The Ten: Most unusual biblical deaths

A list not for the faint of heart.

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The death of Absalom. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

1. Sisera (Judges 4:16-21)

Commander of Jabin’s army, Sisera’s main job was to be cruel to the Israelites. He met his end through Jael, the wife of a Kenite, who drove a tent peg through his head while he slept.

2. Eglon (Judges 3:16-25)

This king of Moab was killed by Ehud, a left-handed judge of Israel, who stabbed him with his sword. In a twisted series of events, when Ehud attempted to draw the sword back out, the obese king’s excess fat prevented its retrieval. Unfortunately for King Eglon, his servants, believing he was relieving himself, left him be, ultimately leading to his death.

3. Abimelech (Judges 9)

After killing 70 of his brothers, Abimelech wreaked havoc on most of the cities he entered. During his last battle, however, he fought his way up to a heavily fortified tower from which a woman dropped a millstone on his head. Realising the wound was mortal but unwilling to die “by the hand of a woman”, Abimelech ordered his armour-bearer to kill him with his sword.

4. Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21)

Here’s one to turn the stomach—literally. King Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He received a warning letter from Elijah, but took no notice. Jehoram was inflicted with what can only be described as a painful inflammation of the abdomen. Because of the disease, his bowels “came out” after two years, and he died in great pain.

5. Uzzah (2 Samuel 6)

Good intentions don’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do. The ark of the covenant was on its way to Jerusalem in a cart when the oxen stumbled. Seeing that the ark might fall, Uzzah reached out and took hold of it. Given the title of this column, you might have guessed what happened next. Yep . . . he died.

6. Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

“Sticks and stones can break my bones”—or, in Goliath’s case, kill you. The Bible says that when David used his slingshot to fight off the Philistine giant, the stone he slung sank into Goliath’s forehead, and he fell face down on the ground, where David promptly cut his head off.

7. Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26)

Turning into a pillar of salt is definitely an unorthodox way to go, but that’s exactly what happened to Mrs Lot. She and her family, escaping a burning Sodom, were warned by angels to run for the hills and not turn back. Lot’s wife’s final look over her shoulder ended up costing her life.

8. Herod (Acts 12:20-23)

Herod Agrippa’s death is a lesson in the dangers of self-exaltation. The grandson of King Herod the Great (the one who ordered the killing of all infants found in Bethlehem), Herod Agrippa delivered a royal address to the public. The people hailed him as a god and because he didn’t correct them, he was struck down and eaten by worms.

9. Absalom (2 Samuel 18)

Civil war had broken out in Israel, and King David found himself fighting his rebellious son. Absalom was riding his mule when his long hair got caught in the thick branches of an oak tree. Unfortunately for Absalom, his trusty steed kept going, leaving him hanging and defenceless against his father’s men, who quickly found and then killed him.

10. Eli (1 Samuel 4)

Heading into battle with the Philistines, the Israelites brought along the ark of the covenant, thinking there was no possible way God would ever allow it to enter enemy hands. They were wrong. Not only did the Philistines capture the ark, but they killed most of the Israelite army, including Eli’s two sons. Upon hearing the news, Eli, 98 years old, blind and rather portly, fell backwards off his chair, breaking his neck.