236 – VENGEANCE AGAINST THE DEAD
In the collection CURIOSITIES, Valmiro Rodrigues Vidal tells an impressive story of vengeance. On page 45 of volume seven we read the true story of Charles II, King of England, who rose to the throne in 1,600 under the influence of General Monk, and executed terrible vengeance against those who had beheaded his father, Charles I.
The enemy whom he targeted was Olivier Cromwell, England’s protector, who exercised power as a dictator. He had died in 1,658, and had been buried in the Westminster Abbey. According to certain authors, Charles II had the bodies of the revolutionists dug up, and put in a cart. They were three: Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw, who had been their fiercest enemies. He took them to Tyburn, where they were hanged as criminals. The bodies were hung on the gallows, where they remained for the whole day. He then had them removed from the trees, and beheaded them. Then he threw them in a well close to the gallows. Their heads were set on spears and set on elevated places, offering to the citizens a sinister sight, an expressive testimony to the vengeful feelings of the monarch.
This kind of vengeance portrays the indescribable hatred that filled the heart of that king. It was, nevertheless, vengeance against corpses in putrefaction. The hatred would be worse if the monarch had ordered the death of the children of those dead men who had not participated in the crime, whose mothers and relatives would be terrified in the face of so much atrocity. Fortunately, that was not what happened.
In the story of Israel, the people of Jehovah, things of greater monstrosity happened, for Jehovah, filled with hatred and fury, being unable to execute vengeance on the dead person who is not able to feel anything, executed vengeance on the children, so that the innocent relatives who lived would suffer the pain and anguish that the dead should be suffering. What are the sentiments of a being who has posed as god, and for the hatred he nurses against the one he killed in vengeance, not satisfied in killing him, directs his murderous hand against his children, so that mother, sisters, and grandparents may suffer the terrible pain that he intended for the dead person?
What is worse in this kind of behavior is that Jehovah brakes his own law, which says, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut. 24:16). How can Jehovah submit his people to the most terrible curses if he has not respected the law he prescribed himself? “Do what I say, but do not do what I do.” In the chapter of the curses, Jehovah declared, “And it shall come about that as Jehovah delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so Jehovah will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it” (Deut. 28:63). If God is love, he cannot enjoy destruction. Each person who dies without salvation is one more lost soul for whom the Father sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross to save. God should suffer for the ones who get lost, and not be delighted in killing and destroying.
Saul sinned, and Jehovah planned his death by means of a sorcerer. As Saul asked Jehovah about the war against the Philistines who were camped in Shunem, and Jehovah did not answer anything through dreams, or Urim, or prophets, the desperate Saul sought the help of a medium at En-dor (1 Sam. 28:6-8). And the sorcerer prophesied from Jehovah the death of Saul and his sons (1 Sam. 28:19). This was fulfilled a few days later, during the combat against the Philistines. The Philistines intensified the battle and killed Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchi-shua, sons of Saul. Pressed by the Philistines and despairing, he asked his armor bearer to kill him, so that the Philistines would not kill him. His armor bearer was greatly afraid, and did not want to do it. Saul, then, fell on his own sword and died. Saul’s army was destroyed. So the oracle of the medium at En-dor was fulfilled. He had declared that Samuel was the speaking spirit, something that Jesus denied in the parable of the rich man and the Lazarus (1 Sam. 31:1-6; Luke 16:22-26). Jehovah himself declared that, when a prophet spoke, if the prophecy was fulfilled, he had himself spoken through the prophet (Deut. 18:20-22). Therefore, Jehovah spoke through the sorcerer.
Thirty years passed after Saul and his sons had been killed. In the meanwhile Jehovah continued to nurse hatred and vengeance against the dead man. Dead persons do not feel, though. The very Jehovah spoke by the mouth of Solomon: “For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten” (Eccl. 9:5).Death put an end to the sin and the evil of Saul’s sin, but the vengeful rage of Jehovah never ends. Then Jehovah thought of executing vengeance on the other sons of Saul, so that their mothers and sisters would endlessly suffer the affliction and anguish that Saul should suffer, to the satisfaction of Jehovah, according to Deut. 28:63. To get satisfaction from seeing the innocent suffer in the place of the ones who are to blame is a dark enjoyment. In chapter 21 of 2 Samuel, during David’s reign, we have this unhappy narrative, which takes the glow out of Jehovah’s justice. The thing happened as follows: There was a famine of three years, in David’s time, year after year. David asked of Jehovah, who told him, “This is because of the bloody house of Saul, that killed the Gibeonites.” David called the Gibeonites, who confirmed Saul’s fierce persecution. The Gibeonites asked King David to give them seven sons of Saul, to hang them unto Jehovah. David looked and found them the seven men. The Gibeonites hung them, and the wrath of Jehovah ceased against the dead Saul (2 Sam. 21:1-14). The text emphasizes that Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, took sackcloth and spread it on a rock, and remained there crying day and night. During the day she drove away the birds, and during the night she drove away the animals, until David sent for the bones of Saul and his sons, and buried them in the grave of Kish, Saul’s father (2 Sam. 21:10-14). This is not the only case in the Old Testament. Jehovah executed terrible vengeance over many other dead.
- Gideon sinned when he made an idol. This irritated Jehovah, who, after his death, executed vengeance, planning the death of his seventy sons (Judges 8:22-31; 9:1-5).
- Jeroboam, who reigned over Israel, gave orders for two idols to be made. He set one in Bethel, and the other in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-30). After the death of Jeroboam, when his son Nadab ruled, Jehovah executed his mortal vengeance on his offspring (1 Kings 14:20; 15:25-29).
- Baasha, who destroyed the house of Jeroboam, also sinned. Then Jehovah orchestrated the death of all the house of Baasha, after his death (1 Kings 15:33-34). Baasha died (1 Kings 16:6-11).
- Ahab, king of Israel, committed great abominations influenced by his wife Jezebel. Elijah, the Tishbite, announced the vengeance of Jehovah. Ahab humbled himself before Jehovah (1 Kings 21).Jehovah, after his death, executed vengeance against the house of Ahab, that is, against the innocent (2 Kings 10:1-11).
If Saul, Gideon, Jeroboam, Baasha, and Ahab lived after Christ, their offspring would not have died, because of the love of the Father, according to John 3:16-17.
By PASTOR OLAVO SILVEIRA PEREIRA