Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ritual Human Sacrifice in the Bible

Another much pointed at article when it comes to the inerrancy of the Bible: the occurrence of ritual human sacrifice. Remember, reader, that merely because it is mentioned in the Bible does not mean it is condoned by God. Frequently these are followed by judgment because of disobeying commands. The same goes for any wrongful act that Scripture in other areas condemns. This is the case with many acknowledgements of ritual human sacrifice in the Bible, mentioned here or not.

Like virtually everyone other article on, keep in mind that the author is arguing against something that is "unjust" in their own opinion. They are using opinions, and not even giving criteria, on what is considered unjust. Even more so, the commonly held atheist belief is that morality evolved as well along with civilization, so they cannot condemn these actions within their worldview, only express outrage! Here, however; I agree that ritual sacrifice of humans would be, in fact, unjust. Let's take a look and see how their examples stack up:

1) Isaac being offered (Genesis 22: 1-18): This, as is said in the verse, was a test of Abraham's faith. First of all, let's get some inaccuracies out of the way. Abraham never lied to Isaac, the ram was provided. Also, Abraham never put a knife to Isaac's throat. Verse 10 says "and took the knife to slay his son." When information not in the text is added, the meaning of scripture gets clouded. Now, moving on to the explanation. In early history every civilization had a god of some sort, and human sacrifice was extremely common. Abraham, having come from the pagan city of Ai, would not have thought this out of place. God used this to show that He was different from other gods; He does not accept human sacrifice. This also showed the trust that Abraham had for God, and rightly so. There is also a sort of logic to this from Abraham's perspective; God had promised "In Isaac your seed shall be called". This would show Abraham that even if he did have to sacrifice Isaac, he seed would continue. The only explanation would be God raising him from the dead, so either way he knew his son would live

2) Consecrations of children (Exodus 13:2): these talks about God's command to consecrate every man and beast out of the womb to God, for they are His. EB's commentary reads as follows: "It is clear from the context that consecrate means a burning sacrifice." WHAT!!?? The Hebrew word written here is qadash, meaning "sanctified, prepared, and dedicated". There is no burning involved. If they wanted to mean destroy or burn, the word chadam would have been used.

3) No redemption (Leviticus 27: 28-29): It is common for atheists to pull bits and pieces of different verses together in order to show a point, which is happening here. This was actually part of #2, so keep that in mind. EB says that this verse shows that those firstborns have no chance of redemption because they are being referred to as "doomed". Since ritual human sacrifice wasn't even a part of the Leviticus Law, those first born couldn't have been referred to. They weren't even sacrificed in the first place, look back at #2.

4) Jepthah Burns His Daughter (Judges 11: 29-40): Now, first of all, note that the NLT is used here. Mariano looked at 20 different translations and found not a single other that said she died, and the Hebrew (and Greek) doesn’t say that, either. Another funny thing worth noting about the NLT is when it says "I will give to the Lord the first thing that greets me when I return home in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering", it omits a very important word that appears in 18 other translations. That word is "and" (or in Robert Young's Literal Translation, "or"), and this completely changes the meaning of the verse. To offer a virgin to the Lord in the OT was to serve in the sanctuary as a nun, who was not to marry, hence, dying a virgin. This also draws a distinction between an animal and person, if a clean animal was to greet him, it would have been sacrificed, a person was to be consecrated (remember this doesn't mean burned!).

5) God commands burning humans (Joshua 7:15): Again EB makes a huge assumption. They see "burned with fire" and immediately think burnt offering. This is a verse talking about Capital Punishment, which has been a part of God's Law throughout the Old Testament. There is no sacrifice.

6) Josiah and human sacrifice (1 Kings 13:1-2 and 2 Kings 23:20-25): This was not a case of human sacrifice, but merely another case of Capital Punishment. Manasseh, the previous king, had built High Places all over Israel where pagan gods were worshipped. Josiah, full of zeal, killed all of the false priests who were worshipping these false gods. The meaning of talking to the altar in 1 Kings was that Josiah was mocking the false power of the idols by burning the dead priests on the altars, and during that time there is no way that would have been tolerated by gods. Obviously, there was nothing truly there with power.

