Board index Genocide

Does the God of the Bible command genocide? Are the armies of Israel immorally responsible for the genocide of Canaanite populations at the command of their God? Let's talk.

The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby Auto Teacher » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:13 am

He commands genocide: Dt. 7.22-24; Num. 21.1-3; 31.1-17; 1 Sam. 15.18-19; 2 Chr. 15.12-13; Dt. 13.12-15; 20.16-17; Ezk. 9.5-6; Ex. 32.27-29; Jer. 50.21.
Auto Teacher
 

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:43 am

Thanks for your willingness to dialogue. Let me lay some groundwork first, and then I'll speak more specifically.

1. The only time(s) that the Israelites were commanded by God to fight offensive battles (to conquer cities) was during the conquest. Beyond the land of Canaan, they were never commanded to expand their boundaries, build an empire, wipe out people groups, etc.
2. The goal of the conquest was not genocide, but occupation. Repeatedly the commands of God are to drive the Canaanites from the land (Ex. 23.30 as one example of many). More to the point, the Canaanites were first to be given an opportunity to surrender and become part of Israel (Dt. 20.10), and if they would not surrender, to engage them in battle.
3. It was God's intent to bless all the nations (Gn. 12.3 and others). It’s not the Canaanites as people that the Lord hates, but their godless perversions and lying religion. Dt. 7.5-6 is very clear that the point is truth, not genocide.
4. In those days the cities were fortresses surrounding governmental and cultic structures, not dwellings for the population. When commands were given to conquer cities, it was the rulers and soldiers the army was after, not the population. In the agrarian society of the Canaanite city-states, more than 90% of the people lived in the countryside as farmers, and less than 10% of the population lived in the cities. The cities were mostly fortresses and governmental centers. Almost exclusively, when a city was attacked, it was military action against military personnel and the rulers of the region, not against the general (and innocent) population. It was impossible, without nuclear weaponry, to wipe out all the citizenry. There was never an attempt to wipe them out.
5. The Conquest is not what many people imagine. Joshua cut a swath through the center of Canaan (Jericho, Ai and Shechem, Joshua 6-9), separating north from south. Gibeah surrendered (Josh. 9), and they were not killed. At that point an alliance of cities from the south attacked Joshua (Josh. 10), and the Israelites won. Now they controlled the southern hill country. Joshua then turned and attacked Hazor in the north and burned it (Josh. 11), and an alliance of northern cities attacked him. Joshua won, and all of the hill country of Canaan was now in Israelite hands. That was the extent of it (Josh 11.16, 23, etc.). They never gained the valleys and plains until under the monarchy, as nation-states attacked David and he won. There was no genocide.

Now let's talk about ancient Near-Eastern warfare. The "kill 'em all" speeches of the ancient Near East were a case of customary warfare bravado, and people in those days didn't take it literally. What it meant was: "Secure a total victory." The language is used in Josh. 10.40-42; 11.16-23; yet they readily acknowledge that it wasn't literally true (Judges 1.21, 27-28). On the one hand, Joshua says he utterly destroyed the Anakim (Josh. 11.21-22), but then he gives Caleb permission to drive them out of the land (Josh. 14.12-15; cf. 15.13-19). What it proves it that "kill them all" was an idiom of warfare that meant "We won a decisive victory." No people groups were being wiped out. This was pretty typical of the whole region in this era.
- Egypt’s Tuthmosis III (later 15th c.) boasted that "the numerous army of Mitanni was overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those (now) not existent." In fact, Mitanni’s forces lived on to fight in the 15th and 14th centuries BC.
- Hittite king Mursilli II (who ruled from 1322-1295 BC) recorded making "Mt. Asharpaya empty (of humanity)" and the "mountains of Tarikarimu empty (of humanity)." Not true; just rhetoric.
- The "Bulletin" of Ramses II tells of Egypt's less-than-spectacular victories in Syria (1274 BC). Nevertheless, he announces that he slew "the entire force" of the Hittites, indeed "all the chiefs of all the countries," disregarding the "millions of foreigners," which he considered "chaff."
- In the Merneptah Stele (ca. 1230 BC), Rameses II's son Merneptah announced, "Israel is wasted, his seed is not," another premature declaration. Not true, didn't happen, no genocide.
- Moab's king Mesha (840/830 BC) bragged that the Northern Kingdom of "Israel has utterly perished for always," which was over a century premature. The Assyrians devastated Israel in 722 BC.
- The Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (701-681 BC) used similar hyperbole: "The soldiers of Hirimme, dangerous enemies, I cut down with the sword; and not one escaped."

