Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

Christian Resources

Cruelty In The Bible?

Balak hires Balaam to unjustly curse Israel.
What is the appropriate punishment?

THE 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.”

Free Atheist's Answers Book

This accusation of cruelty correctly quotes (except for a minor typo) Numbers 31:17-18.

The Problem:

To understand what was going on we need to go back to the plains of Moab and the history recorded in Numbers chapters 22 through 25.

Balak, the king of the Midianites, hires the evil prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Balak wants Israel destroyed. However, God would not allow Balaam to curse Israel. Instead, no matter how hard he tried, Balaam blessed Israel. This was not good for Balaam. He was to get a huge payment for cursing Israel, but now it appeared he would leave in disgrace and with no money.

Then Balaam came up with a way to curse Israel by getting them to bring God’s curse on themselves. Balaam told king Balak that the Midianites needed to seduce the people of Israel with pros-titutes and idolatry. This disobedience of God would result in Israel bringing a curse on themselves. Balak followed Balaam’s advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal of Peor and committing fornica-tion with Midianite women. This resulted in the death of 24,000 people. (Numbers 25:1-12)

The humanist statement makes it seem as though Numbers 31:17-18 are general instructions for war. That is a false representa-tion of what is happening. Here again they are misrepresenting what scripture says. These are not general instructions for war, but specific instructions for how Israel is to deal with the Midianites who se-duced them into sin. This misrepresentation of scripture makes this claim invalid.

Why were young men, and women who were not virgins, targeted? They were the ones specifically and directly responsible for corrupting Israel. This was justice, and it ensured the end of the threat from the Midianites, preventing them from seducing Israel again.


Conclusion: Once again, we see that God is not cruel. His response to Midianite sexual and spiritual seduction was limited, 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.”

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Wide and Narrow Roads

Most people choose the wide road. It's the way everyone else is going. It's wide and it's an easy road, so it must be the right road. But it's the wrong way!

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. - Matthew 7:13

The wide road, and wide gate is our choice based what feels good. But our feelings (our heart) are deceptive.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; - Jeremiah 17:9

Christianity... meaning belief in Jesus Christ... is not a blind faith driven by emotions. It is an informed faith, based on historical facts and truth.

The truth is that we are law breakers (sinners) in need of a Savior from the just wrath of God. That Savior is Jesus Christ.

Trusting Jesus is not the easy way. It is the narrow road, through a narrow gate, and it can be difficult at times. But it is the right way to go. And it is the only way to have eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Trust Jesus. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. - Acts 16:31