Monday, May 25, 2020

Revisiting the Parts We Don’t Like

Well, you have responded tremendously to my request in the post The Parts We Don’t Like, where I ask for sources that examine the seemingly genocidal aspects of the Old Testament.  In this post I will offer some thoughts on several of your suggested sources.

This post will be very long – about 2900 words.  I will close with a look at some of the earliest Christian apologists.  It is interesting to me what they thought and why.

Cross Vision - How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of the Old Testament Violence, by Greg Boyd (his website is here).  From reviews of the book at Amazon:

·         In conclusion, Boyd's proposal is based on the idea that God is completely nonviolent.

God most certainly is violent.  How do we understand the flood?  How do we understand the battles into which God commanded Israel – even if these were not genocidal (as will be examined further)?  They were still violent.

This sentence could be resolved if one substitutes the word “aggression” for “violence.”   God is completely not aggressive.  Aggression is the unwarranted act of initiating violence.  Violence is justified only in defense of or in punishment for aggressive acts against person or property. 

I believe it is correct to say that God does not act in aggression; I don’t believe it can be said that God does not commit violence.  Whose person or property is it?  Therefore, who is justified in defending it?

Returning to comments from the review of Boyd’s book:

·         I once again found myself disagreeing with the central idea ... that God withdraws from Jesus on the cross, and therefore, in the violent portions of the OT, God is withdrawing Himself from the people and nations who experience/suffer violence. While Greg is absolutely right that "something else is going on" in those violent texts, I do not think that the "something else" is that God is withdrawing from Jesus or from other people.

Is it so that God withdrew from Jesus on the cross?  The entire purpose of Jesus was the cross – this is why He was sent.  It is difficult to then say that God withdrew.  Did God turn into a passive actor regarding either Jesus or these Old Testament antagonists? 

With this said, this last point rings true (within the context of what is to follow from the further sources below):

·         In Cross Vision, Boyd shows an alternative view. Boyd breaks down various passages, different events and how God accommodated the warped views of ancient near east cultures and slowly molded the Israelites to be different.

At any time, God certainly could have given us a Garden of Eden.  But wait – He did that once, and we know how things went thereafter.  In some ways (with important differences), Israel acted in manners similar to actions consistent with the culture around them.  Can we expect 5,000 years of cultural evolution overnight?  We look through the wrong end of the telescope when we wish such things.

The Unseen Realm, by Michael S. Heiser

Heiser demonstrates that Joshua was only required to "devote to complete destruction, leaving none alive" areas dominated by these giants.

Who were these giants?  Per the reviewer, this was complete destruction of “The fallen sons of God [who wished] to prevent the birth of the Seed who will crush the head of the Serpent. As such, they attempt to pollute the human family.”  This refers to what is known as the Nephilim:

Genesis 6:1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The word Nephilim is not used in the King James version of this same passage.  It is thereafter referred to in Numbers 13 – in the NIV, but not the King James.  In any case, a question is raised (and I don’t plan to chase this down today):  If these Nephilim existed before the flood, how were they existent after the flood?
William Lane Craig on Old Testament Atrocities (video).  Craig offers many points on this topic; I offer these without comment, and without implying that I agree with each point.  However, each is worthy of consideration in this discussion.  The points, summarized as follows:

First point: Craig first wonders why atheists are hung up on the slaughter of the Canaanites or any such things.  As we are just the results of random atoms smashing together randomly, there is nothing objective about morality.  So why get worked up about it?  Our cousins the baboons kill each other, bees kill each other.  We don’t think of these as moral evils.  “The universe doesn’t care.”  So why should you?

Second point: The Canaanites were not innocent: practicing child sacrifice, temple prostitution, etc.  The Amalekites killed Israelites who were unable to defend themselves – the elderly and disabled.  If these are to be considered innocent victims, then who can complain about any aspect of moral behavior?