7) Human sacrifice (Wisdom 3:5-7): The book Wisdom of Solomon is part of the Catholic Bible commonly known as 2nd Canon or Apocrypha. These books are treated by Jewish rabbis like we treat Bible commentaries, useful but not inspired by God. This stance is shared by Protestants. See more information here: Furthermore, does it really need to be pointed out that this is a psalm, and therefore its language uses frequent literary devices such as metaphors? This is the case here.

8) Child sacrifice (Wisdom 14:21-23): EvilBible here is quite correct about one thing; the passage does mention actual child sacrifice. EB even admits here that it was being condemned. The verse even says: "It was not enough for them to err in their knowledge of God, but they live in great strife due to ignorance." This was a case of people making massive errors by no fault of God's. That doesn't mean Scripture was by any means wrong. Also, this is also quoted from the apocrypha; see the link in #7 for an explanation of these books.

9) Humans are fuel for fire (Ezekiel 21:33-37): This is the same deal and number 6, this is a metaphor. I'm sure you have heard the expression "on fire for Christ". This means that you are excited about sharing Him and learning more about Him. This is the case here; the context does not lend any credibility to the idea of humans literally burning. The fire is spreading because of the Christian's call to share His word throughout the world, not literally.

10) Burn Nonbelievers (Deuteronomy 13:13-19): This was a messy time in Israel's history. The cycle of sin kept bringing the Israelites to turn away from God, and He would have a nation conquer them in order to get them to turn to Him again. They frequently had to attack and destroy nations that worshipped other gods and mocked the Lord in order to do His work and even to defend themselves. God put this law in place so that Israel would not continue to turn away from Him. EB assumes that it meant the town and its inhabitants, when in fact the inhabitants are mentioned earlier. The verse says "then you must pile all of the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the Lord." The inhabitants aren't mentioned. In fact, the NIV says this: "completely burn the town and its plunder as a burnt offering to the Lord". The inhabitants are not mentioned and were dealt with in an earlier verse. EB has assumed wrong.

The conclusion, more unfounded assumptions show EvilBible's neglect for the context and true meaning of Scripture. The Bible does not contain ritual human sacrifice any more than it contains rape or murder. For another look check this Addendum:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rape in the Bible

Again EB starts off an article with the claim that the Bible condones raping women. The writer presumes to think for its readers, entering in opinions about just how bad of a crime rape really is. It says "How anyone can get their moral guidance from a book that allows rape escapes me." Now, after butchering the English language, it again attacks the Bible using its own opinions, that the Bible condones rape, without looking at the actual text. Again it fails to realize that the Bible frequently tells stories of the Israelites' wrongful acts, but that by no means shows that the Bible is condoning what they are doing. Let's take at look at their so-called "examples":

1) Murder, rape, and pillage at Jabesh-Gilead (Judges 21. 10-24): First off I would like to ask a simple question: Where was the rape? It never says it outright in the verse, and therefore requires some very large assumptions from EvilBible in order to make this work for them, which they do without a thought. EB uses this syllogism: "The virgin's relatives were killed. The men who killed them took the virgins in. They got married, so it must have been equivalent to rape (notice EB also assumes the marriage was forced)" Syllogisms do not contain perfect logic, for example "fish can swim. I can swim. I must be a fish." Therefore, there is no reason to believe that this actually contained rape, let alone repeatedly. There were even regulations for how to deal with said regulation. Give them a peace offer (Deut 20.10-14). This verse even goes on to show how war captives were to be treated, as follows:
  1. Provide them with housing (taking them in)
  2. Allowing them 1 month to mourn.
  3. Then allow marriage
  4. If they divorce, no mistreatment.

Where's the rape? You should know by now.

2) Murder, rape, and pillage of the Midianites (Numbers 31.7-18): Almost the same thing as above. Again, they say "Clearly Moses approves of rape of virgins". Apparently EB sees the word virgin and immediately thinks rape. Rape, or even sex, is never mentioned in the entire verse. The process above still applies, as well.

3) More murder, rape, and pillage (Deuteronomy 20.10-14): Let's make a little checklist, shall we?

