Thursday, February 15, 2007

Holy Wars of the Hebrew Scriptures

Does anybody have a satisfactory explanation or characterization of the Israelites' holy wars, such as are described in Joshua, etc.?

The emphasis here is on "satisfactory" explanations - and by that, I mean 'an explanation that you feel good about,' that is, one that doesn't make you cringe as you try to tell it to someone who disagrees with you.


Ρωμανος ~ Romanós said...

First and simply, the Living God has chosen an individual whose descendants are as numerous as the stars of heaven, to be His hereditary people, to whom He said, "Be Holy, for I am Holy."

This people had to be separated out from their like, and this had to be done by whatever means was necessary at the time. Early on, before the concretion of the scriptures and the religious structures, this was accomplished by warfare. Also, this was necessary because a specific geographical location was given to this people.

Later, as they developed their national ethos, and even after their dispersal from the Holy land, that ethos was sufficient to keep them separate from the other nations. Not because they were or are intrinsicly superior, but because they are and were the people to whom the Living God entrusted His Word, both as scripture and as Messiah.

Forgive me, if I come across as overly confident and certain. I am, though not of my reasons or my opinions, but only of God's promises to His people, and to me.

Jeff said...

To answer your question: no. That little stretch of Joshua-Judges-Kings is a little unsavory (and yes, I know y'all put Ruth in there for some reason). I generally explain it by saying that even those we look up to - the warriors, the politicians, what have you - are to some extent deeply flawed. Best to not engage in the worship of other humans (which are at the center of this section of the history and do some pretty bad stuff) and engage in the worship of the Lord.

In Judaism, stories from Joshua are often used to talk about courage and standing up for what's right. Decontextualization is a wonderful thing sometimes.

Jeff said...

me=dumbass=forgot Samuel.