The Slaughter of the Canaanites – Part 6

Clay Jones argues that Jehovah commanded the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children), but that this command and the Israelites obedience to the command was morally justified because the Canaanites deserved the death penalty for various serious crimes or sins which were violations of the laws of Jehovah. Jones provides a list of the crimes or sins allegedly committed by the Canaanites which were (supposedly) deserving of the death penalty: idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality.
To avoid the INJUSTICE involved in laws subject to being made “Void for Vagueness”, a law must meet at least these three requirements:
R1. The law must clearly indicate who falls under the scope of the law.
R2. The law must state explicitly and definitely what conduct is prohibited.
R3. The law must clearly indicate what punishment may be imposed.
We saw in Part 5 of this series that Jehovah’s laws fail all three tests in relation to the (alleged) prohibition of “idolatry”, and that in relation to the prohibition against “worshiping idols” there is unclarity about what conduct constitutes “worshiping an idol” (R2), and that the scope of the prohibition appears to be limited to the Israelites (R1), and that there is no clear indication in the laws of Jehovah that the punishment for this sin or crime is the death penalty.
So, we can either discard the first item on Clay Jones’s list or else conclude that JEHOVAH IS UNJUST for demanding the death penalty to be used on Canaanites on the basis of the laws of Jehovah concerning “idolatry” and/or “worshiping idols”.
The Sin or Crime of Incest
Let’s apply the three  basic requirements for a just law to the prohibition of “incest” in the laws of Jehovah:
 Q1. Do the laws of Jehovah clearly indicate who falls under the scope of the law that prohibits “incest”?
Q2. Do the laws of Jehovah state explicitly and definitely what specific conduct constitutes “incest” and that “incest” is prohibited?
Q3. Do the laws of Jehovah clearly indicate that the punishment for the crime or sin of “incest” is the death penalty?
Once again Clay Jones has failed to actually read and study the laws of Jehovah before pronouncing that thousands of Canaanites (men, women, and children) were guilty of the crime or sin of “incest” and determining that “incest” was a capital offense in the laws of Jehovah.
As with the word “idolatry”, the word “incest” occurs ONLY ONCE in the entire Old Testament (in Leviticus 20:12)!  No definition or clarification is given in the laws of Jehovah to specify what conduct constitutes “incest”.  Furthermore, the specific example of conduct that is categorized as “incest” in Jehovah’s laws does NOT FIT with the ordinary meaning of the word “incest” in the English language.  This makes that specific passage confusing and unclear, and implies that the Hebrew word that was translated by the English word “incest” had a meaning that was NOT equivalent to the meaning of the word “incest” in English.   Finally, there is no clear and explicit prohibition of “incest” in the laws of Jehovah (a minor detail that somehow slipped past Clay Jones). So, the answer to Q2 is NO, and Jehovah’s laws fail to meet the requirement (R2).
Although the death penalty is assigned to one particular kind of conduct that is categorized by the laws of Jehovah as “incest” (in Leviticus 20:12), this is NOT sufficient reason to conclude that the death penalty is assigned to “incest” in general.  Furthermore, there is no explicit assignment of the death penalty to the crime or sin of “incest” in general.  Thus the answer to Q3 is NO, and the laws of Jehovah concerning a prohibition of “incest” fail to satisfy (R3).
Because there is in fact no general prohibition of “incest” in the laws of Jehovah, there can be no specification of the scope of the persons to whom such a prohibition applies. So, the answer to Q1 is also NO, and Jehovah’s laws concerning “incest” fail to satisfy (R1).
Three swings, and three stikes, AGAIN.  Jehovah’s laws concerning the prohibition of “incest” fail all three basic requirements for a just law, so if Jehovah commanded that the death penalty be applied to thousands of Canaanites in part because of their violation of Jehovah’s laws concerning a prohibition of “incest”, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST.

35. If Jehovah commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in part as a punishment for the crime or sin of “incest”, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because there is no clear indication in the laws of Jehovah as to who is in scope for the prohibition of “incest”.

36. If Jehovah commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in part as a punishment for the crime or sin of “incest”, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because there is no clear specification in the laws of Jehovah as to what activity constitutes “incest” nor is there a clear and explicit statement that “incest” is prohibited.

37. If Jehovah commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in part as a punishment for the crime or sin of “incest”, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because there is no clear specification in the laws of Jehovah as to what punishment may be used for a violation of the prohibition against “incest”.