  • Murder: This is war, and peace was rejected, God even commanded to offer peace.

  • Rape: Still only says as much as the above two, rape's been inserted by EB.

  • Slavery: The word that here was translated as forced slavery can also be translated to simply mean work, which here could easily be a form of indentured servitude. Also, I already talked about how slavery in the Bible's time, not the same as America's early history:

4) Laws of rape (Deut 22.28-29): Here Mariano was a great resource by providing the etymology of the verse. The word used here, translated as rape, is the Hebrew word shakab, meaning lying down. Taphas is the Hebrew word for catching, handling, taking hold, and isn't used. If you look at most other translations it merely says "a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he lays hold of her and lies with her." Where in the verse does it say the intercourse was forced? The verse even ends with "and they were found". It doesn't say he was caught, THEY were caught. This shows that they were engaging in fornication, not rape. This made them have to get married because the woman was not even previously betrothed.

5) Death to the rape victim (Deut. 22. 23-24): Here it is interesting to note than EB has been citing the NLT, and now switches to the NAB for the remainder of the article. The NLT's verse is even farther away from citing rape, while the NAB is closer, and therefore suits EB's purpose, deliberate misinterpretation, better. The NLT says "suppose a man meets a young woman, a virgin engaged to a man, and has sexual intercourse with her..." Again, no rape. This is fornication, and both are punished for it. They cannot get married like #4 because she is already engaged, so they must be punished, and God has rules set for that. Also, there is a part EB conveniently left out in the very next verse. It says "But if the man meets the engaged woman out in the country, and he rapes her, than only the man must die." Sound like condoning rape to you?

Also, for those who would point out the "but" to mean it meant it in the first part as well, literal translations of the first one say "but she did not cry out", and in the countryside crying out is far less likely to help at all. This shows that the woman was in fact raped, while if she didn't cry out people would know it wasn't rape.

6) David's punishment- Polygamy, rape, baby killing, and God's "forgiveness" (2 Samuel 12. 11-14): To start God is punishing David for polygamy and adultery, so condoning that is out of the question. Deuteronomy 17:15, 17 says: "You shall set a king over you...He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray." Let's try another checklist:

  • Rape: Absent. Lying with the neighbor is his wives committing adultery, no rape.

  • Polygamy: Present. God punished David for it.

  • Baby Killing: Present. God judged David because David had made followers of God look like hypocrites for committing adultery with Bathsheba. Capital punishment, explained here:

  • Forgiveness: Present. The punishment for adultery is death, but God forgave David. Funny thing is, for EB this should be a bad thing.

7) Rape of female captives (Deut 21. 10-14): This was cited earlier in order to show that there wasn't rape, see the process at the end of #1. The process showed that they must be married in order to have sexual relations. None of this was forced, including the marriage. There's not rape, once again EB inserts a very disturbing misinterpretation.

8) Rape and the Spoils of War (Judges 5. 30): Again there is rape inserted by EB's author. None actually in the verse. A girl for each man means as a slave, not a sex slave. Furthermore, this was actually a lyrical poem sang by Deborah, not meant to be interpreted literally like has been by EB.

9) Sex Slaves (Exodus 21. 7-11): I have already dealt with this in my slavery post: A quick refresher, this never says sex anywhere, nor implies it. These were laws handling the treatment of female slaves, nothing more. It even states that a man may marry her to one of his sons. This must occur for any sex; otherwise it would be fornication, which the Bible is patently against. Women were sold into slavery by their families or willingly went in order to pay off debts that they owed, which was more like indentured slavery, a term that didn't exist at the time. Apparently EB sees "woman" and "slave" and immediately thinks "sex slave".

10) God Assists Rape and Plunder (Zechariah 12:1-2): Again EB takes a verse out of context, and those who use or another such site in reference to this (Good idea, by the way), pull up just one more verse after this. It reads: "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against these nations". Another translation of verse one "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh." This verse has Israel being defeated for turning away from God, and then God will come to redeem them. The rape described here is the disgusting acts of other nations, and God punishes them for it when he redeems Israel. Hardly condoning rape.

