The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
I now come to the third part of our subject, and will cite passages from the Bible which directly or indirectly inculcate what is wrong.
The first group of such passages will consist of those which describe vile and wicked conduct, either without a word of censure or with positive approval. There is a passage in Gen. xix. 30—38, which I have too much delicacy to read, and in which a gross case of incest is recorded, without a word of censure. The offspring of this crime, Moab and Ammon, are especially protected by God, as you will find on reference to Deut. ii. 9 and 19.
In the story of Rebekah's and Jacob's lying (Gen. xxvii.), which is so familiar to all Bible readers, you will not find one word of censure upon them for their wickedness. Jacob himself is always included in the sacred three, when God calls himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This no one will object to were it not that the meaning is that these three men were special favorites of Jehovah. And to show that this is not my own arbitrary interpretation, I refer you to the prophet Malachi i. 2, 3, "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? satih the Lord; yet I loved Jacob, and hated Esau;" and to Paul the Apostle, who quotes these words approvingly, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." (Rom. ix. 13).
Jacob was an utterly mean, cowardly, and fraudulent deceiver, and made so by his own mother. Gen. xxv. 29—34 says, "and Jacob sod pottage; and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee with that same red pottage; for I am faint. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, page 19 Behold I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me? and Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles."
Gen. xxx. 2S—43 gives us an account of how this chosen servant of God cheated his uncle Laban and secured for himself by dishonest means all the best of the flocks and herds. In xxxi. 42, Jacob says to Laban his uncle, "Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty." Wherein he claims that God had not only sanctioned but helped him in his fraudulent dealings.
Esau, on the contrary, who is never praised in the whole Bible, was a fine, noble, generous character, his only recorded fault being the desire to take revenge on Jacob when he had discovered his villainy; but his truly magnanimous forgiveness of Jacob afterwards made ample amends for that natural fit of anger.
Jacob's faults pass uncondemned, while Esau is said to be hated by God.
I pass now to the history of David, to notice one instance of outrageous villainy which never receives a word of censure in the Bible.
I Sam. xxvii. records how David and six hundred men were sheltered and hospitably entertained by Achish, King of Gath (verses 2—6), "He and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, and planted them in a town called Ziklag." Now day by day David and his men made marauding expeditions against the aborigines of the l and by whom he was sheltered. Verses 9—11 tell us that David smote the land, i. e., the Philistine district, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away all the spoil and came to Achish. (Ver. 10—12.) "and Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to-day? and David (falsely) answered, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Kenites. . . . . . And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, lest they should tell on us. And Achish believed David."
This instance of treachery reminds me of one that must not be left out of this black list. I mean the page 20 treachery of Jael (Judges iv.). Like other stories which are so well known, I will not waste time in reciting it all. I only call attention, first, to the extreme sacredness in which Orientalists regard the pledge given and received in acts of hospitality. If food was given and received, it was tantamount to a solemn oath that no harm should be done by one to the other. There is a story told of a robber who entered a house, intending to murder the owner for the sake of his wealth, but that in creeping along his h and touched the walls. He put his h and to his mouth and tasted salt, whereupon he withdrew from the house, gave up his coveted spoils, and afterwards confessed to the owner how his life had been preserved.
I mention this to show how sacred was the implied pledge in hospitality given and received. But what aggravated the conduct of Jael was, that (ver. 17) there was peace between Sisera's king and her husband, Heber the Kenite. As her husband's friend, Jael thus receives Sisera (ver. 18), and says, "Turn in, my lord, turn in; fear not." After being refreshed with a draught of milk from Jael's hand, the weary warrior lies down in perfect security and sleeps. The awful tragedy you know, and one could only extenuate or make excuses for the crime on the possibility of a panic of terror coming over Jael's mind for the safety of her husband, who was thus compromised by sheltering the enemy of the victorious Israelites. But no human heart now-a-days could look upon her act as anything but a crime, and a crime of the deepest dye.
Turn to Judges v., and what do we read? (ver. 24)—"Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite be; blessed shall she be above women in the tent." (ver. 31) "So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord." These are the words of Deborah, a prophetess—an inspired woman—and this is a part of that Book which even to-day is asserted to be the infallible Word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost!
The books of the Kings and Chronicles abound in instances of vile conduct uncensured, or actually commended. I will give you but one—King Jehu. 2 Kings x. 30, informs us that "The Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done into the page 21 house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." In the 9th chap., verses 6 and 7, we find the command of God to Jehu to "smite the house of Ahab."
Now let us briefly enumerate the acts of Jehu, which were done in obedience to God's command, and which were rewarded by God's approval.
