3. Why didn’t God clear out the Promised Land before the Jews arrived?

Especially given that God would’ve had 40 years to do it!?  Rather than having the Jews slaughter all the men, women and children who were occupying the Promised Land, wouldn’t a merciful God opt for something a little less… violent?

For example, as the Jews were leaving Egypt, an all-powerful God could’ve simply made all the women in the Promised Land barren.  By the time the Jews arrived 40 years later, the majority of the population would have died, and the only remaining women would not be able to reproduce (even if they did marry).

Or God could’ve given the people living there the desire to pack it up and move to Egypt, or Italy… or Utah.  Or He could’ve made the land barren so they had to go elsewhere to search for food.  Or He could have poisoned all the water by making it too salty to drink (one of his favorite tricks!).

SkullsBut instead, the loving, benevolent creator decides it’s best if the Jews are forced to kill everyone before they can occupy the land God has “given” them (apparently this gift comes with a few strings attached). 

This actually seems less like the will of God and more like the will of men, as God helps out very little.  If God really wanted these people dead, why not smite them like Sodom and Gomorrah?  Or drown them with a localized flood?  Or kill them outright like He just did with all the first-born sons of Egypt? 

What’s most disturbing is that today, many Jews and Christians make excuses for this genocide by saying things like: “The previous occupants were evil, and God wanted them dead… so killing them was okay!”  If Israel decided to genocide your country tomorrow, because they felt God was giving them similar orders, would you still be okay with it??

This genocide was a horrible experience for those killed, for the young women taken as wives by the murderers, and even for the Jews who had to kill innocent babies and children.  But hey, whatever… it’s not like God had ever commanded them not to kill… oh wait…

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21 Responses to 3. Why didn’t God clear out the Promised Land before the Jews arrived?

  1. fluffyCat says:

    Makes no sense. Just like the killing of 20 innocent school children in Connecticut, apparently by a peerson with deep physcological problems. Would seem to be okay to some if you thought your leader had a direct line to the true God and tells you to do so. Question is what you or I would have done if we were part of that ancient procession?

    This is the one thing that I really can’t reconcile, Establish the origins of Christianity from a homeland derived from Genocide. Humanity maybe needed the fear factor because of what humanity was. Regardless of how these people died they would eventually have died anyway. God needed to say “If you want to play hardball I can really play hardball”?

    Were the people doing the killing any less sinful than the people being killed? I think somewhere I read there was a religious group that reasoned that the God in the old testament was not the same God as what Jesus showed us in his short time in earth. Believe that he lived the right way to live.

    • “Question is what you or I would have done if we were part of that ancient procession?”

      You mean as Christians? If so, I think I have the answer. Early Americans believed God wanted them to have America’s land just like Jews believed God wanted them to have Israel. Maybe the Jews also considered what they were doing “manifest destiny.”

      • Anonymous says:

        I can see why people would have problems with the Jews killing those who where in the promised land even killing women
        and babies especially since the common belief in Christendom is that these people who were killed are all dead with
        no hope of Eternal Life. But strange as it may seem to say, most of Christianity do not understand the plan of God.
        They believe this is the only day of salvation and it is not. All those people will be resurrected at a future date
        and have the opportunity to live in a much better world under much better circumstances. These people who inhabited the
        promised land were doing a number of wretched things (like sacrificing their babies in the fire.) God allowed them to die
        now but they will be resurrected in the future into a better world. As to why God left these people in the promised land.
        This I believe was to be a lesson of faith to the Israelite s to believe God was with them and to go forward.

        • Rustam says:

          This is true. Majority of the Christians have no clue what the Bible says about salvation of human being. “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10. “Especially” does not mean “exclusively”. There are many verses about the salvation of the whole humanity including people killed in the Promised land. In fact Jesus says that the treatment of folks in Sodom is going to better than treatment of Jews. The universal salvation also makes a question of Hell and Evile mute.

  2. fluffyCat says:

    Really hard to know what a Christian is. Who gets to make the definition? The Quakers were at least one religious group who questioned a lot of things and still do today. I.E. “William Penn (an early Quaker) made a treaty with Indians in what is today Pennsylvania. This treaty is often described as “the only treaty between whites and Indians that was never broken by the whites”

    By the way I am not a Quaker but very interested in their history and traditions. I found this quote from a web page: “The Quakers are a religious group grown out of Christianity. Tolerance is (in my opinion) one of the central aspects of Quakerism. Nowadays you do not have to be Christian to be a Quaker. However, things were different in the 1800s. Some Quakers today are traditional Christians, others are not. I am at the “Universalist” end of the Quaker spectrum”

    I also have this reference “”The Inner Light” (mentioned in the text below) is a Quaker term to describe that of God/the Great Spirit within each human being. The idea that there is something of God within each of us can be found in many religious groups. For Quakers, it is central.”

