bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 12: Playing For All the Marbles

WILLIAM CRAIG ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN
Before I examine the question of whether the Old Testament clearly indicates that ALL of the peoples living in the towns of the Promised Land regularly and frequently practiced child sacrifice in the decades prior to the (alleged) Conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites, I’m going to take a look at what William Lane Craig says about the significance of the issue of the command of Jehovah to Joshua and the Israelites to MERCILESS SLAUGHTER every elderly man and woman, every husband and wife, every mother and father, every teenager, every child, and every baby in every town in the Promised Land.
Back in 2007, William Lane Craig, a prominent Christian apologist, argued that what was at stake in this issue was the belief of most Evagelical Christians that the Bible is without any errors (biblical inerrancy):

So then what is Yahweh doing in commanding Israel’s armies to exterminate the Canaanite peoples? … How can He command soldiers to slaughter children?

Now before attempting to say something by way of answer to this difficult question, we should do well first to pause and ask ourselves what is at stake here. Suppose we agree that if God (who is perfectly good) exists, He could not have issued such a command. What follows? That Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? That God does not exist? Hardly! So what is the problem supposed to be?
[…]
The problem, it seems to me, is that if God could not have issued such a command, then the biblical stories must be false. Either the incidents never really happened but are just Israeli folklore; or else, if they did, then Israel, carried away in a fit of nationalistic fervor, thinking that God was on their side, claimed that God had commanded them to commit these atrocities, when in fact He had not. In other words, this problem is really an objection to biblical inerrancy.   

( from: #16 Slaughter of the Canaanites, by William Craig, emphasis added)
Craig makes it clear that the most basic Christian beliefs are left untouched by this objection against the morality of the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every single human person in every single town in the Promised Land:

The question of biblical inerrancy is an important one, but it’s not like the existence of God or the deity of Christ! If we Christians can’t find a good answer to the question before us and are, moreover, persuaded that such a command is inconsistent with God’s nature, then we’ll have to give up biblical inerrancy. But we shouldn’t let the unbeliever raising this question get away with thinking that it implies more than it does.

( from: #16 Slaughter of the Canaanites, by William Craig, emphasis added)

Game of Marbles, Karol D. Witkowski
I’M PLAYING FOR ALL THE MARBLES
Craig is wrong.  This skeptical objection is NOT simply an objection to the belief of many Evangelical Christians that the Bible is without any errors.  This objection provides a good reason to REJECT CHRISTIANITY as a FALSE RELIGION.  In other words, with this objection skeptics are playing for ALL the marbles, not just for the one marble of biblical inerrancy.  If Christian believers and apologists loose this game, then they loose all the marbles, and the Christian faith is destroyed, or at least very seriously damaged.
 
THAT GOD CANNOT ISSUE SUCH A COMMAND DOES NOT SHOW THE STORY OF THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN TO BE FALSE
Let’s start with a key claim made by Craig:

The problem, it seems to me, is that if God could not have issued such a command, then the biblical stories must be false.

I disagree.  There is a very clear possibility in which it could be the case that BOTH (a) God could not have issued such a command, and yet (b) the biblical stories about the Conquest of Canaan are true.  The fact that Craig FAILS to recognize this possibility casts doubt on his line of reasoning about the significance of the OT story about the Conquest of Canaan.  Here is how BOTH (a) and (b) could be the case:

Jehovah really did command Moses and Joshua and the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single person in every single town in the Promised Land, and Joshua really did lead the army of the Israelites to carry out this command.  However, Jehovah is NOT God.  Jehovah is a DEMONIC spirit.  Since, Jehovah is NOT God, it could well also be the case that God (who is perfectly good) would never even consider issuing such a horrible command to anyone.

(Alternatively, Jehovah could be a finite deity, like Zeus, who has some serious moral flaws, anger-management issues, and a strong tendency towards violence and bloodshed.)
In the above described scenario, the OT accounts about Jehovah commanding MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the Canaanites, and Joshua and the Israelites carrying out this command, would be completely accurate historical accounts of actual people and events.
So, Craig FAILED to notice this fairly obvious possibility, and thus his initial premise appears to be FALSE.  Craig seems to have confused the claim that “God commanded the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER…” with the claim that “Jehovah commanded the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER…”
 
EITHER THE INCIDENTS NEVER HAPPENED OR THE ISRAELITES FALSELY CLAIMED TO BE FOLLOWING GOD’S COMMAND
Here is the next key claim made by Craig:

Either the incidents never really happened but are just Israeli folklore; or else, if they did, then Israel, carried away in a fit of nationalistic fervor, thinking that God was on their side, claimed that God had commanded them to commit these atrocities, when in fact He had not.

Here Craig is attempting to construct a dilemma, where we are forced to choose between two alternatives.  But there is vagueness in both lemmas, and this vagueness makes it difficult to evaluate the truth of this alleged dilemma.  Everything hinges on the meaning of his phrase “the incidents never really happened” as contrasted with the equally vague phrase “or else, if they did…”.  Unless we can clarify the meaning of these vague phrases, it is not possible to rationally evaluate this key claim in Craig’s reasoning.
One of the “incidents” that Craig might have in mind is that “God commanded them to commit these atrocities”.  In other words: “God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single person in every single town in the Promised Land”.  We have already seen that this claim is ambiguous, or rather, that it is unclear which of two alternative claims is asserted by the OT stories:  “Jehovah commanded Joshua….”  vs.  “God commanded Joshua…”.  (And, it is possible that both of these claims are made by the OT.)
There are also the “incidents” of Joshua and the army of the Israelites carrying out this (alleged) command by Jehovah.  We can summarize those various incidents into one statement: “Joshua and the army of the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every single person in every single town in the Promised Land.”
So, we now have at least three different “incidents” (or claims about incidents) to keep in mind, as what Craig might mean by the phrase “the incidents never really happened”:

(GC) God commanded Joshua and the army of the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every person in every town in the Promised Land.

(JC) Jehovah commanded Joshua and the army of the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every person in every town in the Promised Land.

(J&I) Joshua and the army of the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every person in every town in the Promised Land.

Suppose that Craig has all three of these “incidents” in mind. In that case, there are at least eight different logical possibilities*, different combinations of truth and falsehood for these three claims or “incidents”:
Craig narrows the possibilities by engaging in hypothetical reasoning, by making the supposition that (GC) is NOT the case, and then determining what are the logical implications of this supposition:

The problem, it seems to me, is that if God could not have issued such a command, then the biblical stories must be false.

If God, because of the perfect goodness of God, could NOT have issued a command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single person in every single town in the Promised Land,  then clearly it is NOT the case that God did in fact issue a command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single person in every single town in the Promised Land.  In other words, (GC) would be false.
This would eliminate all of the logical possibilities where (GC) is true:
That leaves us with just four possibilities: #4, #6, #7, and #8.
According to Craig, if we suppose (GC) to be FALSE, we are left with just two alternatives:

Either the incidents never really happened but are just Israeli folklore; or else, if they did, then Israel, carried away in a fit of nationalistic fervor, thinking that God was on their side, claimed that God had commanded them to commit these atrocities, when in fact He had not.

Because the second disjunct in this EITHER/OR statement is clearly focused on (J&I), on the occurrence of the Conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites, I think that the first disjunct should be interpreted primarily in terms of the “incidents” that constituted that conquest.  On this interpetation, the above claim can be re-stated as “Craig’s Dilemma” (CD):

CD: Either (J&I) is FALSE; or else, if (J&I) is TRUE, then the Israelites claimed that (GC) was TRUE, when (GC) was actually FALSE.

However, we are not interested here in what the Israelites claimed; we are interested in what the OT stories claim, in particular the OT stories related to the Conquest of Canaan.  In talking about what the Israelites claimed, Craig intends to say something about what the OT claims concerning the Conquest of Canaan:

CD1: Either (J&I) is FALSE; or else, if (J&I) is TRUE, then the OT claimed that (GC) was TRUE, when (GC) was actually FALSE.

But there is a more fundamental claim here that is clearly a true dilemma, which should be separated out from the rest of Craig’s reasoning:

CD2: Either (J&I) is FALSE, or (J&I) is TRUE.

Either it is FALSE that Joshua and the army of the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every person in every town in the Promised Land, or it is TRUE that Joshua and the army of the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every person in every town in the Promised Land.  That is what logicians call a tautology:  Either P is TRUE or P is not TRUE. 
Craig then considers each of those two possibilities:

(J&I) is FALSE.

(J&I) is TRUE.

In both cases, he concludes that the OT accounts about the Conquest of Canaan would include at least one significant FALSE claim, thus implying that the Bible does contain at least one significant error, and that biblical inerrancy was an incorrect view of the Bible.
Let’s consider each of these disjuncts of Craig’s Dilemma (CD2), one at a time.
 
SUPPOSE THAT (J&I) IS FALSE
We have, along with Craig, previously supposed that (GC) is FALSE, and that supposition reduced the number of logical possibilities from eight down to four: possibilities #4, #6, #7, and #8.  Now we are making a second supposition, namely that (J&I) is FALSE; this eliminates two more possibilities:
Now we are left with only two possibilities:

#6:  (GC) is FALSE, (JC) is TRUE, and (J&I) is FALSE.

#8:  (GC) is FALSE, (JC) is FALSE, and (J&I) is FALSE.

Because the OT does clearly assert that Joshua and the army of the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every person in every town in the Promised Land, it is clear that this OT claim would be FALSE on both scenario #6 and scenario #8, so no matter which of these possibilities we choose,  there would be at least one significant error in the OT, and that would mean that biblical inerrancy was an incorrect view of the Bible.  Therefore, if (J&I) is FALSE, then biblical inerrancy would be an incorrect view of the Bible.
 
SUPPOSE THAT (J&I) IS TRUE
The other horn of Craig’s Dilemma  (CD2), is that (J&I) is TRUE.  If we start with the supposition that (GC) is FALSE, and we add the supposition that (J&I) is TRUE, then we must reduce the number of possibilities remaining:
Now we are left with only these two possibilities:

#4:  (GC) is FALSE, (JC) is TRUE, and (J&I) is TRUE.

#7:  (GC) is FALSE, (JC) is FALSE, and (J&I) is TRUE.

Now if possibility #7 is the case, then I would agree with Craig that the OT makes at least one FALSE claim, namely that (JC) was the case. The OT makes the claim that Jehovah commanded Joshua and the army of the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every person in every town in the Promised Land, but this claim would be FALSE if possibility #7 were the case.  So, if possibility #7 were the case, then the OT would make at least one significant FALSE claim, and biblical inerrancy would be an incorrect view of the Bible.
However, there is also possibility #4 to consider.  On this scenario, the OT claim that Jehovah commanded Joshua and the army of the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every person in every town in the Promised Land would be a TRUE claim.  And claim (J&I) would also be true.  On scenario #4 the OT claim that Joshua and the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every person in every town in the Promised Land would be TRUE.  So where is the problem for the inerrancy of the OT on scenario #4?  As I argued early in this post, if Jehovah was NOT God, then there is no contradiction between (JC) being TRUE and (GC) being FALSE.
Craig might counter that the OT not only claims that Jehovah gave this command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER the Canaanites, but that the OT also claims that God gave this command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER the Canaanites:
1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you— 
2 and when the LORD your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy.     Deuteronomy 7:1-2  (New Revised Standard Version)
Since our first supposition was that (GC) is FALSE, this apparent claim by the OT about God must be FALSE, and thus the OT would contain at least one significant FALSE claim, at least one significant error.  So, on scenario #4, the OT would appear to have at least one significant error, meaning that the view that the Bible was inerrant would be wrong.
In the above quote from Deuteronomy, it is important to note that the word “LORD” is not an accurate translation.  The word in Hebrew is actually a name:  JEHOVAH.  A better translation is found in the American Standard Version:
1 When Jehovah thy God shall bring thee into the land…
In modern English:  “When Jehovah your God…”  The phrase “your God” suggests a contrast with other gods, who were worshiped by other tribes and nations.  Jehovah was the god of the nation of Israel. This passage from Deuteronomy is about Moses speaking to the nation of Israel, so the word “your” refers not to human beings in general, but to the nation or people of Israel.  Other nations had their own gods:   Amun, Asherah, Baal, Chemosh, Dagan, etc.
So, the phrase “your God” in Deuteronomy might be better translated as “your god” or “your deity”, meaning the god or deity worshiped by the nation of Israel.  But in that case, the above passage does NOT refer to “God” with a capital “G”, but rather to a tribal god or deity.
The problem here is that the word “God”  with a capital “G” is understood by modern Christian believers to designate a particular concept of God, and it is far from clear that the writer of Deuteronomy had the same concept of God as modern Christians, or that the writer of the Book of Joshua had the same concept of God as modern Christians.
Furthermore, Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua are NOT works of theology.  They don’t attempt to provide a careful and in-depth characterization of the nature or characteristics of Jehovah, nor of the “god” of Israel.  Jehovah is viewed as the creator of the world, and as having amazing superhuman powers, but it is far from clear that the authors of these works believed that Jehovah was omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good
So, it is a questionable assumption that the authors of these books had the same concept of God as modern Christians.  When they assert that “God commanded such-and-such”, they might simply mean that “Jehovah, the god of the Israelites, commanded such-and-such”, and their concept of Jehovah does not appear to include the characteristics of omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness. 
In other words, when passages in Deuteronomy and Joshua are translated using the word “God” with a capital “G”, that translation is misleading, or it is at least is a dubious translation.   Therefore, if scenario #4 is the case, then it is NOT clear that the OT has asserted a FALSE claim about God.  It might well be the case that Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua make ZERO claims about “God”, because the authors of those books did not view Jehovah as being “God” in the sense that modern Christian believers understand this concept.  So, it is very questionable that on scenario #4, the OT would be shown to have a significant error.  Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua might well NOT claim that (GC) is TRUE, but only claim that (JC) is TRUE.
 
NOW FOR ALL THE MARBLES
Of course, I don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant, so if Craig wants to believe that (GC) being FALSE would imply that there is a significant error in the Bible, then I won’t spend any more of my time and energy trying to persuade him otherwise.  The Bible is filled with errors, falsehoods, contradictions, and bad advice.  It overflows with errors.
My main objection to Craig’s reasoning is that he thinks that inquiry into (GC), (JC), and (J&I) can, at most, be used to challenge the belief that the Bible is without errors.  He thinks that inquiry into these claims cannot be used to challenge belief in the existence of God, belief in the resurrection of Jesus, or belief in the divinity of Jesus.  But I think he is wrong on all three points.
 
