Who Did Joshua Kill in Jericho?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Many Christians, as they read the book of Joshua, are uncomfortable with the accounts of conquest that are recorded there.  The conquest of Jericho is the first in Canaan for the Israelites.  The biblical writer describes the battle of Jericho this way in Josh. 6:20-21:

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.  They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

What causes many of us discomfort is the phrase “men and women, young and old.”  It seems that we must understand Joshua’s conquest of Jericho as a complete annihilation of a major population center, including non-combatants who are women, children and the elderly.

Christian scholar Paul Copan strongly disagrees with this understanding of the attack on Jericho in his book Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.  Copan marshals a case to dispute the traditional view of Jericho being a major population center with loads of non-combatants living in it.

His argument rests on two primary points.  First, the language found in Josh. 6:21 should be understood as Near Eastern warfare rhetoric.  In other words, Joshua’s original audience would not have understood the sentence, “They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys” as literally meaning that.  Instead, they would have heard Joshua describing a decisive military victory.

Joshua’s conventional warfare rhetoric was common in many other ancient Near Eastern military accounts in the second and first millennia BC.  The language is typically exaggerated and full of bravado, depicting total devastation.  The knowing ancient Near Eastern reader recognized this as hyperbole; the accounts weren’t understood to be literally true.

Copan cites several examples of Near Eastern warfare accounts which used hyperbole to describe their victories, including accounts originating from Egyptians, Hittites, and Assyrians.  This historical data casts new light on how we should understand biblical warfare accounts, especially those recorded in Joshua.

Copan’s second point is that the city of Jericho is not a large population center containing numerous non-combatants which were killed in the assault.  According to Copan, the language used in Joshua 6 is “stereotypical Near Eastern language [which] actually describes attacks on military forts or garrisons, not general populations that included women and children.  There is no archaeological evidence of civilian populations at Jericho or Ai” (emphasis added).

Copan goes on to explain:

Given what we know about Canaanite life in the Bronze Age, Jericho and Ai were military strongholds.  In fact, Jericho guarded the trade routes from the Jordan Valley up to population centers in the hill country. . . . That means that Israel’s wars here were directed toward government and military installments; this is where the king, the army, and the priesthood resided.  The use of ‘women’ and ‘young and old’ was merely stock ancient Near Eastern language that could be used even if women and young and old weren’t living there. . . .  The text doesn’t require that women and young and old must have been in these cities.

If this is true, then what of Rahab?  According to Copan, “Rahab was in charge of what was likely the fortress’s tavern or hostel.”  Evidently it was common for a fortress to have a tavern where “traveling caravans and royal messengers would . . . stay overnight.”  Most of Jericho would have consisted of soldiers, priests, and political leaders.

Copan’s argument is compelling, as it cites ancient Near Eastern historical data to place in context what the original readers of Joshua’s book would have understood.  This is exactly what the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation calls us to do.  As we gather more data about the ancient Near East, we must constantly refine our understanding of the biblical texts.

  • Greg

    I certainly am not the biblical expert but i dont think i agree with the explanation above. Am i to apply this same theory to Sodom and Gomorrah? I do believe that all living things were literally put to the sword and also believe this was not an immoral act by God. If he knew all possible outcomes and impacts on the Israelites that any living person could have, then if he chose to preserve the integrity of His chosen people by removing the possibility of future bad influence, i see that as his prerogative seeing as He is all knowledgeable and completely holy. In my eyes it was a judgement imposed by God no different that what is to come at final judgement day.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Why try to fit the facts to fit your morality? If you follow William Lane Craig’s logic, like Nixon’s belief that any act by the president is by definition not illegal, then whatever God decrees is by definition moral. If it he performs an act that makes you feel uncomfortable then so be it. If you throw your lot in with WLC’s logic, then that’s what you’ve got to accept.

    The bible clearly condones slavery – it says beating them to death is fine as long as they take more than a couple of days to die. Dismissing this as being less like slavery than indentured servitude simply doesn’t work – there are rules laid out for owning slaves in perpetuity, and getting the kids of your slaves to be your slaves too.

