A recent Pew Research poll found that almost half of U.S. adults think that the Islamic religion is more likely to encourage violence than other religions, a figure that has almost doubled since 2002. A clear majority of conservative Republicans (66%), white Evangelicals (60%), and Tea Baggers (67%) believe Islam is more violent than other religions, with a plurality of whites (44%) and older folks (42-46%) also thinking this. (Of note is that blacks, Hispanics, and liberal Democrats are significantly less bigoted towards Islam.) The idea that Islam is more violent than other religions–held most strongly by old white conservatives–is a key pillar to the edifice of Islamophobia.
Prof. Philip Jenkins writes:
In the minds of ordinary Christians – and Jews – the Koran teaches savagery and warfare, while the Bible offers a message of love, forgiveness, and charity.
Worse, the Quran is said to be a book of terrorism. It was in this vein that Bill O’Reilly invoked an analogy between the Quran and terrorism and Mein Kampf and Nazism. It must be the Quran that compels these Islamic radicals to engage in suicide bombing and terrorism.
Prof. Jenkins responds:
In fact, the Bible overflows with “texts of terror,” to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery.
In part 1 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series, we traced the violence of the Bible to the Jewish prophet Moses, who submitted heathen nations to what can only be described as genocide. In part 2, we moved on to Moses’ divinely ordained successor, Joshua, who was arguably the most violent prophet in history. But the holy killing did not stop there.
The Warrior Tribe
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites wondered who would carry on the God-sanctioned genocide and conquest of the promised land. They did not have to wait long for the answer. God passed down the sword of the faith to the tribe of Judah:
Judges 1:1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?”
1:2 The LORD answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.”
Judah heeded this call and continued the holy genocide against the unbelievers, culminating in the brutal conquest of Jerusalem:
1:8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.
From there, the tribe of Judah vanquished the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills (1:9), Hebron, the Sheshai, Ahiman, Talmai (1:10), and Debir (1:11). They destroyed Zephath:
1:17 [Judah] attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they utterly destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah [Hormah means Destruction.]
Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron (1:18) fell to the Israelite nation, for “the Lord was with the men of Judah.” (1:19)
Judge, Jury, and Executioner
After the massacre of most of the inhabitants of Canaan, the God of the Bible was concerned with ensuring that Israel remain warlike:
3:1 These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan
3:2 It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.
The sword was then wielded by the judges of Israel, first with Othniel, then Ehud, then Shamgar, then Barak, then Gideon, then Jephthah, and then Samson. Each of these judges of God was involved in religiously motivated massacres. The Bible recounts the hundreds of thousands of people they collectively slaughtered. From the first Israelite judge:
3:10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war.
To the last of them:
1 Samuel 7:11 The men of Israel chased the Philistines from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car,slaughtering them all along the way.
Samson the Suicide Bomber Glorified in the Bible
One of the Israelite judges is worthy of special mention: the Jewish prophet Samson. According to the Bible, Samson was responsible for killing thousands of Philistines (the indigenous population of southern Canaan). Eventually, the Philistines successfully used a ruse to capture Samson, who was then taken to a temple where he was to be given as a sacrifice to one of the Philistine gods. Instead, Samson leaned against the pillars of the temple, and brought the temple down, killing himself along with 3,000 men and women:
Judges 16:26 Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.”
16:27 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.
16:28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”
16:29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,
16:30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Today, Samson is glorified as a hero by Israelis. Far from being a dead letter, Samson’s deed has become part of Israel’s state policy. The Samson Option is a doctrine adopted by the state of Israel, which states that should Israel’s existence ever be threatened, it will release a nuclear holocaust upon its enemies and other targets as well. As Israeli military historian Prof. Martin van Creveld famously put it (as reproduced on p.119 of David Hirst’s The Gun and The Olive Branch):
We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them as targets in all directions…We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.
Unfortunately, the temple Samson destroyed has now become entire countries or even the entire world.
David: Giant Slayer and Baby Killer
The militant sword of Israel was then passed from the judges to holy kings. The first king of the United Kingdom of Israel was Saul. His story is especially interesting, and one which we will return to. We will however focus now on David, who at that time was Saul’s appointed generalissimo. The Israelite ladies fawned over David, not only because he killed the Philistine Goliath but also because he massacred “tens of thousands”:
1 Samuel 18:6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.
18:7 As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
It should be noted that by the end of David’s death, he ended up killing not tens of thousands, buthundreds of thousands. In any case, King Saul became jealous over the fact that David was credited with more kills than he was:
18:8 Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”
18:9 And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
But then the king’s daughter fell in love with David. It seems that David was interested in this proposal but thought he was too poor to offer an adequate dowry:
18:23 David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”
King Saul reassured David that he accepted American Express penile foreskins:
18:25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’”
David was unfazed by this interesting request and brought back doublethe number of requested foreskins:
18:27 David and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
However, King Saul’s jealousy continued to grow and he unsuccessfully tried to kill his son-in-law. David found refuge in Ziklag (Philistine territory!) and raided other cities to stay financially afloat. Typical Biblical cruelty was added to these ghazwas raids:
18:8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites…
18:9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.
18:10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.”
18:11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory.
David massacred the Amalekites—men, women, and children:
30:17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels.
Eventually David became king of Israel and continued his string of conquests, subjugating heathens to Israelite rule:
2 Samuel 12:31 He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with saws, iron picks, and iron axes, and to work in the brick kilns. That is how he dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns.
It should be noted that David’s slaughter of the Philistines was sanctioned by God:
1 Samuel 23:2 David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and smite these Philistines?” And the LORD said unto David, “Go, and smite the Philistines…!”
God promised David:
23:4 “I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.”
As well as:
2 Samuel 5:19 So David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord answered him, “Yes, go! For I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.”
And David did what God commanded him to do:
5:25 And David did so, as the Lord had commanded him, and smote the Philistines.
Although we will discuss the genocide of Amalekites in a later article, it is safe to say that virtually every Biblical authority agrees that this was God-ordained as well. In fact, God approved of everythingDavid did—all of his many killings—except for “in the case of Uriah the Hittite”:
1 Kings 15:5 David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
Uriah was one of King David’s soldiers. David had an affair with Uriah’s wife and had Uriah killed, an act which earned God’s displeasure. God forgave David, but it was the one killing that God did not approve of. The Geneva Study Bible commentary assures us that David “enterprised no war, but by God’s command.”
In fact, Jews and Christians today revere David’s “obedience to God” and even argue to become“more like David”. Jewish and Christian children read about David in Sunday school.
Muhammad’s wars will be discussed in a future part of this series. But suffice to say, we have now set the groundwork to prove that several Jewish prophets–including Moses, Joshua, Samson, and David–were far more violent and warlike than Muhammad.
The major difference between Muhammad and the others was with regard to targeting and killing civilians. Samson killed 3,000 men and women in his suicide bomb attack, and David “did not leave a man or woman alive.” (1 Samuel 18:11) This stands in marked contrast with Muhammad who repeatedly “forbade the killing of women and children.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.4, Book 52, #258)
Regardless of issues surrounding historicity, what is quite clear is that the Bible glorifies genocide and the killing of civilians, whereas the Quran does not. Unlike the Bible, no single verse in the Quran talks about killing women, children, and babies.
This article is part 3 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?