BIBLE EXPERTS would love to know why the Bible says God ordered Joshua and the invading Jews to commit genocide, and “completely destroy” (Deuteronomy 20:17) every last Canaanite living in what is now Israel – men, women, children, and even their critters.
The Bible’s explanation doesn’t seem to describe a crime fit for this punishment:
“This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 20:18).
There’s an archaeological dig going on at the ruin of a Canaanite city. It seems to offer a few clues about Canaanite worship services.
Archaeologists call the site Tel Burna. It’s about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Jerusalem. The dig director, Itzick Shai, reports in on his discoveries so far; he wrote the report for the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (September/October, 2015, pages 30-31).
There at Tel Burna, a few inches underground, they found the remains of a site dated to about the time of the Jewish conquest of the land. They’ve dated the site to about 1550-1200 BC.
In what Shai says was a building of yet-undetermined size they found:
- Animal bones
- Two ovens
- Cups with saucers
- Fragments of two masks the size of a human face
- Several figurines, including one with a nude woman holding two children at her breasts.
Based on this, Shai guesses that the worship services included eating meals, drinking, and taking part in rituals that involved wearing masks.
Nothing yet to suggest human sacrifice.
I thought the report was interesting because scholars seem to know very little about how Canaanites worshipped their gods.
Wouldn’t it be nice if some archaeologist turned up a Canaanite worship bulletin?
- Drink wine
- Sacrifice goat
- Eat goat
- Sacrifice and burn newborn son of Yassib’s wife
- Drink wine
- Closing chant
For more about the Canaanites
- God in a holocaust frame of mind?
- “Operation High Ground: Joshua’s strategy for killing Canaanites,” A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible, pages 62-63
- “God orders a Holocaust,” Complete Guide to the Bible, page 59
- “Canaan,” Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible 2.0, page 77
New blog subscribers who win books this week
- Bill Allison
- Barry Reed
I give away free books each week. It’s normally to randomly selected subscribers to my free blog and quarterly newsletter. But this time, I picked two of the most recent subscribers. I’ll probably pick from the newbies for the next several weeks.
The winners will get the option of choosing my new release: A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible – among about half a dozen other titles.
An offer for 5 free books
If you would be willing to write a short book review (a sentence or two) on Amazon or some other site that sells books, be one of the first five to write in a comment box below: Review Book.
I’ll send you a free copy of my newest book, A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible.