When most people think of the Bible, all they picture is love and goodwill to others. However, not every character in the Bible was as dedicated to God as we may imagine. From murder plots and assassination to sickness and suicide, the Bible contains a vast amount of gruesome deaths that you probably didn’t learn about in Sunday school.
10. Collapsed Building Kamikaze
The Israelites were a fickle bunch, to say the least. Most of the time they found themselves in trouble it was because they had rejected God. The Israelites had been overthrown by their enemies, the Philistines, but God gave them a strong leader named Samson. Samson possessed incredible strength and was basically invincible. His major weakness was his hair: if cut, he would lose all his strength.
Samson was basically the ancient Arnold Schwarzenegger. He wrestled lions, burnt down fields, killed 1000 guys with the jawbone of an ass and ripped up the gates of the Philistine’s capital city and left them on a hill top. The Philistines had grown tired of losing at the hand of Israel’s invincible champion and decided to use Samson’s other weakness to their advantage: women. They contacted Samson’s Philistine lover, Delilah, who agreed to betray him for money. Delilah found the secret of Samson’s strength after a lot of nagging and cut Samson’s hair while he was sleeping. Samson woke up chained and weak, a prisoner of the Philistines.
Samson spent a long time in prison, weak and now blind. But during a celebration someone suggested they bring out the once mighty Samson so they could mock him. Samson was brought out and his hands were placed between two pillars supporting the two-storey building. Samson prayed to God for strength one last time and with all his might he pushed down the two pillars, causing the building to collapse on himself and the Philistines, pulverizing everyone with enormous stones.
9. Bowel Disease
King Jehoram was a cruel king who skated on thin ice with God for most of his life. Jehoram broke the last straw by having all of his brothers killed so that there was no contender for the throne. God decided to deal with him promptly, and things started to go awry for Jehoram. All of the enemy nations started to attack Israel and Judah to the point where Judah’s palace was ransacked and everything from jewelry and money to wives were stolen. After all of this, Jehoram caught an incurable bowel disease. His bowels burst out and he died in excruciating pain. No one honored him in death, no-one regretted his passing, he wasn’t buried in the Tomb of the Kings and, frankly, he must have been pretty embarrassed.
8. Eaten by Dogs
Of all the rulers in Israel, King Ahab and Jezebel were pretty much the most evil. God couldn’t bear to see his people suffer under the mad rule of Ahab, so he sent his prophet Elijah to deal with them. Elijah prophesied that dogs would eat their bodies and lap up their blood.
Three years later, Ahab was killed in battle when an arrow struck him in the tiny gap between his breastplate and shoulder armor. He was buried in a foreign land and his chariot was washed beside a pool. The runoff of blood mixed with water was lapped up by some local dogs. But this still left Queen Jezebel, who doubled down on being a terrible ruler. So a new king was crowned in secret: King Jehu.
Jehu arrived at the royal palace and ordered Jezebel’s servants to throw her out of her window. Jezebel plummeted to her death — Jehu decided to give her the dignity of a burial, but when his men went to find the body all that was left was her skull, hands and feet. The rest of her body had been chewed apart and devoured by dogs.
7. Hung, Speared and Stabbed
The second King of Israel was King David. A shepherd boy who transformed into royalty, David was a man after God’s own heart. But most of David’s relatives were less honorable, including his son, Absalom, who was banished for murdering his half-brother.
After a few years Absalom came back seeking forgiveness, which David granted. Absalom then hatched a plot to usurp his father’s throne. David and his men were forced to flee Jerusalem, and the rivalry soon turned into a battle in the forest. David commanded his men to do no harm to Absalom, as he still loved his son despite his betrayal.
During the battle, Absalom accidentally stumbled upon David’s men and fled. But as he was riding away, his famous long locks of hair got caught in the branch of an oak tree and he was left hanging by his hair. Some soldiers spotted him and told Joab, David’s military commander. Joab was furious that his men had not killed Absalom. Joab grabbed three javelins and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while he was still alive and hanging by his hair in a tree. Then ten of Joab’s armor bearers stabbed Absalom with their swords, just to be sure.
6. Tent Peg in the Head
As mentioned before, the Israelites were a rebellious lot who weren’t just satisfied with one God. When they close to worship a different god they found themselves under the tyrannical rule of their enemies, King Jabin and General Sisera. To ensure their rule would endure, General Sisera built a fortress containing 900 iron chariots and soldiers to ride them.
God responded by telling the prophetess Deborah to rally an army. Ten thousand men volunteered, and they were led by a fellow named Barak. But Barak refused to go into battle unless Deborah followed. She agreed, but also said that for his cowardice he would not be the one to kill General Sisera. Instead the mighty General would be slain by a woman.
