No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

What kind of God is this?


Many have talked about the cruelness of a God that would demand the extermination of a people.   Why would God, a God of love, a God of justice, a God of peace, allow for the total annihilation of a people, to include women and children?   Many have and will continue to use this as a reason to prove that Israel, and God were brutal and barbaric.   Was there a reason for this extermination?   Was there a method to God’s decision?   How can one justify God’s command to kill all men, women and children?

The Bible verse in question is Joshua 6:17; ” And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.” [1] The key word here is the word devoted.   In the context of this passage devoted means giving over to the LORD [2] , often by destroying them.   The rest of the command is that only Rahab and those in her house were the only ones to be spared.   The command from God was clear.   This removes judgment from Joshua and places it firmly on the shoulders of God.   Why would God make such a command?

In order to try to understand why God would make such a decision it is important to understand who the Canaanite people were.   Archer makes two critical observations about the Canaanite culture.   Archer states that the Canaanite’s were ” Given over as they were the most degenerate forms of polytheism and sexual impurity, these depraved inhabitants of the land were sure to exert a baneful influence and spread a deadly contagion among the covenant people of God.” [3] .   The Canaanite’s were a depraved society.   As noted by Archer they had a number of god’s and participated in infant sacrifice.   Deuteronomy 18:9-12 describes some of the things that the Canaanites did;

9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. [4]

The Canaanites were the worst of the worse.   Sacrificing children by burning them, sexual debauchery, witchcraft, sorcery, and the list goes on.   Just as an FYI…C anaanite peoples also inhabited Sodom and Gomorra.   In other words, they had been warned and have seen God’s judgment directly on them.   These are the people that Joshua was commanded to destroy.

God had Joshua destroy these people because he could not have them intermingling with his chosen people.   God states this in Leviticus 18:2-4; “I am the LORD your God. 3 ( B ) You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. 4 You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God.” [5] .   He states it again in Deuteronomy 18:9.   This is the reason he gives for driving the Canaanites out in Deuteronomy 18:12.   God knew that if the Canaanites were not driven out they would corrupt the Israelites and would cause them to break their covenant with God by not obeying the Ten Commandments.   God’s assertion ended up proving it’s self out.   While many want to discuss the results of God’s command at Jericho, many do not broach the topic that many were spared and not driven out throughout the region.   The primary reason that God wanted the Canaanites driven out was to prevent the spiritual decline that was going to take place because they were not driven out.   Archers states ” Much of the periodic spiritual decline and apostasy that marked the history of Israel during the time of the Judges is attributable to a toleration of the Canaanite inhabitants and their degenerate religion in the midst of the land.” [6] As it turns out God was justified in demanding that the Canaanites be driven completely out of the region.

On its face there would appear to be very few differences between the call to Jihad, and God’s call to Joshua to annihilate the population of the Canaanites.   However, after a bit of digging there is a noticeable difference between the two.   To be able to compare the two jihad must defined.   Jihad is a religious struggle, a fight against evil, and has taken on several forms in the Quran.  These form would include jihad of the heart, mouth hand and sword.   The Jihad of the sword is the more militant side of Jihad [7] . The goal of God when telling Joshua to drive out the Canaanites, to destroy Jericho was to fulfill the covenant, and to protect his people.   God made judgment upon the Canaanite people, not Joshua or any of the peoples of Israel.   This is the critical difference.   The primary passage for Jihad is 22:38-41 in the Quran.   In reading this verse there is a vague permission to go to war for those who are attacked and definitely wronged.  The general interpretation of this verse focuses on defense.   This defense has taken on the form of defending those who are oppressed, not being allowed to flourish, to “free mankind from the chains of bondage of thought and the bondage of other than thought”< /span> [8] .   This is a stark contrast to the God that declared judgment through Joshua of the Canaanite peoples.   God declares that judgment, and it would appear that Muslims, (according to the Quran) are allowed to pronounce judgment as they see fit.   The passage provides, at best, a vague description for permission to go to war.   This leaves a lot open to interpretation, by men.   The irony is that the very thing they defend (Muslim thoughts, practices, tyranny, invasion, etc…) are the very thing they perpetrate in their “defense”.   The primary difference here is where judgment lies.   In Joshua 6 judgment lies with God, Joshua was the instrument of judgment.   In jihad, judgment lies with the everyday Muslim.   They are in fact judge, jury and executioner…literally.

As a side note we must also take heed to the description of the Canaanite culture.  As you read the description of the Canaanite people did it sound familiar?  It should have.  Are we not living in a culture that is similar to this?  Now God waited 400 years before the ultimate judgement of the Canaanite culture.  How long before we are judged?  Just something to think about…


[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Ibid

[3] Archer, G. L. (1998). A survey of Old Testament introduction 3rd. ed . Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), 247.

[4] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] Ibid

[6] Archer, G. L. (1998). A survey of Old Testament introduction 3rd. ed . Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), 247.

[7] Elass, Mateen A. 2002. “Four Jihads.” Christian History 21, no. 2: 35. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCO host (accessed November 3, 2010).

[8] Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari, ” Jihad The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran, Questions about Jihad”. The Islamic Propagation Organization,    http://www.al-islam.org/short/jihad/ (accessed October 31, 2010)

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