    And also this: “Apart from the “The Inner Light”, the best way I know of to describe the essence of Quakerism is this quote from George Fox: “You say that Jesus says this and Paul says that, but what do you say yourself?”.

    I wonder why everyone today does not throw out these questions as you are doing. We should not stop our intellect to follow with blind faith things that don’t make sense. Of course at one time this could get you burned at the stake. A good chance I would have followed the orders of my superiors if I would have lived back in Moses’s day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even if I were ordered to, I really don’t think I could have brought myself to murder pregnant women, children, or babies just because they said to.

    • whatever says:

      i live in the quaker valley … suddenly feel special … maybe i’ll look them up!

  3. Anonymous says:

    There can be little doubt that the God of Moses and the Jews is not the God shown to us byJesus. However the God of the Jews and Islam are the same just a different name. The Christian God is a god of love the other is not .One is good the is not take your pick.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yet the Bible claims there is only ONE God? Interesting…

    • Anonymous says:

      Interestingly enough Jesus Himself was the God of the Old Testament. He was the Spiritual Rock that was with the ancient Israelites. 1 Cor. 10:4

    • rome44 says:

      I know where you are going with this but it doesn’t work, Christians are tied at the hip with the murderous tyrant of the OT. No amount of verbal sophistry will ever separate this one into two. Religion is a human invention the morphing you see taking place between the OT & the NT is nothing more than the mind and pen of ordinary people solidifying the creation of their beliefs into a religion.

  4. Dan says:

    Dude your reasoning is stupid! Let’s look at this. Why didn’t God clear out the British in 1776? Those poor innocent Brit’s were just loyal to the King! We should have just talked to them very nicely, and I’m sure they would have understood and gone back to England. Question 2; Why did’t God just clear out Hitler from Poland, Belgium, etc.. I mean wouldn’t it have been very nice if an all loving God would have just cleared it out? I mean Hitler did have only one testicle so maybe God was working on it !!! The short answer to your question is that God requires some action of faith on our part to lay hold of all of his promises. He does not hand out promises like Santa Claus. God requires faith and struggle on our part so we can appreciate what he has given us otherwise we would all be like spoiled brats, that are unappreciative. Sometimes this requires conquering our fears in the face of an overwhelming enemy.

    • H Dan,

      For the sake of argument, let’s assume you are correct — while God COULD HAVE moved these people somewhere else, he really wanted them dead. He just — he just didn’t like them anymore, and he wanted to prevent them from ever having any more offspring.

      Now, the Bible says that it is God who knits babies together in their mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:13), but rather than God simply STOPPING this practice, and bringing this population to an end, God has a better idea. He thinks to himself, “You know what would be a really good team-building exercise for the Jews? To kill all of these people! Yep, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned genocide to give people self-confidence. In fact, even with all my knowledge, I can’t think of a better way to bring my people happiness than the wholesale slaughter of men, women, and babies (Psalm 137:9) — even if it does violate one of my new commandments. So I will allow these people to populate the Promised Land just long enough for the Jews to come and annihilate them.”

      What a guy.


      • whatever says:

        yeah and i can’t imagine that no jews were harmed in the fighting … but the bible says so. happy christians say god never changes but wow, just can’t imagine jesus, who says love your enemies, turning no cheek but instead asks his followers to go around killing people. some say god evolved. how about making someone proclaim faith in front of a stone, so the stone can be a witness? sometimes god knows what people are going to do. sometimes he doesn’t – like he knows the jews are gonna worship other gods but then reacts with indignation when they do – like he never saw it coming.

        why let the jews live at all? oh they are his chosen people. gotta wonder why he choose them, and not all the slaves in china?