He first shot King Joram, and then ordered the assassination of King Ahaziah (chap. Lx. 24, 27): then, by a subtle and explicit message to the Samaritan elders, he obtained the heads of seventy of Ahab's children (chap. x. 5—10), which were packed in baskets and sent to him to Jezreel. The next morning he addresses the people in most hypocritical language—"I conspired against my master and slew him, but who slew all these?" thus pretending to have had nothing to do with that massacre. This he followed up by slaying all the rest of Ahab's relations (ver. 11) and friends, and great men and priests, until he left him none remaining (chap. x. 11). But with the usual elasticity of Scripture, after they were all slain, there were a great many left, namely, forty two brethren of Ahaziah (Ahab's son-in-law) and a whole temple full of priests. The former he slays without a word of warning; the latter he ensnares into his hands by hard lying (chap, x. 18—28). It is plain enough to us to see that Jehu only acted like an unscrupulous usurper, who finds the safety of his throne dependent upon the extermination of the late dynasty, while his slaughter of the worshippers of Baal was partly done as a sop to the priests of Jehovah, who had been instrumental in urging his pretensions, and partly to crush all lingering sympathy with the house of Ahab in the minds of the people. He was a consummate dissembler, hypocrite, and murderer; and yet the Bible tells us that he did according to all that was in God's heart, all that was right in God's eyes, and received for so doing God's approval and reward.
Of direct commands which are immoral and degrading there is, alas I a too plentiful supply in the Bible. It is impossible to give more than a few illustrations.
1st. As to the usages of war. God is said to have commanded the slaughter of women and children, even infants and sucklings. Joshua x. 40 sums up page 22 an account which must be terribly familiar to the ears of all church-goers:—"So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.
In Numbers xxxi. 17, 18, Moses gives a command to slay every male and every married woman; but the virgins were to be reserved for their own enjoyment. Lest it should be said this was only Moses speaking, refer to the 25th and the following verses—"The Lord spake unto Moses saying, . . . Divide the prey," . . . . so and so—32,000 persons, women, who were virgins (I have altered the Bible expression out of decency.) Ver. 40 says "and the persons were 16.000, of whom the Lord's tribute was thirty and two persons." We do not wonder at savage men doing these things; we only ask, in the name of the Holy God, how you Bible-worshippers dare to tell us that these were God's commands?
Turn now to Numbers v. 11—34, beginning "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying." It is the ordeal for jealousy—no, I cannot read it. It is too disgusting; and if I read it here or in church, I should earn the character of that notorious Protestant lecturer, who is blamed for going about the country exposing the alleged obscenities of the Catholic Confessional.
The law of divorce (Deuter. xxiv. 1—3), is another instance of immoral commandment; and we have the authority of Jesus for saying so. He upsets the Divine authority for the law, by ascribing it to Moses.
Again, the law of retaliation (Deuter. xix. 21), "Thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, h and for hand, foot for foot," is eminently immoral, also reversed by Jesus.
Hosea is commanded (chap. i. 1), to break the Seventh Commandment. (See also chap. iii. 1).
Levit. xxvii. 29, involves human sacrifices; "None devoted shall be redeemed; they shall surely be put to death." "Every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord." Jephthah, no doubt acted upon some law like this.
Exod. xxii. 18, enacts a law which has caused thousands and tens of thousands of defenceless women to be murdered—"Thou shalt not suffer a witch page 23 to live." What are we to think of a God who knew so little about the men and women he had made as to believe in witchcraft himself? Slavery is also inculcated in Leviticus xxv. 44—46, "Thy bondmen and thy bondmaids shalt thou buy of the heathen that are round about you, and of the strangers that do sojourn among you, and ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you; they shall be your bondmen forever." (I have condensed this passage for the sake of brevity.)
Although the Hebrews might not marry any foreign women, yet they might have as many concubines as they pleased of the captives taken in war, or by purchase. Hence Solomon figures with his 700 wives and 300 concubines—1,000 women in all.
Lastly, the Bible itself endorses all that I have said, in these words from Ezekiel xx. 25, "Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live."
I must not omit from this catalogue those blemishes on the beautiful Psalms, in which Oriental hatred and revenge find such fierce expression. Psalms cix., cxxxvii., are enough to quote in establishment of my argument, while I can assure you that there are very few Psalms in the whole nook that are not more or less disfigured by prayers for revenge and curses against foes.
It has been urged by some that the moral teaching of the New Testament is also at fault. No doubt it Is imperfect, but it does not deserve to be placed in the same black catalogue as that from which I have drawn the foregoing illustrations. One book of the New Testament, he wever, has earned our just execration. My sense of justice rose up in rebellion against it when I was but a boy, and I detest the book more than ever now. It is the last in the Bible the Book of Revelation. In ohap. xxii. 18,19, the writer fiercely but vainly tries to guard his production from being corrupted by transcribers, and this he does by a malediction worthy of the spirit which has ever animated the diabolical side of the Christian church. "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life." I only wish the writer of that book could hear me page 24 say to him, "Your mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, and your feet are swift to shed blood."
False pretenses generally defeat their own end. Let Bibliolators beware of making threats against those who question the Divine origin and infallibility of this book. Those threats will make more rebels than they ever made slaves.