We all know that the Bible is full of niceties: love thy neighbor; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; be strong and courageous; and so on. All those happy and pleasant verses we like to teach in Sunday School in the hopes that our children will grow up to be decent human beings who are kind, gentle, and polite.
Of course, this means that most Sunday School teachers neglect to mention all the parts of the Bible that deal with murder, torture, genocidal war, genital mutilation, rape, and poop. Yes, poop. There is actually a remarkable amount of poop in the Bible.
We all know that there is some pretty intense (and weird) stuff in the Bible. There are passages about stoning witches, sacrificing animals, sleeping with prostitutes, maiming your enemies, killing babies, and all sorts of other unpleasant things. But to be honest, most of that is pretty common throughout human history. It shouldn’t be that surprising, especially considering its place in history, that the Bible is absolutely rife with sex and violence.
But there is a whole lot more than your garden variety rape and murder happening deep inside the pages of the Christian scriptures. A quick scouring of the Bible reveals some pretty messed-up crap, including man-eating forests, insane monsters, the odd reference to unicorns, and, of course, some good ol’ fashioned erotica. Here are fifteen of the most shocking verses in the bible.
15. Galatians 5:12
As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (NIV)
Wait, does that say what it sounds like it says? Well, if you think it sounds like the apostle, Paul, wishing a certain group of men would cut off their own junk, you’re absolutely right!
Throughout the Bible the issue of circumcision comes up a lot (if you don’t know what circumcision is, try a Google image search. Just kidding. Don’t do that). In the New Testament, people spend way too much time debating whether or not good Christians need to snip the tip, so to speak. At one point, Paul gets so pissed off with people starting fights over an issue he deems relatively unimportant, he drops this line in the middle of his letter to the church in Galatia. He basically says that if these guys are so obsessed with cutting off a small portion of their penises, maybe they should just cut the whole damn thing off.
14. Ezekiel 23:20
There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. (NIV)
More penis-related Bible verses.
If you read much of the Old Testament, you’ll notice that God is awfully annoyed with the nation of Israel most of the time. Sometimes, through his prophets, he says some pretty brutal things. In this case, he gives Ezekiel an extended metaphor about two sisters, one of which represents Jerusalem, who engage in some rather lewd conduct with a bunch of men.
It gets especially unkind in this verse, when God implies that Jerusalem’s lovers have giant donkey d*cks and…uh…a high sperm count, to put it politely.
13. 2 Samuel 18:8
The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword. (NIV)
That’s some straight up Lord of the Rings shit right there. The passage doesn’t specifically mention anthropomorphic trees stomping on soldiers, or old oak trees suffocating men with their roots, but it definitely has a Mirkwood-ish vibe.
According to the verse prior, twenty thousand men were killed during battle that day, which is a massive number, especially considering that there weren’t any bombs or bullets kicking around. And if the forest was responsible for killing even more people than traditional sword and spear combat, that must have been one scary-ass forest.
Some scholars have suggested that it was just really dark and thick with bushes and branches, so it was easy to get lost or hurt while running away from the enemy. But it’s more fun to think that there were man-eating trees gobbling up soldiers like Cookie Monster in a pastry shop.
12. Genesis 34:24-25
…every male in the city was circumcised. Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. (NIV)
Speaking of unconventional war tactics, here’s an inspiring tale of rape and revenge. In the Bible’s very first book, there’s a story about Dinah, who is raped by a douchebag named Shechem. Shechem then decides he really wants to marry Dinah, which her father and brothers only agree to on the grounds that every male in Shechem’s city is circumcised (you were warned that tip-snipping was a popular biblical topic).
Now chopping off the end of one’s wiener is not a comfortable experience, so while all the dudes in Shechem’s city are nursing their wounds, Dinah’s brothers take advantage of the situation and stroll through, slaughtering every single one of them to avenge her rape.
11. Judges 3:21-22
Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. (NIV)
This quote doesn’t even fully encompass the craziness of this story because it fails to mention that the king Ehud is being stabbed to death while he’s sitting on the toilet. It also withholds the badass, action-hero one-liner Ehud drops just before sticking the sword into the obese king: “I have a message from God for you.” It’s like a biblical James Bond quip.
Let’s also not dismiss just how shockingly massive this king is. He’s so overweight that Ehud’s sword literally disappears into his fat rolls, handle and all.
Meanwhile, the king’s servants assume their lord has just got some serious constipation and hang outside the bathroom waiting for him to finish, giving Ehud time to escape. After an embarrassingly long time, the servants decide to check in, and find their king dead on the crapper.
10. Judges 4:21
But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. (NIV)
The next chapter of Judges has less poop and fat, but just as much graphic murder. Whoever wrote this book clearly revelled in the grotesque details of each assassination.
At this point, the Israelites have been oppressed by a guy named Jabin for twenty years and finally fight back, winning the battle against Jabin’s army easily. Jabin’s commander, Sisera, decides he’s better off getting the hell out of there, and runs away on foot. That’s when he comes upon Jael, who offers him a safe place to sleep in her tent.
Unfortunately for Sisera, Jael is a fan of the Israelites, so Sisera ends up super dead. Jael must’ve done her fair share of tenting because she doesn’t just stab the guy, she puts the tent peg so far through his skull that it went right through and is now pinned to the ground.
