Why does God favor Israel and slaughter other nations?

Hello,

I am a skeptic, but I am friendly, so I hope you will be too!

I recently started reading the old testament, and I have a few questions. Forgive the language…I mean no disrespect, but I don’t know how else to ask it.

The old testament is replete with God slaughtering (or assisting the Israelites to slaughter) countless thousands of people from other nations. This is not a matter of the Israelites exercising their free will – God is clearly a participant in many of the wholesale slaughters.

Of all the nations on earth, why does God favor Israel? Aren’t all people His children?

Also, how can a supposedly good God be so bloodthirsty?

Thank you.

I’ll give you pretty much the same answer I gave you on your other question, regarding certain “parts”. . .

God is all good, all perfect, all powerful, and all knowing.

WE are NOT.

What He does is always good. However, since we are not ourselves all good, all perfect, all powerful, and all knowing, WE really cannot adequately judge HIM. A two year old child–even a very bright two-year old child–cannot judge an adult’s actions correctly if the actions are beyond the child’s experiences and scope of knowledge, developmentally.

Now, I know that I myself have never existed eternally, brought forth worlds, created living beings, and specifically every living thing, indeed every single “thing” that ever was or will be. I don’t know everything that ever did, or will happen. All I happen to know is what I, living in 2006 AD in the United States, a literate female, average intellect, college graduate, have amassed over my years, from what I have experienced, or what I have read and understood (hopefully correctly, at least for the most part).

Everybody else is basically in the same boat. To a greater or lesser degree, we have some knowledge, but even the best and brightest of us are limited in knowledge.

God, however, is not.

Whatever He did, is, was, and always will be good. Our knowledge of certain things might (since we are limited to our conceptions of what we think is) make us think that some of those actions were NOT good.

Supposing that you walked into a room and saw a man cutting a woman’s leg, heard her scream, saw him and others then restraining her forcibly while he cut. What would you think–if that was ALL THAT YOU SAW???

Then imagine you saw the whole picture. . .saw the woman had developed an abscess in her leg with threatened septicemia, saw that this “man” was a SURGEON, saw that the woman had been carefully prepared for surgery, sedated, and was being operated upon TO SAVE HER LIFE, for she would have died without the surgery.

GOD knows the whole picture behind why Israel was chosen and what was behind not just the history of the Jewish conquest, but of all history. WE don’t. But, knowing Him to be God, and to be good, we can with confidence know, through faith, that whatever He does, will turn out to be good.

Weren’t all of these other countries pagan countries? They included descendants of Adam and Eve, of course, so at one time they were familiar with God, our Father.

But, evidently, they abandoned these beliefs and turned away from God. Did he send them prophets to warn them of their ways? Probably so, but the bible is primarily written from the Israel point of view, so we don’t spend too much time on their perspectives.

Notworthy

[quote=NotWorthy]Weren’t all of these other countries pagan countries? They included descendants of Adam and Eve, of course, so at one time they were familiar with God, our Father.

[/quote]

But Abram was a pagan before God started talking to him. Apparently, Abram’s family also had forgotten about God.

But, evidently, they abandoned these beliefs and turned away from God. Did he send them prophets to warn them of their ways?

But the old testament is replete with instances of Israel turning away from God. He kept giving them numerous chances, but He didn’t seem to care at all for the other nations.

[quote=FriendlySkeptic]Hello,

I am a skeptic, but I am friendly, so I hope you will be too!

I recently started reading the old testament, and I have a few questions. Forgive the language…I mean no disrespect, but I don’t know how else to ask it.

The old testament is replete with God slaughtering (or assisting the Israelites to slaughter) countless thousands of people from other nations. This is not a matter of the Israelites exercising their free will – God is clearly a participant in many of the wholesale slaughters.

Of all the nations on earth, why does God favor Israel? Aren’t all people His children?

Also, how can a supposedly good God be so bloodthirsty?

Thank you.
[/quote]

Deuteronomy mentions that God destroyed the other nations because they were an abomination, not because of any justice on the part of Israel.