Third point: the Canaanites knew that the Israelites were coming back to their promised land.  They had four hundred years of warnings to leave.  When the Israelites were in Egypt, God kept them there for four hundred years, because the iniquity of the Canaanites was not yet complete.

Fourth point: Israelites were not to harm any Canaanite who allied with them (e.g. Rahab)

Fifth point: per the Old Testament, there are no records of women and children killed in the campaign against the Canaanites.  It still leaves the issue that God commanded them to do so (this point will be addressed via other sources, below).

Other points raised: the handful of “genocide” accounts is just that, a handful.  This compared to the numerous acts of compassion by God as recorded in the Old Testament; if these episodes are nothing more than a tribe falsely claiming “God is on our side” or an exaggeration in such episodes, it goes to the question of Biblical inerrancy, not a question of salvation.

In the same video, Paul Copan makes similar points, but adds that there are some exaggerations in conquest accounts, so why not here?  From Joshua 10:40, we are told that Joshua slaughtered all the land, leaving no survivor.  Is there no one left?  But there were many left.

The Israelites are commanded to utterly destroy the Canaanites, while at the same time commanded that they do not intermarry with them.  Isn’t this contradictory?  In fact, God was after removing Canaanite religion from the land, not more.  There are references to Canaanites even in the New Testament.

What of the Amalekites?  Saul loses his kingship because he hasn’t wiped out every last Amalekite.  It takes Samuel to kill the (supposed) last – the king.  Yet even after this episode, there are references to Amalekites.  Is this just exaggerated language? 

There is text of God commanding the slaughter of all, and there is text that there were survivors.  Which text should be taken literally?  Is there more interpretation or understanding required to reconcile these points?

His final point, taken from a survivor of the slaughters in Yugoslavia: seeing the evil and carnage perpetrated on innocents, this survivor could not imagine God not being angry.  We wonder why we don’t see examples of God punishing evil on this earth in our time, then we cringe when we see God punishing evil in the Old Testament.  God punishes because God is love.

Dr. Paul Copan - Is God a Moral Monster? (video):

Copan begins by addressing the problem of evil.  On what basis is anything considered evil?  Richard Dawkins states that there is nothing of good and evil in the universe, yet decries the Old Testament God as evil.  But on what basis?

He makes the points raised earlier – some of this conquest language should not – even cannot – be taken literally.  After God saying these will be utterly destroyed, the Canaanites were not utterly destroyed.  Was it merely because the Israelites failed at following God’s command, or is there something more to the language and the time?

From a book review of Copan’s book:

Further, in the few cases where total destruction actually can be responsibly inferred from the text (Jericho and Ai are examples), archaeology informs us that these were small military garrison cities with few non-combatants.

This idea will be further developed later.  In this same review, it is offered why celebrity atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris refuse to go deep into this topic.  It is because they treat the soundbite as sufficient scholarship.

Richard Hess: Did God Command Joshua and Israel to Commit Genocide? (video):

The reason God commanded total destruction was that otherwise the Canaanites would teach Israel all that they do which is unholy (we see what happens to Israel in later generations when others teach them to worship other gods). 

The command was to destroy all that was in the cities, but what did “city” mean in those times?  The word translated as “city” refers to the walled fort or citadel, usually at the high point of the larger geographic area.  These contained the king’s palace, stores for the grains and taxes, houses of worship for their gods, houses for the elites.  The masses didn’t live here: they lived in outside of the wall – consistent with agricultural society.  The cities represent the military and the leadership.

The word “destroy” means to give back to God that which was taken from Him.  The site of Jericho has been excavated many times.  The walls have not been found.  Hess believes this is because of the quite small size of the “city.”  After all, it was small enough to circle it seven times in one day and still fight a decisive battle.  Other cities in the Old Testament are described as “great cities”; not Jericho. 

The text says all were destroyed.  The Hebrew word used was used seven times in total (think of other destructive events).  It was also used to describe the destruction of Jerusalem.  It is a stereotypical phrase.  It does not translate “all men and women.”  It translates “from men to women.”  Hess believes it means: if they were there, they were killed; but not necessarily that all listed (men, women, donkeys) were physically there, in the walled city.

