Thank You God for Killing My Enemies’ Children

Death Firstborn[Site editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the recent Disinformation title 50 Things You’re Not Supposed To Know: Religion, authored by Daniele Bolelli.]

Often, the stories at the origin of many religious holidays sound like sweet fairy tales.

Think of Christmas, for example, with the shooting star, the three wise men bringing gifts, and baby Jesus being born in the midst of all the happy barn animals. It has a “God meets Old-MacDonald-Had-a-Farm” feel to it.

The story at the roots of the Jewish holiday of Passover, on the other hand, doesn’t sound quite like a fairy tale—unless perhaps one created by Stephen King. What exactly is celebrated during Passover? Our tale begins in Egypt over 3,000 years ago—or at least so we are told, since there is less historical evidence for the authenticity of this story than for the existence of the Yeti and the Loch Ness monster. No source for its truthfulness exists other than the Torah. For all we know, it could be all exactly true or it could just as well be entirely made up. But in any case, here’s what the Torah has to say about the origins of Passover. Over three millennia ago, times were not rosy for Jewish peoples (some things never change …). Being enslaved in ancient Egypt was not the epitome of fun, so Jews were desperately looking for a way out. The one and only God came to the rescue by empowering Moses to threaten the Pharaoh with a series of horrific plagues unless he freed his people. Nine consecutive plagues failed to sway the Pharaoh. So, for the tenth plague, God decided to pull out the big guns. He told good monotheistic Jews to mark their doorposts with the blood of sacrificial lambs. This was to make sure that the angel of death—who apparently could be a bit distracted sometimes—would not make mistakes. The blood on the door was the signal to the angel of death that he was not welcome to come in for a visit: the blood told him to “pass over” those homes and go carry out his murderous homework elsewhere. God’s orders, in fact, were pretty specific: all the firstborn children of the Egyptians were to be wiped out in a single night. And just in case that weren’t enough, all the firstborn calves were also to be killed (if you are wondering about that, sorry but the Torah doesn’t tell us exactly what evil sin Egyptian cows had committed to deserve such punishment).

Since this story was apparently not perverted enough, here’s the icing on the cake. It was God all along who had hardened the heart of the Pharaoh to make sure he wouldn’t release Jewish people before He had a chance to unleash all ten plagues. “Why?”—you may ask—“What kind of weird game was God playing?”

This whole drama was a publicity stunt set up by the one and only God, “… in order to show you My power and in order that My fame may resound throughout the world.” In other words, the killing of thousands of Egyptian kids was but a way for God to flex His muscles and gain some fame: bloodshed and terror tactics as a strategy to get attention.

Now, ancient Jews were clearly not overly fond of their enemies’ children. In Psalm 137, which begins as a moving lamentation over being exiled from their homelands, we are told with gleeful satisfaction about the joys of smashing the heads of the children of Babylon. During the march to the Promised Land, we are told in multiple occasions about Jewish armies hacking to death all enemy males, including those still suckling. But the lovely tale of the angel of death having a field day with Egyptian kids is the only massacre of babies to get its very celebratory holiday.

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  • http://shalilayo.net/ Justin Mitchell

    Religion is the root of all evil.

    • Douches

      Pride is the root of all suffering…    “Author, musician, geek, artist, eccentric full of shit repeater…”

    • Guest

      Obviously; you have NEVER meet my Ex !   LOL !

  • http://shalilayo.net/ Justin Mitchell

    Religion is the root of all evil.

    • Jin The Ninja

       No, people are the root of the evils we inflict upon eachother.

      • Duh

        People are the root of all religion; ergo, you are both correct. 

        • Jin The Ninja

          while religion is a societal construct and thus subject to the imperfections of the human soul; it isn’t the cause of evil- religion can offer a moral standard; however many religious people choose not to follow it, or subvert the text for their own petty purposes through violence or oppression.

          • Vincent Vega

             How many people have been killed in the name of religion?  I rest my case.  Dream on ninja.

          • Jin The Ninja

            how many people have been killed in the name of nationalism, american/european exceptionalism, the cold war, cultural superiority, racism, sexism, and imperialism? or for resources? labour? control? many more i think, and those don’t even directly stem from codified religion, they stem from greed. rest your case, it’s a dead one.

            blaming only one corrupt human institution for ‘all evil’ is both ahistorical and vastly anti intellectual. erase ‘religion’ and you’d still have evil. hierarchy is corrupting. oppression is its tool. relying on what materialist islamophobic anti consciousness white men have been spouting is neither productive nor deconstructing the myths of civilization that produce or engender evil. it’s not one thing- it’s many.

          • Guest

            If Islam WAS EVIL; what would you call those who oppose it ? Would it be another word – other than “Islamophobic” ?

          • Jin The Ninja

            islam isn’t any more evil than ANY other religious institution. and to assert so is ‘islamophobic’ and most likely racist.

          • Guest

            Apparently you don’t know what the word “IF” means !

          • Jin The Ninja

            of all the ‘hypothetical’ religions to posit in your above scenario, why did you choose islam? i would assert you would ONLY choose islam IF you were patently against it. ergo you are an islamophobe, probably anti arab too.

          • Guest

            Because YOU brought up the subject of “islamophobic white men';”

          • Jin The Ninja

            hitchens, dawkins were/are not islamophobic white men?