    In Numbers 31 we have the instruction: “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourself every girl who has never slept with a man.” For what purpose are we to suppose the virgins are being ‘saved for yourself’?

    Rather than try to perform apologetics on these and many other passages that jar with modern readers, why not be like honest like Greg and just accept that this must be moral, by WLC’s definition of moral?

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    I will leave aside your out-of-context quotes about slavery and the Midianites and just address Jericho. I don’t have any problem with God taking human life. I have written about that on this blog many times. It is true that the killing of women and children makes all of us cringe, even when God is involved, but again, I understand why God has the right to do so.

    What this post was about was an attempt to deal with archaeological data that is shedding new light on what these biblical passages mean. Copan, I think, is making a case that should be heard. I expected that there would be Christians and non-Christians that didn’t like the case he was making, but that doesn’t matter to me. I want to know the truth about what happened and Copan may be on to something.

  • Jeff

    I agree with Greg on this. I feel the explanation is questioning the truth of the word of God. His direction to Joshua was a direct effort to not allow any corruption to the nation of Israel. Their disobedience and disbelief is overwhelming at this point in biblical history, and his desire in providing the promised land was a place that was theirs, As you continue to study Joshua, there are many battles that continue the Jericho theme, with total annililation. Every time they failed to completly destroy the enemy, there were further issues to deal with. Gods word is clear and I believe we “water down” or question God’s soveriegnty and omnipitence when we doubt its truth. These other tribes and people groups were not going to follow God, and his chosen people were not to be corrupted by thier presence. Thus, his judgement fell upon them. Follow God or follow Satan. It’s the only choices available.

  • Todd

    Interesting points, but it just seems another case of apologetics taking the bad things in the bible and trying to make them seem less horrific. Let’s say it was a military target and only combatants were killed. Why is it better that god sanctioned the killing of combatants than non-combatants? Did their life have less worth?

    This also gets into the annoying prospect of interpretation of the bible. It would seem there are a multitude of ways to interpret nearly everything in the bible. Let’s not interpret what the bible says about Jericho literally, it was just bloated boasting. But we should take it as fact that Jesus rose from the dead. It would seem to make more sense that in a battle non-combatants were killed than that the laws of physics were broken when Jesus defied death.

    In nearly all interpretations, I find that the reasoning of apologetic is to steer the reader in a direction of their choosing, instead of what seems clear in the text.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Todd, I agree.

    “I will leave aside your out-of-context quotes about slavery”

    So slavery is fine, as long as it’s in the right context? Sorry – I’m against slavery, full stop. Remember your delightful question about raping kids? What if someone told you that kid-rape was fine, as long as the context was right?

  • Boz

    Todd, I agree.

    I have found that an apologist is like a trial lawyer – putting the best possible case forward, the most positive spin, expounding on the helpful evidence while ignoring/minimising the difficult evidence.

    And the audience is the Judge/Jury, trying to work out what to accept as true, trying to see through the bias and the spin. And this task is very difficult because there is no opposing lawyer, no counter-apologist, to present the opposing case. We’re only hearing one side of the story.

    Of course, this is not the case 100% of the time, an apologist can plainly state something that is true, with no spin or bias. But, for us non-experts, there is no way to tell the difference. This is why I can’t trust what an apologist is saying – I’m always looking out for the spin, the bias, the missing information that has been conveniently ignored.

  • Ah…what a great defense to explain:

    1) the lack of archeological support for the historicity of Joshua’s genocide, beginning with Jericho; and

    2) The problem regarding God ordering genocide, including the killing of children. (Nice side-step to avoid the Midianites, Bill Pratt!)

    Yet again demonstrating there is no problem so bad that Christian apologetics can’t offer an explanation ending up being worse.

    So…the reason we have the Jericho story is that the human authors (like every other human work) utilized the style of their times (like every other human work) to write a story that didn’t actually happen? How in the blue blazes is this supposed to help any claim these stories are divine? (I find it significant Christians contributing to this blog entry are troubled for the same reason.)

