bookmark_borderLeviticus and Homosexuality – Part 8: False Historical Claims

WHERE WE ARE
In this present post I will support my fourth reason for doubting the view that we should condemn homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus:

4. Leviticus is NOT an historically reliable account of actual events.

God, if God exists, is all-knowing and perfectly good, so any book inspired by God would not contain false historical information, and clearly no book inspired by God would provide historical accounts of alleged events that never happened or highly unreliable accounts of historical events.
 
FOUR GENERAL OBJECTIONS TO THE RELIABILITY OF LEVITICUS
In this current post, I will present four general objections against the historical reliability of the book of Leviticus.  In the next post, I will present several more specific problems with historical claims made by Leviticus.
1. Moses is probably a legendary figure; there probably was no historical Moses (see Part 7 of this series). So, the 80 verses that refer to Moses in Leviticus are probably all fictional, not historical, and thus present false historical information.
But God, if God exists, is all-knowing and is perfectly good, so God would know that there was no historical Moses, and thus God would not communicate false historical information about a fictional character as if that character were an actual historical person. Thus, if Moses is fictional, then the book of Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.
2. There are 32 verses in Leviticus that contain the phrase “the LORD spoke to Moses” (in the New Revised Standard Version) and 3 verses that contain the phrase “the LORD said to Moses”.  Because many of these messages are false, evil, or morally wrong, they clearly did NOT come from God.
“LORD” is how the translators of the NRSV translate the name of God (i.e. Jehovah or Yahweh).  According to Exodus, Jehovah is the creator of the world:

…for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.  (Exodus 20:11, American Standard Version)

Since Christians believe that Jehovah “made heaven and earth”, Jehovah must be God, from a Christian point of view. There is only ONE creator of the universe and that is God, so if Jehovah “made heaven and earth”, then to be logically consistent Christians must infer that Jehovah is God.
So, whenever Leviticus states that “Jehovah spoke to Moses” Christians take this to mean that “God spoke to Moses”. But it is clearly FALSE that God said the things that Leviticus claims “Jehovah spoke to Moses” because many of those thing are FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG (as we shall see in this post and in future posts). God is perfectly good and God is all-knowing, so God would not say things to Moses that were FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG.
If according to a passage in Leviticus Jehovah said something that was FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG to Moses, then either (a) that passage is itself FALSE, because it is not the case that Jehovah said that something to Moses, or else (b) that passage is TRUE, because Jehovah did in fact say that something to Moses. But if Jehovah did in fact say something FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG to Moses, then Jehovah must not be God. If Jehovah is NOT God, then Moses is a false prophet who did not receive messages from God, and we can ignore the book of Leviticus as being just another book containing messages from an ordinary human being who was NOT communicating messages from God.
On the other hand, if the passage from Leviticus that claims Jehovah said something to Moses is making a FALSE claim, because it is not the case that Jehovah said that something to Moses, then the book of Leviticus is providing false historical information about Moses and about messages allegedly received by Moses from Jehovah. In that case, we have good reason to doubt the historical reliability of Leviticus, especially concerning messages that Moses allegedly received from Jehovah.
The more such FALSE claims that Leviticus makes about messages that Moses allegedly received from Jehovah, the stronger our reason to conclude that Leviticus was NOT inspired by God (because God is all-knowing and perfectly good and so would not inspire a book full of false historical claims, especially concerning religious and moral issues), and that even if God had communicated important messages to Moses, Leviticus is an UNRELIABLE source to use to determine the content of those messages.
3. There are at least 11 verses in Leviticus that refer back to the Exodus out of Egypt: 11:45, 18:3, 19:34, 19:36, 22:33, 23:43, 25:38, 25:42, 25:55, 26:13, 26:45. But there probably was no Exodus out of Egypt (see Part 7 of this series), so these 11 verses are all probably making false historical claims.
Since these claims are all, or nearly all, statements made by Jehovah (according to Leviticus), that means that Jehovah is making false historical statements, according to Leviticus. So, either it is the case that Jehovah made these historical claims or it is not the case. If Jehovah made these claims, and the claims are false, then we must conclude that Jehovah is NOT God, because God is all-knowing and perfectly good, so God would not repeatedly make false historical claims. But if Jehovah is not God, then we must conclude that Moses was a false prophet and that we should ignore the commandments and teachings found in Leviticus.
On the other hand, if Jehovah did NOT make these historical claims, then the author of Leviticus has repeatedly put false claims into the mouth of Jehovah, claims that Jehovah never made, and this means that the book of Leviticus is highly UNRELIABLE, and we cannot trust that what this book claims to be messages from Jehovah were in fact messages from Jehovah.
In either case, it would be unreasonable to rely on Leviticus as a source of divine messages or divine commands.
4. Old Testament scholars generally agree that the practices of sacrifices made by priests that are spelled out in Leviticus are anachronistic, that they were NOT from the historical period of the time of Moses, but were from a later historical period. In that case, the book of Leviticus is entirely or almost entirely fictional.
The practices of sacrifices described in Leviticus do NOT fit with the circumstances of a nomadic tribe that was wandering in the desert:

One thing is certain, these are not the customs of the time in the desert, but rather, an entire code of conduct for priests and Levites who serve at the temple in Jerusalem. The sacrifices and offerings demanded for great feast days can only come from a farming people. The very size and types of sacrifices and festivals mentioned presuppose a large population raising many herds and crops in the promised land. (Reading the Old Testament by Lawrence Boadt, p.188)

Based on this view, the book of Leviticus is entirely, or almost entirely fictional.  This view is not limited to Lawrence Boadt, but is a widely held view among Old Testament scholars:

Thus a widespread scholarly view holds that the sacrifices detailed in Leviticus 1-16 were introduced only after the [Babylonian] exile, and that the stress in Leviticus on purity and atonement reflects the mood of the post-exilic community in Judah.  (The Old Testament World, 2nd edition, by Philip Davies and John Rogerson, p.152)

The Babylonian exile began 597 BCE, and “in 539 BCE exiled Judeans were permitted to return to Judah.”  ( “Babylonian captivity”  in Wikepedia).  Reasons for this view, according to Davies and Rogerson include:

  • “there is hardly any evidence in the Old Testament outside of passages such as Leviticus 1-16 that the sacrifices as prescribed were ever offered.” (The Old Testament World, p. 151)
  • “there is no reference to them [the regulations for sacrifices found in Leviticus] in other parts of the Old Testament.”  (The Old Testament World, p. 151)
  • “the very existence of the Tent of Meeting [where the initial sacrifices allegedly took place in Moses’ time] is problematical.”   (The Old Testament World, p. 151)
  • According to the Old Testament, Manoah, Saul, David, Solomon, and Elija “all offered sacrifices, whereas none of them was a priest.”   (The Old Testament World, p. 152)
  • These non-priestly sacrifices were “primarily burnt offerings” and there is no mention of “sin offerings” in those stories.   (The Old Testament World, p. 152)

In the textbook A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament (2nd edition), four OT scholars agree that

Scholars commonly conclude that these texts [the Priestly (P) tradition which was used by the author of Leviticus] reflect an exilic or post-exilic situation, though recent attempts at an earlier dating have been made.  Generally, these texts may reflect understandings and practices built up over the time of the first temple (957-587 BCE), but they were given decisive shape during the exile…with subsequent redactions likely. (A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, 2nd edition, p. 131)

King Solomon dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem by James Tissot (or follower) c. 1896–1902

The “earlier dating” that they refer to was proposed by Jacob Milgrom. Although Milgrom argues for a pre-exile date for P, he agrees that Chapters 17-26 of Leviticus were based on the “Holiness Source” or H, and that H came from a priestly school that developed “at the end of the eighth century BCE.” (Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics, p.175).  So, Milgrom’s view is that Leviticus was composed sometime after 700 BCE, at least five centuries after the time of Moses.
Thus, based on the consensus of OT scholars, Leviticus was composed long after the time of Moses, and therefore is entirely or almost entirely fictional.  Therefore, the historical information in Leviticus is entirely or almost entirely FALSE, and it is thus an UNRELIABLE source of historical information.

bookmark_borderLeviticus and Homosexuality – Part 6: NOT a message from God

WHERE WE ARE
Should we view homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus?  In Part 1 of this series I outlined a dozen reasons to doubt this viewpoint.  Here is the first reason:

1. God does NOT exist, so no prophet and no book contains truth or wisdom from God. 

In Part 2 of this series I explained my reason for skepticism in general (i.e. CYNICISM), and I explained my reasons for skepticism about supernatural claims.  In this Part 3 of this series I explained my reasons for skepticism about religion.
In Part 4  and Part 5 of this series I presented my reasons for skepticism about the existence of God.
Here is my second reason for doubting the idea that we should view homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus:

2. Leviticus is NOT the inspired Word of God. (Leviticus is just another book written by ignorant and imperfect human beings).

Actually, most of my dozen reasons for doubt relate back to this one.  For example, my first reason was that God does not exist (or that we have good reasons to doubt that God exists).  If there is no God, then it follows logically that Leviticus is NOT the inspired Word of God.  If there is no God, then NOTHING is a message from God, because there is no God to send any message in the first place.
Since most of my dozen reasons provide support for this second reason,  I will not attempt to make a comprehensive case against the divine inspiration of the book of Leviticus in this current post.  My case against the inspiration of Leviticus will span several posts, as I continue to explain and defend reasons 3 through 8.  So, in this post I will briefly present a few reasons for doubting that the book of Leviticus was inspired by God.
LEVITICUS WAS NOT INSPIRED BY GOD IF MOSES WAS THE AUTHOR OF LEVITICUS
I don’t believe that Moses was the author of Leviticus, and neither do most Old Testament scholars.  However, conservative Catholics and conservative Evangelicals generally believe that Moses was the author of Leviticus.  So, this first argument is addressed to Christians who believe that Moses was the author of Leviticus:

1. Jehovah is NOT God.

2. Moses is a prophet of Jehovah.

3. Anyone who is a prophet of a someone other than God is a FALSE PROPHET.

THEREFORE:

4. Moses is a FALSE PROPHET.

5. Moses is the author of Leviticus.

6. No book authored by a FALSE PROPHET is the inspired Word of God.

THEREFORE:

7. Leviticus is NOT the inspired Word of God.

The only controversial premise here is premise (1), and I have already argued for this premise in Part 2 of this series:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/18/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-2-no-messages-from-god/
In short: Jehovah commanded the Israelites to MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTER every man, woman, teenager, child, and baby of the people who were already settled in the “promised land” (i.e. Palestine) in order to steal that land from those people.  Only a morally flawed person would give such an evil command, so Jehovah was a morally flawed person.  But God is a perfectly good person, so Jehovah cannot be God.  Premise (1) is clearly true.  So, if Moses was in fact the author of Leviticus, as stated in premise (5), then we must conclude that Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.
 
LEVITICUS WAS NOT INSPIRED BY GOD BASED ON THE CONTENT OF LEVITICUS
Here is a high-level outline of the book of Leviticus:

I. Laws on sacrifice (1:1–7:38)
II. Institution of the priesthood (8:1–10:20)
III. Uncleanliness and its treatment (11:1–15:33)
IV. Day of Atonement: purification of the tabernacle from the effects of uncleanliness and sin (ch. 16)
V. Prescriptions for practical holiness (the Holiness Code, chs. 17–26)
VI. Redemption of votive gifts (ch. 27)

(from the article “Book of Leviticus” in Wikipedia)
So, clearly four big ideas in Leviticus are:

  • Sacrifices
  • Priesthood
  • Uncleanliness
  • Holiness

SACRIFICES AND PRIESTHOOD (Leviticus Chapters 1-10)
If there is no good reason for animal sacrifices, then there is also no good reason for the priesthood that is established in the book of Leviticus, because the primary job of the priests was to sacrifice animals.  So, my main focus here will be to argue that there was no good reason for the practice of animal sacrifices.
However, I will say a couple of things about the idea of a priesthood.  I was a conservative Evangelical Christian in my younger years, and I was a big fan of the Protestant Reformation, particularly the key theological principles of sola gratia (salvation is by God’s grace alone), sola fide (justification/forgiveness is by faith alone), and sola scriptura (the only authority in matters of faith and religion is the Bible).  I was also a fan of the protestant belief in “the priesthood of all believers”.  So, the idea of priests and bishops is one that STINKS for me, or at least it did when I was an Evangelical Christian.

Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio, c. 1603

Animal sacrifices are part of nearly every ancient religion.  Abraham practiced animal sacrifice long before Moses was born.  Lots of people from various tribes and cultures practiced animal sacrifice long before Moses was born.  Abraham didn’t need any priests to perform his animal sacrifices.  So, there is no reason why the ancient Israelites needed priests to perform animal sacrifices for them.  They could have done this for themselves, if there was some good reason for making animal sacrifices.
Having a priesthood basically removes thousands of able-bodied men from doing practical work that would benefit their people, like growing and harvesting crops, or raising and butchering animals, or baking bread, or making beer, or making useful items, like metal implements or clay pots.  A priesthood is a waste of potential workers who could perform useful practical tasks and help to complete important practical projects for their people.
The practice of having a priesthood teaches BAD THEOLOGY, because this practice implies that humans need to have an intermediary between themselves and God.  But according to Jesus and Christian theology, God is a loving “Father” to all human beings, and thus we ought to pray “Our Father who is in heaven…”.  Having a priesthood teaches people that God is a distant and frightening being whom ordinary humans ought not try to approach.  This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what Jesus taught.  So, the idea of a priesthood is BAD THEOLOGY from a Christian point of view.
The French atheist Denis Diderot (1713–1784) is often mistakenly* quoted as saying this about priesthood: 

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

The basic idea is probably that religious institutions tend to provide support to powerful rulers and governments, whether those rulers or governments are good and just or are evil and unjust.
But there is also the suspicion that religions, especially religious institutions that include positions of religious authority, often abuse that authority, as for example, the world-wide sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests for the past century (and probably for most of the previous centuries) which was preserved by Catholic bishops who did everything they could to hide this fact from the public and to protect pedophile priests from being brought to justice, but who almost never lifted a finger to protect the children of Catholic believers from these pedophile priests.
Power corrupts, and hierarchies of power (like priests and bishops and popes) are clearly susceptible to unbelievable levels of corruption.  So, this is another reason for NOT establishing and maintaining a priesthood.  Give these men honest work on farms, and in manufacturing, and in business, and have them make actual practical contributions to their societies, instead of sucking off of hard-working fellow believers, or worse, assisting in the abuse and oppression of their fellow believers, as happened so often in the history of the Catholic Church, for example.
The priesthood established in Leviticus primarily performed tasks related to the practice of animal sacrifices.  So, if the practice of animal sacrifices was unnecessary or harmful, then there would be no good reason to establish a priesthood of the sort that Leviticus describes.
 
