God command the Extermination of the Canaanites, Including Women and Children

This is a ‘written sermon’ that I think everyone needs to read and ‘slowly allow to sink into their hearts, mind and spirit’ so that their soul may be enriched with a deeper understanding of the many, many ways He is there for us in our times of need.

God is all Mercy, Grace, Love, but He’s also a God of Wrath. Sin is destroyed in His Presence. God is Holy and darkness is expelled in His the Presence of His Holy Light. It is because of His Mercy why a lot of us is not consumed.

When people lost sight of God and began to worship the planets, demons, and hero gods, they practiced horrifying acts of cruelty, obscenity, and perversion (unnatural sexual acts). Even sons and daughters were burned in the fire (Lev 18:21; 2 Ki 3:26-27; 16:3; 17:17, 31; 21:6; 23:10-11; Chr. 28:3; 33:6).

Seven general sins having death penalty:

1. Incest (Lev 18:6-18, 24-30)

2. Sex relations with a menstruous woman (Lev 18:19)

3. Adultery (Lev 18:20; Ex 20:14)

4. Idolatry (Lev 18:21; Ex 20:4)

5. Blasphemy (Lev 18:21; Ex 20:7)

6. Homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13)

7. Bestiality (Lev 18:23; Ex 22:19)

All “the nations of Canaan” practiced these things (Lev 18:24, 27-29) and for such sins they were destroyed as predicted, and their land was given to Israel (Lev 18:24-30). God warned Israel that He would spew them out also if they practiced the sins of nations that they were dispossessing (Lev 18:28-30). That God did reject Israel and spew the nation out when they backslid and went into the sins of the Canaanites is clear. He raised up sixteen different judges to deliver them from seven servitudes to other nations because of sin.

The laws regulating warfare with the cities of Canaan and the whole promised land were different from those regulating war with foreign cities (cp. Deut 20:10-15 with Deut 20:16-18). Inhabitants of the cities of all nations inside the promised land were to be totally destroyed so there would not be a remnant left to teach Israel the abominations for which these inhabitants were condemned to destruction (Deut 20:18). Fruit trees and crops were not to be destroyed during sieges of cities (Deut 20:19).

In 1 Samuel 15:2-3, God commanded Saul and the Israelites, “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.” God ordered similar things when the Israelites were invading the promised land (Deuteronomy 2:34; 3:6; 20:16-18). Why would God have the Israelites exterminate an entire group of people, women and children included?

This is a difficult issue. We do not fully understand why God would command such a thing, but we trust God that He is just, and we recognize that we are incapable of fully understanding a sovereign, infinite, and eternal God. As we look at difficult issues such as this one, we must remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9; Romans 11:33-36). We have to be willing to trust God and have faith in Him even when we do not understand His ways.

Unlike us, God knows the future. God knew what the results would be if Israel did not completely eradicate the Amalekites. If Israel did not carry out God’s orders, the Amalekites would come back to trouble the Israelites in the future. Saul claimed to have killed everyone but the Amalekite king Agag (1 Samuel 15:20). Obviously, Saul was lying-just a couple of decades later, there were enough Amalekites to take David and his men’s families captive (1 Samuel 30:1-2). After David and his men attacked the Amalekites and rescued their families, 400 Amalekites escaped. If Saul had fulfilled what God had commanded him, this never would have occurred. Several hundred years later, a descendant of Agag, Haman, tried to have the entire Jewish people exterminated (see the book of Esther). So, Saul’s incomplete obedience almost resulted in Israel’s destruction. God knew this would occur, so He ordered the extermination of the Amalekites ahead of time.

In regard to the Canaanites, God commanded, “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” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). The Israelites failed in this mission as well, and exactly what God said would happen occurred (Judges 2:1-3; 1 Kings 11:5; 14:24; 2 Kings 16:3-4). God did not order the extermination of these people to be cruel, but to prevent even greater evil from occurring in the future.

Probably the most difficult part of these commands from God is that God ordered the death of children and infants as well. Why would God order the death of innocent children? (1) Children are not innocent (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). (2) These children would have likely grown up as adherents to the evil religions and practices of their parents. (3) (3) These children would naturally have grown up resentful of the Israelites and later sought to avenge the “unjust” treatment of their parents.

