Cruelty In The Bible?
God Unjustly Torment The Egyptians?
CRUELTY: He [God] tormented the Egyptians and their animals with hail and
disease because pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt (Exodus 9:8-11,25);
and he killed Egyptian babies at the time of the Passover (Exodus 12:29-30)
What would be nice is for the humanists to actually explain their thinking. For
example, why do they think it was wrong for God to bring plagues against the Egyptians?
(I'm assuming they think it was wrong in some way.) Was God being unjust? Did
God have the wrong motives? Do humanists approve of slavery and are saying the
Egyptians were doing nothing wrong by enslaving Israel for several hundred years?
Was the means of freeing Israel too harsh? Given the situation and circumstances,
what did God do that they consider to be cruel?
We'll have to make an assumption...
best assumption is that the humanists are claiming God was unjust...
that the "punishment" was not appropriate for the crime. However, it
would be nice if, in future articles, humanists would provide the reasons for
their assertions of cruelty. Using emotion packed words ("tormented")
and making nebulous accusations leaves it to the minds of the reader to come up
with the "crime." But, it actually provides no actual support for their
claims of cruelty.
But, let's assume the charge is that God is cruel because
He is not just, and move ahead on that basis. Most people are familiar with what
happened. Here is a brief summary.
1. There was a famine
in the land. Israel, along with his family, servants, and flocks are invited to
settle in the land of Goshen (Egypt).
2. The Israelites are in Goshen for
400 years. Early in that time they lose their freedom and become slaves of the
Egyptians... who are cruel and harsh in their treatment of the Israelites.
they [the Egyptians] appointed taskmasters
over them to afflict them with hard labor. ..The Egyptians compelled the sons
of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor
in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors
which they rigorously imposed on them. - Exodus 1:11-14
Moses is chosen by God to lead Israel out of captivity, but Pharaoh would not
let them go.
4. God then brings ten plagues on Egypt, after which Pharaoh
finally lets the Israelites leave. The final plague was the death of all the firstborn.
where the problems God was addressing?
does He do this? Through the ten plagues. They would address all three
The Israelite slave labor was an important part of the Egyptian
economy. It was through this slave labor that many major building projects in
Egypt were accomplished. The Egyptian government (Pharaoh) did not want to lose
this source of very low cost labor, and it will take either a major war, or something
equally significant, to set them free.
The method God chose to free
the slaves also demonstrated that God is worthy of worship and the Egyptian
gods are not. As is common with pagan cultures, the Egyptians worshiped a variety
of gods based in nature. Natural events, such as the annual flooding of the Nile,
supposedly demonstrated the power of their gods. When Moses first confronted Pharaoh
and demanded that he let Israel go, Pharaoh responded:
is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord,
and besides, I will not let Israel go. - Exodus 5:2
contest was on to see which God/god was the most powerful. The Got
Questions web site describes each of the plagues:
first plague, turning the Nile to blood, was a judgment against Apis, the god
of the Nile, Isis, goddess of the Nile, and Khnum, guardian of the Nile. The Nile
was also believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris, who was reborn each year when
the river flooded. The river, which formed the basis of daily life and the national
economy, was devastated, as millions of fish died in the river and the water was
unusable. Pharaoh was told, By this you will know that I am the LORD (Exodus
Here is a list of the ten plagues
and the Egyptian gods they targeted:
- Nile tuned to blood
- APIs, Isis, Osiris, and Khnum, all gods related to the Nile
- Frogs -
Heqet (a frog headed god)
- Gnats - Set, the god of the desert
- Uatchit, the fly god
- Death of livestock - APIs and Hathor, who both
had the physical appearance of cattle
- Boils - Sekhmet, Suni, and Isis,
gods over health and disease
- Hail and Fire - Nut, Osiris and Set, the
sky goddess, crop fertility god, and storm god
- Locusts - Nut, Osiris and
- Darkness - Re, the son god who was symbolized by Pharaoh himself
of firstborn males - Isis
In the midst of these plagues God
was not without grace and mercy on the Egyptians. If they turned away
from trusting in their gods to protect them, and believed the God of the Israelites,
they would be blessed. For example, before the seventh plague (hail and fire)
"About this time tomorrow,
I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day
it was founded until now. Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever
you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field
and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die.
one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord made his servants
and his livestock flee into the houses; but he who paid no regard to the word
of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field. - Exodus
God warned them, and those Egyptians who brought their
livestock into their houses were not harmed. Those who left their livestock in
the field, lost their livestock.
The Final Part Of This Question
- Killing Babies
Once again the American Humanist web site uses
deceptive emotion-packed language to influence the reader to believe God is cruel.
It is deceptive because the tenth plague had nothing to do with killing babies.
But, of course, to claim God was killing babies is a strong appeal to our emotions.
I find particularly vulgar and sickening is that American Humanists have
absolutely no problems with killing babies. They do not feel it is morally wrong
to kill babies. Their web site has a page titled "Resolution on a Woman's
Right to Kill Babies." ooops, I used the humanist tactic of using emotion
packed language, even if it distorts what they actually said. The actual title
is: "Resolution on a Woman's Right to Abortion." Oh... so I actually
didn't distort what they said after all. This is about killing babies.
is an official resolution adopted by the American Humanist's board of directors
on March 29, 1985. It gives a series of reasons and then states, "The
AHA reaffirms its support of womens right of choice to terminate a pregnancy
within the parameter set up by the Supreme Court in its Roe vs. Wade decision."
American Humanists Support Killing Babies
If, when you read the
American Humanists claim that God is cruel because He kills babies, you conclude
God is cruel, then please write to the American Humanists Association and complain
about their cruelty. They strongly support killing babies... the smallest and
most helpless babies.
However, when it comes to this claim that God was
killing babies, we'll see that not only was God not killing babies, He was not
cruel. He even provided a way that anyone who believed Him could be saved.
did God do in Egypt? He killed the firstborn males. That includes me.
As I write this I am 66 years old, and I am the firstborn of my parents. Do you
understand what that means? It wasn't babies. It was mostly adult males who, if
they listen to and obeyed God, didn't have to die.
God had already sent
nine plagues. Nine powerful messages that demonstrated who He is (both His power
and His grace) and that He does what He says He'll do. The physical evidence has
overwhelming. All they had to do was believe and act on the belief, because...
provided a way to protect the firstborn males. Smear the blood of a lamb
on the top and sides of your doorway, and then trust that God would have the angel
of death pass over your house. Anyone who did this, not just Israelites, would
Conclusion: God is not cruel. The ten plagues
were just and appropriate.
Next example: After the
Exodus he ordered the Israelites to exterminate the men, women, and children of
seven nations and steal their land (Deuteronomy 7:1-2);
here to learn about the promised land.