JESUS IS JEHOVAH TO ME
The problem is that Jesus is Jehovah to me.  In other words, the connection between Jesus and Jehovah is too strong to allow for the goodness of Jesus to be judged independently of the goodness of Jehovah.  If Jehovah is clearly a morally flawed person, then Jesus is also a morally flawed person.  My skeptical strategy is to hang Jehovah around the neck of Jesus and then sink Jesus to the bottom of the ocean, by the great weight of that millstone around his neck.
If Jesus is a morally flawed person, then Jesus cannot be the divine Son of God, and God would never have raised Jesus from the dead if Jesus had been a morally flawed person.  For God raising Jesus from the dead would involve God in a Great Deception, by leading the followers of Jesus to conclude that Jesus was the divine Son of God, when that was NOT the case.
Here is my argument in a nutshell:

1. Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person.

2. IF Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person, THEN Jesus was a morally flawed person.

3. IF Jesus was a morally flawed person, THEN Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God and God did NOT raise Jesus from the dead.

THEREFORE:

4. Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God and God did NOT raise Jesus from the dead.

For me, the resurrection and divinity of Jesus depend on whether Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person.  If Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person, then Jesus was morally flawed, and the basic Christian beliefs about Jesus are FALSE, and thus Christianity should be rejected as a FALSE religion.
Jesus was a devout Jew who promoted worship of, and obedience to Jehovah, and Jesus was familiar with the OT stories about Moses and the Exodus and about Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan.  So, Jesus was aware that, according to the OT, Jehovah commanded Joshua and the army of the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every elderly man and woman, every husband and wife, every mother and father, every teenager, every child, and every baby in every town in the Promised Land. 
In other words, Jesus had very good reason to believe that Jehovah was a morally flawed person who did NOT deserve to be worshiped and who did NOT deserve to be obeyed.  Yet Jesus promoted worship of,  and obedience to Jehovah.  Jesus’ promotion of worship of, and obedience towards the clearly morally flawed Jehovah shows that Jesus himself was a morally flawed person.
The connection with the issue of the existence of God is not quite as strong as the connection with the resurrection and divinity of Jesus, but if it can be shown that Jehovah was a morally flawed person, then this conclusion can be used to seriously challenge the belief that God exists, to cast significant doubt on the belief that God exists.
The belief that God exists is a central belief in the three main western theistic religions:  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  So, if it could be shown that all three of these western religions are FALSE religions, then although that would not completely disprove the existence of God, it would seriously challenge the belief that God exists, it would cast significant doubt on the belief that God exists.
God, as conceived of by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, communicates truth and wisdom to humans through prophets and inspired writings.  But if Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all three shown to be FALSE religions, if, more specifically, they were shown to NOT be based on communications of truth and wisdom from God through prophets and inspired writings, then this would strongly suggest that either there is no God at all, or else that God is NOT INTERESTED in communicating truth and wisdom to human beings.
So, if it could be shown that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all three FALSE religions, and that they do not actually have truth or wisdom communicated by God through prophets or inspired writings, then one must either reject theism altogether, or else settle for the watered-down concept of God proposed by DEISM: a creator god who doesn’t care about humans and who doesn’t intervene in human history.
Here is my second argument in summary form:

1. Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person.

2. IF Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person, THEN Jehovah is NOT God.

3. IF Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person and NOT God, THEN Moses was a FALSE prophet.

4. IF Jehovah was clearly a morally flawed person and NOT God, THEN Jesus was a FALSE prophet and a morally flawed person and not the divine Son of God. 

5. IF Moses and Jesus were FALSE prophets, then Muhhamad was a FALSE prophet.

THEREFORE:

6. Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were all FALSE prophets, and Jesus was a morally flawed person and was not the divine Son of God.

7. IF Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were all FALSE prophets, and if Jesus was a morally flawed person and was not the divine Son of God, THEN Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are FALSE religions, and it is likely that either (a) there is no God at all, or else that (b) there is a creator of the universe who does not care about humans and who does not intervene in human history. 

THEREFORE:

8. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are FALSE religions, and it is likely that either (a) there is no God at all or else that (b) there is a creator of the universe who does not care about humans and who does not intervene in human history. 

This is not a complete disproof of the existence of God, but I believe this argument casts serious doubt on the existence of God, especially if God is conceived of as not only the creator, but as a person who cares about humans and who intervenes in human history.
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* NOTE:   HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF POSSIBILITIES
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Actually, if we wanted to be more accurate and precise, we could outline hundreds or thousands of different possibilities, because each of the three claims here could be partially true or partially false to varying degrees.
For example, if Joshua and the army of the Israelites managed to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER about 90% of the people in each of the towns in the Promised Land, then (J&I) would be FALSE, strictly speaking, but it would be “very close to being true”, because 90% is reasonably close to 100%.   Similarly, if Joshua and the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every person in every town in the Promised Land except for the young virginal girls (following the example of Moses), then (J&I) would be FALSE, strictly speaking, but it would be “mostly true”.
Similarly, the command of Jehovah could have been to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every person in every town in the Promised Land, except for young virginal girls.  In that case (JC) would be FALSE, strictly speaking, but it would be “mostly true”.  Alternatively, Jehovah could have ordered that every person in the towns that the Israelites attacked be MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, but that only towns where child sacrifice was frequently and regularly practiced would be subject to such MERCILESS SLAUGHTER.  Suppose only 70% of the towns in the Promised Land matched this criterion.  In that case, (JC) would be FALSE, strictly speaking, but it would be “roughly true” or “approximately correct”.
And there are many other degrees of truth that these three claims could each have.  For example, if Joshua and the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED only 75% of the people in each town that they attacked in the Promised Land, but they did indiscriminately kill the elderly, parents, teenagers, children, and babies, and they attacked only 75% of the towns in the Promised Land, then (J&I) would be FALSE, strictly speaking, but it would still be “mostly true” or at least “in the ballpark of being true”.
But lets keep things simple for this post, and focus on just the logical possibilities of “true” vs. “false” for each of the three key claims, which means we have only eight possibilities to consider.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 11: Moral Warrant

CHILD SACRIFICE AS A MORAL JUSTIFICATION FOR MERCILESS SLAUGHTER
In the previous post,  I examined the following historical question:

Did the all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land between 1350 and 1250 BCE regularly and frequently practice child sacrifice? 

I reviewed the first four pieces of evidence provided by the CLUELESS Christian apologist Clay Jones for the claim that the people in the towns of the Promised Land at the time of the alleged Conquest of Canaan led by Joshua would frequently sacrifice a few of their children to a god.  Because ALL FOUR of those pieces of evidence turn out to be IRRELEVANT to the above historical question at issue,  I drew the following conclusions:

There is probably no significant historical evidence to support the above claim, so it CANNOT be used in an attempt to morally justify the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of thousands of elderly men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, teenagers, young children, and babies of the towns in the Promised Land by Joshua and the Israelites, or to morally justify Jehovah for issuing the command to Joshua and the Israelites to carry out that MERCILESS SLAUGHTER.

However, as more than one comment on that post stated, even if it there was solid factual evidence showing that all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land between 1350 and 1250 BCE  regularly and frequently practiced child sacrifice, that would in no way provide a moral justification for the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every single human person living in those towns as part of the Conquest of Canaan commanded by Jehovah and led by Joshua.
Here is how the argument to justify MERCILESS SLAUGHTER would presumably go:

1. All of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land between 1350 and 1250 BCE  regularly and frequently practiced child sacrifice. (Historical Claim)

2. The practice of child sacrifice is a horrible and evil practice. (Moral Value)

THEREFORE:

3. Jehovah was morally justified in commanding the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every living person in every town in the Promised Land between 1250 and 1150 BCE, and Joshua and the army of the Israelites were morally justified in proceeding to engage in this MERCILESS SLAUGHTER.   (Moral Conclusion)

As it stands, this argument is logically INVALID, at least in terms of the formal structure of the argument. This defect, however, can be remedied by stating the Warrant for the inference as a conditional claim:

MW. IF all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land between 1350 and 1250 BCE regularly and frequently practiced child sacrifice, and if the practice of child sacrifice is a horrible and evil practice, THEN Jehovah was morally justified in commanding that Joshua and the army of the Israelites MERCILESS SLAUGHTER every living human person in every town in the Promised Land between 1250 and 1150 BCE, and Joshua and the army of the Israelites were morally justified in proceeding to engage in this MERCILESS SLAUGHTER.  (Moral Warrant)

We have seen in the previous post that there is no significant historical evidence supporting premise (1).  So, this argument is based on an extremely DUBIOUS premise.  However, we are temporarily setting aside objections to that factual historical premise, to see if the argument is otherwise solid.
 
EVALUATION OF THE MORAL WARRANT PREMISE (MW)
The moral value stated in premise (2) seems clearly to be true.  But the Moral Warrant premise, which is required to make this argument logically valid, appears to be false.  There are different ways of evaluating this Moral Warrant, and I won’t attempt to be exhaustive here, but I will consider two major ways of thinking about (MW).
First, there is the utilitarian or consequentialist viewpoint.  It would NOT be morally justified to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single human person in all of the towns in the Promised Land on the grounds that this would eliminate child sacrifice from those towns, if doing this would only eliminate child sacrifices for a few years or a few decades.  That is because you would be killing tens of thousands of people in order to save the lives of perhaps a dozen or a few dozen children, if the practice of child sacrifice were to return after only a few years or a few decades.
But how can one be certain that this MERCILESS SLAUGHTER would eliminate child sacrifices in the Promised Land for several centuries (in order to balance out all of the deaths caused by the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER compared to the number of  lives of children saved in future decades and centuries)? 
Child sacrifice was a practice that was, apparently, part of Phonecian/Canaanite culture outside of the Promised Land.  In fact, the main archaeological evidence for the practice of child sacrifice in the Middle East comes from the city of Carthage, as we have previously seen.  Carthage is nearly 2,000 miles away from the Promised Land (if one travels over land).  So, even if the commanded MERCILESS SLAUGHTER did successfully remove child sacrifice from the Promised Land, it might well return only a few years or a few decades later.  So, a utilitarian justification of (MW) does not seem possible.
Also, before a utilitarian or consequentialist would be willing to agree with (MW) it would also have to be shown that there was NO ALTERNATIVE WAY of achieving the removal of child sacrifice from the towns of the Promised Land that did not require the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every single human person in every town in the Promised Land.
If you could achieve the desired goal of eliminating child sacrifice without killing anyone, or by only killing many of the warriors that would defend these towns, then that would clearly be a better way of achieving the desired goal, and that would mean that the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every single human person in every town in the Promised Land would NOT be morally justified, on a utilitarian or consequentialist view.

Der Klapperstorch (The Stork), a painting by Carl Spitzweg (1808–1885)

Furthermore, it seems pretty clear that there are ALTERNATIVE WAYS of achieving the desired goal without having to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single living human person in every town in the Promised Land.  For one thing, Jehovah is supposed to be God, according to Christians and Jews.  But God is OMNIPOTENT and OMNISCIENT, so God can do pretty much anything that it is possible to do.   For example, an omniscient god would know every single couple on the planet that was having difficulty conceiving a child and who would love to have a baby or child magically appear at their door in a little basket.
If Jehovah is God, then Jehovah would be OMNIPOTENT, and Jehovah could instantly teleport every newborn baby and every small infant or young child from any town in the Promised Land where child sacrifice was practiced, to a far distant town, even one on the opposite side of the planet, providing a desperate couple with a child that they would dearly love to raise and care for. 
Jehovah could have a newborn baby or toddler instantly packaged up into a comfortable and well-fitting basket and appear at the front door of a very delighted couple.  Jehovah could communicate to each town in the Promised Land (either directly or through prophets), that if they want to keep their babies and children from vanishing into thin air, then they have to end the practice of child sacrifice.
And if such massive miracle working was somehow against God’s will (not sure why that would be), there are other more “standard” ways of eliminating child sacrifice.  Jehovah could send a prophet to each town, the way he sent Jonah to the town of Nineveh, and thus send a clear warning to the people of each town that they must either stop sacrificing their children or else face the wrath of Jehovah.  If the people of a town then repented (as did the people of Nineveh), then Jehovah would cancel his plans for divine wrath and judgment, and NOBODY would have to die.
There are, no doubt, MANY DIFFERENT WAYS for an omnipotent and omniscient god to achieve the elimination of child sacrifice in the towns of the Promised Land, other than having to resort to the FINAL SOLUTION of having Joshua and the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every elderly man and woman, every husband and wife, mother and father, teenager, young child, and baby in every town of the Promised Land.  So, it is clear that (MW) is NOT an acceptable Moral Warrant, at least not from a utilitarian or consequentialist point of view.
One important alternative to utilitarianism and consequentialism is Kantian ethics.  If we consider (MW) from the viewpoint of Kantian ethics it is immediately clear that (MW) is morally unacceptable.  For Kant, the life of each human being is of infinite value, and we cannot ever justify violating an individual person’s basic rights for the sake of achieving some supposedly noble goal.  Kant rejected utilitarian and consequentialist thinking, as have most Christian philosophers and theologians.  Christians have, in general, agreed with Kant that it is WRONG to use a human being simply as a means to an end, even if that end is a good and noble end.  As Christians often say, “The end does NOT justify the means.”
In other words, although the goal of eliminating child sacrifice is clearly a noble and good goal, it CANNOT be used to morally justify the killing of human beings, especially the killing of babies and children who have no choice or guilt in terms of the practice of child sacrifice.   In short, a Kantian, and any logically consistent Christian who believes that “The end does NOT justify the means”, cannot accept (MW) as a true or correct assumption.
I have only discussed two major ethical points of view here, but since (MW) is clearly unacceptable from both of those major ethical points of view, I think that is sufficient to show that (MW) is highly DUBIOUS at best, and that showing (MW) to be true would be an extremely difficult task, if not impossible.
 