 But wait a minute.  We all know what the word “incest” means.  The ordinary meaning of this word in English can be clearly and simply defined as follows:
INCEST is the crime or sin of having sexual intercourse with one’s parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.
If Jehovah’s laws prohibit sexual intercourse with a parent, and with a child, and with a sibling, and with a grandchild, and with a grandparent, then Jehovah’slaws prohibit all of the sexual conduct that we now categorize as “incest”.  And if Jehovah’s laws assign the death penalty to each of these kinds of sexual conduct, then Jehovah’s laws assign the death penalty to each of the kinds of sexual conduct that we now categorize as “incest”.  So, even if the word “incest” appeared nowhere in the laws of Jehovah, the laws of Jehovah could still in effect prohibit what we now call “incest” and assign the death penalty to what we now call “incest”.
So, we need to look at the specific sorts of sexual conduct that Jehovah’s laws prohibit and the punishments that the laws of Jehovah assign to violations of those various prohibitions:
Q4.  Do the laws of Jehovah prohibit sexual intercourse with one’s parent?
Q5. Do the laws of Jehovah prohibit sexual intercourse with one’s child?
Q6. Do the laws of Jehovah prohibit sexual intercourse with one’s sibling?
Q7. Do the laws of Jehovah prohibit sexaual intercourse with one’s grandchild?
Q8. Do the laws of Jehovah prohibit sexual intercourse with one’s grandparent?
Because homosexual sex is called out as a separate crime or sin in Clay Jones’s list, and because that will be considered in a later post, I’m going to ignore for now the idea of two related males having sex with each other, and only examine what the laws of Jehovah have to say about sex between a male and female who are related to each other in the ways specified above.
(Q4) & (Q5)
The laws of Jehovah do prohibit sexual intercourse between a male and his mother (Leviticus 18:7).
Although having sex with your “father’s wife” is a capital offense (Leviticus 20:11), having sex with your own mother does not necessarily involve having sex with your father’s wife, because your parents could have been previously divorced.  Therefore, there is no clear and specific statement in Jehovah’s laws that the punishment for a man having sex with his mother is the death penalty.
There is NO PROHIBITION in the laws of Jehovah of a father having sex with his daughter!!
Bible scholar Michael Coogan (co-editor of The Oxford Companion to the Bible) explains why this is the case:
Not all of these prohibitions [concerning sexual conduct in Leviticus 18] concern what we would call incest, sex between close relatives.  As with the seventh commandment, they have to do with property: one man in an extended family expropriating the property of another man in the same family, a woman under the latter’s control.  That is why the list is incomplete according to our definition of incest: sex between father and daughter is not mentioned, because the daughter was the father’s property, as the law permitting a man to sell his daughter as a slave shows. [see Exodus 21:7] (God and Sex, p.109)
In other words, the laws of Jehovah treat women as property owned by men.  Since a daughter was the propery of her father (until she becomes engaged or married) a father having sex with his own daughter does not involve “expropriating the property of another man.”  So, here we have further evidence that Jehovah was a SEXIST who viewed girls and women as the property of men, and thus that JEHOVAH IS UNJUST.
(Q6)
The laws of Jehovah prohibit sexual intercourse between a male and his sister (Leviticus 18:9&11 and 20:17, and Deuteronomy 27:22). However, the laws of Jehovah do NOT assign the death penalty as the punishment for this form of incest:
Commentary concerning Leviticus 20:17:
There was no precedent for a humanly executed death penalty for the offenses in vv.6 and 17-21, so none is given, but the text is confident that God would punish them. (Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible, p.118) 
(Q7) & (Q8)
The laws of Jehovah prohibit a male from having sexual intercourse with a female grandchild (Leviticus 18:10).
The laws of Jehovah do NOT clearly and explicitly assign the death penalty to this form of incest.
The laws of Jehovah do NOT clearly  and explicitly prohibit a woman from having sexual intercourse with a male grandchild (when the grandchild was too young to be held accountable for engaging in prohibited forms of sex), because the laws of Jehovah are SEXIST and wrongly assume that only males can initiate sexual activities.
In fact, for the same reason, the laws of Jehovah do NOT clearly prohibit a woman from having sexual intercourse with her son, where her son is too young to initiate sex or to be held accountable for his sexual activity.  Similarly, Jehovah’s laws do not clearly and explicitly prohibit sex between a woman and her brother when the woman initiates the sex and the brother is too young to initiate sex or to be accountable for his sexual activity.  Because Jehovah’s laws are SEXIST, they fail to deal with forms of incest where an older woman initiates sex with a young boy with whom she is directly related (i.e. her brother, her son, or her grandson).  This is further evidence that Jehovah is a SEXIST and thus that JEHOVAH IS UNJUST.
The laws of Jehovah also do NOT prohibit a male from having sexual intercourse with his grandmother.
However, the omission of this last prohibition could be because people had short life spans in the Ancient Near East, especially women who often died from giving birth to a child, so it would probably be rare for a grown man to have a grandmother who was still living.
Conduct that we consider to be the most common form of incest is NOT prohibited by the laws of Jehovah (i.e. sex between a man and his daughter), and another sort of conduct that we consider to be a common form of incest is prohibited by the laws of Jehovah (i.e. a male having sex with his sister) but the death penalty is NOT assigned to that form of “incest” by the laws of Jehovah.  Furthermore, although sex between a man and his mother is prohibited, the laws of Jehovah do not clearly and explicitly state that death is the punishment for such sexual conduct. Although sex between a man and his female grandchild is prohibited, the laws of Jehovah do not clearly and explicitly state that the death penalty is the punishment for this form of incest.
Finally, the laws of Jehovah have no clear prohibition concerning sex between a woman and her brother, son, or grandson when she is the one who initiates the sexual activity, and the male is too young to initiate sex or to be accountable for his sexaual activities.
Therefore, it is simply NOT the case that Jehovah’s laws prohibit incest in general, if we understand “incest” in terms of the ordinary meaning of the word in the English language, and it is NOT the case that Jehovah’s laws clearly and explicitly state that the punishment for sexual conduct that we consider to be incest is to be always, or in general, the death penalty.
The one form of incest that is clearly to be punished by death, according to the laws of Jehovah, is when a man has sex with his “father’s wife” (not with his mother, but with some other wife of his father), but this sexual conduct would be punished by death even without the law against this form of incest, because this is ALSO a form of adultery. The son is having sex with a woman who already belongs to (is owned by) another man.
So, it appears that the one form of incest that is clearly punishable by the death penalty may be judged by Jehovah to be worthy of death because of special circumstances beyond just the fact of the sex being between close relatives (i.e. this particular form of incest involves adultery – stealing another man’s wife/property).  Thus, it might well be the case that Jehovah does NOT view incest, in and of itself, as deserving the death penalty.

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