Who's Behind Listverse?
Jamie founded Listverse due to an insatiable desire to share fascinating, obscure, and bizarre facts. He has been a guest speaker on numerous national radio and television stations and is a five time published author.More About Us
Top 10 Evil People In The Bible
[IMPORTANT: This list contain a competition.] For many of us the Bible is a source of inspiration, a teller of wonderful tales, and a moral guide. But if we were to selectively take certain stories in the abstract we could be horribly misguided. This list is going to introduce ten characters from the Bible who were certainly not following the moral guide in the very same Book which chronicles their lives and experiences. These are but ten of the vilest villains in the Sacred Scriptures; alas many more abound. Be sure to name and shame the rest in the comments.
Antipas was a pathetic and weak man who – at the behest of his soon-to-be mistress “salome” (his step-daughter) carried out her demand (originating from her mother Herodias – item 9) to murder John the Baptist. In what is probably his most famous moment he stood in judgement of Jesus Christ when Pontius Pilate felt incapable of the task. Antipas – expecting a miracle – was most annoyed at Jesus’ silence so sent him back to Pilate to be murdered upon the demands of the Jews.
Antipas didn’t just behead John the Baptist – but that alone makes his worthy for a place on this list. Fittingly he died in exile after plotting to overthrow Emperor Caligula.
[I]n ipsa die accesserunt quidam Pharisaeorum dicentes illi exi et vade hinc quia Herodes vult te occidere. Et ait illis ite dicite vulpi illi ecce eicio daemonia et sanitates perficio hodie et cras et tertia consummor. Verumtamen oportet me hodie et cras et sequenti ambulare quia non capit prophetam perire extra Hierusalem.
The same day, there came some of the Pharisees, saying to him: Depart, and get thee hence, for Herod hath a mind to kill thee. And he said to them: Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am consummated. Nevertheless I must walk today and tomorrow, and the day following, because it cannot be that a prophet perish, out of Jerusalem. — St Luke 13:31-33
Herodias was clearly destined to a life of evil – marrying first Herod II, the son of the evil Herod “the Great” (item 2 on this list) and then falsely divorcing him to marry his far viler brother Herod Antipas (Item 10 – directly above). Her life of crime didn’t end with bigamy. Saint John the Baptist was rather vocal at the time about the bigamous marriage of Herodias and Herod Antipas and it raised the ire of the adulteress – to a point where she would not be happy until she saw him slaughtered.
Seeing how enamored her new husband (Herod Antipas) was with her daughter (his step-daughter – Salome) she offered the girl to him in exchange for the arrest of St John. Herod being rather a weak man took her up on the very generous offer – appeasing the ill-feeling of Salome about the arrangement by promising to grant her any wish should she “lie” with him. This is where Herodias was able to cleverly execute her plan. She convinced her daughter to “get together” with her father-in-law in order to have the Baptist killed.
After the famous dance of the seven veils, Salome told her father-in-law that she was his – and she named her wish (in reality the wish of her witch of a mother Herodias): the head of John the Baptist. Happy to dick his brother’s wife but not to renege on a promise to his new teenage bed pal, Herod had no choice but to command it be done. Salome has gone down in history as the woman who had St John killed; but in reality it was her evil conniving mother Herodias who was behind it all.
If this story interests you, you will probably love the Oscar Wilde play Salome. Here is the complete film on youtube of an incredible interpretation of his play by the great director Charles Bryant starring the incredible Alla Nazimova with the sets and costumes mimicking those designed by Aubrey Beardsley (Salome illustration above) who died a the young age of twenty-five.
[C]umque introisset filia ipsius Herodiadis et saltasset et placuisset Herodi simulque recumbentibus rex ait puellae pete a me quod vis et dabo tibi et iuravit illi quia quicquid petieris dabo tibi licet dimidium regni mei quae cum exisset dixit matri suae quid petam et illa dixit caput Iohannis Baptistae cumque introisset statim cum festinatione ad regem petivit dicens volo ut protinus des mihi in disco caput Iohannis Baptistae.
