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God's Harsh Punishments for People in the Bible

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

God Punished People in the Bible

In the Bible, God punished those who consistently disobeyed Him. He punished individuals, their families, and even entire nations, especially in the Old Testament.

There are not that many punishments in the New Testament other than the punishments of Ananias and Sapphira and Herod in the book of Acts

Adam and Eve

In the very first book of the Bible, we see how the first couple was punished for disobeying God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3, the woman was beguiled by the serpent. She ate and then gave the forbidden fruit to Adam to eat.

God's first punishments

  • God first punished the serpent by having him crawl on his belly the rest of his life. Before then, the serpent stood upright.
  • Then the man was punished by having to till the soil and work by the sweat of his brow. Before the punishment, the man had the privilege of staying in the Garden of Eden.
  • The woman would be punishment by having labor pain while giving birth.

Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah

There was a lot of evil in cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities were full of rape and other things that were against God. In order to get rid of the bad things that were going on there, God punished both cities by destroying them fire and a rain of burning sulfur.

Lot's Wife

Lot and his family were allowed to escape when Sodom and Gomorrah were being destroyed. God told them not to look back. Lot and his children did not look back. However, Lot's wife looked back, and her punishment was that she was turned into a pillar of salt, according to Genesis 19:26. The taste of salt is still in that spot today.

Some might think that was an awful punishment for such a simple act, but people must understand that any act of disobedience against God is not just a simple act.



Moses' Harsh Punishment

Moses was not allowed to go into the promised land because of a single act of disobedience, according to Numbers 20:1-13.

Surely, after all the things Moses had done to lead the people out of bondage and through the wilderness, he wanted to go into the promised land with them. Instead, he was punished. Many people thought the punishment was rather harsh.

Moses was told to stand on top of Mount Nebo. There he saw the promised land, but he was not allowed to go into it.

Egyptian Army

The entire Egyptian army was punished for pursuing the Israelites when they were leaving Egypt. As they were going through the Red Sea, the Egyptian army followed them.

God had opened up the water so his people could go through on dry land. God allowed the army to drown when the water returned to its original state, according to Exodus 14:28.

Aaron's Sons

Aaron's son, Nadab and Abihu, were burned to death because they disobeyed God, according to Leviticus 10:1-3.

They offered a sacrifice with strange fire before the LORD, disobeying his instructions, and were immediately consumed by God’s fire.

Korah's Harsh Punishment

Korah disrespected Moses while they were traveling in the wilderness. Korah claimed to be as holy as Moses and Aaron. Because of what Korah had done, God opened up the earth and Korah and his whole family were swallowed up, according to Numbers 16:27-32.

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David's Harsh Punishments

David was a man after God's own heart. However, he was punished more than once.

David counted his men and God punished him, according to 2 Samuel 24:1-17. God gave David three choices, and he had to choose his own punishment.

  1. three years of famine in the land
  2. to flee from enemies for three months
  3. plague in the land for three days

David chose not to fall into human hands. Therefore, he chose for God to send a plague on the land where 70,000 men died.

Another time David was punished was when he wanted to build a temple for God. According to 1 Chronicles 22:8, David was not allowed to build God's temple because he had shed much blood and had fought many wars.

David’s background of shedding blood in times of war was God’s reason for choosing Solomon, David’s son. God wanted a man of peace to construct the temple, not a man of war.

Ananias and Sapphira's Harsh Punishment

According to Acts 5:1-10, a husband and wife cheated God and lied to the Holy Spirit. Therefore they died as a result. They tried to do like Barnabas and sold some land like he did. Barnabas was anointed to do so. Ananias and Sapphira tried to do the same thing. They ended up secretly withholding some of the money instead of giving all of for the Lord's work.

All Ananias was struck dead, his wife had a chance to save herself. However, she lied as well. She, too, was struck dead.

Herod's Harsh Punishment

God's punishments on his people are not always the same. He issues out punishments as he likes.

According to Acts 12:23, Herod failed to praise God. He was struck by an angel and eaten by worms.

Notice there were more harsh punishments for people in the Old Testament than in the New Testament.



Work by sweat of brow

Genesis 3


Pain in child birth

Genesis 3

Lot's Wife

Turned into a pillar of salt

Genesis 19:26


Earth swallowed up entire family

Numbers 16:27-32


Could not go into promised land

Numbers 20:1-13


Had to choose his own punishment. A plague was on the land, and 70,000 of David's men were killed.

2 Samuel 24:17

Ananias and Sapphira

Death for both of them

Acts 5:1-10


Eaten by worms

Acts 12:23


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who was punished for counting his men?
    • Moses
    • Korah
    • David
  2. Who was punished by not being allowed to go into the promised land?
    • David
    • Moses
    • Lot's wife
  3. Who was punished by having to work by the sweat of brow?
    • David
    • Moses
    • Adam
  4. Who was punished for cheating God and lying to the Holy Spirit?
    • Adam
    • Eve
    • Ananais and Sapphira
  5. Who was punished when God opened up the earth and his entire family was swallowed?
    • Korah
    • Adam
    • David

Answer Key

  1. David
  2. Moses
  3. Adam
  4. Ananais and Sapphira
  5. Korah


Betty A F from Florida on November 06, 2017:

Amen, even in the book of Revelations, His mercy shines through. As the seven vials and the seven bowls are poured out, He still gives people the opportunity to repent. Sadly, not many will at that point, but there's still hope.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on November 06, 2017:

Betty A F, thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, those were some serious punishments. Thank God for His grace and mercy on us today!

Betty A F from Florida on November 06, 2017:

Excellent article Margaret. It's amazing examining all of the different punishments that took place throughout the scriptures.

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