On The Historicity And Morality Of The Canaanite Conquests (Part 2 Of 2)

  • Discussion:
          -James Bishop created a series of posts explaining what he thinks is problematic with traditional defenses of God commanding the Israelites to kill the Canaanites. The second installment of this series continues on the work of the first by answering a few other objections to this narrative. Following are a few excerpts from the author along with a critique: 

          "...If we swapped “Canaanites” with “Jews” in the Old Testament, and Joshua with Hitler, we would have Archer defending Hitler on the basis that the Jews cancerous, including their infants and children. If we swapped “Canaanites” with “Jews” in the Old Testament, and Joshua with Hitler, we would have Archer defending Hitler on the basis that the Jews cancerous, including their infants and children."

          This is a false analogy. Israel was a theocracy, not a dictatorship. Classes of people were not being eliminated at whim. The context of these battles in the Old Testament relates to purity of worship, not racial hatred. Note that the Old Testament does not paint these battles in a positive light, and rightfully so. It only records the details of these events, no matter how gruesome.

          It can also be pointed out that no other nation in history besides Israel had been led directly by God. He commanded His people to wage this war. Consequently, this reasoning cannot simply be applied to justify any genocide committed throughout history. A man actually commanded by God to do something should be distinguished from one who is delusional in the belief He is calling upon him. It is not our duty as Christians to kill anyone so that they do not sin later.

          This truly is a paradoxical situation. How can God be one essence in three persons? How can His sovereignty be reconciled with our freewill? How can God remain just while making just the unjust? These types of questions are raised here to illustrate the point that there are many aspects of God's nature that confound human rationality and sensibilities, especially that of nonbelievers.

          "God’s plan, however, is to not only kill all the Canaanite parents but their children and infants too. In other words, God is judging the Canaanites for practicing child sacrifice by killing their children."

          The Canaanite children would likely have grown up to resent the Israelites who raised them and cause rebellion. Further, Israel was not strong enough at this time like Rome was in a more developed stage to keep several hostile districts under control at the same time. Not every surrounding nation posed a threat to Israel.

          God could have terminated the lives of the Canaanite children to spare them from becoming corrupt like their forefathers. The same idea could be applied to the multitudes of children who died in the Genesis flood. They would be received into His kingdom rather than come under eternal condemnation for sin.

          God's reasons include what is best for the children given the entirety of circumstances at the time. He has reasons that exceed the scope of human comprehension. Children die all the time and in many different ways. This is ultimately rooted in the problem of evil, which has been tackled by different theodicies.

          Liberal critics have no consistent grounds to criticize the morality of the Canaanite conquests given their support of abortion and euthanasia.

          "Going on what the biblical authors tell us, God wanted to eradicate the Canaanite religion and identity because they were a major threat to Israel. But here God, given his want to eradicate the Canaanites, we learn that they were not fully wiped out (Judg. 3:1–4)."

          Israel did not finish the job due to disobedience. One can only reach the conclusion that this part of the narrative is inconsistent by purposefully disregarding context.

          God extended mercy to nations that repented during the Old Testament (Jeremiah 18:7-8; Jonah 3:10). He is merciful enough to spare even the smallest remnant of righteous people in the midst of a wicked city (Genesis 18:24). The Canaanites had enough time and understanding of what God required of them in order to be spared from divine judgement, but they persisted in their ways. 

          God has the authority to use anything in His created order as an instrument to punish the unrighteous. He is sovereign over life (Deuteronomy 32:39). He gave it to us. Life belongs to Him. God can also take it back from us. He can do so in any way that He deems appropriate.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Many Children in Bethlehem Did Herod Kill?

Where did Jesus say "It is better to give than receive?"

The Bogus Gandhi Quote

Discussing Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Exodus 22:18 - Are Followers of God to Kill Witches?

Revamping and New Articles at the CADRE Site

A Botched Abortion Shows the Lies of Pro-Choice Proponents

Jewish writings and a change in the Temple at the time of the Death of Jesus

Tillich, part 2: What does it mean to say "God is Being Itself?"

The Folded Napkin Legend