And when the daughter of the same Herodias had come in, and had danced, and pleased Herod, and them that were at table with him, the king said to the damsel: Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he swore to her: Whatsoever thou shalt ask I will give thee, though it be the half of my kingdom. Who when she was gone out, said to her mother, What shall I ask? But she said: The head of John the Baptist. And when she was come in immediately with haste to the king, she asked, saying: I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist. — St Mark 6:22-25
During the birth of man God suspended the laws of incest; therefore it was possible for Adam and Eve to have children who could marry each other and have their own children. But before we even get to the second generation of Adam and Eve we find trouble with the first. Cain and Abel were brothers – the children of our first parents. Abel was devoted to God and made many offerings to him – particularly his prize fatted sheep.
Cain also made many offerings but – extraorindarily fond of meat – offered fruit instead. God, clearly being a devout carnivore was far more interested in Abel’s offerings and gave him much praise for them – and frankly who wouldn’t prefer a side of lamb over a basket of plums? Cain, being the jealous type decided to take matters into his own hands.
He convinced his brother to check out the newly laid fields and whilst rollicking amongst the Einkorn wheat (the original wheat that doesn’t cause an obesity crisis) pulled out his sword and shoved it firmly in his brother who, unfortunately, had his back to him. It is a very famous story and here it is as told by the Sacred Scriptures:
Adam vero cognovit Havam uxorem suam quae concepit et peperit Cain dicens possedi hominem per Dominum. Rursusque peperit fratrem eius Abel fuit autem Abel pastor ovium et Cain agricola. Factum est autem post multos dies ut offerret Cain de fructibus terrae munera Domino. Abel quoque obtulit de primogenitis gregis sui et de adipibus eorum et respexit Dominus ad Abel et ad munera eius. Ad Cain vero et ad munera illius non respexit iratusque est Cain vehementer et concidit vultus eius. Dixitque Dominus ad eum quare maestus es et cur concidit facies tua. Nonne si bene egeris recipies sin autem male statim in foribus peccatum aderit sed sub te erit appetitus eius et tu dominaberis illius. Dixitque Cain ad Abel fratrem suum egrediamur foras cumque essent in agro consurrexit Cain adversus Abel fratrem suum et interfecit eum
And Adam knew Eve his wife: who conceived and brought forth Cain, saying: I have gotten a man through God. And again she brought forth his brother Abel. And Abel was a shepherd, and Cain a husbandman. And it came to pass after many days, that Cain offered, of the fruits of the earth, gifts to the Lord. Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat: and the Lord had respect [Had respect: That is, shewed his acceptance of his sacrifice (as coming from a heart full of devotion): and that, as we may suppose, by some visible token, such as sending fire from heaven upon his offerings.] to Abel, and to his offerings. But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect: and Cain was exceedingly angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said to him: Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it. And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him. — Genesis 4:1-8
Undoubtedly you have heard the phrase “jumping’ Jehoshaphat!” Joram (sometimes known as Jehoram) was Jehoshaphat’s son. Actually he was one of seven sons – no wonder Jehoshaphat was jumping – you would be too with seven babies’ nappies to change. Joram reigned jointly with his father for a while but, realizing his father’s time was drawing short, decided he needed to cement his place as sole ruler of the Kingdom of Judah. With six brothers it is no wonder he was a little edgy about the succession to the throne.
So Joram did what any co-regent would do under the circumstances. He took a sword and slashed the throats of his bros. Single-handedly this megalomaniac dismembered his little brothers. If that isn’t evil I don’t know what is. Oh wait – yes I do – see the next item. Oh – by the way – in case you are wondering what became of old Jehoram: he died when his bowels fell out (2 paralipomenon 21:16-19).
[S]urrexit ergo Ioram super regnum patris sui cumque se confirmasset occidit omnes fratres suos gladio et quosdam de principibus Israhel.
So Joram rose up over the kingdom of his father: and when he had established himself, he slew all his brethren with the sword, and some of the princes of Israel. — 2 Paralipomenon 21:4
Cain and Jehoram deserve a place on this list without a doubt, but if they are here – so should Abimelech be. He didn’t kill one brother; he didn’t kill six brothers, he killed seventy! Yes. That isn’t a typo. He murdered all but one of his brothers! Clearly his father, Jerobaal, had a lot of spare time on his hands. So anyway – after butchering his brothers the local city folk declared him king (not surprisingly). After this rather vile moment of evil the Scriptures go on to tell the quite random tale of talking trees – of course – that makes sense! Follow the link below and read the remainder of the tale to hear about the talking trees.