    Other cultures generated creation myths based upon their understanding of the time. Christians claim these myths are neither historical nor divine. Yet using the same reasoning as this blog entry, we should equally dismiss the creation myths within Genesis. And the flood story (likewise a common theme amongst other cultures.) And the Egyptian Exodus, not to mention the Ten Plagues. And the kingdoms of David. And the period of Judges.

    But why stop there?

    The New Testament Gospels are also written within the style of their times, indeed Acts follows the formulaic trait of Greek novels. Again, without strict adherence to actual historicity.

    I know Christian apologists like to piecemeal very small parts of their Bible, and offer flowery defenses designed to salve any lingering doubts of pew-sitters. But those who actually employ their reasoning see how this defense, if applied consistently, undermines the entire claim regarding the Bible being anything more than a collection of human works.

    No divinity involved.

  • Bill Pratt

    Todd,
    One thing you said struck me as foundational to all the chatter on this post. You said, “It would seem there are a multitude of ways to interpret nearly everything in the bible.”

    The Bible, as a collection of literature that was written over a period of about 1,500 years, from 3,500 to 2,000 years ago, is going to present interpretive challenges. This just seems obvious, so why are skeptics of Christianity always pointing this out? In fact, I have news for you. Every single text ever written has room for multiple interpretations! That is the nature of written communication. Even what I’m writing right now will be interpreted several different ways by those reading it.

    Christians will always debate interpretations of portions of the Bible because it is inevitable. There is no communication medium that communicates without the possibility of the receiver not understanding what the transmitter meant.

    What is so ironic about skeptics accusing me of twisting the text to make it read the way I want is that I have defended the right of God to take any human life many times. God is well within his rights to take the lives of whomever he wishes. He is the Judge of all mankind. I have no issue with this and I did not write this blog post in order to escape this issue.

    I wrote it because it may be that the way we’ve been interpreting this text is incorrect. If so, then we need to fix our error.

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    Go read my blog posts on Hebrew slavery. You seem to be ignorant on this subject.

  • Bill Pratt

    Boz,
    Do you have an argument to make about the Joshua account of Jericho or are you just content to make personal attacks this week?

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, sorry but nothing there I was ignorant of. You’re making apologetics for slavery, and there’s nothing you posted that contradicts my previous post.

    ““Forced enslavement of Hebrews was punishable by death” – see Ex. 21:16 and Deut. 24:7.”

    Sure, but not for non-Hebrews. That’s just a ‘protect your own’ law. If it’s only applicable to Hebrews then it’s not a law informed by morality. You can say there were ways a slave could become free, but there were also loopholes to get a slave for perpetuity.

    All those commandments, but none saying ‘don’t own other humans’.

  • Bill Pratt

    Jeff,
    How do you explain the fact that there is no archaeological evidence of civilian populations at Jericho or Ai? In addition, in what way are we watering anything down? If the original biblical audience would have understood Joshua’s war rhetoric in hyperbolic terms, then we have added to God’s revelation by assuming it was not hyperbolic! There are figures of speech used all over the Bible, just as there are in all books. We must keep re-visiting our understanding when new historical evidence is presented to us.

    With regard to God’s desire for Israel to be holy and not influenced by the Canaanite culture, the existence of civilians in Jericho in no way negates that idea. In order for Israel to drive out the Canaanites from the land, or to at least eradicate their wicked culture, they would first have to deal with the Canaanite armies. That’s exactly what Jericho was, a military fortress.

  • Andrew Ryan

    ““Forced enslavement of Hebrews was punishable by death” – see Ex. 21:16 and Deut. 24:7.”

    To clarify, when I said ‘but not for non-Hebrews’, I didn’t mean non-Hebrews could ignore the law, I meant that Hebrews were being told not to enslave their own people, implying quite clearly that a different rule applied to the enslavement of other races/ religions.

