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Did God command genocide in the Old Testament? If so, why?

That is, the deliberate murder of a large group, based upon their ethnicity or genetic makeup

Ezekiel 25:12 - 14

ESV - 12 Thus says the Lord God : Because Edom acted revengefully against the house of Judah and has grievously offended in taking vengeance on them. 13 Therefore thus says the Lord God, I will stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off from it man and beast. And I will make it desolate; from Teman even to Dedan they shall fall by the sword.

Clarify Share Report Asked October 29 2014 Mini pj edelman

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Mini Rob Standford
No, here's why.

First, let's define genocide. Genocide is the systemic destruction of a group of people because of their religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.

Why did YHWH command the extermination of other nations? The Scriptures you gave and more provide the answer.

Deut. 9:4 "4 “Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you."

Deut. 20:17-18 17 “..you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you,18 lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God."

As we can see, YHWH commanded the destruction of other nations because of their wickedness. It was not because of their nationality or ethnicity. 

How wicked were other nations? History provides us with some info.

The Canaanites did many horrible things to their own people. Canaanite families often sold their own daughters into shrine prostitution with or without their consent. Shrine prostitution is where people had sex in worship of their gods. The Canaanites sacrificed their own children and their parents agreed with it. Canaanite priests burned them alive or cut their throats as the parents watched. 

The Babylonians built their empire on conquest. If they lacked resources, they just raided whatever city they could find and killed innocent civilians. Hammurabi did the same. He betrayed his allies by conquering them years later for no justifiable reason.

The Hittites emerged from an area where they had to wipe out civilizations in war to survive or they would get wiped out. Hittites would murder their own family to claim the Hittite throne. 1 king, Suppiluliuma, killed his brother when his father gave him the crown. He also exiled his wife so he could marry a Babylonian woman for power. Later, Egyptians (mother of Tutankhamen) wanted to take his son into Egypt and make him a ruler. He agreed, but his son died. Suppiluliuma accused the Egyptians of killing him without proof. The Egyptians denied it and Suppiluliuma went to war with Egypt as a result.

The Assyrians were very cruel and barbaric. Assyrian soldiers cut off the tongues of their captives so their screaming wouldn't be as loud when they were skinned alive. Torturers then used knives to make cuts on their bodies and peel off large chunks of skin.

Assyrians cut off their captives' heads, ears, noses, balls, gouge out their eyes, disembowel them, etc. They burned women, children, and babies alive. They took the heads and mounted them up in piles.

Assyrians impaled their captives on large spikes. It took days before they died a painful death from having the spikes go through internal organs. At times, the Assyrians shoved spikes through their lubricated rear ends so the spikes would pierce through their internal organs. Sometimes, the Assyrians cut off their hands and feet before impaling them.

The Assyrian ruler, Sennacherib, committed genocide. When he conquered a city, he completely wipe out all traces of it. He tried doing that to Babylon because the Babylonians rebelled against him. Shockingly, it backfired because the Assyrians thought he was out of his mind. They were very outraged. They understood the city of Babylon played an important role in the ancient world with its legacy and riches. His family was so outraged, they simply killed him.

The extermination of civilizations was common in the ancient near east. The difference is YHWH did it out of righteous judgment while other nations did it for sheer pleasure. 

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August 06 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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