Genocide in the Bible and the Hypocrisy of Christian Critique

What kind of calls for violence are found in the New Testament?[1]

Philip Jenkins, author of ‘Jesus Wars’, notes:

“Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.”

Much to my own surprise as a Muslim, I have understood and realized the great deception on display. For many years already, I have read books, articles, and journals from Christians and Jews all spewing the same message, the message that Islam is a religion that promotes senseless violence, bloodshed, killing, and genocide.

However, are Christians and Jews in any position to critique Islam when their own scriptures are replete with calls to, not just violence, but actual genocide?

Consider what Jenkins says:

“By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane,” he says. “Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide.”

It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: “And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them,” God says through the prophet Samuel. “But kill man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom.

“In other words,” Jenkins says, “Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide. And that passage echoes through Christian [and Jewish] history. It is often used, for example, in American stories of the confrontation with Indians — not just is it legitimate to kill Indians, but you are violating God’s law if you do not.”

Jenkins notes that the history of Christianity is strewn with herem. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the Catholic popes declared the Muslims Amalekites. In the great religious wars in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, Protestants and Catholics each believed the other side were the Amalekites and should be utterly destroyed.[2]

Well, it seems that genocide has some roots in the scriptural tradition of Christianity. Christians might complain that the Bible verses commanding genocide are from the Old Testament and therefore have been superseded (or abrogated) by the New Testament and are thus not relevant to Christianity. This is wrong for two reasons:

First, as Jenkins notes, the genocidal passages have been referenced by Christian religious authorities throughout Christian history. If Christian religious authorities cited those Old Testament passages, they must have believed them to be religiously significant and applicable to Christian action.

Second, most Christians today believe that the God of the Old Testament is the Trinity and Jesus Christ is one with the Trinity. Therefore, when God commands genocide in the Old Testament, it is Jesus commanding genocide, according to the Trinitarian logic.

RELATED: Is Islam More Violent Than Christianity?

So whilst the common Christian might argue that Christianity is a religion of peace and love, what we witness throughout history tells quite a different story.

But the calls to violence are not limited to the Old Testament.

Others Examples of Violence

Psalm 139:19

O that You would slay the wicked, O God;

Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed[3]

Matthew 10:34

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

1st Samuel 6:19

God himself will kill tens of thousands if it pleases him: “And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men (50,070)”.

Apologetic Christians in modern times have spilt a great deal of ink trying to re-interpret these passages as being completely pacifist. Are they embarrassed by their scriptures? Ultimately, however, their interpretations are at odds with centuries of Biblical interpretation. Only by suppressing such interpretations can the majority of modern-day liberalized Christendom maintain its blind faith in scripture.

Notes

  1. The collection of the books of the Bible that were produced by the early Christian church, comprising the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Revelation of St. John the Divine.New Testament Authors:Source: http://godisforus.com/information/bible/ntdocs/authors.htm
  2. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788
  3. Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Violence

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. PART 1

    Hello,I am an agnostic and Libertarian and though I don’t know everything,I do know some things about the OT and the order to kill all the Canaanites,etc.From memory, the situation was this:

    1.The Canaanites,and Amalekites and Midianites all,for some 1,000 years: worshiped Baal and practiced Temple Prostitution. In honor of Baal,for 1,000 years they would throw live children(alive) into a burning fire.

    Baal had the Head of a Bull,and the Body of a Man.In Carthage (Tunisia),a Canaanite city also,they also practiced it.

    2.The Amalekites and Canaanites of Saul’s time also sacrificed children.In fact in Judges it turns out that some 14 times: the Jews left Yahweh(apostasy) and changed to Baal( sacrificing children).

    Then a new judge-prophet appeared and converted them back to Judaism.That lasted 400 years.

    3.The action was repeated by the Nazis in Auschwitz:witnesses say 1 time they actually threw 300-400 Babies into the Furnaces there.

    4.Later when there were 2 Jewish kingdoms( that of Israel and that of Judah), the one in Israel(north),capital Samaria: for a while changed to Baal,under Queen Jezebel.

    That was why the prophet Elijah,after winning a contest against 450 prophets of Baal,in the time of Jezebel: decided to kill them all, because they sacrificed children.

    5.The Canaanites at the time of Moses and Joshua, had all heard about the 10 plagues of Egypt.

    How the God of the Jews had beat the most powerful man and nation in the world (then).

    They also knew they were to be punished for child sacrifice and temple prostitution. Yet,for hundreds and hundreds of years more after Moses they continued,they didn’t care. There is more,but that is the essence.

  2. PART 2

    Hello again,here is more info,and I claim not to know everything,but I do know things.

