Scot McKnight on Arguments Against Total-Kill Texts as Hyperbole in the Bible

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In the previous post about Bloody, Brutal, and Barbaric?we looked at the total-kill texts as hyperbole, but not all are convinced by explaining (away!) such texts and instead oppose the hyperbole interpretation of war texts in the Old Testament.

Webb and Oeste look at three counter arguments:


This contention appeals to Judges 2:2-3:

For your part, do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my command. See what you have done! So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

Webb-Oeste argue appeal to this text, by the likes of Greg Beale, oversimplifies disobedience and incorrectly understands the text. Making peace treaties with the Canaanites entailed, wrongly, permission to continue with their idolatries, and idolatry is #1 sin in these texts. Furthermore, God is with some of the kings is a very positive way (e.g, David) and they are in direct relationship with some of these pagans. After all, God filled the temple with Canaanites still living in the land. The nuance is clear: the issue is idolatry, not simply their presence in the land.

They point out that Beale misreads the texts, seemingly equating “exterminating” with “driving out.” Joshua is not condemned in Judges or Joshua for not killing everyone.


The summary statements are found in Joshua 10:40-43, 11:16-18, 23 and 21:43-35. Here they examine the claims of Greg Beale and to explain this means getting into some deep weeds. I will avoid that, but state their view that literal reading of these texts does not hold up to scrutiny of those texts in their contexts.

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Source: Christianity Today