God: The Original Fascist
Part 3b: God Consolidates His Rule Through Total Fear and Terror
Revolution #018, October 16, 2005, posted at revcom.us
a series submitted by A. Brooks, a reader of REVOLUTION newspaper
EDITOR’S NOTE: This series of articles was submitted by a reader who was inspired by Bob Avakian’s writings and talks on religion and, further provoked by discussions and arguments with friends about the Bible, engaged in a systematic study of the first five books of the Bible. These books, which are known as the "Mosaic Books" (and which contain such crucial passages as that outlining the Ten Commandments), lay out the foundation for some of the Bible’s most important themes. After having read these five, Mosaic books of the Bible, the reader was struck even more deeply by how profoundly the essence of the Bible’s message has been distorted and hidden.
The Bible's opening books describe, over and over again, how God torments the people -- with plagues, hunger or bloody murder -- for any doubt or disobedience. In this old Bible picture (above) -- reproduced on a modern fundamentalist internet site -- Moses leads the cold-blooded execution of 3,000 Israelites for questioning him and his God. And God follows up by killing even more with a plague. No mercy, no compassion, no forgiveness -- just death for disobedience. If such rules were imposed today, it would be a nightmarish tyranny and horror for the people.
Part 3a, in the previous issue of Revolution, ended with a quote from the book of Leviticus where God details how he will "smite" the Israelites completely, just as he did the Egyptians, if his laws are not followed.
Really, I could probably end this section of the discussion here and have effectively made the point that God’s rule was one based on complete fear and terror directed at all those who dared to dissent from his laws. But what the heck, let’s continue. The book of Numbers describes how the armies of God’s people begin assembling and then marching towards Canaan, prepared to battle and annihilate those who are already dwelling on the land (this annihilation and the philosophy of total conquest behind it will be discussed in much greater detail in the final installments of this series).
But at a certain point, hard times fall upon the armies and troop morale becomes low. The troops begin lamenting to Moses that their conditions are dire, that they do not have enough food to eat. So what is God’s response? Well, being the "compassionate God, slow to anger" that is mentioned in Exodus 34, the Lord undoubtedly responds by blessing the Israelites with food so that they are no longer starving, right? WRONG! God instead responds by initially giving his people food, but then, "The meat was still between their teeth, nor yet chewed, when the anger of the Lord blazed forth against the people and the Lord struck the people with a severe plague." (Numbers 11) All this perpetrated upon a people who did nothing more than simply complain that they were starving!
Apparently, God has some kind of fetish for plagues. Numbers 14 refers to yet another plague unleashed by God upon the Israelites. This time, the "crime" of the condemned was that they went on a scouting mission to Canaan and Sunsacame back with reports that the people who currently dwelled there were very powerful and capable. God describes the fate of these men: "In this very wilderness they [the Israelites] shall die to the last man. As for the men whom Moses sent to scout the land, those [who] came back and caused the community to mount against him by spreading calumnies about the land...died of the plague, by will of the Lord." (Numbers 14)
Eventually, some of the Israelites become so exasperated with the tyrannical rule of Moses that they launch a rebellion against his tyranny. God responds to this rebellion by annihilating the rebels--he opens the earth and swallows them whole, consuming 250 men in a great fire. (Numbers 16) The next day, the entire Israelite community is up in arms about what God, acting through Moses and Aaron, has done to them. So God, being "a compassionate God, slow to anger," naturally responds by profusely apologizing, recognizing his brutality, and promising never to repeat it, right? WRONG AGAIN! God responds with more brutality: He kills 14,700 Israelites in (you guessed it) a plague!
Further on in Numbers, God articulates to the Israelites the basic principle of "kill or be killed." He tells Moses, "Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall dispossess all the inhabitants of the land; you shall destroy their figured objects; you shall destroy all their molten images; you shall demolish all their cult palaces....If you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land, those whom you allow to remain shall be stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you live; so that I will do to you what I planned to do to them." (Numbers 34)
It is not hard to see how, from passages like this, the Christian fascists of today would conceive of current global conflicts in terms of a literal "Holy War" where they must conquer or perish. In addition, it is important to keep in mind, again, that the God of the Bible is supposed to be all-powerful. There is no way that the peoples God is describing could be "stings in the eyes or thorns in the sides" of the Israelites unless God willed it that way. Thus, we see another instance where human carnage and suffering is clearly presented as nothing more than another one of God’s sick games.