    ABOUT JOSHUA

    Joshua was the leader who in the OT who conquers,kills(or “kills”) the Canaanites. First,he had been a SLAVE of the Egyptians. Second,he had seen the 10 plagues destroy the Egyptians,sent by Yahweh.

    Then in the OT he saw the miracle of being fed every day,freely,by bread from heaven,called MANNA,for 40 years.

    It is in EXOD 16:35:”The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.”

    And he had heard the order by Yahweh:kill every man,woman and child (of the Canaanites)

    The Canaanites were divided into those who occupied Lebanon(now called Phoenicians) and those of what is now Israel. It only applied to the second group. Hebrew and Canaanite ,the languages,are very,very similar,like Spanish and Portuguese.

    PASHTUNWALI

    It is a pre-Islamic custom among the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan: if, even if you are an enemy, if you go to a village and ask for hospitality,they are obliged to give it to you, it is a custom.

    Joshua has received the order to kill all the men,women and children,yet in JOSHUA 9:1-26 we have the GIBEONITES.

    THE LYING AND DECEPTION

    They told Joshua they wanted a peace treaty and that they were from far away,far away. Joshua did it and then discovered their lie,but because of Local Customs, he ignored the order of Yahweh.

    I found that utterly astonishing,Joshua gave Precedence(more Importance) to a local Pashtunwali type custom than to what the God who made miracle after miracle after miracle wanted.

    And the Gibeonites had done it by Trickery and Deceit ( why even bother to respect a treaty with the Gibeonites?)

    That didn’t make sense: there is the argument that “kill every man,woman and child” was in the Middle Eastern tradition of hyperbole, exaggeration. A Christian called Keith Thompson had a blog (it is gone) where he gave,for example, the 3 or 4 non-Hebrew but Middle-Eastern and Egyptian documents where it is said:

    all were annihilated, totally destroyed,etc, and later in other documents we find there were survivors. It was not meant to be taken literally.

    I should have copy-pasted the page.The essence of Thompson’s argument is that the OT says, all were killed,then later it turns out all were not killed.

    EXAMPLES

    JOSHUA 10:40

    “So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings;

    he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed,

    as the LORD God of Israel commanded.”

    JOSHUA 11:20

    “For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts so that they would come against Israel in battle, in order that they might

    be utterly destroyed, and might receive no mercy, but be exterminated,

    just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”

    There are other passages,but later in JUDGES it actually says something that supports the argument the order was said in hyperbole:

    JUDGES 3:1-6

    “Now these are the nations that the Lord left to test all those in Israel who had no experience of any war in Canaan

    it was only that successive generations of Israelites might know war, to teach those who had no experience of it before: the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath.

    They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their ancestors by Moses.

    So the Israelites lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites;

    and they took their daughters as wives for themselves, and their own daughters they gave to their sons; and they worshiped their gods.”

    To be continued,I don’t want to clog the space.

  3. PART 3

    Hello again,since I am an agnostic I admit the Bible has errors and also that DEUTERONOMY was Not written by Moses. I had stated that there is an argument that “kill every man,woman and child / put them all to the SWORD” is hyperbole, equivalent to the hyperbole “annihilate,destroy all completely”.

    It just means “defeat and conquer”.

    COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

    The phrase “kill every man,woman and child / put them all to the SWORD” appears in Deuteronomy and the Deutoronomistic Books:

    1.Deuteronomy ( written in 600s BC -400s BC)

    2.Deutoronomistic books ( all written 630 BC-540 BC ):2.1. 1 and 2 Samuel ( both by the Same Author,originally in 1 scroll)

    2.1 Book of Judges

    3.1 1 and 2 Kings

    4.2 Book of Joshua

    Tradition says Judges and 1 and 2 Samuel were written by the prophet Samuel,which may or may not be true. Anyway, 4 or 5 different authors in total.

    Before getting into the details ( which by the way,would also apply to whether ALL the Amalekites ( men,women and children) were actually killed

    by King Saul, or not ) I have to divert a bit and show that in the OT: you can NEGOCIATE with God.

    ABRAHAM MEETS JESUS

    1.In the OT Abraham saw God in the flesh (Jesus)(in GENESIS 18 ).Jesus tells him he will have a son.

    2.Jesus tells Abraham he will destroy Sodom and Gomora. There must have been something about Jesus’ face,his personality that made Abraham feel he could negociate with him.

    3.Abraham begins an amazing conversation where he convinces Jesus that if 50 holy men are found in Sodom and Gomora….to spare the city.

    Then Abraham convinces Jesus to lower it to 45, then 40, then 30, then

    20 and finally 10.

