Herem


#1

How is the Bible inerrant if it promotes genocide? See the book of Joshua, and 1 Samuel, especially 1 Samuel 15, where Saul loses his kingship because he refuses to slaughter every last living thing.

There is a significant difference between genocide and the concept of a just war. In the case of the Amalekites, they attacked and killed the Israelites when they were heading to the Promised Land. They were leading source of evil in the world at that time.

You have to take these stories in proper context. In the case of Egypt, for example, the Egyptians were slaughtered - including Pharaoh - when the waves of the sea crashed upon them after the parting of the sea. The Jews saw the dead bodies wash upon the seashore. By the same token, the Egyptians were attempting to kill all of the Israelites at the time. Again, we go back to the concept of a just war.

You are permitted, both as a nation and individually, to defend yourself against unjust attackers. It is not just a permission, but even an obligation to defend and protect yourself, your family, and your nation from enemies that want to kill you.


#2

The Bible is simply reporting on things that happened. That doesn’t mean that it is promoting those thing, just telling that they happened.


#3

In Christianity, we interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. The Old Testament world was a very violent place, and it was because of wicked people. The people that God destroyed in the Old Testament were about as bad as ISIS. So God showed his power first so that people would know that he is the Lord. When the time was right in salvation history, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became man and suffered and died for our sins. And Jesus rose from the dead to destroy the power of death for us so that we may have eternal life if we trust in him.


#4

Good think people don’t go around thinking they’re God’s agents undertaking holy war anymore… :slight_smile:

I guess the only other alternative thinking is that since everyone is conceived in original sin, all humans deserve death.


#5

What?? How dare you blame the victims! I never knew a just war was killing innocent women and children. What the hell is wrong with Catholics??

How exactly were the Amalekites “victims”? The Amalekites attacked and killed the Jews as they were traveling innocently to the Promised Land. The Jews were simply defending themselves. How is defending oneself and one’s countrymen against attack so “wrong”?

Would it have been better if the Jews had allowed the Amalekites to simply annihilate the Jews without a fight? Is that what you are suggesting?

Why exactly don’t the Jews have the right to defend themselves? Pray tell.

Actually, it seems like the Jews were as bad as ISIS.

Hardly. First, the Jews were attacked by the Amalekites, and were simply defending themselves against these hostile aggressors. This is hardly like ISIS at all. There is simply no comparison.


#6

Harem. From Wikipedia . . .

Herem (or Chērem חרם) is a Hebrew word and may refer to:
[LIST]
*]Herem (commercial), boycott, withdraw from commercial or social relations as a punishment or protest
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Herem (censure), expulsion from the Jewish community
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Herem (war or property), a belief that any property imperiling Jewish religious life should be destroyed
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Herem (priestly gift), an object that is devoted to God
[/LIST]

Ndkos. You said:

QUOTE:
How is the Bible inerrant if it promotes genocide? . . . . well I refuse to obey unjust authority, and genocide is as unjust as it gets. Murder is murder.

Well wait a second ndkos.

What is wrong with genocide? What is the big issue with genocide? How do you know genocide is wrong
and “why” do you think genocide is “unjust”?

(Hint: I agree genocide is a big issue, wrong, etc., but I might not agree with your “why”)

God bless.

Cathoholic


#7

Don’t you agree that God has the sovereign right to end any life as he sees fit? Does he need to provide a reason to you to end any life? If you accept God’s sovereignty, there is nothing unjust that you can accuse him off. God holds all things into existence. He can decide not to at his pleasure.

The Great Flood killed a lot more than those you mentioned. In Egypt, God killed off all the first born.

And you see yourself fit to call God a sadistic monster? How are you qualified to judge Him? On what moral grounds do you base your judgement? The created thinks himself qualified to judge the creator?

And how do you understand the meaning of Bible inerrancy? All kinds of sins are mentioned/committed in the Bible. It does not render it not inerrant. It does not mean the Bible teaches one to sin. It means the Bible is an accurate and error-free record of the events mentioned in it.


