18 Massacres of the Ancient World

According to the Hebrew Bible, Moses led or commanded several massacres of people as described in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and others. WIkimedia

2. Og and the massacre of the Bashan

Another massacre laid to the ancient Israelites, recorded in the book of Numbers as well as in Deuteronomy and referenced in Psalms, was the massacre of King Og, his army, and the people of the Bashan, a realm of sixty cities which were fortified by walls and numerous smaller towns. The people occupying Bashan were Amorites, according to Genesis descendants of Ham, son of Noah. The lands they occupied were in the area of Canaan, in the highlands between the Dead Sea and Hebron. In the book of Amos they are described as powerfully built, “like the height of cedars” and subsequent interpretations refer to them as giants. Nonetheless the Israelites took Og and his army in battle.

In the words of Moses, “So the Lord our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors…there was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them, the whole region of Argob, Og’s kingdom in Bashan” (Deuteronomy 3). The book goes on to report that the Israelites destroyed, “…every city, men, women, and children”. The discussion of the kingdom of Og describes the Israelites plundering the sacked cities and carrying off the livestock and other goods and property of the Amorites to add to their own treasure. Whether the massacre of Og’s kingdom is an historical account or Mosaic fiction is disputed among scholars of the bible and history.