The Bible–Confusion, Controversy, and Clarification–Part 10

We’re continuing a look at the so-called genocide in the Old Testament when the Israelites were told to wipe out the Canaanites. There’s so much to this encounter. Be sure to start with my previous blog post.


Secondly, we need to realize the Israelites were not fearful of strangers (non-Israelites). After all, God told Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed through his offspring. Later positive stories are told about good foreigners – Melchizedek, leaders of the Egyptians in Genesis 12 and the Philistines in Genesis 20, the wife of Moses, who was dark-skinned, the gentile Rahab in Joshua. Furthermore, God also repeatedly commanded Israel to show concern for aliens who were sojourners in their midst – Leviticus 19:34, Deuteronomy 10:18-19. According to Israelite civil law, the stranger living in Israel had the same legal rights as the native Israelite – Leviticus 24:22.


Next, we may not understand what happened when the children of Israel entered their promised land. The books of Joshua and Judges suggest that taking the land included more use of infiltration and internal struggle rather than slaughter. See Judges 1:1-2:5. So, Israel’s entrance into Canaan included more than the military motif. The stereotypical model of an all-consuming Israelite army descending upon Canaan and destroying everything in its way cannot be accepted. There certainly was military action but without causing extensive material destruction.


More to follow in the next post that continues this “genocide” issue.