#8

I don’t agree with that statement. As an example, King David severely punished his own men for dealing too severely with his enemies. But you aren’t looking at the big picture. Whatever bad way that people died in the Old Testament God dealt with them justly in the afterlife. God is the author of life and is fully capable of making things up to us in ways that we can’t even imagine. God isn’t like a bigger version of us. He is infinitely wise and more merciful than humans can understand. For example, there are a lot of people that won’t forgive someone who did them wrong even if the person begs them for forgiveness. God isn’t like that. He is always forgiving to anyone who sincerely repents of their sins, no matter how great the sin is. I recommend watching the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ to get some idea of what God is willing to do for us. When we sin against God the sin is infinite because we sin against God who is infinite. Since we are finite mortal beings it’s impossible for us to make it up to God for our sins against him on our own. So God took it upon himself to atone for our sins. Christians read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. And with Catholicism, we don’t go by Scripture alone. We have Sacred Scripture, and we also have Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. And the Catholic Church has the Holy Spirit protecting the Pope from error when he is teaching under the conditions of papal infallibility.


#9

I don’t mean to simply fob you off with a link, but there are some good resources online which relate to this issue (you’re not the first person to mention it!), e.g.,

youtube.com/watch?v=ulCbh_1SlwE


#10

Does not address the line, “3 Now go and smite Am′alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman,** infant and suckling,**…”

So we have an obligation to kill “enemy babies”?

God ordered Saul, “3 Now go and smite Am′alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling,…”

How is slaughtering babies “defending oneself”?

Would it have been better if the Jews had allowed the Amalekites to simply annihilate the Jews without a fight? Is that what you are suggesting?

What did the Amalekite babies do to the poor Israelites? Are you saying deliberate infanticide is OK if their parents do something bad? Is that what you are suggesting?

Why exactly don’t the Jews have the right to defend themselves? Pray tell.

What exactly is a soldier slaughtering a baby defending himself from? Pray tell.

Hardly. First, the Jews were attacked by the Amalekites, and were simply defending themselves against these hostile aggressors. This is hardly like ISIS at all. There is simply no comparison.

What did these babies do? Cry aggressively? Aggressively poop on the Israelites’ lawn?

Yet we condemn those who today murder others in the name of God, who say that God gave them orders to.

It seems no one here is addressing the OP’s original question re God ordering Saul to kill everyone, EXPLICITLY INCLUDING INFANTS.

All the arguments seem to be either 1. They killed the babies in self-defence, and 2. It’s only wrong when someone other than us does it.


#11

Where is Amalek? Are we Hebrews living in Old Testament times that we have to battle with him?


#12

NDKOS and John ,

Does a paint get to question the painter? Sounds like you two need to look up Pascal’s wager. Then apply that to this. Either choose to believe in God or don’t. If you choose to have faith then look at all the religions and follow the one best suited to you. Christianity is the best for it teaches humility and allows us to partake in the divine mystery of God as adopted sons and daughters of God through baptism and the Eucharist. No other religion offers this. Judaism comes close though as they are our older brothers in the faith.

There is another way to look at this too. If a dr told you, you had cancer and the only way to heal you was to cut it all out. Would you want him to take 90% of it where it could and most likely would return or do you want him to get it all and thus give you a complete recovery?

St. ephrem once said when one tries to describe God one can only stammer. Your applying human logic to the God who is the very essence of to be itself. Following his Son Jesus is the best way and he said the only way to his Father is through him so I recommend those with doubts to pray.


#13

Can’t speak for other churches, but the Catholic Church does not read the command to kill innocents as our separated fundamentalist brothers do.

