DESTRUCTION OF THE CANAANITE NATIONS – A TYPE
of the Christian’s Warfare Against SIN Within and Without
DESTRUCTION OF THE CANAANITE NATIONS
– Special Notes by Joseph Bryant Rotherham, Bible Translator
In reviewing the destruction of the nations of Canaan, it is most important to bear in mind the terrible nature of the crimes for which they were exterminated. Their very worship was grossly sensual and revoltingly cruel. In honour of their deities women surrendered their virtue. Their sacred places were brothels. The generative organs were openly represented by disgusting symbols. The peoples had holy (!) prostitutes, male and female, – hedeshim and hedeshoth. Lustful gods are cruel, and demand to be worshipped with human blood. Hence, to the king-idol Moloch, the Canaanites, with some contiguous nations, immolated their sons and daughters. At such. crimes as these nature shudders ; and Palestine was fain, in abhorrence, to eject her inhabitants. Who shall say that the Most High has not the right to extinguish such polluters of the earth and contaminators of mankind as these? Doubtless the world has been made permanently the sweeter and the more habitable by reason of the occasional Divine use of the bosom of destruction. Let us remember that there was long waiting before these nations were destroyed.(a) Not till their iniquity was “full” did the stroke of vengeance fall. It was doubtless both safe and kind that the extermination was to be made ruthlessly complete. And let us not forget that Joshua’s commission was divine, direct, positive, explicit and repeated ; and, therefore no example for generals destitute of such sanction. How far other commanders may volunteer, or be lawfully commissioned, to follow Joshua’s example-is, for us, a question of casuistry into which we are not here called upon to enter. Moreover, Divine Mercy drew a line around the devoted nations, and outside that line peoples might be spared-unless, indeed, the interdict went forth against them ; (b) while, on the other hand, Divine Equity warned the Hebrews that, if they fell into the same sin, they should receive a like punishment. For their fathers’ sake, indeed, they were not to be utterly annihilated; but short of that, if they would sin, they must suffer. Their land would vomit them forth. We know the sad sequel : they fell into sensual and cruel idol-worship ; and God kept His word, as the captivities of Assyria and Babylon attest. We have yet to trace the long and painful story of Israel’s sin and punishment : let us be thankful that we shall also have the privilege of turning over to a brighter leaf and dwelling on glowing prophetic songs of redemption, deliverance and salvation.
So much by way of general statement. If the inquiry be urged whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the sweeping statements made at the outset of this Note, the answer can only be in the affirmative, due allowance being made for the circumstantial character of the testimony. It is just as well that the proof should, in a sense, run between the lines. In fact, it is only when some adequate knowledge is possessed of the really obscene and blood-thirsty nature of idol-worship in Western Asia that the mind is prepared to feel the full force of allusions scattered throughout the Old Testament. Many, indeed, are the allegations against Israel for going unchastely after other gods ; but even the needlessly coarse terms of our public versions (in speaking of it as ” going a-whoring ” after idols) have probably failed to suggest to the majority of even educated minds the awful and undoubted fact that such worship was accompanied by rites (to use the guarded language of the Oxford Gesenius) “sometimes involving actual prostitution.” (c) Hence there would appear to be something like a moral necessity to lift a little the veil which hides from view the true character of the worship of the Baals, the Asherahs and the Ashtaroths of Canaan.
As to the worship of the local Baals it is attested that ” it was debased by repulsive immorality.” (d) Further, ” when Israel entered Canaan the worship of the Baalim was everywhere present. As it was especially associated with agriculture, which the Israelites learned from the Canaanites, there was danger lest they should take over also the religious festivals connected with the various agricultural …(continued on page 2)
a. Gen. xv. 16. c. O.G. p 275 b.
b. See Deu. xx. 10-18, d. Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, 810 b.
THE EMPHASIZED BIBLE, Joseph Bryant Rotherham
Page 2 Page 260 SPECIAL NOTE (Continued)
seasons, and thus succumb to the deadly fascination of the sensual nature-worship of the older inhabitants. That this actually happened we learn from the history.” (a.)
As to the Asherahs, there is a doubt which does not in any way affect the main issue. The doubt is merely whether Asherah is the name of a distinct goddess, as well as the name of the “poles,” “stumps,” or “stems” which represented her; or whether the notorious “Ashtoreth” (Astarte) was herself worshipped under these obscene Images. (b.) In any case the rites associated with the “Asherahs” were immoral.
