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  • Joshua and the Canaanites

    We've had a couple of rows regarding Joshua and the extermination of the Canaanites.

    Basically God ordered Joshua to exterminate them, and Joshua did. One reading is that this makes God evil for ordering evil, another that whatever God orders must be good. There are probably more.

    But here is the issue I want to look at here:

    God is almighty. This means that if He wanted the Canaanites removed from the Holy Land prior to the Hebrews moving in, He was perfectly capable of doing it Himself. Hey, He could have made sure the Land lay empty until the Hebrews needed it if He wanted to.

    So why order Joshua and the Hebrews to commit such attrocities?

    Certainly it wasn't the only way to get the end result.

  • #2
    Originally posted by punk View Post
    So why order Joshua and the Hebrews to commit such attrocities?

    Certainly it wasn't the only way to get the end result.
    I'll give my opinion. I believe that the battles in the Old Testament signify the spiritual battles that we must face. The seven canaanite nations that God told the Israelites to destroy represent the seven capital sins that we must overcome. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the Old Testament battles and the spiritual battles that we have to face. For example, when God commanded Israel to kill the women and children, this has a spiritual parallel. "Women" represent the occaisions of sin, or the things that lead us to sin. In order to overcome sin, we must be willing to avoid even those things that lead us to sin, which is signified by "women"; the "children" represent small sins, or faults, which we must do battle with and overcome.

    Just as God could have destroyed the seven canaanite nations by himself, and without any effort on the part of the Israelites, so too could He destroy all of our sinful tendencies and/or vices without any effort on our part... but that is not usually the way it happenes. We must fight in order to gain the victory, just as the Israelites had to do.

    The battles in the Old Testament signify this spiritual "fight", and teach us what we must do to gain the victory. Paul said he "chastises his body daily to bring it under subjection" lest, after he has preached to others, he himself should be a castaway (1 Cor 9:27). God will help us, but he requires that we do our part by destroying the "nations" that rise up against us.

    So, although that may not answer your question directly, I believe the battles in the Old Testament are there to serve as a parallel to the spiritual battles that we must endure.

    I read a book years ago called Sin Revisited by Solange Strong Hertz, which draws the parallel between the battles found in the Old Testament and the spiritual battles that we face. She shows how each one of the seven chananite nations represents one of the seven capital sins; and how each of the seven nations have characteristic similar to the seven capital sins. Thus, the battles in the Old Testament show us in a physical way what we must do spiritually in order to overcome our enemies (the seven capital sins).

    It was a fascinating book.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RSiscoe View Post
      I'll give my opinion. I believe that the battles in the Old Testament signify the spiritual battles that we must face. The seven canaanite nations that God told the Israelites to destroy represent the seven capital sins that we must overcome. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the Old Testament battles and the spiritual battles that we have to face. For example, when God commanded Israel to kill the women and children, this has a spiritual parallel. "Women" represent the occaisions of sin, or the things that lead us to sin. In order to overcome sin, we must be willing to avoid even those things that lead us to sin, which is signified by "women"; the "children" represent small sins, or faults, which we must do battle with and overcome.

      Just as God could have destroyed the seven canaanite nations by himself, and without any effort on the part of the Israelites, so too could He destroy all of our sinful tendencies and/or vices without any effort on our part... but that is not usually the way it happenes. We must fight in order to gain the victory, just as the Israelites had to do.

      The battles in the Old Testament signify this spiritual "fight", and teach us what we must do to gain the victory. Paul said he "chastises his body daily to bring it under subjection" lest, after he has preached to others, he himself should be a castaway (1 Cor 9:27). God will help us, but he requires that we do our part by destroying the "nations" that rise up against us.

      So, although that may not answer your question directly, I believe the battles in the Old Testament are there to serve as a parallel to the spiritual battles that we must endure.