CONCLUSION
Therefore, the argument that could be used to support a moral justification of Jehovah commanding the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every elderly man and woman, every husband and wife, every mother and father, every teenager, every child, and every baby in every town in the Promised Land on the basis of the historical claim in premise (1) above, is very likely to be an UNSOUND argument, because not only is premise (1) highly DUBIOUS, but so is the unstated Moral Warrant (MW) in this argument.
Two out of the three premises of this argument are highly DUBIOUS, so this argument should be rejected.  It FAILS to provide a moral justification for Jehovah and for Joshua and for the Israelites in relation to the (alleged) MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of every single human person in the towns of the Promised Land.
================
UPDATE  ON 5/24/20
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I probably should have said something about the Divine Command theory of ethics. There is, of course, the Euthyphro dilemma provided by Socrates. But there is a simpler objection that can be made here, I think.
Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, the following assumption:
(GC) IF God commands us to do X, THEN X is a morally right action.
The problem with the command of Jehovah to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single human person in every single town in the Promised Land, then becomes that we can hardly imagine any better or stronger evidence that JEHOVAH IS NOT GOD.
How could a good and morally flawless person (who is also all-knowing and all-powerful) give such an evil command? The fact that some invisible being or spirit issues such a horrible and evil command is powerful evidence that this being is DEMONIC and EVIL, and thus cannot possibly be GOD. If Jehovah is not God, then (GC) doesn’t apply to commands made by Jehovah.
In other words, if SATAN issued a command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every single human person in every single town in the Promised Land, we have no moral obligation to follow this command, at least (GC) does not imply any such moral obligation, because (GC) says nothing about the commands of SATAN. Also, we can reject this command from SATAN as being vile and evil while still accepting (GC) as a true assumption.
I suppose that a dogmatic hard-core believer could insist on the following being an implication of (GC):
(RAT) IF God were to command that we rape and torture to death every child on the planet, THEN that would make doing so a morally right action.
But by making such a statement, they would reduce their own position to absurdity. If (GC) logically implies (RAT), then we have to reject (GC) as being false, because (RAT) is obviously false.
But if (GC) does NOT logically imply (RAT), then we can presumably accept (GC) and still use the evilness of a command as evidence that the person or being who gave the command is NOT GOD, and thus that we have no moral duty to follow the commands of that person or being, and we are free to reject those commands as vile and evil, even if we do accept (GC) as a true assumption.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 10: Child Sacrifice

DEFENSE #1 FAILS

Here are the defenses of Jehovah and Joshua to which I am replying:

Joshua’s MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the Canaanites (and Jehovah’s command to perform this slaughter) was MORALLY JUSTIFIED because:

1. The people in the Canaanite towns were given the chance to flee, before Joshua and the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED men, women, and children in the towns.

2. The people in the Canaanite towns belonged to a culture where some people did “some pretty disgusting things” like burning children to death.

3. The people in the Canaanite towns belonged to a culture that engaged in “some pretty disgusting things” like burning children to death for a period of 400 years.

We have seen that Defense #1 FAILS for a number of reasons:
First, providing advanced warnings to the inhabitants of a town prior to attacking it and MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING every single human person in the town is NOT a moral justification for this great moral wrong, but is a pathetic example of BLAMING THE VICTIM.  Warning someone that you are going to murder them unless they leave their home and their town does NOT in any way excuse or justify murdering that person.
Second, providing advanced warnings to the inhabitants of a town prior to attacking it and MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING every single human person in the town is MUCH LESS MERCIFUL than it initially appears, because (a) young children and babies have no real choice in whether to flee the town or not, (b) it would be an extremely difficult choice for teenagers to leave their town, parents, and siblings behind, if their parents decided to stay put, (c) elderly people might not be able to walk the long distance required to get to safety, (d) mothers and fathers who were also responsible for one or more elderly parents would in many cases have a very tough choice between staying and trying to protect their elderly parents or leaving town and abandoning their parents to be MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, in order to protect the lives of their children.
Third, there is no indication in the stories about Moses leading the Israelites to attack some towns east of the Jordan river, that Jehovah demanded that advanced warnings be given to those towns to allow people to leave town and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, nor is there indication that Moses commanded that advanced warnings be given any of the towns, nor is there indication that any of the towns were in fact given advance warnings before Moses and the Israelites attacked them and MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every living person in a town.
Fourth, there is no indication in the stories about Joshua leading the Israelites to attack towns of the Canaanites in the Promised Land, that Jehovah demanded advanced warnings be given to those towns to allow people to leave town and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, nor is there indication that Joshua ordered such advanced warnings be given to the towns that he and the Israelites were about to attack, nor is there indication that any of these towns was in fact given advanced warning so that the people in the town could leave town and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.
Fifth, given the clear commands of Jehovah to MAKE NO PEACE AGREEMENT with the towns of Canaanites in the Promised Land, and to EXTERMINATE, ANNIHILATE, and UTTERLY DESTROY the people in these towns, and to LEAVE NO SURVIVORS ALIVE, and to SHOW NO MERCY to the people in these towns, providing advanced warning to the people of these towns in the Promised Land prior to attack, so that those people could leave town and avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED would clearly involve DISOBEYING Jehovah’s clear commands.
 
EVALUATION OF DEFENSE #2
Here, again, is Defense #2 of Jehovah and Joshua:

Joshua’s MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the Canaanites (and Jehovah’s command to perform this slaughter) was MORALLY JUSTIFIED because:

2. The people in the Canaanite towns belonged to a culture where some people did “some pretty disgusting things” like burning children to death.

 (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster)
Offering to Molech

There is an immediate problem of ambiguity here, which is very similar to a problem I have dealt with concerning the historicity of Moses and the Exodus and Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan.  There probably was no Moses and no Exodus either.  There probably was no Joshua and no Conquest of Canaan either.  So, my moral objections to these stories are not really about actual historical events.  I view these stories as legends and as fiction. My objections are based on the fact that Jesus, and many Christians and many Jews over the centuries believed these stories to be historical, to be reliable accounts of actual events.
Although many modern Christians and Jews do NOT believe that Moses and the Exodus are historical, and do NOT believe that Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan are historical, they are aware that many other Christians and Jews have over the centuries, and even now, viewed these stories as descriptions of actual historical people and events.  So, such enlightened Christians and Jews have a responsibility to clearly and publicly denounce the evil words and actions of Jehovah, Moses, and Joshua, as characterized in what they take to be basically works of fiction and legend.
Because Jesus and many Christians and Jews over the centuries have viewed the stories about Moses and Joshua as reliable accounts of historical events, their failure to condemn the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of civilians, including elderly men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, teenagers, children, and babies, constitutes a moral failure.
Because Jesus himself was an admirer of Moses and Joshua and because Jesus promoted worship and obedience to Jehovah, and because Jesus gave no indication of having any objection to the MERCILESS SLAUGHTERING that Moses and Joshua led and that Jehovah commanded, this shows that Jesus was a morally flawed person.
Jesus was no worse than other Jews living in first century Palestine, but he was morally flawed nonetheless.  Thus Jesus CANNOT be the divine Son of God, and thus Christianity is based on a FALSE ASSUMPTION.  This all holds true even if Moses and the Exodus is are nothing but legend and fiction, and even if Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan are nothing but legend and fiction.
So, the main question at issue is NOT “Did the actual Conquest of Canaan involve killing people who regularly and frequently practiced sacrifice of children to their god or gods?”  because there probably was no such person as Joshua, and there probably was no Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites.
Since we are talking about people who MISTAKENLY believe that there was an actual Joshua and an actual Conquest of Canaan based on the writings of the OT, then the main question would be: “Does the OT indicate that child sacrifice was a regular and widespread practice among all of the various peoples of the Promised Land?”  My moral critique of Jesus and of many Christians and Jews is based upon their viewing the OT as providing reliable historical information, so to be logically consistent, my moral critique should focus, at least primarily, on what the OT says about child sacrifice by the various peoples who lived in the towns in the Promised Land prior to the Conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites.
However, many Evangelical Christians ignore the findings of historians and archaeologists and cling to the traditional view that Moses and the Exodus was historical, and that Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan was historical too.  So, when they object that the Canaanites deserved to be MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED because the Canaanites practiced child sacrifice, they intend that to be a factual historical claim.  In response to these ignorant Evangelical Christian believers, it DOES make sense to talk about the historical question: “Did all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land (prior to the time when it is alleged that the Israelites invaded those towns) regularly and frequently practice child sacrifice?”
NOTE: There is also the complication that some of these towns and peoples might have included people who were actually Israelites or the ancestors of Israelites.  If many Israelites were in fact practicing child sacrifice themselves around the time the Israelites allegedly invaded towns in the Promised Land, then the justification that they were EXTERMINATING evil people who practiced child sacrifice obviously doesn’t work to morally justify their MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the non-Israelite people in those towns.
 
FIRST: THE HISTORICAL QUESTION ABOUT CHILD SACRIFICE
Here is what I take to be the relevant historical question:

Did the all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land (prior to the time when it is alleged that the Israelites invaded those towns) regularly and frequently practice child sacrifice? 

According to historians and archaeologists, there was a period of upheaval in the area of the Promised Land around 1250 to 1150 BCE:

Canaan (also referred to as Phoenicia at this time) continued to prosper until c. 1250-c. 1150 BCE during the so-called Bronze Age Collapse. The biblical books of Joshua and Numbers attribute the destruction of Canaan to the Hebrew general Joshua and his conquest but this claim has been challenged by modern-day scholars.

Following the upheaval of c. 1250-c. 1150 BCE, however, the Hebrews (Israelites), to whom Joshua is said to have given the land, populated the region and established the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

[…]

Around 1250 BCE some catastrophic event struck Canaan, demolishing cities and dislocating the populace, which the Bible attributes to an invasion led by the Israelite general Joshua (Book of Joshua and Book of Numbers). Although there is evidence of upheaval in the land, the archaeological evidence does not evenly match up with the biblical narrative and historians are generally cautious in accepting the conquest as historical fact. Even so, elements of the narratives of the biblical books are considered plausible in that some great upheaval occurred in the region c. 1250-c.1150 BCE, aspects of which are interpreted as consistent with a military invasion.

https://www.ancient.eu/canaan/
So, if one is going to take the idea of an historical Conquest of Canaan seriously, it has to be dated somewhere in that time frame.  That means that we are primarily interested in the religious practices of the various peoples who lived in towns in the area of the Promised Land from 1350 to 1250 BCE, the 100 years prior to when the Conquest of Canaan occurred (if it were an actual historical event).
We can now re-state more clearly the historical question at issue:

Did the all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land between 1350 and 1250 BCE regularly and frequently practice child sacrifice? 

If the answer to this question is “Yes”, then there would be a factual historical basis for the attempted moral justification of the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the people of the towns of the Promised Land.
Clay Jones is an Evangelical Christian apologist who claims that the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the people in the towns of the Promised Land is morally justified because they practiced child sacrifice.  Jones provides several pieces of evidence for this historical claim, and I will walk through them one piece at a time.
Let’s begin with the first bit of evidence from his article “We Don’t Hate Sin So We Don’t Understand What Happened to the Canaanites” (hereafter: WDHS, from Philosophia Christi, Volume 11,  Number 1, 2009):(WDHS, p.61)
Jones begins his case with a quote from the Book of Leviticus.  If Leviticus is to be relevant to the historical question we are examining, then it would need to have been written in the time frame that we are focusing in on, namely 1350 to 1250 BCE, or close to that time.  When was Leviticus written?  It was written much later than that:

The Book of Leviticus … is the third book of the Torah and of the Old Testament; scholars generally agree that it developed over a long period of time, reaching its present form during the Persian Period between 538-332 BC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Leviticus
This is about nine hundred years later than the time frame we are considering!  This clearly tells us NOTHING of significance about whether child sacrifice was regularly and frequently practiced throughout the Promised Land in 1300 BCE.
However, the Book of Leviticus “developed over a long period of time”, so perhaps parts of Leviticus are very old and originated around 1300 BCE.   Chapter 18 is from the portion of Leviticus called the “Holiness Code” by critical scholars:

The Holiness Code is a term used in biblical criticism to refer to Leviticus chapters 17–26, and is so called due to its highly repeated use of the word Holy…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holiness_code
Did the Holiness Code originate back around 1300 BCE?  Nope.  It was far more recent:

A generally accepted date is sometime in the seventh century BC, when it presumably originated among the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem.[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holiness_code
Here is the reference supporting the date of the Holiness Code:

 3. Coogan,Michael D. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 126.

The seventh century BCE means 700 BCE to 600 BCE.  So, the Holiness Code was developed around 650 BCE, which is about 600 years after the time frame on which we are focusing.   Thus, the first piece of evidence provided by Jones is a piece of CRAP.  Leviticus is IRRELEVANT to the historical question at issue here.
Since the very first point that Jones makes is clearly IRRELEVANT, I suspect there is a lot more CRAP to come in his case for the practice of child sacrifice being common in the towns of the Promised Land prior to the time of the alleged Conquest of Canaan.
For his next piece of evidence Jones gives us a quote from Plutarch:(WDHS, p.61)
Did Plutarch live around 1300 BCE? Nope.  Did Plutarch live in the Promised Land? Nope.  When did he live?  Where did he live?  Here is some basic information about Plutarch:

Plutarch (… AD 46–after 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist philosopher, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo.

Plutarch was born to a prominent family in the small town of Chaeronea, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of Delphi, in the Greek region of Boeotia.

He lived most of his life at Chaeronea, and was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek god Apollo. For many years Plutarch served as one of the two priests at the temple of Apollo at Delphi, the site of the famous Delphic Oracle, twenty miles from his home.

