Canaanite Genocide.
Moral Problems with the Bible
(Parts One and Two)


Part One.
The Moral Dilemma
Israelite Cities that Committed Idolatry Were Also to be Terminated!
Suffering as a Result of Disobedience.
Descendants of Canaanites and Present-Day Enemies of Israel
The Case of Amalek and King Saul of Benjamin.
Canaanites and Race.

Part Two.
Background: Who Were the Canaanites?
Who Was Canaan?
Canaanite Racial Types.
The Different Twelve, Ten, and Seven-Member  Groupings of Canaan.

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We received a question concerning the Commandment in the Bible to wipe out the Canaanite People.
Actually in some cases the Canaanites were to be killed and in others driven out. They were also to be given the option to leave.
We shall touch on some of this issues.
At all events it is quite clear that under certain circumstances settlements of the Canaanite people were to be eliminated, men, women, and children.
How does this resolve itself with our accept concept of the Almighty as All-Loving and Forgiving?
Also what does the matter involve?
We do not consider ourselves qualified or capable of giving a complete answer but we may explore the issue and learn by doing so.

The Moral Dilemma
Here is an opening discussion concerning the morality of the issue:
We will touch on a few points and then return to it later.
Perhaps some of our readers will also send in their insights?
Should such commandments result in doubt and disbelief?

 I doubt it.
It may be that when learning the Bible one comes across such passages and may raise a brow.
We may be perplexed but not overduly.
Later after becoming a little lax in Bible consciousness we may find our remembrance of these passages a convenient excuse to  adopt a more relaxed attitude in general.

The Sages said that all worship of false idols was at least partially motivated by sexual desire.
There is something in this.
The same principle applies to disbelief in general.
We want other things so we need to weaken adherence to what may be holding us back.
This explains a great deal of Atheism, Agnosticism, and disbelief in the Bible.
A person wants certain things and looks for ways to allow themselves to partake of them.
It may not be the actual deed but even the feeling of being able to do it can be alluring and blinding.

We see from the Bible, history and events around us that disasters happen.
Whole settlements and even entire groups of people disappear.
We can accept the concept that due to sin a people may be wiped out.
This is an act of God.
The Almighty can do what HE like with HIS own.
It may that for some reason God wants us to be the emissary of HIS will.
If God can wipe out whole peoples so cannot we if God tells us to do so?

Israelite Cities that Committed Idolatry Were Also to be Terminated!
We were commanded not only to exterminate certain peoples BUT ALSO whole cities of Israelites if they committed idolatry!

Deuteronomy 13:
12 'If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying, 13 'Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods', which you have not known 14 then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock, with the edge of the sword. 16 And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. 17 So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers, 18 because you have listened to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the LORD your God.

So there we have it.
God commanded us to kill certain people who evil.
If we fulfill this commandment and "listen to the voice of the LORD your God" the Almighty will  "have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers" (Deuteronomy 13:17).

Suffering as a Result of Disobedience.
The Israelites did not fulfill this commandment as we shall see.
They did not drive out the inhabitants of the land. They learnt their ways. They sinned.
They were punished. The world is still suffering as a result.

Psalm 106:
34 They did not destroy the peoples,
Concerning whom the LORD had commanded them,
35 But they mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
36 They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;

And the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they were defiled by their own works,
And played the harlot by their own deeds.
40 Therefore the wrath of the LORD was kindled against His people,
So that He abhorred His own inheritance.
41 And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles,
And those who hated them ruled over them.

Because they would not kill the Canaanites they ended up murdering their own children!
See BAC to Psalm 106 for a related discussion.

Descendants of Canaanites and Present-Day Enemies of Israel
According to tradition many of the most wicked oppressors of the Jewish People came from these nations.
It had been prophesied that if the Israelites did not do to the Canaanites and Amalekites what they had been commanded to then it would be done to them.

Numbers 33:56
55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. 56 Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.''

The Israelites were warned:
If you do not do it them it will be done to you! In some cases, what they failed to do to others will be done to them by those they spared!

Here and there I have read some of the writings of Jew-hating anti-Semites.
I have also taken an interest in the Holocaust.
The Nazis and those who assisted them acted as if they had a religious obligation to kill Jews.
Everything else was considered secondary to that aim.
Some of the Nazi types along with their ideological successors identified with the Canaanite nations and considered themselves to be taking revenge.
The Palestinians today often claim to be descended from the Canaanites.
Some anti-Jewish racist organizations claim that the present-day Jews are really Edomites and/or Canaanites.
These people are probably inadvertently testifying about their own heritage. They themselves are most likely of Canaanite and Amalekite origin!
Here and there we sometimes find similar sentiments directed against the USA and Britain.
Many European, Islamics and other peoples would like to see the English-speaking and related peoples exterminated.
Even amongst the Jewish and American Anglo-British nations we find those who are against us all!
In many cases our worst enemies are our own people.
Who knows if there is not an ancestral explanation for this?