Further, there was almost as much text written about the salvation of Rahab as there was the destruction of Jericho.  Perhaps this points to both the relative importance of the battle and the relative importance of the lesson to be learned.

What do we understand of the broader, non-combatant, population when knowing that war is coming between two armies?  The usual, and most likely, action, is that they run to the hills for cover until the battle is over.  Nowhere in the text is there any command to destroy anything outside of the cities – outside of the walled fort, if you will.

With all of this taken into account, Hess summarizes a) that the Israelites did what they were commanded to do, b) how and why Canaanites remained in all areas even after this supposed genocide, c) there was neither a command for, nor did Israelites commit, genocide; it wasn’t merely a case of the Israelites failed to achieve God’s command.

The following posts are written by Glenn Miller:

I will not summarize these as they are so detailed that I am not comfortable to summarize these other than a very high level.  In other words, if you want more than what I have offered here in these earlier examinations, these would be good reads.

Finally, the earliest church fathers, from a book review of Making Sense of Old Testament Genocide, by Christian Hofreiter:

…the first Christians, at least as represented by the New Testament, do not seem to have been troubled much by the problems these genocidal texts raise. Nor, going farther back, do the writers of the Old Testament.

He notes that Marcion addressed these in the second century – he addressed these by removing these stories from the Bible.  He was labeled a heretic.  Continuing:

For Origen, those difficult Old Testament texts could be spiritualized and read allegorically in light of Jesus’s message. When read this way, those texts have to do with eradicating sin in our lives, not historical acts of extreme violence.

Augustine would offer that “a God-commanded genocide must not be an atrocity.”  This seems not a satisfactory conclusion.  As has been noted above – and if you accept anything like these interpretations – the more current understandings of these events would not fit the definition of genocide as we understand the term.

Pope Benedict XVI would offer that Augustine was influenced by Ambrose:

The great difficulty with the Old Testament, because of its lack of rhetorical beauty and of lofty philosophy, was resolved in Saint Ambrose’s preaching through his typological interpretation of the Old Testament: Augustine realized that the whole of the Old Testament was a journey toward Jesus Christ. Thus, he found the key to understanding the beauty and even the philosophical depth of the Old Testament and grasped the whole unity of the mystery of Christ in history as well as the synthesis between philosophy, rationality, and faith in the Logos, in Christ, the Eternal Word who was made flesh.

From an essay by Dr. Matthew Ramage, discussing traditional Catholic teaching and the views of Pope Benedict.  In his 2006 Regensburg address, Benedict would offer “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God.”  In defending this statement, Benedict will offer that the Bible says what it says – we cannot just dismiss these problematic passages; yet, these passages seem to conflict with what we can understand about God’s nature through reason. 

…here is the key according to Pope Benedict—the Catholic has to interpret the entire Old Testament as a gradual progression towards Jesus Christ…

This, it seems clear to me, must be so.

Indeed, according to Pope Benedict, problematic passages in the Old Testament are “valid insofar as they are part of the history leading up to Christ.” Now if he had commanded violence, then we’d be in trouble.

But I am not in trouble if I substitute the idea of “aggression” for the term “violence,” as examined earlier in this post.

Benedict offers a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree:

“It follows straightaway that neither the criterion of inspiration nor that of infallibility can be applied mechanically. It is quite impossible to pick out one single sentence [of the Bible] and say, right, you find this sentence in God’s great book, so it must simply be true in itself.”

Nothing in the Bible can be taken in a vacuum.  One reason that I try to limit theological debate at this site is that the Bible is perhaps the most hyperlinked book known to man – and this for a book written entirely before the internet.  (You tell me how this is possible solely through human hands.)

There are individual verses in the Bible that can support the widest range of theological beliefs – for example, even those who claim that Jesus is not God (Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses) can point to Scripture in support.

There are close to 64,000 hyperlinks.  The only way to make sense of it is through the frame that it all points to Jesus – who is both God and the Son of God – and His crucifixion and resurrection.  It all points to this and must be read through this.


We read of the flood, an action far more devastating and complete than any examined above.  We know that all sin and are condemned, with only God’s mercy and love saving those He will.  This condemnation is eternal.

We know that God is love, yet what does this mean?  As I wrote in a comment:

I love my children. There are times I have to discipline them. It is even possible to conceive of a time when I might have to separate myself from them - or separate them from me. Call it banishment or whatever.

I do this out of love - love for my children and love for my community. My desire for them is that they grow to be God-fearing, healthy, productive contributors to society - this is best for them and best for the community. To achieve this, some of what I do might not seem like "love" to them in any superficial understanding of the term.

As the saying goes, they will understand once they have children.

I thank you all for the sources you have provided.


I am 100% certain that nothing I have written here will change minds, and it isn’t my intent.  I am working on my understanding, and if by doing so others find this work helpful then I am grateful.  While I have certainly gained understanding, I am still a babe on this topic.

What is clear – like so much of Scripture: this subject is much more complex than the superficial treatment given to it by many – Christians and atheists alike.


  1. "Yet even after this episode, there are references to Amalekites. Is this just exaggerated language?"

    Perhaps you are taking things too literally. Here, look at this:

    "The figure of Amalek (first mentioned in Genesis 14:17) gives us a specific insight as his persecution of Israel. Amalek is directly tied to "doubt" (versus faith) on the part of God's people. When the Hebrew people doubt God, Amalek strikes. In gammatria, the numerical value of "Amalek" (240) and the word for "doubt" (safek) are the same."

    The complete destruction of Amalek is the complete destruction of doubt. Even "coming out of Egypt" has deeper spiritual meanings.

    That's not to doubt the literal meaning however, because then you fall into the "either/or" fallacy.

    When the Sufi Ghazali was asked whether the stories in scripture were true or allegory, he replied: "Both, God writes the spiritual mysteries in the lives of the prophets."

  2. I for one am impressed that you took everyone's comments and already have reviewed the sources people gave you, then organized your thoughts about them enough to write it down.

    Sounds like you are coming to a good understanding to me.

    "Augustine would offer that “a God-commanded genocide must not be an atrocity.” This seems not a satisfactory conclusion. As has been noted above – and if you accept anything like these interpretations – the more current understandings of these events would not fit the definition of genocide as we understand the term."

    I for one though don't have a problem with Augustine's quote above. We are all sinners, so God is justified to judge us how and when He pleases. That isn't to take anything away from this article or the level of understanding you have gained in the last 1 or 2 days.

    One lesson I think you have learned is to look at the language and literary devices used. People thought and wrote differently hundreds and thousands of years ago. It is hard to understand them fully, but it isn't hard to understand where they are coming from. They were trying to describe things that are difficult to describe. We should give then and ourselves a bit of grace along the way.

    I miss ATL commenting by the way.

    1. "They were trying to describe things that are difficult to describe. We should give then and ourselves a bit of grace along the way."

      I am with you. These stories have passed through thousands of years of filters. These filters were all godly men - some real giants, beginning with the apostles, who said not a word. the early Patristics, etc.

      These men weren't stupid, nor devils. To me, it's all part of being humble regarding my wisdom in the face of the wisdom of the ages. One lifetime is not enough to understand everything about everything.

    2. Jesus came to suffer the punishment that we deserve in our place. He didn't come to suffer death alone as that would make his sacrifice of no real import.

      We all die. He didn't substitute physical death but the punishment we would receive were we not born again in Christ.

      "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

      God separated himself from Jesus those three hours of darkness on the cross. He suffered what we deserve, spiritual death, hell, not just physical death.

      How this relates to the violence in the old testament is not clear to me.