And it doesn’t matter what any posters say here about God’s prerogatives, genocide is incompatible with God’s nature as revealed in Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment and “ultimate hermeneutical key” to the scriptures. (those are Pope Benedicts words, not mine)

The killing of innocent women and children (or men for that matter) has no place in just war.
The call to completely remove evil from one’s life remains. That is the inspired point of these passages.


#14

Does not address the line, “3 Now go and smite Am′alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling,…”

So we have an obligation to kill “enemy babies”?

Amalek was comprised of the most evil generation at that time. The Amalekites were very hostile and aggressive in their attempts to kill innocent Jews during their tenure in the wilderness. Amalek didn’t just kill any Jew — They specifically targeted the weaker members of the Jews for murder, the ones that trailed behind the rest of the group.

Amalek was a descendant of Esau (Edom), the archenemy of Jacob (Israel), so there is a long history of animosity between Edom and Israel that continues to this very day. The concept of a just war is that you have an obligation to protect and defend yourself against your enemies.

In war, innocent lives are, unfortunately, taken. As history clearly shows, there is no rehabilitation program for evil. A child born to this evil generation would surely be indoctrinated and brainwashed to perpetuate their mass murder of the Jews. (Unfortunately, this sounds all too similar to some other modern day aggressors that have been brainwashed since birth to murder their enemies. Draw your own conclusions.)

If you can logically assume with some certainty that a whole generation will be raised up to continue their murderous, aggressive ways as your enemy, then yes, you do have a right and an obligation to defend yourself, even proactively.

Again, this is about warfare. You are either going to be killed by your enemy, or you are going to kill them. There’s not a whole lot of gray areas when it comes to war. Kill or be killed.

There is another way to look at this too. If a dr told you, you had cancer and the only way to heal you was to cut it all out. Would you want him to take 90% of it where it could and most likely would return or do you want him to get it all and thus give you a complete recovery?

Exactly. If you don’t kill the enemy, the enemy will metastasize and come back worse than it was at first. Christ Himself gives the example of a single demon being removed, and then a multiple of demons come back again a second time to attack the individual. Same concept.

And Christ was not against defending oneself - He actually encouraged his disciples to arm themselves. We might consider what Christ told His disciples in His last hours with them: “. . . But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a sack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one” (Lk. 22:36).

Keep in mind that the sword was the finest offensive weapon available to an individual soldier—the equivalent then of a military rifle today.


#15

Grace & Peace!

Consider this: there is no archaeological evidence that the herem discussed in Joshua and Deuteronomy was ever practiced. Given the location of the herem materials in the post-exilic D(euteronomistic) Source, it’s likely that the idea of herem was a post-exilic fantasy, a literary way of dealing with (and explaining) being a people in exile: we were told to do this thing, we didn’t actually do this thing (compare, for instance, the lists of “cleansed” places in Joshua with those same places in Judges–there’s no sense in the Biblical texts that even if the herem was practiced that was in any way successful), so now look where we are. The literature could also provide an opportunity for the exiles to claim a fictional proxy victory over their captors–it’s a ripping yarn that results in a boost of morale and, at least psychologically, sets the stage for a possible triumphal return to the ancestral homeland, even if the circumstances of that return could never actually look like those described in the literature.

Source criticism can be incredibly helpful in dealing with issues like this: it can prevent us from the sort of moral and rhetorical gymnastics that would attempt to claim genocide as a possible form of righteousness that would obliterate an evil people, an evil generation, or those we would love to deem some kind of human cancer. We’ve all heard these sorts of arguments before in the mouths of those that even the Biblical genocidal apologists would acknowledge as extraordinarily morally compromised (to say the least). Genocide is not righteousness because we, the “good” guys, do it. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that if you’re practicing genocide, you’re not one of the “good” guys. It’s also a pretty safe bet to say that if you’re defending genocide, something’s amiss.