      I read a book years ago called Sin Revisited by Solange Strong Hertz, which draws the parallel between the battles found in the Old Testament and the spiritual battles that we face. She shows how each one of the seven chananite nations represents one of the seven capital sins; and how each of the seven nations have characteristic similar to the seven capital sins. Thus, the battles in the Old Testament show us in a physical way what we must do spiritually in order to overcome our enemies (the seven capital sins).

      It was a fascinating book.
      One thing that strikes me about your approach is that it doesn't require that the battles be even historical. The could be entirely fictional and serve their purpose as an allegory for later readers to use in confronting sin.

      In essence they would be parables.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by punk View Post
        One thing that strikes me about your approach is that it doesn't require that the battles be even historical. The could be entirely fictional and serve their purpose as an allegory for later readers to use in confronting sin.

        In essence they would be parables.
        No, not at all. I firmly believe they were historical events. Many things in the Old Testament parallel, or prefigure, what is to happen in the New, but this does not mean the events did not truly happen. The one does not exclude the other. They are most certainly true historical events, but they also signified other things. For example, the lamb that was sacrificed as Passover prefigured "the true Lamb of God" who was sacrificed as Passover. By saying an event in the Old Testament prefigured, or even signified, some thing else does not mean the first event did not truly take place. Rather, I think it shows the depth of the holy Scriptures.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by RSiscoe View Post
          No, not at all. I firmly believe they were historical events. Many things in the Old Testament parallel, or prefigure, what is to happen in the New, but this does not mean they events did not truly happen. The one does not exclude the other. They are most certainly true historical events, but they also signified other things. I think this shows the depth of the holy Scriptures.
          Then I'm confused...

          Are you saying that God set certain historical events into motion so that later readers of the text could then read the historical events as allegory?

          It seems to me that if the text is ultimately read as allegory it no longer matters if the events actually happened.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by punk View Post
            Then I'm confused...

            Are you saying that God set certain historical events into motion so that later readers of the text could then read the historical events as allegory?
            Yes, that is what I think. Like I said a the end of the last post, I think this shows the depth of the Scriptures. There is more to them than what appears on the surface. Not that this makes the surface meaning untrue; it is just that there is more to the scripture than the literal meaning. From the earliest years, Christians have discerned a fourfold level of interpretation to the scriptures, known as The Four senses of Scripture. These four senses, or four levels of interpretation, correspond to the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, as well as our "reason". Our reason sees the surface or literal meaning. Everyone with the use of reason can discern this level. Faith shows us the allegorical sense of the scriptures; hope the "anagogical" or prophetic sense, while charity sees moral sense.

            The four senses have also been compared to the body, soul and spirit, with the spirit being divided into the allegorical and anagogical (prophetic).

            Origin: “For as man consists of body, and soul, and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture, which has been arranged to be given by God for the salvation of men.”

            If you notice, St. Paul constantly interpreted the Old Testament according to the "allegorical sense". You will see this in 1 Cor 10, for example, as well as all throughout the book of Hebrews.

            I'm sure we have all noticed these four levels without really thinking about it. This happens, for example, when we understand something on a deeper level than the surface meaning.

            It seems to me that if the text is ultimately read as allegory it no longer matters if the events actually happened.
            There is no need for an either or. What is contained in the Old Testament (in the Word of God, no less) is both historic, and can also signify other things.

            I think some people have fallen into the error of reading only the allegorical level, for example, and then disregarding or even rejecting the literal sense. This is certainly an error, but it does not mean that there cannot exist more than one level of meaning simultaneously. The Bible is literally true, while at the same time signifying other things.

            Comment


            • #7
              What then of the Canaanite people now set up to be slaughtered so later generations can understand their own conflict with sin better?

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, in God's own words...

                Gen 15:12-21

                12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 And God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." 17 And it came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,

                "To your descendants I have given this land,
                From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

                19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girga****e and the Jebusite. "
                NASB

                God was waiting until the Amorite got so evil, that he would be moved to judge them. Then he used Joshua as a means of judging them.

                He did the same thing with Israel and Babylon.

                God is good and from the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks.
                Matt 9:13
                13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
                NASU

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brother Mark View Post
                  Well, in God's own words...

