Some Biblical critics argue that the Canaanites cannot be held morally accountable for their evil deeds, because they were only doing what their ancestors had done in a socially accepted religion as far back as memory served them. Did they know any better? If one isn’t taught right from wrong, how can we hold them accountable for their deeds? If God had sent in prophets to warn his people of impending national disaster before they were carried away into captivity, why didn’t he do something similar for the Canaanites? Read the rest of this entry »
Did the Canaanites deserve to be judged or removed from their lands, and who gets to say? In 1966 Israeli psychologist, Georges Tamarin, undertook a study that would involve 1066 children between the ages of eight and fourteen. Dr. Tamarin presented the children with the story of the destruction of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27) and asked: “Do you think Joshua and the Israelites acted rightly or not?” About two-thirds of the children approved. However, when the name Joshua was replaced with General Lin, and Israelites were replaced with a Chinese kingdom existing 3000 years ago, 75 percent of the children disapproved of the slaughter. Do we judge the Nazi’s for attempted genocide, while giving Israel a pass? Read the rest of this entry »
Lots of folks really recoil in disgust when they come to the Scriptures where God judges the Canaanite people. Where is the justice in genocide? – is the cry. One may ask, “What are the guidelines that would show us when a culture is irredeemable?” Certainly the Old Testament doesn’t present any that I have noticed, nor should we look for the list in the New Testament. The Bible is simply silent concerning how wicked a nation must be before God chooses to judge it. Both the Canaanites and the Israelites were driven from the land because of their wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4-5; Amos 2:4-8), and, when the severity of that wickedness calls out for God’s judgment, it is known only to him (cf. Genesis 15:16 and Leviticus 18:25). Read the rest of this entry »
Some would have us believe that God is actually seeking to enslave all mankind. The modern critic often abuses Scripture by force-fitting ancient language attributed to a monarchy / theocracy into modern, more democratic terminology. The servant of the king becomes the king’s slave, because under a democracy all citizens should be equal. Therefore, the word servant must be synonymous with slave. This is hardly true, because any holder of public office in a democracy is a public servant, but the Biblical critic hardly desires to let something like this spoil his point of view. Read the rest of this entry »
Before returning to the Old Testament, perhaps we should consider a few more questions concerning the slavery issue. Does Paul’s remarks about Hagar in Galatians 4:30 really show he approves of the mistreatment of slaves – “Cast out the bondwoman” – as some critics are quick to claim? Does God really command, as a few assume, that his people exclude the children of slaves when considering the distribution of one’s goods?  Read the rest of this entry »
It has been suggested that Paul’s sending Onesimus back to Philemon, said to be his master, was in disobedience to the Scriptures (cf. Deuteronomy 23:15-16), and a step backward to the Code of Hammurabi (see sections 16 to 20). Yet, nothing is said in Paul’s letter to Philemon of Onesimus being a runaway slave. The interpretation that Onesimus is a runaway slave comes down to us from John Chrysostom (347 AD to 407 AD). So, we must decide whether or not the charge that Paul was siding with Hammurabi over Deuteronomy has any merit.
The Roman world in the first century AD was completely different from what we find in the Mosaic Law and ancient Judaism. I don’t mean to imply that ANE nations surrounding Israel had no slavery. They did, but the New Testament reaches out to foreign nations—i.e. gentile nations, and is not only concerned with the Jews. Therefore, the social structures of the gentiles are laid bare and God through the preaching / writing of the New Testament begins to confront them, exposing the wrong and pointing to right behavior. Slavery in 1st century Rome is an institution, in fact, it is claimed that 85 to 95% of Rome’s population were slaves! Some Biblical critics seem to believe that, because Jesus didn’t equip his disciples with an opposing economic plan that he never said anything explicit against slavery, but they are wrong. From the very first day of his public ministry Jesus pointed out what he had set out to do; namely, “… to proclaim release for captives and …to set free the oppressed, (Luke 4:18 Moffatt; cf. Isaiah 61:1). Read the rest of this entry »