Plutarch spent the last thirty years of his life serving as a priest in Delphi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutarch  (above are excerpts from this article)
And you thought it wasn’t possible for Jones to come up with a piece of evidence that was even more IDIOTIC than his quote from Leviticus.
Here we are expected to draw historical conclusions about people who lived around 1300 BCE in Jericho, for example, based on a quotation from a Greek philosopher and priest who lived in Chaeronea in the first century!  So, the writings of Plutarch are about 1,400 years later than the time frame on which we are focusing, and he was living in Chaeronea, Greece, about 845 miles away from the city of Jericho, if one traveled by boat across the Mediterranean sea:

Satellite image of the Mediterranean Sea at night

Sorry, this kind of mind-numbing stupidity might go over well with Evangelical Christian sheep, but I’m not buying the idea that a philosopher and priest writing in Greece in the first century provides us with solid historical information about the religious practices of people who lived nearly a thousand miles away in Palestine about 1,350 years before he was born.  I’m just NOT that gullible.  So, the second piece of evidence from Jones is another piece of CRAP.
Here is a third piece of evidence from Jones:(WDHS, p.61)
Here, at least, Jones references a modern scholar who has studied the subject of child sacrifice and published scholarly books and articles on that subject.  But Jones missed a BIG clue here, namely the TITLE of the book he is quoting from: Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice….  Do you notice the word “Late”?  How about the word “Carthaginian”?  It looks like we might have yet another problem in terms of date and location.  That would be the third such blunder in the case by Jones, so far consisting of only three pieces of evidence.
The word “Carthaginian” of course, refers to the city of Carthage, which, by the way, is NOT a city in the Promised Land.  In fact, Carthage is EVEN FURTHER away from Jericho than Plutarch’s hometown of Chaeronea:
Satellite image of the Mediterranean Sea at night

Carthage is 1,469 miles from Jericho, and that is if you travel by boat across the Mediterranean Sea.  If you travel by land, it is about 2,000 miles from Carthage to Jericho.  So, we are being asked to infer the religious practices of people in Jericho based on the religious practices of people who lived about 2,000 miles away!
What about the time frame?  The evidence used as the basis for inference to the practice of child sacrifice in Carthage is a large “Trophet” that was discovered one hundred years ago:

“Tophet” is a term derived from the Bible, used to refer to a site near Jerusalem in which Canaanites and Israelites who had turned away from the Judaic religion sacrificed children. It is now used as a general term for all such sites with cremated human and animal remains.

Several apparent “Tophets” have been identified, chiefly a large one in Carthage, dubbed the “Tophet of Salammbô” after the neighbourhood where it was unearthed in 1921. Soil in the Tophet of Salammbó was found to be full of olive wood charcoal, probably from the sacrificial pyres. … The animals were sacrificed to the gods, presumably in place of children (one surviving inscription refers to the animal as “a substitute”). It is conjectured that the children unlucky enough not to have substitutes were also sacrificed and then buried in the Tophet. The remains include the bodies of both very young children and small animals, and those who argue in favor of child sacrifice have argued that if the animals were sacrificed, then so too were the children. The area covered by the Tophet in Carthage was probably over an acre and a half by the fourth century BCE, with nine different levels of burials. About 20,000 urns were deposited between 400 BCE and 200 BCE, with the practice continuing until the early years of the Christian period. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Carthage
OK.  So the word “Late” in the TITLE of Shelby Brown’s book (which Jones referenced) apparently refers to the period from 400 BCE to 200 BCE, when most of the earns in the main “Trophet” in Carthage were originally deposited.  So, we have some archaeological evidence from Carthage that many scholars INTERPRET as evidence for child sacrifices that took place in Carthage between 400 BCE and 200 BCE.  The earliest such child sacrifices that this evidence could potentially establish would have taken place about 400 BCE, which is nearly a thousand years later than the time frame on which we are focusing: 1300 BCE.
So, Jones is pointing to archaeological evidence that might show that there was child sacrifices happening in Carthage in 400 BCE, but what we are interested in is whether there were regular and frequent child sacrifices occurring nearly a thousand years earlier in 1300 BCE all throughout the various towns in the Promised Land which are about 2,000 miles away from Carthage.  Do you see a slight problem here?  The TITLE of Brown’s book should have been a BIG CLUE for Jones that this evidence is CRAP, but apparently Jones is CLUELESS.
Now for the fourth piece of evidence from Jones:(WDHS, p.61)
Notice how this paragraph begins with the phrase “Kleitarchos says…”.  But there are no quotation marks after that phrase, so this is apparently NOT an actual quote of Kleitarchos.  This is from a comment made on a passage in Plato’s Republic, according to the footnote by Jones.  Who wrote the comment?  Jones doesn’t say.  When was the comment written?  Jones doesn’t say.
What we have here is somebody (we don’t know who) providing a description or summary (we don’t know when) of something that was supposedly written by Kleitarchos, but that may well not be the actual words of Kleitarchos.   So, we are starting off on some rather shaky ground here.  It is difficult to assess the credibility of an informal characterization of something allegedly written by Kleitarchos when we don’t know who is providing this characterization or when they provided it.
But lets set those problems to one side.  Let’s suppose this is a very accurate characterization of something that was in fact written by Kleitarchos.  There are two obvious questions to ask here, (especially since Jones seems oblivious of the importance of these two questions):  WHERE did Kleitarchos live, and WHEN was Kleitarchos writing?  The generally accepted date for the writings of Kleitarchos are the from near the end of the 4th century BCE to the early part of the 3rd century BCE  or around 300 BCE (see the abstract at start of this article about Cleitarchus).
His father was Dinon of Colophon; Colophon was a Greek city near Ephesus.  Kleitarchos also apparently spent a part of his life “at the court of Ptolemy Lagus.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleitarchus) which was in Egypt.  So, Kleitarchos lived part of his life not far from the Promised Land.  But notice that in the passage above what Kleitarchos said is primarily about Carthage “the Phonecians and especially the Carthaginians who honored Kronos…”(emphasis added).  So, it is unclear how much this information applies to the Phonecians in the Promised Land.  (Jones equates “Phonecians” with “Canaanites” in footnote #33, but he does not argue that ALL of the peoples in the Promised Land in 1300 BCE were Canaanites/Phonecians nor that ALL of those peoples practiced the same religion, nor that they ALL worshiped the same god or gods.)
So, Jones has given us a somewhat dubious characterization of something that Kleitarchos might have written, but Kleitarchos was writting about 300CE, one thousand years after 1300 BCE.  This questionable description of a passage allegedly written by Kleitarchos is just one more piece of IRRELEVANT CRAP.
Jones has provided four pieces of evidence to support his historical claim, and they are all, without exception, WORTHLESS and IRRELEVANT pieces of information.  Jones is a Professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University.  It is his JOB to find the strongest and best evidence to support his Evangelical Christian beliefs, like the belief that Jehovah is NOT a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.  Yet the first four pieces of evidence he provides are basically IRRELEVANT to the question at issue.
This strongly suggests that there is no actual evidence available to support the key historical claim that:

…all of the various peoples who were actually living in the towns of the Promised Land between 1350 and 1250 BCE regularly and frequently practiced child sacrifice…

So, I’m going to consider the key historical question at issue CLOSED.
There is probably no significant historical evidence to support the above claim, so it CANNOT be used in an attempt to morally justify the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of thousands of elderly men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, teenagers, young children, and babies of the towns in the Promised Land by Joshua and the Israelites, or to morally justify Jehovah for issuing the command to Joshua and the Israelites to carry out that MERCILESS SLAUGHTER.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 9: Joshua

MOVING ON FROM MOSES TO JOSHUA
The evidence from Numbers and Deuteronomy indicates that Jehovah did NOT demand that advanced warnings be given to towns that Moses and the Israelites were going to attack so that people had the opportunity to leave the town and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, and that Moses did NOT order advanced warnings to be given to any of the towns that the Israelites attacked while he was leading them, and that no such advanced warnings were in fact given to towns that Moses and the Israelites were about to attack.
Now it is time to investigate whether Jehovah demanded that advanced warnings be given to towns that the Israelites were going to attack in the Promised Land, so that people would have an opportunity to leave the town and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites, and whether Joshua ever ordered that advanced warnings be given to any of the towns that the Israelites attacked in the Promised Land, and whether any such advanced warnings were in fact provided to any of the towns that Joshua and the Israelites were about to attack.

(watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)
Moses Blesses Joshua Before the High Priest

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SOME KEY OLD TESTAMENT PASSAGES
First, I’m going to point out the obvious, which OUGHT to be sufficient by itself to settle this issue, but, sadly, is not enough to convince some people:
1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you—
2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy.    Deuteronomy 7:1-2 (New Revised Standard Version)
16 But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive.
17 You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded…    Deuteronomy 20:16-17 (New Revised Standard Version)
19 There was not a town that made peace with the Israelites, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all were taken in battle.
20 For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts so that they would come against Israel in battle, in order that they might be utterly destroyed, and might receive no mercy, but be exterminated, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Joshua 11:19-20 (New Revised Standard Version)
 
KEY POINTS FROM THE ABOVE OT PASSAGES

  • Jehovah commanded that the people of the towns in the Promised Land be SHOWN NO MERCY by the army of the Israelites.
  • Jehovah commanded that the inhabitants of the towns in the Promised Land be UTTERLY DESTROYED and EXTERMINATED and ANNIHILATED.
  • Jehovah commanded that there BE NO SURVIVORS LEFT ALIVE in the towns in the Promised Land when the army of the Israelites attacked such a town.
  • Jehovah specifically commanded that NO PEACE AGREEMENT be offered to any town in the Promised Land that the army of the Israelites were about to attack. (see Deuteronomy 7:1-2 & 20:10-18)

Why did Jehovah oppose offering “terms of peace” to the towns in the Promised Land that the Israelites were about to attack?  Because it was the duty of the Israelites to “utterly destroy” and “exterminate” and “annihilate” every living person in those towns.
What sort of peace agreement could be possible if the plan and intention is to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every man, woman, child, and baby in that city or town?  Who is going to accept a “peace agreement” where part of what you are agreeing to is that you and everyone else in your town will be MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED? Nobody would accept such an absurd proposal.
The only plausible peace agreement that the Israelites could offer without disobeying Jehovah’s clear command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every living person in a town, is a DECEPTIVE agreement where they would blatantly LIE and promise that some or all of the inhabitants of the city will be spared.  Such a DECEPTIVE peace agreement by the Israelites might work once, but it would soon become widely known that the Israelites were LYING BASTARDS who, as soon as you let them into your city, will then proceed to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every living person that they can find in the city.
Such a strategy would quickly become completely useless, and would also prevent the Israelites from making peace agreements in the future to avoid war with powerful enemies that they did NOT want to fight against.  In short, offering such a DECEPTIVE peace agreement would be foolish and stupid, not to mention immoral.
 
NOW FOR THE OBVIOUS CONCLUSIONS
If Joshua ordered that a town in the Promised Land be given advanced warning so that the inhabitants of that town would have a few days to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by the Israelites, then Joshua would be disobeying Jehovah, because this would be SHOWING MERCY to the inhabitants of that town.
If Joshua ordered that a town in the Promised Land be given advanced warning so that the inhabitants of that town would have a few days to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by the Israelites, then Joshua would be disobeying Jehovah, because if some people did take the opportunity to flee, then the Israelites would NOT be able to fulfill their duty to UTTERLY DESTROY, and to EXTERMINATE, and ANNIHILATE the inhabitants of that town.
If Joshua ordered that a town in the Promised Land be given advanced warning so that the inhabitants of that town would have a few days to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by the Israelites, then Joshua would be disobeying Jehovah, because if some people did take the opportunity to flee, then the Israelites would NOT be able to fulfill their duty to LEAVE NO SURVIVORS ALIVE.
If Joshua ordered that a town in the Promised Land be given advanced warning so that the inhabitants of that town would have a few days to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by the Israelites, then Joshua would be disobeying Jehovah, because he would be making a promise to the inhabitants of that town that he would hold off on attacking it for a few days, and that promise would, in effect, be a PEACE AGREEMENTit would be an unconditional PEACE AGREEMENT (because nothing is being demanded of the town in return), but it would still amount to a promise of temporary peace by Joshua and the Israelites to the inhabitants of that town.
In short, providing advanced warnings to towns in the Promised Land that were about to be attacked by Joshua and the Israelites would clearly involve DISOBEYING the commands of Jehovah concerning how the Israelites were to deal with those towns in the Promised Land.
 
NOW FOR THE ICING ON THE CAKE
The above points are adequate to show that Jehovah did NOT demand that Joshua provide the towns in the Promised Land with advanced warnings before Joshua and the Israelites attacked those towns.  The above points are also adequate to show it to be UNLIKELY that Joshua ordered that advanced warnings be given to any of the towns in the Promised Land that he and the Israelites were about to attack, or that any such advanced warnings were provided to such cities and towns.
However, some people have extra thick skulls and demand more evidence than this.  I will now provide some additional evidence, but I consider this to be ICING ON THE CAKE, not essential to supporting my point of view that NO advanced warnings were provided to the towns in the Promised Land that were attacked by Joshua and the Israelites (according to the Book of Joshua).

Joshua Chapter 6

1 Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in.   Joshua 6:1 (New Revised Standard Version)
20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. 
21 Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.   Joshua 6:20-21 (New Revised Standard Version)
There is no mention of a demand by Jehovah to give advanced warning to the inhabitants of Jericho so that the inhabitants would have an opportunity to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.  In fact, the first verse indicates that the city was “shut up inside and out” and that “no one came out and no one came in”.
There is no mention of Joshua ordering that the inhabitants of Jericho be given advanced warning so that the inhabitants would have an opportunity to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.
Finally, there is no mention of there being an advanced warning so that the inhabitants would have the opportunity to flee and thus avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.  And yet, we are told that “all in the city” including “men and women, young and old” were “devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword”.  So, Joshua and the Israeilites carried out Jehovah’s command to kill every living person in that city.

Joshua Chapter 8

24 When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and attacked it with the edge of the sword. 
25 The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. 
26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the sword, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.  Joshua 8:24-26 (New Revised Standard Version)
There is no mention of Jehovah demanding that advanced warning be given to the inhabitants of Ai so that they would have the opportunity to flee the city and avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.
There is no mention of Joshua ordering that advanced warning be given to the inhabitants of Ai so that they would have the opportunity to flee the city and avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.
There is no mention of any advanced warning being given to the inhabitants of Ai so that they would have the opportunity to flee the city and avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites.
And yet, we are told that “all the people of Ai” including “both men and women” and numbering “twelve thousand” people were MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by “the edge of the sword” so that they were “utterly destroyed” by Joshua and the Israelites.
Notice a pattern here?  No advanced warnings, yet the inhabitants of towns were MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, and no survivors were left alive.  Sound a bit like the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of entire towns by Moses and the Israelites?  It is the SAME MO: No advanced warnings, yet the inhabitants of towns were MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED, and no survivors were left alive.
There is plenty more MERCILESS SLAUGHTERING left to go in the Book of Joshua.  I’m just getting warmed up here.

