What do these Bible verses mean? Why does it demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible?

  • Leviticus 20:13 – demands the death of homosexuals.

    “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

  • Exodus 35:2 – demands that we kill everyone who works on the Sabbath day.

    For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death

  • Deuteronomy 21:18-21 – demands that we kill disobedient teenagers.

    "If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid"

  • 5
    they're not innocent - if they were innocent, there would be no punishment
    – warren
    Dec 3, 2013 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


Your real question is really why do the sins in these three instances deserve Death in God's eyes?

Leviticus 20:13,  Exodus 35:2, Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

The answer to that is the same as why God demanded death for when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:17 KJV

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God had created man in his image, and he had created both man and woman. In that original creation God did not give them or any of their prosperity the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:7 KJV

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Eve was created to be Adam's helper:

Genesis 2:18, 21, & 22 KJV

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

God created them differently for a reason, and that reason was:

Genesis 1:26 through 28 KJV

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Man was not created as an after thought God had specific plans for man. When God created Adam, before he created Eve he gave Adam an assignment.

Genesis 2:5 & 15 KJV

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

God had also created Adam as an eternal being.

Genesis 2:16 & 17 KJV

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

So when Man disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lost that eternal life, and also marred what God had already pronounced as good.

Genesis 1:31 KJV

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

So now that man had given up his eternal life, when Adam died there would be left no one to tend the earth and till the soil.

Therefore in order for those duties to be carried on man had to procreate, and so God told man to be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth. So man even though he had given up life eternal on the Earth, God still needed to fulfill his overall plan.

As for the part about homosexuality, For that you have to consider that God meant for man to procreate for several reasons, and one purpose was to have Adams posterity to care for his creation, that is why he gave sex to mankind in the beginning, and his explicit instructions were to multiply and fill the Earth. Sex was given to mankind for that reason, not for his pleasure. God made it pleasant so that man would not think of it as strictly a duty to him, even though it was. And there is no procreation in homosexuality, and it is therefore an abomination to God in that it is relegated to a place of pleasure only and not to fulfill God's edict to fill the Earth.

Leviticus 20:13 KJV

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

But you have singled out only one of many sexual deviations for which God has pronounced physical death and all of those are for the same reason and that is the misuse of sex.

As for the punishment of physical death for breaking the Sabbath God gave man a specific command;

Exodus 20:10 & 11 KJV

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

God blessed the Sabbath and made it holy and is to be observed as a covenant to the LORD.

Exodus 31:15 & 16 KJV

15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

We do not have the right to degrade the Sabbath and ignore it's significance.

As for the last part of your question, concerning disobedient children.

Again God gave a specific command in the 10 commandments, and with this command, and none of the others, God gave the reward for obedience.

Exo 20:12 KJV

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Deuteronomy 21:18 through 21 KJV

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

So it only stands to reason that if you do not honor your parents you should expect that your days will not be long, and matter of fact the less you honor them the shorter you should expect them to be right up to the point of not having any more days.


The severity of the punishment matches the severity of the crime, that's all.

For Israel to keep a holy God in her midst who will provide her with plenty of rain and abundant crops, health and well-being, protection in all warfare, bravery and courage in its citizens, much healthy offspring, and so on (Deuteronomy 28), will demand high standards on the side of the subjects of His rule.

Look at the longer lines we put up with from Homeland Security to be protected from terrorists. Look a the diminishing rate of privacy we endure as cameras go up around the city and the government has access to all the server contents on demand. We put up with these greater restrictions for more protection.

Even so, the Israelites agreed to these standards in their covenant with God to maintain a right relationship with a holy God. All of these punishments you read about in the OT are spelled out in the Israelite's contract with God (in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy). If they wanted a holy God to remain in their midst, then they would have to agree with these rules (Deuteronomy 18:24-30).

  • And, when Jesus came and performed his ministry he raised this up to a spiritual level. Now, instead of being killed physically, such people are simply excommunicated from the church his apostles established. Mar 18, 2014 at 21:17
  • @JasonLWharton Where did Jesus preach excommunication?
    – Steve
    Mar 19, 2014 at 4:21
  • Yes, he did. Jesus instructed his disciples to revoke a person's standing among the Saints if they refused to be corrected when they were found to be in error and there were witnesses who attested to such. Please read Matt 18:15-18. May 26, 2014 at 17:56

It's important to remember that in many instances the people weren't actually physically killed. Their names were put on the "to be stoned" roster and they were given sufficient time to gather their rightful belongings and allowed to leave that society in search of another place to live. There were established cities known as cities of refuge that they could flee to in order to preserve their lives.

The main point of these commandments that have loss of life as a penalty is to provide a context for society where people can live in liberty, per the commandments given. This is a society under a covenant with their God. Those who are a party to this covenant represent a group of souls who wish for things to be just as the commandments prescribe. So, when you have individuals doing things that this societal group deems critically disruptive, they are to be purged because they want that type of society to persist for the benefit of their posterity. If certain people persist in imposing their perversions, etc. upon the society instead of leaving, that is when they are actually put to death.

If the people become lax and do not perform judgment as they are responsible to do and start to implement and conform to the ways of their surrounding nations, then God considers the entire society guilty of adultery against Him. What does He do about it? He carries out the provisions of the law they are under covenant to obey. What is that? God has the entire society "stoned to death" for their adultery against Him. This is in fact what happened and is why the ancient nations of Israel/Judah spent such a long time in dispersion as if they were the scattered bits and pieces of a dead (societal) body. They were "stoned to death" as a society for their adultery against Jehovah. (See Ezekiel 23:47)

The resurrection (gathering) of Israel is literally when they are established again as a covenant society and they again implement in its purity the laws they formerly were given. It will be a society where the patriarchal unit will shoulder the responsibility to govern. There will be no need of governmental agencies to extract taxes in order to dole out welfare. All individuals in need of welfare will get it by coming into association with a patriarch who is the head of a household. The fathers are the mayors, supervisors, governors, presidents, etc. When you understand that Jehovah's governmental system relies almost solely upon functional family units instead of state sponsored agencies, then you will understand why His laws concerning how families are to function are so vital to the well-being of their society.

  • I've never heard of a '"to be stoned" roster'! Is there any mention of it in the Bible? Instead it seems to me that they were stoned immediately. See Leviticus 24:10–23, Numbers 15:32–36 and Joshua 7 for example.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 4, 2013 at 10:37
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    Also, the cities of refuge were for if you accidentally killed someone, not for deliberate sin. This answer is all wishful thinking, and wrong.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 11, 2014 at 22:21
  • What I spoke of here was what I learned from a person who was Jewish themselves and who spoke from their own understanding of the history of how things were actually done in many instances. In their view the permanent exile of a sinner was sufficiently equivalent to the actual physical death of the sinner. I'm not going to say whether I agree with this or not, it's just how things were done in many cases. Permanent banishment could be seen as a humane softening producing the same net affect of removing someone from society. Mar 18, 2014 at 21:12

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