Three days ago I was doing a bible study with my friend and I came across Ezekiel 9:6-7, where God orders the slaughter of men, women and children, as a somewhat new Christian I was obviously disgusted and horrified by the verse, but can my fellow brothers and sisters Christians explain this verse for me in more detailed information, it is greatly appreciated.

Ezekiel 9:6-7 says this:

  1. Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

  2. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.

Can only my fellow Christians please answer this verse? I would like to know their interpretation of this verse.

  • 1
    Did you read this passage in context? Did you notice it was a vision? Do you know this is not the only age of salvation and God wants all to realise eternal life? If God disgusts us, we don’t understand who He is, what He is doing, or how He is doing it.
    – Steve
    May 22, 2021 at 4:47
  • 1.) All users on this site may answer all questions. And many here would not self-identify as 'Christian'. 2.) The chapter is a vision and has spiritual meaning. Nobody died that die and your accusation of 'ordering murder' has no basis in fact. 3.) Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom left) as to the purpose and the functioning of this moderated website.
    – Nigel J
    May 22, 2021 at 7:47
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    An meaningful answer to your actual question would necessarily involve distinctly Christian theology and dogma, unknown to the ancient Jewish writer penning the original text; as such, it would be more appropriate on Christianity.SE.
    – Lucian
    May 22, 2021 at 18:27
  • There are simple explanations to this question, but they depend on interpretations of specific denominations (i.e. other denominations wouldn't accept them as valid answers). Such answers aren't appropriate on this site. As Lucian suggested, Christianity.SE would be a much better place to ask. May 23, 2021 at 0:54

2 Answers 2


Why does God order the murder of men, women and children in Ezekiel 9:6-7?

Answer: These are all difficult due to our worldly perspective. We do not see our lives as God sees them from a position of absolute holiness. This world is often ugly, but we rarely understand that ugliness because we happen to be part of it.

As suggested by @Dave, there are many passages in Scripture, as with those in Ezekiel, that are really hard for us to swallow, even when we think we understand them. Such themes are difficult because we view everything from a jaundiced, fleshly perspective rather than from a spiritual one.

We think we know better. We believe that, if it were our responsibility, we would do things differently from that of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent Deity. We are horribly mistaken. Due to our limited knowledge and wisdom, we rarely understand the whole picture.

Often, we simply cannot fathom why Almighty God allows certain events to transpire: we have missed the full ramifications of what is being related. We feel that God is unfair, or unjust, or that He is harsh. Our problem is that we cannot see the forest for the trees. If we could, our reasoning would be radically altered.

Consider the following.

When Israel invaded Canaan, they were to do so based on the terrible ruthlessness of those nations. They practiced child sacrifice (burning them alive!) and many other horrific crimes. A modern example might be those like ISIS, who commit unspeakable atrocities. What might we expect of these people, other than their utter destruction? Many of us view them as barbarians unworthy of life. Men and women like these seem possessed by the Devil.

Back to Canaan. Their punishment was hardly capricious. God had allowed this to continue for centuries before He finally had enough (Gen. 15:16). "[They had filled] up the measure of their sins [and God's] wrath [came] upon them to the utmost" (1 Thessalonians 2:16).

There is something very significant, something almost everyone overlooks, regarding children. Many of these had been raised under the excesses of those who were responsible for the carnage. Had they grown to adults, they would, in all likelihood, follow in precisely the same footsteps as their horribly sinful parents.

Here is what we fail to appreciate: all young children are unaccountable for their actions. This is true until a child reaches an age around 13 (perhaps as much as 17 or more?). God is, in fact, sparing these children from spiritual death: eternal torture in the flames of Hell. This is an act of profound mercy.

Such types of destruction, as with the idolatrous Israelites who remained in Israel - those not exiled to Babylon, were only implemented on occasions when the lifestyles of the people exceeded that which God would tolerate, and of that which He had warned so many times before (cf. Deu. 28:15+, especially gruesome). These were instances where "moral surgery" became necessary; the good would far outweigh the evil, and such would benefit all.

God does not "pull punches": He conveys the brutal truth to us. Yes, some Old Testament narratives such as Ezekiel 9 illustrate just how much "innocent" people can and do suffer from the sins of others. However, it is most likely that those who were truly innocent were exiled and thus spared from the devastation that would follow.

This is simply the world in which we live. And, God is bringing it all to an end. Such examples serve to highlight just how much we must all strive to live godly lives in the face of great evil.

  • I must admit I have a problem with The Bible and violence (see also Canaanite genocide and Herem), especially when it is unquestionably mandated by God. I cannot help asking myself this question: if God wanted to "utterly destroy" cities and/or nations, why didn't He invariably do as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah, without involving Israel in the "bloody business"? May 24, 2021 at 10:06
  • @MigueldeServet We probably all have a problem with such things (read Deu. 28:15+), but we weren't there. Our limited minds cannot see what God sees. As far as His not doing the same as S/G, you may remember they were incinerated alive by the blast. Gen. 19:24-25: "Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground." Again, we do not know the depths of the depravity to which God was witness, but He is never capricious about such things.
    – Xeno
    May 24, 2021 at 18:42
  • You have missed one key point: why di God choose to involve Israel in the "bloody business"? May 24, 2021 at 20:13
  • @Miguel Read Ezek. 8:17b: "[The] house of Judah [has committed] abominations, [they] have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly..." It's very important to recognize those whom the angels marked on their foreheads would be spared. They were the ones to "sigh and groan" over the abominations being committed. Israel could have avoided this carnage through obedience to God. Instead, they provoked Him to anger. Note: The "land [was] filled with blood and perversions by their iniquities." We cannot see the whole picture. If we could our perspective would be changed dramatically.
    – Xeno
    May 24, 2021 at 21:15
  • Xeno, let me try to ask the question once again, for clarity: it is not only in Ezekiel 9:6-7 (allegedly in a vision) that God ordered the murder of men, women and children. Why did He? Most of all, why did He involve Israel in the "bllody business" of carrying out the killing? May 24, 2021 at 21:48

Your question is similar to many some bring up - they look at these incidents in the Old Testament and ask the inevitable questions. Your question relates to what Ezekiel saw. But to fully understand this, you really need to have the foundation of what the Old Testament reveals prior to this, parts of which I need to briefly summarise. (So will lack important in-depth background understandings).