The “Encyclopaedia Britannica” unhesitatingly designates “Asherah” an impure goddess. But even if, as some think, the two names became confused, so that even when Asherah is named Astarte is ultimately intended, we have only to pass on and give a moment’s attention to the latter to reach the fearful conclusion already indicated.
As to Astarte then: “She most have been pre-eminently the goddess of sexual passion. By Greeks and Phoenicians alike she is habitually identified with ‘Aphrodite,’ and there are sufficiently definite allusions to the unchaste character of the rites with which she was worshipped.” (c.) “Her devotees were initiated with impure rites.” (d.) From the point of view thus obtained, the passages referred to below slowly unfold their terrible significance. (e.)
To complete, once for all, the needful reference to this painful and admonitory subject, the student has only to connect the worship of the Golden Calf (Exodus xxxii.) with the Egyptian worship of Apis, as briefly disclosed by the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” to apprehend why, on that occasion, the sedate Moses was driven frantic with consternation; and has only to conceive, in the light of the facts indicated in Numbers xxv. and in this Note, the real nature of the awful snare into which Israel fell at Baal-peor, to apprehend that instant excision alone could be trusted to prevent national extermination.
a.) Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible 210 b.
b.) Obscene they manifestly were, as the monumental figures of them plainly enough attest.
How readily a “pollard” could be shaped to suggest a conjunction which virtuous shame must ever hide, can well be imagined. And the smallest predominance given to the one or other element would be quite enough to account for the interchange in the usage between the two forms ashram (mas.) and asheroth (fem.).
c.) Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, 169 a
d.) Ibid.170 a.
e.) Lev. xviii. 26-30; xx. 22; Num. xxv.1-18 ; Deut. xxiii.17 (where the discreet reader will please note, by turning to this passage, the result of combining our rendering of the text with plainer terms employed in the footnote appended thereto –”devotee,” sacred person, by profession; in reality, enticing to uncleanness as a part of the service of god or goddess; the prevalence of the custom in the idolatries around, giving need and point to the stern prohibition); 1 K. xiv. 24; xv. 12, 13; xxii. 46; 2 K. xxiii 7; 2 Ch. xv. 16; xxviii. 2; Ps. cvi. 35-38 ; Isa. lvii. 3-8 (in rendering which, the only doubt in how plain the allusion should be made in the actual words employed in translation; for whether, with Fuerst, we put, for yddh hazith, “thou pointest the pin, a periphrasis for the penis erectus,” H.L. p. 430; or, with Cheyene, “when sawest the phallus” P.B. 101; in either case we do but get a glimpse of a monstrous custom prevalent in the East, and not unknown in the West, as a reference to the Greek phallos and the Latin priapus will at once reveal); Jer. v. 7 ; vii. 30, 31; xix. 4, 5; xxxii. 33-35; Hos. iv. 12-14; Amos ii. 7-9. This list of passages will serve as a guide to others similar.
DESTRUCTION OF THE CANAANITE NATIONS – A Type
of the Christian’s Warfare Against SIN Within and Without
The Christian is helped in his fight against SIN under the leadership of the antitypical Joshua (Jehosua – Jesus – “Thou shalt call his name Jesus for it is he that shall save his people from their sins”). Christ assists the consecrated Christian in the lifelong battles against the Flesh, the World and the Devil with which and whom we have to contend. Were it not for the grace of God and the help of our leader, Jesus Christ, with all those against us, we would not be able to make it in conquering the Canaanite of SIN. The picture of Joshua leading the Israelite army against the enemy also applies to the world of mankind in the kingdom age in conquering the land of the antitypical Canaan. This leads to eternal salvation at the end of the Millennial or Kingdom age. John 3:16 Then a new age or “world without end” or “ages to come” will be in a land without SIN – a Canaan of righteousness in harmony with God – “the righteous unto life eternal” who will not “die anymore” for they are the children of the resurrection. Luke 20:36
The Apostle Paul. in speaking of Joshua, writes to the Christian in the Book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 4:1 Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. 3 For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he hath said somewhere of the seventh [day] on this wise, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;
Hebrews 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7 he again defineth a certain day, To-day, saying in David so long a time afterward (even as hath been said before), Today if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts. 8 For if Joshua (Gk. Jesous - ”In verse 8, “Jesus” should be “Joshua” (see King James margin). The two names are the same in the Hebrew. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land under Joshua at the end of the 40 years, they did not fully enter into God’s rest. – Shallieu Bible Commentary.) had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day (the kingdom age). 9 There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God.10 For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience.
