Israel sacks Ai in our reading today, and this compels us to continue to reflect on what God is doing through Israel’s expulsion of the Canaanites. Before I add another truth, I want to acknowledge the work of Matt Flanagan and Paul Copan in their book Did God Really Command Genocide? If you desire more help on this topic, their insight has proven helpful to me.
Today’s truth is: Canaan is being dispossessed because they commit atrocious evil. This is not just God’s arbitrary viewpoint or Israel’s weak justification for war crimes. In fact, many years before Joshua’s time, God prohibited Abraham from taking this same land until later generations because, “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Genesis 15:16). In other words, That is, God barred Abraham from taking the Amorites’ land because their deeds were not as evil as they would later become. Closer to the time of Joshua, Leviticus 18 lists these latter crimes committed by the Canaanites: incest, adultery, and bestiality. Two of those crimes are punishable by law today. Worst of all, the Canaanites sacrifice their children to their gods (Leviticus 18:21). In the U.S., such a crime would be a capital offense or punished with life in prison. Scripture hints that such practices were not occasional but ubiquitous among the people in the land of Canaan. We ought to bear in mind that, if informed, we would consider the Canaanites worthy of severe punishment as we read about their God-ordained defeat at the hands of Israel.