[A]biit autem Abimelech filius Hierobbaal in Sychem ad fratres matris suae et locutus est ad eos et ad omnem cognationem domus patris matris suae dicens. Loquimini ad omnes viros Sychem quid vobis est melius ut dominentur vestri septuaginta viri omnes filii Hierobbaal an ut dominetur vobis unus vir simulque considerate quia os vestrum et caro vestra sum. Locutique sunt fratres matris eius de eo ad omnes viros Sychem universos sermones istos et inclinaverunt cor eorum post Abimelech dicentes frater noster est. Dederuntque illi septuaginta pondo argenti de fano Baalbrith qui conduxit sibi ex eo viros inopes et vagos secutique sunt eum. Et venit in domum patris sui Ephra et occidit fratres suos filios Hierobbaal septuaginta viros super lapidem unum remansitque Ioatham filius Hierobbaal minimus et absconditus est.
And Abimelech the son of Jerobaal went to Sichem to his mother’s brethren and spoke to them, and to all the kindred of his mother’s father, saying: Speak to all the men of Sichem: whether is better for you that seventy men all the sons of Jerobaal should rule over you, or that one man should rule over you? And withal consider that I am your bone, and your flesh. And his mother’s brethren spoke of him to all the men of Sichem, all these words, and they inclined their hearts after Abimelech, saying: He is our brother: And they gave him seventy weight of silver out of the temple of Baalberith: wherewith he hired to himself men that were needy, and vagabonds, and they followed him. And he came to his father’s house in Ephra, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerobaal, seventy men, upon one stone: and there remained only Joatham the youngest son of Jerobaal, who was hidden. — Judges 9:1-5
When we think of old folk we usually think of kindly old grandparents who give us candy and love everything we do. Not so in Biblical times. The Old Man from Ephraim (most of you will know him as Lot) was definitely not your stereotypical grandpa. After inviting some random traveling guy (who turns out to be the angel Gabriel) into his house for a sleep over, the local village men go on a horn-fest and demand the guest be given to them for a good old fashioned Biblical gang-bang.
This really is in the Bible incidentally – gay gang bangs – who would have thought it?! Lot summons up his morals and refuses to hand over the man. But he has a better alternative: he hands over his virgin daughter and the concubine of the visiting stranger (you can’t travel without a concubine in the Bible of course – even if you are an angel). The village men – content to rape anything they can get their hands on – agree to leave the angel behind and take off with the concubine (obviously the virginal daughter was a dog) for the night.
But wait – it gets worse. The next morning the poor concubine is left in a heap on the door step of the Lot’s house. Any person with any civility would, of course, take her in and clean her gashes – undoubtedly there are many wounds left after a night of Biblical village rape. But is that what happens? No. The guest – jointly evil with Lot – thinks the concubine is dead and carries her home on his ass. Upon arriving home he doesn’t check his heavenly emails – he grabs a knife and chops her into twelves bits and posts her around the country. As you do. Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof:
[A]t mulier recedentibus tenebris venit ad ostium domus ubi manebat dominus suus et ibi corruit. Mane facto surrexit homo et aperuit ostium ut coeptam expleret viam et ecce concubina eius iacebat ante ostium sparsis in limine manibus. Cui ille putans eam quiescere loquebatur surge ut ambulemus qua nihil respondente intellegens quod erat tulit eam et inposuit asino reversusque est in domum suam. Quam cum esset ingressus arripuit gladium et cadaver uxoris cum ossibus suis in duodecim partes ac frusta concidens misit in omnes terminos Israhel.