[quote=FriendlySkeptic]But Abram was a pagan before God started talking to him. Apparently, Abram’s family also had forgotten about God.

But the old testament is replete with instances of Israel turning away from God. He kept giving them numerous chances, but He didn’t seem to care at all for the other nations.
[/quote]

One of the things God is doing is preparing the way for His Son. Out of Abram’s seed comes the Messiah. Abram was chosen because he didn’t worship other gods, he worshipped the one true God. Abram had faith in God, that’s why he was considered righteous. Gen 15:6 “And he (Abram) believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

God never broke His covenant with Abram even though Israel turned away from Him numerous times. Its not that God doesn’t care about the other nations, He just has a special place in salvation for the Hebrew nation. From the covenant with Abram comes the salvation of all the other nations. I think this shows God does love all people.

When you read the OT please keep the NT in mind. St Augustine tells us that the NT is hidden in the OT and the OT is revealed in the NT. You can’t read and properly understand one without the other.

[quote=FriendlySkeptic]Hello,

I am a skeptic, but I am friendly, so I hope you will be too!

I recently started reading the old testament, and I have a few questions. Forgive the language…I mean no disrespect, but I don’t know how else to ask it.

The old testament is replete with God slaughtering (or assisting the Israelites to slaughter) countless thousands of people from other nations. This is not a matter of the Israelites exercising their free will – God is clearly a participant in many of the wholesale slaughters.

Of all the nations on earth, why does God favor Israel? Aren’t all people His children?

Also, how can a supposedly good God be so bloodthirsty?

Thank you.
[/quote]

If all your using is the literal sense, you will miss the point. We need to apply the spiritual senses as well. The gentile nations were even more sinful than Israel. Sin must be viewed as something that should be removed like a cancer in the body. Get all of it, or it will reinfect.

[quote=FriendlySkeptic]Hello,

I am a skeptic, but I am friendly, so I hope you will be too!

I recently started reading the old testament, and I have a few questions. Forgive the language…I mean no disrespect, but I don’t know how else to ask it.

The old testament is replete with God slaughtering (or assisting the Israelites to slaughter) countless thousands of people from other nations. This is not a matter of the Israelites exercising their free will – God is clearly a participant in many of the wholesale slaughters.

Of all the nations on earth, why does God favor Israel? Aren’t all people His children?

Also, how can a supposedly good God be so bloodthirsty?

Thank you.
[/quote]

Such incidents concern the economy of Salvation. By that is meant that God reveals Himself gradually to His people according to what they can handle at the time, until the Fullness of Time when He reveals Himself in His Son Incarnate. (If one accepts the Incarnation of God in Christ Jesus, then it follows that to become Incarnate God would necessarily have chosen from one specific group of people, and prepared that people to receive Him. Even if one doesn’t accept the Incarnation as true, one should be able to grasp that belief in the Incarnation necessitates a specific group out of which an Incarnate God would arise.

After the sin of our First Parents, the human race was left with natural law and Angels to guide it. God’s solution was not to deal with the whole human race personally, but to choose an obscure and unimportant and motley race of Semites and reveals Himself to them first, bringing about the Incarnation of His Son from them, and then through His Church to reach the whole human race. As Chesterton wrote, “How odd of God to choose the Jews,” since they didn’t learn very well.

God’s main point of instructing the Israelites first was to impress upon them that He alone was God and was to be loved and obeyed first and above all. But there were a very earthy and stubborn race and learned this lesson with difficulty (in fact, did not really get the point until the destruction of Jerusalem and the Exile).

By obedience to His will they would learn that God personally chose them from among the nations (the rest had only guardian angels over them, but the Hebrews had Yahweh Himself) and that He would bless them if they followed His will. Their entrance into and possession of the Land of Promise and victory over the inhabitants already there would therefore be understood to have been the result of God’s initiative and gift to them and not the result of their own doing or cleverness in politics and war. All other understandings of the value of life would have to be put on hold until they “got” the primary message. The Prophets would serve in doing that later until Our Lord reveals the full understanding.