In addition, we know that the people groups that Joshua claims were "utterly destroyed from the earth" continued on, such as the Anakim I have already mentioned. The same is true of the Amalekites of 1 Sam. 15 (the Amalekites were a people group for about 1000 years after being "totally destroyed"), and all of the Canaanite groups. The point was not to kill them all in a genocidal frenzy, but to win a decisive military victory over their armies and politicians, drive all rebels from the land, assimilate those who were willing, and to destroy the false religious practices that would corrupt the people of God.

The ultimate goal was that God would have a people, set aside for relationship with Himself, that he could covenant with to reveal Himself to and redeem them from sin. All comers, Israeli and foreign, man and woman, slave and free, were welcome. All rebellious, wicked, and deceivers were not.

As you can see, the label "genocide" misleads. The call to "kill 'em all" was language of victory, not genocide. "The moral of the story," as Dr. Paul Copan says, "is not to stop at a surface reading of these terms and assume God’s immorality."

The plan of God was a three-stepped plan, with each subsequent step only being necessary if the first two failed.

STEP 1: Incorporate the Canaanites into Israel as full members of the community, and worshippers of the true God. There was no reason to wait until the Day of the Lord to have the people worshipping the true God (Zech. 14.16-20; Rev. 22, et al.). The Lord will take any who come to him; the invitation is always open, and no sincere seeker is refused. Any Canaanite who surrendered would become part of the Israelite community.

STEP 2: Lacking surrender, the object of the army was to drive the Canaanites from the land, not slaughter them (Ex. 23.30-31; 33.2; 34.11, 24; etc.). Let them go somewhere else to live, and let Israel have the land that was theirs to possess. Anyone who would leave was free to go.

STEP 3: If they won't surrender, don't want to join you, and refuse to leave, the only option is to engage them in battle. The land belonged to Israel, not the Canaanites. But the point was still not genocide, but to kill the soldiers, supplant the rulers, and take possession of the land. The civilians were not harmed.

God communicated in the language of the culture, their typical Near-Eastern warfare rhetoric. Everyone in their era knew what it meant: secure a total victory. We need to read the text through ancient eyes, not through modern ones of a different culture, era, and language.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5886
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby Auto Teacher » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:45 pm

> The only time(s) that the Israelites were commanded by God to fight offensive battles (to conquer cities) was during the conquest

So what? Is conquering other people to take their land right?

> The goal of the conquest was not genocide, but occupation.

Thank you. You have just admitted that your God commanded genocide. You have conceded my point.

> It was God's intent to bless all the nations

By wiping them off the face of the earth, killing every man, woman and child.

> In those days the cities were fortresses surrounding governmental and cultic structures, not dwellings for the population. When commands were given to conquer cities, it was the rulers and soldiers the army was after, not the population.

False, your god repeatedly commands His people to kill every man, woman and child, occasionally but not always sparing the virgin girls as booty.

> The Conquest is not what many people imagine.

What on earth is your point? Genocide is genocide; your god commanded it, conversation over.

> Now let's talk about ancient Near-Eastern warfare. The "kill 'em all" speeches of the ancient Near East were a case of customary warfare bravado, and people in those days didn't take it literally. What it meant was: "Secure a total victory."