The Case of Amalek and King Saul of Benjamin.
In 1-Samuel 15:2-3, God commanded Saul:

 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

King Saul killed all the Amalekites except their king, Agag (1-Samuel 15:9). The Prophet Samuel when he heard that Saul had been lax, slew Agag:

1-Samuel 15:
32 Then Samuel said, 'Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.' So Agag came to him cautiously.
And Agag said, 'Surely the bitterness of death is past.'
33 But Samuel said, 'As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.' And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

In the interval between his capture and death Agag (according to Tradition) had managed to have intercourse with a slave-girl.
This is what he meant by saying,
# the bitterness of death is past.#
He had ensured his continuation!
Later Haman, a descendant of Agag, attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish people.
cf. "Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite" (Esther 3:1).
Esther and Mordecai were descendants of King Saul. They saved the Jews from the machinations of Haman.
They would not have needed to do so if Saul had have done what he was commanded to!

When Samuel first heard that Saul had not done what he should have, he said:
1-Samuel 15:
22 So Samuel said:
'Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD'
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from being king.'

For further discussion  of this incident and other matters see the BAC (Brit-Am Commentary) to 1-Samuel chapter 15.

Canaanites and Race.
We shall see from further discussion that the Canaanites were condemned because of their deeds NOT due to their ancestry.
The Israelites intermarried with the Canaanites (Judges 1:27-36) .
 There may be some Canaanite ancestry in all (or most) of us.
This is a complicated issue.
The bottom line is that a person is judged according to their deeds.
Some may have it easier than others due to the merit of their ancestors or for other reasons.
Nevertheless we are all able to determine our own fate and should endeavor to do so.
Our ongoing study of the Book of Job explores this and related matters.

Part Two

Background: Who Were the Canaanites?

There were twelve Canaanite Nations.
Canaan was the name of the Canaanite Nations in general as well as that of one specific Canaanite nation amongst the others.
The Amorites were also one specific Canaanite nations amongst the others. The Amorite nation were more predominant in the north and east of the Jordan.
The term Amorite is also used in Scripture for the Canaanites in general.
There were therefore two generic names (Amorite and Canaanite) for the Canaanites as a whole with each one of these names also pertaining to a specific group within the generality.

Who Was Canaan?
Canaan was the son of Ham the son of Noah.

Canaan was associated with the disrespect Ham showed to his father. Consequently Canaan was condemned by Noah:

Genesis 9:
25 Then he said:
' Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.'

Canaanite Racial Types
Historically the Canaanites as we know them were of different racial types.
Those in Israel and Syria appear to have been both of Nordic and of dark Mediterranean appearance.
Amongst the Hittites we find both Nordics, Armenoids, and possibly also Mongoloids.
[See Archibald Henry Sayce, The Races of the Old Testament].
The Phoenicians and part of the North Africans were partly of Canaanite origin. So were some groups in the Caucasus.
Canaanites in Europe intermixed with Germanic and Slavic peoples.
Canaanites also moved to East and West Africa. The terms Guinea and Ghana and possibly also Kenya may be derived from a Egyptian-Hamitic pronunciation of the term Canaan.
Some of the West African tribes had legends tracing themselves to Canaan.
Through intermarriage and possibly environmental influence the Canaanites became associated with dark peoples.
This was not the case at the beginning and does not mean that most dark people are Canaanite but that Canaanites are amongst them.
Israelites also intermixed with Canaanites.
Many of us may (or may not) have some Canaanite ancestry.
Who knows?

The Different Twelve, Ten, and Seven-Members  Grouping of Canaan.

There were 12 Canaanite entities when Canaan himself is considered as one of them..
[Genesis 10:]
15 Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth;
16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite;
17 the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite;
18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite.

Ten out of the 12 Canaanite groups occupied the Promised Land as it is was defined in the promise to Abraham.
Genesis 15:
18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates'
19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,
20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,
21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.'

Out of the ten, seven of them remained in the Land of Canaan proper when the Israelites came to possess it.
It was these seven who the Israelites were commanded  to wipe out.

Deuteronomy 7:
1 'When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, 2 and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.


For More Article in this Series,
Canaanite Genocide. List of Articles.

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