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Did God Command Genocide During the Conquest of Canaan?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Tolkien R.R.J, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    Some atheist claim during the conquest of Canaan God ordered the Israelites to murder innocent Canaanites men, woman, and children. So therefore, the god of the bible is either evil, and not worth worshiping, or not the true god since god must be good. While the claim is false, assuming it were true and god did order genocide against innocents, would that not be a reason to do what he wants to not anger him? Nothing from an atheist view point says god must be “good” [or how we view “good”] or act in a loving way. Those beliefs come from the christian ideas of god in the bible. If God did order genocide, that would not disprove a god, only that god at times ordered genocide. Atheist must put themselves in place of God to judge his actions by their standards. Instead of God who is a perfect judge of people living thousands of years ago, to decided what is morally correct or not. Atheist must make three assumptions before judging gods actions.

    1] We must assume we are god, that only we can tell and know what is morally acceptable or not.

    2] We must assume their are such things as morals, “right” and “wrong” those ideas only make sense if a moral god created us. Since there are no true morals in an atheistic evolutionary scenario.

    3]We must assume our evolved brains of completely random chemical reactions and matter can somehow have the right idea of what is right and wrong, our evolved animal brains formed by random chemical reactions and matter [dirt] that combined for a survival advantage. Certain evolved random chemicals and matter only “feel” killing is wrong because the random chemical reactions give them a chemical feeling that killing is wrong. Not because killing is morally wrong in an atheistic worldview as there is no standard of right or wrong. Hitler believed what he was doing was right and morally good [survival of the fittest get rid of unwanted holding back the human race]

    If it all happens nationalistically, who needs a god? Cant I set my own rules? Who owns me? I own myself”
    -Jeffery Dahmer

    Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear. . . There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.
    -William Provine Professor Cornell University

    However the bible does not say that god commanded genocide against innocents. A more accurate modern analogy would be as follows.

    1]The land of Canaan being a piece of federally owned land legally inherited, state owned territory by previous president held for the good of the country.

    2]Current occupant are a religious sect whose rituals include, incest, bestiality, and burning children alive as a sacrifice among other crimes. For hundreds of years previous administrations have turned a blind eye to their activities and have refused to evict the tenants.

    3]A group of civilians want to take up occupancy and have signed agreement to use the land in the way the government has saved the land for. Also promising to not follow in the sects criminal activities. Agreeing if they violate the agreement and commit the crimes, they will as well be evicted from the land.

    4]The current culture of the sect has become so persuasive in area, that almost no person who lives there cannot avoid getting caught up up in it, and more and more people are getting involved in the crimes of the sect.

    5]The sect is heavily armed and some will not leave unless evicted by force. The president authorizes the military to evict by force the occupants.

    Hopefully I will show the above is the accurate biblical description of the conquest

    Sins of the Canaanites- Child Sacrifice

    You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
    -Deuteronomy 12.31

    And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech,
    -Leviticus 18

    They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods. 38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.
    -Psalm 106 36-38

    One of the most horrendous sins to God was that of child sacrifice. The Canaanites are well known through archaeology for their child sacrifice in religious ceremonies. After being displaced from Canaan they resettled in Carthage and continued to worship their gods with child sacrifice.

    Molech was a Canaanite underworld deity represented as an upright, bullheaded idol with a human body in whose belly a fire was stoked and in whose outstretched arms a child was placed that would be burned to death. The victims were not only infants; children as old as four were sacrificed...“as the flame burning the child surrounded the body, the limbs would shrivel up and the mouth would appear to grin as if laughing, until it was shrunk enough to slip into the cauldron.” -John Day, Molech: A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1989),

    Funerary jars have been found with the bodies of young children distorted by suffocation as they struggled for life after having been buried alive as a sacrifice to Canaanite gods. Such young children have been found in the foundation pillars of Canaanite houses, and sometimes religious ceremonies were associated with their sacrifice....“The Canaanite religion was a horribly brutal system as well. For instance, the goddess Anath is pictured as killing humans by the thousands and wading knee-deep in blood. She cut off heads and hands and wore them as ornaments. And in all of this gruesomeness, the Baal-epic says that her liver was swollen with laughter and her joy was great.” -Wilson, 1973, p. 85). Wayne Jackson, M.A. Old Testament events and the goodness of God Old Testament Events and the Goodness of God