    JESUS /Yahweh AND ABRAHAM ARE FRIENDS

    In the Quran a Muslim is a servant.or even slave of God,but regarding Abraham, he is called the “FRIEND of God” in:

    1. II Chronicles 20:7

    “Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of

    Abraham your friend?”

    2. Isaiah 41:8 ( here God is speaking directly)

    ““But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of

    Abraham MY FRIEND”

    3. James 2:23

    “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called the FRIEND of GOD”

    MOSES NEGOCIATES WITH GOD ALSO

    Moses is in Mt Sinai,I think for 40 days,and in the meantime the Jews have built a CALF of GOLD and worship it as a god.

    God tells Moses he will KILL them ALL.

    EXODUS 32:7-10

    “The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry down, because your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves! 8 They have quickly turned from the way which I commanded them. They have made a calf for themselves out of metal and have worshipped it. They have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’”

    9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and they certainly are a stiff-necked people. 10 So now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn hot against them, so that I may CONSUME THEM and make you into a great nation.”

    ONLY Moses was to remain alive.Anybody else would have GIVEN UP,God had spoken, it was his will. But Moses convinces God to Not Destroy the Jews.

    EXODUS 32:11-13 ( the argument by Moses)

    ” Moses begged the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out for an evil purpose, to kill them in the mountains

    and to CONSUME THEM FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH?

    Turn back from your fierce anger and change your mind about inflicting disaster on your people.

    13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self. You said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed[d] like the stars of the sky, and I will give all this land that I have spoken about to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

    MOSES CONVINCES GOD

    EXODUS 32:14

    “14 Then the Lord changed his mind about the disaster which he said he would inflict on his people.”

    To be continued,there is more,but I don’t want to clog up space.

  4. Part 4

    Hello again, as I noted before 1 and 2 SAMUEL are by the same author,written between 630 BC-540 BC.

    THE AMALEKITES

    In 1 Samuel 15:1-35 tells of King Saul,with an ARMY of 200,000 soldiers, defeating the Amalekites.And it seems ALL the men,women and children of the Amalekites were killed.

    1 Samuel 15:3, the order is given to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.

    Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants”

    1 Samuel 15:8 says “all his people( NOTE: the Amalekites,people of Agar,their king )

    he ( NOTE: Saul) TOTALLY DESTROYED with the SWORD.”

    THE MOTHER OF KING AGAR( several verses later)

    Notice supposedly ALL the Amalekites had been killed,yet Saul tells Agar ,before killing him:

    1 Samuel 15:33

    “As your sword (NOTE: the sword of AGAR )has made women childless,

    so will YOUR MOTHER be CHILDLESS among women.”

    Agar’s mother,a woman,was still alive.

    BY THE SAME AUTHOR

    In 1 Samuel 15:7-8

    “Then Saul attacked the Amalekites

    all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt.”

    With an army of 200,000 and supposedly killed ALL the men,women,and children.

    YET ( by the same writer)

    Saul has met David,and later David escapes,afraid he would be killed by Saul,and with 600 men:

    In 1 Samuel 27:8

    ” Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the AMALEKITES.

    From ancient times these peoples had lived

    in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.”( the SAME area as in 1 Samuel 15:8)

    They are the Amalekites who are still ALIVE in the SAME region where supposedly ALL had been killed(“Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt”( 1 Samuel 15:8)

    DAVID AND HIS 600 MEN, and the AMALEKITES ( a SHORT time after the 200,000 army attack by Saul)

    Supposedly ALL had been killed,yet in 1 Samuel 30:1

    “David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the AMALEKITES had raided the Negev and Ziklag.

    They had ATTACKED ZIKLAG and burned it, and had taken captive the women and EVERYONE ELSE in it,

    both YOUNG and OLD. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.”

    So Not All the AMALEKITES had been killed.

    So later in the chapter,David decides to attack the Amalekites and recover the prisoner.

    It is evident that for the author of 1 Samuel the phrase “kill,put to the sword all the Amalekite men,women and children”, it was hyperbole for “defeat and conquer”.

    KING HEZEKIAH ( reign 716–697 BC ) AND THE AMALEKITES

    He lived 300 YEARS after supposedly All the Amalekites had been killed.

    1 CHRONICLES 4:41-43

    “41The men whose names were listed came in the days of HEZEKIAH king of Judah.

    They attacked the Hamites in their dwellings and also the Meunites who were there and completely destroyed them, as is evident to this day. Then they settled in their place, because there was pasture for their flocks. 42And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. 43They KILLED the remaining AMALEKITES who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.”

    To be continued.

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