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Is there an explanation for the genocides? January 27, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, God, Religion, Theology.
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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?

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1. doc - February 10, 2007

Every time I read in Scripture where God orders His Children to go out and kill others, I can’t help but think that the spirits of those who are slain are actually being delivered back to God as a result of an inability to influence the minds and bodies in which they reside, meaning the Spirit, Mind, and Body were so incompatable that it became impossible for them to unite in any way.

So rather than allowing a spirit to be trapped inside a body which has become totally corrupted by worldly passions (i.e. greed, envy, lust, pride, etc.), thus dooming that spirit to a type of living hell, I imagine that God ordered the death of the physical body to mercifully free the trapped spirit within so that it can return to Him, this being an act of love and compassion in regard to the spirit.

It is as if God orders the chains of bondage to be broken and the dust kicked off the feet of those spirits so that they may become free to express their true Godly nature.

As to the Commandment to not kill, we are not to make that kind of call lest we err in our judgement and destroy someone who does indeed have some union with the spirit, even if that union is expressed as the tiniest bit of that inner spirit, this being similar to the principle discussed between God and Abraham in Genesis 18:24ff.

However, because God knows the condition of the spirit and the body, and because He is the source of life itself, then He has every right to make the call to free a living spirit, especially if it becomes imprisoned within a body that can in no way reflect or express the true nature of that spirit.

So it is possible to view those killings we read about in Scripture as an act of compassion and mercy on God’s part, relative to the human spirit, rather than as a brutal act of violence or vengeance against certain members humankind.

As to why the boys were killed and the girls were not, I can only assume this was a way to increase the population count of Moses’ people (in a patriarchal fashion), so that they might continue to prosper under God’s Guidance.

I need to mention that when we look at Scripture from the viewpoint of the spirit, we should keep in mind that each spirit is born into a body that will eventually die, as well as into a culture that could repress its full expression, meaning the individual would most likely be raised to express the greed, avarice, lust, etc. of that particular culture, as opposed to the more life-giving attributes.

So perhaps God had those youngin’s killed so that the former would not occur, or, similar to when my wife cuts off newly formed rose buds so that the ones on the main stem will grow to perfection, God felt the need to ‘prune’ that particular line of man for similar reasons.

It is also said that we choose how we wish to be born, how long we wish to live, and how we will die: That we choose beforehand all the circumstances of our life on Earth as physical beings.

Could it be, then, that those who are killed so soon after death have chosen such a short path to experience? IOW, maybe that’s all they wanted to experience as a physical being.

Granted, a lot of this is mere speculation and conjecture, but when one views what is occuring from a spiritual standpoint, then no one is really being killed at all. Rather, the spirits are merely being delivered from evil in order to be at peace and one with God.

Again, if we view those deaths from the standpoint of the body, then all we will see is the tragedy of death, and we will weep and moan over what is perceived as a great loss.

But if one looks at those physical deaths from the standpoint of the spirit, then it is a liberating and joyous experience, because the spirit is being freed from the confines of a mortal body which is limited in its ability to fully express the desires of the eternal spirit.

IOW, death can be viewed as a liberating and joyous experience, rather than as the grievous and horrible thing we have been been taught to fear.

But when we have lost our fear of death, and when we can look beyond the grief of our loss and recognize that no one really dies at all, then we are better equipped to know and understand the joys of eternal life.

doc

2. GetReal™ - February 10, 2007

Doc,

I have always admired your desire to be apologetic for the god of the Bible, because I used to do the same thing. However, the more you research ways to defend him, the more I think you start to realize that it’s a hopeless cause – just as I did. You have such a great intellect, and I hate to see your brain going into overdrive trying to figure this thing out to present Yahweh as a civil, loving, compassionate god. It just can’t be done based on what is written in the Bible.

Face it Doc. The men who wrote the Bible just made it up as they went along. They based their writings on the following factors:

1. Religious tradition.

2. Myths and fables.

3. The barbaric and bigoted practices of their culture.

4. Uncivil and cruel forms of punishment that were acceptable in their day.

Doc, this Yahweh god is simply a monster that was devised by religious leaders who wanted to create horror stories in order to control their followers. All of the principles in the Bible are based on manipulative practices that play on the following emotions:

1. Fear.

2. Guilt.

To control people with religion, you mix fear with guilt and you have a very powerful, manipulative force. People have been dominated and controlled by this method for thousands of years. But today we live in a modern, civil culture that can do without all of this barbaric and bigoted bullshit.

Why defend it anymore? It is no different than trying to defend the god of the Qur’an, who is portrayed as being equally murderous and barbaric.