THE MORAL IMPERATIVE AGAINST ANIMAL SACRIFICES
The practice of animal sacrifices as described in Leviticus involves the deaths and killings of thousands of animals, and over many centuries, millions of animals.  Even if the lives of animals are not given the same value as the lives of humans, it is clearly wrong to kill an animal without having a good reason to do so, especially higher animals like birds and mammals.  The killing of thousands of animals every year is most definitely morally wrong if those animals are birds and mammals, and if there is no good reason for doing this killing.  This might not be equivalent to killing thousands of human beings, but the killing of such animals is still of moral significance and would be wrong apart from having a good reason for doing that much killing.
So, it is morally wrong to institute the practice of animal sacrifices if this will involve the killing of thousands of birds and mammals each year, UNLESS there is a good reason for having and maintaining the practice of animal sacrifices. If there is no good reason for the practice of animal sacrifices, then a perfectly good being would NOT issue commands to institute the practice of animal sacrifices when this would involve the killing of thousands of birds and mammals each year.  I will argue that there is no such good reason, and thus that a perfectly good being would NOT issue commands to institute the practice of animal sacrifice as described in Leviticus, and thus that the book of Leviticus is NOT a message from God.
 
ANIMAL SACRIFICES NOT NECESSARY FOR MAINTENANCE OF A RELIGION
1. The sacrifice of animals is NOT necessary for the maintenance of a religion.  Judaism began after animal sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem ended, and Judaism has persisted for 2,000 years without the need of animal sacrifices, and Christianity has also persisted for 2,000 years without the need of animal sacrifices.
 
THE PRACTICE OF ANIMAL SACRIFICES TEACHES BAD THEOLOGY
2. If Jesus died for the sins of all humankind, including the sins of the ancient Israelites, then the practice of sacrificing of animals teaches BAD THEOLOGY.  This practice implies that the deaths of animals were required in order for God to forgive the sins of the ancient Israelites, which is FALSE.  Only the death of Jesus was required for the forgiveness of sins, according to Christian theology. Also, since the sacrifice of animals was NOT necessary in order for God to forgive the sins of ancient Israelites, the forgiveness of sins is another invalid reason for instituting the practice of animal sacrifices.
3. If salvation is by the GRACE of God ALONE, then the practice of animal sacrifices teaches BAD THEOLOGY.   This practice implies that humans can by meritorious actions obtain God’s favor and forgiveness.  Giving a cherished or valuable animal to God and/or to God’s priests is clearly analogous to giving a present to a king or ruler to curry favor with that king or ruler.  But according to Christian theology, human beings are not capable of meriting God’s forgiveness and salvation.  So,  giving people a way to obtain God’s favor or forgiveness is another INVALID reason for instituting the practice of animal sacrifices.
4. If God is IMPASSIBLE, as Thomists insist, then the practice of animal sacrifices teaches BAD THEOLOGY.   This practice implies that humans can by their actions influence God’s feelings, attitude, or decisions.  But if human actions can influence God’s feelings, attitude, or decisions, then God is subject to the same sort of weaknesses and influences as humans who have feelings and desires. (I disagree with Thomists on this point, but the person who replied to my objections against Leviticus concerning homosexuality appears to be a Thomist).
5. If God is OMNIPOTENT, as nearly all Christians, Jews, and Muslims agree, then the practice of animal sacrifices teaches BAD THEOLOGY.  This practice implies that humans can by their actions influence Jehovah, which implies that humans have power over Jehovah.  If humans can influence Jehovah’s feelings, attitude, or decisions by performing ritual actions, such as the sacrifice of an animal, then Jehovah is subject to human power and influence and cannot be omnipotent, and thus Jehovah would NOT be God, and thus Leviticus would NOT be inspired by God.  Since the actions of humans cannot influence God’s feelings, attitude, or decisions, the desire to please and influence God is another invalid reason for instituting the practice of animal sacrifices.
6. If God is SELF-SUFFICIENT, as nearly all Christians believe, then the practice of animal sacrifices teaches BAD THEOLOGY.  This practice implies that humans can by their actions cause Jehovah to be happy or pleased, or deprive Jehovah of something that would cause Jehovah to be happy or pleased.   If we humans can make Jehovah happy or pleased by performing animal sacrifices, then this implies that Jehovah wants and desires that humans perform such actions, and that by failing to perform such actions we can deprive Jehovah of some potential satisfaction and happiness.  But in that case Jehovah would NOT be self-sufficient, and thus would NOT be God.  Thus, Leviticus would NOT be inspired by God.  Also, since animal sacrifices are not capable of causing God to be happy or pleased, this is another invalid reason for instituting the practice of animal sacrifices.
7. If God is PERFECTLY JUST, as nearly all Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe, then the practice of animal sacrifices teaches BAD THEOLOGY.   This practice implies that Jehovah is willing to inflict the punishment for human sins on an innocent animal who did not chose to sin or to disobey Jehovah.  It is manifestly unjust to kill an animal in order to prevent and eliminate the punishment that a human deserved for some sin or crime.  Thus, if Jehovah inspired the commands concerning the practice of animal sacrifice found in Leviticus, then Jehovah is clearly unjust and thus Jehovah is NOT God, and thus Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.  Since animal sacrifices do not constitute a fair and just way for the ancient Israelites to obtain forgiveness for their sins or crimes, this is another invalid reason for instituting the practice of animal sacrifices.
The term “scapegoat” originates from the book of Leviticus  (click on image below for a clearer view of the definitions):