Joshua Chapter 10

Chapter 10 of the Book of Joshua is a five-course meal of MERCILESS SLAUGHTER, so let’s dive in:
28 Joshua took Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
29 Then Joshua passed on from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah, and fought against Libnah.
30 The Lord gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel; and he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left no one remaining in it; and he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31 Next Joshua passed on from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish, and laid siege to it, and assaulted it.
32 The Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he took it on the second day, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah.
33 Then King Horam of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, leaving him no survivors.
34 From Lachish Joshua passed on with all Israel to Eglon; and they laid siege to it, and assaulted it;
35 and they took it that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword; and every person in it he utterly destroyed that day, as he had done to Lachish.
36 Then Joshua went up with all Israel from Eglon to Hebron; they assaulted it,
37 and took it, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it; he left no one remaining, just as he had done to Eglon, and utterly destroyed it with every person in it.
38 Then Joshua, with all Israel, turned back to Debir and assaulted it,
39 and he took it with its king and all its towns; they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining; just as he had done to Hebron, and, as he had done to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and its king.
40 So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.   Joshua 10:28-40 (New Revised Standard Version)
OK.  So, what I see here is lots of MERCILESS SLAUGHTER where Joshua and the Israelites kill every living person in a town, including civilians, including elderly men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, teenagers, young children, and babies.
What about advanced warnings being provided to these towns?  What about giving the inhabitants of these towns an opportunity to flee and avoid being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the Israelites?  Not so much.  Not seeing that here.
Jehovah doesn’t demand that advanced warnings be given to any of these towns.  Joshua doesn’t order that advanced warnings be given to any of these towns, and there is no indication that I can see of any of these towns actually being given an advanced warning.   Yet, once again, we see an abundance of MERCILESS SLAUGHTERING in every case.
Perhaps, (just taking a wild shot in the dark here) this is because that is PRECISELY what Jehovah commanded Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites to do!  Because Jehovah is a Selfish Jerk, and because Jehovah is a Cruel and Bloodthirsty Tyrant, and the King of Sexism and of the King of Male Chauvinist Piggery, but mostly because Jehovah LOVES BLOODSHED and killing people.
And now for dessert, a final serving of assorted MERCILESS SLAUGHTER with a single serving of Hazor flambe.

Joshua Chapter 11

 1 When King Jabin of Hazor heard of this, he sent to King Jobab of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, 
2 and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west, 
3 to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 
4 They came out, with all their troops, a great army, in number like the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 
5 All these kings joined their forces, and came and camped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel. 
8 And the Lord handed them over to Israel, who attacked them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, until they had left no one remaining.     Joshua 11:1-5 & 8  (New Revised Standard Version)
10 Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and struck its king down with the sword. Before that time Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms.
11 And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire.
12 And all the towns of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took, and struck them with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded.
13 But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua did burn.
14 All the spoil of these towns, and the livestock, the Israelites took for their booty; but all the people they struck down with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed.
15 As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.    Joshua 11:10-15 (New Revised Standard Version)
Once again, no mention of Jehovah demanding advanced warnings be given, no orders by Joshua to provide advanced warnings, and no indication that advanced warnings were actually provided to any of these towns.  Yet, we are told about lots of MERCILESS SLAUGHTERING, with NO SURVIVORS LEFT ALIVE.  
The stories about the Israelites attacking towns in the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua are consistent: no advanced warnings are ever mentioned, but in every case there is the MERILESS SLAUGHTER of every living person in those towns.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 8: Warnings?

I promised that I would address the question of whether, according to the OT, Moses and Joshua consistently provided advanced warnings before they attacked a town or city, so that people had at least a few days to leave and escape “utter destruction” and “extermination” by the army of Israel, and I will begin to address that question in this post. 
 
TWO FINAL NAILS IN THE COFFIN OF THE LOCKER-ROOM TALK DEFENSE 
However, before I get into the question about advanced warnings, I have a bit of unfinished business with this pathetic justification of Jehovah:

The command of Jehovah to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every man, woman, child, and baby in the cities and towns of the Canaanites was just locker-room talk, that command was not intended to be taken literally.

There are at least two Old Testament passages that provide powerful evidence against this attempted justification of Jehovah.  The first passage is about how Moses interpreted Jehovah’s will concerning the attack of Israel against the Midianites:
9 The Israelites took the women of Midian and their little ones captive; and they took all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods as booty.
10 All their towns where they had settled, and all their encampments, they burned,
11 but they took all the spoil and all the booty, both people and animals.
12 Then they brought the captives and the booty and the spoil to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the Israelites, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
13 Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation went to meet them outside the camp.
14 Moses became angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war.
15 Moses said to them, “Have you allowed all the women to live?
16 These women here, on Balaam’s advice, made the Israelites act treacherously against the Lord in the affair of Peor, so that the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.
17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him.
18 But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Numbers 31:7-18 (New Revised Standard Version)

(illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)
Five kings of Midian slain by Israel

Moses, the prophet who spoke with Jehovah face-to-face, clearly understood that Jehovah wanted more than just the slaughter of every soldier, more than just the slaughter of every adult man.  Moses was angry that women and children had been spared.  Moses ordered that all the mothers and wives and older women (the non-virgins) be slaughtered too, along with the male children and babies. Only the “young girls” who were virgins were to be kept alive.
The whole point of this story would be destroyed if we try to twist the words to mean that somehow Moses really was merciful and allowed women and children to be spared from the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER by the army of Israel.  Nobody knew the intentions of Jehovah better than Moses, and we see here that Moses believed that when Jehovah spoke of massive and MERCILESS SLAUGHTER, Jehovah meant what he said.
Another OT passage has another prophet of Jehovah doing basically the same thing as Moses did in the above passage. 
First  Jehovah commands King Saul to kill every single Amalekite and even to kill their animals:
1 Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord.
2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.
3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”
1 Samuel 15:1-3 (New Revised Standard Version)
Saul Attacks the Amalekites, and he and his army kills every man, woman, and child, except for Agag, the king of the Amalekites.  And they also kill many of the animals of the Amalekites, but keep a few of the best animals alive  (1 Samuel 15:7-9).
Then Jehovah becomes displeased with king Saul.  Now, if Jehovah’s command to “kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” was merely “locker room” talk, and Jehovah did not intend for this command to be understood literally, then Jehovah would indeed have been angry with Saul and Jehovah would have said something like this:

You MORON!  Why did you slaughter the women and children and infants of the Amalekites?  You KNOW that I am a merciful god, and that every human life is sacred, so you cannot have seriously believed that I would command you to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER women and children and babies!  What the hell is wrong with you?!  Why did I put a complete IDIOT like you into a position of such power and authority?

But, that is NOT why Jehovah became displeased with Saul.  It was because Saul had spared one human life, and the lives of a few of the best animals belonging to the Amalekites. 
Samuel, a prophet of Jehovah, explains Jehovah’s anger to Saul:
10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel:
11 “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night.
12 Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, “Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” He replied, “Speak.”
17 Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.
18 And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’
19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?
1 Samuel 15:10-19 (New Revised Standard Version)
In other words, Saul did not carry out every last detail of Jehovah’s command to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites.  Saul spared the life of one human being, and spared the lives of a few animals, and that made Jehovah furious with Saul.  Later in the same chapter, the prophet Samuel finishes off the last surviving Amalekite: “…Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.”  (I Samuel 15:33).   (Samuel knew that Jehovah LOVES bloodshed and killing people.)
Moses, the prophet who spoke face-to-face with Jehovah, and also the prophet of Jehovah named Samuel, understood that when Jehovah says to “utterly destroy” every living creature, Jehovah means what he says
Jehovah doesn’t do “locker room” talk.  When Jehovah orders you to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER elderly men and women, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, teenagers, children, and babies, then you had better do PRECISELY what Jehovah has commanded, or else Jehovah will be FURIOUS with you.  Jehovah is a Selfish Jerk.  Jehovah is the King of Sexism, and  Jehovah is a Bloodthirsty Tyrant.  Jehovah LOVES bloodshed and killing people.
 
DID MOSES CONSISTENTLY GIVE ADVANCED WARNINGS TO TOWNS?
According to the biblical account of the Conquest of Canaan in the book of Deuteronomy, with perhaps some additional information from Exodus, did Joshua consistently provide a warning to the cities and towns that he was preparing to attack, giving civilians at least a few days notice to leave that town or city or else face extermination at the hands of the army of Israel?
Correction:  the story of the Conquest of Canaan appears primarily in the Book of Joshua of the Old Testament.  Deuteronomy and Numbers contain stories about the Israelites conquering territories east of the Jordan river,  and the Book of Joshua has stories about the Israelites conquering territory in the promised land, after they crossed the Jordan river, under the leadership of Joshua.  The Book of Judges presents an alternative account of the Conquest of Canaan that does not line up with the account in the Book of Joshua.
So, my main focus is on Deuteronomy and Numbers for the attacks of the Israelites led by Moses on territories east of the Jordan river, and on the Book of Joshua for the attacks of the Israelites on territories after the Israelites crossed the Jordan river, attacks that were led by Joshua.
Let’s begin with Moses, and the attacks of the Israelites on towns and cities east of the Jordan river.
The Israelites attacked the towns of the Canaanites of Arad in Numbers 21:1-3.

  • There is no mention of Jehovah demanding that advanced warnings be given to any of these Canaanite towns. 
  • There is no mention of Moses ordering that advanced warnings be given to any of these Canaanite towns. 
  • There is no mention of advanced warnings being given to any of these Canaanite towns. 

Yet we are told that,
The Lord listened to the voice of Israel, and handed over the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their towns… (Numbers 21:3, New Revised Standard Version)
So, it looks like no advanced warnings were given to the towns of the Canaanites of Arad, and yet everybody in those towns was MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED.
Next we have the story of the Israelites attacking the towns of the Amorites under King Sihon in Numbers 21:23-25.

  • There is no mention of Jehovah demanding that advanced warnings be issued to any of the towns of the Amorites. 
  • There is no mention of Moses ordering that advanced warnings be issued to any of the towns of the Amorites. 
  • There is no mention of there being advanced warnings issued to any of the towns of the Amorites. 

This story does not specify whether any inhabitants of these towns were left alive.  However, the next story refers back to this one, and implies that all of the inhabitants (men, women, teenagers, children, and babies) of these towns of the Amorites were MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED.
Next we have the story of the Israelites attack on the people of Bashon and their King Og in Numbers 21:33-35.

  • There is no mention of Jehovah demanding that advanced warnings be issued to the people of Bashon.  
  • There is no mention of Moses ordering that advanced warnings be issued to the people of Bashon. 
  • There is no mention of there being advanced warnings issued to the people of Bashon.

Yet we are told that the army of Israel
killed him [Og the King of Bashon], his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left… (Numbers 21:35, New Revised Standard Version)
Once again, it appears that no advanced warnings were given, but that all of the people of Bashon were MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by the Israelites.
In the story of the slaughter of the people of Bashon, Jehovah instructs Moses to follow the pattern established in the previous war against the Amorites:
But the Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him; for I have given him into your hand, with all his people, and all his land. You shall do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.”
Given that Moses and the Israelites ended up MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING every one of the people of Bashon, in addition to King Og of Bashon, it is reasonable to infer that this was the same way that Moses and the Israelites had previously dealt with the Amorites under King Sihon.  So, this implies that in the previous war against the Amorites, Moses and the Israelites had also MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every man, woman, and child in the Amorite towns under King Sihon.
A final example is the story of Moses and the Israelites attacking Midianite towns near the promised land in Numbers 31:7-18.  This story is quoted and discussed up above at the beginning of this post.  In that story we find the same familiar pattern as with the previous three stories:

  • There is no mention of Jehovah demanding that advanced warnings be given to any of these Midianite towns. 
  • There is no mention of Moses ordering that advanced warnings be given to any of these Midianite towns. 
  • There is no mention of advanced warnings being given to any of these Midianite towns. 

According to the account in Numbers 31:7-18, every man was killed (that would include elderly men as well as husbands and fathers), and under the specific command of Moses, elderly women, mothers, and wives were also killed, as well as teenage boys, young boys, and baby boys.  The only Midianites who Moses allowed to survive were young (virginal) girls, and perhaps baby girls.
Based on these four stories about Moses and the Israelites attacking various cities and towns near the promised land, it looks like Moses set a bad example for Joshua by: (a) failing to issue advanced warnings to cities or towns prior to attacking them, and (b) proceeding to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every person, including civilians, including elderly men and women, including mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, teenagers, young children, and babies (with the minor exception of the towns of the Midianites where Moses had the young virginal girls spared, but not mothers and not wives, not elderly men or elderly women, not teenage boys, not young boys, and not baby boys).
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UPDATE ON 5/14/20:
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Numbers 21 does not mention anything about an advanced warning to the Amorite towns; however, the account of the Israelite battle against King Sihon and the Amorites found in Deuteronomy does mention an effort to avoid war with the Amorites by offering terms of peace to King Sihon in which he would allow the Israelites to pass through his territory peacefully (Deuteronomy 2:26-35).  So, there was at least that effort made to avoid war and deaths of Amorites.
However, the offering of terms of peace to a King is NOT the same as providing advanced warnings to each city or town that was going to be “utterly destroyed”, and according to the passage in Deuteronomy, Jehovah hardened the heart of King Sihon, just so the Israelites would go to war with him and the Amorites, and make an example out of them.  So, the text makes it clear that Jehovah did NOT want to spare any of the Amorites from being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED.
Furthermore, in Chapter 20 of Deuteronomy, Moses instructs the Israelites to offer towns the chance to peacefully surrender (the people have to agree to become slaves of the Israelites in order to be spared), but it is very clear that such an offer was NOT to be made to the cities and towns that the Israelites were to attack and take over in the promised land (in the wars of aggression that Joshua would lead after the Israelites crossed the Jordon river):

 16 But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. 
17 You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded…    Deuteronomy 20:16-17  (New Revised Standard Version)

Also, the passage in Deuteronomy confirms my conclusion that the Israelites MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED every man, woman, child, and baby in the towns of the Amorites that were under the rule of King Sihon:
33 the Lord our God gave him over to us; and we struck him [King Sihon] down, along with his offspring and all his people.
34 At that time we captured all his towns, and in each town we utterly destroyed men, women, and children. We left not a single survivor.
Deuteronomy 2:33-34 (New Revised Standard Version)

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 7: Rant Off

***RANT OFF***
I’m feeling much better now, thank you.  Haven’t been up on that particular soapbox for that long before.  Did feel pretty good to stomp on the that was just “locker room” talk by Jehovah  bullshit.
Now that I have that out of my system, it is time to return to my original task, which was to reply to a different attempt to justify Jehovah’s command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER Canaanites, including civilians, including elderly women and men, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, teenage boys and girls, young children, and babies.
In the view of at least one reader of my posts, Joshua’s MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of the Canaanites (and Jehovah’s command to perform this slaughter) was MORALLY JUSTIFIED because:

(a) they were given the chance to flee, and

(b) they belonged to a culture where some people did “some pretty disgusting things” like burning children to death, and

(c) the culture they belonged to engaged in “some pretty disgusting things” for a period of 400 years.

