22 July 2009

The Massacre of the Aradites

Don't you just hate God-assisted, holy war massacres? I do. They're so damned boring.

But we might as well get used to them because God likes them. A lot. There are about 50 holy war massacres on the list of God's 135 killings in the Bible. So there's just no way to avoid them.

Here's what happened in this one.

King Arad heard that the Israelites were coming, so he fought against them when they tried to invade his land.
When king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. Numbers 21.1
So the Israelites asked God for help, promising to kill everyone in several cities.
Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. 21.2
God didn't have to think about this one. Here's how he responded.
The LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites. 21:3a
So the Israelites, with God's help, killed everyone in several Canaantie cites.
And they utterly destroyed them and their cities. 21.3b
I'm glad we got this one over with. It was pretty boring, wasn't it?

God's next killing will be better, I promise.

The Bible doesn't tell us the population of the Aradite cities. So I guessed there were 3 cities, each with 1000 people, for a total of 3000 victims.

God's next killing: God sent fiery serpents to bite the people for complaining about the lack of food and water

6 comments:

busterggi said...

Now what was it the Aradites were guilty of that was so bad Yahweh felt they had to be erased from the face of the Earth?

Oh, right, they were breathing.

Que evil!

madcat said...

Used to be a christian and now I find yahweh totally ridiculous.

Buddha did not have to spread Buddhism by war and bloodshed.

And yahweh, who is aparently ALMIGHTY, had to resort to killing to spread his commandments.

By the way, where are you from? US? or Singapore?

matt311 said...

Wow. Not your average Sunday school story, eh?

VioletVal said...

To understand why God helped destroy the Canaanites, you have to look back to Genesis 15:12-16. God had promised Abraham that his descendants will receive the Promised Land, but He mentioned that their would be a 400 year delay, because "only then will the people who live here be so sinful that they deserve to be punished." If the Israelites did not destroy the towns, the wicked acts the Canaanites were practicing, like killing people as sacrifices, would continue and the Israelites might start doing those wicked acts when they moved to the country. Here is a commentary on the book of Numbers: http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/numbers-21-36-lbw.htm

joshua said...

@ violet: "If the Israelites did not destroy the towns, the wicked acts the Canaanites were practicing, like killing people as sacrifices, would continue and the Israelites might start doing those wicked acts when they moved to the country."

That makes complete sense: the Canaanites were sacrificing humans whereas the Israelites promised to sacrifice entire cities (And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. Numbers 21:2), so Yahweh, in true bloodlust form, endorsed the Israelite's bid.

This is also much more convoluted than simply appearing to the Canaanites and telling them to call off whatever they were doing that was so unsightly in his eyes.

Because Yahweh's logic can always be explained by bloodlust + convolutedness = optimal course of divine intervention.

(btw the word verification is "skiess" - I wonder if I'm supposed to watch out for giant hailstones now?)

joshua said...

I also couldn't help but look up violet's easyenglish.com bible, and it had the following fantastic commentary for verses 4-9 in Numbers 21:

Verse 4 The king of the country called Edom had refused to allow the *Israelites to travel through his country (Numbers 20:14-21). So they had to go round it. This delayed them on their journey to the *Promised Land. Also, the route was difficult. So the people became impatient. The *Hebrew word for ‘impatient’ in this verse meant also ‘to become angry’. And it meant that the situation was depressing them.
Verse 5 The *Israelites complained to Moses again. They said the same things that they had said before (Numbers 20:4-5). But what they said was not true. They did have food. They had the *manna that God had provided daily. But they were not grateful for it. The *manna was a gift from God. It was *angels’ food’ (Psalm 78:25). But the *Israelites insulted it. They *rejected the way that God was *blessing them. Also, they *rejected the plan that he had for them to enter the *Promised Land.
Verse 6 So God punished them. He sent poisonous snakes among them. The *Hebrew word for ‘poisonous’ meant ‘something that is burning’. Probably, this referred to the feeling of pain when the snakes bit. But also this word referred to the *angels that serve God in heaven (Isaiah 6:2). *Angels are God’s servants. They take messages from God to people on the earth. So this word emphasised that God had sent the snakes himself, as a punishment.
Verse 7 However, on this occasion, the people soon apologised. They realised that they had *sinned against God. And they were genuinely sorry. They asked Moses to pray to God. They wanted God to remove the snakes.
Verses 8-9 But God did not remove the snakes. Instead, he provided a way to cure every person whom the snakes had bitten. But each person had to do something. They had to look up at the *bronze snake on the pole. If they did this, they lived. If they did not do this, they died.
This story is very important for *Christians. Jesus referred to it when he was talking about his death (John 3:14). People lifted Jesus up on a *cross. He compared himself with the *bronze snake on the pole. *Sin is like poison. Everyone is born with a desire to *sin because Adam, the first man, did not obey God (Genesis chapter 3). This *sin causes death to our spirits. It does not allow us to live how God intended us to live.
God did not remove the snakes; and he does not remove all *sin from the world. Instead, he provided a way to cure every person from the results of *sin. And, like the *Israelites, we have to do something. We have to look at the *cross. We must believe that Jesus died on our behalf. Then he will forgive all our *sins. He suffered the punishment that we deserve.
Every *Israelite had to look at the *bronze snake themselves. Nobody else could do this on another person’s behalf. In the same way, every person must *believe in Jesus on their own behalf.


This sure sounds like easyenglish is endorsing the worshipping of idols and figurines. The best part is that they "had to do something" which was to "look up at the bronze snake on the pole." All delivered as though it is the most reasonable set of instructions you had ever heard,