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Someone said that Moses was a mass murderer having killed thousands of of his own people out of anger and frustration. Where in the Bible does it state this, if anywhere?

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In my experience, people who throw around sensationalistic descriptions like "mass murderer" are looking for a fight, not an answer. It would probably be safer to have someone substantiate that claim with some details instead of relaying only the emotionally-worded charge against him. –  mojo Apr 23 at 13:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This might be the instance referred to:

Exodus 32:25-28 (NASB)
Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies—then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day.

This could hardly be described as him killing people out of anger and frustration, though. The punishment for idolatry was (to be) execution. God himself considered their actions worthy of death, just before Moses came down the mountain:

Exodus 32:9-10 (NASB)
"I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them."

After Moses asks God not to destroy the entire nation, he comes down the mountain and witnesses first-hand what they are doing. When Moses gives the command for those loyal to the LORD to start killing people, he even says that it is God's command: "Thus says the LORD." The deaths of these thousands come at the command of God, not from Moses, the man who just prior to this had pleaded with God not to destroy the entire nation.

The text doesn't provide us with any evidence to support the claim that Moses was any sort of mass murderer.

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Thank you. That was most certainly what was being referred to. Weird that this fact seems to be relatively unknown by many. –  Darryl Apr 24 at 15:27
    
@mojo based on the OP's response here, it would be awesome if you had time to expand this to explain why this incident does not have the implications he wants to saddle it with. How does this not make him a mass murderer? –  Caleb May 13 at 9:04

It doesn't and he didn't.

It does say he killed A man. And murder is murder whether you kill one or a thousand, so he was a murderer.

Exodus 2:12 (ESV)
12  He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

In my experience, the accusation of 'mass-murder' usually stems from a gross misinterpretation of the Exodus story caused by the presupposition that God was not involved.

If you rule out supernatural intervention, the plague episodes and the Red Sea drownings become folk tales. While nobody expects all the details of such legends to be real, they do assume such tales were based of a 'kernel of truth', and in this case that must have been a temperamental, vindictive and cruel Moses who terrorized the Egyptians in order to achieve his own political ends. It's amazing how twisted a story Exodus becomes if you do not assign God the role he claims for himself in the narrative.

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very insightful! –  Rick Apr 23 at 11:29
    
I think you are omitting the Exodus 32 incident. –  DJClayworth Apr 23 at 17:59
    
@DJClayworth I think it falls under the same general bracket (either "thus sayeth the Lord" means something or the whole story is nonsense), although it wouldn't hurt to mention it just in case that's the specific incident somebody has in mind. –  Caleb Apr 23 at 19:46
    
The correct answer was found by mojo in Exodus 32:25-28. Apparently Moses is a mass murderer (not sure what else to call someone who kills 3,000 people because he's angry at them). –  Darryl Apr 24 at 15:29
    
@Darryl Moses killed one man against God's law -- that made him a murderer. Moses gave the command to kill thousands according to God's law -- that made him God's appointed judge. Are you calling our civil judges mass murderers who sentence people to the death penalty? –  Steve May 13 at 13:35

Moses first killed a Egypt soldier, then by Exodus 32:27–28 killed 3000 men, then he and Aaron have killed two hundred and fifty men related with Korach. In total written 3251 kills by Moses. Then Numbers 31:14-18 it is not documented how many children and woman killed Moses. Then the genocide of 60 cities, Deuteronomy 3:2-7. And of course, first born babies Exodus 11:4

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If you just want to criticize a text, at least read and comment on what it actually says. This is not what the the Bible says (and you have nothing else on which to base these numbers). Moses didn't kill all the first born. He didn't even order it. He just bore the warning from God that it was going to happen. Same with most of these other cases. Moses was a murderer, but this accounting is representative of neither history nor the Bible's account nor Christianity's beliefs. As such I'm not sure what it's doing as an answer here at all. –  Caleb Oct 19 at 7:14
    
Hi and welcome to the site! Please take time to review our site guidelines in our help centre and edit your posts to meet them if possible. –  bruised reed Oct 19 at 10:34

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