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Religious intolerance in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

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General religious intolerance in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament):

bullet Instruction to murder persons of other faiths:
bullet Any person who performs religious rituals to other than Jehovah was to be executed.
Exodus 22:20 "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed."
bullet A call to God to destroy persons of other faiths:
Psalms 79:6: "Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name."
bullet Instruction to murder religious leaders of other faiths: Religious prophets or soothsayers of other faiths are to be ignored and exterminated.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them...And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death...So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee."

bullet Expelling people from the protection of the camp: God ordered that certain persons be exiled from the camp. This included people with skin diseases, leprosy, and those who have touched a dead body.
Numbers 5:1-2 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:"

bullet Instruction to murder any of your relatives or friends if they spread other religious faiths:
Deuteronomy 13:6-10 "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die..."

bullet Instruction to murder the inhabitants of any Jewish city if you find them following another religion:
Deuteronomy 13:12-15 "If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword."

bullet Instruction to murder persons of other faiths, by stoning:
Deuteronomy 17:2-5 "If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die."

bullet Murder religious leaders of other faiths: Worship of Baal was the other main religion among the Israelites at the time.
1 King 18:19; 18:40 "Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table....And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there."

bullet Mass murder of religious leaders of another faith: King Jehu pretended to convert to the religion of Baal. He acted deceitfully to gather all of the priests, prophets and members of the other faith into one of their temples. He put on the vestments of the other religion, ritually killed animals, and offers them to Baal. After confirming that everyone else in the temple is a worshiper of that religion, he arranges to have 80 men attack and slaughter all of the unarmed and helpless followers of Baal. The temple and its statues were then desecrated. God is so pleased with the act of treachery and mass murder that he promises that Jehu's descendants will rule over Israel, even to the 4th generation.
2 Kings 10:18-31 "And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much. Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another. And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only. And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him. And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel...And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel."

bullet Destroy religious buildings of other faiths:
2 Kings 11:18: "And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars..."

bullet Murder persons of other faiths: King Asa destroyed idols of other faiths in Judah and assembled all the people together. They swore an oath promising to murder any persons of a different faith.
2 Chronicles 15:10-15 "So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem...And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. [The LORD] was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about."

bullet Hate the wicked and followers of other religions: Jehoshaphat has received the wrath of God because he helped the wicked and was tolerant of persons who follow other religions.
2 Chronicles 19:1-2
: And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the wicked, and love them that hate Jehovah? for this thing wrath is upon thee from before Jehovah. (American Standard Version)

bullet Breaking up mixed-faith marriages: In the 5 to 7 decades that the Jews had remained in Babylonian captivity, many had entered into mixed-faith marriages by taking foreign wives. This opened up the possibility of introducing Pagan beliefs and practices into Israel. The people confess their sinful behavior and decide to put away their foreign wives and any children that had been born into the family. There is a similar passage in Nehemiah 13:23-30.
Ezra 10:1-16: "Shechaniah...answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law."

bullet Hatred of persons of other religions: Here, persons of other religions seem to be referred to as the enemies of God. The author of Psalm 139 enthusiastically hates persons of other religions with a "perfect hatred."
Palms 139:19-22: "Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: Depart from me therefore, ye bloodthirsty men. For they speak against thee wickedly, And thine enemies take (thy name) in vain. Do not I hate them, O Jehovah, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: They are become mine enemies." (ASV)

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Copyright 1998 to 2001 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-DEC-3
Author: B.A. Robinson

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