The Israelite destruction of the Canaanites, found in biblical passages such as Deuteronomy 7:1–2, presents a conundrum to Christians. Here’s what that passage says:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you — and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
Here’s the conundrum: On the one hand, the Bible is inspired and inerrant, and the God it presents is morally perfect. On the other hand, the commandment to destroy the Canaanites seems genocidal. How can a morally perfect God issue such commands?
That’s the question I ask Prof. Charlie Trimm in this episode of the Influence Podcast. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.
Prof. Trimm is author of The Destruction of the Canaanites: God, Genocide, and Biblical Interpretation, which comes out March 15 from Eerdmans Publishing Company. He is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbott School of Theology in La Mirada, California.