The other aspect to understand this incident may? also require putting aside some of your current understanding of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, let’s look a little closer ... first some background ...

Ezekiel was a prophet for Judah, the southern kingdom. The nation of Israel had split into two. A ‘prophet’ was someone who interacted with the ‘spiritual realm’. And much of Ezekiel is ‘looking’ into this realm. It is important to keep this in mind.

Judah was in captivity, in Babylon. King Nebuchadrezzar had ransacked Jerusalem, the temple, then returned later and took [many/most] of the nation into captivity - including Ezekiel. But what’s important to ‘take’ from this is the reasons why. Why was Judah ‘exposed’, ‘unprotected’ - even though their God was Almighty God, Yahweh. Reason - the Law. The nation was ‘under the Mosaic Law. Captivity because they violated the Sabbath. Desecration because they began to worship other gods. And because of this, they took themselves out from under Gods protection.

DEUT 28:45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.

Deuteronomy 28 starting at verse 15 has a long list of consequences. Some very ‘heavy’ consequences! You should read these! It will help towards understanding what happens in Ezekiel 8/9.

Some other background that would help is realising that being ‘put’ under the Law was not Gods idea - but that’s outside of being needed for this answer. The captivity, Judah being taken out of Judah, and put under a Nation with other gods was a ‘life preserver’ - doing this, it ‘shielded’ them from those consequences listed in Deuteronomy.

But what you read in Ezekiel 9 is for those who weren’t taken captive! Those who stayed (the reasons are interesting, eye opening, but outside of this answer.). Nevertheless, what you read in Ezekiel, the horrific judgements, were exactly those listed in Deuteronomy. And because they were ‘under Law’, God had no choice but to permit them.

Violating the Law was serious! It ‘killed’ thousands! A man picking up sticks! There was zero mercy, zero tolerance. The Law was not Gods idea! But God could not stop the judgement - the penalty was demanded by an Accuser.

In Ezekiel 9, we see the ‘background’ (spiritual realm) to what was described in Ezekiel 8. The ‘men’ assigned to ‘kill’ were spiritual entities - angels. Just like we see throughout the Old Testament - the firstborn in Egypt, Sodom, Lot, David in 1 Chronicles 21. Destroying Angels. They, ‘the angelic executioners’, came from the way of the upper gate - the Northern gate. All ‘spiritual oppression’ comes unto Jerusalem from the North.

The instructions to these ‘men’ were to carry out the requirements of the Law, the demands of the Law. The Israelites were warned repeatedly that there was no leeway - no tolerance!

EXODUS 23:21 Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions

So those that were judged in Ezekiel 9 were judged under the Law - not by God. They were there (not exiled) because they had ‘rejected’ God, were worshiping idols - in the temple!!!. They had taken onto themselves the consequences of the Law. There are other significant factors that contribute to their ‘status’, to them being the [seemingly innocent- but not] recipients of judgement, but you’d need a book to outline this. Sufficient to say that at this stage, they were ‘reprobate’ - (Romans 1 has a description of this state.).

Summary - There are clear understandings to these Old Testament incidents, but they are not necessarily found in the ‘traditional doctrinal explanations’. There is not much comfort in those explanations - but the Bible does have satisfying explanations, they are there - ones that show what was really behind these - and importantly, ones that reflect the same God you see in the New Testament. But a forum answer can’t reveal these, you need a book.

  • While I have some problems with your response, we need to remember that young children are unaccountable and thus saved. God was actually sparing the young ones from spiritual death - had they grown to young adults. The debauchery that you mention among the Israelites that remained demanded justice as you say, but it was God who delivered the Law to Moses. God and His Law were inseparable.
    – Xeno
    May 22, 2021 at 20:46
  • @Xeno Then I look forward to your view on this Q. And, BTW, I did not say the Law was not God’s Law - is is. And it’s Holy. What I said was that it was not God’s idea to put man under it!
    – Dave
    May 22, 2021 at 20:50
  • I'm not sure what you mean by "it was not God’s idea to put man under it." Who's idea was it then? My questions are sincere.
    – Xeno
    May 22, 2021 at 20:53
  • @Xeno Jesus came for many reasons. One of which was to ‘get’ the Jews ‘out’ from ‘under it’. The Law held them captive. Why would Jesus have to ‘get’ them out from under it if his Father had put them there? No - they (Israelites) put themselves under it - I could elaborate, and exegise this, but not via comments.
    – Dave
    May 22, 2021 at 20:58
  • @Xeno This ‘Law’ question is huge - Only adding here to try and clarify my (personal) view. God Law is, was, and will always be. It summarises the standard for the righteousness God requires. But it’s impossible for man to achieve righteousness via the Law. The laws [also] outline ‘right living’ - and all believers should be looking to ‘live right’. But if you are ‘under’ the Law, it [also] means that that’s how you ‘get’ your righteousness. And God never intended man to ‘get’ righteousness via the Law - but that doesn’t mean the Law hasn’t got a place.
    – Dave
    May 22, 2021 at 21:40

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