I see. So we shouldn't treat the narrative as being accurate. Well yes, if your Bible is full of lies, then your God may not be genocidal. Of course, in that event we can only speculate as to what His character is. It is only if you do regard it as accurate that He is. Of course, if it's not, you have a host of other problems, and can toss your religion out the window.

> In addition, we know that the people groups that Joshua claims were "utterly destroyed from the earth" continued on, such as the Anakim I have already mentioned.

This is true. Quite frequently in the Bible people who were wiped from the face of the earth show up again to be wiped out again. Your Bible is full of contradictions and absurdities as well as atrocities.

> The ultimate goal was that God would have a people, set aside for relationship with Himself, that he could covenant with to reveal Himself to and redeem them from sin.

Maybe. Usually, the Bible states the goal, and it's usually one of two things: (1) Revenge (2) Ethnic cleansing. These two goals are often clearly stated in the text, and I would be happy to provide those texts if you like. I understand that you graft on a later, Christian interpretation that is not present in the text or even mentioned or hinted at in any way, which you are free to do. Even under your bizarre interpretation, the means is still genocide, and I think you will concede this. Well, you already did. Don't you think all genocides have a "goal" that supposedly justifies it? As an atheist, I feel that all genocides are wrong, regardless of the goal. As a Christian, you feel that some are moral and right. We differ on that. It's still genocide, and there is no point in denying it.

> As you can see, the label "genocide" misleads. The call to "kill 'em all" was language of victory, not genocide.

So your Bible is full of lies. Great religion you've got there.

> "The moral of the story," as Dr. Paul Copan says, "is not to stop at a surface reading of these terms and assume God’s immorality."

Well, that's your moral. So if that's the moral, then genocide is moral, which is one of my criticisms of your religion. I think genocide is wrong. In your religion, it is right.

> The plan of God was a three-stepped plan, with each subsequent step only being necessary if the first two failed.

Now that's interesting. Your all-powerful God's plans failed. That should give you a little theological pause. Remember, when two of your beliefs contradict each other, at least one of them is false.

> God communicated in the language of the culture, their typical Near-Eastern warfare rhetoric. Everyone in their era knew what it meant: secure a total victory. We need to read the text through ancient eyes, not through modern ones of a different culture, era, and language.

So what you're saying is that the text is false. I agree. If the text is false, then your God may or may not be genocidal, we don't know. If it is true, and read as true, your God is genocidal. Agree?
Auto Teacher
 

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby jimwalton » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:56 pm

I notice that you failed to substantiate a case to support your thesis. As the text stands, God didn't command genocide but only to secure victory in the land. There was never intent to wipe out the populations, but preferably to integrate them into God's people. Short of that, they were to be driven out to live elsewhere, because Canaan was the inheritance of the Israelites. Genocide is wrong by Biblical values, as well as by mine; God was interested in blessing the nations and in giving his people the land that was their by his grant in the days of Abraham. Nor is the motive in Scripture any sense of revenge. You won't find that concept anywhere in the conquest narrative. We both agree that genocide is immoral. The text uses the locutions of their cultural understanding to express a concept with which they would be quite familiar: total victory over the rulers and militaries of the land of Canaan so that the Israelites could occupy it, integrate the population into the ways of God, purge the territory of idolatry and bring them into the ways of YHWH. The text truthfully renders all of these concepts if you only take the time to understand it.

Since you didn't present a case justifying your opposing thesis, I'll take this to assume you have none, and we can move on to the next subject of discussion. What would you like to talk about?
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5886
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby Auto Teacher » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:39 pm

> I notice that you failed to substantiate a case to support your thesis

What thesis? I am happy to provide support for any factual assertion I make.

> As the text stands, God didn't command genocide but only to secure victory in the land.

Please read your sentence over and see whether the glaring contradiction pops right out at you. Clearly, He commanded genocide. That cannot be doubted. Now you're trying to claim that genocide is sometimes justified to secure victory. I disagree.

