Cruelty In The Bible?
hires Balaam to curse Israel.
What is the appropriate punishment?
HUMANIST CLAIMED CRUELTY: In Numbers chapter 31,
the Lord approves of these instructions that Moses gave to the Israelite soldiers
about how to treat certain women and children captured in war: Now therefore
kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man
by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying
with him, keep alive for yourselves.
So we know what
the humanists are talking about this accusation of cruelty quotes Numbers
To understand what was going
on here we need to go back to the plains of Moab and the record in Numbers 22-25
describing what happened there.
The evil prophet Balaam had been hired
by Balak, the king of the Midianites living in Moab, to curse Israel so that they
could be destroyed. But, God would not allow Balaam to curse Israel, but instead
Balaam blessed Israel. This wasn't good for Balaam. He had been promised a huge
reward for cursing Israel, but now it appeared he would leave in disgrace and
with no payment.
But then Balaam came up with a way to curse Israel
by getting them to bring the curse on themselves. Balaam told king Balak
that the Midianites needed to seduce the people of Israel with prostitutes and
idolatry. This disobedience of God would result in Israel bringing a curse on
themselves. Balak followed Balaams advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping
Baal of Peor and committing fornication with Midianite women... bringing a plague
of sin and a curse on themselves that resulted in the death of 24,000 Israelites.
The humanist statement above makes it seem as though Numbers
31:17-18 are general instructions for war. That is a false representation of what
is happening here. These are not general instructions for war, but specific instructions
for how Israel is to deal with the Midianites. Why are young men and women who
were not virgins targeted? They were the ones responsible for corrupting Israel
at Peor (Numbers 25:1-18). This ensured the end of the Midianites and prevented
them from seducing Israel again in the future.
In addition, Balaam's three-fold
blessing of Israel (instead of cursing) made it clear to Balak, King of the Midianites,
that Israel was blessed by God. They were not people that Balak should be trying
The punishment perfectly fit the
crime. It was just and appropriate.
Conclusion: Once again we see
that God is not cruel. His response to Midianite sexual and spiritual seduction
was just and appropriate.
Next example: Isaiah
13:9,15-18 contains this message from God: Behold, the day of the Lord cometh,
cruel both with wrath and fierce anger. . . . Every one that is found shall be
thrust through. . . . Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their
eyes . . . and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against
them. . . . [T]hey shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will
not spare children.
Let's see what God is doing this time.