Most do not realize the depth of degradation of the Canaanites and attribute to Jehovah God a cruelty and “vengeance that he does not own” in the slaying of man woman and child back then. Rotherham, in his scrupulous translation of the reality of the people living in the land of Canaan and the depths to which they had fallen, and in being very forthright, did not use Puritanical words such as found in the King James and other versions. He translated it as a reality check by going to the original Hebrew.
This description gives the “terrible significance” (e) of their depravity resulting from false worship of the Canaanite gods mentioned. That worship was directly inspired by the god of this world, Satan, who is still even more active today in controlling the media and who is working very hard in controlling the minds of “the children of disobedience” who refuse the true light of Christ and preferred darkness “because their deeds were evil.” Such of today who love these things will have and opportunity to “turn around and change” their ways in the “appointed” “day” kingdom age in which he will judge (Gk. “krino - signifies to discern. The thought is that of trial rather than verdict.” – NS329:6). Acts 17:30
What happened to the Cannanite is similar to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah when God took them ALL (man, woman and child) “away as he saw good – as also in the time of Noah.” ALL of these people who died back then will have an opportunity for life under trial (krisis) in the times of restitution under the greater than Joshua, Christ, who with his glorified church or little flock, will help to lift up and restore mankind with all the love and mercy that he can have to save and deliver them from their Canaanite enemy of SIN as he now does now for the Christian in this Gospel Age. Acts 3:19-21
APPLICATIONS TO THE CHRISTIAN IN THE GOSPEL AGE
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. 13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil [one].17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
“Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
What bearing does verse 12 have on the previous thoughts? Why did Paul bring the spiritual sword into his reasoning? When the Israelites entered Canaan [under Joshua] , they used carnal weapons to fight enemies who were mightier than they in many instances, and God blessed them so that they could overcome. They used the natural sword and the Lord’s blessing, and He gave them victory according to their faith and obedience. However, the battle of the Christian is much more serious in the sense that it is against unseen wicked spiritual foes in high places, and the sword is spiritual (Eph. 6:12). Paul was implying that the Israelites did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief, even though the Lord gave them great victories with the natural sword and great miracles. As Christians, we fight spiritual battles with the spiritual sword, which is far more potent than the natural sword.
The spiritual sword is quick (living), powerful, and sharper than a literal sword. (The Revised Standard describes the sword as living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.) The Bible is a powerful living Word that is not to be read superficially, for we should absorb the power and energy that are in it. For example, when we have a difficult trial, certain Scriptures become very timely and meaningful. The Bible is not just historical, technical, and archaic knowledge, for the real, practical, up-to-date, living Word of TRUTH applies in our daily living. The Word of God is also sharp in that it can split a thought, motive, or intent. A literal sword cannot do this difficult and searching task.
The Bible pierces “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” It divides between natural logic and spiritual logic (the logic of the Lord). For example, we might use human reasoning to understand a matter and come up with the wrong conclusion. But the Scriptures will enlighten us as to our error and reveal what God is really saying. The Bible gives us God’s thinking by separating out the natural man’s thinking.
The Word of God divides asunder “the joints and marrow.” The sword of truth is sharp and penetrating. A big, heavy, broad sword bludgeons the enemy, crashing through his shield and breaking his head, whereas a stiletto sword, which is flexible, lightweight, and sharp, is designed for penetration and quick, rapid motion. The spiritual sword has both aspects; it can bludgeon externally (completely crush an enemy’s argument), and it can skillfully penetrate, or pierce inwardly, into the very joints and marrow of the being.
The Bible is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” “Thoughts” may be good or bad, but the “intents of the heart” should always be good. The intent (the will, the motivation) is deeper than the heart; it is the real person. The Old Testament likens the intent to reins or kidneys, which are more important than the heart because they exert a more subtle control. The two reins “steer” the horse. The kidneys are related to the heart (trouble with the kidneys usually leads to trouble with the heart and vice versa).” – Shallieu Bible Commentary