  • Andrew Ryan

    And this ‘different rule for foreigners’ is made explicit here:
    ”    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.  You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    This makes it seem MORE similar to the US South slavery you were trying to differentiate it from. A plantation owner could proudly boast that he kept to laws prohibiting White Americans, but would you see this as a mitigating factor?

    Here is what I meant by the ‘loophole’:

    “If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master.”

    How can you justify this?

  • Andrew Ryan

    ““Minor injuries due to abusive treatment automatically resulted in immediate freedom (this is actually labeled as ‘to compensate’, implying rights/duties/debt)” – see Ex 21:26-27″

    Yet the following makes it clear that you can beat your slave such that he dies – as long as he takes more than a couple of days to die – with no punishment at all:

    ”    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.  (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)”

    Contrary to you claim that it’s not like property, the above passage directly uses just that word.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, to summarise: all the apologetics you use to excuse biblical slavery appears to apply only to Jewish slaves. Eg, the ‘free after 7 years’ rule. You appear to ignore that non-Jews could be owned permanently. How is this any more of a get-out than 18th Century Americans not being allowed to own other White Americans?

    Given that all four or so of your blogs on the subject seems to rest on ignoring this distinction, I can’t say I’m convinced.

    You’re fitting the bible to your own sensibilities, rather than following the actual implications of the text. Which was the point I originally made a few posts up, to which you accused me of ignorance, unjustifiably in my view.

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    The posts I wrote on slavery were focused on Hebrew slavery because that is what the vast majority of the texts in the OT deal with. There are comparatively very few verses having to do with the slavery of non-Hebrews. Since you hold my arguments in such low regard, I’ll just point you to the slavery article at A Christian Thinktank. Maybe you will find his approach more convincing.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Do you not get my point though, BIll? You don’t see it as a defence of American slavery that they didn’t enslave other whites, right?

    There may not have been MANY verses dealing with slavery of non-Hebrews, but that’s not to say they aren’t there, and the verses that ARE there are very troubling. There aren’t a huge number of biblical verses dealing with homosexuality, but they are seen as very important to many Christians. The same Christians however don’t abide by the biblical condoning of non-Hebrew slavery, even though some of them are in the same parts of the bible as the ‘anti-gay’ parts. For example, the Leviticus verse I already quoted:

    “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.”

    Saying that there aren’t many verses like the above in the bible doesn’t really help. Even if the above on was the ONLY reference to slavery in the whole Good Book, it would need addressing by anyone who holds it up as the Moral Word of God.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, thanks for the link; I’ll check it out tomorrow.
    Andy

  • Andrew Ryan

    Hmm, I’m reading through it. I’m afraid it still strikes me as a bit disingenuous.

    He claims this: “If a master beat a slave and the slave died, the master was held accountable under the ‘life for life’ clause”

    He backs it up by providing several different translations of the same verse:

    “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished (Ex 21.20, NIV)
    “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod, and he dies there and then, he must be avenged” (JPS Tanach translation)
    “If a man shall strike his slave or his maidservant with the rod and he shall die under his hand, he shall surely be avenged.” (Stone Edition Tanach translation)”

    However, he doesn’t provide the verse directly following it, which is an important qualifier. The NAB translation gives it thus:

    “If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.”

    Now, I’ll be fair and give the follow on verse from the particular translations he was using:

    “However, if he shall continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his money”
    “But if he survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, since he is the other’s property”
    “but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

    Now that last one is pretty different, I’ll grant you, as it makes it clear that the slave’s return to health after a couple of day’s is the important part, rather than simply managing to take longer than two days to die – which is what the other three translations all imply.

    But to be honest he would have given all three translations of the second verse, as they were undoubtedly pretty essential in interpreting what the first verse was actually saying.

    So I don’t feel that I can trust the link you gave me, as this was the first bible reference he gave that I checked, and already it looks like he is deliberately missing out important qualifying verses in order to mislead. I’m not going to check every single reference he gives to make sure this isn’t how he makes the rest of his points.

  • Boz

    Bill pratt said: “Boz,Do you have an argument to make about the Joshua account of Jericho or are you just content to make personal attacks this week?”

    Is it a personal attack to observe that a defence lawyer (or apologist) is biased in favour of her client?

    Would you, as a jury member in a court case, listen only to one party?

    I did not intend to make a personal attack.

    I’m not interested in Joshua/Jericho.

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    You have isolated one verse and picked it to pieces in order to find fault with the article. The Thinktank article is tens of thousands of words long, so why don’t you read the entire thing and try to look at the issue of slavery in its entirety? If you are going to launch attacks on an issue like slavery in the Bible, then at least do the homework to really understand the issue. Maybe you could even write about some portions of the article that are convincing, that made you change your mind. Surely you are not going to cast aside the entire article already.

  • Bill Pratt

    Boz,
    Not to belabor this point, but you said, “This is why I can’t trust what an apologist is saying – I’m always looking out for the spin, the bias, the missing information that has been conveniently ignored.” If that is not a personal attack, I don’t know what is. You have flatly stated that nothing I write about can be trusted. How is that not a personal attack?

  • Jeff

    I accept your response and can agree that if it was a military fortress, then you are correct. Is there archeological evidence to this effect, or just corroborated through other historical writings of the time? Thus, what is your supportin evidence of this point.

  • Boz

    Bill Pratt said: “Boz, Not to belabor this point, but you said, “This is why I can’t trust what an apologist is saying – I’m always looking out for the spin, the bias, the missing information that has been conveniently ignored.” If that is not a personal attack, I don’t know what is. You have flatly stated that nothing I write about can be trusted. How is that not a personal attack?”

    ]

    I see now, how that could be read as a personal attack. It was not my intention to make a personal attack.

    I would normally apologise now, but I can’t apologise without being a hypocrite, because I still think its true. It would be a fake apology. However, I genuinely hope there are no hard feelings.

    Will you answer this question:

    would you, as a jury member, accept at face value the exhortations of a defence lawyer, without looking for the spin, the bias, the missing information that has been conveniently ignored?

    If not, then how can you expect an apologist’s audience to do exactly that?

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill: “Andrew, You have isolated one verse and picked it to pieces in order to find fault with the article. The Thinktank article is tens of thousands of words long, so why don’t you read the entire thing and try to look at the issue of slavery in its entirety?”

    Bill, it was the author who was isolating single verses, not me. I didn’t say I’d only read one part of the article. I read quite a bit of it. But his method of quoting single verses at a time made it impossible to ascertain whether he was being honest or not. Through that method one can interpret the text to show anything you want. I was trying to be thorough by not only including both verses, but providing several different translations, including the one that WEAKENED my argument. That is honesty.

    That single example I offered is perhaps the most egregious, but the article seems to be like that all the way through. As another, recurring, example, frequently he would quote an imperative regarding treatment of slaves, and not identify whether it was referring to the enslavement of Hebrews, or of foreigners. Given the huge disparity in what treatment is permitted to the two groups, this is an essential distinction to make.

    If I was more ignorant of the bible, this could easily have tripped me up. Given the general state of ignorance of Americans about the bible*, one would guess that the average person to whom you offered that article could easily be fooled: when given quotes showing how Hebrews were meant to treat other Hebrews, they would assume that this applied to everyone. They wouldn’t realise that a whole set of other rules allowed much harsher treatment of foreigners.

    In fact I heard Ray Comfort debating atheists on the radio the other day, and when they brought up slavery, he started offering just that apologetic: he quoted passages regarding how slaves should be treated, but didn’t clarify that these restrictions only applied to Hebrew slaves. When the atheists called him on it, he didn’t really have an answer. I wondered if he himself hadn’t realised the distinction.

    Yet again, this is no more honest that an C18th plantation owner claiming that all his workers could leave whenever they liked, and not admitting that this only applied to white American workers.