Some other points:

  1. God is the Lord of Life and History and has the right to take life since He gave it; others don’t have that right, but He does, always has.

  2. Although He did not intend death (it comes as a result of Original Sin, which He permits), He inflicts it or permits it to further His Plan of Salvation for all and each.

  3. This reveals that death is not the greatest evil, but sin is.

  4. It also reveals that God inflicts or permits it, for a higher purpose or greater good - which comes out later, and is supernatural.

  5. When He orders the “herem”, or ban, e.g., to be put into effect, God, of course, eternally knows His Plan of Redemption in His Son. It is in view of that that He orders the “herem”; and it is view of that that the innocent who are killed by the Israelites will be saved.

  6. The enemies of God’s people who are destroyed are also real symbols of evil and sin which Christ destroys at His Sacrifice (applied at Baptism) and of the vices of concupiscence to be overcome by active cooperation with the grace of God in the spiritual life, and the final defeat of ALL the powers of evil and sin at the end of the world. All those things are known by God when He command the “herem” and are spiritual meanings not known by the human writer, who, btw, is usually writing many years after the described event.

Yes, from the human perspective at first glance it looks like God is the bad guy in these instances; a deeper consideration of theology reveals that God’s Mercy and Justice together are infinitely higher Love than man’s reason can guess, and that we cannot water down its fierceness into a bourgeois sense of being nice. “Love is stronger than death.”

God only commanded Israel to eliminate the Canaanites (a Phoenician people) - not all of the heathen.
The Canaanites, like modern Americans, were lovers of atrocities such as sodomy, fornication, witchcraft and child sacrifice, and had earned their own destruction. The Israelites were simply an instrument of divine justice to accomplish that just and worthy end. Who will ours be?

While Israel never managed to finish the job, we can be thankful that the Romans finally did!

[quote=FriendlySkeptic]Hello,

I am a skeptic, but I am friendly, so I hope you will be too!

I recently started reading the old testament, and I have a few questions. Forgive the language…I mean no disrespect, but I don’t know how else to ask it.

The old testament is replete with God slaughtering (or assisting the Israelites to slaughter) countless thousands of people from other nations. This is not a matter of the Israelites exercising their free will – God is clearly a participant in many of the wholesale slaughters.

Of all the nations on earth, why does God favor Israel? Aren’t all people His children?

Also, how can a supposedly good God be so bloodthirsty?

Thank you.
[/quote]

Israel was chosen by God to live in accordance with his laws. They were set aside for they were the only to follow the Lord. God created man kind but they forgot him. God is good, he had to cleanse the land for the people of God to live. He had to rid the people that lived in sin if any people could come to know God. He wasn’t blood thirsty, but it was a necessity. Here is an example, We punish criminals, send them to jail to seperate them from those who behave better and prevent them from persuading others to follow their ways. It is a bad example, but I think you can get the gist.

I find it quite ironic and stunningly annoying that everyone here has said so much about the Israelites destroying the nations of Canaan without mentioning the fact that they also destroy each other. A clear violation of the Ten Commandments as well as the Noahide Laws, with the exception that they did it according to the command of God.

24And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

25And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

26And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

Joshua 7:19-26 KJV

And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one of his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.

Numbers 25:4

Uhhh, the 10 commandment included “thou shalt not murder”. Murder is the killing of an innocent. Which of the victims in these two instances were murdered?

BTW, welcome to the forums, Kemushi!!! I hope your annoyance with us decreases in accordance with your stay!!! :wink:

I guess the point being that God does not always favored the Israelites, with the exception that they carry out his will exactly. And to see that no one mentioned this just irked me a bit. As to me it seems quite important that they would exact punishment and execution on their own in such ways.

They stoned the first guy in accordance with the Law that had been given to that very same generation.

The second group was killed for trying to overthrow the very authority that God had set up in their presence.

I know it’s harsh, but it’s a lesson to Christians that we are killed Spiritually when we sin against God.

Anawim had a good point in saying that the other countries were like a cancer, and that if the Israelites were around them, then they would invariably fall into sin, defying the laws of God.