(These definitions of “scapegoat” are from Dictionary.com.)
Making a person or group bear the blame for others or suffer in their place is clearly UNFAIR and UNJUST.  Doing the same thing to an animal is also clearly morally wrong.  This is NOT something that a perfectly good deity would promote or encourage.
 
CONCLUSION
If, as many conservative Catholics and conservative Evangelicals believe, Moses was the author of Leviticus, then we must conclude that Leviticus was NOT inspired by God, because Moses was a prophet of Jehovah, and Jehovah is clearly NOT God.
However, setting aside the question of the authorship of Leviticus, the CONTENT of Leviticus also gives us a good reason to believe that this book was NOT inspired by God.
I am not aware of any good reason for establishing the practice of animal sacrifices, especially if the practice clearly involved the killing of thousands of birds and mammals each year, potentially for many centuries.
However, there are plenty of good reasons AGAINST the practice of animal sacrifice, at least from a Christian point of view, and there are some good reasons AGAINST the practice of animal sacrifice from a Jewish and Muslim point of view as well.  The practice of animal sacrifices teaches many FALSE ideas about God, from a Christian point of view, and teaches some FALSE ideas about God from a Jewish or Muslim point of view.
Given the moral imperative that the practice of animal sacrifices as described in Leviticus are morally wrong UNLESS there is a good reason for establishing the practice of such animal sacrifices, and given that there appears to be no good reason for establishing this practice, and we have a number of good reason AGAINST the establishment of the practice of animal sacrifices as described in Leviticus, making it even more unlikely that there is good reason for establishing this practice,  it was morally wrong to issue the commands found in Leviticus concerning the practice of animal sacrifices, and thus Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.
Given that there is no good reason to establish the practice of animal sacrifices, there was also no good reason to establish the priesthood as described in Leviticus.  Furthermore, there also appear to be some good reasons AGAINST the establishment of the sort of priesthood described in Leviticus, making it even more unlikely that there is sufficient reason for establishing the sort of priesthood that is described in Leviticus.  Thus, we have another good reason to believe that Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.
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*Meslier [the atheist‐​priest Jean Meslier] repudiated the doctrine of passive obedience unequivocally. Throughout the Testament he endorsed violent resistance against tyrannical rulers and their unjust actions. Indeed, in Chapter 2 we find the first formulation of a saying that has commonly been attributed to the French atheist Denis Diderot (1713–1784): “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” This is not how Meslier worded the sentiment, nor did he take credit for the idea. Rather, Meslier attributed the sentiment to a common Frenchman “who had no culture or education.”  (from: “Smith explains Meslier’s three major objections to Christian morality, as taught by Jesus.” by George H. Smith)
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UPDATE ON 9/9/2020

CLARIFICATION OF THE PHRASE “BAD THEOLOGY”:
One sort of BAD THEOLOGY is logically self-contradictory claims about God.
“God, if God exists, does not know how many hairs there are on my head.” This is BAD THEOLOGY, in that in the ordinary sense of the word “God”, someone is “God” only if that person is omniscient. So, there is a logical self-contradiction in that sentence. Similarly, the sentence “God, if God exists, has a master plan in which billions of human beings will end up being tormented in hell for all eternity” is BAD THEOLOGY, because in the ordinary sense of the word “God”, someone is “God” only if that person is perfectly morally good, but a person who plans for billions of human beings to be tormented in hell for all eternity is clearly NOT a perfectly morally good person.
Another sort of BAD THEOLOGY is claims about God that contradict one’s own basic theological beliefs. Here the “badness” is relative to a point of view (unlike the badness of a logical self-contradiction which is objectively and universally bad). Jesus clearly taught (according to the Gospels) that we should view God as our “heavenly Father”, as a person who loves and cares about the welfare of each and every human being. So to claim that “God is a terrible and wrathful person whom you must only approach through an intermediary, like a priest” is to contradict a basic teaching of Jesus. From a Christian point of view, claims about God that contradict a basic teaching of Jesus constitute BAD THEOLOGY and thus should be rejected.
Of course, what counts as BAD THEOLOGY from a Christian point of view does not necessarily count as BAD THEOLOGY from the point of view of another religion, like Islam or Buddhism. But the argument against homosexual sex based on the book of Leviticus is primarily a Christian argument (although it could also be a Jewish argument). So, when I argue that Leviticus teaches BAD THEOLOGY in relation to a Christian point of view, I am using the beliefs and assumptions of the people who are presenting the argument against homosexual sex based on Leviticus.
Some of my objections in this post present a DILEMMA to Christian believers. For example:
1. Either you accept the basic teachings of Jesus about God (as presented in the Gospels) or not.
2. If you accept the basic teachings of Jesus about God (as presented in the Gospels), then you must reject the practice of animal sacrifices as teaching BAD THEOLOGY.
3. If you reject the practice of animal sacrifices as teaching BAD THEOLOGY, then you must also (to be logically consistent) reject the view that the book of Leviticus was inspired by God.
4. If you do NOT accept the basic teachings of Jesus about God (as presented in the Gospels), then you must also (to be logically consistent) reject the basic Christian beliefs that Jesus was a true prophet and that Jesus was the divine Son of God and savior of mankind.
In short, the DILEMMA is this:
5. You can either remain a Christian believer and reject the inspiration of Leviticus OR you can reject the Christian religion as FALSE.