The day of the battle came, and Barak and his men charged down the hill of Mt. Tabor where they met their enemies in a surprise attack. It was soon obvious that the Israelites were winning, and General Sisera bolted to save his skin. He found a tent belonging to a woman named Jael, who he thought was his ally. Once Jael had lulled Sisera to sleep with some milk, she grabbed a tent peg and a hammer and drove the peg through his skull in one quick strike. The peg pierced Sisera’s temple and brain, coming out the other side of his head and into the ground. His head was pegged to the ground, which seems more appropriate for a Friday the 13th movie than the Bible.
5. Baby Eating and Trampling
Israel really had no luck with their enemies. At one point the city of Samaria was under siege for so long that a donkey’s head would set you back eighty shekels of silver. The situation became so desperate some parents even ate their own babies. Mothers made agreements with friends to eat each other’s babies on successive days. But some mothers would simply eat their neighbor’s baby and then hide theirs the next day, which we’re honestly not sure is more noble or not.
Anyway, the prophet Elisha told the King not to worry because food would be sold in abundance at the city gates the next day. One of the King’s officials rebuked Elisha and said that was simply impossible. Elisha responded by telling him, “ Thou shalt see it with thy eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.”
The next morning, four lepers from outside the city walked into the enemy camp to find it empty and full of food. The troops laying the seige had heard a loud rumbling and fled, thinking they were under attack. The lepers told everyone in Samaria about the deserted camp and soon everyone was rushing out of the city to get some food. The king’s official was trampled to death by the human stampede, which is kind of a harsh response to skepticism.
4. Gut Stabbing
God’s people had once again rejected him (picked up the pattern yet?), and this time God gave them Ehud. Ehud had a plan to take back their country from the clutches of the fat king, Eglon. So Ehud and some friends went to the palace to pay their tribute to the King. Before they were allowed to go in they were searched for weapons. The soldiers were in the habit of checking the left leg, because that’s where someone who was right-handed would strap their sword. But Ehud was left-handed and concealed his dagger by strapping it to his right thigh.
Once he was inside, Ehud requested that he and the King be left alone under the pretense of passing on a private message. Once everyone was outside, Ehud grabbed his weapon and plunged it into the King’s fat gut. King Eglon was so overweight, the sword and its handle were completely swallowed up.
3. Burnt to a Crisp
King Ahaziah was a wicked king who was punished by falling through the lattice of his upper room, severely injured him to the point where he was bed ridden. So the King sent out messengers to contact his own gods to ask if he would ever recover from his injury.
The prophet Elijah stopped the messengers and told them that because Ahaziah had consulted false gods the King would die. When the messengers returned and told Ahaziah the news he sent 50 soldiers to arrest Elijah. The captain of the men asked Elijah to report to the king. Elijah said that if he was truly a man of God, fire would come from heaven and consume those 50 soldiers. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. The king sent another 50 men and the scenario panned out in the exact same way: 50 toasted soldiers. The next 50 men learned from their comrades’ mistakes, begged the prophet for mercy and survived. The ensuing recruitment drive presumably didn’t go well.
2. Eaten Alive by Worms
In New Testament times the kings of Judah continued the tradition of evil. King Herod Agrippa was pretty full of himself, giving himself the title “Agrippa the Great.” But as often happens, pride comes before a fall. Agrippa was attending a peace meeting with two neighboring countries, and he sat down on his throne and gave his speech. His people hyped him up, declaring that his was the voice of a god, not a man. Agrippa accepted every word, satisfying his ego. An angel struck Agrippa down for accepting this claim of godhood, causing him to be eaten alive by worms. Which, regardless of your crime, is a pretty harsh way to go.
1. Rape and Dismemberment
A holy man had retrieved a concubine of his who had run away. As he was returning home, it was getting late and he decided to stay in a nearby city and finish his journey the following day. Unfortunately, the people of the town weren’t hospitable and refused to let them in their homes. They were forced to sleep in the city square until an old man found them and invited them into his home.
While they were inside, the town’s people found out about the mysterious travelers and some of the men demanded that the holy man come out so they could have sex with him, because Grindr hadn’t been invented yet. The old man told the men outside to beat it, as the priest was a guest in his home. The crowd insisted, so to calm them down the old man said he would offer his virgin daughter and the priest’s concubine to the men. Eventually, the holy man threw his concubine out the door to stop the crowd from bashing it down.
The men took the concubine and abused her all night. In the morning the concubine managed to make her way back to the house, but collapsed dead at the door. When the holy man woke up and found his concubine he put her on his donkey and took her home. There he cut her up into 12 pieces and sent a piece to each of the tribes of Israel to make the point that there was too much evil in the land, presumably while also inventing the concept of irony. Gruesome!