Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wipe out the 7 Nations of Idol Worshipers

Sounds very harsh when the Israelites were told to destroy the 7 nations in Cannan. Why would the Bible teach to do something so drastic?

It was critical that the Israelites not be swayed by the abhorrent behavior of the people in those nations. Those behaviors were punishable by death: child sacrifice, sex abominations, sorcery ... all major sins against God.

It was a defensive policy to save the Israelites from being influenced out of existence.

This is very disturbing to us today - it doesn't offer any process to evaluate the innocence of individuals, there is no process for change, it doesn't even look for any good in these people....

Rashi interpreted it in such a way that Tshuvah was possible and the people of these nations could convert their ways.

Rambam interpreted it by pointing out that you had to offer terms of peace first. He also gave the people a way to escape -

Link: On Preventative War

OK so did it really happen?
-There is no archeological evidence that any nations were destroyed at that time.
-AND there is the theory that what was predicted (idolatry influence) actually may have happened during the time of the Kings.
-And also there are the "lost Tribes" in 722 BCE - said because they practiced idolatry.
-The time of Josiah in Kings II tells of the time when the Temple was 'redesigned' to include idols - but a scroll was found and taken to the King who realized that this was a message from God - it was validated by the prophetess, Hulda. And they "changed their ways"
- it is said that the scroll IS the book of Deuteronomy. (2nd Kings Ch 22-23)

There was a revival of the tradition - a religious reformation.

More Detailed Documentation


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