Even from the beginning, contact with the evil people of the world caused the downfall of the righteous. After killing Abel in Genesis 4, Cain was exiled and “had relations with his wife, and she bore Enoch” (Genesis 4:17). Adam and Eve had another son, called Seth, and Seth in turn had children like Cain had. The line of Seth was righteous, and the line of Cain was wicked. Genesis 6:4 tells us of the mingling of these two lines: “…the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons.”

Up until this point, there had been two distinct lines. The line of Seth were those that “began to invoke the LORD by name” (Genesis 4:26). Cain’s descendants, in their arrogance and pride, built large cities and named these cities after themselves, practicing all types of evil, like Lamech, who “took two wives” (Genesis 4:19).

When the two lines came together and Seth’s line took wives from Cain’s line, evil spread throughout the world. In Genesis 6:5-8, We read about God’s decision to wipe out the world. There was still one man, however, who had “stuck with” God… and we all know that this was Noah.

After Noah and his sons, along with their wives, had survived the flood, they all disembarked from the ark, but everything was not to be perfect. Ham, the son of Noah, sinned greatly and was exiled, leaving two other sons, the most righteous of whom was Shem.

From Ham (who had a son named “Canaan,” as it turns out) came forth those that constructed the tower of Babel, trying to make a “shem” (Hebrew for “name”) for themselves. God confounded their efforts to defy him (they were trying to build the tower so high that, if God tried to flood them again, He would have to drown himself to kill them).

From Shem’s line came Abram, later known as Abraham, and so forth until Moses. Still, even then, the evil of Ham’s line had continued to spread, and many nations had sprung forth from his loins. The Israelites, after escaping Egypt, wandered through the desert, and God tried to build their faith.

However, the people had hard hearts, and Numbers 25:1-5 tells the story of how the Israelites, while living among the evil people, fell into sexual sin and idolatry, worshiping gods other than the Almighty, One True God.

Basically, the reason for God’s commands to kill the people of the other nations is that He was more concerned with the spiritual well-being of Israel (the only nation in the world that recognizes Him as God) than the physical well-being of the rest of the world, who were completely submerged in sin and Yfalsehood.

Yours in Christ,
Daniel

I don’t think it was shown through these books that God “cared” for the spiritual condition of Israel. In many cases the Israelites would plead to God and make a case for using Israel as an example of God’s might in the face of the Egyptians. Which to me seems more a show of power than a caring for spirituality. If such arguments can be the only thing to rouse God’s interest in his “People” I would think he really didn’t care much for their condition, so much as their appearance to other nations.

Another argument was made that the Israelites were God’s chosen people because they were stubborn, but historically it was likely that they were quite savage and hardy on the battlefield. An atheist history teacher even once argued to me that God’s “chosen people” were in fact thought of this way due to their tenacity in war. It was as if they were in fact Chosen by God, they had such fearsome power to destroy.

As for your paraphrase of the lineage of the Israelites, I see the point, that there were “lines of evil”, but I don’t think you made much more of a point other than that. There is no mention of the specific lineage of the people smote, and for all we know they were ethnically/genetically different from these supposed “lines of evil” which you mention (which you seem to imply are the descendents of the families of those original sinners). As far as the influence of other nations, there are many instances where the Israelites sinned all on their own. Hence the example of Achad, also the early Golden Calf, as well as the people complaining of only being able to eat Manna. For a long time they wandered without outside influence and felt oppressed by the laws of God which were so strictly enforced on them. The idea that they defeated other people in the land of the Canaanites was that they might at last INHERIT the land, as opposed to live side by side in any fashion with the original inhabitants, as if they were not true OWNERS, as God had proclaimed they should be. In those days, to Inherit or to Own meant complete ownership, not shared.

in·her·i·tance a: the act of inheriting property b: the reception of genetic qualities by transmission from parent to offspring c: the acquisition of a possession, condition, or trait from past generations

God was teaching Israel to trust in Him. When Israel comes to God with prayers and pleas BEFORE going to war, they kick some serious tail. Jericho, Gideon in Judges, the Amaleks and the Egyptians were proof of that.

