Thursday, November 26, 2009


Chapter 7
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"When the Lord your God brings you into the land and you go to possess it, he will cast out many nations before you: the Hitites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites - seven* nations greater and mightier than you. When the Lord your God delivers them before you, you shall kill them and utterly destroy them - you are not to make any covenant with them, nor show them any mercy.

"Neither shall you make any marriages with them - your daughters are not to be given to their sons, nor are their daughters to be taken by your sons. For they will turn your son away from following me, so that they may serve other gods, so the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and will destroy you suddenly. Instead, the only manner in which to deal with them is to destroy their altars, break down their images, cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

"For you are a holy people unto the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a special people to himself, above all other people on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any [other] people - for you were the fewest of all people - but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn to your forefathers, and brought you out with his mighty hand, out of your enslavement by the hand of the Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Therefore, know that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps his covenant and mercy with those who love him and keep his commandments for a thousand generations, and repays those that despise him by destroying them. He will not be lenient towards those who despise him, and will retaliate personally. You shall therefore keep these commandments, statutes, and judgments which I command to you today, and obey them.

"If you heed these judgments and obey them, the Lord your God shall keep his covenant and mercy that he swore unto your forefathers. He will love and bless you all, blessing you with fertility so that you may multiply. He will also bless the fruit of the land: your corn, your wine, your oil, as well as the increase of your cattle and sheep, in the land which he promised to your forefathers.

"You shall be blessed above all people - there shall not be male or female barren among you, or your cattle. The Lord will take away all of your illnesses, and will put none of the evil diseases that you saw in Egypt upon you, but will instead lay them upon all that despise him.

"You shall execute all the people whom the Lord thy God delivers to you; you shall have no pity upon them. Neither shall you serve their gods, for that will be a [deadly] trap for you. If you say in your heart 'These nations are greater than us. How can we defeat them?' You should not be afraid of them, but shall remember what the Lord your God did unto the Pharaoh, and unto all of Egypt. The great temptations which you saw with your very eyes, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out [of Egypt]; so shall the Lord your God do to all the people of whom you fear. Moreover, the Lord your God will send hornets amongst them, until even those that are left and attempt to hide from you, shall be destroyed. You shall not be frightened of them, for the Lord your God is amongst you - a mighty and terrible God.

"The Lord your God will cast out those nations before you, little by little, for you are not to destroy them all at once, lest the wild animals of the fields multiply too rapidly. But the Lord your God will deliver them to you, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they are utterly destroyed. He shall deliver their kings into your hands, and you shall wipe their names from under heaven. There shall be no man to be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them.

"The graven images of their gods are to be burned with fire. You are not to desire the silver or gold that they are made of, not are you to take it, lest you are ensnared by this trap - for it is an abomination to the Lord your God.

"Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you become cursed like it; but you shall utterly detest it, and shall utterly abhor it, for it is a cursed thing."
Notes:1.) Yet another reference to the number seven in the bible.
Thoughts:Moses's speech continues, this time focusing on how to deal with the seven nations (the Hitites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites) inhabiting the "promised land". It should come as no surprise that it isn't anything pleasant, but Moses specifically states:
7:2 "...thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them"
He also forbids them from intermarrying, claiming that these "heathen" daughters will corrupt the Israelite males, turning them away from God, and causing them to worship pagan gods. When you deal in terms of absolutes like this, you're accepting broad sweeping generalizations - saying that marrying a non-Israelite woman will cause you to worship other gods is no different than claiming that marrying an Italian woman will cause you to eat pizza, marrying a black woman will cause you listen to rap music, or that marrying a Japanese woman will cause you become a Buddhist.

The apologist can't even argue that this sort of stereotyping is somehow justified by the smaller populations of people, because the first verse describes these seven nations as "greater and mightier than" the Israelites. Again with Moses' last census count of men fit for the military totaling at 601,730, we can extrapolate that there's at least one million Israelites. With seven surrounding "heathen" nations that are greater and mightier than the Israelites, it's safe to estimate that we're at least dealing with ten million other people. How accurate could a blanket statement be that could encompass every individual in a population of 10 million? This is roughly equivalent to the current population of Ohio, and would be akin to claiming that marrying an Ohio woman would cause you to become a Christian. It is thinking like this that makes religion such a dangerous tool to justify committing acts of violence and injustice towards others based on prejudice and stereotyping. When you reduce a group of millions of individual people down to a single subset of a subhuman characteristic, it becomes a lot easier to not see them as a fellow human being unworthy of redemption. While the Israelites rebel against God numerous times throughout the bible, we simply assume that the "heathens" are fiercely loyal to their gods and wouldn't rebel and choose to serve Yahweh instead.

Moses explains that if the Israelites did intermarry and therefore begin worshiping other gods, then God would become angry and have to destroy them. Instead Moses posits that the best course of action is to simply destroy all of their religious items, breaking their altars, and setting fire to their graven images.

He tells the Israelites that they are God's chosen people and God, that God likes them better than everyone else on the earth. He states that God didn't choose to favor them due to their population - where Moses states here that 600,000+ Israelites were in fact the least populated group of people(!) - but simply because God loved them better than other people, and had already made a promise to their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

Moses states that God is merciful to those who love and obey him, but will retaliate against the people who despise him by destroying them outright - so therefore, it's the Israelites duty to follow God's laws and not be destroyed. In an attempt to sweeten the deal, Moses adds that if the people obey God's laws, then God will in turn bless them with increased fertility - that none, even the Israelite animals, will become barren, and that the crops will flourish. Moses claims that God will even take away everyone's illnesses - like the "evil diseases" they apparently encountered in Egypt - and will instead infect everyone who "despises" God with these "evil diseases".

Moses again tells the Israelites that they are to destroy every last "heathen" whom God delivers to them, and they are not to show any mercy or sympathy towards their victims (which further dehumanizes them). He reminds the Israelites that should they doubt their ability to win a battle against these mightier "heathen" nations, they are to recall how God had taken them out of Egypt and remember the "signs and wonders" they saw (or at least that their parents saw, considering the original generation had since died off out in the desert). Moses also adds that God will send hornets to seek out any surviving "heathen" who manages to survive the Israelite's genocidal rampages and attempt to hide.

Moses states that God will drive out these "heathens" little by little, explaining that if they were driven out all at once, the land would become infested with wild animals. Once again, the point is driven home that the Israelites are to completely destroy these "heathen" nations and are to blot their names out from history.

Again, Moses repeats that their idols are to be burned with fire, and he warns the Israelites not to be tempted by the gold or silver they are made of, and commands that they are not to take these golden or silver idols, lest they become contaminated by them - as God considers these idols "abominations". An "abomination" is never to be brought into one's house, or you will become cursed just like it. Instead one is to utterly despise and detest any "abominable" thing, for it is a cursed thing.

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