The most disturbing aspect of Yahweh’s humanoid personality, however, is his blood-lust. The smell of burning flesh is a ‘sweet savour unto the lord’ – so sweet, in fact, that the phrase appears in the Old Testament no fewer than twenty three times. The butchery demanded by god is trully monumental. Believers are required to sacrifice two lambs day-by-day continuously – and that’s just for starters! Just as well Yahweh had several thousand priests to help him trough through the banquet!
Livestock bears the brunt of god’s appetite but humans could so easily get the chop from the big guy. God kills Uzza for simply steadying the tumbling Ark (1Chronicles 13.9,10). Poor Onan was zapped for using the withdrawal method of birth control (Genesis 38.10). But such isolated vindictiveness palls in comparison with the mass killings of the Lord. When the autocratic Moses faces a rebellion led by Korah, God uses an earthquake and fire to consume two hundred and fifty rebels. When indignant sympathizers protest at the injustice, God wipes out another fourteen thousand seven hundred with a plague (Numbers 16). What a guy!
In Joshua’s (supposed) wars of conquest, God gets right in there. He throws down ‘great stones from heaven’ (Joshua 10.11) and scores a better body-count than his Israelites with mere swords. When the Lord gets up a real head of steam the slaughter reaches a truly epic scale. For merely looking into his Ark, Yahweh wipes out fifty thousand and seventy unfortunate men of Bethshemesh (1 Samuel 6.19). When King David slips up and orders a national census, an enraged God zaps seventy thousand. Quite apart from the celestial superman’s own killing, he animates his favourites into wiping out whole cities and nations. Jericho, Sodom, Gomorah, Ai, Makkedah, Libnah etc., etc., are ‘smote and consumed’ – men, women, young, old, ox, sheep and ass! ‘You shall annihilate them - Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites – as Yahweh your God commanded you.’ (Deuteronomy 20.11,18) In the largest single god-inspired massacre in the Bible, one million Ethiopians are slaughtered! (2 Chronicles 14).
But then we have been warned:
‘The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.’ (Exodus 15.3).
All this carnage, of course, is allegorical, albeit that certain stories may have a tenuous link with an ancient skirmish somewhere. The point is to terrify people into obedience of the priesthood.
‘Moses’ is an archetypal ‘wise priest’, who rules with a rod of iron and brooks no opposition. ‘Take heed’ is the warning. ‘Look what happens when you disobey the word of the Lord!’