> There was never intent to wipe out the populations,

The text says differently. You may want to re-read the verses which, over and over, command the Hebrews to do exactly that.
Short of that, they were to be driven out to live elsewhere

> That's not what the text says.

Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys...

he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord?

you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,[b] both its people and its livestock.
Attack the land of Merathaim and those who live in Pekod. Pursue, kill and completely destroy them,” declares the Lord. “Do everything I have commanded you.

The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns;
in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.

Lots of complete destruction, (which is the very meaning of the word genocide) and no driving out at all.

> Genocide is wrong by Biblical values

That's not what the Bible says.

>as well as by mine;

I wonder where you get them from? It cannot be the Bible. Not if you read it, that is.

> Nor is the motive in Scripture any sense of revenge.

Actually, it often is. Here's one:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.

Note that God is "punishing" the remote descendants of the people who did something centuries before. We have a word for that.
We call it revenge. Even worse, substitutive revenge.

> We both agree that genocide is immoral.

Great. Here's the syllogism:

1. Genocide is immoral.
2. Your God commands genocide.
3. Therefore your God is immoral.

> The text uses the locutions of their cultural understanding to express a concept with which they would be quite familiar: total victory over the rulers and militaries of the land of Canaan so that the Israelites could occupy it, integrate the population into the ways of God, purge the territory of idolatry and bring them into the ways of YHWH.

Well, it certainly doesn't say that. I mean, if you want to read the Bible that way, substituting words of your choice for the words on the page, then Jesus was a fine heavy metal guitarist whose riffs the crowds enjoyed until a terrible accident in a mosh pit, but his recordings live on. That bears as much relationship to the text as your word substitution method of interpreting scripture so that it means something quite different from what it says.

> The text truthfully renders all of these concepts if you only take the time to understand it.

You mean if you take the time to understand that it means something completely different from what it says?

> Since you didn't present a case justifying your opposing thesis

Other than the actual words of the actual Bible, as opposed to a made up version that exists only in your head.

To me, when the Bible says, "Go commit genocide," it means to go commit genocide. To you, apparently, not so much.

Unless you want to go on claiming that the words mean something different from what they say, I will move on.
Auto Teacher
 

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby jimwalton » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:11 pm

Thanks for the response. As you read my evidence, what I am suggesting is that their cultural and linguistic context led them to a different understanding of the words that seem black and white to us, millennia removed, culturally removed, and linguistically removed. Let me try to give you some modern linguistic and cultural examples.

In many public buildings we see signs on the doors: "Please keep this door closed at all times." We know what that means. It doesn't mean keep the door closed at all times. It means after you go through the door, make sure the door closes behind you—that the door should be in a state of closed-ness when someone isn't going through it. But that's not what it says. Clearly it's not. It says in plain English that the door is never to be opened, doesn't it? If someone 3000 years from now, from a different culture and a different language were to find this sign, they'd wonder why it was on a door, why the door wasn't boarded closed and sealed up, and they would know that no one ever went through this doorway because the sign on it clearly says that the door was never to be opened. Alas, the vagaries of language and meaning.

In front of the grocery store the other day there was a sign that says "No standing." That's not what it means. We all know that. It means you can stop temporarily to load or unload passengers from your vehicle, but you could park there even briefly to load or unload stuff. But it certainly doesn't mean what it sounds like: that every individual in the vicinity must be seated. We know that, but that's not what the words say.

Then there's the "No stopping" sign. It means you can't stop your vehicle, unless of course you're stopping to obey a traffic signal, sign, police officer, or to avoid an accident. So it doesn't mean no stopping, except when it means no stopping. We all understand. it's part of our culture.

Another example of rhetoric in our culture is the label of all who object to homosexuality as "homophobic." While some may be homophobic, most Christians who object to homosexuality do so on moral and theological grounds, not on psychotic fear. I'm no more homophobic than I am arachnophobic, but this is the rhetoric of our culture, despite that it's far from literally true or even accurate.