  5. Rafael says:

    I thought we already knew that Christianity was a marketing plow ny Constantine to unite the Roman Empire . The Bishops at Nicea morphed pagan and Jewish customs and stories to create the Roman Catholic religion . The Jewishness of Yahushua was buried in this Roman creation .
    As for the composite writings of the Old Testament inspired by the adventures of Moses , most if not all of it is aligorical or Rabbinical interpretations of what the oral traditions ” might” have been trying to say . The Talmud and especially the Kaballah have turned the words and interpretation inside out to create a smoke and mirrors defense of the scriptures . Bronze Age logic is simply incompatible with what we know today . Today’s believers are born and raised with no desire to reconcile the cognitive paradox .

  6. Santa Cause says:

    Yes, this is an enigma: why would a loving God cause his chosen people to slaughter other humans, even down to babies? Its beyond me, but I will try to explain some of the limited understanding I have and why it does not damage my personal relationship with God.

    Speculate for a moment: You’re in a room with God, you ask him why he did that. Would the answer be “I just love to torture my creation” or “I thought it was the right thing to do at the time” or “I was just kidding when I told them to do it” or “I wish 500 Questions was around back then so I could have used their better ideas”.

    Much as we have seriously entertained those answers as logical, reason would fight us to dispel those answers, even if reason loses the fight to go with an answer that says something like “Good, Bad and Ugly was all necessary in order to eventually put you into a place where you could freely choose life”.

    The only option left on the table up to that point was the death Adam had brought to all of creation by his own choice and God seems to work life out of death, and, in this case, I believe all those deaths in the Promised Land prior to entry by Israel were deaths that eventually played a big part in Life, God’s Master Plan from the beginning.

    But the option for life cost not only the lives in this slaughter, it cost God an infinitely greater price.

    Let me try to explain my reasoning.

    Another enigma: Why did God instruct Abraham to put his only son on the block? Isaac was a miracle baby boy, Abraham was promised him by God and both Abraham and Sarah were well past the age of fertility. Now this horrendous instruction to offer him up?

    That answer became a little less of a mystery to me a few years ago. With Isaac, I believe God is communicating to us the pain he went through as a result of the creation of man with full rights to choose. On a small level we, as humans, can perhaps comprehend God’s pain to some degree when we put ourselves in the sandals of Abraham when he took that cherished son up the hill to offer him in sacrifice. A father offering up his son, to be replaced with a lamb caught in a thicket, and eventually the lamb was to be replaced with God’s own son, the Lamb of God, Jesus.

    Abraham knew he was going to get his son back alive if he had to put the knife to him. Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes again but this time you’re not getting your son back alive. Now we’re getting a tiny bit closer to understanding God’s pain involved in creation and with that the immensity of the love he must have for Man to have paid that kind of horrendous price.

    Yes, God got his son Jesus back, but in order for all this free choice for Man to happen, God had to trade off some precious ‘stuff’. A small part of that stuff was animals. Evidence of God’s love for animals can be found in the bible and his relationship with them is on a substantially larger scale than ours, and look what happened to them. After the Fall of Man, they hunted and devoured each other for food. Man treats them even worse and wipes out specie after specie, other than for the pampered pets we own.

    Next, look at his human creation that he is on the record as loving. As part of the ‘package’ of free will choice came their free will choice of eternal separation from God in a place no one wants to be, let alone would want it as a place for their own son. Like it or not, that is part of the package of creation that included the option for life in a man with a free will choice capability.

    God could have chosen not to create Man with free will but having known the love he would have for the free will variety of human, he chose that latter variety but the price was also like, for us, putting our only, cherished and long-sought miracle child to death… by our own hand.

    Would you or I have made that choice to create Man if that was the price we had to pay? At first blush I would say no, but then I realize I would then have to abandon all the warm, loving relationships I’ve ever known and fade myself to black.

    Somehow, I don’t think I would do any better at that than God did.

    • Andy Rhodes says:

      God built in horrendous suffering to animal life, far apart from anything humans can do. For 300+ million years, literally trillions of sentient beings suffered starvation, terror, being eaten alive, etc. By design.

      You said, “Evidence of God’s love for animals can be found in the bible and his relationship with them is on a substantially larger scale than ours, and look what happened to them. After the Fall of Man, they hunted and devoured each other for food. Man treats them even worse and wipes out specie after specie, other than for the pampered pets we own.”

      Where is there evidence of God’s love for animals?

      I’m an ex-Christian who gradually and quite painfully left the faith because I thought the core doctrines were inhumane.