Again, this answer does not completely deal with all the issues. Our focus should be on trusting God even when we do not understand His ways. We also must remember that God looks at things from an eternal perspective and that His ways are higher than our ways. God is just, righteous, holy, loving, merciful, and gracious. How His attributes work together can be a mystery to us – but that does not mean that He is not who the Bible proclaims Him to be

In the Old Testament, God did indeed order the annihilation of the Canaanite tribes in the cities He had given to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). These Canaanites appear to have been involved in abominable practices that God feared would be adopted by His people were they to be allowed to in any way mix with the Israelites. Some of the practices included promiscuity, ritual temple prostitution as a form of worship of their gods, child sacrifice, ritual incest, bestiality, witchcraft, astrology and so on (Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and Leviticus 18).

The Greek historian Herodotus (not in the bible) indicated that the people of those regions “have sexual intercourse openly like cattle”. So you can imagine that God felt that the Israelites would adopt these evil practices if He allowed the Canaanites to live among His chosen people. (Exodus 23:33). Now, it must be noted that God did not despise the Canaanite RACES but rather the Canaanite PRACTICES. In fact, during the times that the Israelites went astray and chose to adopt some of these idolatrous and immoral practices,they would endure plagues, or be attacked by Canaanites and others, sometimes they were decimated by war or enslaved by foreign tribes until the surviving remnant repented then they would be restored once more. (Judges and Jeremiah 44.)

God command the Extermination of the CanaanitesThis happened several times, until God finally decided (as he had done to the Canaanites), to utterly destroy the nations of Israel and Judah through the Assyrians and the Babylonians by 586 BC. Ever since that time, Israel was not a proper nation again until recently in 1948 AD. Remnants of Israelites remained in the region and all over the world and were always distinguished from the other tribes by their monotheistic practices (one God), their refusal to fashion any representation of their God in the form of an idol or carving, their dietary practices and their circumcision. Finally, it must be noted that God kept His promise to Abraham that ALL nations of the world will be blessed (Genesis 22:18) under his plan for humanity because there are several Canaanites and other foreigners in the genealogy of Christ listed in Matthew 1. Firstly, the wives of Israel (Jacob) were Syrians; Leah and Rachel, that is. Judah, the son who formed the most important tribe of Israel (the Chaldean “nickname” Jews is derived from Judah’s name) had a child with the Canaanite woman Tamar so she is effectively the mother of the tribe of Judah. Rahab the Canaanite woman from Jericho is also named in the genealogy. Ruth the Moabitess woman is also in the genealogy.

So effectively, King David’s great grandmother was a Moabitess and his great great grandmother was the Canaanitess Rahab. Solomon’s wife and mother of his heir to the throne Rehoboam was an Ammonite, yet the Ammonites were among the most detestable tribes with their god Molech who demanded child sacrifice. During the time of King David, we see that he murders one of his mighty men, Uriah the Hittite for his wife Bathsheba. The Hittites were amongst the most hated foreign tribes yet God almost destroyed David’s reign because of what he did to this Hittite man (2 Samuel 12 and 15 and 16). The wife of Joseph and mother of the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh was an Egyptian woman. These are just a few notable foreigners in Jewish ancestry. Among other notable non-Jews who experienced God’s favor are: Naaman the Syrian General, Moses’ wife was an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12), Obed-Edom the Gittite /Philistine (2 Samuel 6:11). God’s favour was on all those who worshipped Him, regardless of origin, and His punishment fell upon all those who engaged in abominable practices, Israelite and Canaanite alike.

God gets no pleasure when he destroys man. He always offers an alternative to judgement. God brought ten plagues to Egypt, nine of which were just “nasty”. There was no loss of life. Due to there stubbornness, the last plague resulted in death. God gave the people of Jericho two choices, leave or perish. Co-habitation with the hebrews was not an option. Joshua circled Jericho once a day for seven days. The Talmud teaches us that Joshua was commanded by God to allow the inhabitants of Jericho to leave, unharmed, anytime during that time.

They perish due to there own stubbornness. God felt the same compassion for those people as we feel for them now. It is hard for you and I to realize there are far worse things then death, that is eternal suffering. Think of it as if you brought your herd of sheep into an area with which is home to wolves. You don’t hate the wolves. You don’t want harm to come to them, but if they remain your herd of sheep will be totally destroyed. So you do your best to get them out of the area. If they refuse to leave, they will have to be destroyed, puppies include. Not a pleasant task. That is what God was faced with. He choose to protect his chosen people.

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