But when Israel tries to do things without God’s assistance, then they are nearly helpless. I recall the routing of the Israelites when they were turned back from the Jordan River the first time over “Spy-Gate”. Also Saul the first king of Israel proved time and again what happens when Israel does things without asking God for assistance.

All this was proving to Israel to trust in God and His promises. This, of course, should make Israel “Poor in Spirit”!! :slight_smile:

Oh kemushi…

This is why I love research. OK, check it out…

You assert that the people of God were, in fact, God’s people because they were tough. Well, let’s look at Scripture on this one:

In Genesis 14: 1-12, four nations go to war against five nations, and the four nations end up victorious. It so happens that two of the defeated nations were Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abram’s nephew Lot was living. The four nations took Lot hostage…

Now a fugitive/messenger came to Abram and told him this news. Taking upon himself the duty of a family member, Abram gathered 318 men and pursued the four nations (Genesis 14:14-16). Abram and his 318 won. Do you honestly think that they could’ve done this without the help of God? It does not matter how tough a human is; if God is against them, nothing shall happen in their favor.

The example of the defeat of the Egyptians was given, and it is quite valid as well. However, think about David and Goliath. Goliath was the most fearsome warrior in the Philistine army, and David was some harp-playing kid. Still, because God was with him, he easily slew this most-feared foe.

Now if God cared more about Israel’s appearance to other nations, do you honestly think that He would have kept them in the desert for forty years? It makes no sense… Why not allow them to overtake the people of Canaan the first time they arrived there in Numbers 13? Then they could’ve had towering cities and mighty fortifications, seeming to be the most fierce of all nations. The LORD knew better, and had them live in tents, eating manna and quail, and drinking water from a rock.

Once again, research is wonderful, kemushi.

Read Genesis, and you will see how the names of the evil nations correspond to the names of the descendants of Ham and his ilk. Coincidence? Impossible. Shall I quote it?

Ham’s sons were named Canaan (Canaanites), Egypt/Mizraim (Egyptians), Cush (Cushites), and Put (Putites). Additionally, from Ham came the “Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites…” (Genesis 10:16).

There are more, but I challenge you to find them.

Now, for the influence of other nations…

Interestingly enough, the golden calf has its roots in another nation’s influence on the Israelites. Case-in-point, the Egyptians:

If you study Egyptian gods, you will find that they have one named Apis, a bull god, who was the idol of wealth. Worship of this god involved sexual immorality, as did worship of most ancient gods. An even better reason not to worship idols is given by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 10:19-21, which reads as follows: “So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything? No, I mean that what they sacrifice, [they sacrifice] to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.” But I digress…

As for manna, all people complain, even today. This is not a grave sin, as is worshiping demons through idol worship. Our human nature inclines us to such imperfections as complaining. No one will ever be perfect, but the Israelites were the closest to perfection on earth at the time. All other people were worshiping false gods and partaking in illicit sexual immorality (Sodom and Gomorrah, for example).

So you see, there is solid Scriptural evidence for these assertions, if only one looks. More research, and the confusion will abate…

I am not refuting the holiness of the Israelites, and the holiness of God’s intention for them. I think the point I was trying to make is that the Israelites, whether mandated by God* or not, were committing what would be considered sin under any other circumstance.

  • As for my mention of a holy mandate, I wonder about this, as it clearly shows they cast lots in order to make decisions as to what is gods will. Now there are proofs that these lots turned out to reveal a certain truth, like the theft of the spoils of Jericho, but technically speaking if a person was casting lots today they would be called a new age pagan diviner of the spirits. No where do you see in Christianity anyway a priest casting lots to decide whether or not to rebuild a church. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleromancy

I’m kinda pooped on this conversation however, so I will stop there.

I believe it’s nothing more than a Jewish interpretation of the Israelite calling to lay claim to their own land. It’s their telling of their own story. They therefore portrayed God as their field commander, ordering them to do everything they did, including the perpetration of atrocities. This constitutes yet another reason why the Bible should not be interpretted literally, in every instance.

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