Page images


99 66


are mainly in the following passages, Ex. xxiii. 23—33; xxxiv. 11. Deut. vii. 16-25; ix. 3; xxxi. 3-5. In these verses, the Israelites are commanded to " destroy the Canaanites" "drive out," con"utterly overthrow," "put out," "dispossess them," &c. Did these commands enjoin the unconditional and universal destruction of the individuals, or merely of the body politic? The word hārām, to destroy, signifies national, as well as individual destruction; the destruction of political existence, equally with personal; of governmental organization, equally with the lives of the subjects. Besides, if we interpret the words destroy, consume, overthrow, &c., to mean personal destruction, what meaning shall we give to the expressions, "drive out before thee;"" cast out before thee;" "expel," "put out," dispossess," &c., which are used in the same passages ? "I will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee." Ex. xxiii. 27. Here" all their enemies" were to turn their backs, and "all the people" to be destroyed." Does this mean that God would let all their enemies escape, but kill all their friends, or that he would first kill "all the people" and THEN make them "turn their backs," an army of runaway corpses? If these commands required the destruction of all the individuals, the Mosaic law was at war with itself, for directions as to the treatment of native residents, form a large part of it. See Lev. xix. 34; xxv. 35, 36; xx. 22. Ex. xxiii. 9; xxii. 21. Deut. i. 16, 17; x. 17, 19. xxvii. 19. We find, also that provision was made for them in the cities of refuge, Num. xxxv. 15.—the gleanings of the harvest and vintage were theirs, Lev. xix. 9, 10; xxiii. 22;—the blessings of the Sabbath, Ex. xx. 10;—the privilege of offering sacrifices secured, Lev. xxii. 18; and stated religious instruction provided for them. Deut. xxxi. 9, 12. Now does this same law require the individual extermination of those whose lives and interests it thus protects? These laws were given to the Israelites, long before they entered Canaan; and they must have inferred from them, that a multitude of the inhabitants of the land were to continue in it, under their government. Again Joshua was selected as the leader of Israel to execute God's threatenings upon Canaan. He had no discretionary power. God's commands were his official instructions. Going beyond them would have been usurpation; refusing to carry them out rebellion and treason. Saul was rejected from being king for disobeying God's commands in a single instance. Now, if

[ocr errors]

God commanded the individual destruction of all the Canaanites Joshua disobeyed him in every instance. For at his death, the Israelites still" dwelt among them,” and each nation is mentioned by name. Judg. i. 5, and yet we are told that Joshua "left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses ;" and that he "took all that land." Josh. xi. 15-22. Also, that "there stood not a man of all their enemies before them." How can this be, if the command to destroy enjoined individual extermination, and the command to drive out, unconditional expulsion from the country, rather than their expulsion from the possession or ownership of it, as the lords of the soil? True, multitudes of the Canaanites were slain, but not a case can be found in which one was either killed or expelled who acquiesced in the transfer of the territory, and its sovereignty, from the inhabitants of the land to the Israelites. Witness the case of Rahab and her kindred, and the Gibeonites.* The Canaanites knew of the miracles wrought for the Israelites; and that their land had been transferred to them as a judgment for their sins. Josh. ii. 9-11; ix. 9, 10, 24. Many of them were awed by these wonders, and made no resistance. Others defied God and came out to battle. These occupied the fortified cities, were the most inveterate heathen-the aristocracy of idolatry, the kings, the nobility and gentry, the priests, with their crowds of satellites, and retainers that aided in idolatrous rites, and the military forces, with the chief profligates of both sexes. Many facts corroborate the general position. Such as the multitude of tributaries in the midst of Israel, and that too, after they had "waxed strong," and the uttermost nations quaked at the terror of

* Perhaps it will be objected, that the preservation of the Gibeonites, and of Rahab and her kindred, was a violation of the command of God. We answer, if it had been, we might expect some such intimation. If God had straitly commanded them to exterminate all the Canaanites, their pledge to save them alive, was neither a repeal of the statute, nor absolution for the breach of it. If unconditional destruction was the import of the command, would God have permitted such an act to pass without rebuke? Would he have established such a precedent when Israel had hardly passed the threshold of Canaan, and was then striking the first blow of a half century war? What if they had passed their word to Rahab and the Gibeonites? Was that more binding than God's command? So Saul seems to have passed his word to Agag; yet Samuel hewed him in pieces, because in saving his life, Saul had violated God's command. When Saul sought to slay the Gibeonites in "his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah," God sent upon Israel a three years famine for it. When David inquired of them what atonement he should make, they say, "The man that devised against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel, let seven of his sons be delivered," &c. 2 Sam. xxii. 1--6.

their name the Canaanites, Philistines and others, who became proselytes-as the Nethenims, Uriah the Hittite-Rahab, who married one of the princes of Judah-Ittai-the six hundred GititesDavid's body guard. 2 Sam. xv. 18, 21. Obededom the Gittite, adopted into the tribe of Levi. Comp. 2 Sam. vi. 10, 11, with 1 Chron. xv. 18, and 1 Chron. xxvi. 45-Jaziz, and Obil. 1 Chron. xxvi. 30, 31, 33. Jephunneh the father of Caleb, the Kenite, registered in the genealogies of the tribe of Judah, and the one hundred and fifty thousand Canaanites, employed by Solomon in the building of the Temple.* Besides, the greatest miracle on record, was wrought to save a portion of those very Canaanites, and for the destruction of those who would exterminate them. Josh. x. 12-14. Further the terms employed in the directions regulating the disposal of the Canaanites, such as, "drive out," "put out," "cast out," "expel," "dispossess," &c. seem used interchangably with "consume," "destroy," "overthrow," &c., and thus indicate the sense in which the latter words are used. As an illustration of the meaning generally attached to these and similar terms, we refer to the history of the Amelekites. "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amelek from under heaven. Ex. xxvii. 14. "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amelek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it." Deut. xxv. 19. "Smite Amelek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep." 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. "Saul smote the Amelekites, and took Agag the king of the Amelekites, alive and UTTERLY DESTROYED ALL THE PEOPLE with the edge of the sword." Verses 7, 8. In verse 20, Saul says, "I have brought Agag, the king of Amelek, and have utterly destroyed the Amelekites." In 1 Sam. xxx. we find the Amelekites marching an army into Israel, and sweeping every thing before them—and this in about eighteen years after they had all been UTTERLY DESTROYED!" Deut. xx. 16, 17, will probably be quoted against the preceding view. We argue that the command in these verses, did not include all the individuals of the Canaanitish nations, but only the inhabitants of the cities, (and even those conditionally,) because, only the inhabitants of cities are specified,-"of the cities of these people thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth." Cities


* If the Canaanites were devoted by God to unconditional extermination, to have employed them in the erection of the temple,-what was it but the climax of impiety? As well might they pollute its altars with swine's flesh, or make their sons pass through the fire to Moloch.

then, as now, were pest-houses of vice-they reeked with abominations little practiced in the country. On this account their influence would be far more perilous to the Israelites than that of the country. Besides, they were the centres of idolatry-there were the temples and altars, and idols, and priests, without number. Even their buildings, streets, and public walks were so many visibilities of idolatry. The reason assigned in the 18th verse for exterminating them, strengthens the idea,-"that they teach you not to do after all the abominations which they have done unto their gods." This would be a reason for exterminating all the nations and individuals around them, as all were idolaters; but God commanded them, in certain cases, to spare the inhabitants. Contact with any of them would be perilous—with the inhabitants of the cities peculiarly, and of the Canaanitish cities pre-eminently so. The 10th and 11th verses contain the general rule prescribing the method in which cities were to be summoned to surrender. They were first to receive the offer of peace-if it was accepted, the inhabitants became tributaries—but if they came out against Israel in battle, the men were to be killed, and the women and little ones saved alive. The 15th verse restricts this lenient treatment to the inhabitants of the cities afar off. The 16th directs as to the disposal of the inhabitants of Canaanitish cities. They were to save alive "nothing that breathed." The common mistake has been, in supposing that the command in the 15th verse refers to the whole system of directions preceding, commencing with the 10th, whereas it manifestly refers only to the inflictions specified in the 12th, 13th, and 14th, making a distinction between those Canaanitish cities that fought, and the cities afar off that fought-in one case destroying the males and females, and in the other, the males only. The offer of peace, and the conditional preservation, were as really guarantied to Canaanitish cities as to others. Their inhabitants were not to be exterminated unless they came out against Israel in battle. But let us settle this question by the "law and the testimony." "There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel save the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all others they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should COME OUT AGAINST ISRAEL IN BATTLE, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses." Josh. xix. 19, 20. That is, if they had not come out against Israel in battle, they would

have had "favor" shown them, and would not have been "destroyed utterly." The great design was to transfer the territory of the Canaanites to the Israelites, and along with it, absolute sovreignty in every respect; to annihilate their political organizations, civil polity, and jurisprudence, and their systein of religion, with all its rights and appendages; and to substitute therefor, a pure theocracy, administered by Jehovah, with the Israelites as His representatives and agents. In a word the people were to be denationalized, their political existence annihilated, their idol temples, altars, images groves and heathen rites destroyed, and themselves put under tribute. Those who resisted the execution of Jehovah's purpose were to be killed, while those who quietly submitted to it were to be spared. All had the choice of these alternatives, either free egress out of the land ;* or acquiescence in the decree, with life and residence as tributaries, under the protection of the government; or resistance to the execution of the decree, with death. “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, the Lord liveth, as they taught my people to swear by Baal; THEN SHALL


[The original design of the preceding Inquiry embraced a much wider range of topics. It was soon found, however, that to fill up the outline would be to make a volume. Much of the foregoing has therefore been thrown into a mere series of indices, to trains of thought and classes of proof, which, however limited or imperfect, may perhaps, afford some facilities to those who have little leisure for protracted investigation.]

* Suppose all the Canaanitish nations had abandoned their territory at the tidings of Israel's approach, did God's command require the Israelites to chase them to the ends of the earth, and hunt them out, until every Canaanite was destroyed? It is too preposterous for belief, and yet it follows legitimately from that construction, which interprets the terms "consume," "destroy," "destroy utterly," &c. to mean unconditional, individual extermination.

« PreviousContinue »