Texts of Terror: 2 Chron 15:13: “All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death…” February 13, 2010Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection, Theology.
2 Chronicles 15:13: “All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”
That’s the NIV translation, and it’s as good — or as bad — as any. You’ll find more translations than you’ll ever know what to do with at biblos.com but they all come down to the same thing: convert or die, no exceptions, no mercy. Eugene Peterson’s The Message hammers the horror home:
They all arrived in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign for a great assembly of worship. From their earlier plunder they offered sacrifices of seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep for the worship. Then they bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. And they agreed that anyone who refused to seek God, the God of Israel, should be killed, no matter who it was, young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their promise to God, a joyful sound accompanied with blasts from trumpets and rams’ horns. The whole country felt good about the covenant promise—they had given their promise joyfully from the heart. Anticipating the best, they had sought God—and he showed up, ready to be found. God gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!
Not satisfied with slaughtering hundreds of oxen and thousands of sheep, anyone who refused to join in would be slaughtered too; and God, bless him — and surely only a male deity could approve of this? — “gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!”
Well bravo, God. Nice party, huh? A “peaceable kingdom” indeed: who dares to differ, to question or challenge when the price of standing out from the crowd is your life?
How do you deal with Bible verses like this? Skip over them as quickly as possible? Try to pretend they’re not there? I had the misfortune of having to read 2 Chronicles 15:1-15 at Evening Prayer tonight. When I reached this verse — verse 13: unlucky for some — I paused, looked the congregation in the eye, read it, then paused again before completing the reading.
There was no sermon slot. After the readings, we went into the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…
I stumbled through it. Bullshit. This is not the God I believe in.
And the good news? No one’s going to slaughter me for saying it. I hope…