                  Gen 15:12-21

                  12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 And God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." 17 And it came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,

                  "To your descendants I have given this land,
                  From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

                  19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girga****e and the Jebusite. "
                  NASB

                  God was waiting until the Amorite got so evil, that he would be moved to judge them. Then he used Joshua as a means of judging them.

                  He did the same thing with Israel and Babylon.

                  God is good and from the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks.
                  Well the question was:

                  Why couldn't God judge them personally?

                  Why does He have Joshua do it for Him?

                  The point is God isn't so inept that He needs someone to do it for Him, He could perfectly do whatever judging was needed personally.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by punk View Post
                    Well the question was:

                    Why couldn't God judge them personally?

                    Why does He have Joshua do it for Him?

                    The point is God isn't so inept that He needs someone to do it for Him, He could perfectly do whatever judging was needed personally.
                    Well, here's the answer to that question. Not sure you will like it...

                    Ps 115:3
                    3 But our God is in the heavens;
                    He does whatever He pleases .
                    NASB


                    He can do it any way he pleases. One reason he used Joshua was hinted at in scripture... as an example to us. God was going to judge them and destroy them as Sodom and Gom. But to teach us how to do battle, he used Joshua. Now, our enemies are not flesh and blood. So the book of Joshua can be used to understand spiritual war fare now.

                    Call it anything you wish, but scripture never one time says what Joshua did was sin. Here's an interesting verse in Joshua.

                    Josh 5:13-15

                    13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" 14 And he said, "No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?" 15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
                    NASB

                    God sent his heavenly soldiers to fight with Joshua. God fought for them and all scripture leads credence to what Joshua did. Never one time did God ever chastise Joshua for what he did.

                    Now, we do have an example where Saul disobeyed God for not doing as Joshua did and he was chastised severely.
                    Matt 9:13
                    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
                    NASU

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brother Mark View Post
                      Well, here's the answer to that question. Not sure you will like it...

                      Ps 115:3
                      3 But our God is in the heavens;
                      He does whatever He pleases .
                      NASB


                      He can do it any way he pleases. One reason he used Joshua was hinted at in scripture... as an example to us. God was going to judge them and destroy them as Sodom and Gom. But to teach us how to do battle, he used Joshua. Now, our enemies are not flesh and blood. So the book of Joshua can be used to understand spiritual war fare now.

                      Call it anything you wish, but scripture never one time says what Joshua did was sin. Here's an interesting verse in Joshua.

                      Josh 5:13-15

                      13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" 14 And he said, "No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?" 15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
                      NASB

                      God sent his heavenly soldiers to fight with Joshua. God fought for them and all scripture leads credence to what Joshua did. Never one time did God ever chastise Joshua for what he did.

                      Now, we do have an example where Saul disobeyed God for not doing as Joshua did and he was chastised severely.
                      Let us bear in mind that Saul wasn't chastised for being merciful, he was chastised for killing everyone except the king, and not destroying the livestock (as ordered) but keeping it to get rich.

                      The disobedience didn't arise out of any noble motives.

                      But this isn't about Saul. This is about Joshua.

                      The point at hand is that it was totally unnecessary to make the Hebrews a band of murderers.

                      Did they need to know how to fight?

                      Arguably, no, since God was also in a position to protect them.

                      Heck with God on your side you can live without any weapons in cities without walls and God will take care of you.

                      Any assumption that the Hebrews needed to learn how to fight is odd, since that assumes that God is unabled to protect them.

                      This is essentially the same reason why I find the need to justify militarism (being soldiers and so on) within Christianity to be odd (in fact it looks distinctly like a lack of faith).

                      If God is behind you, what arms do you need? You only need to know how to fight wars if you think you cannot count on God to protect you.

                      Slug, this is your cue...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by punk View Post
                        What then of the Canaanite people now set up to be slaughtered so later generations can understand their own conflict with sin better?
                        I don't think that is the reason they were slaughtered. It just so happens that their slaughtering serves as a parallel.

