“The God of the Bible is a killer of children.” This line from militant atheists has now made its way into islamic polemics since Muslims are bereft of arguments to use against the Bible. The Bible texts they often cite are:
a) Psalm 137:9 “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
Vs. 1 says: “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept…” These were the Jews captured by the Babylonians. Vs. 8 says “O daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us.” These armies dashed infants on rocks when they invaded the Jews and the Jews were asking God for retribution. The Lion Handbook to the Bible explains:
“[T]he psalmists knew God as One ‘whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil’, who cannot countenance wrongdoing. And this is what motivates their call for vengeance on the wicked. God’s own character – his good name- demands it…There is no question of him [the writer] taking the law into his own hands; no Inquisition. Vengeance is always seen as God’s province, and his alone.” (p 339)
In other words, the passage is a call to God to avenge His people, not for them to go on a killing spree. Conversely, Muhammad commanded Muslims: “And one who attacketh you, attack them in the like manner as he attacked you” (2:194) “Allah will punish them by your hands and give you victory…” (9:14).
b) Isaiah 13:16 “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses spoiled, and their wives ravished.”
The previous explanation applies here too. This chapter was a prophecy against Babylon for enslaving the Israelites. God says “I will stir up the Medes against them … they shall have no mercy on the infants” (v 17-18). Just as the Babylonians had killed others’ infants, plundered their homes and raped their wives, God brought the same on them. This is in harmony with the Law of Moses which says: “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut. 19:21).
Interestingly, the Quran also quotes this part with Allah saying:
“And We prescribe for them therein [in the Bible] life for the life, and the eye for the eye and the nose for the nose and the ear for the ear and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation” (Sura 5:44-45).
Christians, however, are under the law of Christ (Mt. 5:44). But Muhammad, who came 6 centuries after Jesus instead of continuing in the grace and forgiveness Christ laid down, brought the people back under the bondage of the Law which Christians were no longer under. This is a terrible backwater.
c) Ezekiel 23:47 “they shall slay their sons and their daughters”
This text is seldom fully quoted because it doesn’t fit the critics’ agenda. It says: “And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire.”
This refers to God’s judgement on apostate Jews when He brought in foreign armies to invade and plunder them. They had committed “adultery by worship of idols and murder by burning as sacrifices the children they bore to me” (v 37). God thus repaid them for these evils. It is profoundly arrogant and silly for Muslims (or atheists) to try to tell God how to carry out His judgements.
It was a common practice among ancient nations for invading armies to kill children or rip open pregnant women (2Kgs. 8:12; Nah. 3:10). These were historical records of events, not prescriptions for Christians (or even Jews) today. This is why when Muslims take these verses and say “the Bible’s God is a child killer,” frankly, it makes me wonder what has gone wrong with their minds. A similar scenario is actually in the Quran.
“So they journeyed on till when they met a young boy; he slew him Moses said, ‘What hast thou slain an innocent person without his having slain anyone! … And as for the youth, his parents were believers, and we feared lest on growing up he should involve them into trouble through rebellion and disbelief” (Q 18:74, 80).
Notice the stupid excuse given here to justify the murder of a child. In Suras 7:59, 11:25-95, 69:3-12, Allah is said to have totally destroyed the people of Aad, Madyan and Thamud, without any evidence that he spared children or women. Islamic biographer, Al-Tabari, recorded that a Muslim “prophet” Saleh commanded children to be killed in order to spare a she-camel:
“When Salih told the eight evildoers that a boy would be born at whose hands they would be destroyed, they said ‘What do you command us?’ He said I command you to kill them’ (that is their male children). So they killed them except one…” (Al-Tabari 2:43).
These instances show that the Muslim tirade against the God of the Bible Old is more or less a cheap display of hypocrisy. If an argument refutes your theological position, then it’s dishonest to utilize it.