Many people will look upon the following passages with approval and a sort of grim schadenfreude: "those sinners got what they deserved, and anyone today who goes against God should get the same punishment." I take it as obvious that that sort of attitude is barbaric and not really worth comment. Any minimally decent person who considers the acts or punishments described here without the rationalizations that people's affection for religion often leads them to will find them repugnant and evil. Many people will respond with surprise that God or God's followers ever did such things. Others will respond that the passages are out of context, or that there were historical and social contingencies that made these commandments appropriate. Certainly we can construct less enlightened explanations for why a group of humans 3,000 years ago might have endorsed a commandment for killing witches, or for why they would have been undisturbed by raping virgin girls. But the problem is that this book has been held up again and again as a the paragon of moral guidance, and we are repeatedly told that it is the perfect word of God. We are told that one cannot be a morally decent person without religion. And God is thought to be a morally perfect being who loves us. The only way one can sustain those sorts of views about the Bible is to either avoid reading the book altogether or to carefully cherry pick examples that portray God in this positive light.
I submit that a person looking for moral guidance should not consult the Bible--it's moral recommendations are hopelessly corrupt, convoluted, and contradictory.
God sends 2 bears to devour 42 children for teasing the prophet Elisha about his bald head.II Kings 2:24.
God commands the Israelites to slaughter all of the women who have had sex with men, all the men, and all the boys among the Midianites. God instructs them to save 32,000 virgin girls for their own use. Eleazar, the high priest, receives 32 virgin girls. Numbers 31.
The Lord commands the Israelites to "utterly destroy" nor "shew mercy to" the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. Deuteronomy 7:1‑2.
The Lord commands David to conduct a census. Then the Lord grows angered and gives them a choice of punishments: famine, pursuit for three months by their enemies, or three days of pestilence. David cannot choose, so the Lord inflicts the pestilence. 70,000 people die and in a change of heart, "the Lord repented him [the Lord] of the evil." II Samuel 24.
The Lord gives the Jews a great scare by turning snakes loose on them, and then gives them bizarre instructions for ridding themselves of them. Numbers 21:6.
The Lord visits and impregnates Sarah, Abraham's wife. Genesis 21:1.
The Lord visits and impregnates Hannah, wife of Elkanah. 1 Samuel.
The Lord kills the first born of every Egyptian family. Exodus 12:29.
The Lord sanctions slavery. Exodus 21:2‑6, Leviticus 25:44‑46.
The Lord commands the killing of witches. Exodus 22:18.
The Lord commands death for heresy. Exodus 22:20.
The Lord commands death for violating the sabbath. Exodus 31:14‑15.
The Lord commands death for cursing one's parents. Leviticus 20:9.
The Lord commands death for adultery. Leviticus 20:10.
The Lord commands death for blasphemy. Leviticus 24:16.
The Israelites are commanded to "utterly destroy all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses, with the edge of the sword." Joshua 6:21.
The Lord allows Satan to kill Job's livestock, destroy his house, kill his children, inflict boils on his entire body. He is ravaged by disease and famine, he is spurned by his friends. The purpose of the trials is to demonstrate the strength of Job's faith to Satan, and the Lord takes the opportunity at the end of the book to remind Job of his great and terrible power. Job is ultimately returned twice as much as he loses during the tests. Job.
The Lord said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel." . . .The Lord said to Moses, "Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them. Numbers 25: 4 and 16
Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. Exodus 21: 17
The Christian doctrine towards women:
"But if they [men] cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: but if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let no the husband put away his wife. I Corinthians 7:9.
"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." I Corinthians 11:3.
"Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man."
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife. . . Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." Ephesians 5:22.
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness and sobriety." Timothy 1:9.