But the woman, at the dawning of the day, came to the door of the house where her lord [Gabriel] lodged, and there fell down. And in the morning the man arose, and opened the door that he might end the journey he had begun: and behold his concubine lay before the door with her hands spread on the threshold. He thinking she was taking her rest, said to her: Arise, and let us be going. But as she made no answer, perceiving she was dead, he took her up, and laid her upon his ass, and returned to his house. And when he was come home he took a sword, and divided the dead body of his wife [concubine] with her bones into twelve parts, and sent the pieces into all the borders of Israel. — Judges 19:26-29
Jezebel wasn’t just a whore – she was a butchering murderous bitch. Being a worshipper of Baal (a devil) she determined to convert her nation-by-marriage (Israel – she was a Phoenician princess married to a Jewish king) to the same religion. In order to do so she butchered as many Jewish prophets as she could round up; and she rounded up quite a few!
This is not entirely uncommon in the old testament as the Jews frequently killed their prophets; but Jezebel had to go one worse. Not content to murder the prophets to stop them spreading their “wickedness” she sacrificed babies to her god of stone to appease him. Elijah – her chief protagonist at least has a chance for vengeance and eventually slaughtered the 450 prophets of Baal. Jezebel came to a ruinous end when she was cast from a window by three Eunuchs whereupon she was trampled to death by horses and eventually eaten by dogs, leaving behind her only her feet, skull, and hands.
[L]evavitque Hieu faciem suam ad fenestram et ait quae est ista et inclinaverunt se ad eum duo vel tres eunuchi. At ille dixit eis praecipitate eam deorsum et praecipitaverunt eam aspersusque est sanguine paries et equorum ungulae qui conculcaverunt eam. Cumque ingressus esset et comederet bibissetque ait ite videte maledictam illam et sepelite eam quia filia regis est. Cumque issent ut sepelirent eam non invenerunt nisi calvariam et pedes et summas manus.
And Jehu lifted up his face to the window, and said: Who is this? And two or three eunuchs bowed down to him. And he said to them: Throw her down headlong: and they threw her down, and the wall was sprinkled with her blood, and the hoofs of the horses trod upon her. And when he was come in, to eat, and to drink, he said: Go, and see after that cursed woman, and bury her: because she is a king’s daughter. And when they went to bury her, they found nothing but the skull, and the feet, and the extremities of her hands. — 4 Kings 9:32-35
As so often we see in the Old Testament, the Jews became greedy and fell into wicked ways. When that happened God typically sold them into slavery of sorts. At the time of Jephthah the slave-owners were the Philistines and the Ammonites. Being somewhat of a good fighter his fellow Jews ask him to be their leader in battle, but that is not enough for Greedy Jephthat who decides that he wants to be the supreme chief of the Jews for good (a king in a sense). His fellow men agree on the condition that he beats the enemy.
To ensure that will be victorious over his enemies he makes a special deal with God: if he can beat the Ammonites he will offer as a burnt sacrifice to God the first thing or person that comes out of the door to greet him upon his return. He wins his battle – heads home – and the first thing he sees is: his virgin daughter. Not overcome with emotion or love of his beautiful firstborn he thinks only of his promise. Next minute the daughter is ash on the pyre. Yes – the evil bastard baked his daughter so he could be king.
NOTE: this interpretation exists only in the King James version of the Bible written in the 1500s – the original Catholic Bible has the girl offered up as a virgin for the rest of her life.
[C]ui illa respondit pater mi si aperuisti os tuum ad Dominum fac mihi quodcumque pollicitus es concessa tibi ultione atque victoria de hostibus tuis. Dixitque ad patrem hoc solum mihi praesta quod deprecor dimitte me ut duobus mensibus circumeam montes et plangam virginitatem meam cum sodalibus meis. Cui ille respondit vade et dimisit eam duobus mensibus cumque abisset cum sociis ac sodalibus suis flebat virginitatem suam in montibus. Expletisque duobus mensibus reversa est ad patrem suum et fecit ei sicut voverat quae ignorabat virum exinde mos increbuit in Israhel et consuetudo servata est.