bookmark_borderNew Book Published on Feser, Thomism, and Natural Law Theory of Ethics

I recently wrote the Foreword for a new book that takes a skeptical look at Edward Feser’s views, Thomism, and the Natural Law Theory of Ethics.  The book is called The Unnecessary Science: A Critical Analysis of Natural Law Theory.  
Here is the final paragraph of the Foreword that I wrote for the book:

In The Unnecessary Science, Gunther Laird provides an intellectual banquet of concepts, principles, arguments, and skeptical objections about religion and morality that draws upon the ideas of two of the greatest philosophers of western thought: Aristotle and Aquinas—as clarified and defended by the modern Catholic philosopher Ed Feser. Laird provides an antidote to Feser’s conservative Catholic views: skeptical arguments that will help liberals (and others) to win the Culture Wars. He does this in a way that is user friendly and entertaining, while emphasizing and promoting some key aspects of critical thinking—hypothetical reasoning and dialectical thinking. In this book, you will discover how philosophical thinking going back to ancient Athens still has relevance for how we should think and live in the 21st century.

Graham Oppy also had some good words to say about the book:

Gunther Laird casts a critical eye over the books and blogs of Edward Feser… The work gives readers plenty to think about.

– Graham Oppy, Professor of Philosophy, Monash University

The Unnecessary Science is available on Amazon.com

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
================
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 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 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_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.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 3: Ten Commandments

THE “LOCKER ROOM” TALK  EXCUSE
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”]
This video recording made it evident that Donald Trump was a sexist, a Male Chauvinist Pig, to be precise.  But “the Donald” disagreed. His words quoted above were just “locker room” talk, he (and his defenders) protested. However, it was obvious that Donald Trump was indeed a sexist and a Male Chauvinist Pig, and this was clear long before the video tape became public knowledge, because there was already plenty of evidence showing that Donald Trump was a sexist and an MCP.
In the Bible we learn from Moses that Jehovah has commanded the merciless slaughter of every Canaanite:
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, emphasis added).
According to the book of Joshua, Joshua and the army of Israel followed the above guidance from Jehovah:
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, emphasis added)
To order that all of the Canaanites be “utterly destroyed” and “exterminated” and shown “no mercy” means that Jehovah ordered Joshua and the army of Israel to kill every Canaanite in the geographic area where the Israelites planned to move into, to conduct mass-killings of civilians including elderly men, elderly women, adult men and women, teenagers, children, and babies who were living in the towns, cities, and areas where the Israelites were moving.
Some Christians and Jews attempt to morally justify this horrible command by Jehovah as being “locker room” talk by Jehovah, by Moses, and by Joshua.  In other words, Jehovah, Moses, and Joshua DIDN’T REALLY MEAN what they said about mass-killings of all Canaanites, including civilians, men and women, teenagers, children, and babies.  They would never even think of doing such a horribly evil thing.
This excuse is based on a highly implausible interpretation of the above passages, and of many other passages, especially in the book of Joshua, but this excuse clearly FAILS for the same reason that this excuse FAILS as a defense for Donald Trump: there was already plenty of evidence that Jehovah was a violent and bloodthirsty tyrant who cared very little about human life.  So, the claim that this was just “locker room” talk by Jehovah, Moses, and Joshua, is preposterous, ridiculous, and outrageous.

Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law – by Rembrandt, 1659

 
SOME EARLIER EVIDENCE REVEALING JEHOVAH’S FLAWED MORAL CHARACTER
Before the nation of Israel arrived at the Jordan river, and before they began to “exterminate” and “utterly destroy” the Canaanites, including elderly men, elderly women, adult men and women, teenagers, children, and babies, Moses led the nation of Israel through the desert, and one of the most dramatic events in that time was Moses going up the mountain to receive from Jehovah the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments.
 
Here is a summary of those commandments:

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
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.
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.
10. Thou shalt not covet (neighbour’s house,neighbour’s wife, neighbour’s slaves, animals, or anything else).