    The most significant part of the American excavations [at Carthage] occurred in the Tophet.The word Tophet comes from the Old Testament (e.g., 2 Kgs 23:10; Jer 7:30–32), referring to a place of child sacrifice and burial. Modern excavators applied the term Tophet to a cemetery we excavated bearing remains of children who had been ritually sacrificed as burnt offerings. It is the largest sacrificial cemetery ever found, measuring at least 60,000 square feet. Most stunning is the number of children sacrificed here—estimated at a minimum of 20,000 burials between 400–200 BC during only one-third the life of the cemetery! The excavators named the [archaeological] periods after Tanit, the Canaanite goddess of love and war. Child sacrifices at Carthage were dedicated to her and to the god Baal Hamon, a name that means “Lord of the Brazier.” They were brother and sister, as well as husband and wife!Carthaginians were descendants of Canaanites.
    -John Currid. Abortion: Child Sacrifice Today?
    Bible and Spade (Winter 2012, 13) For quote of Canaanite second nature discussing child sacrifice The origin of the American Indian populations Joc 26 [11] 2012 p71


    Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.”
    -Leviticus 18.23

    There should be no surprise that bestiality would occur among the Canaanites, since their gods practiced it. From the Canaanite epic poem “The Baal Cycle” we learn: “Mightiest Baal hears / He makes love with a heifer in the outback / A cow in the field of Death’s Realm. / He lies with her seventy times seven / Mounts eighty times eight / [She conceiv]es and bears a boy.”
    -Mark S. Smith, trans. Ugaritic Narrative Poetry, ed. Simon B. Parker (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1997), 148.

    Spiritual depravity will lead to sexual depravity and this is the case with the Canaanites. There were no prohibitions against bestiality outside of Israel in the ancient near east. In an Egyptian dream book it was said that it was a bad omen for a woman to dream about embracing her husband, but good things would happen if she dreamed of intercourse with a baboon, wolf, or he-goat.

    Probably the ultimate sexual depravity is intercourse with animals. Hittite Laws: 199 states, “If anyone has intercourse with a pig or a dog, he shall die. If a man has intercourse with a horse or a mule, there is no punishment.” As with incest, the penalty for having sex with animals decreased about the fourteenth century BC.”
    -Harry A. Hoffner, Jr., “Incest, Sodomy and Bestiality in the Ancient Near East,” in Orient and Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon (Neukirchen Vluyn, Germany: Neukirchener Verlag, 1973), 82.


    None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the Lord.”
    -Leviticus 18

    Like all Ancient Near East pantheons, the Canaanite pantheon was incestuous. Baal has sex with his mother Asherah, his sister Anat, and his daughter Pidray, and none of this is presented pejoratively.”
    W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths(Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1968), 145.


    In Canaanite temples there would be prostitutes chained up against the wall for near constant [sometimes lifelong] sexual intercourse.

    Canaanite religion, like that of all of the ANE, was a fertility religion that involved temple sex. Inanna/Ishtar, also known as the Queen of Heaven, “became the woman among the gods, patron of eroticism and sensuality, of conjugal love as well as adultery, of brides and prostitutes, transvestites and pederasts.”10 As University of Helsinki professor Martti Nissinen writes, “Sexual contact with a person whose whole life was devoted to the goddess was tantamount to union with the goddess herself.” -Gwendolyn Leick, Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature (New York: Routledge, 1994),


    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you”
    -Leviticus 18

    No ANE text condemns homosexuality. Additionally, some ANE manuscripts talk about “party-boys and festival people who changed their masculinity into femininity to make the people of Ishtar revere her.” -Stephanie Dalley, “Erra and Ishum IV,” Myths from Mesopotamia (Oxford: Oxford University, 1989), 305.
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  2. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    The Conquest of Canaan Things to Consider

    "in holy wars Israel did not arise to protect faith in Yahweh, but Yahweh came on the scene to defend Israel."
    -Heath Thomas Jeremy Evans paul copan Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem

    No where in the Old testament does offensive military initiative with the purpose of conversion or Territory expansion exists despite some claims. God was not against the Canaanites as a people or race [almost identical to Isrealites] but their religious practices. Abraham the father of Israel, was a pagan worshiping Canaanite before his conversion [Josh 24.2 acts 7.2] In Matthew 15 Jesus ministers to a Canaanite woman. Jesus genealogy shows he descended from the Canaanite Rahab. The book of Jonah is about God sending prophet to go to a Canaanite city to warn of judgment so they would turn from their evil and repent, they do so and God accepts. In 2 Samuel 21 god sends a plague against Israel for attacking Canaanites that god said not to. In Mark 3.18 Simon the Canaanite, was a disciple of Jesus. Being a true Israelite was following God not birth. Rahab was saved and had faith in God, the Israelite Achan, was destroyed for not following god. Later Israel and Canaanites lived side by side in peace 1 Samuel 7.14. Moses wife as a midinite.

    Upon entering the promise land [Canaan] Israel simply asked for safe passage. Israel was required by god to make peace offerings to cities in Canaan from a distance Deuteronomy 20 10-16. However Israel was attacked first by the Canaanites killing children,woman, and elderly[numbers 21.1 21 21-24 21.33 20 14-17 Deuteronomy 25 17-18] who would not allow them in the land. So the nations in Canaan were given four options.

    The Canaanite tribal kingdoms...were to be destroyed as nation states, not as individuals..if the Canaanite tribes, seeing the armies of Israel, had simply chosen to flee, no one would have been killed at all. There was no command to pursue and hunt down the Canaanite people.”
    -William Lane Craig the Slaughter of the Canaanites Revisited

    1] Leave- many left

    2] War

    3] Join Israel

    4] Or make a peace treaty

    All options were chosen. Most Canaanites took the first option and fled given the fear they had of Israel from their exodus out of Egypt Joshua 2 9-11 9 9-10 and would found the great empire of Carthage. Any Canaanite city could surrender and would be shown mercy and many made peace treaties with Israel living in the land side by side with israel. Some Canaanites joined Israel [Joshua 6.23 1 chronicles 21.15,18,28 Josh 2] In Joshua 8 it shows Canaanites could keep their religion, but not the practices. Joining Israel does not mean conversion, while some did such as Rahab. Some kept their religion, but joined Israel.

    And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
    -Joshua 24.15

    Judgment Falls on the Canaanites

    When after 400 years of unrepentant grave sin God judged the Canaanite who refused peace. The conquest was limited in time, and area. Israel was not to continue on in war [Deuteronomy 20.16 Joshua 11.23] The goal of the conquest was to remove the Canaanites from the land not to kill them. Only the Canaanites who did not have a right or title to the land would be dispossessed. Unlike Edom, Moab, and Ammonites who had a legitimate claim to the land and were not to be dispossessed [Deuteronomy 2.4-9, 19 23.7 ] Israel was to make payments for anything taken from their possession [food water etc] Deuteronomy 2 5-6]. Some Canaanites stayed and fought and so were killed. The war was against the Canaanite religion not its people and Only three cities were mentioned as being destroyed Jericho, AI, and Hazor [Joshua 6.24 8.28 11.11,13]

    Judgment Because of sin and Moral Behavior

    Any Canaanite who turned from the detestable practices mentioned would not be killed, obedience to God, not ethical or national identity appears to be the issue”
    -Caleb Shechemites

    God commanded these wars for the specific purpose of punishment and judgment. The Canaanites destruction was not genocide or racism but because of moral behavior. God is judge of man, he does not order killing out of malice or lawlessness [Deuteronomy 32.4] The conquest was not against Canaanite people, but there practices, anyone [Israelite or not] who followed the same [moral behavior] in the land, would receive judgment.

    4 “Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you.
    -Deuteronomy 9:4

    God judges for no other reason than the sins of the people [Amos 1-2] God did not hate the Canaanites, but the crimes they committed.

