Is there an explanation for the genocides? January 27, 2005Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, God, Religion, Theology.
In an earlier blog, I asked the question “Did God condone and order mass killings?” At the time, I was struggling with reconciling the image the Bible portrayed of God with who I personally believed God to be. However, going down this path leads to either concluding the the Bible is not 100% the Word of God or that God did instruct his people to commit genocide. Over time, I have chosen the former. However, many Bible scholars choose the later. Their explanation centers around the fact that the peoples that God commanded to be exterminated were so evil that they had to be totally destroyed including men, women, children, and even the babies.
For example, in Did God Approve of the Extermination of Humans?, Dave Miller, Ph.D., gave the following reason for these genocides: “The facts of the matter are that the Canaanites, whom God’s people were commanded to destroy, were destroyed for their own wickedness.”
Recently, I restarted my quest to list out all the verses that chronicled these killings. This issue is at the core of a lot of my questions. How could a loving, compassionate God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son command the killings of babies? Since I cannot believe this, I choose to believe that the Bible does not always accurately portray God.
In support of my view, I recently read this interesting passage that calls into question the Bible scholars who argue that it was the wickedness of the individuals that forced God to order genocide.
In Numbers 31 the LORD said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites.” Moses organized an army and sent them out to obey God’s command. The army killed every man including Balaam (more on him later). However, they let the women and children live. This angered Moses and led to 4 of the most disturbing verses I’ve read so far in the Bible.
“Have you allowed all the women to live?” [Moses] asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. (Numbers 31:15-18)
What was different about the young female virgins that did not require them to be exterminated? If all the males and all of the non-virgin females were killed in order to stop the spread of wickedness, why were these female virgins spared and given to the men of battle?