God’s cruelty misplaced?: the Philistines and the ark

I could go on and on about god’s cruelty in both the old and new testaments (and I probably will soon), but first I want to get into a wanton display of cruelty against a completely innocent group of people. The story is perhaps well known (if you’ve ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark).

Spielberg’s 1981 Indiana Jones film contains a formative scene, wherein a group of Nazis open the Ark of the Covenant and peer inside. What happens next has made its way into pop culture history. In the film god punishes the Nazis by melting their faces off. See below.

This is a reference to a biblical story in which god’s most hated tribe steals the Ark. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s a pretty funny story. You see, the Israelites wanted to secure the Ark someplace safe. So where’d they take it? They took it into battle with the Philistines! I’m not kidding. The Israelites actually believed the safest place to hide the Ark was in the camp on the battlefield. Of course the Israelites lost the battle, and to the victor go the spoils; the Philistines found themselves in possession of the sacred Ark. This upset a priest so much that HE DIED.

The Philistines didn’t have much luck with the Ark. They carried it around their country, and wherever they went strange things happened. People involuntarily planked, face planted, and, for some reason, their hands fell off. A bunch of people mysteriously got hemorrhoids. Mice started taking over the cities. And many people suddenly came down with nasty cases of skin boils.

After many months of these strange plagues and hemorrhoids, the Philistines paid the Israelites to take the Ark back. On their way to return the Ark, they stopped by Beth-shemesh to get drunk, or something. The people of Beth-shemesh gathered around the Ark, opened it, and peered inside, somehow all 50,070 people gazing into 2×4 foot opening of the Ark at the same time. This angered god so much that he murdered every last one of them.

You see, god has a really busted face, and he doesn’t like it when people look at him. The contents of and that which is above the ark are literally the face of god.

So god murdered 50,070 people for merely looking at his face. But why such cruelty? And why the people of Beth-shemesh and not the Philistines? God hated the Philistines more than any other group of people, but he only sent them hemorrhoids and mice for literally stealing god’s face! He didn’t kill the Israelites for losing the Ark, even though god left strict instructions on how to keep it safe/holy (also here, here, here, and here). Why didn’t god smite the Israelites for not only losing the Ark, but losing it by taking it into battle against the enemy? That would be like walking around a crime-ridden city while carrying your entire life savings in your pockets and thinking that’s safer than, I don’t know, putting it in a bank!

Seriously, I don’t care if physical man is inherently a sinner and is, therefore, forbidden from looking upon the face of god. He should’ve been more pissed at the Israelites for losing the thing and the Philistines for stealing it than a bunch of innocent bystanders who were merely curious about what was in the box.

No. God always has to throw a temper tantrum and murder people for very petty crimes.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
This entry was posted in Atheism and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to God’s cruelty misplaced?: the Philistines and the ark

  1. Pingback: Bible Contradictions #35: Is it ok to make images? | The Atheist Papers

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