why was God so cruel in the old testament
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Why Was God So Cruel in the Old Testament?

Why was God so cruel in the Old Testament? The Old Testament depicts God as being both violent and inhumane, often ordering acts of genocide such as Canaanite destruction.

God uses punishments like these as a warning about sin; He makes clear to people that sin comes with its consequences: death.

1. To Mete Out Just Punishment

One common criticism of the Bible is its depiction of a harsh God. This perception often stems from two incidents: 1) God's command to kill Canaanites; and 2) death penalty in Old Testament law.

In an ancient society where people moved frequently from one location to the next and often struggled for survival, punishment for crimes could often be severe - from death or expulsion from their tribe, beating at stakes or beating.

Also read: "What is the Translation of God in Aramaic?

Old Testament laws stipulate that those who steal an ox or sheep must pay five oxen in compensation, while anyone who kills someone must be executed and his body cremated (Leviticus 24:19). Such penalties serve both to deter sin while protecting innocents.

Modern Christians find it hard to comprehend why God would sanction such brutal punishment for sin, as it seems contrary to His attributes of love, mercy and justice. They argue that instead of hand-to-hand killing and mass extermination being His chosen method for punishing sin he could have used natural disaster or some other method such as mass extermination instead. Yet such arguments miss the point; God chose death penalty because He wanted Israel to learn in an intimately real way that sin brings with it death.

2. To Teach Israel the Wages of Sin

God used violent and brutal punishment in the Old Testament as a powerful way of showing people the consequences of sin. Scripture shows us that He hates sin and won't allow it into His creation; when people engage in acts that harm themselves or others, their presence becomes unacceptable to Him and they become disqualified from entering His kingdom (Micah 2:2). Therefore they must pay their punishment.

God can often administer punishments that seem harshly out of proportion with their transgressions, such as when He sent the Flood or plagues upon Egypt to wipe out many children in Exodus' story. These examples should demonstrate this point.

God often uses punishments as an effective way of purifying His people. For instance, when Israel broke their covenant and betrayed it by breaking free of Pharaoh's army, their destruction seemed imminent; yet He intervened by closing off the sea so as to drown their enemy forces (Exodus 14).

God also uses punishments as a means of teaching morality and righteousness, such as punishing people who sacrifice their children to Molek.

The Old Testament provides ample examples of God enforcing His wrath upon those who violate His covenant. When Egypt attempted to enslave Israelites, He punished them with an enormous plague which even killed animals - this punishment served to teach their people they needed to obey him and follow His law - including its many commands and prohibitions intended to keep them safe.

4. To Teach Israel How to Love Their Enemies

God never wavered in His love for His people when punishing evil groups of people, as He knew this would keep them from continuing in their evil ways and save His children from certain death (Micah 2:1-10). Furthermore, He knew it would be cruel if these groups continued in their evil activities so He provided salvation in Jesus.

Rabbis would often interpret the command to "love your neighbor as yourself" as giving you permission to hate those who do you harm, by distorting the meaning of this command through omission, limitation and addition - distorting it in such ways that its core principle could no longer be observed and other commands that required helping those in need were disregarded, such as Exodus 23 which tells you to return an animal that has gone astray regardless of who owns it - such as returning an ox or donkey that belongs to an enemy.

Vengeance was often an instinctive human response to suffering and pain experienced by many ancient societies, yet according to Jewish tradition God forbade His people from taking revenge or striking back; He knew this would expose their enemies to no fear of His judgement and instead taught them that when their opponents experienced consequences for their sins it demonstrated admirable courage on their part.

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