Who was the Most Violent Prophet in History?

Who was the Most Violent Prophet in History?

This article is part 2 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer” here, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

Who was the most violent prophet in history?

Most readers will immediately assume it was the Prophet Muhammad, thanks to a decades long wave of Islamophobia and a sustained campaign of anti-Muslim propaganda.   But here’s a tip: it wasn’t Muhammad.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, Moses had Muhammad beat by far.

But it wasn’t even Moses.  In fact, it was Joshua–a Jewish prophet of Israel.  Today, he is regarded by Jews as “a mighty warrior” of the faith, a victorious hero, and a righteous prophet after Moses:

Before he passed away, Moses was very disappointed that he couldn’t complete the ethnic cleansing of the land. He wanted to take part in the genocide of those living past the Jordan:

3:23 At that time I [Moses] pleaded with the Lord:

3:24 “O Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?

3:25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

God rejected Moses’ plea and declared:

3:28 “But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”

And so, the job of genocide was divinely passed on from Moses to his successor, Joshua.

Joshua sought to complete the task that Moses had left undone.  It is recorded in the most sacred Jewish holy book, the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament of Christianity), that God Himself commanded Joshua to finish the genocide of the natives living on the other side of the Jordan River:

Joshua 1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide:

1:2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.

1:3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

1:4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west.

1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

1:6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.”

The city of Jericho stood between Joshua and the land he was to conquer.  As one city after another fell to the sword of Judaism, the people of Jericho feared for their fate.  Would they too be subjected to ethnic cleansing?

One of the natives of the city, a woman by the name of Rahab, was so fearful of the wild-eyed massacres that the God-chosen people were known for that she said:

Joshua 2:9 “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that your terror is fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are deathly afraid of you.

2:10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when you came out of Egypt; and what you did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond the Jordan, unto Sihon and to Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

2:11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things.”

Rahab offered to hide Israelite spies, who were sent to engage in stealth jihad stealth herem. In exchange for her services, she begged the Israelites to spare her family from the brutal massacre that was sure to come after the conquest of her city.  Rahab implored:

2:12 “Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign

2:13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”

The Israelites agreed, but warned her:

2:19 “If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible.”

In other words, every living thing in that city—except what was in her house—was to be utterly destroyed.  The entire city was to be smitten as a sacrifice to the Lord:

6:17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

As a footnote clarifies, “devoted” to the Lord means: “The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them.”

[The illustration at the top of this article is of the Battle of Jericho.  Readers will notice the Jewishshofars, ram horns used in times of war.  The Israelites sounded these shofars prior to invading the city and slaughtering all of its inhabitants.  It is in this context that the anti-Muslim protesters in Orange County used them against Muslim-Americans in that now famous video.]

To their credit, the Israelite invaders fulfilled their promise, sparing those in Rahab’s house. They did, however, kill everyone else, women and children included:

6:21 They devoted the city to the Lord and utterly destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

However, the silver, gold, bronze, and iron were taken as plunder:

6:19 But all the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord, and must go into his treasury.

And the city was razed to the ground:

6:24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house.

After “utterly destroying” Jericho, Joshua and the believers turned their attention to the city of Ai:

8:1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the kings of Ai, his people, his city and his land.

8:2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”

8:3 So Joshua and the whole army moved out to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best fighting men and sent them out at night

8:4 with these orders: “Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city…”

Joshua continued:

8:7 “You are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The Lord your God will give it into your hand.

8:8When you have taken the city, set it on fire. Do what your Lord has commanded. See to it! You have my orders.”

As per their orders from God and his prophet, the city was razed:

8:19 They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.

When the men of Ai fought back, they were decimated by Israel:

8:22 Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives.

After cutting down the soldiers, the Israelites entered the city to kill off all the civilians (twelve thousand men and women altogether):

8:24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and the in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it.

8:25 Twelve thousand men and women were put to death that day—all the people of Ai.

8:26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai.

8:27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.

8:28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day.

The king’s body was then mutilated:

8:29 [Joshua] impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate.

And then the believers built a triumphal mosque triumphal synagogue:

8:30 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal, an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel.

Terror and fear of the genocidal wrath of the believers spread far and wide, just as the God of the Bible promised. One such people who were struck with dread were the people of Gibeon, who offered themselves up as slaves in exchange for their lives.  The Gibeonites said to Joshua:

9:24 “We feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this.”

The Gibeonites were permitted to live so long as they “left idolatry” and lived under the “yolk of servitude”. They were consigned to the curse of perpetual servitude and permitted only to be “woodcutters and water carriers”, which were considered “very low and mean employment”:

9:23 “You are now under a curse: You will never cease to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

Joshua had thus destroyed Jericho and Ai, and neutralized Gibeon.  The neighboring five Amorite kingdoms became aware that the Israelites were headed for them next, and formed a coalition to defend themselves.  However, the Amorite coalition was soundly defeated by the Israelite army, and the five Amorite kings fled to a cave in Makkedah.  The Israelites captured the kings and Joshua had them humiliated and executed:

10:24 When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.

10:25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

10:26 Then Joshua struck and killed the kings and hung them on five trees, and they were left hanging on the trees until evening.

10:27 At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding.

The Israelite vengeance was also savaged upon Makkedah (the city where the five kings had fled to), which was ethnically cleansed:

10:28 That same day Joshua captured and destroyed the town of Makkedah. He killed everyone in it, including the king, leaving no survivors. He destroyed them all.

The Israelite army then did the same to the southern cities, putting all to the sword—men, women, and children. First, the city of Libnah:

10:30 The city [of Libnah] and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there.

Then Lachish:

10:32 The Lord handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah.

Then Eglon:

10:35 They captured [Eglon] that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.

Then Hebron:

10:37 They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.

Then Debir:

10:39 They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors.

The killing was thorough and complete:

10:40 So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.

10:41 Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon.

10:42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord,the God of Israel, fought for Israel.

After the decimation of the southern cities, the northern cities banded together to fight off Israel. The Israelites responded in the familiar way—killing every man, woman, and child:

11:11 The Israelites completely destroyed every living thing in the city, leaving no survivors. Not a single person was spared. And then Joshua burned the city.

11:12 Joshua slaughtered all the other kings and their people, completely destroying them, just as Moses, the servant of the LORD, had commanded.

11:13 But the Israelites did not burn any of the towns built on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua burned.

11:14 And the Israelites took all the plunder and livestock of the ravaged towns for themselves. But they killed all the people, leaving no survivors.

11:15 As the LORD had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did as he was told, carefully obeying all the commands that the LORD had given to Moses.

Joshua then utterly destroyed the Anakites:

11:21 During this period Joshua destroyed all the Anakites…He killed them all and completely destroyed their towns.

11:22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.

11:23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel…

After all this death and destruction…

11:23 … Then the land had rest from war.

By this time, Joshua was on his deathbed and gave parting instructions to his people.  He promised them that they would drive out the survivors from amongst the vanquished nations and usurp their land:

23:1 Now it came to pass, a long time after the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age

23:2 And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them: “I am old, advanced in age.

23:2 You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has fought for you.

23:4 See, I have divided to you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from the Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, as far as the Great Sea westward.

23:5 And the LORD your God will expel them from before you and drive them out of your sight. So you shall possess their land, as the LORD your God promised you.”

And so died Joshua, the most violent prophet in all of history.

Addendum I:

Aside from the sheer magnitude of Joshua’s killings, the major difference between Joshua and Muhammad is the issue of targeting civilians.  Joshua, like Moses, targeted and killed civilians–women, children, babies, and the infirm elderly.  The Bible states that Joshua “utterly destroyed with the sword every living thing in it–men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.”  (Joshua 6:21)  On the other hand, the Prophet Muhammad “forbade the killing of women and children.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.4, Book 52, #258)

Addendum II:

The historicity of the Biblical account–of Moses, Joshua, and the Exodus/Conquest–is discussedhere.

Addendum III:

My intention in writing this article is not to bash Judaism or Christianity, but rather to refute a common argument raised by Islamophobes. To fully understand why I wrote this article, make sure you’ve read this: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

Update I:

I cannot reiterate enough how much I really, really didn’t want to write this article because I know it could offend Jewish and Christian readers–but I simply do not see how I can convincingly refute theIslamophobic argument without doing it this way.

Warrior Prophet: Moses or Muhammad?

Warrior Prophet: Moses or Muhammad?

This article is part 1 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series.

The video of anti-Muslim bigots jeering at mosque-goers in Orange County has now gone viral.  Amongst those who sponsored the hateful event were two extremist Zionist Jews, namely Pamela Geller and Rabbi David Eliezrie.  It was also sponsored by ACT! for America, a fervently pro-Israeli group with heavy Christian Zionist overtones.  The link between Zionism and Islamophobia is well-established.

As can be seen from the video, one of the principal ways these “Israeli-firsters”  try to hurt Muslims is by insulting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.  In particular, they criticize Muhammad as being warlike and violent.  The fact that their religious founder was belligerent explains why Muslims today are, or so the argument goes.

Yet, Moses–the prophet of Judaism and the principal figure of the religion–was far more warlike and violent than Muhammad.  We know this from the Hebrew Bible, which is considered Judaism’s most sacred scripture and respected by Christians as the Old Testament.  (The Biblical verses we will examine will also show us why the Bible is far more violent than the Quran.)  Could the violent nature of Moses explain the belligerence of the modern day state of Israel and its supporters?

According to the Bible, a Jewish prophet by the name of Moses arose in Egypt.  He liberated his people from bondage, and together they fled Egypt to the “promised land.”  The promised land was a place called Canaan (Palestine). This journey from Egypt to Canaan was known as the Exodus.

It might help to glance at a map:

So the Hebrews fled Egypt and traveled to Canaan.

But they hit a small snag. There were already people living in Canaan. These natives are referred to in the Bible as “The Seven Nations.” (Not to be a stickler, but there were actually more than seven nations.) Here is what the tribes looked like before the Israelites arrived:

To resolve this dilemma, God ordered the Israelites to exterminate all the inhabitants of Canaan (men, women, and children) and to take their land. The God of the Bible commanded Moses and his followers:

Deuteronomy 20:17 You must utterly destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the LORD your God has commanded you.

The God of the Bible threatened the people of Palestine/Canaan with catastrophe (nakba):

Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine.

15: 15 Then, the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the might men of Moab, trembling shall take hold on them, all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.

15:16 Terror and dread shall fall on them; by the greatness of your arm they shall be as still as a stone; till your people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which you have purchased.

15:17 You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance.

In other words, God “purchased” the land that the natives lived on, and He would give it as “inheritance” to the Israelite conquerors. It should be clear that the words “all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away” refers to genocide, a point which we will subsequently be made clearer.

The Aradites were one group of peoples that inhabited Canaan, the land which the God of Israel had promised the Israelites. The Israelites marched towards them:

Numbers 33:40 At that time the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev in the land of Canaan, heard that the people of Israel were approaching his land.

One Biblical commentary explains that the Aradite king “heard of the coming of the children of Israel, towards the land of Canaan, in order to possess it, and he came out and fought with them.” The king had some initial success:

21:1 He attacked the Israelites and captured some of them.

Ancient Israel responded with even more brutality than the modern day state of Israel does:

21:2 Then Israel made this vow to the LORD: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.”

21:3 The LORD heard the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities. Thus the name of the place was called Hormah [Utter Destruction].

The word Hormah literally translates to “Ban”, because it means that there is a ban on all living things. As we shall see, the Israelites slaughtered men, women, children, cattle, sheep, donkeys, and anything that breathed. The word “Hormah” is often translated by Biblical commentators as “Utter Destruction.”

After annihilating the Aradites, Moses and the Israelites then turned their attention to the Amorites. The God of the Bible commanded the faithful to conquer the Amorite land of Heshbon:

Deuteronomy 2:24 Then the LORD said, “Now get moving! Cross the Arnon Gorge. Look, I will hand over to you Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and I will give you his land. Attack him and begin to occupy the land.

2:25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.”

The Israelites requested King Sihon to pass through his land. Sihon naturally refused, as he had heard reports of what the Israelites had done to his neighbors. When Sihon refused the request, the order was given to attack him:

2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the Lord your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.

2:31 The Lord said to me, “See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.”

Of course, every nation-state has a right to deny entry of foreigners into its territory. If, for example, the Iranian army requested permission to pass through Israel, would Iran have justification to attack Israel if the request was refused? King Sihon’s denial of the request is all the more reasonable when we consider that (1) the king knew that the Israelites were bent on conquering his land, and (2) the peoples of that region had “hear[d] reports of you [Israelites]” that made them “tremble and be in anguish.”

In any case, after furnishing themselves with a moral justification to invade Heshbon, Moses and the Israelites proceeded to kill the king of Heshbon and all his people:

2:33 The Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army.

2:34 At that time we took all his cities and completely destroyed them—men, women and children. We left no survivors.

2:35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.

Multiple cities and their populations were completely annihilated:

2:36 From Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the city in the gorge, even as far as Gilead, not one city was too strong for us. The Lord our God gave us all of them.

King Sihon and his people, the Amorites of Heshbon, were ethnically cleansed. The Israelites then moved on to King Og and his people, the Amorites of Bashan. The God of the Bible commanded the Israelites to “do to him what you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites”, i.e. annihilate them:

Numbers 21:34 The LORD said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of Og, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites who reigned in Heshbon.”

21:35 So they killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was none left to him alive, and they possessed his land.

Moses and the Israelites then massacred the inhabitants of sixty different cities:

Deuteronomy 3:3 So the Lord our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors.

3:4 At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them—the whole region of Argob, Og’s kingdom in Bashan.

3:5 All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages.

3:6 We completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city—men, women and children.

3:7 But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves.

In fact, the Bible repeatedly sanctions the genocide of natives:

20:16 In the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.

20:17 You must utterly destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the LORD your God has commanded you.

The next verse explains why “you must utterly destroy” them:

20:18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

The Bible advocates genocide of the adherents of other religions, due to the fear that the believers may convert. This becomes very clear when we consider the way Moses and the God of the Bible deal with the Mobaites and Midianites. Some women from the Moabites and Midianites partook in consensual sexual relations with Israelite men. After cohabitating with idolatrous women, the Israelite men were affected by the Moabite and Midianite religion and culture. Eventually, these men started worshiping Ba’al Pe’or, the local god of the Moabites and Midianites. This earned the Israelites the wrath of God:

Numbers 25:1 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women,

25:2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods.

25:3 So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

God then sent a plague down upon the people of Israel, which was only lifted after one of the Israelites murdered a Midianite woman:

25:6 Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

25:7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand

25:8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped;

25:9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

25:10 The Lord said to Moses,

25:11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them.

25:12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him.

25:13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

In verse 25:15, we learn that Cozbi was the name of the Midianite woman who was murdered. This “honor killing” placated God’s anger, and God blessed the killer and his descendants with “a covenant of lasting priesthood.” God did, however, command Moses and the Israelites to massacre the Midianites:

25:16 The Lord said to Moses,

25:17 “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them,

25:18 because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor.”

The above verse makes it clear why God commanded Moses and the Israelites to kill the Midianites: because of the “affair of Peor” (i.e. the idolatrous women having consensual sexual relations with the Israelite men and the subsequent idol worship) and Cozbi (the woman who had sexual relations with an Israelite man).

And so God commanded Moses to attack the Midianites:

31:1 The Lord said to Moses,

31:2 “Avenge the people of Israel of the Midianites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”

31:3 So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them.

31:4 Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel.”

And:

31:7 They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man.

31:8 Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.

31:9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder.

31:10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps.

31:11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals,

31:12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest…

The Jewish followers of Moses killed every man, and took the women and children as slaves. They then returned to Moses, but he became upset at them for not killing the women and children as well. Only the young virgins fit to be sex slaves were to be kept alive:

31: 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.

31:15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them.

31:16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the Lord in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people.

31:17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man,

31:18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

Then God discusses how to divide up the spoils of war:

31:25 The Lord said to Moses,

31:26: “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured.

31:27 Divide the spoils between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community.

31:28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep or goats.”

This last verse seems to justify human sacrifices to God “as tribute for the Lord.” The next few verses bear this out:

31:32 The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep,

31:33 72,000 cattle,

31:34 61,000 donkeys

31:35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

31:36 The half share of those who fought in the battle was: 337,500 sheep,

31:37 of which the tribute for the Lord was 675;

31:38 36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the Lord was 72;

31:39 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61;

31:40 16,000 people, of which the tribute for the Lord was 32.

As for the Moabites, they avoided the wrath of Israel for a short period of time before they were ultimately decimated. That task was carried out by David, one of Moses’ divinely chosen successors (and a prophet of Judaism in his own right). The faithful massacred two-thirds of the Moabites and took the remaining one-third as dhimmis perpetual serfs:

2 Samuel 8:2 David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.

Some Biblical commentaries argue that two-thirds of the Moabite population was slaughtered while others argue that only the soldiers were. In any case, the Moabites were subjected to dhimmitudeperpetual serfdom and were forced to pay jizya tribute. But eventually the Moabites revolted against this tributary tax:

2 Kings 3:4 King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder. He used to pay the king of Israel an annual tribute of 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.

