Struggling with the book of Joshua


#1

Struggling with what appears to be a brutal conquest of innocent people?

Lots of smoting by the sword is described. Very violent stuff.

That this is recorded in the bible does show that this is not something they were not ashamed of. Quite the contrary, they were fulfilling a duty. But what is the Catholic interpretation of these events in the bigger picture?


#2

God gave these people 400 years (20 generations!!!! [the time the Hebrews spent as Egyptian slaves]) to repent.

Not until "their wickedness was complete" did God send the Israelites upon them.

As the author of human life, God alone has authority to its ending, whether that ending happens by nature (the Flood) or by other beings (the Israelite conquest).

Shalom, ICXC NIKA


#3

Many of these tribes were practicing the worst kind of pagan rituals including child sacrifice. it was probably more merciful in the long run to put an end to these cultures.

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#4

[quote="GEddie, post:2, topic:313314"]
God gave these people 400 years (20 generations!!!! [the time the Hebrews spent as Egyptian slaves]) to repent.

Not until "their wickedness was complete" did God send the Israelites upon them.

As the author of human life, God alone has authority to its ending, whether that ending happens by nature (the Flood) or by other beings (the Israelite conquest).

Shalom, ICXC NIKA

[/quote]

[quote="Lion777, post:3, topic:313314"]
Many of these tribes were practicing the worst kind of pagan rituals including child sacrifice. it was probably more merciful in the long run to put an end to these cultures.

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[/quote]

These kind of responses baffle me, since we see that the Israelites were also ordered to execute or abduct women and children as well. Surely pagan children were not at fault for what a clerical elite was responsible for in promulgating evil religious practices to the rest of society, and surely mass rapes among their women could not have been just in any way.

I find no way to interpret these passages but symbolically. It's just not reconcilable with a loving God. I have no objection to God allowing or even directing natural disasters, but the genocides described in Joshua is incomprehensible if taken as a historical and literal account.


#5

[quote="EphelDuath, post:4, topic:313314"]
These kind of responses baffle me, since we see that the Israelites were also ordered to execute or abduct women and children as well. Surely pagan children were not at fault for what a clerical elite was responsible for in promulgating evil religious practices to the rest of society, and surely mass rapes among their women could not have been just in any way.

I find no way to interpret these passages but symbolically. It's just not reconcilable with a loving God. I have no objection to God allowing or even directing natural disasters, but the genocides described in Joshua is incomprehensible if taken as a historical and literal account.

[/quote]

I am not aware of God commanding rape. I am aware of the command to exterminate an unrepentant tribe that was a scourge to the Israelites, had fought them constantly, had seen God's power (they would have known of the Exodus), and still did not repent. What is unjust about this? God still allows death and genocide and horrible things. He allows it all to occur, as He could easily stop it but does not. How does this take away from His love? Also, He still is just, as He does punish people directly with death, but it is now eternal death, not just physical death. Again, we must reconcile God's mercy and justice, which are both perfect, and flow from His love.


#6

Big difference between allowing evil to occur e.g. Job and actually commanding Israelites to commit what, if no divine command was given, extremely evil acts.

You honestly think women and children should be put to the sword because their culture raised them to hate/dis-acknowledge God?


#7

The so-called Bible minimalists have shown one way around this. They argue, based on their interpretation of archeological and literary evidence, that the Canaanite conquest either didn't happen at all or on a greatly reduced scale than as depicted in the OT.


#8

[quote="EphelDuath, post:6, topic:313314"]
Big difference between allowing evil to occur e.g. Job and actually commanding Israelites to commit what, if no divine command was given, extremely evil acts.

You honestly think women and children should be put to the sword because their culture raised them to hate/dis-acknowledge God?

[/quote]

Do you honestly believe that physical death is the worst thing that happens? Your opinion is so contrary to orthodox Christianity it is amazing. Who are you to say that God, who is the master of life, cannot take it back any way He pleases? When natural disasters occur, is that an injustice on God's behalf?

Explain to me, then, how myth and legend and symbolism will be distinguished from fact in the OT? Or is it all symbolic?


#9

[quote="PeaceInChrist, post:8, topic:313314"]
Do you honestly believe that physical death is the worst thing that happens?

[/quote]

I think doing evil is the worst thing that can happen, and the Israelites clearly did that. How can you condemn abortionists for killing the unborn if you don't think there's anything wrong with an army putting thousands of women and children to the sword for the sins of their fathers?

Yes, I acknowledge that God is the arbiter of human life. I don't condemn Him for natural disasters or plagues or famines. But I cannot see any reconciliation with the orthodox Catholic faith that God ordered a mass killing of women and children.

I stand to be corrected by any theologian that knows better than I, or any pastoral authority that orders me retract my comments.

Explain to me, then, how myth and legend and symbolism will be distinguished from fact in the OT? Or is it all symbolic?

Firstly by proclamation of the Magisterium. Secondly by the opinions of the Church Fathers, bishops, and accredited theologians. Thirdly by context and reasoning.


#10

[quote="PeaceInChrist, post:8, topic:313314"]
Do you honestly believe that physical death is the worst thing that happens? Your opinion is so contrary to orthodox Christianity it is amazing. Who are you to say that God, who is the master of life, cannot take it back any way He pleases? When natural disasters occur, is that an injustice on God's behalf?

Explain to me, then, how myth and legend and symbolism will be distinguished from fact in the OT? Or is it all symbolic?

[/quote]

By the way, I am aware that there are different genres, and that the Bible isn't a science or history textbook. We must interpret based on genre and assertion of the author. If the books with 'dark passages' have historical elements, and the author asserts that God commanded something, it seems difficult to me to interpret it based on pure symbolism.


