Why did God order the Israelites to kill children?

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by tellville, Jun 19, 2009.

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  1. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    So if someone were to ask you "Why did God order the Israelites to kill children" how would you answer?
  2. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    Children are sinners deserving of death as much as any grown person, original sin is real and terrible. On judgment days countless millions of seemingly good people will be exposed for the sinners they are and be cast into hell.
  3. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    If you were asked to point out a sin that a 3 month old child has committed what would you point out? Or have they not committed sin but rather the fact that they have a sin nature is what makes them deserving?
  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    To get rid of that group of people which He didn't want on this earth anymore.
  5. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    The two are necessarily intertwined. We commit sins because we have a sin nature. The main difference between a three month old and a 30 year old is that the three month old has not matured to the same point physically in order to commit the same sins as the 30 year old. As soon as that child is physically able, he will begin to commit those sins (i.e., with his hands, feet, etc.).

    But we are not only condemned for the things we do with our hands and feet. We have hearts that are opposed to God. That 3 month old is born with a heart that is in opposition to God. Anyone who says "innocent child" does not have a true understanding of the nature of sin or the guilt of human beings or the need for the cross or the greatness of the Savior.
  6. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    The inhabitants of the ancient city of Carthage were descendants of the Canaanites. I once read that when the Romans finally made in to Carthage and sacked the city, they were appalled by the immorality they found there. Play that one again in your mind -- the Romans were grossed out by what these latter Canaanites were doing...
  7. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The Canaanites, Amorites, etc, were a particularly wicked people that God had been patient with (see Genesis 15:16).

    Instead of destroying them with a natural or other disaster, God decided to make an example of them in the judgment being inflicted on them by His people with the iron sword.

    This pointed forward typologically to the judgment and mercy that God's New Covenant people would inflict on the whole Earth by carrying out the Great Commission with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

    We all deserve death, having sinned in Adam or also by actual transgression. Another reason why God would have wanted the children to be killed was to show forth the completeness of the judgment and overthrow of these desperately wicked nations (pointing to the complete overthrow of the Earth by the spread of the Gospel) and so that Amorites, etc, growing up among the Israelites would not be a snare to God's people.

    Thankfully God's people in the New Covenant are not called upon to carry out such a task.

    Sadly young children and babies die in God's providence in this sinful and cursed world all the time, in various ways. I leave the ultimate destiny of particular babies and children with God.
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Really cannot imagine since the Romans were pretty immoral themselves.
  9. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I think Sarah's got you there, Pastor. Carthage was a colony of the Phoenicians; Tyre in particular If I recall correctly. They weren't Canaanites, and there are good things said about them in Scripture. One of the chief artists of the Temple had a parent from those people, Solomon had extensive treaties and trade agreements with them.

    I would point out that the person with the objection is 100 percent right on. God doesn't allow kids to be killed. In OT law a son can't die for the sins of the father.

    The Canaanite genocide was a one time thing, where God said to do something that He normally didn't allow. Since He is God.

    I would point out that the Canaanite genocide was like the Prophet who went up to some random person and told the man to strike him. Normally you would be sinning if you wounded a man against whom you had no feud. The man refused to strike the Prophet, which was right and just under normal circumstances. But in THAT CASE, since it was God who ordered it (like telling Abraham to kill his son) it was imperative for the man to strike.

    Because He is God. Good and evil aren't absolutes. Something is good because God says it is good. Something is evil because God says it is evil.

    So, I would tell the person that his objection is well founded, and without a direct revelation from God, it would be evil to kill children.
  10. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    For me it would depend on who this "someone" was who asked the question.

    So, hypothetically, if it was an atheist i would simply ask, "do you believe that killing children is wrong?"...."why is it wrong?"...."So you are against abortion?"

    And take the conversation from there.
  11. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    What if they were a Christian? How would you respond?
  12. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I believe the person I'm remembering (the one who pointed this out) is Gleason Archer. I'd be glad to check the source/quote and post it tomorrow.

