We Hear You -- By: Editors

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 24:1 (Winter 2011)
Article: We Hear You
Author: Editors

We Hear You


My short question I have is, are you aware of any credible archaeological evidence of Canaanite corruption, particularly of child sacrifice, and, if so, what or where is it? The context behind that question is that, years ago I saw a picture in Haley’s Bible Handbook (which is not footnoted and completely untraceable) of an infant skeleton in a jar, which had been embedded in a stone wall, supposedly indicating the child was a Canaanite fertility sacrifice. Recently, I’ve become interested in God’s justice in ordering the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites. So, I have spent some time on the Internet researching Canaanite religious practices. I’ve learned some about Ras-Shamra, which does tell a lot about the Canaanite pantheon. Certainly their gods were erotic and immoral but, in particular, I’m interested in direct evidence of child sacrifice or the like because if there was extra-biblical evidence to support that the Canaanites were “passing their children through the fire of Molech” (e.g. 2 Kings 3:27, 16:3-4, 17:29-33; 2 Chron. 28:2-4; Ez. 16:20-21), I think that would serve as rather conclusive evidence of why God would destroy the Canaanites…

–S. Chisham

A response by ABR staff member Henry Smith, from an unpublished paper, reflecting on the issues of justice and the character of God in the Conquest of Canaan:

1. The relevant Scriptures speak predominantly of the expulsion of the Canaanites, not annihilation. A cursory review of the relevant passages indicates that God gave the Canaanites ample opportunity to flee the land instead of coming under His wrath through the agency of Israel. There is much Scriptural evidence to this effect, summed up in Deuteronomy 12:29-30:

The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”

Note that some inhabitants would be driven out, implying that they would continue to live and be allowed to settle elsewhere. Some would be destroyed. The biblical references show that the primary purpose was to drive the Canaanites out of the land, not annihilate all the people. The implication seems to be that God’s primary intention was to destroy the Canaanite culture, or nation, not the life...

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