Conclusion: Thus ends's unfounded rant about the Bible condoning rape. It should be known by now that it clearly doesn't, in fact just the opposite. There is a clear difference between it being in the Bible, and the Bible condoning it. Also, massive assumptions aren't acceptable as evidence. It doesn't explicitly say rape in 90% of these verses, that part is inserted. It helps to understand the slavery side of this as well, so check it out. My link was posted in one of the answers above. Thanks!

My friend Mariano also has a thing or two to say about this, in a more detailed way than I:
and for another perspective:
About fornication:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Murder in the Bible

One of the articles evilbible seems most proud of is the occurrence of "murder" in the Bible. First of all, a definition of murder is absent, so we must come up with one. No doubt the definition they intend to use will be "the unlawful killing of man". They also don't define absurd in this situation. But would it truly be absurd? Every man, women, and child bears the sin and guilt of Adam's sin because of the Great Fall, so the death penalty is exacted. EB is readily willing to enact it's own judgement of the laws of the culture, and this judgement is purely emotionally driven. The entire article is designed to play off of the human emotions associated with murder, but when we look past these it lacks substance. The laws of an ancient culture cannot be subject to our scrutiny, we have no personal knowledge of acts within the culture.

Now to move on, says that God continuously commits unfair killing, including genocide and killings making no sense at all. They have divided these verses into 4 parts:

1, Capital Punishment
Evilbible is very quick to judge here, and EB is attempting to use its own opinions as an argument. Most everyone even today has an opinion regarding capital punishment, and some culture have it within their law system. Apparently EB is against capital punishment, but there is no room in trying to disprove the inerrancy of the Bible for anachronistic judgement of another, completely difference, civilization's laws. Capital Punishment was the law at that time, and was understood by Israel, and all EB's examples are merely people disobeying the Law with the knowledge the capital punishment was in place. It is also worth mentioning that we must not look at the crimes at face value. Some of them, such as working on the Sabbath, seem like very minute offenses, but many times it is what the represent that shows the offense. The Sabbath was a representation of what God did for the Israelites throughout history, including Creation, and to desecrate it by working for personal gain is to put oneself above God, which is ultimately idolatry, in this case worshipping money or oneself.

2, Stupid Reasons

Kill Brats: Evilbible neglected to show what "Go up baldhead" meant, or else didn't bother to find out. Before this Elijah had gone up on the mountain and ascended, which of course made others think him dead. This band of teenagers are in effect saying "Go up and die like Elijah did". God punished them for wishing death upon one of His messengers. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)

God Kills the Curious: The treatment and transport of the Ark of the Covenant was a topic covered thoroughly within the Law, and these were men who broke it even with the knowledge of the consequences. Ignorance of the Law doesn't mean you are excluded from it, does it? This blasphemous act was also done immediately following worship, showing some hypocrisy within the city. The other citizens must have understood this as well, otherwise they most likely would not have proclaimed God's holiness following His judgement. (1Samuel 6:19-20 ASV)

Killed by a Lion: This was a punishment for questioning the Word of God. The commanded man knew that the commander was a prophet, and should have known there would be a good reason for obeying God. Actually, right after the occurrence another man in their company was commanded to do the same thing, and he followed through. After this the prophet was able to disguise himself because of his wound and pursue God's Will, so God had a purpose for this act. (1 Kings 20:35-36)

Killing the Good Samaritan: Again, within the Law the transport of the Ark of the Covenant had specific instructions. The instructions are very clear, and in no part of it are oxen involved. Men were to carry it on poles, but in this case the reverence for God's Covenant were clearly lost. It was being carried precariously on an ox cart, by oxen, with a few men guiding it instead of the appropriate arrangements. God was simply punishing the men for ignorance of His Law, He couldn't have been clearer. (2 Samuel 6:3-7)

3, Murdering Children

Every single one of these examples is a prophecy of Israel's slavery to Babylon later on. The Israelites had been disobeying, blaspheming, and ignoring God for 100's of years, and this was Him setting his children right again. It was the same with with how Canaan and other civilizations were attacked by the Israelites under Joshua, and later on in the Bible. God had given them 100's of years so that they would have a chance to set things right, such as the time before the global flood, but ultimately the cycle of sin continued.