And she answered him: My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth to the Lord, do unto me whatsoever thou hast promised, since the victory hath been granted to thee, and revenge of thy enemies. And she said to her father: Grant me only this which I desire: Let me go, that I may go about the mountains for two months, and may bewail my virginity with my companions. And he answered her: Go. And he sent her away for two months. And when she was gone with her comrades and companions, she mourned her virginity in the mountains. And the two months being expired, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed, and she knew no man. From thence came a fashion in Israel, and a custom has been kept. — Judges 11:36-39
Herod the Great (“a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis.” – off to a good start!) is the famous King from the time of Christ. He was a Jewish ruler who governed (with the support of the Romans with whom he was very tight) Judea. Amongst his achievements was the building of the great Second Temple – a popular venue for the Jews to sell sacrificial animals, food, sweets, and to trade money; it was this place which Jesus Christ would later come to smash apart.
But it is not this den of thieves for which Herod is most famous; he is better known for his massacre of innocent children – the death toll of which has been unheard of since (unless you liken abortion to the murder of innocents in which the modern death toll is exponentially higher). The story goes that Herod heard of the birth of Christ (after his agents spied the three wise men entering his country) and, wanting to prevent a replacement king, ordered the murder of all newborns in the village of Bethlehem (the place of Christ’s birth). Imagine that – ordering the murder of ALL babies born in a city over the previous two years. That is the reason we remember the evil Herod the “Great”.
Well – that and the fact that his temple wall is the most sacred place in modern Judaism – a dedication to one of the most evil men in the history of the Bible.
[T]unc Herodes videns quoniam inlusus esset a magis iratus est valde et mittens occidit omnes pueros qui erant in Bethleem et in omnibus finibus eius a bimatu et infra secundum tempus quod exquisierat a magis. Tunc adimpletum est quod dictum est per Hieremiam prophetam dicentem. Vox in Rama audita est ploratus et ululatus multus Rachel plorans filios suos et noluit consolari quia non sunt.
Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. — St Matthew 2:16-18
You were undoubtedly expecting to see Judas on this list. Given that he betrayed God Himself (Jesus, the Son of God) who could be more wicked in the Bible than he? Some controversy exists regarding this particular evil man as he seems to create a paradox. It goes thus: he betrayed God but if he hadn’t there would be no salvation as Christ had to die for that to happen. So if Judas was a faithful apostle, Christ wouldn’t have died so there could be no salvation.
Either way – his act of betrayal is but one part of his wickedness. In the end he succumbed to the selfish act of suicide and hanged himself from a tree; most descriptively we know that his bowels gushed from his body in the act. He is almost universally regarded as being a resident of Hell for his acts.
[V]iri fratres oportet impleri scripturam quam praedixit Spiritus Sanctus per os David de Iuda qui fuit dux eorum qui conprehenderunt Iesum. Quia connumeratus erat in nobis et sortitus est sortem ministerii huius. Et hic quidem possedit agrum de mercede iniquitatis et suspensus crepuit medius et diffusa sunt omnia viscera eius. Et notum factum est omnibus habitantibus Hierusalem ita ut appellaretur ager ille lingua eorum Acheldemach hoc est ager Sanguinis
Men, brethren, the scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus: Who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. And he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, burst asunder in the midst: and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: so that the same field was called in their tongue, Haceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. — The Acts of the Apostles 1:16-19
As this list is about the Bible and it is one of the first lists posted since we have migrated to our new host – we are running a competition. All you have to do to enter is be a registered commenter; in other words anonymous commenters or commenters who are not logged in are discounted. Simply sign in with Disqus, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or Listverse to be an entrant. For every 100 comments generated by this list we will randomly select one commenter to receive a beautiful leather bound copy of the Bible pictured above (value: $125 US).
It is a big book – family size – so it is well worth entering. Comments must be coherent and to the point – comments that are obviously posted with no relevance to the topic won’t be included. As a further bonus, if we get over 500 comments in the next 48 hours not only will we be awarding five Bibles as prizes, we will slip $500 US dollars into one Bible signed by Jamie Frater (also selected at random) to help you along with your Christmas shopping.
Just to make things clear – if we get 100 comments, one person will receive a prize. If we get 400 comments, four people will get a prize. If we get 500 comments, five people will get a prize and one will also receive $500 US in cash extra. This competition is open to every member of Listverse regardless of where you live. This is not a US-only competition. If you are from Timbuktu you can still enter.