I gave you quite a bit of cultural evidence that "Kill 'em all" doesn't mean genocide. They all knew that. 3000 years later, we want to take those words like "Keep this door closed at all times," but that's not what the words meant to them. We have to understand ancient messages as they were intended, not as they sound to us.

For instance, the Amalekites of 1 Sam. 15. We can clearly tell that the Israelites did not take this literally. There was no attempt to wipe out the entire people group. You'll even notice in 1 Sam. 15.5 that specific action was taken so that innocents did **not** get caught up in the violence and killed along with the military population. If Saul is setting an ambush in a ravine, he is after a specific military target. The Amalekites were a nomadic group spread over a large geographic area. They weren't concentrated in cities, and most didn't live in cities (more than 90% of ancient populations didn't live in cities), and they certainly didn't all walk down the same path to the ravine at a specific time each day. Totally destroying the Amalekites in a battle is like wiping out Al Qaeda in a battle. That's not possible, and you certainly wouldn't set up an ambush in a ravine if that was your objective. The idea here was to punish concentrated populations of military power and regional leadership, not to destroy an entire people group. The city of Amalek (the military and government officials) was the target, and they understood that. Look at vv. 7-9: Saul conquered the city and chased the governmental leaders and the soldiers through the desert to kill them. That's what's going on here. 1 Sam. 15.12 implies that Saul accomplished his goal in one night. This tells us, again, that genocide was not the objective, the understanding, or the action. In v. 13 we hear from Saul himself: I conquered the city, killed the perpetrators, took the king captive, and scattered the people into the wilderness. Objective accomplished. All he did was conquer a small city. Very typical, through all of the ancient Near East, when they use "genocidal" rhetoric. That's not what it means, just like "Please keep door closed at all times" and "no standing."

In Dt. 7, God tells the Israelites to "utterly destroy" the Canaanites. Then in the very next verse he says that after that they shouldn't make any treaties with them or intermarry with them. Wait a minute—aren't they all dead? No, there was no understanding of wiping out a people group. It just means win a significant victory, not "kill 'em all." We find out that the ultimate issue is religious (Dt. 7.5): What God wanted "utterly destroyed" was their altars, images, and sacred pillars. He wanted to wipe out the false religion, not the people group. See also Ex. 34.12-13; Dt. 12.2-3. The concern of "kill 'em all" was to purge the land of idolatry, not to commit genocide.

Over and over again. The evidence is consistent. You're hung up on the verbiage, but you're missing the meaning of the message in their cultural context, and that's the clue to understanding and misunderstanding the rhetoric.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5886
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby Auto Teacher » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:06 pm

That causes you a much bigger problem. Actually, several problems.

First, your holy book becomes too confusing for any practical purpose. A person cannot read it and follow it. They would first need to study Ancient Hebrew, Koine Greek, and Aramaic, and to learn Ancient History, sometimes history that is lost to us. So we don't know what we're supposed to do, what is meant by the sixth commandment, and so forth.

Second, why on earth would an all-powerful God choose such a confusing and difficult way to communicate with us? It really casts doubt on the existence of such a God.

Third, it throws a monkey-wrench into your theology. If you can't rely on the words of the Bible to mean what they say, how can we construct a theology around them?

Finally, there remains the important fact that throughout history, unfortunately, Christians have not interpreted the passages in this way, and as a result have gone rampaging over Europe leaving a trail of blood in their path. We can't know what these ancient books "really" mean, but we do know they have caused immeasurable harm in the world.
Auto Teacher
 

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:31 pm

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the good questions. Within its cultural context, era, and language group, the Bible was understandable to Joe Plumber. There are numerous examples in the Bible (Old Testament) where the text was read to the populous and they clearly understood both the words and their meaning. But in our era, 2000-4000 years removed from the original, in a different language and culture, it's perfectly understandable that some interpretation and explanation is necessary. The author need not be faulted for that any more than Shakespeare is to blame that English has changed since the late 1500s. We take courses in Shakespeare in school where it has to be explained, and we buy Cliff Notes to help us understand, and we discuss it and are taught about it. This is not a problem, nor a shortcoming of the author's, but the mere realities of the passage of time in a diverse and changing world. It is not a negative reflection on God that cultures change and progress.

The Bible, however, is also a book that expects that it has to be taught. God instituted the priesthood to mediate between God and humans, he called prophets to explain his revelation, and Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples of others by teaching them. Again, it is not a negative reflection on God that His Word benefits from being taught any more than it's a negative reflection on science textbook writers that students have to pay money to take classes to understand what they have written. That doesn't make the book "too confusing for any practical purpose," but only that it is beneficial to have a teacher. Many principles and teachings in it can be understood from the simple text, but the further we get removed from the original culture and language, the more constructive the input of a scholar or teacher can be. Again, that's no more a shortcoming on the part of the source than going to one of the colonial American reconstructed towns, such as Williamsburg, VA, and having era-clothed guides tell us what it was like in colonial America. This is quite easy to deal with, and it doesn't mean the text is impractical and too confusing for real life. Quite the contrary.

> [W]hy on earth would an all-powerful God choose such a confusing and difficult way to communicate with us?

Written communication is a worthy and reliable way to preserve historical records, legal documents, royal edicts, and sacred stories. When we studied the Bhagavad Gita in school, I never remember any student complaining, "Why did the Hindus choose such a confusing and difficult way to communicate with Americans?" We all understand how writing works, and how cross-cultural communication affects messages. It's OK. We can deal with it just fine. Many things need to be explained, but we're learners. Also remember that though the Bible was written *for* us, it wasn't written *to* us. It was written to the ancients. There's no reason to conclude, "Therefore, God doesn't exist."

It doesn't throw a monkey wrench into theology. Words have to be understood the way they were intended by the author; words have to be understood within the contexts of their sentences, sentences within the paragraphs, paragraphs within the larger whole. Some words of the Bible are quite easy to understand, while some are needing quite a bit of explanation. It's no different than science class, where light is quite easy to understand, but quantum mechanics needs some explanation. That doesn't make QM untrue.

Unfortunately, you are right in saying that these words have not been interpreted accurately by some Christians, and there have been terrible and horrific acts committed in the name of Christ. We can know what the ancient books really mean, but regrettably mistakes have been made that can't be undone. We shouldn't judge a movement by its fanatics and misunderstanders, however. Every movement has them, but that's not the best approach to evaluation.

So actually the transmission of the text through history doesn't create the bigger problems that you fear, just some understandable obstructions that have to be managed, as in many other disciplines: law, history, math and science, to name a few.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5886
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby Bliss is Bliss » Mon May 04, 2015 9:16 am

Prove it using ancient Rabbinic commentary. Prove to me from ancient commentaries that the Canaanite conquest was considered nothing more than a pack of metaphors. I understand how to read the Bible.

You are ignoring the fact that Moses rebuked his generals for failing to kill all of the non-virgin women and boys.
You are also ignoring the fact that the author of scripture sometimes says that everyone was killed. That's not a hyperbolic command coming from God or a military leader. That's a description of what happened.

For example: Deuteronomy 2:32: Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. 2:33 And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. 2:34 And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain: 2:35 Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
Bliss is Bliss
 

Re: The YHWH character in the OT is genocidal

Postby jimwalton » Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:18 pm

Thanks for the reply. First of all, I'm not regarding the conquest as a "pack of metaphors." The conquest was a historical military effort that met with only partial success. My contention was that genocide was never commanded (that was only warfare rhetoric), never understood to have been commanded, and never carried out because they knew that was not the expectation. But there's nothing metaphorical about it.

