If you’ve never heard or read about the Canaanite genocide, you can read all about it here. Yes, it’s actually a whole book, not a small story lost in a big book. It’s a great wonder how many of us can miss this.
The narrative of the Conquest of Canaan begins with the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt. While walking around the desert, God promises them a land. However, on this land are immoral people. God commands them to conquer and wipe them out. So the Israelites go from town to town conquering and cleansing the land, killing everyone, even children. And they claim it all as the rightful owners of the land as promised by God.
Archaeologists have helped shed light on historical facts and social customs we find in the Bible. However, when they don’t find evidence, we figure that they just haven’t dug it up yet. And that’s okay, because we have the Bible. And that’s enough. But, for the archaeologists, not finding something often means that what was traditionally stated about it cannot be true.
Archaeologists have dug around the Palestinian area for about a hundred years and have discovered a lot of fascinating and priceless items that tell stories that are mostly in line with the Bible. But when it comes to the genocidal story, there’s no evidence to prove this ever happened. And so we must wonder, “Did the Canaanite genocide really occur?”
Now, this is not about if it really happened or not, or if it was justifiable (or if it theoretically could be). But for a moment, let’s say that it didn’t happen. This is my question: If the Canaanite genocide never happened, then why did the Israelites say it did? In other words, what were they trying to portray in saying that God commanded them to enter a land, exterminate every person, and occupy it?