In addition to enforcing his own laws and Commandments with the utmost of brutality, God often relies on his top foot soldier, Moses, to do the same. One of the earliest examples of this comes in Exodus, in a passage mentioned in part 2 of this series. Moses returns from Mount Sinai to find that many people have violated God’s Commandment outlawing the worship of any other Gods; they have built an idol in the form of a golden calf. In response, "Moses stood up in the gate of the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord come here!’ And all the Levites rallied to him. He said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the god of Israel, each of you put your sword on thigh, go back and forth from gate to camp, and slay brother, neighbor, and kin.’ The Levites did as Moses commanded them, and three thousand fell that day." (Exodus 32) And the reader will recall that this brutal action follows after another one: when Moses ground the golden calf into dust and made the Israelites drink it."
The Lord then follows up the slaughter of 3,000 Israelites with still another atrocity--by now, the reader can probably imagine what that was: Yep, a plague! (Exodus 32)
In Numbers, Moses utters a "kill or be killed" phrase similar to that referenced a few paragraphs above and uttered by God: "Moses said to them [the Israelites], ‘If you do this, if you go to battle as shock troops, at the instance of the Lord, and every shock fighter among you crosses the Jordan, at the instance of the Lord, until He has dispossessed his enemies before him, and the land has been subdued at the instance of the Lord, and then you return--you shall be clear before the Lord and this land shall be your holding under the Lord. But if you do not do so, you will have sinned against the Lord; and know that the Lord will overtake you." (Numbers 32)
In Deuteronomy (which, again, Moses is said to have written himself) he repeatedly describes the consequences for those who do not follow and worship God. In Deuteronomy 4, he says, "When you have begotten children and children’s children and are long established in the land, should you act wickedly, and make for yourself a sculptured image in any likeness, causing the Lord your God displeasure and vexation, I call heaven and earth against you that you shall certainly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess; you shall not long endure on it, but shall be utterly wiped out." (Deuteronomy 4) This point is repeated in Deuteronomy 8, when Moses says, "If you do forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve them or bow down to them, I warn you this day that you shall certainly perish."
Then, in Deuteronomy 12, Moses utters the phrase quoted at the beginning of this series, one that certainly calls to mind the "you’re either with us or against us" logic of George W. Bush’s infamous speeches. Moses says, "See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin upon you, and curse if you don’t obey the Lord your God, but turn away from the path that I enjoin upon you this day and follow other Gods." (Deuteronomy 12)
Considering the actual nature of God’s laws and Commandments, the idea that whether someone will be blessed or cursed depends entirely on whether they follow these laws can only be described as chilling!
In short, then, the Bible repeatedly shows that God’s rule is anything but "compassionate," and that he is anything but "slow to anger." Rather, God’s rule, as laid out in the Bible, took shape as a society characterized by totalitarian brutality against which both distortions of Communist leaders such as Stalin and Mao--and even the practices of actual brutal human dictators throughout history--would pale in comparison. Taken literally, the "Holy" Bible is a ruthless tale of conquest, a blueprint for unleashing tremendous persecution and suffering against all those who will not fall in line and persecute others. Again I must ask: Does this sound familiar? Indeed, it is precisely the logic of Holy Conquest, plunder, and total subordination to one’s rulers that "Dubya" and his team of fascists are seeking to implement right now in the "real world."
In the next and final installments of this series, we will examine in greater detail what was only hinted at in this section: The theme of conquering other peoples in the name of God. Or, as it might be termed, a Biblical Manifest Destiny.
To be continued--Part 4a: Holy Wars--Manifest Destiny in a Biblical Setting