      I think that the problem of animal suffering is a serious one for Christianity. The idea that animals didn’t kill each before the Fall is incredibly far-fetched. (We have no evidence that the Fall actually happened – instead, there is a massive amount of evidence and logic against it having occurred. And the “problem of evil” is easily explained by naturalistic models) . The Bible clearly presents the concept that the same animals were named by Adam that we have today (except for those that have gone extinct). God made tigers, killer whales, spiders, hyenas, sharks, mosquitoes and snakes. God made life on Earth interdependent along with the carefully designed aspects of disease, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, famines, infanticide, hurricanes and tsunamis. To say these things didn’t exist at some point in biological history goes against the past 400 years of modern science in all disciplines, basic observation and common sense.

      On the normative elements of death in nature, based on the fields of embryology, astrophysics, cell biology, geography, math, botany, astronomy, paleontology evolutionary biology and geology, one can see this chart and explanation:


      We don’t have the ability to know everything or judge God with a capitol “J”. But, we can evaluate the data from nature, scripture and our personal experience and then decide how things appear to us. Shouldn’t an all-good God appear to behave at a higher ethical level than us? Responding to this question, as many Christians do, by saying God’s ways are beyond our understanding is likely to be a cop out, at least to some significant degree. How can God expect us to use our conscience as an initial guide for moral choices, but then present us with so many atrocities in nature and the Bible?

      It’s one very real ethical problem to look at how much terrible pain and suffering God allows for humans and nonhuman animals and yet still believe God is all-good. But, at much more fundamental level, God made the universe in a particular way that guarantees it will happen a lot. Given that the Bible teaches that severe pain, sin and death will not exist in the New Heavens and New Earth, why wouldn’t God create an environment like this from the start? The soul-making argument advanced by some theologians saying that the struggles and hurts of this life are present to challenge us to develop our spiritual character and/or so people will have the opportunity to freely choose to follow Jesus is cancelled out by the fact that billions of people will avoid Hell and instead enter Heaven without choosing God: miscarried babies, infants, young children, the mentally handicapped and potentially the unevangelized adults throughout history). Further, the offer of “love and worship and trust God or else” is not a fair and free arrangement of options.

      Among the most outlandish claims of the Bible, one of the most unbelievable must be the event of two human beings making one significant rebellious choice and then this caused all of nature to fall into disarray, to where all humans would be bound for Hell from birth. What kind of divine planning, fairness, compassion, proportionality and wisdom is this? I don’t mean to be insulting, but this doesn’t sound even remotely true. It sounds like a mythological story and only that. Outside of a pre-commitment to the alleged trustworthiness and omnibenevolence of this God and/or the psychological need humans have for certainty and security that drives many to believe it, no other category of human life is given such an easy test for credibility. Why not believe in UFOs and alien abductions? We actually can talk with thousands of people today who say it happened to them or in front of their eyes. The Bible, for all of the good and noble things that I can point to in various places is also full of absurdities, grandiose ethical flaws and contradictions to such a degree as to require a tremendous amount of gullibility. This credulousness is pressured into existence by life’s intrinsically devastating sufferings and ambiguity.

      I think it’s more honest and logical to say that God must be at least partly evil. There is much good and beauty in the cosmos that I give God credit for as well.

  7. Phschool says:

    The basis of your article is false, which renders the question moot. It does not require much searching to know that scientists now assert, for good reasons, that the Exodus and the 40 years of wandering never happened. It only follows that the Promised Land narrative with regard to genocide may also be false. “Biblical scholars have long noted that there is almost nothing in the accounts (in Joshua) that suggest that the author is trying to be purely descriptive of things that really happened. He is writing an account that appears to be guided by his religious agenda, not by purely historical interests. That is why, when read closely, one finds so many problems with the narratives.” – Bart Ehrman, Historical Problems With the Hebrew Bible: The Conquest of Canaan

    • “It does not require much searching to know that scientists now assert, for good reasons, that the Exodus and the 40 years of wandering never happened.”

      I completely agree with you, but millions of Christians who take the Exodus story literally (and would argue that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).

      The question is for believers, and my point in asking the question is to cast doubt on the idea that God would order people to commit mass genocide. But technically, but the question could also be phrased: “If the Exodus actually happened… why didn’t God clear out the Promised Land before the Jews arrived?”

      Personally, I don’t think the Exodus occurred in the way it is described in the Bible, nor do I think God would ever order mass genocide. If God existed, he probably WOULD have cleared out the Promised Land before the Jews arrived. He wouldn’t have to rely on humans to do his dirty work for him.


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