The theodicy of eating one’s children

And speaking of theodicy…Chris Hallquist tweeted about Biblical books with references to God making people eat their own family members. Oh? Yes. He provided a link.

“And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.” — Leviticus 26:29

“And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.” — Deuteronomy 28:53

“And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them.” — Deuteronomy 28:57

“And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.” — Jeremiah 19:9

“Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers.” — Ezekiel 5:10

“I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.” — Zechariah 11:9

Pretty. On the one hand God floods cities because HoMoSeckShuals, on the other hand God causes people to eat their own children.

Nothing at all crude or primitive or harsh about that.


  1. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    You don’t get it, Ophelia. That part about eating one’s children is a metaphor. I’m not sure what for and I doubt any religionist would be able to explain it in a way that makes half sense, but we can all agree that it’s a metaphor. Because. That part about HoMoSeckShuals, though, that part is totally for realz. Because.

  2. says

    Whenever such glaring problems in the Scriptures are pointed out, the believers start bleating, “But… Context! These passages are taken out of context!” I submit that eating one’s children is not acceptable under ANY context. If this is the ‘inerrant’ word of god, then that god is not inerrant, nor merciful, nor worthy of devotion and worship.

  3. Die Anyway says

    I so want to gather up a list like that and have it handy for discussion with the next pair of 7th Day Adventist ladies that come knocking.

  4. CJO says

    These verses are likely the product of some crotchety elders, sitting around in Babylon, larnin’ the young’uns how bad off they were back in the days of seige and exile.

    “Snow up t’here! Trudgin’ back ‘n forth to Shechem, all day long, uphill both ways, and nothin’ t’eat but afterbirth, I tell ya.”

  5. Paul W., OM says

    They are curses rather than admonitions, no?

    At least the first one is a warning/threat. It’s part of a list of bad stuff that will happen to the Jews if they’re not good god-fearing commandment-following Jews.

    Leviticus 26 starts saying that if they do “follow my decrees and obey my commands,” a bunch of good stuff will happen. That’s the carrot.

    Starting at Verse 14 comes the stick.

    But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you. 18 ” ‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.

    It gets worse from there, and it’s absolutely clear that it’s not just a warning that if they stray, it will work out badly for them. It’s clearly a threat of active punishment—that God will go way out of his way to make their lives suck as much as he can, which is a whole lot because he’s God—with laying waste, sending plagues, making children waste away because of their fathers’ sins, parents eating their children, etc.

    He won’t destroy them utterly, though, because he promised before that he wouldn’t. He’ll just pretty well destroy and/or torture them, and scatter the miserable remainder among their enemies, that’s all.

  6. Timon for Tea says

    Yes I think the contextualisers would have some justification for complaint here. The Deuteronomy, for example, is a warning of the terrible curses that will befall the impious, not an exhortation to cannibalism. Still pretty fierce stuff, but differently fierce.

    I expect the others are similar.

  7. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    Citing Ophelia,

    references to God making people eat their own family members

    The context is that God would make people eat their own kids, as a punishment.

    So, all I see is the same context through this whole conversation.

  8. grumpyoldfart says

    I’ve lost count of the number of Christians who have told me “the bible says no such thing” and two seconds after I show them the text, they start explaining what it really means.

    It takes a few minutes (and maybe some hints from me – because I like stirring the pot) but eventually they hit upon the idea that it is all about god’s loving kindness. God is so worried about people going to hell that has to scare them straight.

    I laugh. They get offended.

  9. jb says

    I have heard some right-wingnuts talk about how the ‘cannibalizing’ really means ‘abortion’ and that God knew this would be be a big problem in 2012, which is why he is destroying America’s economy. I am not making this shit up.

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