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September 08, 2011

Comments

Isn't Clay Jones the guy who, on STR's radio show, said something like, "Trust me, you do NOT want to be around animals that are used to having sex with people." So I guess that's why the animals had to be killed.

And now Clay Jones is telling us that it's not genocide if you deserve it.

Malebranche

Where's the contradiction?
Does the word "genocide" apply to animals in your dictionary?

Maybe Malebranche will finally answer the questions asked of him in the other post?

SteveK

The only agenda that would allow for that is the seeking of the truth. I have a sneaking suspicion that with our friend Malebranche there is another agenda in play. When one is convinced that he is already in possession of the truth, why seek it or question the line of reasoning one thinks led him to it. I think that we are laying siege to a powerful fortress whose walls are difficult to breach and many battlements to retreat to. What our friend doesn't understand is that his defenses are also his prison that is short on resources.

Louis,
I don't mind that Malebranche has a different opinion, I just want to know what it is and the justification behind it. If his opinion is that God really didn't actually instruct the Israelites to do what the text suggests, it would be good to know his justification for concluding this. Until he responds, we can only speculate.

And now Clay Jones is telling us that it's not genocide if you deserve it.

Here's a clarifying question for you when we're discussing whether this is genocide or capital punishment: Is it kidnapping if the government puts a person in jail?

Amy,

I wonder how much traction the kidnapping scenario holds in view of rendition? It is conceivable that in some instances it might be kidnapping. Of course, I'm sure that you meant within the bounds of borders and local laws that the government is within its rights to patrol and enforce laws in.
But then again, if the laws of the land are such that they stand against fundamental moral principles and the government is engaging in crimes against humanity, maybe then it may also be kidnapping as innocent people who oppose an unjust regime are hurled into modern day dungeons. It can sometimes be a fine line, but only so with proper justification.

My only purpose is to make the point that it is not kidnapping if the party deserves that punishment from the proper authority. Malebranche scoffed at this idea, basically saying that whether or not a person deserves actions from an authority has nothing to do with whether or not the actions were right. But this is false, as the kidnapping example illustrates.

The fact is that words matter, and just as it's not kidnapping when the government rightfully puts someone in prison, so it's not genocide when God renders capital punishment against the Canaanites.

Now Malebranche can think that the account in the Bible is false and a cover-up, but if one is taking the Bible at its word--or just evaluating it on its own terms, what it describes is a judgment against the Canaanites by God, not genocide.

I think one could say, "Yes, if the Bible is telling the truth in all things, God was justified and did the right thing. However, I suspect that it's really just a cover-up of what really happened. Really, the Israelites wanted to steal their land, so they made up this story to justify their actions."

But one can't say that the Bible itself describes genocide.

A person who said what I suggest above would be making up his own story, but at least he would be clear about what the Bible actually says. Then the argument would be moved towards the right place: What evidence do you have that the secret story you imagine is the one that actually happened rather than the one recorded in the Bible?

Louis,
Amy's comment should be put into the context of addressing M's comment. Is it murder if God orders that someone be killed, or is it capital punishment?

The answer eventually takes you back to Christian theology and the subjects of God's necessarying existence, his Holy nature and moral grounding.

Speaking of grounding, somewhat off-topic, but Wilson has taken it to Hitchens again:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/09/08/simply-incoherent/

I agree with Amy's original position on this. My challenge is directed at a later tactical example of kidnapping by the government and pointing to a possible weakness in it. That's all.

Maybe it's just me, but it looks like Numbers 33 is saying that the Israelites are to drive out the Canaanites. It says nothing about slaughtering them or clubbing their children over the head. (That, I think, comes from Malebranche's favorite Psalm which we have discussed elsewhere.)

Given that the land had belonged to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob before Jacob's hosts in Egypt decided to imprison and enslave his descendants, you could look at the whole exercise as evicting squatters. Granted, no one today would recognize a 400 year old claim to a piece of property...but God, for one, did acknowledge it.

What is NOT described, at least not in Numbers 33, is genocide. It's not even killing. You don't even have cide, forget about the geno. What you've got there, at worst, is ethnic cleansing, though it is actually, as I said, an eviction.

Now it is true that some of the squatters resisted in their eviction, and violence ensued. I could be wrong, but God's commands regarding the violently recalcitrant squatters varied case-by-case. I don't think there was a general command to slaughter everyone.

You do have killing described earlier in Numbers 31 when the Israelites met up with the Midianites. In this case:

  1. There has been a longstanding feud between these Midianites and Israel. Balaam the prophet stood as a central figure in that.
  2. God commands vengeance against Midian for this.
  3. Moses commands that the Israelites go to war to execute this judgment.
  4. The Israelites kill every man who raises a sword against them. There is no indication that Moses ordered this ahead of time.
  5. They spare some women, boys, girls and livestock. There's no indication that this is in violation of any of Moses' prior or standing orders.
  6. Moses subsequently orders that these captives be killed (except for the virgin girls).
  7. Moses has a two-fold motive: first to complete the revenge against Balaam, second to prevent disease.
What we don't have in this passage is God commanding this particular form of vengeance. Now, to be sure, when God demanded vengeance, He probably wasn't asking Moses to send a strongly worded letter to the kings of the Midianites. But it is not obvious that everything that happened with the Midianites was on explicit orders from God. At least, that's not what Numbers 31 says. Most of the explicit orders came from Moses. Though it is true that God put Moses in charge.

Amy,

Well, I guess that depends on what they do. Do they storm a home and indiscriminately take all those in the household, infants included, and put them in jail for life? Yes, that is kidnapping.

Hi WL,

Maybe it's just me, but it looks like Numbers 33 is saying that the Israelites are to drive out the Canaanites
It's not just you.
The Canaanites also had ample warning to move out without war.

What you've got there, at worst, is ethnic cleansing, though it is actually, as I said, an eviction.
Nor is it actually ethnic because converts were allowed not only to remain but to marry in and contribute tot he bloodlines of the Messiah. I think of the cleansing as having more to do with idolatry.

Malebranche,

Well, I guess that depends on what they do

That's a reasonable answer when it comes to the government. But what about God? Could the answer ever be "it depends" when it comes to a Holy God?

I think that we should always keep in mind the clear message of Isaiah 55:8

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."

To hold God to a standard applicable to an inferior creature like man, is totally inappropriate. It is like insisting on hitching a horse to a car with a perfectly working engine. It's ridiculous.

Jonse's asssment is wrong.

He writes:

"After all, the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die."

The only crime for which there is an unequivocal call for execution is murder, the crime for which there is no mitigation or alternative, as per:

God: "You shall not accept indemnity in place of the life of a murderer who deserves the death penalty; he must be put to death." Numbers 35:31 (NAB) full context http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/numbers/numbers35.htm

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