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“.
If you study and understand the Ten Commandments, and learn how Jehovah wanted those rules to be enforced, you will find that Jehovah was a violent and bloodthirsty tyrant who cared very little about human life.  So, Jehovah’s words and actions BEFORE the “extermination” of the Canaanites already provided plenty of evidence that Jehovah is exactly the sort of person who would command Moses and Joshua (and the army of Israel) to exterminate tens of thousands of civilians, including elderly men, elderly women, adult men and women, teenagers, young boys and girls, and babies.
Jesus was familiar with the Ten Commandments.  He rattles off a number of them in response to a question from a rich young man:
16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 
17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 
18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 
19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 19:16-19 (New Revised Standard Version)
In this passage Jesus recites five out of the six commandments that are concerned with moral duties towards other people.  Jesus leaves out the 10th commandment:

10. Thou shalt not covet (neighbour’s house,neighbour’s wife, neighbour’s slaves, animals, or anything else).

However, the 10th commandment is unlike the other five commandments about moral duties to other people, because it is talking about an ATTITUDE: coveting.  The 10th commandment is basically psychological advice on how to successfully follow the other five commandments about moral duties to others.  In short, coveting your neighbor’s stuff leads to morally wrong actions like murder, adultery, stealing, and lying.
Instead of giving this negative psychological advice (to avoid coveting), Jesus provides a more positive bit of advice about the attitude we should have towards others: love.  If you love other people, then you will be likely to avoid morally wrong actions like murder, adultery, stealing, and lying.  So, although Jesus skips over the psychological advice in the 10th commandment, he substitutes an alternative bit of advice that serves the same purpose as the 10th commandment.
Jesus also spoke of “the greatest and first commandment”:
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 
35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 
37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 
38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 
39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 22:34-40 (New Revised Standard Version)
This commandment to love God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” is not one of the Ten Commandments.  However, it is, like the 10th commandment and like the commandment to “love your neighbor” a bit of advice about an attitude that will help one to keep the Ten Commandments.  More specifically, love for God helps to ensure that one will fully and consistently obey the first four of the Ten Commandments.  Those four commandments are religious in nature; they are concerned with how people should relate to God, with the duties of humans towards 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 article “Ten Commandments“.)
When Jesus talks about love for God being the “first” commandment, he doesn’t mean the first commandment in the list of the Ten Commandments, he means that this is the MOST IMPORTANT commandment.  So, from Jesus’ point of view, and from the point of most Christians and Jews, the duties of humans to God, especially those spelled out in the first four of the Ten Commandments, are MORE IMPORTANT than the duties of humans towards each other, specifically the duties spelled out in the next five commandments.
The Ten Commandments are really best thought of as the NINE COMMANDMENTS:

4 commandments about human duties towards God. 

PLUS

5 commandments about human duties towards other humans.

On top of these NINE COMMANDMENTS, we get some advice about attitudes, advice that is meant to help us to fully and consistently follow those NINE COMMANDMENTS:

1. Love God (in order to fully and consistently obey the first 4 commandments)

2. Love your Neighbor (in order to fully and consistently obey the next 5 commandments)

and also this bit of advice from the 10th “commandment”: 

Avoid coveting your neighbor’s stuff, so that you won’t be tempted to disobey the 5 commandments about duties towards other people. 

 
THE FIRST FOUR COMMANDMENTS
There are two problems that immediately arise, at least for me, concerning the first four commandments.  First, it is WRONG to make these the most important commandments.  (For the second problem, you will have to wait for the next post in this series.)  God has everything he/she needs.  God is self-sufficient.  God does not need anything from anybody.
So, why should we make a big freaking fuss about our “duties” towards God?  Is God going to feel sad if we don’t worship him every day or every week? Will God’s feelings be hurt if we stop believing in him/her?  Will God be harmed in some way if we violate the Sabbath day by washing a car or cooking a nice meal?  Nope.
We are puny finite creatures with very limited power.  God, if God exists, is infinite in knowledge and power.  We cannot hurt or harm God.  God does not need anything from us.  If God wants to make a universe, God can instantly make a universe, without breaking a sweat.  If God wants to make a billion universes, God can do that too, before you can even manage to blink your eyes.
God is kind of like a billionaire.    A billionaire doesn’t need me to give him/her money or food or clothing or anything else.  A billionaire already has all the money he/she needs, and that money can buy all the food or clothing or houses or cars that the billionaire wants to have.
If a particular billionaire, however, happens to like and admire me, then I might have some power and influence over that billionaire.  If I snub or insult such a billionaire, that would probably make the billionaire feel sad; that might even make him/her depressed.  But God doesn’t have psychological needs like humans do.  If I snub or insult God, that is NOT going to make God feel sad, and I certainly don’t have the power to make God depressed, no matter what I do.
God, if God exists, is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good person.  No such person could ever be under the influence of a puny, finite, human being.  We cannot make God feel happy or sad or worried or distressed.  God is above the influence of feelings and emotions.  We clearly cannot harm God.  God is eternal and immortal, so God cannot die or be killed.  God is a spirit, so we cannot wound or harm God in a physical way.  God is literally untouchable.
God needs nothing from human beings, including our respect, admiration, love, or worship.  Failing to love God, failing to admire God, and failing to worship God, will in no way harm God or make God feel bad.  But we can harm other people, and we can make other people feel sad or worried or afraid or terrified.
We can seriously harm other people physically.  We can blind others, and destroy their ability to hear sounds.  We can cut off their hands or feet, so that they have difficulty walking or moving objects.  We can cut off their legs, so they cannot walk or run.  We can cut off their arms, so they cannot lift or move objects.  We can strike people in the head with a club and cause damage to their brains, so that they cannot think straight or remember things properly.  We can strangle or shoot people, or thrust a sword through their chest, so that they die and cease to be able to do anything at all.
We can seriously harm people emotionally.  We can mistreat and abuse and insult people and make them feel sad and depressed.  And we can bully, threaten, and terrorize others, making them feel anxious and afraid.  We can demean and humiliate people, making them feel shameful and worthless.
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.
To Be Continued…