    * Statistics quoted in the December 2000 issue of The Baptist Standard confirm accounts of Bible illiteracy:

    A Gallup survey shows that fewer than half of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis), only one-third know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (many named Billy Graham, not Jesus), and one-quarter do not know what is celebrated on Easter. A 1997 Barna Research poll showed 12 percent of Christians think Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc.

    Eighty percent of born-again Christians believe it is the Bible that says “God helps them that help themselves”!

  • Bill Pratt

    Boz,
    There is a difference between a person outright lying and giving misinformation and a person who presents one side of a case strongly. It is true that I don’t often have time to present the other side of every issue that I write about. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It is largely impractical to do that all the time. In addition, there are plenty of people out there presenting the other side, including people who come on this blog, so it’s not as if the other side never gets a hearing.

    When you say that I cannot be trusted, you are saying that I lie or at least badly misrepresent information on the blog to the point that it is highly suspect. In that case, you are making a personal attack because you are questioning my honesty and integrity.

    If all you want to say is that I don’t always present all sides of an argument, then you are correct. In fact, you and I have covered this ground before and I said the same thing. But I don’t understand what the problem is, as this is the way most people argue their points. Even academic writers rarely portray their opponents’ views in a complete manner. Why do you feel the need to call me out on this issue when everyone else does the same thing? Do you go on atheist blogs and complain to them about their lack of balance in their presentations? I doubt it.

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    You moved away from arguing about slavery to making accusations about how dumb Christians are. Is this really the way you want to argue?

  • Andrew Ryan

    No Bill, that wasn’t the argument I was making at all – I was emphasizing how important it is to quote from the bible properly, given that one cannot assume the reader is biblically literate, even if they’re a Christian.

    I thought I made that point pretty clearly. Ignorant does not equal dumb either.

  • Boz

    Bill pratt said: “If all you want to say is that I don’t always present all sides of an argument, then you are correct. In fact, you and I have covered this ground before and I said the same thing. But I don’t understand what the problem is, as this is the way most people argue their points.”

    I think I found the core of our disagreement – you don’t see an issue with presenting only one side of an argument. Where I see it as the same as lying, because the outcome is the same – it causes others to believe false things. Even though there are no intentionally false statements.

    I’m very strongly averse to Type-1 errors, relative to Type-2 errors. Maybe that is our difference?

    —-

    Bill pratt said: “There is a difference between a person outright lying and giving misinformation and a person who presents one side of a case strongly. It is true that I don’t often have time to present the other side of every issue that I write about. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It is largely impractical to do that all the time.”

    I’m not saying that you are outright lying or giving misinformation.

    These four sentences are a perfect example of my point. There are no lies or misinformation. The impression that you are giving the reader is that your treatment of the subject is as fair and balanced as it is practical to be. However this impression is false.

    There are 430(?) articles on this site, and (afaik) 100% of them are in favour of conservative evangelical christianity. Arguments against conservative evangelical christianity are only ever made as a set up for arguments in favour of conservative evangelical christianity.

    —-

    Bill Pratt said: “Why do you feel the need to call me out on this issue when everyone else does the same thing?”

    not everyone else argues in a one-sided fasion, every single time. (also, tu quoque).

    —-

    Bill Pratt said: “Do you go on atheist blogs and complain to them about their lack of balance in their presentations? I doubt it.”

    I do. I argue strongly against the Jesus-Myth idea, because it is a perfect example of confirmation bias. It’s so tempting and so easy – you don’t have to worry about all the details if you can make an assertion like that. Atheists who take pride in their rationality fall for that bs. It reminds me of the saying: “an atheist is just as stupid/asshole/ignorant/whatever as anybody else – they just have one less wrong opinion.”

  • Jared

    Bill. Thank you for your posts. They have been a huge blessing to me lately since I discovered the website. God is using your words to spiritually impact me. keep it up.

  • Bill Pratt

    Jared,
    Thank you very much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

    God bless,
    Bill

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  • dani

    good

  • ede

    I like your quote “The language is typically exaggerated and full of bravado, depicting
    total devastation. The knowing ancient Near Eastern reader recognized
    this as hyperbole; the accounts weren’t understood to be literally true.” Just use it for all of the ancient writings such as the Talmud, Bible or the Quran.

  • Tim

    In the current “modern” era it makes little difference as to whether there were “atrocities” committed by Joshua and his army. It is the concepts of WAR of Biblical proportions that these stories from the bible have seen re-created and justified scenarios play out down through the ages. A thousand years ago the peoples of Jerusalem were not ready for what the Christians of the First Crusade inflicted on them. The muslims fared better in the subsequent “Crusades”. So we are fast forwarded to present day and the Muslims remember that brutality as the Irish Remember the 1916 Easter Rebellion and it’s fall out and the US army’s dispositions of Los San Patricios. The US continues in a foreign policy towards the SW Asian regions without a discussion of the motives of OIL and Religion. So the US thinks they are doing good as if some foreign super power had come to and invaded 19th century America which was a culture very similar to what the Muslim populations of SW Asia have a cultural affiliation for ~2 centuries later. The outcomes in the Middle East will continue to manifest out of “Mission Accomplished”. This is very different than the previous geo-political chess game played against the ideology of the communist military dictator ships, of the last century.

  • guestof truth

    Supposedly god’s words are in the bible. Read it as is. Making excuses and interpreting it to make pslatable is just garbage. This interpreter is blowing smoke.
    This bible is a horror show full of magic and despicable mass genocide.
    I won’t have any of it.
    The bible says everyone man, women children and livestock was savsgely murdered.

  • Brendan M

    Foreign slaves probably refers to POWs. But regardless of who is the slave, the slave has the right to run away from their master according to Deuteronomy. Also, these laws are not moral laws but civil laws to maintain order in the time they lived. For example, there were guidelines for divorce but Jesus later came and said that divorce for petty reasons was wrong. A woman should not be abandoned because she burnt a piece of toast or some other stupid reason. Moses implemented guidelines at the time because their hearts were hard.

  • Brendan M

    Also, the only reason I could think for the guidelines about punishing the murder of a slave is this: If a master beat a slave and he died soon, there’s a good chance that it was planned or intentional. But if they died later, it’s still horrible but it has a higher possibility of being unintentional, which is very difficult to prove or disprove. The punishment would be the loss of a valuable worker, as stated in the text. Of course I think beating is wrong, but the civil law doesn’t mention a lot of things which are wrong. If you looked at a legal document in the US for example, you might see a law that deals with the punishment of a man who kills his wife. The law might not detail the punishment for beating his wife as it is dealing with murder, but it doesn’t mean that the American people condone beating. Beating is still illegal, but it might not be mentioned in the section dealing with murder. Also, man-stealing was punishable by death in the Bible.

  • lester

    It wasn’t an immoral act by God. He just got blamed for it.

  • lester

    Uh, if he wanted to keep the jews “clean” so the savior could come through their bloodlines, maybe he should have kept a closer watch on some of his servants who were a little less than saints. Off hand I can only think of a few. Abraham was a liar to save his butt when he told the king that Sarah was his sister an adulterer ith a slave so he could have a child and then ran her off. How about little King David who hadhis mistress’s husband sent to the front lines. How about Sampson the fornicator who directly disobeyed God and went to sleep in the barber chair. Been a while since I read the old testament. Ijust believe a lot of the bible was written uninspired by God. Makes you wonder what you can believe and can’t believe.

  • lester

    Bill, if God gave us the bible, why should there be more than one literal meaning. If I write an email or text to my daughter, I will tell her exactly what I want her to know and it will be clear to anyone who reads it and will get the same info. She got. Before the bible was translated to english and everone didn’t have bibles, the priest were prettym much in charge so they could tell folks what there was in the bible. So folks go to church and the preacher tells them what there bible is saying. Religion today is pretty much confusing

  • Zorro21c

    The Israelites could have asked Jericho’s king to let them pass through the city peacefully and continue to the promised land without men and sons on both sides got killed. There were more lands than people back then so what the fuss? Unless it was an excuse for robbery and rape.