    I also believe that Sarah was confirming what I said. The residents of Carthage were repulsive to even the Romans; since the Romans were immoral, what does that say about Carthage?
  13. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    I would most likely come from a perspective that questioned if He was their God how could they sit in judgment on Him.
  14. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    This is a good point, one that I had not considered before. God had already wiped out most of the world with the flood, yet He promised not to do that anymore (not by that method -- Genesis 9:11). God Himself had already destroyed men, women, and children through the flood.

    But keep in mind that not all Canaanites were killed. Rahab was spared, for instance, along with her household.
  15. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I think sarah doesn't really know what's going on here since people think what she said was WOW! She gets lucky every once in awhile....even blonds have good days! :lol:
  16. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I'll wait for you to do the source thing. Although those living under the Cedar flag today (if any are reading this) are probably insulted by now ;-)

    And aren't you thinking of the Sack of Jerusalem? How the Romans were so disgusted by the Jews that the killed everyone rather than spare them?

    I've never read that Scipio Africanus killed off the Carthaginians because they were immoral. It was more of a trade and geopolitical war.
  17. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    So by saying this are you saying they have no right to ask the question or rather they have no right to question the answer?
  18. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Amen, Larry
  19. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Here's part of the problem. Apparently Canaan and Phoenicia are used interchangeably (sort of) with one another. Here's the Wiki entry (using sources from the British Museum and Cambridge University Presses):

  20. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    One problem is using Wikipedia as a source. Another is saying that Phoenicians are descended from Ham (dark skinned people) therefore they are necessarily immoral.

    Bad example, Tim. Assyrians and Jews are related. So should we....stereotype them in the same way?

    Saying Carthage was evil, so "Hey, who cares that all the babies were killed" is really reminiscent of the mostly baptist Christian Zionists who justified our latest war with Iraq using the same justification. "They're bad. They don't like Jews!! Lets kill them and justify ourselves by saying that they are worse than us).

    Well, no matter how bad a nation's fathers are, Biblical law doesn't allow killing their kids. It's a sin to kill a 9 month old baby because he comes from a sinful ethnic group. You all should be able to see this.

    So you don't have to exaggerate the sinfulness of those dozen different ethnic groups collectively known as "Canaanites". Their kids were sinful enough, just like ours are. But you can't kill them. Any more than it would be just for me to fly over there and kill your kids. It just isn't done in mature Christian influenced societies.

    The Canaanite genocide was a one off deal. period.
  21. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    OK, I drove over to the church study at 9:30 and got the book. I was mistaken about one thing; it was Walter Kaiser, not Gleason Archer. It appears in Hard Sayings of the Bible. (pp. 117-118). Here's the quote, in context, with emphasis added:

    For what it's worth, I think you are reading a lot of motives into what I posted above. My point was to counter the "innocent children" line. Judging by your last post, I believe we are agreed. But the Canaanites were an especially nasty people. More so than most. Which seems to speak to why God wanted them gone. That seems to be what most folks here are saying.

    I don't think anyone is saying we have the right outselves to make that call. Canaan was a one-shot deal -- I agree with that. We're all sinful, and that applies to our children; I agree. To paraphrase Jesus' words in Luke 13 might be appropriate here -- Do we suppose these were greater sinners than we? Unless we repent, we will all likewise perish.
  22. SueS

    SueS Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok, I might be faaar off the mark with this one but I've always considered the extermination of such a wicked society as that of the Caananites to be an act geared to prevent the spreading of its evils to the children of Israel. This was a culture that engaged in horrific religious and sexual practices, an environment in which children were immersed from their earliest days. I believe that along with the abhorrant religious and sexual elements came diseases that were passed on to children at birth, hence, even the youngest of babies were unredeemably physically tainted and if allowed to live would pass their diseases to others.

    It would have to be a really debached culture for God to destroy it completely but He did it with the Flood and He did it in this case.

    Anyhoo, that's my take on this - hope it made sense!
  23. reformed trucker

    reformed trucker Puritan Board Sophomore


    Nailed it, dude! Say no more!
  24. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    God ordered the children to be killed so the whole people would be wiped out.