This is an important issue, because one reason for my claim that Jesus was a morally flawed person, is that Jesus was named after Joshua, the very famous warrior of Israel, and yet Jesus did NOT reject his own name and give himself a new name.
I see Jesus’ inaction on this matter as analogous to a German boy being named “Adolf” in the 1940s or 1950s and failing to change his name after learning about the bloodthirsty mass-murderer Adolf Hitler.  I grant that failing to disown the name “Adolf” is not a terrible sin, but it is clearly evidence that the person is a morally flawed person.   A person of complete moral integrity and strong moral sensitivity would be disgusted upon learning that they were named after the leader of the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of millions (or tens of thousands) of civilians, including elderly men and women, husbands and wives, teenagers, children, and babies.

Hitler shaking hands with Catholic dignitaries in Germany in the 1930s

So, Jesus’ failure to disown his given name (i.e. “Joshua”) shows that Jesus was a morally flawed person, and thus NOT the divine Son of God. (“Yeshua” was the actual name of the carpenter from Galilee. “Jesus” is a poor English transliteration of the Greek name assigned by the Gospels to the carpenter from Galilee, but he and his family and his disciples did NOT speak Greek, so he was never in his lifetime called by the Greek name found in the Gospels, at least not by any friends or followers or family members.)
 
THE CANAANITES WERE “GIVEN THE CHANCE TO FLEE”
First of all, it is far from clear that the Canaanites were “given the chance to flee”.  But let’s set that objection aside for the moment.  Suppose that in every case Joshua and the army of Israel provided advanced notice to Canaanite towns and cities before they attempted to invade a town or city, and the inhabitants of each town or city were given a few days to leave and were WARNED that they would face “utter destruction” and “extermination” by Joshua and his army if they chose to remain in that town or city.
That would certainly be LESS EVIL than simply attacking Canaanite towns and cities without any warning, and MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING every person, including civilians, including elderly men and women, fathers and mothers, teenagers, children, and babies.  But the fact that some Canaanites failed to leave their town or city and leave their homes behind does not in any way JUSTIFY the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of hundreds or thousands of civilians.
Such a justification would clearly be an example of BLAMING THE VICTIM.   Here is an example of this sort of pathetic attempt at justification of evil:

“I told her I would cut her throat if she screamed while I raped her, but then she had to go ahead and scream anyway!  So, I cut her throat.  Just like I said I would.  I gave her fair warning, and she ignored the warning, so she got what was coming to her.

Sorry, that doesn’t even come close to being a MORAL JUSTIFICATION for cutting a woman’s throat.  Yes, it is LESS EVIL to have provided the warning, than to have simply cut the woman’s throat without any warning, but the action is still morally wrong, and it is still EVIL.  The blame cannot reasonably be shifted from the murderer to his victim.
Furthermore, this sort of lame justification is even LESS reasonable in Joshua’s case, because it is obvious that young children and babies have no choice to leave their home and their town.  That choice is made by their parents.  If their parents decide to stay, then the young children and babies will stay.
Teenagers might have a chance to flee independently of their parent’s choice to stay, but what are their chances of survival in the ancient world on their own, without food and money and without their parents to help them survive?  That would be an extremely difficult choice for a teenager to make, to leave their home and leave their town and leave their parents and leave their younger siblings behind them, and head out into a dangerous world all alone.
Elderly men and women might also have little or no choice here.  They might not be capable of walking at all, or of walking for the hours or days required to escape from the battles to come, and even if they were able to walk the long distance necessary to get to safety, they probably would not be able to earn a living in a new town or city, and would then remain homeless and would likely then starve to death.
In other words, many elderly people were dependent on their sons or daughters for their food, clothing, and shelter, and thus, like young children would have no real choice as to whether to stay or leave town.  The choice would rest with the son or daughter upon whom they were dependent.
If an elderly couple was living with one of their sons or daughters, and their son or daughter was married and had children, then if the elderly couple was unable to walk the long distance required to get to safety, then their son or daughter would have to choose between (a) fleeing with just their children and abandoning their parents to be MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and the soldiers of Israel, and (b) staying at home, staying in town, and attempting to protect their elderly parents (and their children) from being MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERED by Joshua and his soldiers.  We could hardly blame them for choosing to stay to try to protect their own parents.  But that would mean that their children had little or no choice but to stay in town with their parents.
 
DID JOSHUA CONSISTENTLY GIVE ADVANCED WARNINGS TO CANAANITES?
All of the above objections grant the assumption that Joshua consistently provided advanced notice to each Canaanite town and city that he was about to invade, and provided a few days for the inhabitants to escape, and travel to another town or city that was not immediately targeted for MERCILESS SLAUGHTER or “utter destruction” or “extermination”.  But what is the evidence that this is what Joshua actually did?
One problem in answering this question is that Joshua probably never existed, and it is probably the case that there was no Moses, no Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and no Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites.  Also, if there was an historical Moses, and if there was an actual Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and if there was a conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, these are events that are well-hidden in the mists of time.
We do not have any accurate and reliable historical information about the details of these events, as is obvious from the facts that (a) it is doubtful that any of these events actually occurred, (b) even among historians who think these events occurred there is no agreement on when they occurred, and (c) the biblical books about these events are taken by historical scholars to be mostly legends written down several hundreds of years after the alleged events took place, and thus are highly unreliable as historical documents.  (“But setting that aside, Mrs. Lincoln,  did you enjoy the play?”)
Another problem, which may actually help us out here, is that my moral objections to Jehovah, and Moses and Joshua are BASED ON the assumption that Exodus and Deuteronomy provide reliable historical accounts of the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan, and of the lives of Moses and Joshua.  More precisely,  my moral objections aimed at Christians and Jews, and Jesus, are BASED ON the assumption that Jesus viewed the OT as providing reliable historical accounts of these events and of the lives of Moses and Joshua, and that many Christians and Jews (both past and present) share this assumption with Jesus.
If we now start discussing details about ACTUAL HISTORICAL EVENTS in the lives of Moses and Joshua, we are setting aside the point of view of Jesus and of many Christians and Jews that involves the assumption that Exodus and Deuteronomy provide reliable historical information about the lives of Moses and Joshua and about the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan.
So, if we focus on ACTUAL HISTORICAL EVENTS and details about those events, and if we base our conclusions on modern scholarly study about those alleged events, then we are departing from the point of view of Jesus and of many Christians and Jews, and thus we are setting aside the basis of my moral objections to Jesus and to many Christians and Jews (past and present).
Because it is clearly HOPELESS to try to prove historical claims, particularly details, about the Exodus or the Conquest of Canaan, there can be NO REASONABLE DEFENSE of Jehovah, Moses, or Joshua by that means (other than to DENY that the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of Canaanites ever happened).
However, because my objection against Jesus and against many Christians and Jews (past and present) is based on their holding the view that the OT stories about these events are historically reliable, then it makes sense to focus on this question about the relevant biblical texts:

According to the biblical account of the Conquest of Canaan in the Book of Joshua, did Joshua consistently provide a warning to the cities and towns that he was preparing to attack, giving civilians at least a few days notice to leave that town or city or else face extermination at the hands of the army of Israel?

That is a question I will consider in Part 8 of this series of posts.
To Be Continued…

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 6: King of Sexism

JEHOVAH: THE KING OF SEXISM
There is a videotape of Donald Trump saying this:

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

[from a SLATE article, emphasis added:
Trump Was Recorded in 2005 Bragging About Grabbing Women “by the Pussy”]
Trump might soon point at Biden and accuse him of being “a sexist and a Male Chauvinist Pig”, but this would be an insincere and disingenuous statement, just another bit of BULLSHIT uttered by Trump to keep the morons who support him cheering.
Donald Trump is clearly a sexist and a Male Chauvinist Pig.  However, I am sorry to say, he is NOT the worst sexist or the worst Male Chauvinist Pig in the world.  There are some sexists and Male Chauvinist Pigs that even Donald Trump would find objectionable, of whom Trump would say they were, “disgusting sexists and revolting Male Chauvinist Pigs”, and mean this genuinely and sincerely.
When Trump retires from the Presidency, he might decide to learn how to READ.  If he learns how to read, then there is a good chance that he will try reading the most published book in the world: the Bible.  And if Trump reads the first part of the Bible (the Old Testament), and learns about the character called “Jehovah”, he might very well conclude that “Jehovah is a disgusting sexist and a revolting Male Chauvinist Pig!” and mean this with all sincerity.  Jehovah is the KING of sexism and of Male Chauvinist Piggery; Jehovah makes Donald Trump look like a rank amateur.
 
THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT AND JEHOVAH
Here is the seventh commandment, from several major English translations, spanning four centuries:

on the door of the Madeleine Place de La Madeleine, Paris.
‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ (Nathan confronts David)

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (1599, Geneva Bible)
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (1611, King James Version)
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (1901, American Standard Version)
14 You shall not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (1989, New Revised Standard Version)
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (Updated 1995, New American Standard Bible )
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
Exodus 20:14 (Updated 2011,New International Version)
This verse in Exodus has been MISTRANSLATED in every major English translation of the Bible for over four centuries.  I don’t know of any version of the Bible, in which this verse is translated correctly into English.
But anyone who has more than two brain cells to rub together and a modicum of knowledge about the Old Testament can easily determine that the above translations of Exodus 20:14 are WRONG.
Thus, it appears that either Bible translators have for centuries been unbelievably STUPID or unbelievably IGNORANT, or just happy to DECEIVE billions of Christian believers by failing to provide an accurate translation of this commandment (supposedly from the creator of the universe).  In any case, translators of the Bible clearly don’t give a damn about whether this verse is correctly translated or not.
The word “adultery” is clearly a mistaken translation of the original text.  Here is what the word “adultery” means in the English language:

voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than that person’s current spouse or partner

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adultery
So, if the above traslations of Exodus 20:14 were CORRECT, the meaning of the seventh commandment would be the same as this “Prohibition of Adultery”:

PoA:  You shall not have voluntary sexual intercourse between two people, where one person is married and the other person is NOT his or her spouse.

But for anyone who has more than two brain cells to rub together and a bit of knowledge of the Old Testament, this is clearly NOT what Exodus 20:14 means.  Therefore, all of the above translations of Exodus 20:14 are WRONG.
Exodus 20:14 does NOT prohibit a married man from having sex with an unmarried woman, nor does it prohibit an unmarried woman from having sex with a married man.  It also does NOT prohibit a married woman from having sex with an unmarried woman, nor does it prohibit an unmarried woman from having sex with a married woman.  It does not prohibit a married woman from having sex with another married woman. It also does not prohibit a married man from having sex with another man (either married or unmarried).  So, Exodus 20:14 clearly does NOT have the same meaning as (PoA), because (PoA) implies ALL of these prohibitions.
The clear meaning of Exodus 20:14, based on the context of this verse, is as follows:

You (men) shall not have sex with a woman who is the wife of another man.

Exodus 20:14 does NOT state or imply this prohibition:

You (women) shall not have sex with a man who is the husband of another woman.

Why the lack of a parallel sexual prohibition addressed to women? Jehovah considered the wife (or wives) of a man to be HIS PROPERTY.  But Jehovah did NOT consider the husband of a woman to be HER PROPERTY.  Husbands OWN their wives.  Wives do not OWN their husbands.  So, the seventh commandment basically means this:  Men, don’t mess with the valuable PROPERTY of another man, specifically don’t mess with his wife (or wives).
That this is the intended meaning of Exodus 20:14 can be inferred from a number of related Old Testament passages, including the statement of the tenth “commandment,” which is given just a few verses later in Exodus:
17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.   Exodus 20:17 (New Revised Standard Version)
Note that Jehovah says NOTHING about coveting your neighbor’s husband.  The tenth commandment is clearly addressed to MEN, and not to women.  “You (MEN) shall not covet your (MALE) neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your (MALE) neighbor’s wife…”  The seventh commandment is similarly addressed to MEN, and not to women.
In the tenth “commandment” a man’s wife appears in a list of items of PROPERTY, each item being something “that belongs to your (Male) neighbor”.  The list also appears to be ordered from most valuable to least valuable items of PROPERTY:

  1. house
  2. wife
  3. slave
  4. ox
  5. donkey
  6. other property

Note that a man’s wife was considered by Jehovah to be of less value than his house.
Another important bit of context that reveals the meaning of Exodus 20:14, is that ALL of the Ten Commandments were addressed to MEN, and not to women.  It is not just the tenth commandment which is addressed to men.  Jehovah gave these commandments to Moses who in turn was to give them to the MEN of Israel.  This can clearly be seen in the chapter in Exodus that immediately precedes the chapter with the Ten Commandments:
10 the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes
11 and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
[…] 
14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes.
15 And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
Exodus 19:10-15 (New Revised Standard Version)
Who are “the people” that Jehovah and Moses are talking about and talking to?  Since Moses tells “the people” that they should “not go near a woman”, it is clear that Moses takes “the people” to mean the MEN of Israel.  Moses was telling the MEN of Israel to NOT have sex with a woman, or to be around women at all, prior to his bringing the Ten Commandments to them from Jehovah.
Since Moses knew Jehovah better than anyone, it is safe to infer that when Jehovah was talking about “the people”, Jehovah meant the MEN of Israel, not the women, not the girls, and probably not the young boys either.  So, Jehovah gives the commandments to Moses and Moses addresses the commandments to the MEN of Israel, not to the women, not to the girls, and probably not to the young boys.
The intended audience of the Ten Commandments, spelled out in Chapter 19 of Exodus, thus provides further evidence that the correct interpretation of Exodus 20:14 is what I previously indicated:

You (men) shall not have sex with a woman who is the wife of another man.

There is still more strong evidence supporting this interpretation of Exodus 20:14, namely the passages that spell out the punishment for violating the seventh commandment:
22 If a man is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman as well as the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.   Deuteronomy 22:22 (New Revised Standard Version)
10 If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.   Leviticus 20:10 (New Revised Standard Version)
Once again, we see that Jehovah LOVES BLOODSHED and killing people.  So far, Jehovah has demanded that the punishment for the enforcement of seven of his commandments be DEATH.  This adds to the evidence that Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.  (If anyone who has read my previous posts suggests that this is merely “locker room” talk by Jehovah, and that Jehovah did not mean this literally, then I can only conclude that they have either forgotten to take their medications today, or that they are several fries short of a happy meal).
Note that these passages don’t say “If a woman is caught lying with the husband of another woman…”  There is no such verse in the Old Testament.  There is no such verse, because the seventh commandment was addressed to MEN, and was only concerned with protecting the PROPERTY of MEN, which includes their wives.
There is much more in the Old Testament showing that Jehovah is the KING of sexism and the KING of Male Chauvinist Piggery.  But I’m going to just summarize some of the other evidence, and draw this examination of the seventh commandment to a close:

  • Fathers can sell their daughters into slavery, indicating that Jehovah views unmarried women and girls as the property of their fathers. (Exodus 21:7)
  • Women who are raped in a town or city who don’t scream for help (perhaps because a knife was held to her throat), are to be put to death.  (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
  • Women who cannot prove they were virgins on their wedding night are (if the groom complains) to be put to death.  There is, of course, no such requirement for men.  (Deuteronomy 22:13-14 & 20-21)
  • Although Jehovah spells out many different kinds of incest and “deviant” sex that are prohibited, there is NO PROHIBITION against a father having sex with his own daughter, presumably because she is the PROPERTY of her father.  (Leviticus 20:10-21) 
  • Women who are believed (by ignorant superstitious nomads) to be witches are to be put to death. (Exodus 22:18)

Although Donald Trump might want to have sex with his own daughter,  I don’t think he would ever say (or believe) that it is OK for fathers to have sex with their own daughters.  Nor would Trump agree that daughters are the PROPERTY of their fathers.  Trump would find the idea of a father selling his daughter into slavery to be disgusting, and I think he would strongly object to his daughter being assigned the DEATH PENALTY for failing to scream for help while she was being raped.  Donald Trump would find such a law to be disgusting and repulsive and inhumane.
That is because, even though Trump is a sexist and a Male Chauvinist Pig, he doesn’t hold a candle to the sexist and Male Chauvinist Pig named Jehovah.  Jehovah is the KING of sexism, and the KING of Male Chauvinist Piggery, and Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.
The first seven of the NINE COMMANDMENTS plus the tenth “commandment” (which is really just some psychological advice to help people obey the previous actual commandments), reveal that Jehovah is precisely the sort of person who would command the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of civilians, of elderly men and women, of mothers and fathers, of teenage girls and boys, of children, and of babies.  So, the “locker room” talk justification of Jehovah is clearly PURE BULLSHIT.
Because of Jehovah’s extreme sexism, he would have no serious problem with ordering the slaughter of elderly women, wives and mothers, teenage girls, young girls, and baby girls, and because of his LOVE of BLOODSHED, he could be OK with ordering the slaughter of elderly men, husbands and fathers, teenage boys, young boys, and baby boys too.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 5: Pro-Life Hypocrisy

Before Moses and the nation of Israel reached the Jordan river, Jehovah was busy revealing himself to be a SELFISH JERK and a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.  The attempt to justify and excuse Jehovah’s command to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER thousands of Canaanites, including civilians, including elderly men and women, mothers and fathers, teenage boys and girls, young children, and babies, on the grounds that Jehovah’s command was merely “locker room” talk, not meant to be interpreted literally, and that the Old Testament stories about Moses and Joshua and the army of Israel following this horrible command were also nothing but “locker room” talk, is BULLSHIT.
We know that this is a pathetic attempt to rationalize the cruelty and injustice of Jehovah,  because it was ALREADY clear, before Moses and Israel arrived at the Jordan river, that Jehovah was a SELFISH JERK, and that Jehovah was a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.  It was ALREADY clear that Jehovah was precisely the sort of person who would command the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of thousands of human beings, including civilians, including elderly men and women, mothers and fathers, teenage boys and girls, young children, and babies.  We can know this on the basis of understanding the Ten Commandments given by Jehovah to Moses.
I part 4 of this series I argued that two general points about the Ten Commandments support the view that Jehovah was a SELFISH JERK.  I also argued that Jehovah’s demand that the first four commandments, which are RELIGIOUS LAWS (or alleged duties of humans towards God), be enforced by the most extreme penalty, i.e. the death penalty (and in some cases, the indiscriminate slaughter of entire towns), shows that Jehovah was a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.  

It is now time to consider the FIVE remaining commandments, which are about human duties towards other humans (the 10th “commandment” is psychological advice, and thus not a requirement about actions, like the other nine):

5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not murder.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

For the complete and precise wording(s), see Exodus 20:1–17 and  Deuteronomy 5:4–21.
The above summary is from the Wikipedia article “Ten Commandments“.
 
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT AND JEHOVAH
Here is the fifth commandment as stated in the book of Exodus:
12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.    Exodus 20:12  (New Revised Standard Version)
I have no problem with the idea that children ought to respect and obey their parents, at least if their parents aren’t criminals or drug addicts, and if their parents don’t physically or sexually or psychologically abuse them.  Parent’s generally know better than their children, especially young children, what is good and healthy and safe, and what is bad and unhealthy and unsafe.  So, it is (usually) better for children to respect and obey their parents, better for their own health, safety, and well-being.
However, it was extremely cruel and unjust for Jehovah to enforce this as a LAW using the most extreme form of punishment: the death penalty.  In the very next chapter, we see that Jehovah, once again, loves cruelty and bloodshed:
15 Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.
17 Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death.   Exodus 21:15 & 17  (New Revised Standard Version)
It shouldn’t be necessary (at this point) to argue against the pathetic rationalization of Jehovah’s cruelty that consists of the implausible claim that this is just “locker room” talk by Jehovah, and that the death penalty was not really intended to be used against those who violate the fifth commandment.
However, there is some further evidence that shows this lame excuse will not work here.  First, the initial four commandments concerning human duties towards God were ALL enforced by the threat of DEATH.  So, it is only reasonable to expect that the very first commandment concerning human duties towards other humans would be one of the most important of such duties, and thus would also, like all four previous commandments, be enforced by the threat of DEATH.
Second, the book of Leviticus re-iterates Jehovah’s call for the death penalty:
9 All who curse father or mother shall be put to death; having cursed father or mother, their blood is upon them.   Leviticus 20:9 (New Revised Standard Version)
Third, the book of Deuteronomy provides a specific procedure for implementing the death penalty in such cases:
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him,
19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place.
20 They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.”
21 Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid.  Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (New Revised Standard Version)
So, YES, Jehovah really did mean what he said.  Jehovah commanded that disobedient and disrespectful children be PUT TO DEATH.  The fifth commandment thus shows us that Jehovah was a cruel  and bloodthirsty tyrant.
 
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT AND JEHOVAH

Here is how the sixth commandment is stated in the book of Exodus:
13 You shall not murder.  Exodus 20:13 (New Revised Standard Version)
It should be no surprise that Jehovah demanded that this sixth commandment, like all five previous commandments, was to be enforced by the threat of DEATH:
12 Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death.
13 If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee.
14 But if someone willfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution.   Exodus 21:12-17 (New Revised Standard Version)
That the law against murder was to be enforced by the death penalty is re-iterated in the book of Leviticus and in Numbers:
17 Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death.     Leviticus 24:17 (New Revised Standard Version)
30 If anyone kills another, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses; but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of a single witness.  Numbers 35:30  (New Revised Standard Version)
The idea that Jehovah’s demand for the death penalty in cases of murder was mere hyperbole  (“locker room” talk) is so ridiculous that I won’t bother to respond to that objection.  So, we now see that of the first six commandments, Jehovah required that each one of them was to be enforced by the threat of DEATH.
Now, from my point of view there is nothing unjust about the punishment for murder being the death penalty, EXCEPT for this one little problem:  ALL HAVE SINNED.  In other words, human beings, all human beings, are morally imperfect.  Some human beings are downright evil (e.g. people like Adolf Hitler who like to go around MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING elderly men and women, mothers and fathers, teenage boys and girls, young children, and babies).  Because people are morally imperfect, and also imperfect in their knowledge and beliefs, I don’t trust governments and legal systems to fairly and justly employ the penalty of death for any crime whatsoever.
Even with our modern system of justice, where accused persons have a right to remain silent, and have a right to have an attorney defend them (even if they cannot afford one), and have the right to a trial by jury, and have the right to cross examine those who testify in their trial, and who are supposed to be convicted ONLY IF the evidence leaves no room for reasonable doubt about their guilt, and who have many opportunities to appeal their conviction in higher courts, many innocent people are still convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  So, we ought not to entrust governments and legal systems with the tremendous power to use the death penalty, even though it is, in theory, fair and just to take the life of a murderer as punishment for their crime.
God is, by definition, all-knowing.  So, God, if God exists, knows that ALL HAVE SINNED.  God knows that all human beings are morally flawed, and that all human beings have flawed knowledge and beliefs, so God knows that it is likely that human governments and legal systems will often fail to do justice when a person is accused of murder.  So, God, if God exists, knows better than to DEMAND the death penalty even for the crime of murder, because that will clearly lead to the unjust killing of many innocent people by flawed human governments and legal systems.
But Jehovah, on the other hand, LOVES BLOODSHED.  So, of course Jehovah demanded that the sixth commandment, like the previous five commandments, be enforced by the threat of DEATH.  Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant, so he could care less if some innocent people are killed by flawed governments and legal systems.  Jehovah is just a SELFISH JERK.
There is another aspect of the sixth commandment that reveals the dark side of Jehovah’s character.  It is OK to kill your wife or son or daughter if you find out they have worshiped some god other than Jehovah.  In fact, it is YOUR DUTY to do so.  It is OK to kill an old man who was just picking up some sticks on a Saturday afternoon, to be able to cook up some soup for his wife. In fact, it is YOUR DUTY to do so.  It is OK to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER the elderly men and women, and mothers and fathers, and teenage boys and girls, and young children, and babies in a town, if some of the adults in that town have been worshiping some god other than Jehovah.  In fact, it is YOUR DUTY to do so.  It is OK to kill your own child, if that child has disobeyed or disrespected you and you report this bad behavior to the authorities.
So, Jehovah winks at a lot of killing, killing that any reasonable person would view as being homicide or murder.  So, the commandment against “murder” is not actually opposed to murder,  it only opposes those particular murders that Jehovah hasn’t already blessed.  Jehovah declares many forms of murder to be OK, and that is supposed to magically make it good.  But a rose by any other name, is still a rose.  So, the sixth commandment positively REEKS OF HYPOCRISY and DOUBLETHINK.
Jehovah is nothing but a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant; he could care less about the value of human lives or “the right to life” that so many Catholics and Evangelicals pretend to embrace.
Here is yet another example of Jehovah’s cruelty and injustice concerning murder:
20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 
21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.   Exodus 21:20-21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Notice that the punishment of the slave owner is NOT specified.  There is no DEMAND from Jehovah that the slave owner be KILLED or STONED TO DEATH as a punishment.
I’m sure that racist southern slave owners LOVED this bit of “wisdom” from Jehovah.  Some of them probably tattooed it onto the backs of their African slaves, or had this passage carved into a plaque to hang over their fireplaces.   According to Jehovah, they could beat a slave nearly to death, and refuse to have the wounds of the slave be properly attended to, and then when the slave died a day or two later, the slave owner would be completely innocent, and face no punishment whatsoever for having murdered another human being.
“You are MY PROPERTY, so it is OK for me to kill you – like Jehovah said.”  Once again, Jehovah wasn’t opposed to murder itself; he was only opposed to murder in some cases, when it suited him to oppose it.   Otherwise, Jehovah LOVES BLOODSHED and killing people.

 To Be Continued…

bookmark_borderOFF TOPIC: How to Take OUR Government Back

Magna Carta, 1215, England

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here is a VERY SIMPLE way to take OUR government back INSTANTLY.
Pass a law (or a Constitutional amendment if necessary) requiring the following:

  1. Anyone elected to Congress or to the office of President or Vice President  and anyone appointed to a cabinet position, must hand over ALL of their assets (including cash in bank accounts, stocks and bonds, precious metals, gems, cars, boats, houses, businesses, real estate, Amazon gift cards, etc.) to be held by a bank or by the government for the entire period of time that person serves as an official of the federal government (either in Congress or as President or Vice President or in the cabinet).
  2. While serving in Congress or as President or as Vice President or in the Cabinet, the financial needs of these public servants and their families would be met by: (a) Social Security checks, based on the average amount provided to ordinary citizens (who have worked for 40 years prior to retirement), (b) medicaid provided health care coverage, based on their income from Social Security payments, and (c) housing provided by the federal prison system (a block of prison cells consisting of one cell as an office for the government official, one cell for the bedroom of the official (and his/her spouse), one cell as a bedroom for each child, one cell as a family room, one cell as a kitchen area (equipped with a stove, a refrigerator, cabinets, and a dishwasher, and a kitchen sink)  one cell as a bathroom (equipped with a bath/shower, a toilet, and a sink).
  3. If the income from Social Security was deemed inadequate, and if the Medicaid provided health coverage was deemed inadequate, and if the prison provided housing was deemed inadequate (unsafe or inhumane), then of course any official of Congress would be free to propose in Congress changes to the amount provided in Social Security payments, and to the level of health care coverage provided by Medicaid, and to the quality and safety of cells in the federal prison system, but no improvements to these government programs could be enacted solely for officials in Congress or in the White House, but must be completely general in nature; thus, any improvements and enhancements to Social Security payments for federal officials would also apply to ordinary citizens who receive Social Security payments, and any changes or improvements to Medicaid assistance would also apply to ordinary citizens who receive Medicaid assistance, and any improvements to accommodations and to safety in the housing of the federal officials would also apply to all federal prisoners in all federal prisons.

All in favor, say “Aye”!

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 4: Off with their Heads!