      You are talking though as if the word is not just as God intended it to be. God's commands that his people carry out his the punishment on people are uncomfortable to read about. Saul's sin for instance in not killing the king. Saul wasn't just showing mercy there, he was happy to take the choice spoils as well, something God told him not to do.

      But also, this concept of "genocide" I think is based on race. It seems abhorrent that God would command his people to wipe out an entire culture, mostly because we think of this as somehow race related and a demonstration of partiality.

      But all men are equal, made from "one blood" and the concern here was not racial purity but obedience. We don't know all of the reasons behind God's commands to the Israelites in this regard because it doesn't tell us. Some of this though had to do with their worship of false Gods. God knew whether or not those people would ever change their ways or if any of them would seek him. Perhaps that foreknowledge is the key to at least understanding a possible rationale. If you have a group of people who will never seek God then their souls are already forfeit.

    3. I neglected to add, I also miss ATL.

      Over the ten years of this blog, there have been many commenters who came and went. Maybe a half-dozen to a dozen were such regulars, who also offered such valuable comments, that I truly miss them. ATL is one of these. Hopefully he will stop by at least once in a while.

    4. "You are talking though as if the word is not just as God intended it to be."

      I say nothing about God's intentions. I certainly am not so arrogant.

      I do say something about my understanding. And if it was so black and white, please explain the infinite disagreements in Christian understanding, even after 2000 years of trying to figure it out.

    5. I probably should have been more clear in the way I put it. If the bible has been modified over the years by man, thus giving us an incomplete picture, then it is unreliable and we cannot understand it nor can we trust it. I thought I saw you write that sentiment but it may have been in a reply, I can't find it. Sorry if I misattributed that idea to you.

    6. The disagreements are generally caused by people ignoring context. Context sometimes spans the entire bible.

      One of the greatest examples, I think, of how people get caught up in weird doctrine that really shouldn't be controversial is the one that says Isaiah 14 is about Satan. That idea came from "Paradise Lost," a work of fiction.

      The passage opens up with God telling Isaiah he's going to take a proverb to the king of Babylon and thus we see that it applies to that king, not Satan.

      The word "lucifer" there is not a proper noun and it just means morning star, it's not representative of Satan. In fact, the word lucifer isn't found in the Hebrew. Why the translators took it from the Latin is a story in and of itself.

      But even today, people will swear up and down that that passage is about Satan.

      I'm not saying that the bible is black and white. There are many things hard to understand even about the gospel. Jesus took Paul out in the wilderness and taught him for three years, the same amount of time he spent with the other apostles, roughly. And they had the Holy Spirit to guide their speech. And even then, they sometimes got it wrong. It took Peter about 3 1/2 years to finally understand the message he preached on the day of Pentecost, that the "promise" of the gospel was to both Jews and Gentiles. ("for the promise is to you and your children and those afar off").

      That term "afar off" is a euphemism for Gentiles.

      Yet, it was written down finally. I do applaud you reading the bible from beginning to end. I did so four times (and plan to do it many more times) and it was during my third pass that I finally came to believe that the gospels are eye witness accounts, not some fantasy of a group of men trying to invent a religion as some might tell you.

      I'm not suggesting that you believe that the apostles were just trying to fashion a new religion. I just remember how many people I knew who pushed that narrative.

      Reading the whole thing helped me connect things from old to new and to see how tightly it fits together. I think it's imperative that we do that.

    7. Demidog, thank you for these replies. The clarification and discussion helps.

      I agree that our understanding of the Bible is influenced by translation issues, and also by other outside factors. Can I read the story of Moses without seeing Charlton Heston?

      Yet, the disciples had three years of unfettered access, and only understood (incompletely, because no human can fully understand) after Pentecost.

      Which perhaps offers the best understanding: ultimately, we must read the Bible through faith; what we don't understand, we accept as our shortcoming, not God's.

      Is this an unreasonable action on our part; irrational? I think not. I know with certainty that the more I study the Bible, the more I come to understand it - weighing it against what I know of the world around me. If this is so, it seems reasonable that it is my shortcomings that must be overcome.