    While we may not execute anyone for his father's sins or vice versa (Ezekiel 18:20), God can...you know, that whole imputation of sin through Adam and God visiting sins upon generation after generation and all.
  25. caoclan

    caoclan Puritan Board Freshman

    An eschatological intrusion. A physical, historical representation of God's consuming judgment on all who are outside Christ.
  26. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    It's really easy to say that children are sinners too, and this provides consistency for Biblical Christianity, but it doesn't really address the question. Obviously implicit in the question is the assumption that babies are basically innocent before God, so rather than just stating that the assumption, it would be helpful to explain why a little bit. And the best way to do that, in my opinion, is to tell them that babies only seem innocent (i.e. sinless) to us because we compare them with us rather than with God's standards. As soon as the law of Jehovah is applied to the child and one imagines how high the bar is for God, babies don't look too innocent anymore.


    This is just false. I don't know how to say it more graciously.

    First, that good and evil can only be perfectly known by humans from God's decree does not imply that God decides what good and evil are. If God decided that, then that would mean His nature is not inherently righteous and that good and evil are arbitrary labels. To say that God decides what is good and what is evil is to say that good and evil come into existence by virtue of God's decree rather than that they are already defined. God is good. He is the definition of good. He doesn't decide what is good. He can state perfectly how goodness is to be manifested on Earth, but that doesn't mean He is arbitrarily deciding which earthly actions are good.

    Second, there is no way good and evil are relative. Moral relativism is not Christian.

    Third, I am fairly certain these statements came from you only because of a misunderstanding that you had when you stated this earlier:

    Here you distinguish between (1) the permissibility of killing children and (2) the immorality of killing children. You imply that (2) is normally in place, but God can suspend this every once in a while because He's God and instead invoke (1). If you were right about this Tim, then it would indeed follow that good and evil are relative and arbitrarily decided by God.

    But there are actually four distinctions: (a) the permissibility of killing children by humans, (b) the immorality of killing children by humans, (c) the permissibility of killing children by God, and (d) the immorality of killing children by God. Here, when God commanded the Canaanite genocide, He was not affirming (1) and denying (2); rather, He was affirming (c) and ordaining Israel as His instrument. He denied no principles that were already standing. Positive law never denies moral law.

    Therefore, God never suspended any moral principle. It was not the case that there was some moral principle which He "normally" enforced but arbitrarily suspended here. Rather, It is always immoral for humans to kill children, and it is always permissible for God to kill children. Both these principles were upheld in the Canaanite genocide.
  27. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    God never ordered the Phoenicians to be exterminated, and as I said, they were at more than one point centuries after the Canaanite genocide Israel's main ally. For instance during the Philistine war we read


    And the the last vestige of the Canaanite (sic) race is alive and well in Malta BTW.

    Well, that wasn't too ungracious. But it is evil to kill babies. Except when God countermands His own law. Specifically when God tells you to kill a baby, or sacrifice your son, or marry your sister, or stab a man with whom you have no feud, punish a son for the deeds of his father or marry a whore, you need to do those things which are in any other circumstances evil. You can spin it however you wish.
  28. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    OK ... but I don't see how that's not a non sequitur. :confused:

    God ordered the destruction of the Canaanites (including children). We both agree.

    I mentioned a comment I once read about Carthage as an example of a civilization, many centuries later, who descended from the Canaanites, who were wicked people, so much so that even the immoral Romans were repulsed by them. You denied that Carthage descended from the Canaanites, calling them Phoenicians instead.

    I believe I have not only produced the quotation I mentioned, but have shown that the Phoenicians are generally considered to be descendants of Canaanites. I'm not sure what else I can be say. At this point I don't seem any thing profitable in continuing to quibble about it.
  29. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Also an anticipation of the evangelisation of the whole Earth under Christ, who is our Moses and Joshua.

    God promises to be with Joshua and the people in their task:-

    Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:6-9 (ASV)

    Jesus promises to be with His people in their task:-

    And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:18-20 (ASV)
  30. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I'm not "spinning it"; I'm making crucial distinctions so as to protect Christianity from moral relativism and to protect morality from being based on arbitrary fiat rather than God's eternally holy nature.

    If you don't want to address what I wrote above, fine, but please don't brush it aside as just spinning the issue.
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