Thursday, April 26, 2007

Awkward Bible Passages Part III

"When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

"However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

"When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls."
- Deuteronomy 20:10-20 (NIV)

For the third installment of Awkward Bible Passages (that's right, the titles use Roman numerals - you did not miss 99 installments), we find the Lord of Hosts (literally, Lord of Armies) commanding things that are better described as immoral and despicable, rather than merely awkward. There is no justifying these words, so let's just look at the laundry list of atrocities. Nations that are far away from Israel get the special treatment of a "peace" option. This means that all their people will become slaves of the Israelites (wait, I thought the moral of the Exodus story was that slavery is bad). If they refuse, the men are murdered, and the women/children/livestock are taken as plunder. I'm going to go on a limb and say that this also encouraged rape - even if they married the foreign women, taking a wife by force after murdering her husband is not consensual in my book.

The nearby nations - six entire tribes/cities are named - don't even get the option of slavery. God commands the Israelites to completely obliterate them, leaving nothing alive that breathes (including women, children and livestock). Fruit-bearing trees are valued above human life, as they can be of use in feeding the Israelites.

The words of a loving God to his chosen people? You decide. Either God did not inspire the Bible, or he is not good at all.


Anonymous said...

You speak blasphemy these are the words of a loving but concrete and firm God whowill punish those who do not follow Him and will cause others to sin

Mark D Worthen PsyD said...

Damn! According to "Anonymous," that brave soul, we have been doing it all wrong! I guess we need to be killing all the Taliban, including the women and children, and chopping down their non-fruit-bearing trees. Quick! Send a memo to W before that Hussein guy becomes President!


Not Anonymous

Bryan said...

So, basically, God's people were smart enough not to be fooled into learning about other gods by the trees, but not the animals (because the trees got to live but the animals had to die). So, god is saying that his people are smarter than trees but not quite as smart as goats.

Anonymous said...

Did they not say that "God will punish those?" I don't recall them saying anything about us killing everyone.

Be a little mature. Jeeze, It is comments like those that makes people assume Atheists are jerks. You don't have to be a smart-alec.