In defending the truthfulness of the Bible, Christians often justify the genocide of Jericho with arguments such as...
|The defense ...||My comments ...|
The Canaanites were totally depraved. God destroyed them so they would not corrupt the Israelites.
Innocent adults were spared (Rahab and her family).
We don't know whether or not there were other innocent adults. We don't know whether all the relatives of Rahab were innocent.
Innocent children will naturally have to bear the consequences of the sins of their parents.
This does not justify murdering them.
God commanded them to execute his sentence of capital punishment on the Canaanites.
The entire population (except babies and infants) were armed and fighting.
Perhaps so. Perhaps killing armed children is justified in this context.
This is just the way warfare was done back then.
This does not justify committing mortal sin.
Perhaps the women and children had already fled the city.
Why was Rahab still there?
The ingredients for a just war; and its limits...
I am not promoting or supporting the Just War Theory; there are many different variations of it. I'm merely using it for purposes of analysis of the events of Jericho and other events of the Old Testament.
In the Jericho incident, the conditions for a just war would not have been met without God's miraculous intervention. Some facts...
One defense of the actions of the Israelites is that they were executing the sentence of capital punishment on God's behalf. Even so, I see no possible justification for the wholesale slaughter of the inhabitants of Jericho. If God wanted to annihilate Jericho, he should have sent an angel to do it.
The massacre of Jericho described in the biblical book of Joshua was clearly genocide...
Everyone was killed, including innocent women and children. I suppose it is possible that the women and children had already left the city, but why was Rahab still there?
Some Christians justify the actions of the Israelites in performing genocide against the Canaanites based on what they claim is a literal interpretation of the Bible. But the moral law is very clear; genocide is never just. A few claims...
God didn't command the Israelites to perform genocide against Jericho: Moses and Joshua did...
These are Joshua's words, not God's. Notice carefully that it never says, "thus says the Lord God".
But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 20:16-18)
These are Moses' words, not God's. Notice carefully that it never says, "thus says the Lord God".
Not everything that Moses taught and commanded the Israelites was from the Lord. And Joshua merely repeated what Moses said.
And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. (Numbers 33:50-53)
Note that God did not command Moses to commit genocide on the people of Jericho, merely to possess the land. They could have done this in other ways...
But God provoked them into a war with Jericho by commanding them to get near the walls and then knocking down the walls, thereby initiating a just war.
God worked out a scheme in which the Israelites were justified in attacking the inhabitants of Jericho...
The LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. . . . When they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. (Joshua 6:2,5)
Since the Israelites were near the city when the walls fell, they would be attacked by the inhabitants of Jericho if they didn't fight. A clever way for God to initiate a war without commanding the Israelites to attack them unprovoked.
Note that God did not command them to perform genocide.
God sometimes blesses the decisions of religious leaders even when they are wrong. There are plenty of examples in the Bible (e.g., David). And there are plenty of examples in church history (even some popes and bishops).
God gave the land to the Israelites starting with Abraham. But the Israelites gave up the rights to the land by abandoning it for so long starting with Joseph's reign in Egypt. They should have returned to the land much sooner, but they got too comfortable in Egypt. They should have remembered God's command to their ancestors that they were to inhabit the land. In spite of this, God was determined to give them the land so he found a way (requiring miracles).
When God seems to do bad things: As judgment for people's wickedness God allows demons access to this world — all they know how to do is steal, kill, and destroy. Because the bad thing happens, it can be said that God does it since he does everything (nothing is outside his will, except evil).
Perhaps the destroying angels in the book of Revelation and elsewhere are not good angels at all.
I killed a mosquito and carefully took a moth outside. The mosquito was the enemy, possibly could transmit a deadly disease; the moth just a nuisance, eating fabric. Surely if destroying enemies is right for us, it's right for God. Also, we must kill to eat; certainly carnivores must.
Did Jesus kill fish to eat? If not, he ate fish that had once been living.
Whether God performs genocide on peoples that corrupt his covenant people? Why would he do this yet allow corruption from within, from the spiritual leaders who bring in spiritually toxic teachings and practices?