Happily, then, source criticism (and the archaeological evidence) suggests that the herem of the OT was rhetorical. That poses its own interpretive problems, of course. But at least there’s no theological or moral need to actually draw out from this rhetoric any sort of principle by which we can twist ourselves into believing that genocide is okay under the “right” or “ideal” or “optimal” conditions. No need, in other words, to refashion the God that we know to be the God of Love into just another Death God who makes genocide okay because it’s supposedly his righteous will; in fact, the god that would mutter “kill kill kill” from the ashes of history or from the darkest corners of our sin-and-death addled minds is no God at all…

Under the Mercy,
Mark

All is Grace and Mercy! Deo Gratias!


#16

The argument isn’t whether one kills in the name of God. It is given that God commanded the killings. It is obeying his instructions. The Israelites didn’t claim it is self defense. They claim divine commandment. Hence the OP asking how can God do such a thing. It has nothing to do with who is innocent or not. The question is whether

a) God has the right to terminate lives as he sees fit
b) should one obey his command

Obviously we shouldn’t do b if we don’t agree with a. Hence my question to the OP is first determine a. If God has the right, then there is no questioning whether it is murder, unjust, sadistic etc of God to command this act. My assertion is that God has no moral responsibility to keep you in existence or in good health or happiness or whatever attributes one think one deserves. Everyday people die of all sorts of causes. Any of these causes can be attributed to God. People blamed God for letting it happened. God can determine whether one live a day or a 100 years. Should the length of time determines whether God is good or bad?. Should the way one dies determine whether God is good or bad? On what yardstick do we judge the Creator for goodness or badness? And who appointed us judge?


#17

Keep in mind that we all die and that God is the one who set the human lifespan limit at about 120 years. But God didn’t originally make us to die. He originally made us for eternal life. It was the sin that brought death and misery into the world. God is the author of life. Since God is the one who gave us our life and is the one who keeps us alive each moment, he’s the only one who has the right to take our lives. But if we have faith we know that there is more than just this earthly life and that God deals justly with everyone who dies.


#18

Let’s pause right here?
Are you claiming that Catholics are required to accept that God commanded the killing of women and children in a fundamentalist, literalist way? You say “it is a given that this is a command of God” in literalist fashion.

IF you are claiming this literalist interpretation, can you show some support for your claim from current and authoritative Catholic sources? There is a mountain of Catholic teaching that rejects this kind of scripture interpretation. It has been discussed in other threads you’ve been involved in, so there is not much sense in me reposting it.

For anyone lurking out there and wondering…the Catholic Church does NOT promote, proclaim, or endorse, this type of fundamentalist scripture interpretation. We are not specifically forbidden to accept this type of interpretation, but it is not a specifically Catholic point of view, and I think you will find very few Catholic Scripture scholars (people who know what the are talking about) who subscribe to fundamentalism.
Please read what the Church actually teaches through Papal and Magisterial writings.


#19

This is a nice summation of the inspired Truth contained in these passages.

St. ephrem once said when one tries to describe God one can only stammer. Your applying human logic to the God who is the very essence of to be itself.

But God also reveals his Logos, his “reason”, in Jesus Christ. This is not the same as fully comprehending God in his being or essence. A Mystery is not something completely unknowable. Mystery is closely tied to Sacrament. A mystery is something which is reasonable, and at the same time a sign of a much deeper and hidden reality.
God is reason-able. Christ is the Logos of God. Christ is God come to meet us, to show us how *he is *and how we should be, in his image.
See Benedict’s Regensburg address.
If God did not give us his Logos, we would have nothing whatsoever. We would be divorced from reason.


#20

We have done this in a different thread. So I won’t argue with you on this. The OP understood that this is God commanded as I do. If you disagree with his thought, feel free to educate him it that it is not. I have already given to you my reasons for my stance previously. I still stick to them as you do yours. I am taking a literal reading. You have not shown conclusive evidence from the Church that mandated this particular Scripture should not be read literally. I will obey the Church if she says so. But she hasn’t. You are free to show evidence that this particular Scripture must be interpreted in the way you intended.


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