          • Guest

            read your OWN POSTSIt says “relying on materialist islamophopic anti-consciences of WHITE MEN . I believe that makes you the “RACIST’ – not me ! PS: I agree with many of the points you make in your posts; but I do not want to get in a war of words with you. So Good-Bye !

          • Jin The Ninja

            calling hitchens/dawkins and ilk ‘white men’ is not racist, even mildly. they are white. ps: you can’t even understand my posts, much less agree with them.

          • Jin The Ninja

            later cracker.

          • Jin The Ninja

             i love how you deleted your subsequent comments- coward.

          • Guest

            NO ONE  has ever been killed by following the teachings of “Jesus Christ” PERIOD. And I will wire you One hundred Dollars, if you can show me otherwise !

          • JaceD

            You CAN’T be serious?

          • Andrew

            He’s talking about those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus, as opposed to those who worship him so they can ignore his teachings.

          • JaceD

            It’s a shame the worshippers out number the followers greatly.

          • Eric_D_Read

            “NO ONE  has ever been killed by following the teachings of “Jesus Christ” PERIOD” 
            There were once some fat, happy Roman Lions who would have disputed that claim. Far too few, unfortunately.

          • orest goyan

            Correction; there was a typing error in my post.
            I meant to say; “NO ONE has ever been killed by
            SOMEONE FOLLOWING the teachings of Jesus;
            Not “killed by following the teachings”
            If that was the case; there would be no “Foxe’s
            Book of Martyrs”    Thank You Eric_D_Read !

      • Guest

        Then why don’t you kill yourself; and spare us some of the evil ?

        • Jin The Ninja

          i.e. ?

    • cakeypig

       ‘Religion is the root of all evil’ sounds like a very religious statement to me – It’s absolutist – as if everything is all black and white, with no shades of grey… ;)

    • dance machine

       evil is the root of religion.

  • Feline_with_a_guitar

    >Our tale begins in Egypt over 3,000 years ago—or at least so we are told,
    since there is less historical evidence for the authenticity of this
    story than for the existence of the Yeti and the Loch Ness monster. No
    source for its truthfulness exists other than the Torah.

    This claim strikes me as a bit of an overstatement. Is the Torah’s story _literally_ true? Probably not. But the Merneptah Stele, ca. 1200 BC, establishes Israel as a nation or community that had been defeated by Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III. So it’s entirely plausible that the early Jews were, if not enslaved in the strictest sense, under Egyptian hegemony for a period. And, like most nations or cultures, the Jews mythologized their history and didn’t let the facts get in the way of a rousing story.

  • Robert Pinkerton

    By “reasoning” from the title hereof at Disinfo, Anders Behring Breivik was playing God on Utoeia Island: He was killing his enemies’ children.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    Makes me think of Mark Twain’s War Prayer.

  • Redacted

    Why would God, being the all powerful being that rules the Universe need to flex his muscles? Unless he was making war on another God of course.

    Which, as his own followers will attest, is exactly what he was doing. So much for being the only god.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

    If this story had been set in the antebellum south, with the Jews and Egyptians replaced by Black slaves and white people, I think a lot less people would be so gung-ho to condemn this story, or to write it off as the product of ignorance and malice. Maybe you would still say the story is wrong, but I would hope you’d see that it’s more complex than a seven word dismissal acknowledges.

  • cakeypig

    This is an interesting article about the archaeological evidence behind Passover, Moses etc… http://dailygotham.com/blog/mole333/the_truth_behind_passover

  • orest goyan

    This article is nothing more than Anti-Semetic hatred;
    And this Web-page is well named “Disinformation” !

    • JaceD

      .A criticism of your belief is “anti-semetic”? What a load of rubbish, look at some of the articles that are clearly anti-christian.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=580380351 Potter Dee

      we are equal oppertunity offenders.

  • Guest

    This is some pretty uninformed writing. It’s a customary part of the passover seder to mourn the egyptians who died as a consequence of the pharaoh’s enforced slavery. This goes back to why the jews were there in the first place, as Joseph’s descendants from his time advising a previous pharaoh. All in all this is pretty biased and disappointing crap to read on disinfo. 

  • perma

    The idea of God has developed over time.The jewish God is for the jews. He is responsible for everything that happens – good or bad. This god is like an invisible person who starts volcanos and earthquakes. The christian God who was introdused by Jesus, was based on some idea of universal goodness. The christian god is not a person. This god is more like an idea of good as in Platon’s philosophy. 

  • Ronda Bollard

    go to you tube and listen to …..the good jew part   1 to 6…..talk about evil….dont miss part 5…

  • Guestreader1111

    The blood on the door posts served as a statement of loyalty. Since the Egyptians considered the lambs holy, putting the blood of these animals on the door said, “I’m not afraid. The lord’s got my back.” It had nothing to do with cruelty or malicious intent; it was a show of trust and faith. Let’s not forget, the Bible narrative includes the Egyptians slaughtering the Hebrews’ children for generations. To get a little revenge on them seems perfectly fair and reasonable for that era. Besides, what’s wrong with a god that flexes his muscles to teach a lesson? Nothing in the biblical narrative of Passover and the Exodus is inconsistent with the violence and supernatural beliefs of other ancient people.

  • Lana

    Very funny written article, thanks Daniele!

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