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The Most Troubling Theme in Deuteronomistic History. The writers of Deuteronomistic history did not only insist that Israel should follow God exclusively. They insisted that exclusive loyalty to God required God’s people to exterminate any neighbors who believed differently.

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the most troubling theme in deuteronomistic history
The Most Troubling Theme in Deuteronomistic History
  • The writers of Deuteronomistic history did not only insist that Israel should follow God exclusively.
  • They insisted that exclusive loyalty to God required God’s people to exterminate any neighbors who believed differently.
  • The Deuteronimists believe that an important reason both the northern and southern kingdoms were eventually conquered was that they failed to exterminate all their different-believing neighbors.
slide2

Deuteronomy 20:16-18

But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God.

slide3

The Destruction/Genocide of Jericho: Joshua 6:20-21

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into [Jericho] and captured it. Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.

The Destruction/Genocide of Ai: Joshua 8:24-27

When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and attacked it with the edge of the sword. The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the sword, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their booty, according to the word of the Lord that he had issued to Joshua.

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1 Samuel 15:17-19, 32-35

Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” … Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” And Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.” But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

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A Conservative Evangelical Explanation of God’s Commanding GenocideFrom Gleason L. Archer, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), pp. 158-159

  • “Joshua was simply carrying out God’s order in this matter.”
  • “The destruction of Jericho [and around 30 other Canaanite cities] was far smaller an affair than the annihilation of … the entire human race” (i.e., in the Flood). [Charles comments: Is that supposed to make this account more acceptable?]
  • “We must recognize that there are times when only radical surgery will save the life of a cancer stricken body.”
  • In every case the baneful infection of degenerate idolatry and moral depravity had to be removed before Israel could safely settle down in these regions and set up a monotheistic, law-governed commonwealth as a testimony for the one true God.”
  • “These incorrigible degenerates of the Canaanite civilization were a sinister threat to the spiritual survival of Abraham’s race.”
  • But Christians should not commit genocide, says Archer, because Christians are superior to Jews: “In our Christian dispensation true believers possess resources for resisting the corrupting influence of unconverted worldlings such as were hardly available to people of the old covenant.”