Those intimately acquainted with the Hebrew ("Old") Testament
continually run into a perplexing problem. If God is supposed to be all good, why do we find passages where God commands
and performs heinous acts, often mass slaughter, of human beings?
God's commands like the following
are quite common: "Now go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all they have and do
not spare them. Kill both man and women, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and
donkey."(1 Sam. 15:3) (See also: Deut.2:30-35, 7:1-2, 7:16; Josh.6:21; 1Sam.6:19; Jer.13:14)
God would even go so far as to "harden the hearts or souls" of the intended victims to provoke a reason to
attack them. (Exod.4:21; Deut.30:31)
If such savage aggression to others is not bad enough, God
would also turn on his own people if they disobeyed, or sometimes on pure whim! Exodus 4: 24-25 has God lurking
in the desert waiting to kill Moses for no known reason! Moses' wife's circumcising his son then pacifies
God.(??!!) I believe this was the botched remnant of a myth depicting the first practice of circumcision among the Hebrews.
But how do we explain away God's commanding his people to stone
to death their dearest friends, their brothers, even their own children if they show curiosity about other gods? (Deut 13:6-11)
How about:"So says the Lord: 'Behold, I frame evil against you and divise against you...'"(Jer 18:11) How can this dark
side of God be explained?
THE SOURCE OF DIVINE EVIL:
The earliest Hebrew writings depicted no Devil or Demon of
evil. ("the Satan" then was just God's errand boy.) Once polytheism was routed, God remained the sole Deity who
was above good and evil, and the enactor of both. "No evil in this city is without God's will. "(Amos 3:6) "
I make peace and I create evil. I the Lord do all these things."(Is. 45:7) "Out of the most high precedes both evil
and good."(Lam. 3:38) How do we reconcile a God who is supposed all good with being the enactor of evil as well?
First of all we must stop envisioning God literally as
some Super Person in the sky with a mind like our own. We must periodically remind ourselves
that the Bible is written in verse complete with all the imagery, metaphor and literary license poetry commands. The
Bible itself periodically does that for us in the following passages:
To even attempt to look upon the tremendous power
of YWYH could mean instant death. (Exod. 33:20) Isaiah 42:8 states God will not share glory with images. Isaiah
44:20-40 and Psalms 115:4-8 state any images of God created by man are falsehoods. John 1:18 states human eyes have
never seen God. John 5: 37 states you have never heard the voice or seen the shape of God. 1John 5:21 says to
guard yourself from idols. 1Timothy 6:16 states no man has seen or can see God.
So what we are dealing with in Scripture is an ancient human
depiction of an all mighty power the writers themselves could not understand, and from which they tried to reconcile good
and evil. The Kabbalah depicts the primordial Godhead as containing both good and evil, which separated out as this
horrendous creative power unfolded into creation and finally into humankind.
We now know the universe contains both law and chaos.
From unspeakable devastation and chaos creation occurred. Our earth was finally formed as a sphere of
molten lava, lightning streaked poison gasses, and exploding meteorites. Nothing indeed could gaze upon such power and live.
But the power subdued itself to form life. And it then impartially rained and shined on the good and
bad alike. The only emerging creatures who could willfully sin were human beings. They then through religion
paid homage to the power that created them.
Writers of Scripture were often inspired by seeking
their source of creation in the profoundest depths of their being. In so doing some tapped into that source to
find magnanimous love and compassion for their fellow beings. Hence we have the universal Golden Rule expounded
by saints and sages of all great religions. However, some instead tapped into the dark side of
humanity wherein lurks vengeance, power-lust, jealously, and greed. All this - the
good and the bad - they projected onto the Power that created them.
Those of us who adopt the dark side of Scripture to justify
our own paranoia, bigotry, and hate only hasten the route to the Armageddon of man's collective evil in this shrinking world. Those
who tap into the Scriptural strain revealing love and benevolence beyond the bounds of clan, tribe, and nation
are now the only hope for humankind. The all mighty power will not interject. It now seems entirely up to
us. So let us instead tap into the profounder source of benevolence beneath the humanly conceived specters of evil.
SOURCE OF BENEVOLENCE IN HEBREW BIBLE:
Lest we think the Hebrew Bible contains mostly malevolent acts
of God, we should understand it is also the original source of benevolent passages in the New Testament. Loving your
neighbor as yourself originated in Exodus 23:9 and Deuteronomy 6:4. Mercy on your enemy is first found in Proverbs 24:17
and 25:21-22. Blessed be the meek originates in Proverbs 29:23. So as stated in Psalms 34:14: "Depart form
evil and do good. Seek ye peace and pursue it...."