I just finished reading Numbers and now I’m starting on Deuteronomy. What comes after Deuteronomy? Joshua. And what does Joshua mean? The conquest of Canaan. Okay, I admit it’s less than clear so for those who don’t get it, Numbers and Deuteronomy lead up to Joshua which details the military strategies by which the Israelites took over Canaan. It’s a very important issue. As the story goes, the Israelites either drove out or killed all of the Canaanites and took their land and God commanded it. There is also talk of mass rape, but I believe those to be unsubstantiated. Depending on which version of that you subscribe to, you might have different issues.
If God ordered the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites
- Isn’t that Genocide?
- How could God be so immoral as to order the mass killing of innocent people, even babies?
- Isn’t taking their land theft?
- How would you feel if someone did that to you?
- How would you take it if you heard of that in the news?
If God ordered the Canaanites, to be driven out, isn’t that still theft and unjust and immoral?
The answers range from, “those things never happened” to “God can do whatever he wants” for Christians and “this proves Christianity is false and evil” to “The Christian God is evil and racist” for non-Christians. In my opinion, lots of people are too quick to draw conclusions on this issue and drawing conclusions without knowing enough is unwise. I plan to do for this what I did for God hardening Pharaoh’s heart and the differences between Hebrew and Foreign slaves. First, I’ll gather what I can find about this. Then I’ll say what can be definitely said from the data, and then I’ll take objections and see where I stand at the end.
That’s the plan. It’s going to take a while to finish reading Deuteronomy and Joshua so this is going to be a long project. Here I would like to ask my fellow Christians a question.
What is one thing which, if present in the story of the Conquest of Canaan, would mandate the conclusion that God could not have ordered that thing and why?
And for the non-Christians:
What is one thing which if present in the conquest of Canaan, would mandate the conclusion that God’s hand really was in it and why?
I think answering both questions is the key to a successful study. Without laying out this groundwork, we run the risk of merely interpreting whatever we find to make it say what we want to say.