God Kills the Firstborn of Egypt: Did EB by chance miss the 400 years of brutal slavery and not allowing Israel to even worship their God? There were 9 plagues in front of this in which Pharaoh had a chance to let the Israelites go and worship. Also, God had directed these plagues towards showing the powerlessness of the Egyptian gods. I addressed all of these in the post of "Top Ten signs you're a Christian fundamentalist". This one was directed at 3 gods, one of which being Pharaoh who was considered a god.

God Will Kill the Children of Sinners: This is a warning, not a prediction. This was designed to get the Israelites attention so that they don't turn away from God's commands. Like I've said before, turning away from God's commands is ultimately putting yourself above God in your mind, the sin the caused the Fall of Lucifer. All good parents have a great love for their children, so it astounds me that Israel would still turn away when their children are mentioned.

4, Misc. Murders

Sampson's Murders: If you were to read this book, you could easily see that Israel and Philistia were at war. It's not a murder if you are defending your country, not absurd at all.

Peter Kills Two People: This was the very first sin in the new Church. God was showing people how seriously he takes sin by killing Ananias and Saphira. They had given what they said was all they had when it wasn't. They were lying in order to obtain a good reputation in the church. It is also worth noting that, assuming they were true believers, they still ended up with their Heavenly Father. Not a bad deal.

Mass Murder: This was a command to destroy Canaan, which had been one of Israel's enemies for a long time. They had been given lots of time by God to repent of their many sins and come back, but they didn't, that's all there is to it. They were told to kill all women in children so that the civilization would not end up rising again and threatening God's people once more.

You have to kill: This chapter was God's commands concerning the nation of Moab, another civilization given plenty of time to repent but did not. This verse was saying woe to he who disobeys God by keeping his hand from bloodshed because He had commanded the attack of Moab, not random killing like EB makes it out to be.

The Danites kill the next town: EB needs to try a different translation here. God had given the tribe a Dan a certain allotment of land, and currently there were civilizations who were occupying it and refused to move, so they simply claimed what God had given them as part of the promised land.

God kills some more: This was a righteous punishment of Israel by God. Manasseh was a ruler who rebuilt many places of idol worship that his father had destroyed. He ruled as an evil ruler who sacrificed his own children to false gods and ignored warnings from god. He continually sought the council of fortune tellers and mediums, and God sent the Assyrian army in order that Manasseh would come to his senses, which he did.

God promises more killing: This was a prophecy of the destruction of Edom. Edom was the civilization founded by Jacob's brother Esau. Edom had a great dislike of Israel because of Esau's great mistake, and therefore harassed Israel throughout history before their eventual destruction.

The Angel of Death: If Israel were to enter the promised land without any military help from God, they would have been wiped out. God was protecting His people while also keeping them from fraternizing with those who would cause them to again turn to worshipping false gods.

Destruction of Ai and Jericho: Everyone should know at this point that the promised land had been delivered to Israel by God, and that all of these cities that Israel destroyed in order to claim it had been participating in all manners of sins. I'll save the time of point them out again, just look up.

God kills an extended family: This starts off with a godly child dying of sickness so that God is able to punish the rest of the people for conforming to the worship of the calf the Jeroboam had set up. Pretty standard judgement for idolatry, not murder at all.

Mass Murder: There was a clan within the tribe of Benjamin that God knew needed to be punished, but the Benjamites weren't willing to accept it, so they were punished as well for disobeying the Word of God.

The Angel of Death: Israel and Assyria were at war during this time, and Israelites were dying of starvation because of the Assyrians siege. Apparently delivering one's own people from their sinful enemies is murder? I don't think so.

Kill your neighbors: Those neighbors happened to be the Israelites who forsook God and made a golden calf and engaged in an orgy while Moses was getting the 10 commandments. Righteous judgement again.

Kill the Family of Sinners: Achan had put himself above God by refusing God's command to destroy all of Jericho and had taken some of the plunder for himself. A lengthy process of unearthing his crime followed, which at any point he could have come out into the open with it and acquired a much less severe consequence, but he didn't. Instead he ended up involving his family in the punishment as well. You cannot hide as much treasure as this man did without his family knowing about it and helping, which caused them to share in the punishment as well.