3. doc - February 10, 2007

GetReal™,
It’s not that I’m trying to defend what is written, but to understand it.

The way I see it, emotions such as shame, fear, and guilt do play a great role in the O.T.

However, I am trying to stay away from the idea that they are intentionally used as tools in order to motivate others into obedience.

Rather, I lean towards the idea that the people of the O.T. could understand God in no other way, because shame, guilt, and fear were all they knew.

IOW, they were dominated by those kinds of emotions, and it is those emotions which ‘colored’ their perception of God.

For example, and one which lends support to the view in my O.P., are the verses from Genesis 6:6-7 which state:
“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”

From a perspective dominated by fear, guilt, and shame, it would appear as if life on earth was guilty of something that required them to die: That life on earth needed to be punished in some way by a vindictive God for a major trespass.

But if these same passages are read from a compassionate perspective, then we see that God, Who is a spirit, is upset because His Creations cannot express and experience the wonders and marvels of the spirit, being ‘trapped’ in bodies that are subject to corruption and death.

So in His Compassion, God took it upon Himself to free those spirits so they might know and express their true nature, and He did this by destroying the body.

IOW, He so loved the spirit of man, that it grieved Him to no end that those spirits could not understand and express the joys of the spirit in physical form. So He did away with that form, thus freeing the spirits to be at one and at peace with Him.

But those who are dominated by fear, guilt, and shame, will only see the deaths of mortal and physical beings in those verses, not realizing God was merely freeing up those spirits from their bondage to death’s influence.

In short, God has always been loving and compassionate, but fear, guilt, and shame can alter our perspective in a way whereby all we can perceive is a God who is despising, vindictive and punitive.

And because fear, guilt, and shame pretty much dominated the lives of the O.T. writers, then of course they would write about God as being despising, vindictive and punitive, rather than as the caring, compassionate, and loving God that He truly is.

It is said that we are not just human beings who have occasional spiritual experiences, but that we are spiritual beings who are undergoing a temporary human experience.

So instead of being mortal bodies with an eternal spirit, we are eternal spirits with a mortal body.

Can you see the distinction?

The bottom line is that the body is less important than the spirit which animates it, simply because the body is mortal while the spirit is immortal.

So I like to read the Bible from the perspective of the immortal spirit, rather than from the perspective of the mortal body.

And when I do so, I can envison God as I have done in my OP.

doc

4. Jacob - February 10, 2007

Interesting. I think the reasoning in this passage is that the woman who had slept with men would either be wives of Midianites, or among those who seduced Israelite men. Either way, they were considered guilty, whereas the virgins are not. But I don’t know why Moses considered young boys to be dangerous. The fact that Moses told them to kill little boys but take little girls “for yourselves” is a bit suspicious.

If you’re looking for horrible statements about genocide in the Bible, my favorite is Joshua 11:19-20: “Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.”

5. Roopster - February 11, 2007

Jacob,
Interesting scripture. I’ll add that to my list of scriptures on genocides and killings.
Paul

6. doc - February 13, 2007

Roopster,
While reading through the link you provided above it occurred to me that, similar to individuals who often sacrifice themselves or parts of themselves for the greater good, perhaps humankind as a whole likewise expresses this same principle by sacrificing parts of itself for the greater good.

Heck, even our own bodies eat up, destroy, and eliminate whatever it discerns to be incompatiable with life, this being ‘designed’ into us by Our Creator. So could it be that this principle is expressed throughout all levels of beingness?

And while the article talked about “giving people over to God”, (thus returning their spirits to Him ), it also talked more about those killings in terms of eternal punishment.

Yet IF the latter is true, then perhaps that ‘eternal punishment’ is nothing more than being unable or unwilling to return to or remain on Earth in a corporeal form that would reflect the nature of the spirit.

IOW, it may be that some human spirits are or were wholly unable to express themselves in physical form, and once they have ‘tasted’ life in physical form then they may opt not to ever do it again, choosing instead to forever remain with God as a spirit.

Yet from the perspective of the body, that fate or that choice might seem to be totally unacceptable, horrendous, and even hellish.

One reason why the term ‘punishment’ is used in Scripture, rather than a term such as ‘release’, may be due to certain spiritual traits, such as fear and guilt, which dominated the lives of the writers.

Thus the best term they could conceive of in that state of being would naturally reflect their anger and desire for revenge.

On the other hand, a term such as ‘release’ would stem from the spiritual traits of love, compassion, and knowing that our spirits are always with God even if our minds and bodies are not.

doc


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