                        My guess as to why God commanded these people to be slaughtered is similar to the reason He rained down fire on Sodom and Gomorah, and destroyed the world by the flood. I think these people were totally currupt. It's been a while, but I have read about some of the corrupt practices of those people: they practiced child sacrifice, and many other barbarities. God is just, and I think He destroyed them because they were corrupt and deserved to be destroyed.

                        It just so happens that the battles in which they were destroyed parallel the spiritual battles that we face. Maybe this is an example of God turning a negative into a positive. In His justice he destroys them, while at the same time giving us an example of how we must fight our spiritual battles.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RSiscoe View Post
                          I don't think that is the reason they were slaughtered. It just so happens that their slaughtering serves as a parallel.

                          My guess as to why God commanded these people to be slaughtered is similar to the reason He rained down fire on Sodom and Gomorah, and destroyed the world by the flood. I think these people were totally currupt. It's been a while, but I have read about some of the corrupt practices of them: they practiced child sacrifice, and many other barbarities. God is just, and I think He destroyed them because they were corrupt and deserved to be destroyed.

                          It just so happens that the battles in which they were destroyed parallel the spiritual battles that we face.
                          So, if they had chosen to live more righteously we would have been deprived of these allegories about how to combat sin, and God would have had to find somewhere else to settle the Hebrews?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by punk View Post
                            So, if they had chosen to live more righteously we would have been deprived of these allegories about how to combat sin, and God would have had to find somewhere else to settle the Hebrews?
                            I doubt it. If the Canaanites lived righteously, God would have probably found another way to have them leave the land He promised to the children of Israel, or possibly never allowed the Canaanites to live there in the first place.

                            What I think for sure is that if the Canaanites were good and holy people who were trying their best to serve God, He would not have told the Israelites to kill them.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by punk View Post
                              Let us bear in mind that Saul wasn't chastised for being merciful, he was chastised for killing everyone except the king, and not destroying the livestock (as ordered) but keeping it to get rich.
                              Well, the scripture says he kept it to offer sacrifice. But it doesn't matter. He was chastised because he KEPT it regardless of motive. He should have destroyed everyone. The Prophet Samuel killed Agag himself.

                              The disobedience didn't arise out of any noble motives.
                              Disobedience rarely does.

                              But this isn't about Saul. This is about Joshua.

                              The point at hand is that it was totally unnecessary to make the Hebrews a band of murderers.

                              Did they need to know how to fight?
                              Well, according to God, he not only wanted them to fight, but he left some of the enemy in the land so that the children might learn to war.

                              Judg 3:1-2
                              3:1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; 2 only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war , those who had not experienced it formerly).
                              NASB

                              Arguably, no, since God was also in a position to protect them.

                              Heck with God on your side you can live without any weapons in cities without walls and God will take care of you.
                              Slice it any way you want. God wanted Israel to go to war against those that occupied Canaan. When they came upon someone He did not want them to fight, he told them not to do it. Here's an example.

                              Deut 2:9-10
                              9 Then the LORD said to me, 'Do not harass Moab , nor provoke them to war , for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession.
                              NASB

                              God was quite capable of telling Joshua to stop at any point. But he didn't. He not only told them to go into battle, but as the scripture I showed earlier indicated, he actually led them into battle.

                              Any assumption that the Hebrews needed to learn how to fight is odd, since that assumes that God is unabled to protect them.
                              Except scripture says that God protected them through war. Not with chariots and horses, but war. Why? To teach us about spiritual warfare later.

                              This is essentially the same reason why I find the need to justify militarism (being soldiers and so on) within Christianity to be odd (in fact it looks distinctly like a lack of faith).

                              If God is behind you, what arms do you need? You only need to know how to fight wars if you think you cannot count on God to protect you.

                              Slug, this is your cue...
                              Scripture clearly teaches that Joshua was sent to war by God. God even saw to it that some were left so that the sons of Israel could learn to war.
                              Matt 9:13
                              13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
                              NASU

                              Comment

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