Your quote from Deut. 2.32-35 is exactly the point. The text says, "Yep, we killed 'em all," and that's ancient warfare rhetoric to say, "We won the battle." It's not an indication that all were killed. 1 Samuel 15 and Deut. 7 confirm that is how they spoke but not how they acted, and the ancient texts I quotes also confirm that: (I'll write them again since you don't seem to remember them or acknowledge them)

- Egypt’s Tuthmosis III (later 15th c.) boasted that "the numerous army of Mitanni was overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those (now) not existent." In fact, Mitanni’s forces lived on to fight in the 15th and 14th centuries BC.
- Hittite king Mursilli II (who ruled from 1322-1295 BC) recorded making "Mt. Asharpaya empty (of humanity)" and the "mountains of Tarikarimu empty (of humanity)." Not true; just rhetoric.
- The "Bulletin" of Ramses II tells of Egypt's less-than-spectacular victories in Syria (1274 BC). Nevertheless, he announces that he slew "the entire force" of the Hittites, indeed "all the chiefs of all the countries," disregarding the "millions of foreigners," which he considered "chaff." Not true, didn't happen.
- In the Merneptah Stele (ca. 1230 BC), Rameses II's son Merneptah announced, "Israel is wasted, his seed is not," another premature declaration. Not true, didn't happen, no genocide.
- Moab's king Mesha (840/830 BC) bragged that the Northern Kingdom of "Israel has utterly perished for always," which was over a century premature. Not true, didn't happen. The Assyrians devastated Israel in 722 BC.
- The Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (701-681 BC) used similar hyperbole: "The soldiers of Hirimme, dangerous enemies, I cut down with the sword; and not one escaped."

It was absolutely, contrary to what you say (and the evidence proves it) a hyperbolic command coming from God or a military leader. I've given you plenty of evidence to confirm what I'm saying; you haven't given me a shred of evidence in counter-argument. I'll assume, then, that you have none.

For example, the Deuteronomy 2 text you quoted. Again, the Israelites were not guilty of genocide. This was one among other battles that were *defensive*. Simon came out against THEM, just as the Amalekites had attacked them (Ex. 17.8), and Arad attacked them (Num. 21.1). The point was not genocide, but survival at this point. Israel responded by securing victory against the attack. God had prohibited Israel from attacking and conquering other neighboring nations (Moab and Ammon: Dt. 2.9, 19; Edom: Dt. 2.4-5; 23.7). Land grabbing was not permitted, and Israel had no command to conquer beyond what God had sanctioned. Genocide was not what was going on. In Deut. 2.26, messengers were sent to Sihon offering peace. There was no intention to kill them. You can see that their clear intention was peace, not war. But Sihon attacked them, so they retaliated and secured a victory. Genocide was not in their minds, but survival and victory. In the typical rhetoric of the day, they claimed to have "utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain." But I have shown you convincing that it's just the way they spoke of battle, not the reality of history.

You want commentaries from ancient rabbis. We have no commentaries from that long ago. The Midrashim we have and commentaries are much more recent than that era. As nice as it would be to have such things, we don't. If you know of any, I'd be glad to read them. Otherwise, you can't hold my feet to a fire that isn't burning.

So what I have is this:

1. The context of these commands in the Bible clearly show that the people groups were expected to continue on in existence. Genocide was not intended.
2. The writings of the Bible clearly show that those people groups did, in fact, continue in existence. Genocide was never done.
3. The writings of the Bible clearly show that God's desire was that the whole world be integrated into his people, and that the whole world be blessed, not killed off. The first attempt of the Israelites was to make peace with its inhabitants, secondly to drive them off the land, and only in the extreme was warfare necessary. Genocide was never the intent.
4. The geographic spread of the peoples shows us that even in warfare the intent was to conquer the cities, viz. the military and political entities, not the citizens.
5. Clear evidences from the surrounding cultures proves to us that the "kill 'em all" rhetoric was exactly that—rhetoric—with no actual enforcement of genocidal slaughter.

I have supported my case. If you have one that opposes it, I'd be pleased to see the evidence for it.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:18 pm.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5886
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm


Return to Genocide

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


cron