A Conservative Evangelical Explanation of God's Commanding

The Most Troubling Theme in Deuteronomistic History
The writers of Deuteronomistic
history did not only insist that
Israel should follow God
They insisted that exclusive
loyalty to God required God’s
people to exterminate any
neighbors who believed
The Deuteronimists believe
that an important reason
both the northern and
southern kingdoms were
eventually conquered was
that they failed to
exterminate all their
Deuteronomy 20:16-18
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. 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, so that they may not teach you to do all the
abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin
against the Lord your God.
The Destruction/Genocide of Jericho: Joshua
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 [Jericho] and captured it.
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.
The Destruction/Genocide of Ai: Joshua 8:24-27
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. The total of those who fell that day, both men and women,
was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. 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. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their
booty, according to the word of the Lord that he had issued to Joshua.
1 Samuel 15:17-19, 32-35
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. 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.’ 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?” … Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” And
Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.” But
Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be
childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in
Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of
Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved
over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.
A Conservative Evangelical Explanation of God’s Commanding Genocide
From Gleason L. Archer, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), pp. 158-159
“Joshua was simply carrying out God’s order in this
“The destruction of Jericho [and around 30 other
Canaanite cities] was far smaller an affair than the
annihilation of … the entire human race” (i.e., in the
Flood). [Charles comments: Is that supposed to make this
account more acceptable?]
“We must recognize that there are times when only radical
surgery will save the life of a cancer stricken body.”
In every case the baneful infection of degenerate idolatry
and moral depravity had to be removed before Israel could
safely settle down in these regions and set up a
monotheistic, law-governed commonwealth as a testimony
for the one true God.”
“These incorrigible degenerates of the Canaanite
civilization were a sinister threat to the spiritual survival of
Abraham’s race.”
But Christians should not commit genocide, says Archer,
because Christians are superior to Jews: “In our Christian
dispensation true believers possess resources for resisting
the corrupting influence of unconverted worldlings such as
were hardly available to people of the old covenant.”
What do you think of Archer’s