    The Bible reveals that God punished the Canaanites for specific grievous evils. Also, this wasn’t the entire destruction of a race as God didn’t order that every Canaanite be killed but only those who lived within specific geographical boundaries (Josh. 1:4). Canaanite tribes (especially the Hittites) greatly exceeded the boundaries that Israel was told to conquer. And since, as we will see, He punished Israel when they committed the same sins, what happened to the Canaanites was not genocide, but capital punishment.”
    -Clay Jones Killing the Canaanites

    The same judgment would fall on Israel if they followed Canaanite practices

    The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God."’"
    -Leviticus 18:1-30

    God Ordered Israel to Drive The Canaanites From the Promise Land

    The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
    -Genesis 17.8

    In The biblical narrative, the Canaanites are trespassers. Moreover, the book of Joshua portrays the Canaanites as aware of this fact [Josh 2 9-10 9.24.] Israel is repossession land that already belongs to them and evicting people who are trespassing on it and refusing to leave”
    -Matthew Flannagan and Paul Copan Did god Really Command genocide” Baker Books 2014

    The land itself is the only land on earth God claims for his own and he gave it to the descendants of the Canaanite Abraham. So now because of the sins of the Canaanites God was giving the land back to Abraham's descendants Genesis 13 14-17 12-12. However, Abraham could not have the land until the sins of Canaanites was so bad, that they deserved their fate 400 years later Genesis 15 13-16 Deuteronomy 9.5. God forbade Israel from trying to fight the Canaanites in order to take their lands away. He warned Israel if they did

    Tell them, ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.’”
    -Deuteronomy 1.42

    The bible says if Israel did not drive them out they would join in there religious practices sacrificing children etc Numbers 33.55 Deuteronomy 20.18 7.4 Exodus 23.33. It would also have destroyed Gods plan and messianic line with his purpose to bless all nations through Abraham Genesis 17.8. Also the Israelites citizens were not forced to go to war, In Deuteronomy 20 1-9.

    Drive Them out

    The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same."
    -Deuteronomy 12.29-30

    Gods commands to the Israelite s was not the slaughter of the Canaanites....the command after was primarily to drive them out of the land. Their judgment upon these Canaanites kingdoms was to dispossession them of their land and thus destroy them as kingdoms.”
    -William Lane Craig Arguments From Morality

    Some Canaanites refused to leave the land or accept any peace treaty with Israel and chose to fight instead. Israel was to drive out Canaanites and posses the land [Numbers 21.32 33.52 33.52 Deuteronomy 9.1 11.23 18.14 19.1 Exodus 23.28 ] not to annihilate them or attack beyond the borders. Just as Adam and Eve were “driven out” of the garden of Eden [Genesis 4.14] and David was “driven out” by Saul 1 Sam 2 6-19. If Israel did not drive them out, Israel would join in there religion and practices [Numbers 33.55 1 Corinthians 15:33].

    Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you.
    -Deuteronomy 9:4

    "Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have been going about this mountain country long enough; turn northward. And command the people, You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren the sons of Esau, who live in Se'ir; and they will be afraid of you. So take good heed; do not contend with them; for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Se'ir to Esau as a possession. ..., for I will not give you any of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot for a possession.’ .. for I will not give you any of the land of the sons of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.’ (That also is known as a land of Reph'aim; Reph'aim formerly lived there, but the Ammonites call them Zamzum'mim, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they dispossessed them, and settled in their stead; as he did for the sons of Esau, who live in Se'ir, when he destroyed the Horites before them, and they dispossessed them, and settled in their stead even to this day. As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caph'torim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their stead.)"
    -Deuteronomy 2:2-23
  3. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    Biblical Genocide? Men, Woman, Children, Were all killed?

    But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 but you shall utterly destroy them
    -Deuteronomy 20:16

    And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”
    -Joshua 6.21

    The focus of the atheist objection is on the claim that god ordered genocide and the killing of innocent men woman and children during the conquest as the above and more passages seem to indicate. However the bible teaches God is loving and would not unjustly command the killing innocent people. When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he said he would not destroy it until all the good people were out Genesis 18. We know God does not kill innocent blood as it would go against his nature.

    These six things the Lord hates,
    Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
    17 A proud look,
    A lying tongue,
    Hands that shed innocent blood,
    -Proverbs 6 16-17

    Thus says the LORD, "Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
    -Jeremiah 22.3

    So if god does not kill the innocent and yet, some passages in the conquest narrative seem to indicate innocents were killed, what is going on here?