THE NINE COMMANDMENTS SHOW THAT JEHOVAH WAS A SELFISH JERK
Since we cannot harm God, or hurt God’s feelings no matter what we do, and since we can fairly easily physically harm other people and hurt the feelings of others or harm them emotionally and intellectually, it seems rather obvious that our duties towards other humans should be treated as of MUCH GREATER IMPORTANCE than our duties towards God.
So, the Ten Commandments, or rather the NINE (actual) COMMANDMENTS are ASS BACKWARDS. The four commandments concerning human duties to God should be at the end of the list, and the five commandments concerning human duties to other humans should be at the front of the list. This is the first bit of evidence (from the Commandments) that Jehovah is a SELFISH JERK.
He puts our duties to him at the front of the list, when he needs absolutely nothing from us, and he puts our duties to others at the end of the list when we have great power to harm others and to ruin their lives, and even (if we are truly evil) to “utterly destroy” them, to “exterminate” them.
 
A SECOND CLUE ABOUT JEHOVAH FROM THE FIRST FOUR COMMANDMENTS
Before I get into examining each specific commandment, there is a second general point to note about the commandments, specifically about the first four commandments, the ones that outline human duties to God:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

(The above summary of the first four commandments is from the Wikipedia articleTen Commandments“.)
It is important to understand that the NINE COMMANDMENTS, including these first four commandments, were NOT just friendly advice for how to live a good life; they were LAWS.  Jehovah, through Moses, provided LAWS for the nation of Israel, and like other law codes, there were punishments and penalties for disobeying these laws.
But virtually all nations have laws, rules that govern human behavior, and virtually all laws are enforced by means of punishments and penalties.  There are fines for violating parking rules, and fines for speeding or violating other traffic laws.  For more serious crimes, like kidnapping and armed robbery, we put people in prison, sometimes locking criminals away for several years, even decades.  For first-degree murder, and murder with aggravating factors, we have in the past put people to death, although the death penalty appears to be on its way out (finally) in the US.
The problem is that the first four commandments are RELIGIOUS LAWS.  They require people to worship a certain god, and to worship that god in a particular way.  We in the US, believe in FREEDOM OF RELIGION.  In the USA, you have the freedom to hand out any advice and guidelines you wish about our alleged duties towards a particular deity; that is your right.  But you do NOT have the freedom to compel other people to worship YOUR god, nor to worship YOUR god in YOUR WAY.  To compel other people to worship YOUR god, or to worship in YOUR WAY, would be to deny to others their FREEDOM OF RELIGION.
So, it is obnoxious for Jehovah to insist on making LAWS that compel people to worship him alone, and to worship him only in a particular manner.  Instituting LAWS that compel people to worship a particular god, and to worship that god in a particular way deprive those people of the FREEDOM OF RELIGION.
If God wants people to freely chose to worship him and to freely chose to worship him in the most appropriate way, then God must support FREEDOM OF RELIGION.  To compel people, by LAWS and by threats of penalties or punishments to believe in a particular god, and to worship a particular god, and to worship that god in a particular way, is to make humans into the slaves of that god.
Of course people will worship Jehovah (or at least pretend to) if they will be punished for not doing so.  Of course people will worship in a particular way if they will be punished for worshiping in some other way.  But this will NOT be something that they freely choose to do, and thus this forces people to be disingenuous, to have no serious intent in their religious observances, to be cynical and lack integrity in their religious beliefs and actions.
The separation of Church and State is not merely to protect the State from being controlled and corrupted by a religious leader or group, but also to protect religious leaders and groups from being controlled and corrupted by the State.  Using Laws and punishments to compel religious beliefs or observances corrupts religion.  Removing the FREEDOM OF RELIGION from a nation turns religion into a sham, cheapens religion, and turns religious believers into fakes and hypocrites.  True religion can only exist where there is the freedom to NOT be religious, or to be religious in a way that is NOT popular or generally approved.
So, because the first four commandments are presented not as good advice, but rather as LAWS for the nation of Israel, they were an attack on FREEDOM OF RELIGION by Jehovah, and thus an attack on the practice of religion with integrity and sincerity, and thus Jehovah unleashed a powerful force in support of religious hypocrisy and cynicism
By making the first four commandments part of the foundational LAWS of the nation of Israel, Jehovah showed himself to be a tyrant, a dictator, a totalitarian, in relation to religion, and an enemy of true and sincere religious belief and practice.
 
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!” JEHOVAH SCREAMED FROM HIS THRONE
The punishments that Jehovah prescribed for failure to obey his RELIGIOUS LAWS were not just small fines, like you might receive for a parking violation.  The punishments for failure to obey one of the first four commandments were much more severe than a small fine.  So, not only is Jehovah shown to be a tyrant for issuing the first four commandments as RELIGIOUS LAWS, but he is shown to be a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant for insisting on the most EXTREME punishment for violations of these RELIGIOUS LAWS: death.
The fourth commandment prohibits any work on the seventh day of the week, as a RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE:
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 
Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 
10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.     Exodus 20:8-11  (New Revised Standard Version)
The reason given for resting on the seventh day of the week is PURE BULLSHIT, of course.  God, if God exists, is all-knowing.  God knows that the universe began to form about 11 to 14 billion years ago, and that the earth did not begin to form until about 4.5 billion years ago.  So, the claim that “heaven and earth” were created in less than one week is just a big fat LIE (assuming that Jehovah is God and thus all-knowing).
But setting that problem with Jehovah’s character aside, we still have the problem that this RELIGIOUS LAW was enforced by the most extreme penalty:
15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.   Exodus 31:15 (New Revised Standard Version)
2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.   Exodus 35:2  (New Revised Standard Version)

The Sabbath-Breaker Stoned (Numbers 15). James Tissot c.1900

 
Someone might be tempted to try the old “Locker Room” talk justification of Jehovah: 

“Jehovah was just being hyperbolic here.  He obviously wouldn’t be so cruel a tyrant as to have people killed for doing a bit of work on the Sabbath day.  He didn’t mean that literally.”   

Except that Jehovah did in fact mean exactly what he said, as we can see in the following OT story:
32 When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day.
33 Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses, Aaron, and to the whole congregation.
34 They put him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him.
35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.”
36 The whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.   Numbers 15:32-36  (New Revised Standard Version)
Some poor old man was gathering some sticks, probably to cook up a bit of soup or stew for himself, perhaps for his wife, and he gets arrested and hauled off to Moses for judgement.  Now we are no longer talking philosophical abstractions or lofty sermons, we are talking about one particular man, and the threat of punishment for committing the terrible “crime” of gathering sticks.  Jehovah doesn’t hesitate to demand the death penalty: “the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.”  So, here we see the character of Jehovah revealed plainly as a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant, who rules with an iron fist.
The “locker room” talk justification is clearly bullshit, at least in the case of the fourth commandment.
The first commandment is another rule which ought to be purely voluntary, but instead Jehovah established it as RELIGIOUS LAW:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 
you shall have no other gods before me.   Exodus 20:2-3  (New Revised Standard Version)
This is a law which Jehovah demanded be enforced by the most extreme punishment: the death penalty:
20 Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.   Exodus 22:20  (New Revised Standard Version)
Will the lame excuse of “locker room” talk work to justify Jehovah in this case?  Nope.  Once again, we see Jehovah revealed as a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.  Jehovah spells out in detail the extreme and violent intent behind this law:
12 If you hear it said about one of the towns that the Lord your God is giving you to live in,
13 that scoundrels from among you have gone out and led the inhabitants of the town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” whom you have not known,
14 then you shall inquire and make a thorough investigation. If the charge is established that such an abhorrent thing has been done among you,
15 you shall put the inhabitants of that town to the sword, utterly destroying it and everything in it—even putting its livestock to the sword.  Deuteronomy 13:12-15  (New Revised Standard Version)
Here we see the same advocacy of indiscriminate mass-killing that Jehovah commands concerning the Canaanites, but here it is directed towards his own “chosen” people, the Israelites.
If there is a town of Israelites where some of the inhabitants have disobeyed the first commandment, then not only were those religious rebels to be killed, but also their elderly parents, their teenage sons and daughters, their young children, their babies, and…even their livestock
If Jehovah openly promotes the slaughter of men, women, children, and babies who are Israelites, just because some adults in a town have disobeyed the first commandment, then clearly he wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to command the slaughter of the Canaanites, men, women, teenagers, young children, and babies.  Jehovah LOVES BLOODSHED.  Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.
Jehovah also emphasizes the command to be MERCILESS towards those who encourage people to worship other gods:
6 If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, “Let us go worship other gods,” whom neither you nor your ancestors have known,
7 any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other,
8 you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them.
9 But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 Stone them to death for trying to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  Deuteronomy 13:6-10  (New Revised Standard Version)
So, if your wife or one of your children suggest worshiping another god, you are to show them “no pity or compassion” but to turn them in right away, and be the first one to throw a stone at them to kill them.  Jehovah is one cold-hearted bloodthirsty tyrant.  (Dictators and Tyrants love to turn family members and neighbors against one another, and to create great fear of being turned in to the authorities by someone close.)
The above cases, however, concern people who preach or promote worship of other gods, but the first commandment is more directly concerned with the act of just worshiping other gods, so perhaps preaching or promoting worship of other gods is viewed by Jehovah as a particularly egregious violation of that commandment, and that the act of simply worshiping another god, without trying to persuade others to join in, would not be treated with such severity.
Jehovah might not demand the indiscriminate slaughter of entire towns, but he does demand the death penalty, even for those who disobey the first commandment by simply worshiping another god (without preaching or promoting such worship to others):
2 If there is found among you, in one of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, and transgresses his covenant
3 by going to serve other gods and worshiping them—whether the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden—
4 and if it is reported to you or you hear of it, and you make a thorough inquiry, and the charge is proved true that such an abhorrent thing has occurred in Israel,
5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or that woman who has committed this crime and you shall stone the man or woman to death.  Deuteronomy 17:2-5  (New Revised Standard Version)
So, it is not just preaching or promoting worship of other gods that brings on the wrath of Jehovah, but simply the act of worshiping some other god, and thus violating the RELIGIOUS LAW known as the first commandment.
The third commandment is yet another RELIGIOUS LAW instituted by Jehovah:
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.  Exodus 20:7  (New Revised Standard Version)
Anyone care to guess what punishment Jehovah demands for violating this RELIGIOUS LAW?  That’s right: the DEATH PENALTY.  Big surprise.
Here is an OT story that reveals, yet again, how Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant:
10 A man whose mother was an Israelite and whose father was an Egyptian came out among the people of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a certain Israelite began fighting in the camp.
11 The Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name in a curse. And they brought him to Moses—now his mother’s name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan—
12 and they put him in custody, until the decision of the Lord should be made clear to them.
13 The Lord said to Moses, saying:
14 Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him.
15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin.
16 One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death.
[…]
23 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel; and they took the blasphemer outside the camp, and stoned him to death. The people of Israel did as the Lord had commanded Moses.    Leviticus 24:10-16, & 23  (New Revised Standard Version)
Three of the first four commandments are clearly to be enforced by the DEATH PENALTY, on the insistence of Jehovah.  What about the second commandment?  Is this commandment also to be enforced with the threat of death?

 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me…     Exodus 20:4-5  (New Revised Standard Version)

Notice that Jehovah threatens the children of the offenders, openly displaying his injustice and cruelty.  The children of the idol worshipers have done nothing wrong, but Jehovah is happy to punish them anyway.  What an evil JERK.
There are a couple of good reasons that come to mind for thinking that this RELIGIOUS LAW was also supposed to be enforced by the death penalty.   First, it is one of the first four commands, which are all religious duties, and it is sandwiched between those other religious duties, all of which were clearly intended to be enforced by the DEATH PENALTY.  So, it would seem out of place to be the very second commandment, yet for this commandment to be significantly less important  (to Jehovah) than the three other duties towards God.
Second, this commandment is very similar to the first commandment.  The worship of idols was associated with the worship of other gods.  Jehovah appears to be somewhat unique in demanding worship without the use of idols.  So, if somebody was worshiping idols, then they were at least playing with the idea of worshiping other gods, since that is how other gods were worshiped.
Although I am not aware of a direct demand of Jehovah to kill any and every Israelite who worships idols, there is a story which strongly implies this is what Jehovah would want to happen.   When Jehovah first gives Moses the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets, Moses carries the tablets down the mountain and finds out that many of the Israelites have been worshiping a golden calf (an idol).
Here is what Jehovah has to say about the worship of an idol by the Israelites:
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 
they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 
The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 
10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them;
So, here we have Israelites, Jehovah’s “chosen” people, worshiping an idol.  What is the first thing that Jehovah wants to do?  Jehovah wants to kill them all, the entire nation of Israel.  That means that Jehovah wanted to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER elderly men, elderly women, fathers, and mothers, teenage sons and daughters, young boys and girls, and babies by the thousands or hundreds of thousands.  (Sound familiar?)
Moses manages to talk Jehovah out of his initial plan to wipe out the entire people of Israel.  But part of how Moses get’s Jehovah to soften up, is by shedding some blood:
26 …Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 
27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.’” 
28 The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. 
29 Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.”   Exodus 32:26-29 (New Revised Standard Version)
So, Jehovah was willing to wipe out every man, woman, and child in the nation of Israel because some of the adults worshiped an idol.  Moses attempted to satisfy Jehovah’s wrath by ordering the indiscriminate MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of thousands of his fellow Israelites.
Moses did not give Jehovah a full meal deal, but just a little snack of death and destruction.  Moses, who knew Jehovah better than anyone, was still unsure whether the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of thousands of Israelites would be enough to calm Jehovah down, and to save the Israelites from “utter destruction” and “extermination”.
Can there be any serious doubt that Jehovah would be delighted by the use of the DEATH PENALTY on individual cases of idol worship?  Of course Jehovah wanted the DEATH PENALTY to be used to enforce the second commandment, just as he demanded death as the punishment for the other three commandments concerning human duties towards God.
We see that the relatively unimportant duties of man to God were wrongly given highest priority, by Jehovah making them the first four of the ten commandments.  Then we see Jehovah attacking freedom of religion by instituting these religious rules as LAWS that are to be enforced by punishments, and finally we have seen how Jehovah demands the most extreme penalty for disobedience to these RELIGIOUS LAWS.
Human duties to God, if God exists, should be considered the LEAST IMPORTANT of human duties, because we can do NOTHING to benefit God, and NOTHING to harm God, so making these relatively unimportant duties into RELIGIOUS LAWS and then enforcing them by means of the PENALTY OF DEATH shows that Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant.