Concluding Thoughts on the Canaanite Genocide

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The past several blog posts I’ve been discussing the Canaanite Genocide. If you’ve missed my earlier posts, you can catch up at these links: “The Old Testament and Apologetics,” “Is the God of the Old Testament Merciless?,” “An Overview of the Canaanite Genocide,” “The Canaanite Genocide: The Justice of God Viewpoint,” “The Canaanite Genocide: The Evil of the Canaanites Viewpoint,” and “The Canaanite Genocide: The Hyperbolic Language Viewpoint.”

The questions pertaining to the so-called “Canaanite Genocide” are important issues. It is unlikely that any one proposal by itself is the correct solution for no proposal seems to satisfy all of the issues. I conclude with a summary of three key points: Read more

The Canaanite Genocide: The Justice of God Viewpoint

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The justice and love of God can be described as a paradox. Though not always understandable by finite minds, God is both a God of supreme mercy and supreme justice. His justice demands punishment for sin. However, Eugene Merrill brings up a good point, “Such war was conceived by God, commanded by him, executed by him, and brought by him alone to successful conclusion,” and thus this war was a “holy war.”[1] It was not a war instituted by Moses, Joshua, or the Israelites. Read more

An Overview of the Canaanite Genocide

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This week I’ve been discussing the issue of the “Canaanite Genocide” during the Israelite conquest.

Deuteronomy 20:16 states, “But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes.”

This is not a new struggle. People have long wondered why God ordered the Israelites to kill all of the Canaanites and many assume that the destruction of a whole people group, including women and children, would not be in the character of a loving God. Some equate it to problems we see today with ethnic cleansing around the world both currently and in the past century in horrific situations such as the holocaust or Islamic jihads. Read more

Is the God of the Old Testament Merciless?

canaanite genocideI had the privilege of serving as an editor for the recently released Evangelism Study Bible done by EvanTell and Kregel. I thought the following article taken from the ESB ties in well with this week’s theme.

In his review of the law in Deuteronomy 20, Moses set out specific instructions regarding the conduct of war by Israel. The goal of conquest was not to kill a city’s inhabitants, but to obtain its peaceful surrender and subsequent service as a vassal (20:10–11). Only if a city resisted and fought back were the Israelites to destroy its army and take the city captive (20:13–15). Read more

The Old Testament and Apologetics

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The next few weeks I’m changing themes from misunderstood biblical characters to Old Testament apologetics, specifically looking at some concepts or passages in the OT that often trouble people.

This week I’ll begin by looking at the issue of “the Canaanite Genocide.” In the book of Joshua, God commanded the Israelites to destroy the Canaanite cities and slaughter the inhabitants—including men, women, and children. Stories like this tend to offend our moral sensibilities and may turn away non-Christians from our faith. So, how should Christians respond?

I believe we need to approach topics like this with great care. This includes careful reflection and deliberation as we engage with our culture.