9. Philippians 3:8
…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. (NIV)
Did you know that there is swearing in the Bible? That might not be shocking for most people, but for the straight-laced Christian who talks like Ned Flanders, it’s horrifying.
This verse is another gem from the apostle Paul— yes, the emasculation guy. The concept is pretty simple: compared to the value of knowing Jesus, everything in Paul’s life is garbage. Except that “garbage” isn’t really the best translation here. The King James Version says “dung” instead. The original term in Greek is skubalon, which can mean both poop and garbage. Essentially, Paul is trying to say that everything else is the lowest of the low. It’s a harsh and crude statement.
And the only modern translation that really fits all of that is “shit.” He considers them shit, that he may gain Christ.
8. Psalm 137:9
Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (NIV)
This might be the most messed-up verse in the entire bible. There are a lot of passages that go into great detail about murder and death and war, some of which you’ve already seen on this list, but not very many celebrate the killing of babies as a happy occasion.
If it’s any consolation, this particular psalm is all about how Israel has been horrifically oppressed by the Babylonians, so the whole infant-murder thing is more or less a revenge fantasy— as if that makes it any easier to swallow. In fact, the implication is that there is an eye-for-an-eye quality to this situation, meaning that there is a chance the Babylonians engaged in some baby-killing of their own against Israel.
7. Song of Solomon 2:3
I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. (NIV)
At first glance, this doesn’t sound like much. But when you realize that it’s from a book of the Bible that is basically one big erotic poem, all of a sudden the metaphor of sitting in a dude’s shade and tasting his fruit becomes glaringly obvious.
Yeah, we’re talking about going down on someone in the Bible, folks.
Some of the more conservative Christians out there like to deny that there is anything sexual about the Song of Solomon. They like to pretend that it’s all about the church’s relationship with God, but the fact of the matter is that the whole thing is about bumping uglies.
It’s actually a nice change of pace from the violence, poop, and circumcision that seems to permeate the rest of the Bible. So the next time you’re feeling frisky, but you don’t want your mom to catch you gawking over a Brazzers playlist, crack open the Bible, flip to the Song of Solomon, and let your imagination run wild.
6. Judges 15:15
And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. (KJV)
All right, back to the murder and mayhem.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the book of Judges is absolutely brimming with violence, and the story of Samson is no exception. Samson is basically a God-ordained superhero, who is inhumanly strong until he cuts his hair. Apparently Supercuts is his Kryptonite.
In this particular passage, the long-locked man of steel picks up a donkey’s jawbone and kills ONE THOUSAND MEN with it. To clarify, a “donkey’s jawbone” isn’t some kind of machine gun or nuclear device. It’s literally just a decent-sized piece of bone that Samson beats hundreds of men to death with.
Why hasn’t Hollywood ruined this story with a Michael Bay-helmed adaptation yet?
5. 2 Kings 2:23-24
…some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. (NIV)
Talk about petty. Some dumb kids make fun of your receding hairline and you magically call on a couple of bears to maul them. Like, chill the hell out dude.
The bear-summoning psycho in question is named Elisha and he’s one of the greatest prophets and miracle-workers in the entire Bible. He raised people from the dead, multiplied food, predicted the future, made iron float, healed the sick, and a whole lot more.
4. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity. (NIV)
The thing that’s most baffling about this section is the fact that it needed to be said. Deuteronomy is a book full of laws, some of them stranger than others, but this one is definitely one of the oddest.
You have to assume that this happened at some point. Two men engaged in fisticuffs for whatever reason, and one of them had a ‘handsy’ wife who didn’t like seeing her husband get wailed on, so she grabs the other guy’s nuts. Sure, it’s a pretty convincing way to end the fight, but who does that?
3. Revelation 4:8
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. (NIV)
The Book of Revelations closes off the bible and it is easily the most terrifying. When you hear people mention “apocalyptic literature”, this is what they’re talking about. It is basically one end-of-the-world scenario after another. There are plagues and monsters and global wars and demons and bottomless pits.
There are also four creatures, each with six wings that are covered in eyes. Even, John, the author of Revelations, seems amazed by this visual. Just try to picture it. Start with a six-winged animal of some sort. Got it? Now instead of skin or fur or hair, it has eyes. Just eyes. Every square inch of it, even under its wings, as John is apt to note, is covered in eyeballs. Creepy.
2. Isaiah 64:6
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…(NIV)
This is another verse, like Philippians 3:8 that suffers from prudish translators trying to sanitize the language.
Comparing something to “filthy rags” doesn’t seem so shocking, all things considered. But you have to remember that these biblical authors tend to use extremes when they are waxing poetry about how crappy others are compared to God, so a smart reader might assume there’s more to the original text than a washcloth that needs to be thrown in the laundry.
And the smart reader would be right. The word that’s been translated as “filthy” actually refers to the bodily fluids from a woman’s period.
1. Numbers 16:31-32
As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households…(NIV)
This one isn’t a metaphor. Or a dream. Or an exaggeration.
This is just God getting especially wrathful on a group of people who rebelled against Moses and commanding the earth to swallow them up like Rihanna in This Is the End. Now, this is infinitely better than the man-eating forest.
The best part is Moses’ speech right beforehand. He tells the people that God is going to do something totally new that they’ve never seen before in order to prove his existence. And then God cracks open the ground and swallows a bunch of losers up.
The Bible is weird, man.