Part 6: Hyperbolic Texts
Gen. James Green
I N COPAN and Flannagan’s “Did God Really Command Genocide?,” they start (in part 2) their investigation into Scripture concerning occasional commands, hyperbolic texts, and genocidal massacres. The first thing they tackle is, “Does the Bible command us to kill innocent human beings?” They look at Raymond Bradley’s take on the book of Joshua—carrying out the SLAUGHTER of VIRTUALLY every man, woman and child in Canaan at God’s command.
A point must be made in reference to (certain) commands of God: we cannot copy every one we find listed in the Old Testament. While God was wholly justified in His command, and Joshua justified in obeying, we cannot take this as a command for the New Testament Christian...that idea is silly. SOME THINGS ARE TEMPORAL, AND SOME THINGS ARE ETERNAL. But when it comes to killing, one has to be very cautious.
I feel the same way that these two authors feel—we cannot conclude that the “war texts” mediate a command for us (New Testament believers) to utterly destroy any people (unless the Holy Spirit speaks this for whatever reason).
In certain commands, we can rightly use the word “hyperbolic,” others we cannot. We might call certain commands “occasional,” which mean, given to a particular person for a PARTICULAR OCCASION and not to be understood as “general commands” issued to all people everywhere (I would say Lev. cpt. 18 is a good example for “general commands”).
Old or New or Both?
TODAY’S CHURCH is split over which Testament they follow. I think Alan Donagan’s take on this is the right take. He says, “While the Torah (law of Moses) does not purport to be binding on all mankind, part of it does. Even in Biblical times, the Jews had come to distinguish from mere heathens those Gentiles who recognized that part of the Mosaic Halacha (Jewish Talmud’s laws / interpretations) which applies to Gentiles and Jews alike” (see “The Theory of Morality,” 1979, p. 4, 5).
The Jewish rabbis distinguish between the Noahide Law (Gen. 9; also referred to as Noachian Law) and the Mosaic Law. The Noahide Law are the commands addressed to ALL humankind: the Mosaic Law is a covenant between God and Israel. Even in this, the Jews are a subset of all people; various Noahide Laws are repeated in the Mosaic Law.
The homosexual camp loves to lump God’s laws prohibiting Israel from partaking of certain foods (as unclean), with the prohibitions against sexual-sins/abominations. I have, time and time again, pointed out that the “FOODS” WERE TEMPORAL; THE SEX ACTS ARE ETERNAL, i.e., BINDING upon ALL peoples for ALL time!
As I have pointed out, God destroyed certain nations for this very violation...not for the foods they ate.
NO ONE is to partake of sex-sins!
War on Terror
IN OUR CURRENT situation, both Christians and non-Christians ponder all this “war on terror” business. Is it legal (according to God), or illegal? I’m not saying all wars are forbidden, but I CAN say this War on Terror was designed by the One World Order (odor!) bastards! They devise mischief, start wars and revolutions, and then offer the solution—WAR!...all the while these demon-inspired bastards make a KILLING ($$) off both sides of the conflict (see our latest publications/DVDs).
But I do believe that God ordered utter destruction (no hyperbole) to certain nations of people; likewise I believe He has His hand in today’s conflict (He is the God of History!).
THE DEBATE over this “utterly destroy” issue goes on and on. Joe M. Sprinkle, in his book “Biblical Law and Its Relevance,” (2006, p. 177) argues that “put to the sword” (Deut. 20:13), or “edge of the sword,” (zekurah, from the Hebrew verb nakah) is a command (the imperative of the imperfect verb) which should be understood as a “permissive” use of this (imperfect) verb. What he is saying is that Deut. 20:13 PERMITS the KILLING of the men. Hence vs. 12, 13 would be rendered this way: “Now if it [the city] is unwilling to make peace with you, but instead makes war with you, then you are PERMITTED to besiege it. Now when YHWH your God gives it into your hand, then you may kill any of its men with the edge of the sword.”
Well, really it makes no difference whether God COMMANDS, or ALLOWS the killing...the men were killed! The exception to this “utterly destroy” is duly noted (vs. 16, 17) against v. 13.
Copan and Flannagan note that immediately following these verses (10-13), the particle raq, which the NIV translates “as for,” comes at the beginning of v. 14: “As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city…” They write, “This particle typically qualifies or restricts a previous statement. The previous clause in v. 13 indicates what can be done to the men/males, and the following raq clause qualifies and clarifies that such a rule does not apply to women, children, and spoil.” Our authors cite J.M. Sprinkle (ibid, p. 178).
So, vs. 13, 14 express the principle of non-combatant immunity—if a city refuses terms of peace, only the men are killed (see Jesus’ take on this in Lk. 10:5-16).
But for those who fight, the situation changes: utter destruction! The particle raq (“as for,” or, “however”), suggests an exception to what has gone before. The “nations nearby,” and the “nations far away” had different war rules applied to them. The command to “utterly destroy” only applied to the Canaanites as Israel entered the land (once they took the land, then that was no longer relevant, all the other nations would be “far away”). (You might want to read Deut 2:4, 9, 19; 23:7.)
The Bible also informs the reader of many ways in which God and Israel fought in the Promised Land (see Joshua and Judges). Let it be said, Yahweh’s warfare wasn’t the standard for the other stages in Israel’s history. IT WAS UNIQUE BECAUSE OF GOD’S MORAL / RIGHTEOUS / SUFFICIENT REASONS.
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