    The Bile Says not all Were Killed

    Joshua a literary context which the language of “killing all who breathed” “putting all inhabitants to the sword” and “leaving none alive” is followed by a narrative that affirms straightforward that the Canaanites were not literally wiped out or exterminated”
    -Matthew Flannagan and Paul Copan Did god Really Command genocide” Baker Books 2014

    The bible on closer look does not say all were killed Judges 1 19-34 2.3 Joshua 13 1-6 15.63 17.12 and Numbers 31. The woman and children were not killed as they are found later in geologies. In Joshua it reads he killed all and left no survivors in hebron, debir, and the hill country. Yet later in the account they are still there alive and well. Joshua 11.23 states he took the whole land, yet a few chapters later in 13.1 there are still large areas to be taken. The land is said to be occupied and “left none alive” yet in Josh 17 16-18 The land was not yet conquered and occupied by Canaanites. Josh 6-11 describes total extermination of the Canaanites, yet the next few chapters the Canaanites are alive and well. The Canaanites were still around after the conquest “until this day” Joshua 15.63 16.10 17 12-13 Judges 1.19,21 27-35 despite the earlier claims they were all destroyed and annihilated Josh 10.20,39 11.21 judges 1.8 josh 11.23. In Josh 8 16-24 is says all were killed but than who were the Israelite chasing in v 23-24? So is the bible contradicting itself? How can their be no survivors left and all men, woman, and children killed, yet clearly still alive after the events?

    Putting the Conquest Within its Ancient Near Eastern Context

    The sweeping words like “all,” “young and old,” and “man and woman,” however, are stock expressions for totality — even if women and children were not present. The expression “men and women” or similar phrases appear to be stereotypical for describing all the inhabitants of a town or region, “without predisposing the reader to assume anything further about their ages or even their genders.”
    -Christopher C.J. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God

    "use of woman young old is stereotypical expression for the destruction of all human life in the fort...the term [ir] cities were used as outpost whole civilian populations lived in countryside. letters between pharaoh and Canaanite leaders show them to be distinct from each other."
    -Paul Copan Is god a moral monster

    Hyperbole was a regular feature of near eastern military reporting”
    -James Hoffmeier Egyptologist

    The conquest of Canaan found primarily in the book of Joshua needs to be understood within its context and time period and how its audience in its day would understand it. The conquest narrative uses typical ancient near eastern military reports language that includes hyperbole. Sports players today do the same. They may say they slaughtered the other team or we kicked their butt. Yet the listener knows they did not actually kick the other team in the butt. “All destroyed” “all killed “ “men, woman, young, old etc” is typical language of day used in military reports in the ancient near east and is not literal. This language used elsewhere in the bible of Judah's destruction in Babylon exile in Jeremiah and clearly not literal. Similar language is used in 1 chronicles judges, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Samuel. In Deuteronomy 19.1 “destroying a nation” is understood as driving them out and settling their towns and houses also 12.29 29-30. This language is used by other ANE countries in the same way in their battle reports. It is not false reporting, it is simply the language of the day. It is akin to saying Israel won a great victory or a total victory.

    The language of destroyed or annihilated is typical in context of gradual driving out the nations- or of nations fleeing before a battle is joined.”
    -Matthew Flannagan and Paul Copan Did god Really Command genocide” Baker Books 2014

    Atheist are forced to admit this in debate settings [debate is god a moral monster? Paul Copan & Norman Bacrac ]

    a careful reading of the text in its literary context makes it implausible to interpret it as claiming Yahweh ordered extermination”
    -Nicholas waterstorff “reading joshua” in divine evil? The moral character of the god of Abraham NY oxford U press 2010 p 252-53

    This stereotypical ancient Near East language of “all” people describes attacks on what turn out to be military forts or garrisons containing combatants — not a general population that includes women and children. We have no archaeological evidence of civilian populations at Jericho or Ai (6:21; 8:25). The word “city [‘ir]” during this time in Canaan was where the (military) king, the army, and the priesthood resided. So for Joshua, mentioning “women” and “young and old” turns out to be stock ancient Near East language that he could have used even if “women” and “young and old” were not living there. The language of “all” (“men and women”) at Jericho and Ai is a “stereotypical expression for the destruction of all human life in the fort, presumably composed entirely of combatants.” The text does not require that “women” and “young and old” must have been in these cities — and this same situation could apply to Saul’s battling against the Amalekites. Furthermore, people in Canaan commonly used the associated term melek (“king”)during this time for a military leader who was responsible to a higher ruler off-site. (The civilian population typically lived in the hill country.) According to the best calculations based on Canaanite inscriptions and other archaeological evidence (i.e., no artifacts or “prestige” ceramics), Jericho was a small settlement of probably 100 or fewer soldiers. This is why all of Israel could circle it seven times and then do battle against it on the same day! Also, we should keep in mind that the large numbers used in warfare accounts in the Old Testament are a little tricky; they simply may not be as high as our translations indicate. The Hebrew word ‘eleph (commonly rendered, “thousand”) can also mean “unit” or “squad” without specifying the exact number.”
    -Richard S. Hess, “The Jericho and Ai of the Book of Joshua,” in Critical Issues in Early Israelite History, eds. Richard S. Hess, Gerald A. Klingbeil, and Paul J. Ray, Jr. (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 39.

    OT scholar K lawson younger compares joshua-judges with other ANE language, and concluded the language is “highly figurative..Same language as the mesha stele “are clearly part of the totalitarianism rhetoric of the holy war,rather than historical correctness.”
    -Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem

    the fallacy of misplaced literalism.. the misconstruction of a statement in evidence so that it carries a literal meaning when a symbolic or hyperbolic or figurative meaning is intended”.
    -Hoffeirer, Israel in Egypt p 42 James K hoffmeirer.

    monumental hyperbole”
    -John Goldingay city and nation in old testament theology

    How Many Were Killed? Estimates.

    In Joshua 12, the victory list is given as 31 kings (generally petty kings of city-states) this would be around 70,000 people (assuming they all stayed around--a very dubious assumption in light of the international fear of Israel at the time). But this 70,000 is against a base of close to 2 million people! (Israel was approximately 1.6 million at the time, and these nations are said to be 'more numerous' than Israel in a number of places--e.g. Deut 7.1,7.) This amounts to approximately 3.5% of the 'target population'. The Israelites were specifically told to execute those who remained in the cities (Deut 20.16) and those who hid in the Land--and therefore did NOT migrate out--Deut 7.20. Other estimates put the total Canaanite population at 45,000 before any fled, based on archaeology.
    See Bible and spade 25.3 2012 p59

    Most Canaanites would have survived as refugees outside the promise land.”
    -Joe Sprinkle OT scholar

  4. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States
    Was God Justified in his Judgment Towards Canaanites? What Causes the Wrath of God?

    proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.
    -Exodus 34 6-7

    Judgment is not opposed to Gods love and compassion, but rather springs from the character of a loving, caring god”
    -Matthew Flannagan and paul Copan Did God really Command genocide

    Man cannot judge the actions of a perfect holy god, it goes the other way around. According to that holy all knowing god, the answer is yes. For mankind to try and turn the sinners into the victims, and turn the judge of the world into a sinner, is an act of an evil heart.

    Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
    Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
    -Isiah 5.20

    Even in the liberal west, if a group practiced today what the Canaanites did, they would not be tolerated in a society. Gods actions during the conquest were a result of love for the victims, and his nature as being a perfect sinless judge. For there to be a truly loving god who hates evil and sin, he must also be a judge of sin.

    I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn't God love? Shouldn't divine love be beyond wrath? ?God is love,and God loves every person and every creature. That's exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God's wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, a region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed, and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalize beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators' basic goodness? Wasn't God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God's wrath, I cam to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn't wrathful at the sight of the world' evil. God isn't wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love
    -Miroslav Volf Harvard Theologian quoted in Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan, 192

    The Canaanites had 400 years to repent of there sins [Genesis 15 13-16 ] The Canaanites that remained if left alive would have carried on there culture. Israel stayed in slavery for over 200 years until the Canaanites sin was so great, that they deserved there fate. Gods love forced him into action. The opposite of love is not anger, but hate. God is angry at things that destroy his creation and his love for us, imagine if If God Weren't Angry...

    On sep 11 the president gave orders to shoot down planes to save lives that the terrorist could have used to kill more innocent lives. Sometimes judges give the death penalty to certain murders, but we dont call them murders, we call them good, just, judges.

    God fights in compassion to defend the oppressed, and in anger against the oppressor”
    -Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem Heath A Thomas Jermey Evans Paul Copan

    So while the death of anyone is bad and death itself is bad. Given the circumstances it was better than the alternative. God punishing in war does not make the punishment good, but only the outcome. In 1 chronicles 28.3 king David is not allowed to build the temple because he has to much blood on his hands [ he killed to many people] even though they were often God ordered killings. Death is still a bad thing and not normal or natural part of life. If the Bible is true, is God not able to take life he is given? God is the only perfect judge. God judges by what is deserved, God is the judge of man, he does not order killing out of malice or lawlessness [Deuteronomy 32.4]. God does not judge willingly [Lamentations 3 32-33]. God personally suffers with human sin/judgment [Jeremiah 9.9 12.7-9 15 5-9 48 29-53 9.10 17-18 31.20 48 30-36 Ezekiel 27 3-11 26-36 Isiah 15.5 16 9-11] God suffers for humanity [Isiah 15 42 23-24 48.9 57.11 63.9 Jeremiah 15.6 Ezekiel 20 21-11 24.12 Malachi 2.17] The bible teaches peace first, not war.

    "'Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked?,' says the Lord God, 'And not rather that he should turn from his way and live? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone,' says the Lord God. 'So turn and live! Say to them, "As I live," says the Lord God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways. For why will you die?"'"
    -Ez. 18.23,32; 33.11

    If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”
    -Jeremiah 18 7-10

    "The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance"
    -2Pet. 3.9

    "He desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth"
    -1Tim. 2.4

    When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
    -Jonah 3.10

    Think of the Victims

    Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
    Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
    Why are you silent while the wicked
    swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
    -Habakkuk 1:13

    All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?
    -Malachi 2.17

    They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?
    -Revelations 6.10

    If we were in the same situation as the victims of the Canaanites for over 400 years we might say I dont believe in God or a loving God, otherwise he would not allow these horrible things to happen. A major objection to the bible is were is God when bad things happen? How can a loving God allow such things like child sacrifice? So why is it when God does act in judgment against sin, than all sudden he is called harsh and evil? The problem is not with Gods perfect judgment of people hearts, but with the unrepentant sinners heart, that will reject God no matter what.

    Would you discredit my justice?
    Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
    -Job 40.8

    One christian wrote

    “I like a point a friend of mine made about this. One Skeptic asked why God simply did not kill Hitler as a baby. Yet if "baby Hitler" had died, the Skeptic would ask why God did not prevent the death of this innocent baby.”

    -Sam Shamoun


    As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith … a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind—the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. No sooner had one rationalist demonstrated that it was too far to the east than another demonstrated with equal clearness that it was much too far to the west.” On the one hand, they ‘proved’ Christianity was “a thing of inhuman gloom”, but then they proved that Christianity “was a great deal too optimistic.” Christianity supposedly caused overpopulation by “Go forth and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), but then it was supposedly anti-sex.“Or, again, certain phrases in the Epistles or the marriage service, were said by the anti-Christians to show contempt for woman’s intellect. But I found that the anti-Christians themselves had a contempt for woman’s intellect; for it was their great sneer at the Church on the Continent that ‘only women’ went to it.”
    -G.K. Chesterton

    What if Innocents and Infants Were Killed?

    I like a point a friend of mine made about this. One Skeptic asked why God simply did not kill Hitler as a baby. Yet if "baby Hitler" had died, the Skeptic would ask why God did not prevent the death of this innocent baby. This shows that a far more critical view is needed than "argument by outrage." Indeed, "argument by outrage" often assumes a form of omniscience by the critic. God tells Abraham that his seed will not enter the land until the Amorites have reached the full measure of their sins, which would take roughly four hundred years. This means that every new generation of Canaanites grew up to be just as wicked and evil as the generation before them, without anyone repenting of their sins, proving that even children are born sinful and grow up to be rebels.”
    -Sam Shamoun Answering Islam Amalekites

    Only god is a perfect judge. God judges by what is deserved based on crimes [Jeremiah 50.29 Psalm 137. 8,15 Isiah 40.2.] God is judge of man, and does not order killing out of malice or lawlessness Deuteronomy 32.4. God sees the heart of man, Hitler was once a baby and would look innocent, though God would know his heart and know he would grow up to become a monster.

    For the LORD does not see as man sees for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
    -1 Samuel 16.7

    The bible says all are born into sin. All babies are sinners and will grow up like the rest of us, sinners. You wont have to teach a child to steal, hit, use bad language etc you will have to spend a lifetime teaching them not to.

    The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
    -Genesis 8 .21

    All babies that may have been killed would have went straight to haven. Or it could be that God was saving them from a evil situation.

    The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil.
    -Isiah. 57:1

    It was His way of preserving Israel’s spiritual health and posterity. God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God. So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged?
    -William Lane Craig Canaanites reasonable faith website

    Atheist often support abortion, witch is nothing more than a modern age version of child sacrifice. Even after birth abortion

    Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are ‘morally irrelevant’ and ending their lives is no different to abortion.”


    But why should we take seriously the skeptic’s advocacy for Canaanite children? Doesn’t the new atheist’s complaint ring hollow, since they are often at the forefront of defending a woman’s right to suction, dismember, or scald to death her unborn baby at any time and for any reason?
    -Clay Jones Killing the Canaanites
  5. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

    Summary: OBEY GOD.
  6. Lulav

    Lulav Older than ZIP Codes Supporter

    United States
    There is a difference in Killing and murdering.

    Also those that God commanded to be eliminated were because of the sin of the angels, therefore they were not humans like Adam and made in the image of God.

    God promised the land to his chosen people others had inhabited it to keep them from moving there.

    In Joshua we read

    Joshua 24:11
    After this, you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The people of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I delivered them into your hands.

    In Ex 23 we read (God speaking here)

    Behold, I am sending an angel before you to protect you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to his voice; do not defy him, for he will not forgive rebellion, since My Name is in him. But if you will listen carefully to his voice and do everything I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

    23 For My angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will annihilate them.
  7. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States

    Agreed, thou shalt not murder, not thou shalt not kill. I would disagree with the interpretation of the Canaanites but it is not really relevant to the purpose of my op. I also understand many bible believers hold that view.
  8. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

    United States
    Very useful. I'd already learned a key part of this, but you've added more details. Also note that while the NIV of Deu 12:31 you used is good, even more of a sense is given by the some other translations I feel, that horrific atrocity they were doing is not only just 'detestable' in the modern American use of the word but more strong:

    "You shall not do so unto the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hates, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burned in the fire to their gods."
    "You must not worship the LORD your God in this way, because they practice for their gods every abomination which the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods." (JKV2000 and Berean)

    This gets at it more clearly -- of all the worst abominations, the worst evils that exist, there is one that stands out as the worst of them all -- the cruel sacrifices of innocents in this way. "Even" this abomination they did....

    By itself, that most-evil, alone, would already be reason, even alone, to remove all traces of their culture, to extinguish and remove -- erase -- and send all of such cities on to the Day of Judgment, where the guilty and the innocent (children) will be separated, and "God will repay each according to their deeds" (Romans 2:6; or more fully Romans 2:6-16, 4:15, 5:13).

    The guilty unrepentant to the 'second death', but the innocent to His mercy we can expect.

    Not only did God repeatedly warn Israel not to take after them, not to do as they did, but I think possibly the reason He had Israel directly help accomplish the destruction was to impress this lesson on them, by directly experiencing that outcome of this evil resulting in destruction, in front of their eyes. To learn.

    It's not a sin that can be overlooked to sacrifice children, and so cruelly.

    Consider for instance the deadly warning God gave all mankind later:

    It's verse 6 that leaps out so dramatically, but I'll quote the full passage:

    “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

    4“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

    5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction."
    Malachi 4 ESV

    "Utter destruction" He said.

    If the people of the land do not love their children. The outcome of that not-love will be total and utter destruction.

    I believe it.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  9. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

    United States
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  10. Tolkien R.R.J

    Tolkien R.R.J Well-Known Member

    United States

    Great post and thanks. I like the esv and the nkjv best. I personally cant imagine a worse crime than child sacrifice, neither it seems can God.
  11. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

    The short answer is yes, YHWH commanded the genocide of all Canaanites who remained in the land of Canaan and did not flee.