God’s Judgment On The Caananites -- By: Donald R. Rouse

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 10:4 (Winter 1967)
Article: God’s Judgment On The Caananites
Author: Donald R. Rouse

God’s Judgment On The Caananites

Donald R. Rouse

“Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1). “Lift up thine eyes … for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Gen. 13:14–15). With these words to Abraham began an emphasis on the land later known as Canaan which was to become the center of God’s activities throughout religious history.

Abraham was not the first person to set foot on the land, for Genesis 12:6b says: “And the Canaanite was then in the land.” It is quite obvious that the inhabitants of Canaan would exert a great deal of influence upon Abraham and his seed which would inherit the land. It is also obvious that God in His infinite concern for His chosen people would set down certain requirements in the relation of His people with the inhabitants already in the land. It would be necessary for God to make certain decrees concerning the Canaanites.

God told the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites, to drive them completely from the land. There are many theologians who have questioned God’s right to make such a command and the justness of such a command.

Eichorn, a German theologian, ranted: “How impious is the narrative of the Book of Joshua! It makes God not only give away to the Israelites, against all right, the land of Canaan, which the Canaanites as the first occupants most justly held, but also sketch out a horrid plan for its conquest, and directly order the most dreadful bloodshed and the total extinction of the Canaanites. Who can reconcile this with even a partially correct view of the Godhead?”

Horace Cleaver also condemns God for these commands. “The Israelites proceeded in their efforts to occupy Canaan with a ruthless savagery. No Christian conscience can condone their wholesale slaughter of their foes. In many respects they were dropping away from the high level of religion and morality to which Moses had lifted them, and entering upon the Dark Ages of their history. In their ignorance, they believed that the extermination of their enemies was the only way to preserve their religion in its purity. To have lived side by side with those who worshipped other gods, so they argued, would have led to a contamination of their own life and faith. Events were to prove how true this was, but that is no justification of their behavior.”

There are two ways in which the Modernists accuse God of unjustness in His dealings with the Canaa...

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