#11

[quote="EphelDuath, post:9, topic:313314"]
I think doing evil is the worst thing that can happen, and the Israelites clearly did that. How can you condemn abortionists for killing the unborn if you don't think there's anything wrong with an army putting thousands of women and children to the sword for the sins of their fathers?

Yes, I acknowledge that God is the arbiter of human life. I don't condemn Him for natural disasters or plagues or famines. But I cannot see any reconciliation with the orthodox Catholic faith that God ordered a mass killing of women and children.

I stand to be corrected by any theologian that knows better than I, or any pastoral authority that orders me retract my comments.

Firstly by proclamation of the Magisterium. Secondly by the opinions of the Church Fathers, bishops, and accredited theologians. Thirdly by context and reasoning.

[/quote]

Again, I am aware of genre and assertion. I have not seen any writings from Church Fathers that dismiss these difficult passages as pure symbolism. And it seems to me that the author is not writing in terms of pure symbolism.

Also, you seem to be failing to distinguish between justice ordered by God, and murder with no justification. Perhaps the command of God was exaggerated. Maybe they only killed the men and enslaved the women and children. I have no idea. But it does seem as though the author wishes is to know that the Israelites conquered the Promised Land by command of God. It indeed is also symbolic of the purging of sin, and the damnation of those who reject God. But I have not seen any orthodox apologists here or elsewhere suggest that this slaughter was wrong, and that God didn't order it and the Scripture writer made it up for justification. I would rather accept that than taking these as somewhat historical (it would be much easier to defend), but I am not aware of any Church Fathers or orthodox apologists refuting these by claiming pure symbolism. I would like that very much, though. Could you please provide me some references to reading material?


#12

[quote="PeaceInChrist, post:11, topic:313314"]
Also, you seem to be failing to distinguish between justice ordered by God, and murder with no justification. Perhaps the command of God was exaggerated.

[/quote]

Boy howdy, if 1 Samuel 15 is a historical literal truth, I sure hope "smite Amalec, and utterly destroy all that he has: spare him not, nor covet anything that is his: but slay both man and woman, child and suckling" was an exaggeration.

But it does seem as though the author wishes is to know that the Israelites conquered the Promised Land by command of God. It indeed is also symbolic of the purging of sin, and the damnation of those who reject God. But I have not seen any orthodox apologists here or elsewhere suggest that this slaughter was wrong, and that God didn't order it and the Scripture writer made it up for justification.

I am not supposing that the author "made up" the event, and I'm also not suggesting that he attached God's name to post-facto justify an event. I have no idea what the author intended or what's literal truth. All I have before me is a passage which may or may not be literally true but I cannot morally reconcile with my Catholic faith assuming it is literally and historically true. Thus my natural inclination is to think it may not have literally occurred.


#13

Abortionists don’t get personal messages from God saying that it’s time that His gift be taken away from certain people. I struggle with these sorts of passages as well, so I’m defenitely going to be watching this thread


#14

God is responsible for everything, right? He made it so that people die. Every death, then, is murder, according to your logic.

Also, if God is Justice, then what happens to the souls of those who died will ultimately be just.

Bottom line, I wouldn't worry about the children. They're probably reading the Bible now and saying, "Hey, that was us."


#15

ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/pope-benedict-on-the-dark-passages-of-scripture

This link may help you out a little. :)


#16

The issue is that Israelites were ordered to slay every woman and child. God justified them in putting thousands of women and children to the sword; how can this possibly be literally true?


#17

Reading Joshua, we get the idea that the Israelites killed every body and remained in total control of the land. But it was no so, and the book of Judges is a proof of that. Their life in the land of Canaan was a continuous struggle for survival, and many times they were in danger of being thrown out of the land. Joshua was the conqueror, and the book sing the praises of the conqueror and founder of the Nation (a people with a place of their own).
The people of Israel were a small people living among many other peoples, being influenced by them and, in many ways, behaving like them. Such killings were common in war, and they would remain so for a very long time. The Bible presents the long journey of faith of the people of Israel, in which God takes them forward in a slow pace (the only pace that we can manage). Reading some books of the Old Testament, we may get the idea that God is a bloody God. We need to come to Jesus Christ to fully understand that God is love. In that long journey, the prophets had very deep insights into God's plan of love and salvation. Reading the Old Testament from the standing point of Jesus, we see how the journey was long and how difficult it was for God to guide his people. There is a portuguese proverb that says: God writes straight in crooked lines (Deus escreve direito por linhas tortas).


#18

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

I understand your question, OP. I really do.

I hate human death with everything in me. Human death is for me a permanent faith crisis.

But given that it exists, what difference is there between being “put to the sword” and lying in a deathbed slowly becoming unable to move or breathe? The second is likely to be even more uncomfortable than the first.

In the end, we just have to accept that human death is the will of God (very hard for me) And that whatever physical circumstances accompany it are beside the point.

ICXC NIKA


#19

Here is an article that will help.

christianthinktank.com/qamorite.html

Your might also think of it this way.

Jesus was a part of this whole Israelic process and from the line of David.
Jesus was truely not only God but Love personified.
Jesus is God in the new testament, but also he is God of the old testiment as well, the same God.
"Jesus, I trust in you." precisely because I do not understand.


#20

[quote="fred_conty, post:19, topic:313314"]
Here is an article that will help.

christianthinktank.com/qamorite.html

Your might also think of it this way.

Jesus was a part of this whole Israelic process and from the line of David.
Jesus was truely not only God but Love personified.
Jesus is God in the new testament, but also he is God of the old testiment as well, the same God.
"Jesus, I trust in you." precisely because I do not understand.

[/quote]

Thanks for that link, it really helped me understand. :)


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