Kill Followers of Other Religions: God punished the Israelites for worship of Baal once again. They continually gave up God for Baal, violating the very first commandment. Again we see that EB has neglected to mention that they had knowingly violated the Law, and even more so by previously sleeping with Moabite women, another law! Ignorance of the Law never excuses disobedience. Furthermore, Baal worship frequently entailed things such as idol worship, another law, and human sacrifice, another law.

Murder: They killed the prophets of Baal here, who were advocating all the law breaking mentioned just above. Capital punishment, not wrongful human killing.

Kill All of Babylon: Again, apparently EB objects to war? Babylon was following more religions going directly against the laws God had set in place. They also did enslaved to Israelites for 3 generations and treated them harshly. More punishment, not murder.

Micah Kills a Whole Town: For one thing, the Lord said the journey to find a place to settle had his approval, but the violent actions that happened later on. Furthermore, Micah and his men overtook and killed the Danites because they had stolen from his household. This, again, was violation God's law.

Closing Comments:
None of these examples was able to stand up to elementary examination. When you look at it, you can see that every single one of these could have fallen under the Capital Punishment category. EB is judging the nation of Israel's Law, something they have no right to do. Arguing based on your own opinions when talking about an issue of this magnitude is unacceptable to most skeptics. God enacted the Law for Israel which was ultimately fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and you cannot accurately judge something put in place by a Supreme Being based on our limited human knowledge. EB has failed to show any wrongful killing of humans. For another perspective, check out Rhoblogy's page:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Slavery in the Bible

In the Bible slavery is mentioned many times. claims that these mentions are the Bible condoning slavery, such as Leviticus 25:44-46 where God allows the Israelites to purchase slaves from foreign countries. Evilbible portrays slavery as "one of the most evil things a person can do, save murder."

While this is true in the modern world, the argument that Evilbible makes comes from the fact that it is comparing what we think of slavery now, namely kidnapping Africans and selling them to do virtually free labor, to what slavery meant in cultural times. Slavery in the cultural context was not based on racism, cheap labor, or sex.

There's another big issue with a two words that begin every single one of these statement. Those words are "when" and "if", primarily "if". The Bible says IF x happens, you should do y. It never says Since I commanded you to do x, you should also do y. Evilbible is inserting words that are not in the text, and therefore changing the meaning into instructions on slavery into God condoning slavery, and it clearly doesn't say that. It's the same idea with the word "when". God knows it's going to happen, so he says uses when. It still never says anything about God commanding slavery, or encouraging slavery, etc.

They cite Exodus 21:2-6 which talks about men choosing to sell their daughters into slavery and how that daughter is to be treated while she is in bondage. What this means within the culture is a man selling his daughter as a BRIDE. She is to be treated as such, whether bought or not, which is what the point of the scripture is.

Also evilbible mentions Exodus 21: 20-21 talking about beating slaves. It says that if a slave lives more than 24 hours after a beating, and then dies, there is no punishment, but if it dies immediately you are to be punished. This verse seems to condone beating at first, but in the time period masters were not to be cruel like we here about in our nation's early history, but beatings were only given when the slave committed a crime.

Lastly, evilbible uses a parable of Jesus in Luke 12:47-48 to try to say that Jesus supported slavery. Again, in ancient culture slavery was an accepted practice, and much different than we know it today. He was acknowledging it and giving guidelines for how a master should act. Also, earlier in the verse it talked about the servant being beaten in these verses, that the servant knew his master would be awhile longer, and so he got drunk and beat the other slaves. Strengthening the point above, slaves were beaten only for CRIMES.

The last thing I would like to point out is the slavery we typically think of now is based on race, but the Bible clearly condemns this. The process of "man-stealing" is how people acquired slaves from Africa in America's early history, and that practices is condemned in the Bible. Exodus 13 says that the reason the Hebrews were enslaved was because they were Hebrews, and the following 10 Plagues should show how God feels about racial slavery. Exodus 21:16 “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death." Sounds like condoning slavery to you?