve Wells Has Written a Book Documenting Every Kill, Hemant Mehta
- How many people did God kill in the Bible?
- Strictly speaking, some entity being addressed as "God" whose existence cannot be independently established, has been fast-tracking people to their afterlife destinations due to the fact that from the point of view of the "immortal God", death is simply moving a soul from life to the afterlife where it can be sorted. And then there is the problem of where your afterlife will take you based on different interpretations of the Bible. Some might not even need to spend time in Hell or the Purgatory if Sola fides is their thing.
- God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction Audiobook version: Chapter 11, at 50 minutes and 30 seconds in.
- See also Christian morality and Elisha and the bears.
- See the Wikipedia article on List of sporting venues with a highest attendance of 100,000 or more.
- See the Wikipedia article on Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.