11 Gruesome Bible Stories (Happy Halloween!)

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses 11 gruesome Bible stories:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • islandbrewer

    “Eaten by worms and then died”? Isn’t it usually the other way around?

    • The Other Weirdo

      Only for some values of ‘died’.

    • Itarion

      Well,you know. Parasites were more common in those days. I’m guessing heart-worms, or possibly intestinal roundworms.

      • baal

        Probably guinea worm. It’s not pleasant.

    • invivoMark
      • baal

        “Bless the Maker and His water.
        Bless the coming and going of Him.
        May His passage cleanse the world.
        May He keep the world for His people. ”

        • islandbrewer

          You know, there’s something to be said for worshipping a deity that occasionally (and literally) rears its ugly head, and eats someone.

          • baal

            And melange is some pretty special stuff.

  • Michael

    That last one is the story Neil Gaiman credits with being the closest he ever came to getting a publisher jailed. The publisher was only spared because the comic he published was actually a faithful rendition of that bible story.

    • Castilliano

      I’ve heard that the big Demille Bible movies and that ilk were made to get around censure by both media and government.
      That’s to say, their movies could have all sorts of racy, violent stories, as long as they were “Bible Approved”.

  • FredClark

    A few more highlights/lowlights of the R-rated parts of the Bible — in the hopes that you’re planning a Part 2 (yes, please):

    2 Kings 6 has a gory little story of cannibalism during a siege (“so we boiled my son and did eat him”); Genesis 34 is a horrifying story of circumcision and revenge; the golden hemorrhoids story in 1 Samuel 6 is kind of gruesome, but even though Iron Age jokes about the Philistines haven’t aged well, it’s also still kind of funny.

    Oh, and no list of R-rated Bible passages can really be complete without Ezekiel 23:20 — the dirtiest verse in the Bible.

    I’ve always like the Escher-y goodness of that lake of fire scene in Revelation — death and Hades get sent to Hades, where they die. I don’t know what/if it means, but the death of death actually seems kind of hopeful.

    • Randay

      One more story from Revelation 2:

      “[18] And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;[19] I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
      [20] Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
      [21] And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
      [22] Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
      [23] And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

      So kind Jesus murders Jezebel’s children to teach her a lesson. What were the children’s sins? I kind of like the eyes like flame and the feet like brass though. Further on:

      “[26] And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:[27] And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.”

      From Ecclesiastes 3(a part that Pete Seegar did not include in his song Turn, Turn, Turn):

      “14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

      15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.”

      So God takes responsibility for all the bad things too and does it to create fear. But he loves you.

  • Art_Vandelay

    At least they left the virgin daughter alone? No?

  • Itarion

    I think that about half of those are new to me.

    Also, the book of Revelations – with a touch of artistic license – would make for an excellent fantasy horror movie. Something on the scale of LotR or Star Wars, but far darker.

  • lmern

    As little kids it was always tradition in my house to watch Jesus of Nazareth on Easter morning (thanks dad) and I remember the scenes with John the Baptist losing his head rather well. Was kinda traumatizing. (Thanks dad!)

  • Art_Vandelay

    Hemant, you left out the one about the disappointed dude that was going to burn all of humanity forever but then he knocked up a 14 year old Jewish girl so that he could brutally torture and execute the bastard child instead.

  • baal

    Well, after that blessed recitation oof the various excellent parts oof the bible, I noow see the gloory of the loord. The scales have fallen from my eyes and Isee noow that god + 0 = good. This shoows that god plus noothing is goood.*

    * ymmv based on your degree of literalism and misundering that those were bad acts, I mean, who doesn’t try to get their future son in law killed and all those foreskins were nothing more than a substitute for Kalamari (since shellfish are haram or something).

  • momtarkle

    I’d love to see/hear you do something on the creation and evolution (DAMN! Lightning just struck me!) of the bible. How the oldie and newbie testaments got slung together, edited, translated to what we all worship now. God had to have had some help, didn’t He?

    • L.Long

      Just read somewhere that the History Channel is doing a series about the history of the buyBull. Ya I know it made itself a LOL channel but give it a look.

  • Pofarmer

    Ya know, having a discussion with a devout Catholic. How in the world can someone who thinks that bread turns into flesh, and wine turns into blood, think that they have the rational, fact based side of the argument?

  • Geena Safire

    Teacher: Jimmy, use ‘gruesome’ in a sentence.

    Jimmy: I used to be the shortest boy, then I gruesome.

  • Robster

    Hearing these highly undesirable bible stories again only confirms my inability to understand how people attracted to the delusion in the first place. I’m sure bible besotted parents who indoctrinate their children can’t completely stop them from thinking at least a little bit. The whole story is without merit, attraction or desirability. It’s no wonder they need the guilt and fear factors built into the belief system to give themselves at least a chance of getting new victims.

  • Mick

    Regarding the business about turning water into blood:

    In Exodus 7:14-21 we are told that all the rivers, canals, and pools were turned into blood by Aaron. Even the water in the wooden tubs and stone jars was turned into blood.

    But then, in Exodus 7:22, “The Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts“.

    That is to say, as Foote and Ball remarked in their “Bible Handbook”: Aaron cleverly changed all the water there was, but the Egyptians still more cleverly changed all the water there wasn’t !

  • Anat

    You do realize some of these stories are deliberately gruesome? Judges 19 (the tale of the concubine in Gibeah) is meant to be about how without a strong central government society descends into moral anarchy. So there has to be something gruesome to drive the point home. Of course we also learn about the relative position of people in that society and who was valued how much, which makes it worse to us than it was to the intended audience.

  • Jett Clark

    We don’t need the context? We don’t need any context?

    In that case, I present to you a valuable Hemant Mehta quote: “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”