3:5 But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

The Israelites, with the blessing of Elisha (another Jewish prophet), mobilized three large armies to stamp out the rebellion. The people of Moab attempted to defend themselves:

3:21 Now all the Moabites had heard that the three armies had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border.

The Moabites were vanquished and slaughtered:

3:24 The Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites.

3:25 They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only [the fortress of] Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it as well.

The Israelites then called off the siege with the result that a few Moabites survived. The Moabites were finally destroyed altogether in 2 Chronicles 20, although the actual narration is a bit difficult to follow.

The Biblical Moses was thus responsible for the massacre and genocide of several populations. These included the people of Arad, Heshbon (and her surrounding cities), Bashan (including at least sixty cities), and the Midianites. Before he passed away, Moses was very disappointed that he couldn’t complete the ethnic cleansing of the land. He wanted to take part in the genocide of those living past the Jordan:

3:23 At that time I [Moses] pleaded with the Lord:

3:24 “O Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?

3:25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

God rejected Moses’ plea and declared:

3:28 “But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”

And so, the job of genocide was divinely passed on from Moses to his successor, Joshua.

Addendum I:

The wars of Muhammad will be addressed in a subsequent part of the Understanding Jihad Series, which will directly refute chapter 1 (Muhammad: Prophet of War) of Robert Spencer’s book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

However, it would be helpful to point out the most striking difference between Moses and Muhammad in this regard. Moses targeted and killed civilians–women, children, babies, and the infirm elderly.  Moses ordered his soldiers: “Kill all the boys[,] and kill every woman” (Numbers 31:17), an order which is an oft-repeated imperative in the Bible.  Meanwhile, Muhammad explicitly forbade targeting civilians on numerous occasions, saying:  “Do not kill an infirm old man, an infant, a child, or a woman.” (Sunan Abu Dawood, book 14, #2608)

Addendum II:

It could be argued that the life and wars of Moses are of questionable historicity, and that secular scholarship would doubt the accuracy of Jewish scriptural sources.  Yet, this argument is nullified by the fact that the life and wars of Muhammad are similarly subject to questionable historicity.  The primary sources of Muhammad’s life and wars come almost exclusively from the Islamic scriptural sources and tradition, namely “(1) casual allusions in the Qur’an and (2) oral traditions”.  More neutral non-Muslim sources from the seventh century are scant, and at most confirm the existence of Muhammad and very basic data.  Writes Professor Solomon Alexander Nigosian on p.6 of Islam: Its History, Teaching, and Practices:

The attempt to separate the historical from the unhistorical elements in the available sources has yielded few, if any, positive results regarding the figure of Muhammad or the role he played in Islam. The predicament faced by modern scholars is perhaps best stated by Harald Motzki:

At present, the study of Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim community, is obviously caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, it is not possible to write a historical biography of the Prophet without being accsued of using the sources uncritically, while on the other hand, when using the sources critically, it is simply not possible to write such a biography.

In order to construct narratives of Muhammad’s wars, one must rely on the Islamic scriptural sources and tradition (the same ones which Islamophobes use to criticize Islam).  It seems only reasonable and fair then to compare Muhammad with the Moses derived from the Jewish scriptural sources and tradition.  And in this light, Moses does not stack up well against Muhammad.

Addendum III:

Those who are familiar with my writing know very well that the intent here is not at all to “bash” Moses or Judaism, but rather to give the haters a taste of their own medicine in order that they realize the error in their ways.  In particular, the goal is to show that the absurd standard Islam is held to–or anything related to Islam (Muhammad, Allah, the Quran, Sharia, Muslims, Muslim-majority countries, etc.)–is unfair, a fact that becomes painfully obvious when applied in a similar way to a Jewish/Christian/ analogue.

Addendum IV:

Many of the counter-arguments raised by our opponents will be addressed in further editions of this series.  I initially had planned on releasing the entire Understanding Jihad Series as one mega-article.  Having realized that this would be well over one hundred pages long, I decided to heed the advice of LW readers who requested that my articles be split into parts so as to be easier to digest.  This decision comes with the regret that many of my responses to the trite counter-arguments I know the Islam-bashers are itching to use will be published at a later date.