Ken, I'm sorry to have to say it, but you have made some serious mistakes in this thread, beginning very early on.
The references in Joshua 10 and 11 in which the Israelites utterly exterminate the Caananites pose a problem for believers, and not just because they are used by atheists such as Richard Dawkins to justify their assertion that the God of the OT is a "tribal, vicious, genocidal deity" that no civilised person should respect, much less worship. There is a problem arising from the fact that in the later chapters of Joshua and the early chapters of Judges, we see clear Biblical evidence that far from being wiped off the face of the Earth, the Caananites were in fact alive and kicking. I have little time for those who talk of Biblical contradictions as they are often the product of a tendentious reading of the text that ignores context and genre, but there is little doubt that a literal reading of Joshua 10-11 is flatly rejected by the later chapters of Joshua and Judges. This tension in the text itself, let alone the moral problem of exterminating innocent children, is one which requires attention.
Joshua 10 and 11 – in somewhat stereotypical language – reports the utter extermination of a number of Caananite cities:
Even that last statement of yours is not actually true (for a reason I give below), but it is at least closer to the truth than your first. The record does not make the generalisation you made at the outset, but is much more specific:
Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. The LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho. And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish, and they camped by it and fought against it. The LORD gave Lachish into the hands of Israel; and he captured it on the second day, and struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.
Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish, and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor. And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. They captured it and struck it and its king and all its cities and all the persons who were in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor, according to all that he had done to Eglon. And he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it.He captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king. Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.
(emphasis added by me)
Note how in the above description, the phrase "all the land" is immediately qualified as to what it means. It does not cover the entirety of the promised land, but only a specific area of it, the territory which was allotted to Judah.
Additionally, it is important to note that these are not all actually Canaanite
cities in any case. Hebron, Lachish and Eglon were ruled by Amorite
kings, as Joshua 10:5 & 12 make plain.
If one reads these verses as plain narrative, then they do claim that the Israelites exterminated the Caananites.
Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire." So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.
Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned. All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. <2>
No they don't. I highlighted the critical words. The record does not claim that Joshua exterminated the Canaanites in their entirety, only that he exterminated the kings and inhabitants of particular cities and areas which are identified, which represent only part of the resident population of the promised land at that time. Besides that, there is the fact that some of the enemy nations also occupied lands beyond the boundaries of the promised land itself. Thus, although many cities in the land were indeed made completely devoid of their former inhabitants - exactly as the record says, no hyperbole need be supposed - it does not follow that this constituted total genocide for those particular ethnic groups, such that any later scriptural mention of them in particular places implies a contradiction.
The problem not only is the moral dimension of whether this is genocidal behaviour, but the contradiction with the rest of Joshua and Judges which plainly refer to a strong Caananite presence in the areas which Joshua 10 and 11 claim were utterly destroyed:
Josh 15:63 - Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.
That is an incorrect interpretation. As above, Jebusites are not classed scripturally as Canaanites, although they are descended from Canaan. This is clear from the following scriptures, amongst others:
Gen 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Ex 3:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
Ex 23:23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
Nu 13:29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
De 7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, 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 thou;
Numbers 13:29 is particularly pertinent because it indicates the geographical distinctions involved, and Deu 7:1 shows directly that the Jebusites and Canaanites, with the five other groups, were considered as separate nations.
Furthermore, when one reads the opening chapters of Judges, one is struck by the fact that those Caananites which according to a literal reading of Joshua 10-11 had been utterly destroyed were very much alive and kicking. The NZ theologian and philosopher Matt Flannagan notes:
The opening chapters of Judges do not describe a land whose inhabitants had largely been exterminated as one would imagine from reading Josh 10-11 as straightforward narrative. Judges 1v29 is representative of this fact:
The problem is that chapters fifteen to seventeen record that the Canaanites were, in fact, not literally wiped out. Over and over the text affirms that the land was still occupied by the Canaanites, who remain heavily armed and deeply entrenched in the cities. Astute readers will note that these are the same regions and the same cities that Joshua was said to have "destroyed all who breathed", left "no survivors" in just a few chapters earlier. <3>
Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer; so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.
That is another basic mistake. The earliest section of Judges is not sequential with the Joshua account, as Flannagan implies, but overlaps chronologically with it. This is obvious from the text, in that within the account of Judah's conquest of his allotted territory is recorded the fearless action of Caleb, the same man who with Joshua and the ten faithless spies was sent to explore and report back concerning the promised land.
Compare this with Josh 10v33:
Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer; so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.
In short, the areas of Canaan which Joshua 10-11 state had been left with no survivors were very much filled with Caananites. A literal reading of Josh 10-11 leaves one with the moral question of whether utter extermination of the Caananites is indeed genocide, while the later passages in Joshua and Judges when read as narrative appear to contradict Josh 10-11.
Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish, and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor.
No, not so. Comparing Judges 1:29 with Joshua 10:33 reveals no contradiction at all, not even an "apparent" one. We are told that Joshua defeated Horam king of Gezer and his people, not at Gezer itself, but at Lachish, where he and his army came up in support of the besiged city. The record makes no mention of Joshua going to Gezer and attacking it and the remaining inhabitants; indeed the very next verse rather tells that having destroyed Lachish, he moved on to Eglon.
In any case, as I said earlier, Lachish was not a Canaanite city, but an Amorite one. Gezer on the other hand was a Canaanite city (Joshua 16:10).
This all illuminates the fact that we ought to read and consider the scriptures with at least as much care and attention to detail as we might give to the words of those who pass (in some cases, evidently, incorrect) comment upon them.
Edited by Mark Taunton, 24 December 2010 - 09:47 AM.