Drinking Blood

For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

Revelation 16:6 (KJV)

Blood to drink – Is this right? God, the same God that instructed all men to never drink blood, turns around and gives these evil men blood to drink. Something is not adding up. Would God actively help people to break his commandments?

According to some prominent Christian teachers and evangelists, this is not a problem – it is sweet justice. These evil men killed saints and prophets, so now God is giving them blood to drink in return. The scales are being balanced.

However, I do not think it is that easy. God would never actively help anyone to break the commandments. So what is up with this translation?

I recently had an opportunity to sit in during Uriel ben-Mordechai’s Sabbath parsha lesson and he went over this translation. Uriel has been translating many New Testament writings from some recently discovered papyri that have not been researched or translated until now. Papyrus 47 is a particular one that includes Revelation 15:2-16:1; 16:1-9.


In this particular early Greek, verse 6 renders quite differently. It is mostly due to an added single letter which this 3rd century fragment does not include. In this rendition, the Greek states:

[…] and it has given them a bloodbath to stomach […]

That is quite different. God is not helping humans to actively break the commandments, but rather allowing general destruction that is difficult for these evil men to handle. Now, there is the God who is consistent in his Justice and sinless in His dealings with mankind.

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