The main points from How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament? on Justin Taylor’s blog Between Two Worlds:
- As the maker of all things and the ruler of all people, God has absolute rights of ownership over all people and places.
- God is not only the ultimate maker, ruler, and owner, but he is just and righteous in all that he does.
- All of us deserve God’s justice; none of us deserve God’s mercy.
- The Canaanites were enemies of God who deserved to be punished.
- God’s actions were not an example of ethnic cleansing.
- Why was it necessary to remove the Canaanites from the land?
- The destruction of the Canaanites is a picture of the final judgment.
Taylor does an impressive job of developing each of these points. It won’t be satisfactory to everyone, but it answers many of the objections of the skeptics who try to portray the God of the Bible as an evil genocidal maniac.
Grace and Peace
2 thoughts on “How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?”
From my perspective, the real answer is that God didn’t command anything. One tribe wanted land inhabited by another tribe, and as has happened many times in human history, decided to commit genocide and take it. Saying it was God’s commandment may have helped motivate individuals wielding instruments of war, or helped ease their guilt afterward, but it was simple genocide (“ethnic cleansing”) nevertheless.
The deeds were done by men led by genocidal maniacs. God, being imaginary, had no part in it.
Now about that flood…
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