    8. " If this is so, it seems reasonable that it is my shortcomings that must be overcome."

      Agree completely, without commenting on your shortcomings as I don't know what they are. For me, there are things that just don't make sense until I make myself accept them as written.

      There's a great Latin saying attributed to Anselm of Canterbury that explains this belief before understanding idea.

      credo ut intelligam

      I believe, that I may understand.

      I don't know Latin well enough to know if this is a subjunctive construction or not but it does describe how I have come to understand certain things which once didn't make sense.

      Matthew 24 for instance. Jesus says "this generation will not pass before all these things take place."

      Now his "coming on the clouds" is included in that "all things."

      So I could argue with it and say "Well, Jesus never came on the clouds so he can't really mean 'all' here."

      Or, I could accept what he said as complete truth and then I have to deduce that his "coming on the clouds" was not an indication of a return in person but in judgement and power. Then it makes complete sense. He was talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, not the last day of judgement.

      There are lots of other places in the bible like this. And I wouldn't necessarily say that it is a leap of faith but rather a letting go of the pretext and prejudice that I already have when approaching the scriptures. Doing that allows me to accept the words as written. Sometimes I don't like doing that because my current belief - which may or may not match what the text is saying - is hard to let go of. It's a comfortable old friend and I fear that if I believe and accept the words as written, then I may end up believing the wrong thing. I mean, once you believe a thing, you can never go back to believing the previous thing you believed right?

      But that's not true either. Sometimes this belief can be just an exercise and if I treat it as if it's temporary and just for the purpose of understanding, it can result in greater understanding.

      I think half the problem in finding unity with other people is our own refusal to believe the other person's doctrine even for the purpose of coming to a better understanding of their viewpoint.

      That's the very definition of compassion though. Stepping into another person's shoes, accepting their beliefs as they've stated them and trying them on. Our first reaction is to think that doing this is going to cause harm to our identity. It doesn't have to.

    9. "I think half the problem in finding unity with other people is our own refusal to believe the other person's doctrine even for the purpose of coming to a better understanding of their viewpoint."

      Yes. When we do this properly with people of similar worldviews, we often find that our disagreements - if any remain - are relatively minor.

  3. Just a quick note - your "There are close to 64,000 hyperlinks. The only way to make sense of it is through the frame that it all points to Jesus – who is both God and the Son of God – and His crucifixion and resurrection. It all points to this and must be read through this." - reminded me of Paradise Restored by David Chilton. It explains three things very well:
    1-The Bible is literature
    2-Written in the language of the time of writing and constantly referencing previous prophetic writers.
    3-The NARRATIVE from Genesis to Revelation is UNMISTAKABLY about Jesus.
    While I used Gary North's Unconditional Surrender book primarily for my CAP Lessons, the connectors often came from Paradise Restored.

    1. Isaiah 43
      8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
      who have ears but are deaf.
      9 All the nations gather together
      and the peoples assemble.
      Which of their gods foretold this
      and proclaimed to us the former things?
      Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,
      so that others may hear and say, “It is true.”
      10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
      “and my servant whom I have chosen,
      so that you may know and believe me
      and understand that I am he.
      Before me no god was formed,
      nor will there be one after me.
      11 I, even I, am the Lord,
      and apart from me there is no savior.
      12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
      I, and not some foreign god among you.
      You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.
      13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
      No one can deliver out of my hand.
      When I act, who can reverse it?”

      John 8
      56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”[b] 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

      Acts 4
      8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”

      Philippians 2
      5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with you about ATL. His comments have been enormously valuable to me. Peg

  5. @ BM- The Lord God is love...merciful...forgiving...but He has His limitations. The Hebrew numbers are small, as He guides them to the Promised Land they would encounter many adversaries. Without the Lord God decimating their enemies they would never had made it. His final instruction to the Children of Israel is to slay any one they encounter on there final journey to the Promised Land...or they will be problematic for them in the future...a command they failed to execute.