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 2: Locker Room Talk

TRUMP’S “LOCKER ROOM” TALK
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane… to October 7, 2016:
================
The Washington Post has obtained an extremely crass recording…on which Donald Trump converses with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about women aboard a bus on the set of Days of Our Lives. Among the things Trump says:
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything.” …
“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”]
==============
This infamous video recording made it appear that Donald Trump was a sexist, a Male Chauvinist Pig, to be precise.  But “the Donald” disagreed.  He respects and admires women, and treats them as equals to men.  His words quoted above were just “locker room” talk, he protested.
However, it was obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that Donald Trump was indeed a sexist and a Male Chauvinist Pig, and that this was exceedingly clear long before the video tape became public knowledge.
The video recording was simply a very graphic and disturbing reminder of what was already known about Trump and his attitude towards women.  Nobody but a complete fool would believe that his comments were just “locker room” talk, and that his comments did not reflect his disgusting sexist attitude towards women.
 
JEHOVAH’S “LOCKER ROOM” TALK
Let’s go back a bit further in time, to after the Israelites had left Egypt, and were on their way across the desert headed for the Jordan river.
Jehovah had some advice for his people, the Israelites, before they entered the land on the other side of the Jordan river, and Moses delivered Jehovah’s advice to them:
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, emphasis added).
According to the book of Joshua, Joshua and the army of Israel followed the above guidance from Jehovah:
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, emphasis added)

Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon by John Martin

 
Jehovah wanted the Canaanites to be “utterly destroyed” and “exterminated” and shown “no mercy” by Joshua and the army of Israel.  But to “utterly destroy” and “exterminate” the Canaanites would mean killing men, women, teenagers, children, and babies!  Surely, the loving and merciful Jehovah would never command such a horrible mass-killing of civilians.
According the book of Joshua, that is exactly what Joshua proceeded to do, with the help of the army of Israel:
15 On the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, and marched around the city [Jericho] in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.
16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.
[…]
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 6:15-16 & 20-21 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city [Ai] and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai.
[…]
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 8:21 & 24-26 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
Jericho and Ai were not the only cities where Joshua and the army of Israel “utterly destroyed” and “exterminated” all of the inhabitants, “men and women, young and old”.  Chapter 10 of the book of Joshua gives us a laundry list of other cities and towns where Joshua led mass-killings by the army of Israel:
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, emphasis added)
Chapter 11 of the book of Joshua provides us with more mass-killings by Joshua and the army of Israel:
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.
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 11:1-5, 8, 10-15 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
Just as Donald Trump and the IDIOTS who admire him excused Trump’s shockingly sexist words by saying they were just “locker room” talk, many Christians and Jews try to defend and excuse the direction of Jehovah through Moses as being “locker room” talk by the creator of the universe.
But nobody with two brain cells to rub together should believe such B.S.  There was already plenty of evidence showing that Jehovah was cruel and violent and placed very little value on human life.  The slaughter of the Canaanites is simply the most graphic and shocking evidence showing Jehovah to be a cruel and violent tyrant.  As one comment recently stated:  Jehovah LOVES blood.
In part 3 of this series, I will begin to present the OTHER evidence of the morally flawed character of Jehovah, evidence that, even setting aside the slaughter of the Canaanites, shows that Jehovah was a cruel and violent tyrant.  The slaughter of the Canaanites is just one of the most glaring and shocking examples of Jehovah’s awful words and awful behavior.
Just as Trump’s comments cannot rationally be excused as frivolous “locker room” talk, so the guidance of Jehovah to slaughter the Canaanites cannot be excused as frivolous “locker room” talk either.  Such excuses and justifications could have a chance of being reasonable ONLY IF the previous words and behavior of the person in question were above reproach, and cannot possibly be reasonable given the strong evidence to the contrary.