Divine Mercy; Divine Genocide
Part 2: Did Moses / Joshua Use Hyperbolic Language?
Gen. James Green
D ID MOSES/JOSHUA use hyperbolic language? There are those who believe they did so. I believe that some texts use it, and others do not.
The scholars who do not totally believe in the hyperbolic interpretation point to the (supposed) contrast between the “cities that are at a distance” (see Deut. 20:15) and “the cities of the nations that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance” (v.16). They point out that in the “far nations,” only the male warriors were to be slaughtered, pitted against the “near nations” that were to be “utterly destroyed” —men, women, children and infants. As stated before, I think that the texts show that some of those nations that were (supposed) to be totally wiped out, were the ones who had cleared out before the disabling raids by Israel.
There appears to be one set of rules pitted against another set of rules, therefore, “as far as the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves” (v. 14, 15). We must ponder over this: how many people fled these cities BEFORE the raid took place?
So, I think that in both the near and far cities, BEFORE THE INVASION and the killing took place, a significant number of people, especially women and children, escaped to other places—until the army of Israel moved on—for Israel returned from their raids to their base camp at Gilgal.
The hyperbolic interpretation points us to Deut. 7:2, “And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them.” Verses 3-5, as our hyperbolic scholars point out, show that the Canaanites were the only ones particularly destroyed. If a literal “utter destruction” took place, why the warning of “make no marriages with them” (v. 3)? Verse 5 says, “But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”
I personally don’t view these texts as proof for hyperbolic interpretation. This is a (stern) warning not to have dealings with the inhabitants of the land, BUT TO DESTROY both them and their cultic installations. We know that Israel failed to do all that the LORD commanded.
God’s command was to “utterly destroy” these seven nations (7:2); Israel did not obey! God’s warning was that “...they will turn thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly” (v.4).
DEUT. 7:2 uses the Hebrew word hrm—“devote” as a holocaust to Yahweh; as said before, this word is from the vocabulary of HOLY WAR. In verse 6, “For” introduces the reason for the severity of the divine Command. “For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (see also Ex. 19:6). The election was the LORD’S act, not Israel’s (see Jn 15:16).
Herem is now given sanction because of the fact that the Israelites are the “chosen people of God.” But her covenant relationship was also “conditional,” i.e., “if.” Many people overlook this fact.
The “IF” clause is called the antecedent. When we see the “then” clause, it relates to the consequent. Numbers 33:55 is a good example of this. In verse 52 we read, “Then ye shall DRIVE OUT all the inhabitants of the land before you, and DESTROY ALL THEIR PICTURES, and DESTROY ALL THEIR molten IMAGES and quite pluck down ALL THEIR HIGH PLACES.” The same command we read in Deut. 7:5.
Numbers 33:53 tells us, “And ye shall DISPOSSESS the inhabitants of the land and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.” We see God’s mercy here-- “drive out,” “dispossess” was a command as well as “utterly destroy.” Verse 55 shows us the conditional syllogism: “But IF ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; THEN it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” We see the “if”-“then” clause here (see Jn 8:31 in the New Testament).
We can see two things in all this: God ordered Israel to possess the land, and God ordered destruction. We assume that some cities were utterly destroyed, but others were not.
What is Genocide?
BEFORE WE GO any further, I would like to present Genocide in International Law. However, today’s interpretation of genocide may not be the same as what was entirely meant in definition centuries ago.
We think of Genocide as the killing off of an entire people group. Personally, I never viewed it as such. I believe that killing most, not all, is considered genocide.
Let us look at Article 2 from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Dec. 9, 1948, (ICPPCG), There are 5 acts listed;
1- Killing members of the group;
2- Causing serious bodily/mental harm to members of the group;
3- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
4- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Any of the above acts committed with intent to DESTROY, in WHOLE or in PART, a national, ethical, racial or religious group [are defined as genocide].
Critics who claim that God is a “moral monster,” and as Richard Dawkins (New Atheist, NA) said on a podcast (2012, in reference to God’s Holy War), “...it is a stunning example of the theological mind at work. And remember this is not an extremist fundamentalist picking on the worst case example. My understanding is that William Lane Craig is a widely respected apologist for the Christian Religion. Read his article (Driving Out the Canaanites) and rub your eyes to make sure you are not having a bad dream.” Here is another quote from Dawkins: “W. L. Craig is not dangerous and he is most certainly not charismatic. I had somehow picked up that illusion too, until I actually met him in Mexico and saw how deeply unimpressive he really is. He is a ponderous buffoon who brandishes impressive-sounding syllogisms from Logic 101 to bamboozle his faith-head audience into believing he is ‘winning’ a debate. He also possesses some stunningly unpleasant opinions, including his view that the massacre of the Canaanites was ok because God ordered it, and anyway they deserve it because they were sinful—topped only by his equally obnoxious justification for the massacre of their children: being too young to ‘sin,’ they would go to heaven, you see. The classic; ‘kill them all, God will sort them out’ argument.” (May 28, 2011).
WHO IS THIS atheist to judge Craig, let alone God? He doesn’t believe in God: Why are these NA so outraged about what God did centuries ago? Do they get outraged at the millions--MILLIONS! of pre-borns who are SLAUGHTERED even before they have a chance to live outside the womb? Now they can be murdered even after they are born! These frauds that believe God does not exist, fail to mention all the texts whereby God is merciful, loving, kind, patient, longsuffering, slow to anger, and forgiving, etc. etc.
These non-believing believers are so concerned with the children, but children grow up to be warriors (females=prostitutes and worse in the Canaanite nations, and the boys go homo!...see Lev. 18 where their sins/abominations are listed). Even in the current Middle East war, Americans are free to kill children. Why? Many Vets have told me how the children—girls and boys—are spies and runners (passing info between the fighting jihadists). So, they are considered ENEMIES of the U.S. Children are not “innocent.”
Let’s consider atheism: it can’t even justify objective morality, so may we ask, WHY WOULD A MORAL ACT (“utter destruction” / “driving out”) BE EVIL in any meaningful sense? We’re just by-products of DEAD and MINDLESS and AMORAL nature, aren’t we? We’re just MATTER and MOTION, aren’t we? Man has no/zero qualitative difference than an animal. Do animals possess god-like qualities? Then an animal killing an animal would be just as “tragic” as a warrior killing a child. So, may we ask, WHAT RIGHT DO ATHEISTS HAVE TO CALL SOMETHING MORAL OR IMMORAL?
These Christian-hating frauds tend to think the Canaanite nations were INNOCENT VICTIMS, HA! Even they themselves practiced genocide on each other. They (the Amalekites) had planned to “wipe out” Israel if possible. They attacked Israel and killed women, children, and the elderly. That is WHY God ordered Saul to “utterly destroy” them (Saul saved the King and some of the best stock. This was what angered the LORD. The Prophet Samuel had to kill King Agag himself!).
Take note of what these bleeding hearts fail to see: The Canaanites had 400 long years to leave God’s promised land! They refused to leave, knowing that Israel was coming to settle there. They had plenty of time to resettle elsewhere, but they stayed. Stop and think about this—God kept His people in Egyptian slavery for 400 years (minus some) until the Canaanites’ cup of sinfulness was full...THEN Israel was commanded to “drive out”/ “cast out” these people before the genocide took place. So how do they see God as a “moral monster” (—as Dawkins calls Him)?
So, the “atrocities” were justified. The Canaanites that refused to leave paid for their refusal. WE, BY NOW, OUGHT TO KNOW THAT GOD’S WAY IN DEALING WITH SINS IS NOT MAN’S WAY.
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