Just to make sure we are on the same page, I am only addressing God-commanded genocide as found in the Bible.
The conquest of Canaan must be understood for what it was. This event, rightly, is troubling to sensitive readers. We can’t ignore its horror, but some perspectives can help us evaluate it ethically.
• It was a limited event. The conquest narratives describe one particular period of Israel’s long history. Many of the other wars that occur in the OT narrative had no divine sanction, and some were clearly condemned as the actions of proud, greedy kings or military rivals.
• We must allow for the exaggerated language of warfare. Israel, like other ancient Near East nations whose documents we possess, had a rhetoric of war that often exceeded reality.
• It was an act of God’s justice and punishment on a morally degraded society. The conquest shouldn’t be portrayed as random genocide or ethnic cleansing. The wickedness of Canaanite society was anticipated (Gn 15:16) and described in moral and social terms (Lv 18:24; 20:23; Dt 9:5; 12:29–31). This interpretation is accepted in the NT (e.g., Heb 11:31 speaks of the Canaanites as “those who disobeyed,” implying awareness of choosing to persist in sin—as the Bible affirms of all human beings). There’s a huge moral difference between violence that’s arbitrary and violence inflicted within the moral framework of punishment (this is true in human society as much as in divine perspective). It doesn’t make it “nice,” but it changes the ethical evaluation significantly.
• God threatened to do the same to Israel—and He did. In the conquest God used Israel as the agent of punishment on the Canaanites. God warned Israel that if they behaved like the Canaanites, He would treat them as His enemy in the same way and inflict the same punishment on them using other nations (Lv 26:17; Dt 28:25–68). In the course of Israel’s long history in OT times, God repeatedly did so, demonstrating His moral consistency in international justice. It wasn’t a matter of favoritism. If anything, Israel’s status as God’s chosen people, the OT argues, exposed them more to God’s judgment and historical punishment than the Canaanites who experienced the conquest. Those choosing to live as God’s enemies eventually face God’s judgment.
• The conquest anticipated the final judgment. Like the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood, the story of Canaan’s conquest stands in Scripture as a prototypical narrative, or one that foreshadows what is to come. Scripture affirms that ultimately, in the final judgment, the wicked will face the awful reality of God’s wrath through exclusion, punishment, and destruction. Then God’s ethical justice will finally be vindicated. But at certain points in history, such as during the conquest period, God demonstrates the power of His judgment. Rahab’s story, set in the midst of the conquest narrative, also demonstrates the power of repentance, faith, and God’s willingness to spare His enemies when they choose to identify with God’s people. Rahab thus enters the NT hall of fame—and faith (Heb 11:31; Jms 2:25).
Christopher Wright, “Is the Old Testament Ethical?,” in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 116–117.
See also this from Paul Copan: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201004/201004_138_canannites.cfm
I'm appalled that you would (for even one second) find it morally acceptable for ANY being, anywhere, to command the slaying of women, children, toddlers, and infants in the womb (let alone anyone at all for that matter) and be OK with the commanded to go through with it. And you think this is loving? You are either a liar or a hypocrite.
1) A limited event doesn't make it any less immoral and monstrous - commanded and endorsed by the "loving" god you say you worship. Astonishing that you won't see this contradiction.
2) So you admit that your God "exaggerated" in the bible, since he allegedly "breathed" it? And yet you think God cannot lie (Heb 6, Tit 1)? This is just more intellectual hypocrisy and spin to save your assumed theology. Why are you here discussing these things with us if you are completely closed-off to admitting when you are in error?
3) "Justice" means men ripping open the wombs of women and tearing out their babies (Hosea 13)?? It means cutting open children with a sword?? You have sacrificed your own moral sense to an invisible being you think is real and who calls you to accept, and/or do, horrific acts to children in spite of your own moral sense. You and this Wright fellow absolutely disgust me.
4) Threats are nothing more than bullying. How childish. Such is what we would expect from men, not a perfect being. Is that your "loving" God? Somehow you think this being is "all-powerful" but yet he can find no other way? Your credulity and gullibility are astonishing (no different than the Muslims we debate with). Do you threaten your kids like this alleged God when they rebel or do you instruct? Do you stone your children when they rebel too (Duet 21)? You are more moral than these men who wrote these vile books and just haven't realized it yet.
5) Yes, those "wicked" infants suffered under God's wrath when he commanded them to be slaughtered and ripped from their mother's womb and told his "chosen people" to be happy about it (Psalm 137:9). We can get into these alleged "prophesies" (which are not prophesies at all) later, but for now I'm going to go vomit at how disgusted I am by your attempts to rationalize these writings.
Will all due respect, Psalm 137:9 seems to be a favorite on this website. And the verse is very dark ("Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."). But, like so many verse snippets, there is more. The entire Psalm reads:
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
It is my understanding this Psalm is a call to God for revenge. The Babylonians had conquered the Southern Kingdom (made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) which was quite a surprise for this remaining remnant of the chosen people. The Southern Kingdom leaders were taken back to Babylon and felt humiliated by their captors. So the writer of this Psalm tried to come up with the worst possible description of vengeance he could imagine. What could be worse than wanting your captor's children killed?
While the Persians did eventually conquer the Babylonians, there is no record (to the best of my limited knowledge) that they dashed any Babylonian infants against any rocks.
End of lecture.